In late August, Reem Karkoutlian, a 45-year-old EA accountant, along with her two children and husband from Ontario, Canada, were hit with an outrageous $21,000 in fines for refusing to use the ArriveCAN app after returning home from a dream family vacation.
“We wanted to avoid the ticket but not at every cost. We live in a free society and we should have a choice when it comes to our privacy,” says the hard-working mom.
Double vaccinated, with a negative COVID-19 test taken before the family’s flight home from Israel, Karkoutlian can’t understand why such draconian fines were levied against her family.
The Karkoutlian family didn’t have a choice. After an exhausting, fully masked, 12-hour flight the family only wanted to return home, but were instead treated like hardened criminals at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport as they tried to pass through customs. The nightmare began when a Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) officer asked the innocent family to show their ArriveCAN app. Karkoutlian’s husband politely explained that the family was uncomfortable with this request and from there things escalated.
“She (the PHAC officer) started saying this is mandatory under the Quarantine Act. I said ‘are we detained’, she said no. Then we left, but she called a police officer who was sitting nearby to stop us. He asked for our passports. I told the officer that we are not a threat to public health.”
The Karkoutlians were all healthy and had even tested negative for the seasonal flu virus, prior to leaving Israel.
The police officer then asked for more information, which the family refused to give aside from their passports. At that point a different PHAC officer started to write the family fines. “The writing of the fines took almost two hours,” says Karkoutlian, who figures the trip home was nearing almost 24 hours.
“To our surprise we didn’t get one ticket, but two each. At one point, PHAC also asked to show our negative tests,” she said. “She said if we do not have it then she would write us another ticket. My son was able to show his. She then read each ticket to us 6 times.”
The tax paying, law abiding mother and wife says the family ‘felt humiliated’ by the experience. Luckily, her 14 year old daughter didn’t get a ticket.
“From the first minute we met PHAC they threatened us with fines. We had been out of the country for three weeks and it felt like we were coming back to a different Canada. Just threatening people is a disgrace to our government. There is no need for the app. The government should stop threatening people with these outrageous tickets. ArriveCAN should be a choice,” she adds, also stating that COVID only seems to exist in Canada.
“I think the COVID vaccine should be a choice, not be forced upon people and we should not discriminate against people that choose not to get it. I have an issue sharing a confidential matter like vaccine status and I also have a problem downloading an app that is not secure on my privately owned phone,” Karkoutlian tells Get Woke Up!
In the face of the hefty fine Karkoutlian is firm in her resolve. “I will not pay it,” says the defiant freedom fighter. “My plan is to fight it in court myself. But if I can get free legal help I will take it.”
The constitutional rights group Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has launched a separate legal challenge of a federal requirement that travelers to Canada use the ArriveCan app and related quarantine measures.
The federal government initially stated that the ArriveCAN app would be in use until “at least the end of September” but has made no recent official comments about extending or ending its enforcement. Get Woke Up! has learned that in light of the high amount of public non-compliance and open defiance to the app the government is working behind the scenes on a plan to end ArriveCAN in a way it can save face.