Room 31 at the Vancouver law courts is normally a quiet, somewhat boring place, where lawyers present brief arguments on procedural questions and spectators rarely present.
But Friday morning was different. As a clerk attempted to organize a long list of matters on the docket, about two dozen supporters of anti-vaccine activist Daniel Nagase flooded into the courtroom and declared himself a “common-law grand jury under the Magna Carta.”
Members of the crowd, some wearing shirts reading “Purebloods Stand Together,” took turns reading out a statement charging a government lawyer with obstruction of justice for attempting to have Nagase’s $66.6-million lawsuit against the BC Supreme Court tossed out.
“The government must accept the Magna Carta as common law if pleaded as such. We are pleading such,” the statement reads, repeating the typical language of pseudolegal groups like Sovereign Citizens and the Freemen on the Land movement.
After several requests from the court sheriffs to sit down and be quiet or risk arrest, the crowd filed back out of the courtroom while they waited for the judge to arrive.
As they made their way to the door, one of them turned to Michael Kleisinger, the lawyer they’re accusing of obstruction, and warned him “You’re in trouble.” Kleisinger laughed in response, asking “Is that a threat?”
Friday’s peculiar court proceedings highlight how the anti-vaccine movement has come to rely on Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Arguments (OPCA) in its attempts to fight public health measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Legal experts have told CBC News they’re unaware of any case where OPCA arguments were successful in court. At the core of these false and thoroughly debunked legal theories is the idea that followers are exempt from the authorities of government, laws and the courts, as long as they know how to use the right words and phrases.
Before Friday’s hearings began, one of Nagase’s supporters attempted to start a conversation with a lawyer unconnected to the case, and showed him a book titled Word Magic: The Powers and Occult Definitions of Wordstelling him he needed to read it.
Protecting ‘the vessels of the souls of my children’
The hearing concerned a claim filed by Nagase earlier this year, accusing the BC Supreme Court Master Grant Taylor of violating, among other things, his “right of protection and preservation of the vessels of my bloodline [and] … the vessels of the souls of my children.”
Nagase, a family physician who no longer holds a medical license and was the subject of a public warning related to his scientifically unsupported statements about COVID-19, filed a handwritten notice of claim in May.
It accuses Taylor and the court of exposing Nagase’s children to “future consequences untold and not yet realized of myocarditis, thrombosis, cancer and sterility.”
An amended notice of claim filed the next month appears to hold Taylor responsible for the fact that Nagase’s children received what he describes as “a prima facie medical experiment commonly known as COVID-19 vaccination.”
It says Taylor wrote an order barring Nagase from any contact with either child between November 2021 and November 2022, during which time they presumably received their shots.
The claim doesn’t specify why this order was made or what legal action it is related to, but court records show that Nagase is currently involved in a family law dispute.
Nagase claims that his children “have been subject to future harm enabled by wrongful orders,” and asks for $33.3 million in damages for each child, plus future medical expenses, to be paid jointly by Taylor and the court.
Friday’s hearing was scheduled to hear an application from Kleisinger, on behalf of the BC attorney general, asking for the claim to be dismissed as “unnecessary, scandalous, frivolous or vexatious” and “an abuse of the process of the court.”
When Justice Margot Fleming took her seat to address the court, Nagase introduced himself as “daniel-yoshio of the family nagase,” specifying that his name should be spelled without capital letters. This formulation, including the unusual punctuation, is common among people who declare themselves “natural persons,” exempt from Canadian law.
As the crowd of Nagase’s supporters stood listening, Fleming told the court, “I am aware of the very significant public interest in this matter.” She said it would be necessary to reschedule the hearings for a regular courtroom, not one that generally hears procedural chamber applications.
A new date has yet to be set. On Friday morning, Fleming directed Nagase to go to the registry to speak with Kleisinger and court schedulers, but instead he headed outside to pose for photos with his supporters on the courthouse steps.
Unlicensed doctor faces misconduct hearing in BC
Over the last three years, Nagase has risen to prominence for his public agitation against measures related to COVID-19.
He has frequently repeated false and misleading information about vaccines, spreading untrue rumors of a spike in still births at Lions Gate Hospital caused by the shot, and giving an anti-vaccine speech in front of hung effigies of BC politicians at the legislature in Victoria.
He has resigned his license to practice medicine in this province, but still faces a disciplinary hearing with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC for misconduct related to what the college describes as his “misleading, incorrect, or inflammatory statements about vaccinations, treatments, and measures for COVID-19.”
In Alberta, where he has also worked, his registration has been canceled for non-renewal and non-payment of fees. The College of Physicians of Alberta has also issued a notice saying he’s forbidden from writing masks or vaccine exemption letters, prescribing the anti-parasitic medication ivermectin or from treating any COVID-19 patients.
In October 2021, Alberta Health Services issued a warning about Nagase’s public claims of using ivermectin to cure COVID-19 in elderly patients, stating that neither the veterinary nor human versions of the drug have been proven safe or effective treatments for the virus.