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Charges against Parliament Hill’s “Peace Man” withdrawn

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News release from The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms

He brought no vehicle and blocked no roads…. he was in the nation’s capital to encourage dialogue between the government and protestors.

The Justice Centre is pleased to announce that the charges against Dana-Lee Melfi, popularly known as “Peace Man,” were withdrawn on January 23, 2024.   The federal government invoked the Emergencies Act on February 14, 2022. Mr. Melfi, who was in the nation’s capital during the Freedom Convoy protest, was arrested on February 19, 2022, during the police crackdown on protestors. He was charged with mischief, mischief to property, disobeying a lawful order, and obstructing justice.  Peace Man was conspicuous in the crowd with his striking appearance. His flowing, grey hair and beard, sunglasses, and cameras drew significant media attention. Each day he would take up a peaceful stance near Parliament Hill, either draped in or carrying a large Canadian flag, to greet passersby with the two-fingered peace sign. He brought no vehicle and blocked no roads. He had said in various media interviews, with outlets like Canadian PressNew York TimesWashington PostEpoch Times, and many independent media, that he was in the nation’s capital to encourage dialogue between the government and protestors. Mr. Melfi’s trial was scheduled for the week of January 22, 2024. Just days prior to the trial, a large number of social media videos were disclosed by the Crown as evidence against Mr. Melfi. Mr. Melfi’s lawyer, Monick Grenier, notified the Crown that she was contemplating filing a Late Disclosure Application if she was not successful in having the evidence excluded. Ms. Grenier was prepared to appeal to Section 24(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which requires courts to exclude evidence from a trial if it can be established that its admission would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. She also raised the possibility of filing a Jordan Application, which protects Canadians from unreasonable trial delays.   Adding to this complexity, the parties were advised the week before the trial that the Court was double booked. Mr. Melfi would not have been at fault for either potential delay. In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that trials must be heard within 18 months of charges being laid in accordance with the Chartersection 11(b) right of Canadians “to be tried within a reasonable time.” What is commonly referred to as the “Freedom Convoy” protest has since, in fact, been recognized in another court proceeding as a combination of as many as 13 different protests. Mr. Melfi always considered himself to be carrying out his own personal protest.   Monick Grenier, counsel for Mr. Melfi, stated, “My client stood in peace throughout the protest. After his arrest, Mr. Melfi was set to advance breaches of his rights under sections 8, 9 and 10 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We are pleased with this outcome. “

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Learning loss piles up alongside snow while ‘e-learning’ collects dust

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From the Fraser Institute

By Alex Whalen and Paige MacPherson

During COVID school closures, students in the province missed at least 125 days of school between March 2020 and February 2022, more than any other province (except Ontario), generating a significant learning loss from which students have not caught up.

In a world increasingly connected by technology, and given the Nova Scotia government recently spent tens of millions of dollars enabling at-home learning, one might think that students would seamlessly shift to online learning during the recent snowstorms to avoid losing crucial instructional time. Unfortunately, that’s not happening.

During COVID school closures, the Nova Scotia and federal governments spent at least $31.5 million dollars on “virtual school” and other technological upgrades so students could, according to the provincial government, “succeed, even in an at-home learning environment.”

Unfortunately, the electronic learning infrastructure—which includes Chromebooks, laptops and iPads for students and teachers, and additional support and new teachers for Nova Scotia Virtual School—is collecting dust in a corner while Nova Scotia kids are falling further behind.

This isn’t some blip in an otherwise strong record of instructional time for Nova Scotia students. During COVID school closures, students in the province missed at least 125 days of school between March 2020 and February 2022, more than any other province (except Ontario), generating a significant learning loss from which students have not caught up.

Indeed, according to the latest results (2022) from the Programme for International Assessment (PISA), the gold standard of testing worldwide, Nova Scotia 15-year-olds trail the Canadian average in reading by 18 points and trail the Canadian average in math by 27 points. For context, PISA characterizes a 20-point drop as one year of lost learning.

Moreover, between 2003 and 2022, Nova Scotia student performance in reading dropped by 24 points—more than one year of learning loss—and dropped by 45 points in math. In other words, in math, 15-year-old Nova Scotia students today are more than two years behind where Nova Scotia 15-year-olds were in 2003.

These troubling trends underscore the need to put the existing e-learning infrastructure to work. During a recent two-week period, students in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education school district missed seven days of school due to snow. And some students missed an additional five days due to weather and power outages. That’s nearly three weeks. While more instructional time is not a silver bullet for student success—and with power outages, e-learning is not a perfect solution—it could still make a big difference.

According to international research, missed classroom time causes learning loss and impacts children for life, reducing their life-long earnings. Nova Scotia education researcher Paul Bennett found that lost classroom time due to inclement weather compounds absenteeism and sets back student achievement and social progress.

The Houston government should ensure that Nova Scotian students have access to teacher-directed e-learning when schools are closed and, like other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States, abandon the practise of simply cancelling school due to inclement weather. It’s simply common sense. The snow may pile up, but there’s no good reason why learning loss must pile up with it. Parents are right to demand access to the e-learning they’ve already paid for through their tax dollars.

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Freedom Convoy organizer sues Trudeau gov’t for freezing his bank account

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

the day the EA was invoked, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland mandated certain bank accounts be frozen under the EA. In total, close to $8 million in funds from 267 people were locked. Additionally, 170 Bitcoin wallets were frozen.

Chris Barber, one of the leaders of the 2022 Freedom Convoy protests against COVID mandates, is suing the federal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for freezing his bank account and hundreds of others involved with the demonstrations after a recent court ruling declared the Emergencies Act (EA) was unconstitutional and unreasonable.

Barber’s lawsuit comes shortly after a Canadian federal court last month ruled that the Trudeau government’s use of the EA to quash the Freedom Convoy in 2022 was unconstitutional. The court ruled that the use of the EA was a direct violation of the Charter and thus “not justified.”

A trucker from Saskatchewan, Barber was heavily involved in the Freedom Convoy, which saw thousands make their way to Ottawa in protest of COVID vaccine mandates and lockdowns. His lawsuit claims that his Charter rights were violated through the dictates of the federal government.

The lawsuit was filed two weeks ago in the Court of King’s Bench in Saskatoon. Among its claims is a section alleging that the federal government abused its power to go after the truckers.

The EA controversially allowed the government to freeze the bank accounts of protesters, conscript tow truck drivers, and arrest people for participating in assemblies the government deemed illegal.

On February 14, 2022, the day the EA was invoked, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland mandated certain bank accounts be frozen under the EA. In total, close to $8 million in funds from 267 people were locked. Additionally, 170 Bitcoin wallets were frozen.

The freezing of bank accounts by Freeland without a court order was an unprecedented action in Canadian history and was only allowed through the Liberal government’s invocation of the never-before-used EA.

As a result of Freeland’s order, Barber’s bank account was frozen. He owns a trucking company, and according to the lawsuit, the frozen bank account resulted in missed payments as well as defaulting on loans, which negatively impacted his credit rating.

“This disruption deprived (Barber and his wife) of the ability to conduct basic financial transactions and live normal lives, leading to severe inconvenience, hardship, embarrassment, exclusion from modern society, and damaged personal and business relationships,” a portion of the lawsuit reads.

 As for the freezing of bank accounts, Barber’s lawsuit alleges that the Trudeau government’s decision to do this was for the “improper purpose of dissuading and punishing” Freedom Convoy protesters who were exercising their Charter rights.

The lawsuit also lists Barber’s wife along with his trucking business as lead plaintiffs.

At this point, no statement of defense has been filed by the Trudeau government, Global News reported.

According to the lawsuit statement, Barber’s bank personal and business bank accounts were frozen only a day after the Trudeau government enacted the EA. He was not able to withdraw or deposit money or use his credit cards, and even his automatic bill payments were stopped.

According to the lawsuit, Barber “suffered and experienced fear and anxiety due to the anticipated loss of income.”

Barber and Freedom Convoy leader Tamara Lich have been involved in a lengthy trial after being charged and taken to court by the government. The trial has been put on hold, with its resumption date uncertain. It is also not yet clear how the recent court ruling will affect the trial.

LifeSiteNews reported just over a week ago that Lich, Barber and a host of others filed a $2 million lawsuit against the government.

Freedom Convoy lawyer Keith Wilson said Section 24 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms “gives Canadians the right to sue their government for damages when Charter rights are violated.”

“Doing so affirms the seriousness of respecting Charter rights and is intended to deter future governments from breaching Canadians’ fundamental rights,” he said.

An investigation into the use of the EA, as per Canadian law, was launched by Trudeau. However, it was headed by Liberal-friendly Judge Paul Rouleau, who led the Public Order Emergency Commission. Unsurprisingly, the commission exonerated Trudeau.

Federal and provincial politicians have come out in support of the truckers. Last week, LifeSiteNews reported that newly elected Conservative Legislative Assembly of Alberta (MLA) member Eric Bouchard praised the Freedom Convoy protesters for doing what “was right” in opposing to COVID mandates.

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