A challenge has been filed alleging that Innisfail barbershop owner Natalie Klein’s constitutional rights were violated and accusing the RCMP of “abuse of process” in re-charging her for violating public health orders earlier this year.
The constitutional challenge filed by Calgary lawyers, Chad Williamson and Yoav Niv, alleges Klein’s charter rights in regard to freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression were infringed upon, as well as her right to life, liberty and security of person. It also alleges “abuse of process” by the RCMP in re-issuing tickets after similar tickets were withdrawn days earlier.
Alberta Justice spokesperson Carla Jones said in an email on Friday the department is aware of the challenge and “will be reviewing it and our next steps.”
The challenge states that Klein, who owns Innisfail’s Bladez 2 Fadez Barbershop, planned on Jan. 11 to protest public health orders prohibiting barbershops and similar businesses from operating because of the pandemic.
A day later, an RCMP officer and Alberta Health Services inspector went to the business, which was operating, and posted a closure notice.
Klein was still cutting hair on Jan. 13 and had removed the closure notice. At that point, two tickets were issued to Klein – one for disobeying the health order and the other for removing it.
Klein, who is the niece of former premier Ralph Klein, hired a lawyer and was ready to fight the tickets in court on March 8. But four days earlier, Crown prosecutors from specialized prosecutions in Edmonton withdrew the tickets, apparently due to a clerical error.
On being made aware the tickets had been dropped, Klein went public on March 9 with her ordeal, giving a number of interviews to the media.
Two days later, an RCMP officer went to Klein’s home and handed her two new tickets alleging the same offences and facts.
“Following the service of new charges, the applicant suffered a mental/emotional breakdown and sought medical assistance,” the challenge alleges.
The challenge also notes that Klein was not told that the tickets were to be withdrawn nor that they would be re-issued, and claims “…. the police were acting in bad faith in re-issuing the tickets, as this was a means to silence and make an applicant due to her being a small business owner as well as her public and political profile.”
The challenge, which calls for the tickets to be dropped, will first go to Red Deer provincial court on Sept. 13.