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Judge says B.C. COVID deniers showed 'reckless indifference to the truth'

Judge says maritime pilots who objected to COVID policies acted politically to misuse B.C. Supreme Court process "to disseminate COVID-19 misinformation."
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has chastised several ships' pilots who objected to federal COVID vaccination policies.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge says several maritime pilots showed "reckless indifference to the truth" in pursuing action against a company for suspending them for not getting COVID-19 vaccinations.

Edward Rayner, Maciej Niksinski and Lance Schilka filed a petition against the British Columbia Coast Pilots Ltd. (BCCP), saying that it was oppressive to have been placed on administrative leave.

In her March 14 decision, Justice Carla Forth suggested the three had improperly used the court. "I accept that the petitioners commenced this petition with a view to propagating their misguided views and in an attempt to disseminate COVID-19 misinformation using the court processes," Forth said.

"They were, in essence, improperly attacking health policies," she said. "I accept they did so with a political motive."

BCCP is an incorporated company that provides licensed marine pilots to vessels to navigate or assist in navigating B.C. ports and waterways, Forth said

The three petitioners have been employees and shareholders of BCCP for several years.

The company provides service to the Pacific Pilotage Authority (PPA), which is subject to federal government orders, including Order No. 7, Respecting Passenger Vessel Restrictions Due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019, made Oct. 30, 2021. That order obligated pilots to present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before boarding any Canadian vessel operated with 12 or more crew members.

The PPA issued the same instructions to its contractors, including BCCP. The latter told pilots that members not vaccinated by Nov. 14, 2021, would be put on administrative leave. And the BCCP put that policy to a member vote, receiving 92.62 percent approval.

Soon, the petitioners' lawyer sent the PPA a letter saying:

• COVID-19 vaccines were experimental and unsafe;

• COVID-19 posed no serious health risk to 99.97% of Canadians;

• any forced injection program constituted an assault;

• COVID-19 vaccination mandates could be in violation of the directives for human experimentation set out in the Nuremberg Code;

• the virus was "extinct" in Canada;

• those vaccinated in the UK were now dying at higher rates than the unvaccinated;

• that there was no scientific data to support the conclusion that the COVID-19 vaccines have had any impact upon reducing the spread of the virus; and,

• that Ivermectin (a veterinary antiparasitic drug) is a "highly safe and effective drug when used early in the treatment of COVID-19."

When the government rescinded the order effective Oct. 1, 2022, the three returned to work.

Forth said the only affidavit filed for the petition came from Rayner.

The judge said that affidavit "contained a range of hearsay and allegations respecting COVID-19 and vaccines that may well be Mr. Rayner's personal opinions but are clearly subjects outside of his expertise as a marine pilot."

The petitioners were obliged to obtain expert opinion evidence on those issues, and they failed to do so. 

A hearing had been set to hear the petition on Feb. 9 and 10. However, the petitioners filed a notice to discontinue the action during the hearing. And they agreed not to pursue a different course of action.

Still, Forth agreed the company could recoup some of its costs.

"The petitioners continued to advance their meritless claims up until the eve of the hearing of the petition. They did so with a reckless disregard for the truth, improper motive, and based on improper allegations," Forth said.

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