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City man fighting ticket laid under emergency orders

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Troy Shantz

A Sarnia man charged with violating emergency orders is at war with Sarnia Police.

Pat McHenry, a 72-year-old retired carpenter, says he’s going to court to fight the ticket, which carries a fine of $1,255.

“I’ll go to jail before I pay a dime to these people, I’ll tell ya that right now,” McHenry told the Rebel News network.

McHenry was the first person charged after Sarnia launched its COVID-19 hotline to report emergency order offenders.

Sarnia Police say he failed to self-isolate at his apartment for 14 days after returning from a trip abroad. Bylaw enforcement officers issued a warning on March 31.

On April 6, officers were waiting for McHenry when he returned from walking his dog and issued a ticket.

“It’s important to note that our attention to him came from neighbours,” said Sarnia Police Inspector Jeff Hodgson.

“This wasn’t some sort of random drive-by by the police, it was the result of complaints by the neighbours.”

McHenry said he returned from a Mexican vacation on March 25, the same day Ottawa ordered Canadians to self-isolate for 14 days following international travel.

McHenry told Rebel News he used his apartment building stairwell and not the elevator to avoid other people when venturing out to walk his little dog, Molly, and didn’t go beyond the back of the property.

Police used provincial legislation to issue a ticket for $880. Later, officers returned, cancelled the first ticket, and charged McHenry with a violation of the Quarantine Act, a federal offence carrying a $1,255 fine.

Under the Quarantine Act, even asymptomatic residents must “stay in a private place like your yard or balcony if you go outside for fresh air,” according to a federal government website.

Const. John Sottosanti said police have been in contact with the Crown regarding definitions and enforcement.

“We don’t want to do it any more than (people) want to be infringed upon, but there’s laws to be followed,” he said.

The Rebel News Network, a conservative media outlet, is working with Toronto criminal defence lawyer Sam Goldstein to assist on cases like McHenry’s, and is raising money to fight what it calls heavy-handed enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions by all levels of government.

Sottosanti said McHenry has every right to contest the charge.

“We’re just saying there’s a law to be enforced… now it’s up to the courts to decide.”

Sarnia’s COVID-19 received almost 800 tips its first month of operation.

City police and bylaw enforcement had laid three other charges as of May 1: two for birthday parties with more than five people not from the same household, and a non-essential business that remained open.

One of the individuals charged has told The Journal they, like McHenry, intend to challenge it.







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