A woman fined $500 under the Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory.
Chloe Sergerie pleaded guilty in territorial court on Jan. 12 to failing to submit a declaration form. She pleaded not guilty to a second charge of failing to self-isolate.
According to the statement of facts read before the court, Sergerie entered the Yukon by road from Alberta on Sept. 25. She was driving a school bus, and provided enforcement officers with her B.C. driver’s license at the border checkpoint.
At that time, B.C. residents weren’t required to self-isolate. Sergerie did not disclose the fact that she had arrived from Alberta. Three days later, on Sept. 28, two CEMA officers noticed Sergerie’s school bus parked in Whitehorse with a temporary transit pass from Alberta.
Sergerie told the two officers she had not been asked to fill out a declaration form, and was advised to immediately visit the Whitehorse airport to submit one.
The following day, the officers happened upon Sergerie again, and were informed she still hadn’t filled out a declaration.
They issued her a ticket charging her with failure to self-isolate and failure to provide a declaration. On Jan. 12, Sergerie pleaded not guilty to failing to self-isolate and that charge was stayed.
She explained to the court that she felt visiting a public place to fill out a declaration would be contrary to the self-isolation requirements.
Sergerie told the officers who ticketed her in Whitehorse that she would be willing to submit a declaration if they had that paperwork available for her.
“To go out of my way and go to the (airport) would contradict the reason why these measures have been taken; it would put me in contact with more people,” Sergerie said on Jan. 12.
“For me, it was the safest decision I could make.”
Justice of the peace Sharman Morrison told Sergerie she didn’t accept that explanation.
“A reasonable person would follow the instructions of an officer. If you had to attend at the airport to do that, you would take the necessary precautions to go inside to get what paper was required of you, putting on a mask, et cetera,” Morrison said.
Crown attorney Kelly McGill advised the maximum fine of $500 be laid.
“It’s the Crown’s position that these obligations arise for public safety concerns with respect to the COVID pandemic and that there’s good reasons why the government has put precautions in place,” McGill said.
Sergerie explained to the court that she had spent the last several years travelling out of the country. She returned to Canada because of the pandemic, and has lived off-grid in her school bus near Dawson City since her arrival.
“I’ll have to get a job to pay this thing, … (when) my plan was to be self-sufficient,” Sergerie said.
She requested an alternative option for settling the fine. Justice Morrison informed her that an alternative wasn’t available, and she should “feel lucky in some respects” as fines in other jurisdictions are much greater than $500.
Contact Gabrielle Plonka at firstname.lastname@example.org