“We ask people without residence to be in residence, it is nonsense”, pleaded today Me Bruce Johnston, the lawyer of the Traveling Legal Clinic who asks the Court to exempt the homeless. shelter from curfew.
This request comes in the wake of the death of Raphaël André, 51, an Innu found dead in a downtown toilet, a week ago, while he was in all likelihood hiding from the police for avoid receiving a fine of $ 1,500.
Raphaël André was also the subject of an arrest warrant for failure to respect a promise to appear in connection with a charge of threat.
“People who live on the streets often have serious mental health and addiction issues. It is not a simple and enlightened choice for these people to live outside. It is also difficult for them to stay inside shelters with other people. The addiction problem is an illness and when the urge to use arises, the person has to come out. This curfew affects their safety, ”according to Mr. Johnston.
“These citizens do not want to be in contact with the police because many of them are overjudicial, they have warrants against them, and with this curfew, they have to hide from the police. For Raphaël André, we know that he was hiding from the police. There is a potential for infringement of the right to life here, ”declared the lawyer who invokes the Canadian and Quebec Charters of Rights and Freedoms.
For his part, the lawyer for the Attorney General of Quebec, Me Cantin, insisted on the fact that there is a danger in creating exceptions. It can open the door to other groups and weaken the government’s measure to fight the pandemic. The public interest must prevail over the interest of individuals.
“This would complicate the work of the police and it risks creating a little arbitrary situations, because we would have to see, what is an itinerant”, pleaded Me Cantin who adds that if the person has access to a refuge or another place that can accommodate him between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., this person must respect the curfew.
Decision this week
“If the person is intercepted at 10 pm, will the police check if he is blocked in all the shelters?” Asked Justice Masse to the government lawyer. Me Cantin replied that the police officer does not have the power to take the person, to order him and to force him to go to a refuge.
“If this person is on a blacklist, crossed out in shelters, it is certain that the decree would not apply to that person. People experiencing homelessness obviously do not have the word homelessness written on them. If someone walks in the street after 8 p.m., the police will still continue to question, regardless of the order that will be issued by the judge. If the person is in breach of conditions, there will be consequences on this subject, ”added Me Cantin who believes that the order should be rejected.
The judge said she would try to make a ruling this week. She has just taken the matter under advisement.