By David Fraser in Ottawa
A lawyer representing “Freedom Convoy” organizers has told a public inquiry into the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act there was no evidence the law was necessary to end the protests that took over streets around Parliament Hill last winter.
“There was no reasonable and probable grounds to invoke the Emergencies Act and the government exceeded their jurisdiction, both constitutionally and legislatively, in doing so,” said Brendan Miller.
Miller’s clients are among a list of groups with standing at the inquiry who presented opening remarks Thursday, as the Public Order Emergency Commission began six weeks of public hearings in downtown Ottawa.
The Liberal government invoked the act on Feb. 14, the first time it had been used since it replaced the War Measures Act in 1988. The move temporarily granted police extraordinary powers and allowed banks to freeze accounts.
The Liberals argued invoking the law was needed to end border blockades and the occupation of downtown Ottawa by protesters demonstrating against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, lockdowns and the government.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association argued at the time that the government had not met the threshold for declaring an emergency.
The judge leading the public inquiry warned of tight timelines as he urged everyone to work together to enlighten Canadians.
“Uncovering the truth is an important goal,” Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Paul Rouleau said in his opening remarks.
“When difficult events occur that impact the lives of Canadians, the public has a right to know what happened.”
Rouleau and his staff started the proceedings by explaining how the inquiry will work, including how documents and evidence will be presented, before witnesses begin testifying on Friday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, seven federal ministers, police forces and officials from all levels of government as well as “Freedom Convoy” organizers are all expected to appear in the coming weeks.
During the first afternoon of hearings, lawyers representing many of the groups with standing laid out what they hoped to accomplish and why they were taking part.
Federal government lawyers argued the Liberals did have a “reasonable basis” for using the Emergencies Act.
The declaration of a public order emergency came after weeks of what Trudeau called an “illegal occupation” of downtown Ottawa, and weeks of frustration from people living in the area, many of whom were critical of the police response.
Peter Sloly resigned as Ottawa’s police chief in the midst of mounting public pressure during the protests. His lawyer, Tom Curry, said the former top cop has a list of recommendations to prevent, mitigate, respond to and recover from significant protest events.
David Migicovsky, legal counsel for the Ottawa Police Service, said there were well-established processes in place to deal with protesters, but they didn’t work during the “Freedom Convoy.”
“The police had little time to prepare. The genesis of the protest only began a few weeks before it arrived,” he said, adding it was difficult to gauge the size of the convoy because many people joined as it moved closer to Ottawa.
“That could not have been predicted.”
He said none of the intelligence reports predicted the “level of community violence and social trauma that was inflicted on the city and its residents.”
A lawyer representing the Ontario Provincial Police said they will show how intelligence was gathered, including through a liaison team with protesters, and shared with policing partners.
Lawyers representing Saskatchewan and Alberta are questioning whether the provinces were adequately consulted before invoking the law, and whether the powers granted under it were too broad.
Commission counsel presented reports Thursday afternoon that describe dozens of protests mounted against public health measures and lockdowns across Canada, starting in the spring of 2020, culminating in the convoy to Ottawa.
Police took action in many of those demonstrations, and arrested or ticketed protesters who were part of varying-sized crowds over the two years the pandemic dragged on.
The hearings in the building that houses Library and Archives Canada are being livestreamed and members of the public can share their views with the commission online.
Since the commission was established on April 25, it has been collecting documents and interviewing dozens of people, including central figures in the “Freedom Convoy” such as Tamara Lich, Chris Barber, Pat King and James Bauder — all of whom are facing criminal charges for their roles.
Lich was among those in the public viewing gallery Thursday.
“I’m really happy to be back here and I’m looking forward to testifying,” she said in one of her first public statements since being arrested for helping organize the convoy.
Rouleau said the process getting to the start of the inquiry has been “challenging.”
“Discharging my mandate is not an easy task,” he said, later adding that “timelines will be tight.”
He appealed to participants and their legal counsel to co-operate to ensure the facts are properly presented to the public, and said inquiries are meant to learn from experience and make recommendations for the future.
“They do not make findings of criminal liability, they do not determine if individuals have committed a crime.”
The City of Ottawa’s auditor general has also launched a review of the local response to the convoy, and several groups have initiated proceedings in Federal Court to challenge the government’s use of the Emergencies Act.
The inquiry is also distinct from the all-party parliamentary committee struck to review the Emergencies Act’s use in March.
Both the public inquiry and the parliamentary committee, which continues its work, are required under the Emergencies Act.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2022.
FOIA Doc Shows BioNTech Founders Postdated Start of C19 Vax Project
From the Brownstone Institute
As noted in my last article on BioNTech’s “brazen” avoidance of safety testing of its Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech founders Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci claim in their book The Vaccine that the company’s Covid-19 vaccine project got underway on January 27, 2020. But documentary evidence released in response to a FOIA request (and included in the so-called “Pfizer documents”) shows that this is not true and that the company had in fact already begun preclinical, i.e. animal, testing nearly two weeks earlier, on January 14.
BioNTech R&D STUDY REPORT No. R-20-0072 is available here. The report is also referenced and discussed in an FDA submission on the preclinical study program that is available here. The below screenshot shows the study dates from p. 8 of the report.
In the book, Sahin claims furthermore that he only even became interested in the outbreak in Wuhan on January 24, after reading an article in the German weekly Der Spiegel (p. 4) and/or a submission to The Lancet (p. 6). But look again at the study dates above. BioNTech had already completed the first preclinical study for its Covid-19 vaccine the day before!
January 24, 2020 was a Friday. On Sahin’s account, he took the decision to launch his Covid-19 vaccine project over the weekend and unveiled his plans to his collaborators at BioNTech’s headquarters in Mainz, Germany on the following Monday: January 27 (ch. 2 passim and p. 42; see screencap below).
Sahin claims (p. 33) that it was at this January 27 meeting that he asked BioNTech’s animal testing team to prepare the preclinical program that was in fact already underway!
It should be noted that January 14, 2020, the start-date of the first preclinical study, was just two weeks after the first report of Covid-19 cases in Wuhan and just a day after the release of the full SARS-CoV-2 genome (drafts had been released previously).
BioNTech’s first preclinical study was evidently prepared before publication of the genome and in anticipation of it. As explained in the summary of the study (p. 6), its purpose was to test BioNTech mRNA formulated in lipid nanoparticles produced by the Canadian firm Acuitas. But the mRNA was here encoding a proxy antigen (luciferase), not the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 that would later serve as the target antigen.
The study looked at both biodistribution and immune system activation. As the FDA submission on the preclinical program puts it, “Platform properties that support BNT162b2 were initially demonstrated with non-SARS-CoV-2 antigens” (2.4 NONCLINICAL OVERVIEW, p. 7).
In The Vaccine, which was written with the journalist Joe Miller, Sahin and Türeci talk about the need to obtain the Acuitas lipids, which, they say, were more suitable for intramuscular injection than BioNTech’s own in-house lipids. But, again, they postdate the matter. Thus, on p. 52, we read: “The missing piece was still Acuitas, who had not yet consented to the use of their lipids. Then, on the morning of Monday 3 February, [Acuitas CEO] Tom Madden offered his help.” But BioNTech was already running tests using the Acuitas lipids three weeks earlier!
Furthermore, BioNTech was not able to formulate its mRNA into the lipids itself, but depended on the Austrian company Polymun to do this for it. As noted in The Vaccine (p.51), Polymun’s facilities are an 8-hour drive from BioNTech’s headquarters in Mainz. In the book, Sahin and Türeci describe the first batch of mRNA for the vaccine tests proper being packed up and driven by car to Polymun outside Vienna: “A couple of days later, a small Styrofoam box containing frozen vials full of vaccine would be driven back over the border to BioNTech” (pp. 116-117).
But presumably this same back-and-forth had to have occurred with the mRNA encoding the luciferase. This means that as a practical matter “Project Lightspeed” must have gotten underway even earlier: at least several days before the January 14 start date of the study.
Why did Sahin and Türeci postdate the launch of their Covid-19 vaccine project in their book? Well, undoubtedly because the actual start date – and we do not know when exactly the actual start date was – would have seemed far too soon. Based on the above considerations, it must have been at the latest just days after the first December 31, 2019 report of Covid-19 cases in Wuhan.
Preston Manning picked to chair review of Alberta’s COVID response
Premier Danielle Smith has struck a committee to investigate how the Alberta government responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and has appointed former Reform Party leader Preston Manning to chair it.
Smith, in a statement, says Manning and the panel will take feedback virtually from experts and the public, then issue a final report and recommendations by Nov. 15.
Manning is to pick the other panel members subject to approval by Smith.
The budget is $2 million, and Manning is to be paid $253,000.
Manning and Smith have been critical of government-imposed health restrictions such as masking, gathering rules and vaccine mandates during the pandemic.
Smith has questioned the efficacy of the methods and their long-term effects on household incomes, the economy and mental health.
She has criticized both Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the former chief medical officer of health, and the Alberta Health Services board for failing to provide good advice and help prepare for the pandemic, which she says forced the government to impose health restrictions and vaccine mandates.
Smith replaced Hinshaw and the board shortly after taking office in October.
The premier said Alberta needs to be ready for future health emergencies.
“There are valuable lessons we learned from the Alberta government’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency,” Smith said in the statement Thursday.
“It’s important that we apply those lessons to strengthen our management of future public health crises, and the panel’s recommendations will be key in doing so.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2022.
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