A resident of Abitibi accused of taking part in a rally in the parking lot of a church in full confinement was exceptionally acquitted, because he was then asking for help with a mechanical problem with his vehicle.
“To render service or support someone, even in times of pandemic, remains an acceptable gesture”, ruled the judge Marie-France Beaulieu in her decision rendered on February 8.
While walking in La Sarre, in Abitibi-Témiscamingue in the middle of May, Francis Roussil-Chabot heard a loud noise coming from his vehicle. Spontaneously, seeing an acquaintance in the parking lot of a church, he then made the decision to go there to ask for assistance.
“Faced with the urgency of an obvious mechanical failure and not wanting to aggravate the problem, he decides to stop seeing it”, specifies the court document.
However, at that time, more than fifteen adults without counting the “many children on the spot” were gathered in the same parking lot adjacent to a park, observed police officers, who went to the scene after a anonymous call.
Last May, outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people were banned.
When the police arrived, the two men were busy working within two meters of each other under Mr. Roussil-Chabot’s vehicle. It was a simple pebble lodged in the brake calliper that was causing the noise.
“Although he was obviously not proactive in this gathering or this gathering, it is the responsibility of a citizen to leave the premises, especially in a pandemic context”, specifies the document.
The main interested party also admits not having respected physical distancing, he continues.
Despite this, in this specific situation, Mr. Roussil-Chabot benefits from an “exception” provided for in the decree, which allows not to respect the two meters if a person receives a service or support.
“Punishing action or making support of this nature impossible does not correspond to the objective of eliminating futile or non-essential gatherings,” said the magistrate.
For this reason, the court decided to acquit the accused.