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Court strikes down claims from man who refused to wear mask at B.C. library

Shad Budge claimed COVID-19 regulations infringed on Charter rights
A man turned away from the Agassiz Library for not abiding by COVID-19 mask regulations in 2020 has recently seen a significant setback in a court case against the province and the library. (Adam Louis/Observer)

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Murray Blok recently struck down claims against the province and B.C.’s Attorney General as the court considers a civil case involving a homeless man, the Agassiz Library and incidents involving masking regulations in 2020.

Shad Budge claimed the local library infringed on his Charter rights following two visits to the library in December 2020 in which employees told him a medical mask was required in order to use the facility. Budge claimed medical exemption, but the employees maintained that the alleged exemption didn’t matter.

Budge alleged employees harassed him for hours, demanding he wear a mask or leave the library. He ultimately left after he was told the branch was at capacity and there was a line of patrons waiting to use the library.

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Court documents indicate Budge returned the day after this incident and was altogether denied entry. RCMP officers attended the scene, and Budge alleged officers told him not to enter any Fraser Valley Regional Library locations without a mask “under threat of arrest for trespassing along with a large fine.” Budge was not able to return to the library for more than a year, his access only being restored when he retained counsel.

Budge alleged that because of his living situation and being unable to visit the library, claiming his quality of life was critically diminished.

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The province and Attorney General sought to strike Budge’s claim of misfeasance in public office and negligence against him; Budge claimed the library acted as an agent of the municipal and provincial governments. The province and Attorney General alleged Budge’s claim against them is not reasonable, did not involve implementing a specific government policy and the claims that the FVRL acts as an agent of the provincial government are not based in fact.

The judge further concluded that the FVRL’s denial of Budge’s alleged exemption and refusing him entry were the actions of a private property rather than a government agency, even if the FVRL was enforcing a ministerial order.

During the peak months of the COVID-19 pandemic, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a number of ministerial orders, including a ban on large gatherings, mask and COVID-19 vaccination regulations.

The province, B.C. Attorney General and the Agassiz Library applied to dismiss the claims against them. The FVRL has filed a similar application but as press time, a court date has not been set.

Adam Louis

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