By Andre Faust
The judge’s decision to ban Michael Gaudet as a condition from entering the Fredericton city limits is an interesting decision, whether it’s a good decision or a bad decision that is left to be decided, but it does raise a constitutional question. Can Canadian mobility rights be restricted within the province? While section 6 makes provision for every Canadian rights to move, take residence and gain a livelihood in any province, there are no references about mobility rights within a province, it just says that the Canadian can move, take residence and gain livelihood in any of the Canadian provinces. In this particular case Mr. Gaudet was charged with assault and as part of his undertaking for his release is to not set foot within the Fredericton city boundaries until his trial date August 06, 2014.
The question is, does the charter of rights and freedom protect a person’s right to residency and mobility within a province? Maybe the legal community has an answer to that question. If the law is unsettled on the rights of an individual’s residency and mobility rights within a province then becomes a matter that has to be addressed by the higher courts to define the scope of the mobility rights section of the charter.
While it appears that Judge Julian Dixons decision for banning Michael Gaudet from the city of Fredericton is a solution to the escalating panhandler problem that has developed in Fredericton over the years, the down side is, this decision opens the doors for any judge to control who is and who is not permitted to enter or reside in any community as part of their undertaking. Quick fixes as such are not necessarily to the best interest of the society as a whole.
The legal game is a rich person’s game, if you do not have the financial resources to pay for legal defense then you are at the mercy of the courts and if there is a bad decision made one doesn’t have any recourse to challenge that decision even though the resolution of the challenge would be for public interest.
The intent of the charter of rights is to protect the rights of all Canadians regardless to whether they are a rich man, poor man, beggar man or thief, everyone is to be treated equally under Canadian law. Once you create a hierarchy where you place a class of people below you, you start to dehumanize them which, eventually leads to human rights violations.