Monday, February 28, 2022

NZ High Court throws out Covid-vax mandate for police & Defence Force

Not demonstrably justified': High Court upholds challenge to Police and NZDF vaccination mandates, terminations suspended | NZ Herald - Ethan Griffiths & Caitlan Johnston:

February 24, 2022 - "A High Court challenge questioning the legality of Covid-19 vaccination mandates for Police and Defence Force employees has been upheld, with the court determining that the government mandate is an unjustified incursion on the Bill of Rights.... Justice Francis Cooke determined that ordering frontline police officers and Defence staff to be vaccinated or face losing their job was not a 'reasonably justified' breach of the Bill of Rights.....

"The challenge was supported by a group of 37 employees affected by the mandate, who submitted written affidavits to the court. Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Michael Wood, Deputy Police Commissioner Tania Kura and NZDF Chief People Officer Brigadier Matthew Weston filed affidavits defending the mandate.... 164 of the overall police workforce of nearly 15,700 were affected by the mandate after choosing not to be vaccinated. For NZDF, the mandate affected 115 of its 15,500 staff.

"The group relied on two aspects of the Bill of Rights - the right to decline a medical procedure and the right to religious freedom. On the religious freedom argument, a number of those who made submissions referred to their fundamental objection to taking the Pfizer vaccine, given that it was tested on the cells that were derived from a human foetus. Justice Cooke agreed with the claim.... However, Justice Cooke disagreed with the claimants' broader claims that requiring vaccination is inconsistent with holding religious beliefs more generally.

"'I do not accept that a belief in an individual's bodily integrity and personal autonomy is a religious belief or practice. Rather it seems to me, in the circumstances of this case, to be a belief in the secular concept referred to in section 11 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.'

"Justice Cooke also agreed with the claim that the mandate impinged on the right to decline a medical procedure. The judge said that while it's clear the government isn't forcing Police and NZDF employees to get vaccinated against their will and they still have the right to refuse vaccination, the mandate presents an element of pressure. 'The associated pressure to surrender employment involves a limit on the right to retain that employment, which the above principles suggest can be thought of as an important right or interest recognised not only in domestic law, but in the international instruments,' Justice Cooke stated....

"The court accepted that vaccination has a significant beneficial effect in limiting serious illness, hospitalisation, and death, including with the Omicron variant. However, it was less effective in reducing infection and transmission of Omicron than had been the case with other variants of Covid-19. 

"'In essence, the order mandating vaccinations for police and NZDF staff was imposed to ensure the continuity of the public services, and to promote public confidence in those services, rather than to stop the spread of Covid-19. Indeed health advice provided to the government was that further mandates were not required to restrict the spread of Covid-19. I am not satisfied that continuity of these services is materially advanced by the order,' the Judge said. 'Covid-19 clearly involves a threat to the continuity of police and NZDF services. That is because the Omicron variant in particular is so transmissible. But that threat exists for both vaccinated and unvaccinated staff. I am not satisfied that the order makes a material difference, including because of the expert evidence before the court on the effects of vaccination on Covid-19 including the Delta and Omicron variants'....

"Matthew Hague, counsel for the applicants, said that the affected workers must be allowed to return to work. He said he doesn't see why they won't be allowed to return on the grounds that they are currently still in a suspension period and because the basis of their dismissal was the mandate which has now been overruled.... In two separate but identical statements on Friday, spokespeople for both Police and NZDF said that any move to terminate staff contracts as a result of the vaccination order will be suspended while the decision is considered by government.... Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood also released a statement on the decision, saying the government will take time to consider the decision and seek advice on next steps."

Read more: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/not-demonstrably-justified-high-court-upholds-challenge-to-police-and-nzdf-vaccination-mandates-terminations-suspended/LMAUM7LZWV6FFQWAKKJFLKYLIE/ 

Sunday, February 27, 2022

U.S. CDC radically changing Covid messaging

The CDC Discovers Actual Public Health, Just in Time | Brownstone Institute - Jeffrey A. Tucker: 

February 26, 2022 - "One day I’m reading an internal memo commissioned by the Democratic Party to provide advice to dealing with Covid policy. The next day I’m reading headlines about how the CDC has drastically altered its advice on how to deal with Covid. Is there a relationship?...

Let’s look at the memo produced by Impact Research. Some excerpts: 

  • Democrats have a tremendous opportunity to claim an incredible, historic success – they vaccinated hundreds of millions of people, prevented the economy from going into freefall, kept small businesses from going under, and got people back to work safely. Because of President Biden and Democrats, we CAN safely return to life feeling much more normal – and they should claim that proudly.
  • Six in ten Americans describe themselves as “worn out” by the pandemic. The more we talk about the threat of COVID and onerously restrict people’s lives because of it, the more we turn them against us and show them we’re out of touch with their daily realities.
  • [I]t means recognizing that the threat of COVID is no longer what it was even a year ago and therefore should not be treated as such – shutdowns, masks, and lockdowns were meant to save lives when there was not yet a vaccine that could do that. Voters know we now have the tools in the toolkit to be responsible in combatting and living with COVID – vaccines and boosters to minimize illness, and masks and social distancing around vulnerable groups.
  • They think the virus is here to stay, and 83% say the pandemic will be over when it’s a mild illness like the flu rather than COVID being completely gone, and 55% prefer that COVID should be treated as an endemic disease. And that’s what most Americans are dealing with—a disease with fatality rates like the flu—because most of us took the personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our families by getting vaccinated. 
  • Stop talking about restrictions and the unknown future ahead. If we focus on how bad things still are and how much worse they could get, we set Democrats up as failures unable to navigate us through this. When 99% of Americans can get vaccinated, we cause more harm than we prevent with voters by going into our third year talking about restrictions. And, if Democrats continue to hold a posture that prioritizes COVID precautions over learning how to live in a world where COVID exists, but does not dominate, they risk paying dearly for it in November.

"A few points. There is no strong evidence that 'shutdowns, masks, and lockdowns' saved lives which is perhaps why the memo backs away slightly from the claim with the words 'meant to'.... This memo is not epidemiology but politics, most strongly illustrated by the idea that polling should make the difference as to whether a pathogen is pandemic or endemic.... From a policy point of view, there are two main features that stand out: Covid is here to stay and 'most people in the US will eventually get COVID-19' (thereby hinting at the reality that vaccines are not effective in the way that Biden/Fauci/Walensky promised) and therefore the focus should be on protecting the vulnerable. There is nothing new about this.... You can shout “Omicron” all day but it was also true with Alpha and Delta as well. The virus should have been treated rationally the entire time and policies that have wrecked public health should have been off the table from 2020....

"As for how the Democrats somehow prevented an economic freefall, the worst economic outcomes are very clearly in Democratic-controlled states that retained restrictions for nearly two years in some places, including keeping schools closed. There is a reason for the mass migration that this has inspired. If we are looking for thriving economies, look to the states that never closed up or opened earliest: South Dakota, Florida, Texas, Georgia, and so on. So none of this is remotely true but, hey, this is politics, right?, so it doesn’t have to be true. 

"Now, let us consider the dramatic turnaround at the CDC that came out the very next day. The full PDF is embedded below. Here are the talking points handed to the director. 

"It’s not just about masking, which is being relaxed. The CDC says there needs to be a dramatic shift away from endless monitoring of cases that are overwhelmingly mild and instead focus only on actual sickness that lands people in the hospital and threatens life. We need to stop obsessing about cases and start looking mainly at 'medically significant disease.' The focus should be on 'protecting the most vulnerable'....

"In order to justify this change, the CDC posts four sets of charts on Covid prevalence during episodes of the pandemic. The last chart illustrates the point that an exclusive focus on controlling the spread is utterly preposterous at this point. Under the old protocols, the whole country should be back in lockdown. It’s unimaginable what attempting this now would cause. 

"To be sure, all of this is enormously frustrating for those of us engaged in this battle for two years. Instead of focusing on getting sick people well, the CDC experimented with wild guidelines that imagined some kind of society-wide solution that seemed designed to crush the virus while vast amounts of social and economic activity were shut down by law. This necessitated a crushing of freedoms, including of travel, association, commerce, religion, and, eventually even speech. The CDC nowhere admits this much less apologizes for it. 

"Two years in, the CDC seems to have rediscovered the traditional practice of public health, and has justified this new wisdom based on changed conditions, while never even bothering to claim that its previous measures and guidelines achieved anything along the way. We’ve seen a massive collapse in public health, economic vitality, and essential rights, while closing schools and wrecking education and so much more, all in the name of virus control, even as the evidence is now overwhelming that the entire enterprise was not only a distraction from what should have happened (therapeutics and protecting the vulnerable) but also an astonishing failure. Why the change? It had to happen at some point. The entire machinery of lockdowns and mandates were destined to fail. As to the timing of the reversal, it’s hard to resist the speculation that it is entirely political. See the memo above. 

"Still, there is a worrisome aspect to the CDC’s announcement. They reserve the right to do it all over again. 'We want to give people a break from things like mask-wearing, when these metrics are better, and then have the ability to reach for them again should things worsen,' she said. No one should be satisfied with a politically motivated change in the messaging. We need fundamental regime change so make sure that nothing like this can ever happen again."

Read more: https://brownstone.org/articles/the-cdc-discovers-actual-public-health-just-in-time/

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Majority of Canadians 18-54 approved of Freedom Convoy

Trudeau’s convoy response gets failing grade, but even fewer support protesters: Ipsos poll | Global News - Aya Al-Hakim:

February 24, 2022 - "As the so-called “Freedom Convoy” comes to an end in Ottawa, Canadians remain divided on how they feel about the protests. According to a new Ipsos poll published Thursday, Canadians’ approval of Justin Trudeau’s handling of the convoy blockade was only seven points higher than that of the protesters. 

"The poll conducted exclusively for Global News showed that 43 per cent of Canadians approved of the way Trudeau handled the three-week long protests in Ottawa while 36 per cent per cent supported the way the truckers handled themselves throughout the occupation. In Ontario ... 49 per cent approved of Doug Ford’s handling of the situation, narrowly beating the 46 per cent who approved of Trudeau’s performance.

"'What’s particularly worrying is that 52 per cent of the people that we interviewed said that the prime minister’s divisive rhetoric and the way that he approached the protest was mostly responsible for what happened,' Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos public affairs, told Global News. Bricker explained that Trudeau characterized people who were part of the protest as the ones who voted for the opposition parties, particularly the People’s Party and the Conservative Party, but 'the data shows that people aren’t particularly united around any sort of partisan choice.' 

"'This is really a group of the population…who really are feeling left out, left behind and very concerned about the way that the government is not only managing the pandemic, but also the way that the economy is going right now,' said Bricker. 'They have a very challenged sense of hope. But it’s not defined in partisan terms. The prime minister chose to define it in those terms, and the reaction from the public to that has been quite negative. As we’ve seen in the polling results, 52 per cent of the population said he added fuel to the fire,' he added.

"According to the poll, nearly 46 per cent say that while they may not agree with everything that the convoy participants have said and done in Ottawa, their frustration is legitimate and worthy of people’s sympathy. 'So as bad as things got during the course of the protest, it really didn’t affect how people felt about the protesters themselves,' Bricker said.

"About 48 per cent of people also said that the protest probably wouldn’t have taken place if people weren’t feeling the level of economic frustration that they’re feeling. On top of that, 54 per cent of Canadians also believe the protests in Ottawa at least partially contributed to the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions in the country.

"Bricker said the issue here is that 'even though authorities may not like it,' data is showing that protesters have gained a certain amount of sympathy among the Canadian population.

"The poll also states that 'a deep generational divide is evident,' with a majority of those aged 18-34 (58 per cent) and 35-54 (53 per cent) sympathizing with the protesters compared to only 32 per cent of those aged over 55. Bricker said that younger Canadians are feeling very insecure in this economy and are sympathizing more with the frustration that the convoy is presenting compared to older Canadians and those who are more economically secure. 'Usually, we see things through a partisan lens or we see them through a regional lens. Not this time. It’s a different type of division that we’re seeing,' he said.

Read more: https://globalnews.ca/news/8640772/ipsos-poll-trudeau-convoy-response/

Friday, February 25, 2022

All Covid restrictions lifted in England

Boris Johnson lifts remaining COVID restrictions in England | PBS - Jill Lawless, Associated Press:

February 21, 2022 - "British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that he is scrapping the last domestic coronavirus restrictions in England, including the requirement for people with COVID-19 to self-isolate, even as he acknowledged the potential for new and more deadly variants of the virus. 

"Johnson told lawmakers in the House of Commons that the country was 'moving from government restrictions to personal responsibility' as part of a plan for treating COVID-19 like other transmissible illnesses such as flu.

Johnson speaking at press conference, July 2020. Wikimedia Commons 

"'We now have sufficient levels of immunity to complete the transition from protecting people with government interventions to relying on vaccines and treatments as our first line of defense,' Johnson said. Johnson confirmed that mandatory self-isolation for people with COVID-19 will end starting Thursday, and the routine tracing of infected people’s contacts will stop. People will still be advised to stay home if they are sick — but will no longer get extra financial support introduced during the pandemic for those who miss work....

"Starting April 1, lab-confirmed PCR tests for the virus will be available free only to older people and the immune-compromised. The government will also stop offering the public free rapid virus tests, though they will be available privately for a price, as is already the case in many countries....

"The government plan foresees vaccines and treatments keeping the virus in check. Everyone 75 and older will be offered a fourth vaccine dose, along with those 12 and up who have conditions that make them vulnerable to severe disease. The government said it will accept recommendations from its vaccine advisory group on whether fourth shots should be offered more widely.

"'We don’t need laws to compel people to be considerate to others … So let us learn to live with this virus and continue protecting ourselves and others without restricting our freedoms,' Johnson said. 

"The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, said the government’s approach would leave Britain vulnerable. Some scientists also said removing all restrictions was a risky move that could bring a surge in infections and weaken the country’s defenses against more virulent future strains.... The government said it would retain a strong surveillance system, including the Infection Survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics, which is considered invaluable because it tests people whether or not they have symptoms. It said it also will keep the ability to ramp up testing if needed.

"Johnson’s Conservative government lifted most virus restrictions in January, scrapping vaccine passports for venues and ending mask mandates in most settings apart from hospitals in England.... A combination of high vaccination rates in the U.K. and the milder omicron variant meant that easing restrictions last month didn’t lead to a surge in hospitalizations and deaths. Both are falling, though the U.K. still has Europe’s highest coronavirus toll after Russia, with more than 160,000 recorded deaths."

Read more: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/boris-johnson-lifts-remaining-covid-restrictions-in-england

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Trudeau withdraws Emergencies Act

GUNTER: Trudeau's about-face on Emergencies Act the move of a shameless political plotter | Edmonton Sun - Lorne Gunter:

February 23, 2022 - "Jagmeet Singh must be the most embarrassed person in the country today. Less than 48 hours after the federal NDP leader compromised every principle he and his party had ever stood for, just so he could support the Liberals’ invocation of the Emergencies Act, Singh had to watch Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pull a complete 180 and announce he was ending the state of emergency (presumably so he didn’t have to watch the Senate do it for him).

"Wait a minute, you say. Shouldn’t Trudeau be even more embarrassed? After all, Monday he was claiming there was still a nefarious plot to overthrow our democracy, but Wednesday he was insisting the bad bogeymen were all gone. Of course, he should be embarrassed.... But being a Liberal means being shameless. Nothing comes before preserving your party’s power. So, even if you have to make the biggest about-face in recent political history, if that’s what’s needed to keep your party from sliding further in the polls, you do it....

"Monday, Trudeau stood in the House of Commons and insisted his government needed — absolutely needed — to seize bank accounts, cancel mortgages, hold convoy leaders without bail, make arrests without warrants, ban otherwise lawful protests and exercise all sorts of police-state powers arbitrarily without oversight by Parliament or the courts....

"Wednesday afternoon, Trudeau said, 'We are confident that existing laws and bylaws are now sufficient to keep people safe.' But somehow they weren’t sufficient as recently as Monday afternoon when he insisted the plot to end Canada was so real it could only be thwarted by bringing into force the most restrictive law on Canada’s books? Then about 46 hours later: Oh, well. Never mind. Carry on, citizens. Nothing to see here. Only a conniving, dissembling, insincere political plotter without a stitch of modesty could pull that off with a straight face. 

"Which explains Trudeau’s lack of shame, but not Singh’s. Somehow, Singh thought it was more important to spare the Liberals another election (for which his party is unready) than strike a blow for Canadians’ civil liberties. I’m guessing at least Singh feels some shame over his role, though.

"But while being disgusted with the Liberals and NDP, Canadians should also be grateful to the Senate. It is widely believed Parliament’s often-maligned upper chamber was about to defeat the Commons bill giving the Trudeau government authority to invoke the Emergencies Act. While the act specifically permits the Senate to defeat any single invoking of emergency powers without forcing the government to call an election, it still would have been a huge embarrassment for the Liberals to have been rebuked.

"And Liberal insiders claim they have devasting internal polls showing the party’s unfavourability rating has shot up and up after its use of the Emergencies Act. Now it’s up to voters to hold a grudge long enough to finally punish the Liberals at the polls next time."

Read more: https://edmontonsun.com/opinion/columnists/gunter-trudeaus-about-face-on-emergencies-act-the-act-of-a-shameless-political-plotter

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Ireland and Iceland ending Covid restrictions

Ireland Scraps COVID Restrictions, Becoming the Most Travel-Friendly Country in the E.U. | Inside Hook - Lindsay Rogers:

January 24, 2022 - "In a televised address on Friday, Prime Minister Micheal Martin announced that — per the advice of public health officials — bars and restaurants would no longer need to close at 8 p.m. or to ask customers for proof of vaccination, and all venues, both indoor and outdoor, would be able to return to full capacity, effective Saturday.... [P]eople will still be expected to wear face coverings on public transport and in shops, but only until the end of February....

"This comes on the heels of the country’s decision to drop the testing requirement for vaccinated travelers at the start of the new year, meaning it’s currently one of the easiest countries to visit. And ... with pubs being able to operate at full capacity and not adhere to a curfew, all signs point to Ireland being able to properly celebrate St. Patrick’s Day for the first time since before the pandemic, when an estimated two million people gathered to attend parades and festivals nationwide.

"The latest series of changes also align Ireland with Northern Ireland where COVID rules are involved, with the latter loosening restrictions and dropping vaccine passes on Thursday. Northern Ireland is also set to reopen nightclubs next week."
Read more: https://www.insidehook.com/daily_brief/travel/ireland-scraps-covid-restrictions

Ireland drops most of its remaining COVID restrictions | Saltwire - Graham Fahy, Reuters:

February 22, 2022 - "Ireland on Tuesday said it will drop most of its remaining pandemic-linked restrictions from Feb. 28 as an Omicron-fuelled wave of infections ebbs.... People will no longer be legally required to wear masks, physical distancing measures in schools will end, and the national testing and tracing program will be scaled back. Government advice that masks should be worn on public transport and in healthcare settings will remain."
Read more:  https://www.saltwire.com/atlantic-canada/news/ireland-drops-most-of-its-remaining-covid-restrictions-100696551/


February 12, 2022 - "According to a press release issued by Iceland’s Ministry of Health yesterday, on February 12, persons who are already in self-isolation do not need to undergo COVID-19 testing in order to end their quarantine period.... In addition, the same has revealed that citizens of Iceland who have been exposed to the virus will no longer be required to undergo testing.... While the authorities have emphasised that the entry rules will remain unchanged for incoming travellers, they have announced that less stringent national COVID-19 restrictions will now apply within the country.

"Starting from today, the number of people allowed in indoor areas during the same time will be increased to 200. Previously, there was a limit of 50 persons. On the other hand, limitations in the number of persons for outdoor areas will be removed. Similarly, stores will no longer have restrictions in place when it comes to the number of people that are allowed access.

"Crowded events with up to 1,000 persons will also now be allowed, provided that everyone is seated and wears a mask. Regarding the requirement to wear a mask while in outdoor and indoor public areas, the Ministry has explained that citizens of the country, as well as travellers, will be required to follow this requirement only if the one-meter-distance rules can not be followed."
Read more: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/news/iceland-lifts-several-national-covid-19-rules-including-quarantine-requirement/

Iceland to lift all COVID-19 restrictions on Friday | Reuters:

February 23, 2022 - "Iceland will lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, including a 200-person indoor gathering limit and restricted opening hours for bars, the Ministry of Health said on Wednesday. 'Widespread societal resistance to COVID-19 is the main route out of the epidemic,' the ministry said in a statement, citing infectious disease authorities. 'To achieve this, as many people as possible need to be infected with the virus as the vaccines are not enough, even though they provide good protection against serious illness,' it added. All border restrictions would also be lifted, it said." [stress added]
Read more: https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/iceland-lift-all-covid-19-restrictions-friday-media-reports-2022-02-23/

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Freedom Convoy gone, Emergencies Act remains

Canada's Freedom Convoy is gone from the streets of Ottawa, but there are no plans to end the Emergencies Act it served as the pretext for.

Freedom Convoy Leaves Town and Quiet Returns to Ottawa | Wall Street Journal - Paul Vieira:

February  20, 2022 - "For the first time in over three weeks, downtown Ottawa on Sunday was largely deserted, with the heavy-duty trucks and thousands of protesters demanding an end to Covid-19 vaccine mandates replaced by police vehicles, officers, and crews trying to clean up after a 23-day demonstration. Officials in the capital and across Canada remained on high alert. While police in Ottawa cleared out Freedom Convoy protesters there, authorities in some of Canada’s biggest cities, such as Toronto and Vancouver, dealt Saturday with either the threat of a trucker-led demonstration or protesters that disrupted traffic.

"'It’s still clear that while police have made significant progress, the job is not yet done,' Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief and Canada’s emergency-preparedness minister, told CTV News on Sunday. 'The threat, the risks, the reasons we had to invoke emergency powers, they still exist'.... In the West Coast province of British Columbia, a convoy of vehicles on Saturday blocked a U.S.-Canada border crossing connecting Washington state with suburban Vancouver. Demonstrators were calling for an end to Covid-19 measures. The border crossing reopened late Saturday. Mr. Blair, Canada’s emergency minister, said the Vancouver-area protest was evidence that the government’s emergency measures were necessary.

"Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked extraordinary powers nearly a week ago under the country’s Emergencies Act that deemed the Ottawa protest and copycat demonstrations that blocked U.S.-Canada traffic as a threat to public order.... The powers allowed police to create no-go zones, such as downtown Ottawa, and compel tow-truck drivers to remove trucks.... Police in Ottawa on Sunday cordoned off the immediate area surrounding the country’s parliamentary district, with the help of 10-foot fences and concrete barriers, and limited vehicular and pedestrian traffic into the area.... 

"'This is not the normal state of our city,' said Ottawa police interim chief Steve Bell, of the need for fencing downtown. 'Despite the successes of the past few days, we require these measures to prevent unlawful protesters from returning.' Interim chief Bell said he couldn't provide a timeline as to when traffic flow in the Ottawa core would return to normal.... Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said Sunday the capital would continue to see a beefed up police presence for the immediate future, to ensure protesters don’t return and citizens’ safety can be secured."
Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/freedom-convoy-leaves-town-and-quiet-returns-to-ottawa-11645385184

Don Martin: An emergency about nothing as tow trucks become the excuse to act | CTV News - Don Martin: 

February 21, 2022 - "Pressed hard for an Emergencies Act justification with the protests gone, border blockades down and convoy leaders in custody, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reached deep into his leadership vacuum for rationalizations. The emergency demanding the unprecedented use of the Act was . . . hesitant tow truck drivers, the prime minister declared. Without a broad range of new federal powers, he argued in defending this mostly obsolete crisis intervention, truckers would not be towed without the Act and thus the occupation would still fill the streets around Parliament Hill.... 

"Only in Canada could this most-powerful of Acts be aimed at forcing reluctant tow truck drivers, who usually hover like price-gouging vultures over high-accident locations and snow-clearing routes, to drop the hook for a big-ticket rig removal.... This is clearly an Emergencies Act in search of an emergency after being introduced two weeks too late and approved on Monday night by a vote of 185 to 151, two days after the inspiration for the Act had left the city.

"Of course, there are no winners in this stew of parliamentary toxicity, flailing leadership, police hesitancy, city council division and insurrection insanity. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who sided with the government to approve the Act, has decided the nuclear option is needed for a protest which, while nasty, noisy and unsettling, was far from violent.... The Conservatives, too many of whom have canoodled with the convoy, ... [have] gone from legitimate government-in-waiting to fighting against People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier at the bottom of the nut barrel. 

"And, of course, there’s Trudeau, the convoy instigator who washed his hands of all responsibility for a problem he created that no longer exists but needs a law-enforcement sledgehammer now that the clean-up crews have arrived.... He imposed a vaccine restriction on truckers without a medical reason to justify it. He dismissed the many who are fed up with restrictions and vaccine mandates as a “fringe.” He acted to clear a key border crossing only when scolded by the U.S. president. He went invisible and silent as the protests escalated and he failed to cajole premiers into a coherent unified Canada-wide response. For all these flaws and faults framed by his moistly delivered repetitive geyser of rhetorical babble, his reputation has taken a hard hit....

"In the end, somehow, police will emerge as the best among the losers, finally doing their jobs without inciting widely predicted violence. After missing the rig-rolling-in threat and engaging in painfully slow and too-friendly enforcement, they got the cop numbers they needed and steadily pushed back. While I’ll bow to the view of police chiefs who say the Emergencies Act was at play during the breakups, it sure looked like basic police on parade using their everyday powers to corral and disperse a mostly-peaceful crowd....

"As the convoys retreated, they left behind smouldering wrecks in Canada’s political leadership. Removing them may be the most legitimate emergency use of tow trucks."
Read more: https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/don-martin-an-emergency-about-nothing-as-tow-trucks-become-the-excuse-to-act-1.5790644

Monday, February 21, 2022

Police take over downtown Ottawa

Cleanup crews replace protesters in downtown Ottawa as heavy police presence remains | CBC News:

February 20, 2022 - "The snowy streets of downtown Ottawa near Parliament Hill remain off-limits for the near future as Ottawa police say they're working to ensure no further protesters return. Police officers and City of Ottawa cleanup crews are the few people who remain in front of Parliament Hill on Wellington Street, where thousands of  demonstrators rallying against COVID-19 mandates occupied the streets for more than three weeks.... [I]nterim Ottawa police Chief Steve Bell said at a news conference Sunday afternoon ... police will figure out how to maintain a presence in the downtown core 'to make sure that nobody returns to occupy our streets again.'

"On Monday morning, police sent out social media reports advising people only parliamentary employees would be permitted north of Sparks Street between Elgin Street and Bay Street. Wellington Street, once the focal point of the protest, is closed to all traffic. There are approximately 100 police checkpoints surrounding the secured downtown area. Police say they are asking people for their reason for travelling within the area.... Bell did not say when downtown roads would reopen to residents or whether vehicle traffic would be barred from Wellington Street indefinitely.

"By Sunday morning, officers had fenced off the area immediately surrounding the Parliamentary Precinct, where protesters had been entrenched since late January, until a series of police advances throughout the day Saturday pushed the crowd first west, then south, away from Parliament Hill. Late last week, they set up a secure area stretching from Bronson Avenue to the Rideau Canal, and from the Queensway to Parliament Hill. Police continue to tell people to avoid the downtown core....

"By Sunday afternoon, police announced they had made 191 arrests and laid 389 charges against 103 people. The charges include obstructing police, disobeying a court order, mischief, assault, possessing a weapon and assaulting a police officer. Bell said in one instance, a protester tried to take an officer's Taser. Eighty-nine people arrested had been released on bail.... Police also towed 79 vehicles related to the protest. The vehicles include heavy trucks, pickup trucks and cars. Twelve Ontario licence plates and 24 out-of-province plates have also been seized, said Chris Harkins, deputy commissioner for the Ontario Provincial Police. Harkins said Sunday that the Ministry of Transportation had also taken action against 36 commercial vehicles.... The RCMP says to date, 206 personal and corporate bank accounts have been frozen.

"'We're hearing very clearly from the law enforcement community that the tools they had available to them were insufficient to respond,' Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair told CBC News earlier in the day. 'We provided additional supports, and it's having the positive effect of bringing this matter to a peaceful end.' But there are questions about whether the measures taken by police have been truly peaceful, with officers in riot gear using batons and anti-riot weapons to disperse the crowds — prompting Ontario's police watchdog to get involved.

"On Saturday, officers, including members of the Ontario Provincial Police, Sûreté du Quebec, Toronto's public order unit and Durham Region in Ontario, began using pepper spray at about noon in response to what the Ottawa Police Service called 'assaultive behaviour' from protesters. By about 7:30 p.m., Ottawa police said officers were using 'mid-range impact weapons' in response to assaults from protesters. On Sunday, the Special Investigations Unit said it was investigating two incidents that occurred on Friday and Saturday, when officers were clearing the streets. One involved a 49-year-old woman who reported a serious injury after an interaction with a Toronto police officer on horseback, and the other stems from officers discharging Anti-Riot Weapon Enfields at people near Sparks Street and Bank Street....

"Police action downtown convinced at least some protesters at the other major protest site — the semi-permanent camp at the Coventry Road parking lot — to pack up and leave. Tents and other structures at the site were dismantled over the course of several hours on Saturday afternoon, despite no visible police presence in the area....

"On Sunday, police announced various charges against Tyson George Billings, 44, from High Prairie, Alta. He's facing one count each of mischief, counselling to commit mischief, counselling to disobey a court order, obstructing police and counselling to obstruct police. Three top convoy organizers are all facing similar charges, including western separatist Tamara Lich, Saskatchewan trucker Chris Barber and Alberta resident Pat King. Former RCMP officer Daniel Bulford was also arrested late last week."

Read more: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/downtown-ottawa-streets-protests-police-1.6358396

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Freedom Convoy donors' accounts being frozen

Banks Have Begun Freezing Accounts Linked to Trucker Protest | Newsweek - Katherine Fung:

Illustration: Toronto Star, Feb. 16, 2022

February 18, 2022 - "Canadian banks have begun freezing the accounts of people linked to the trucker protests in Canada and the federal government is promising to take more accounts offline in coming days in an attempt to clear demonstrators from Ottawa, which has been occupied for nearly a month. On February 17, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a press conference that financial institutions have started freezing accounts and canceling credit cards in accordance with the Emergencies Act, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked earlier this week.

"The powers granted by the act would allow banks to target the accounts of people who have donated to crowdfunding platforms, like the fundraising campaigns on GoFundMe and GiveSendGo, that have fueled the ongoing protests, but Freeland said she would not give 'specifics of whose accounts are being frozen.'

"Donor information that was leaked from the GiveSendGo campaign — which has raised more than $9.5 million — revealed that more than half the donations going to protest organizers have come from the U.S. An analysis of the data by Newsweek found that California, Texas, Florida, New York and Michigan topped the list of the highest number of U.S. donations by state.

"Under the broadened federal powers, Canada's financial institutions have been prohibited from providing 'any financial or related services' to people who are 'directly or indirectly' involved in the anti-COVID mandate protests across the nation. The Emergencies Act has also allowed the Canadian government to expand the country's money-laundering and terrorist financing laws to sites like GiveSendGo, which are now required to register with the nation's financial intelligence agency and to report large and suspicious transactions to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre [FINTRAC] of Canada.

"'It gives me no pleasure to impose any of these measures. In fact we do so with great sorrow but do not doubt our determination to act, to defend our democracy, to defend our economy, and to restore peace,' Freeland said.... Freeland, who is also the country's finance minister, said federal law enforcement agencies are collecting their own intelligence on the protesters and their supporters, which is being shared with banks to block access to cash or cryptocurrency. She warned those still in Ottawa's downtown core that more ramifications would come if protesters don't leave, threatening to cancel insurance and suspend corporate accounts."

Read more: https://www.newsweek.com/banks-have-begun-freezing-accounts-linked-trucker-protest-1680649

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Trudeau's use of Emergencies Act challenged

'Legal standard not met': Two court challenges filed over Trudeau's use of Emergencies Act | National Post - Bryan Passifiume:

February 17, 2022 - "Two separate legal challenges were filed on Thursday against the federal Liberal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act by civil rights organizations accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of setting a dangerous precedent by invoking the act for reasons they say fall far short of the necessary legal thresholds. 'The government emergency declaration is unprecedented and seriously infringes the charter rights of Canadians,' said Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) in a Thursday afternoon press conference. The government brought in an extreme measure that should be reserved for national emergencies, a legal standard that has not been met.' Emergency powers, she said, cannot and must not be normalized in Canadian society.

"Joining the CCLA in challenging the government was the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF). 'The federal government has invoked the Emergencies Act as a matter of political convenience,' said CCF Litigation Director Christine Van Geyn in a press release announcing the foundation’s legal challenge. 'This is illegal and violates the rule of law, and that’s why we are challenging the government in court.'

"The prime minister invoked the Emergencies Act on Monday, insisting it was necessary to bring an end to protests, initially provoked by the federal government imposing vaccine mandates on cross-border truckers, that have snarled downtown Ottawa and interfered with Canada–U.S. border crossings. Freedom Convoy supporters have parked an array of transport trucks, heavy equipment and passenger vehicles ... throughout the Ottawa city centre ... followed by convoy-affiliated blockades at several Canadian border crossings ... most notably a days-long blockade at the Ambassador Bridge, a vital trade link between Canada and the United States.

"Protesters in downtown Ottawa awoke Thursday morning to find crews erecting fencing around Parliament Hill and throughout downtown — part of efforts, interim Ottawa Police Chief Steve Bell said, to establish a secure zone.... Police began arresting some protestors after 5 p.m., including Freedom Convoy organizer Chris Barber, who was handcuffed and led away surrounded by police while crowds shouted their disapproval.... Nearly 100 police-manned checkpoints will control access into the secure zone, barring those with no lawful purpose from entering the area."
Read more: https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/legal-challenge-against-emergencies-act-planned-by-constitutional-rights-group

CCF announces legal challenge to Trudeau’s invocation of federal Emergencies Act | Canadian Constitution Foundation:

February 17, 2022- "'Prime Minister Trudeau has set a dangerous precedent by invoking the never before used federal Emergencies Act to address the current situation. The high threshold for declaring a public order emergency in the Emergencies Act has not been met. The Act has been invoked to address a failure to use existing legal tools under the Criminal Code, which were used effectively on the Ambassador Bridge' ... said CCF Litigation Director, Christine Van Geyn. The Emergencies Act ... defines a national emergency ... [and] also requires that the federal government demonstrate that this situation cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.

"'Emergency legislation should not be normalized. The threshold for using the Emergencies Act is extremely high and has not been met. The decision to invoke the Emergencies Act, which has never been used or interpreted by the courts, is unprecedented. If Parliament authorizes the proclamation of the public order emergency, the courts will be the last defence for the rule of law', continued Van Geyn. 'This isn’t about the convoy versus the city. This is about the rule of law.' 

"The CCF is represented by lawyers Sujit Choudhry and Janani Shanmuganathan. Members of the public ... interested in supporting the case can make a tax deductible charitable donation at theccf.ca/emergenciesact/."
Read more: https://theccf.ca/legal-challenge-emergencies-act/

CCLA Will Fight Invocation of Emergencies Act in Court | Canadian Civil Liberties Association (press release): 

February 17, 2022 - " The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) announced today that it will pursue litigation to challenge the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act. 'We have retained Ewa Krajewska of Henein Hutchison LLP to take the federal government to court. We have said all along that the federal government did not meet the high burden necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act,' said Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Executive Director of the CCLA.... 'Governments already have the lawful authority to address difficult situations and do so all the time. This use of the Emergencies Act is unnecessary, unjustifiable and unconstitutional. Our society needs peaceful assembly – a critical democratic tool – even though not every person agrees with the content of every movement'....

"'We do not want to minimize the impacts of the protests that are occurring across the country. But, while some of the blockades have been immensely disruptive, it is unclear that the ongoing protests "endanger the lives, health or safety of Canadians" so as to rise to the threshold of a national emergency under the law,' said Abby Deshman, Director of Criminal Justice for the CCLA. 'The emergency orders that the government has tabled are not targeted. They are not limited to specific protests, or specific geographic locations. They are expansive emergency orders that have already come into effect and apply equally across the entire country. And they place unprecedented restrictions on every single Canadian’s constitutional rights. The current emergency orders place significant limits on peaceful assembly across the entire country. They require financial institutions to turn over personal financial information to CSIS and the RCMP, and to freeze the bank accounts and cut off financial services provided to anyone who has attended, or who has provided assistance to those participating in, a prohibited assembly – all without judicial oversight.'"
Read more: https://ccla.org/press-release/ccla-will-fight-invocation-of-emergencies-act-in-court-2/

Friday, February 18, 2022

What the Freedom Convoy wants (an open letter)

February 17, 2022 

Open Letter to our Premiers, and to our elected and appointed officials

End the mandates; end the vaccine passports. That's why we are here. 

We have given hope and power to freedom-loving Candians and beyond. People from arond the world are now standing with us and want their freedoms back. 

Today, February 17, 2022, we continue to inspire millions of Canadians to resolutely demand the return of their freedoms. We have furthermore become the model - the beacon of hope - for citizens across the globe. 

The government-imposed restrictions in the effort against the CoOVID-19 pandemic, which rescinded many of our liberties for our protection, have been worse than useless. For instance: families have become separated; children, who require intimacy and play for their educational and social development, are suffering the consequences of inhuman isolation; small business, especially the service industry, can no longer survive with limited capacities; mental health issues such as drug addiction, alcohol dependency, and suicide have increased several-fold.

The list of harms is too many to document here, and others will emerge with time. All we can do now is limit the damage you have done. 

The concept of 'freedom' here is not only an idea: we have materially felt its loss. Otherwise, we would not be in the streets. Many of us now have nothing to lose. This is out line in the sand. This is where we hold the line. 

Once we arrived in Ottawa, we experienced a truly Canadian gathering. The Sikh communities shared food with everyone. Dance parties were set up. Concerts with sea shanties were held. Children drew thank-you cards for truckers and handed roses to police officers in between playing street hockey, drinking hot chocolate, and jumping in bouncy castles.

We have heard Canadians far and wide. Here we communicate what has been conveyed to us. 

The message is clear: End the mandates; end the vaccine passports. That is why we are here. We are calling on all governments in Canada to restore the rights and freedoms of Canadians and set concrete limits so governments can't easily abuse our rights and infringe on our freedoms again. The message is as follows:

We call upon our governments to restore the rights and freedoms of all Canadians: 

  1. End all vaccine mandates.
  2. End federal, provincial, and municipal vaccine passports. 
  3. End all state-of-emergency declarations pertaining to out peaceful protests.
  4. Provide financial protection for the small businesses harmed by Covid restrictions. 
  5. Respect freedom of choice without discrimination.

Furthermore, Canadians want assurance that our governments will not make the same mistake again. We propose the following steps be taken to ensure this.

1. Supreme Court of Canada Review of Government Actions

We need to know whether our rights under the Charter mean anything. We call upon the Federal Government to initiate a Constitutional Reference to the Supreme Court of Canada about the constitutional validity of the Covid laws and restrictions.

2. Public inquiry of Government's Response to Covid

As a matter of national importance, Canadians call upon the Federal Government to appoint a fully independent and impartial public inquiry on the government's handling of Covid responses.

We need to know what went wrong - what caused governments to so easily trample our rights and freedoms and cause so much harm to our people and our nation. 

For the inquiry to be effective, the following conditions must be considered:

(a) the inquiry membrs are to be selected by an all-party parliamentary process;

(b) it must contain a thorough examination of the science, internal communications, policy responses, and the consequences. 

 _________________________________________________________________________________

Social media:
fb.com/realFreedomConvoy2022
Instagram: @realFreedomConvoy2022
Twitter: @rFreedomConvoy
www.freedomconvoycanada.com

Press Contacts:
Dagny Pawlak: dagnypawlak@gmail.com
Benjamin Dichter: bjdichter@gmail.com

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Canada Unity withdrew Memo of Understanding

by George J. Dance

On February 8 Canada Unity (CU), a group headed by James and Sandra Bauder, formally withdrew their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), a document CU had written in support of Freedom Convoy 2022. The withdrawal notice (at right, full text below) notes that over 300,000 Canadians had signed the MOU online by that date. 

Who is James Bauder? The New Statesman (NS) calls him "a QAnon and Covid-19 conspiracy theorist" – but then, the NS is a notorius legacy leftist rag, so their bio should not be simply accepted at face value. It also calls Bauder the "leader" of the Freedom Convoy, which is simply wrong; while he may have come up with the idea originally (the NS says that he had "previously organised a similar convoy to protest against measures to reduce carbon emissions") he was never its leader; the main organizers of the Convoy, and the recognized spokesmen for it, have been Tamara Lich and Benjamin Dietrich.     

The Convoy has one goal, as outlined by Lich at a February 3 Ottawa news conference: a commitment, by every level of government, to a "clear plan" for ending all Covid19 mandates and restrictions. (Since the Convoy began, three provincial governments have announced such plans.) Not only do lockdowns and other mandates violate fundamental rights guaranteed under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but they were also imposed unconstitutionally: the Charter provides a process for a government to violate a right when absolutely necessary (Section 33, the notwithstanding clause), but no government bothered to follow the due process; the Charter was simply ignored by all. Presumably, the MOU (which is no longer online) supported that goal.  

However, as has been reported, the MOU also called for the replacement of the Justin Trudeau administration with a new government, by the Governor-General (a power the GG has formally, though not in fact) and the Senate (a power the Senate does not have). As previously noted on this blog, that is not how Canada's political system works. A federal government can be removed at any time, under the Canadian system, but only by the House of Commons: if a government loses a confidence vote in the House, it must resign and a new government be formed. Without a loss of confidence in the House, the GG and Senate have no constitutional power to remove a government. 

Sadly, the pro-mandate part (by far the largest part) of Canada's legacy media seized on those lines in the MOU to promote its own narrative (the "unintended interpretations" mentioned in the withdrawal notice) that the convoy was an attempted 'insurrection' or coup, its real goal being to overthrow the Trudeau regime by force. The same message has been picked up and amplified by the world media. Here, for instance, is how the already-cited NS article describes the convoy's goals:

The protesters drew up a memorandum of understanding, calling on the senate and the governor general to overthrow Canada’s elected Liberal government. Pat King, the Alberta organiser, told followers of his livestream that 'the only way this is going to be solved is with bullets'. Throughout the protests, though they have shrunk from joining in, numerous conservative politicians have either posed for photographs with the truckers, or issued overt statements of support. There is no mystery as to what kind of movement this is: it is 21st-century fascism. 

The NS goes on to equate the protest to both the  2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, also framed that way  – a favorite comparison of Canadian media as well  , and even to the 1922 March on Rome that brought Mussolini's fascist government to power. Meanwhile, the Convoy's stated goal – of ending Covid mandates and restrictions that violate Canadians' Charter rights – was ignored in the same media. The result, if not the purpose, was to sow confusion and spread misinformation about the Convoy's goals and its supporters.

So it was good to see Lich call for only the removal of mandates (ignoring if not tacitly repudiating the MOU) on February 3, followed by the document's formal withdrawal by CU a few days later. No doubt much of the media will simply ignore those two facts, and continue misrepresenting the Convoy's goals. (The quoted NS article, for instance, came out February 16.) But now, at least, they have no excuse for doing so. 

Notice of Formal Withdrawal of MOU by Canada Unity | Canada Unity (news release):
February 8 2022 - "It has come to the attention of Canada Unity that the Memorandum Of Understanding (herein referred to as MOU) does not reflect the spirit and intent of the Freedom Convoy Movement 2022
"We represent the voice of many Canadians who desire to have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms upheld. We are everyday Canadians, not lawyers or politicians.
"We are immediately withdrawing the MOU as we do not want any unintended interpretations to continue. Our sole desire with the MOU was to have a document where Canadians could peacefully express their displeasure with current C19 mandates, and express their desire to be free. Canada Unity does not support or encourage any acts which tarnish democratic values held by Canadians.
"To the over 320,000 original signatories of the MOU; we appreciate your support and will continue to peacefully demonstrate until the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is upheld.
"This document was created with the sole purpose of bringing the government of Canada and all Canadian citizens into agreement; that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms should be upheld for all
"Canada Unity firmly supports the constitution and democratic process. We remain committed to following lawful process and upholding freedom of choice."

Canada Unity
James Bauder
Sandra Bauder
https://canada-unity.com/mou/

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Norway, Netherlands ending Covid restrictions

Norway drops almost all COVID-19 restrictions | Politico Europe - Hanne Cokelaere:

February 12, 2022 - "Norway is dropping most COVID-19 measures, including distancing, mask-wearing and quarantining requirements, the government announced Saturday. 'The coronavirus pandemic is no longer a major health threat to most of us,' Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said Saturday. 'The Omicron virus causes far less serious illness and we are well protected by vaccines,' he argued.

"From Saturday morning, requirements to keep a one-meter distance and wear a face mask are lifted; infected adults no longer have to quarantine, but are advised to stay home for four days, Reuters reported. The government also eased travel restrictions, dropping remaining requirements to carry proof of a negative test. But the government carved out an exception for travel to the archipelago of Svalbard, arguing health services are limited there.

"The shift follows advice by Norway's Institute of Public Health that there aren't clear benefits to delaying the spread of the coronavirus with restrictive measures. The government is expecting an uptick in infections as restrictions are eased, but said the country is well-placed to handle an increase. Norway already removed a large number of measures earlier in February."
Read more: https://www.politico.eu/article/norway-drops-coronavirus-restrictions/

The Netherlands to scrap all coronavirus restrictions | Politico Europe - Lukas Kotkamp:

February 15, 2022 - "The Dutch government today announced that it will lift all COVID-19 restrictions starting on February 25 despite several thousand confirmed daily cases of the coronavirus, mostly of the less severe Omicron variant. 'The country will reopen,' Health Minister Ernst Kuipers said during a press conference, the first such briefing since the start of the pandemic to take place without Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

"All public venues — including cinemas, restaurants and bars — will be able to resume normal operations at full capacity for the first time in almost two years. Face coverings and social distancing will no longer be mandatory in most places but will still be required on public transport and at airports.

"The government still advises against shaking hands and told people to get tested if they show 'flu-like' symptoms, with Kuipers saying that 'corona is not gone, keep that in mind'' and adding: 'Luckily, hospitalizations do not increase like the number of infections does.' About 86 percent of the adult Dutch population is fully vaccinated, one of the highest rates in Europe.... 

"The Netherlands is one of several European countries that have decided to scrap all pandemic restrictions, following Denmark, Sweden, England and, from Saturday, Norway."
Read more: https://www.politico.eu/article/the-netherlands-to-scrap-all-coronavirus-restrictions/ 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act to suppress Freedom Convoy

Canada invokes unprecedented emergency measures — and triggers a political firestorm | Politico - Zi-Ann Lum:

February 14, 2022 - "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has just taken the biggest risk of his political life. He’s gone all in, deciding to invoke the Emergencies Act — the first such use in Canada’s history — to put an end to the paralyzing truckers’ convoy. It’s a big bet for a third-term prime minister already facing criticism for politicizing the pandemic.... Invoking the Emergencies Act is a measure of last resort. It gives the federal government enormous powers to quell the disturbances, shut down crowdfunding and freeze the bank accounts of anyone assessed to be aiding the demonstrators. 

"Trudeau sounded a measure of both willfulness and desperation in a somber late afternoon press conference with Cabinet members. He made clear his conviction that the protests were no longer 'non-violent,' but also assured listeners that his government didn’t intend to use military force to put an end to the 'Freedom Convoy' occupation that is now entering its third week on Parliament Hill and encampments around the city.... He said the act doesn’t mean fundamental rights are suspended nor are Charter rights overridden. 'We are not limiting people’s freedom of speech,” he continued. “We are not limiting freedom of peaceful assembly. We are not preventing people from exercising their right to protest legally'....

Maksim Sokolov  Freedom Convoy protesters, Ottawa, Feb. 12, 2022. CC BY-SA, Wikimedia Commons.

"Criticism over the prime minister’s historic announcement came flying from all sides and levels of government.... New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh said Trudeau’s decision to invoke the act ... is evidence of a failure of leadership. 'The reason why we got to this point is because the prime minister let the siege in Ottawa go on for weeks and weeks without actually doing anything about it,' Singh told reporters.... Trudeau’s bid to protect democracy in Canada was slapped down by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association as an overreach. The association said the federal government hasn’t met the necessary threshold to enact emergency legislation, and cautioned against its repeated use. 'It threatens our democracy and our civil liberties,' the CCLA tweeted.

"Premiers, Canada’s provincial governors, are concerned Trudeau’s decision to invoke the Act could further inflame political entrenchment. 'We really need not to put oil on the fire,' said Quebec Premier François Legault ahead of Trudeau’s official announcement. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he respects citizens’ rights to protest.... Kenney called federal mandates, particularly those just being brought in as provinces and other countries are lifting measures, irresponsible public health policy that’s unsuitable 'particularly at a combustible time like this'....

"Trudeau made his historic announcement only an hour after MPs voted narrowly 185-151 against a Conservative motion proposing the government present a plan to lift federal vaccine mandates by the end of the month.... Interim Conservative Leader Candice Bergen backed the convoy protest from the onset.... 'The prime minister had an opportunity to talk and to listen to people who he disagreed with, and he refused to do so,' Bergen said. Invoking the Emergencies Act is a 'ham-fisted approach' that will likely have the opposite effect, she said, pointing the finger at the PM for escalating and inflaming the situation by using labels to deride people’s concerns and pandemic anxieties....

"Leadership hopeful Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre is another member of Bergen’s team who has been vocal with his support of the convoy. He blamed Trudeau for causing a political emergency. 'The solution is staring him in the face,' Poilievre said. 'All he has to do is listen to the experts, do what other countries are doing — and that is to eliminate these mandates and restrictions — to let the protesters including the truckers go back to their jobs and their lives'.... Conservatives’ and protesters’ demands to lift all Covid-19 mandates comes at a time where restrictions are easing across Canada, a country considered one of the most highly vaccinated in the world....

"'There will be time later to reflect on all the lessons that can be learned from this situation,' Trudeau told reporters Monday afternoon.... Under law, a public inquiry must be launched within 60 days of the expiration or revocation of the act investigating the circumstances that led up to its declaration. The inquiry also has a reporting obligation: It must produce a report to be tabled in Parliament within 360 days after the act has expired or revoked — making the issue one the Liberal government will have to revisit next year."

Read more: https://www.politico.com/news/2022/02/14/canada-emergency-measures-political-firestorm-00008896

Monday, February 14, 2022

Manitoba announces plan to end Covid restrictions

Manitoba to drop capacity limits next week, eliminate mask mandates by mid-March | CBC News - Darren Bernhardt:

February 11, 2022 - "Manitoba will eliminate capacity limits for many businesses and other venues starting Tuesday as the province aims to abolish all restrictions, including mask mandates, on March 15. The province also intends to remove all proof of vaccination requirements on March 1, which means vaccination cards will no longer be needed. All restrictions will end March 15, Premier Heather Stefanson said at a Friday morning news conference....

"'Today we offer hope to those who have been waiting for a long time to see that light at the end of the tunnel,' she said. 'The restrictions have placed many burdens on Manitobans, and now that we see the pressure of our hospital systems starting to ease, it's our responsibility of government to ease those restrictions on Manitobans.' Stefanson, who has stressed the importance of getting vaccinated, toned that message down on Friday. While she said she and her family are fully vaccinated, she added that 'the choice to get vaccinated is yours'.... 

  • On Tuesday, pandemic capacity limits will be dropped for restaurants, licensed premises, entertainment venues, indoor and outdoor sporting events and casinos and gatherings at private residences. 
  • They will also be removed for outdoor public gatherings.
  • Indoor public gathering limits will be removed if proof of vaccination is required to enter. If not, the limit will be 50 people.
  • Anyone age 12 to 17 who is participating in indoor sports and recreation will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination or recent testing.
  • There are no changes to retail and personal services until March.
  • Public health continues to recommend self-isolation for people who live in a household with someone who has symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, but it will no longer be required.
  • Self-isolation requirements for people entering the province will also be discontinued. However, anyone travelling from international destinations will continue to be required to meet requirements under the federal Quarantine Act.
  • Public health orders restricting travel to northern Manitoba remain in place....
  • Masks are required indoors for staff and students but will not be required during physical education classes. Medical masks will be recommended but no longer required for school staff.
  • Schools will continue to send out community notification letters if public health officials have identified increased transmission or recommended remote learning for a class, cohort or entire school. As well, Manitoba's online dashboard will continue to post this information but will no longer include case numbers, the province said in a release.
  • Children, school staff and child-care staff will only be eligible for PCR testing if medically indicated, in line with eligibility criteria for all Manitobans.
  • In some settings, such as personal care homes, shelters and health-care facilities, public health officials have continued to work with facilities to notify close contacts of people who test positive, but that will end on March 8, the province said in a news release.

"The Manitoba Health Coalition, a non-profit health-care advocacy group, released a statement on Friday expressing its disappointment with the changes. It suggested the province is responding to the anti-restrictions convoy set up outside the legislative building and international border."

Read more: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-covid-19-pandemic-restrictions-1.6347862

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Canada's government threw out PPE in 2019

Federal government trashed millions worth of PPE before COVID struck | Canadian Taxpayers Federation - James Wood:

July 29, 2021 - "The federal government threw millions of dollars worth of personal protective equipment [PPE] in the garbage months before COVID-19 arrived in Canada, according to exclusive records obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation..... 

"The disposal took place in September of 2019, during the closure of one of the Public Health Agency of Canada [PHAC]'s National Emergency Supply Stockpile warehouses located in Regina, SK. An estimated two million N95 masks and other assorted personal protective equipment were sent to the local dump. The original cost to purchase the PPE was $1,194,474, according to the records. Out of the landfilled PPE, $888,150 was made up of medium to large N95 masks, which skyrocketed in price during COVID-19. Face shields, surgical masks and other emergency medical supplies were also thrown away.... The feds disposed of the original masks in Sept. 2019 because they were reaching the end of their 'useful life,' according to the government.... 

"The CTF spoke with retired senator David Tkachuk, who served as the deputy chair of a Senate committee in 2008 that concluded the federal government had mismanaged and underfunded Canada’s emergency response system. ''First of all, I think it's nonsense,' said Tkachuk. 'These aren't the sort of products that spoil, but secondly, it was the fact that they weren't replaced and then they closed three of the warehouses'.... Tkachuk also noted that the responsibility for this waste of resources should be on the prime minister.... 'He never made an inquiry. He didn't do anything. He just ran away from it, didn't answer any questions and knew that CBC and CTV, nobody would really follow it up and make sure he was held accountable'....

"When the CTF approached PHAC for comment on this story, the agency defended the actions it had taken, saying there had been no need for PPE in its Regina warehouse at the time of disposal. The cost to toss the masks rang in at $4791, and PHAC said the closure of the warehouse saved $147,000 annually. As for whether or not the masks could have been used, the agency did not want to speculate."
Read more: https://www.taxpayer.com/newsroom/federal-government-trashed-millions-worth-of-ppe-before-covid-struck

Depleted national stockpile leaves Canada reliant on China for masks, gowns and other supplies during pandemic | CBC News - Geoff Leo:

May 06, 2020 - "More than two months into the coronavirus pandemic, federal and provincial governments are using extraordinary measures to supply health-care workers with personal protective equipment, including letting them use expired masks. And with more than 61,000 cases of COVID-19 coast to coast, and the country reaching the milestone of more than 4,000 deaths on Tuesday, supplies are just trickling in from overseas suppliers....

"As of April 30, Health Canada had ordered 1.8 billion units of PPE, from masks to gloves to gowns. Of the 36 devices approved so far under the order, 34 are manufacturers in China, including Wuhan Orient Honest International Trade Co., Shandong Zhushi Pharmaceutical Group Co., and Peek-a-Boo! I A See U!.... Much of the global supply of PPE comes from China.... Last month, China's own government revealed it had seized 89 million pieces of poor-quality product. Canada has also received at least one million masks from China that don't meet its standards since the pandemic began.... 

"The president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Sandy Buchman, says ... this highlights a failure of government planning. 'If we had planned properly and monitored these provincial and federal supplies of the equipment, we wouldn't be scrambling,' he said. 'We would be stockpiled and ready to go'....  Wesley Wark, a national security expert from the University of Ottawa who's studied Canada's national stockpile, said the pandemic has exposed a gaping hole in Canada's supply chain that urgently needs to be filled. 'The NESS concept has failed Canada in this current crisis.... We find ourselves in a position where China is our only hope,' he said."
Read more: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/ppe-import-china-shortage-1.5552426

No dismissals at Public Health Agency after PPE stockpile screwup | Rebel News - Sheila Gunn Reid:

February 11, 2022 - "[A] shocking admission was made during a House of Commons public accounts committee meeting on Thursday afternoon during an exchange between Ontario Conservative MP Philip Lawrence and Dr. Harpreet Kochhar, president of the Public Health Agency of Canada [PHAC]....

"[PHAC], tasked with the responsibility [of] pandemic preparedness, emptied several strategic stockpiles, allowed others to expire and closed warehouses to save money — though PHAC's own internal reports from 2011 warned managers to maintain a four month supply of masks, gloves and gowns. Tossed in the landfill were 8,839,942 masks, gowns and other PPE the year before the outbreak of COVID. PHAC had an annual budget at the time of more than $600 million.

"Blacklock's Reporter published a brief transcript of a portion of the committee meeting Friday morning:

Lawrence: “I asked a fairly direct question and I’d like a response. Was anyone held accountable? Was there anyone whose employment was terminated as a result of these significant lapses in your department? Was there anyone who faced any discipline at all?”
Kochhar: “This is a cumulative responsibility within the Public Health Agency – ”
Lawrence: “So to be clear no one has been held to account even though there were significant lapses that put our front line workers at risk?”
Kochar: “I reiterate the point that we are working very closely with our partners –”
Lawrence: “I’ll take that as absolutely no one in your department was held accountable for putting our front line workers at risk...."

"One manager at PHAC tasked with PPE warehouse mismanagement retired in 2020. Two previous PHAC presidents were given other public service jobs without seeing a pay cut."
Read more: https://www.rebelnews.com/no_dismissals_at_public_health_agency_after_ppe_stockpile_screwup

Saturday, February 12, 2022

The Power of Protest

The Power of Protest | Brownstone Institute - Jeffrey A. Tucker:

February 3, 2022 - "Israel has repealed [Covid] restrictions and is backing off vaccine mandates, even as cases and deaths are hitting new highs, and implausibly so in the most vaccinated and boosted country in the world. The UK has backed off too. Same in Denmark, Ireland, Finland, and Norway. Switzerland has joined in, and Sweden has rolled back its plans for an extended vaccine passport [and] has decided to get rid of them completely. Saskatchewan is ending all restrictions. We are seeing local governments and universities in the US gradually stepping back. No new cities have joined the brigade for vaccine passports and Denver, CO, is stopping theirs....

"Monmouth University tracks attitudes in the US toward government and media as it pertains to the pandemic response. At this point, every arrow over time slants down to the right. The number of people opposing vaccine passports outnumbers those supporting them by 10 points. A polled 70% say it is time we accept Covid as normal....

"It is surely not a coincidence that all of this accelerated the same week as the trucker convoy formed in Vancouver and made the trek across ... Canada ... in the snow, ending up in Ottawa and gathering many tens of thousands of citizens to protest. The Prime Minister fled the city and went to his bunker, making what looked like hostage videos that denounced the truckers with all the usual epithets. 

Crowds cheered Freedom Convoy Canada, January 27, 2022. Photo by Rise of the Dots! CC BY, Wikimedia Commons

"What’s even more striking is that the media in the US and Europe did not cover the convoy, probably the largest in history and certainly the most important protest in modern times in Canada. The topic never ended up on the front page of either the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. And yet: the effect was hugely powerful. Public opinion in Canada swung 15% to create a solid majority against all restrictions and mandates.... And other governments around the world are paying attention.... They are backing down, more already in Europe than the US. But even in US blue states, you can see evidence that the basis for restrictions and mandates is falling apart. Let’s also mention New Zealand, the island nation that pretended it would somehow magically make the virus go away. Now with wave after wave of cases, even the crazy Jacinda Ardern is rolling back quarantine mandates and gradually reopening the country. 

"The great slogan is 'living with Covid.' It is an implicit repudiation of everything that has happened for two years. It’s what we should have done all along. But the fanatics took over. The hysterical scream back in 2020 was that the power of the state, backed by media and corporate interests, would somehow make the virus go away. It was always ridiculously unachievable. The attempt unleashed massive abuse against the population, disrupted economies everywhere, and unleashed a tremendous amount of financial corruption that is still going on today. 

"We are nowhere near done with this. Massive restrictions are still in place. Travel is still a disaster. The mask mandate on transportation is as awful as ever. The segregation in DC, NYC, and Boston is morally repulsive. Plus, so many lives have been shattered. So many businesses have closed. Public health is in shambles. The demographic disruption has been profound. There are scandals lurking everywhere. What exactly were Fauci, Farrar, and Collins doing the whole of February 2020 instead of examining ways that sick people could get well? Why did they use burner phones? And that article debunking the lab leak in Nature, the one highly criticized later. How did that come about?

"Mysteries abound about the vaccine trials. And wait until people have a look at the “Emergency Use Approval” documents submitted by the manufacturers. They will discover that the pharma companies never promised much at all. They certainly never said that the vaxx would stop the spread, keep people from being infected, much less end the pandemic. They never said that it would work against variants.... 

"Governments spent many trillions of dollars, most of which ended up in the pockets of well-connected elites in the corporate and banking sectors. The payoffs and graft connected with everything, from testing kits, to masks, to therapeutics will be alarming to behold. And wait until people figure out that all along we might have had solid generics that have a massive effective impact on early treatment. 

"All wars come to an end, but governments rarely think in advance about the exit strategy. Instead, they kill and destroy until exhaustion sets in and then try to sneak away hoping that everyone will just move on. That’s pretty much how things fared with the Iraq War, and the results were devastating for the whole world. There are analogies to how governments are sneaking away from the catastrophe of the last two years. It’s been a war on people, a war on reality, and an attack on rights and liberties on a scale and scope that is without precedent in the modern age. None of it worked. Indeed, that is incredibly obvious now, and wholly humiliating and discrediting for vast swaths of the ruling class. 

"What kind of world emerges on the other side? There will be hatred against experts, elites, governments, media, pharmaceuticals, politicians, and deep-state bureaucrats. It’s already happening. And think of this: if it can happen in Canada, it can happen anywhere. Who would have imagined that it would be Canadian truckers who would step up and save the world?

"It’s a lesson to all of us. It shows that only an active minority of people can make a massive difference, if they speak with moral conviction and courage. Everyone else follows, provided the message is clear and speaks to the reality all around us.

"That, in a nutshell, is the case against despair. There is tremendous virtue right now in staying patient and letting the chips fall exactly where they have begun to fall. Yes, resignations would be ideal but regardless there will be a political realignment and a cultural rethinking. Freedom can win in the long run. And the world will be rebuilt, on a much more solid foundation than was present two years ago. We tried an experiment in tyranny. It flopped. Despite the enormous cost of what took place, we will all find ourselves in a good position to see a rebirth of liberty, human rights, and prosperity on the other side."

Read more: https://brownstone.org/articles/the-power-of-protest/


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