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Red Deer diner owner has no regrets over lengthy court battle over pandemic restrictions

Wesley Langlois was ticketed in January 2021 for violating restrictions by serving seated customers
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Red Deer diner owner Wesley Langlois was in court again on Wednesday fighting a $1,200 ticket slapped on him during the pandemic.

It has been nearly 30 months since the Mom’s Diner owner was ticketed for defying a public health order in place at the time that did not allow in-person dining at eateries.

Numerous court appearances have followed, and while the journey through the justice system has been exhausting and often bewildering, Langlois does not regret taking a stand.

“The statement that needed to be made was to protest on behalf of small businesses over the closures of them versus Walmarts and other places where there were more people closer together.

“In that sense, yeah, we had to stand up for that.”

It has been time-consuming being a flag bearer of sorts for the rights of small business owners. He appreciates all his wife Leslie Clothier has been doing to run their diner in the West Park Shopping Centre while he sits in court.

“If it was just myself then I’d probably be frustrated to the point where one would go, ‘I’m done. Let’s just plead guilty.’

“But I can’t because it’s bigger than me.”

What started out as a seemingly simple dispute over a ticket has become much more.

“Now, it’s kind of turned political,” he said. “I’m not involved, but I am involved. We’re waiting to hear verdicts from other cases.”

One of those cases is the Ingram case. In that Calgary case, Rebecca Marie Ingram, two others and two Baptist churches are challenging the constitutionality of Alberta’s public health orders.

Lawyers for the group argue that health restrictions limiting people’s rights to gather for social and religious reasons violated their constitutional rights.

The long-awaited decision has yet to be released.

Crown prosecutor Martha O’Connor told the court on Wednesday that she recently sought an update on the Ingram case and there was no further information on when a decision might be coming.

Langlois said it has been a frustrating wait.

“Honestly, it’s just really confusing. With this it’s turned into a more political thing, trying to prove a violation of human rights or civil law.”

Wednesday was a perfect example of the complex — and potentially precedent-setting — legal issues at stake. Defence lawyers Yoav Niv and Chad Williamson appeared remotely from their offices in Calgary to hear Justice Jim Glass of Red Deer’s Alberta Court of Justice dismiss an application that alleged breaches of Langlois’ rights under two sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.



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