Posted on May 11, 2021


CALGARY - Calgary NDP MLAs have written a letter to Calgary city council in support of increasing fines for mask bylaw violations and urged council to implement the larger fines before anti-mask rallies planned for this weekend. 

On Monday, council debated increasing fines from $100 to $500 for those who ignore the existing mask bylaw. The increase passed in a vote of 10-4, with Couns. Jeromy Farkas, Joe Magliocca, Dianne Colley-Urquhart and Sean Chu opposed. However, the implementation of the fine increase was delayed because it did not receive unanimous consent to go to third reading. The final vote will now take place at the next council meeting, which isn’t expected to take place until May 31. 

The letter from the MLAs states that “while the overwhelming majority of Calgarians respect the existing mask bylaw, there is a vocal minority that refuse to follow the bylaw. This willful violation of the law threatens public health and safety and will only prolong the pandemic.”

Over the past weekend, law enforcement agencies made arrests at a cafe in Mirror and at a church in Calgary after organizers openly defied public health orders. Despite these arrests, organizers for an anti-mask rally being held at Prince’s Island Park on May 15 plan to go ahead. 

“We feel that a clear message needs to be sent that threatening public health and safety will not be tolerated and a strong deterrent in the form of fines needs to be implemented,” said NDP Justice Critic Irfan Sabir.

“We encourage city council to reconvene and consider passing the increased fine measure for mask bylaws in advance of this weekend’s protest.”

Sabir added that complacency and open violation of public health orders has been allowed to grow and foster over months of UCP inaction.

“We know for a fact that the Government told Calgary police not to issue tickets to people who would violate public health orders,” Sabir said. “People were allowed to break the laws for 14 months with no recourse. Now, they’re taking action but we will need enhanced penalties if we’re going to have a real impact and if governments of all levels are really serious about doing what’s necessary to keep our communities safe.”