Originally published on October 29, 2020 by The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms
CALGARY: The Justice Centre today responded to new violations of the Charter-protected freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, announced earlier this week by Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer.
On October 26, Dr. Hinshaw declared that Albertans in Calgary and Edmonton cannot gather in groups larger than 15 for dinner parties, birthday parties, wedding and funeral receptions, retirement parties, baby showers and other social events.
“This Order violates freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly, as protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” stated lawyer John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre.
“This Order is based on ‘cases’ of COVID-19 in Alberta, including thousands of ‘cases’ among people who are not experiencing any symptoms or illness. This Order is not properly grounded in relevant considerations such as deaths, hospitalizations, and ICU capacity, and is therefore not a justifiable violation of fundamental Charter freedoms,” continued Carpay.
Prior to lockdowns being imposed this past March, the word “cases” typically referred to people who are actually sick and clearly displaying symptoms. But today’s “cases” include completely healthy people who simply had a positive PCR test. The reliability of the PCR tests is increasingly in dispute, with the number of false positives as high as 90% according to some reports.
Unsurprisingly, the number of “cases” rises with the number of tests that governments conduct. For example, September saw 28,763 “cases” in Canada, as a result of testing almost two million Canadians.
“What really matters is not the ‘cases’ of perfectly healthy people, but rather the fact that 25,000 Canadians die each month,” explained Carpay. “In September, 171 of those 25,000 Canadian deaths were attributed to COVID-19.”
The media continues to hype “cases” and warn of a “second wave.” Yet government data
shows that since May, monthly COVID-19 deaths in Alberta have remained under 50, with more than 2,000 Albertans dying each and every month of other causes, based on 27,000 Albertans dying each year. Deaths peaked in April and May, when 134 Albertans died along with about 4,000 Albertans who died in those same two months from other causes.
In Alberta and elsewhere, COVID-19 significantly threatens elderly people with one, two, three or more serious pre-existing health conditions, as well as a very small number of adults under 60. However, COVID-19 does not have a significant impact on overall life expectancy. The average age of those reported as COVID deaths in Alberta is 83. Life expectancy in Alberta is 82. To date, 309 Albertans, predominantly elderly near the final stages of their life, have died of COVID-19, almost all of them with one or more serious comorbidities.
“Government data shows that COVID-19 is not the unusually deadly killer that Premier Kenney and Dr. Hinshaw made it out to be when they claimed in April that—even with lockdown measures in place—as many as 32,000 Albertans would die of the virus,” stated Carpay.
“Politicians claim that the lockdowns saved many lives, but they have yet to put forward actual evidence that might support their speculation and conjecture,” stated Carpay.
Each and every month, Albertans mourn the passing of over 2,000 friends and family members, who die of cancer, car accidents, alcoholism, drug overdoses, suicide, heart disease, delayed surgeries, and many other causes. In the past seven months more than 14,000 Albertans have died, 309 of the virus and the remainder of other causes.
Since March, lockdown harms such as increase in drug overdoses, which kill more Albertans than COVID-19 does, have been either ignored or accepted, as if dying of COVID-19 is somehow worse than dying of another cause.
“In light of the Alberta government’s own data on COVID-19 deaths, there is no rational basis for forcing all Albertans to continue living in fear,” stated Carpay.
“Alberta’s politicians and health officials should focus their attention on protecting those who are at serious risk from COVID-19, rather than violating the Charter freedoms of the entire population,” stated Carpay.
“Albertans, and all Canadians, should exercise their freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly without fear of prosecution or penalty. This is especially true for the young, who are at more risk of being struck by lightning than dying of COVID,” concluded Carpay.
A for Quebec, F for Alberta: Study rates Canadian governments on conservation
A new report grades Canadian governments in how they responded to the country’s international promise to conserve at least 17 per cent of its land mass and 10 per cent of its oceans by 2020.
The report, released today by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, says Quebec and the federal government are the only jurisdictions to come close to meeting the 17 per cent conservation target.
The society says Alberta performed the worst, cancelling previously planned protections, delisting parks and attempting to open the Rocky Mountains for open-pit coal mining.
“A lot of it has to do with political will,” said society spokeswoman Alison Woodley.
The group chose to examine how close different Canadian jurisdictions came to meeting its Aichi targets, an international agreement signed by Canada in 2010. The idea, said Woodley, was to learn how to better meet the next set of conservation goals — 30 per cent of land and oceans by 2030.
The report used internationally recognized standards of what constitutes protection and federal data on the amount of land covered.
Nationally, Canada met and exceeded its 2020 ocean goals, but fell short by more than three percentage points on land. That was good enough for a B-plus and an A-minus respectively, the report says.
The report credits funding — the 2021 federal budget included $2.3 billion for conservation — as well as a willingness to work with Indigenous groups for Ottawa’s progress.
Quebec nearly met its land conservation goals, conserving 16.7 per cent of its territory.
“The province worked with communities and First Nations to identify and deliver on new protected areas,” said Woodley.
Alberta, not so much. Although the province has more than 15 per cent of its land mass protected, the report points out Alberta has attempted to delist parks, open its Rocky Mountains to coal mining and walked away from plans that would have created some of the biggest new protected areas in the country.
“It’s not just about areas of protections,” said report author Anna Pidgorna. “Alberta’s going backwards in many ways.”
Alberta Environment did not immediately respond to a request to outline conservation measures taken by the United Conservative government.
Ontario and Newfoundland share Alberta’s F grade. Ontario has protected less than one per cent of its lands over the last decade, with a similar story in Newfoundland and Labrador, where the percentage of protected land is among the lowest in Canada.
The rest of the country is a mix, said Woodley.
Saskatchewan is criticized for having protected less than 10 per cent of its land and weakening protections on native grasslands, but praised for working with Indigenous groups and granting interim protection to one new area. Manitoba made early progress, the report says, but has lately discussed selling off park land.
British Columbia has almost 20 per cent of its land under protection. But the province is criticized for no recent progress and underfunding the parks it does have.
The Northwest Territories get a B-plus for creating large new protected areas and working with Indigenous groups to define and manage them.
Woodley said the study shows that funding makes a big difference to creating protected areas. So does time and patience.
“Conservation takes time,” she said.
“A major barrier to delivering on the 17-per-cent target was a lack of time. If we’re going to meet the 30-per-cent target, we need to start now.”
Woodley said conserving land is the best way to address the loss of species and shrinking biodiversity around the world.
“Habitat loss is the primary driver of nature’s decline. Protecting habitat has to be a core part of the solution.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2021.
— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960
Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
Details released on fatal hunt for suspect in Alberta where police dog also died
HIGH PRAIRIE, Alta. — Alberta’s police oversight agency has released new details about last week’s death of a man whose pursuit, arrest and death near a provincial park also resulted in the death of a police service dog.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team says in a news release the 29-year-old suspect was involved in a shootout with RCMP on Thursday after officers had tracked him for several kilometres through thick bush around High Prairie, Alta.
During the gunfire exchange, ASIRT says a police service dog was shot and killed, and the officers were told to disengage and were airlifted out in a helicopter.
ASIRT says backup was brought in and officers fired their guns when they encountered the suspect again, and this time they believed they’d hit him, but attempts to find him failed.
The agency says officers later made contact with the suspect two more times but it appeared he hadn’t been injured after all.
The release says on Friday morning, two officers who were assigned to contain the area spotted the suspect in a ditch, a confrontation occurred, and both officers opened fire. The suspect was later pronounced dead.
“The man fell to the ground in the tall grass, and additional police officers and … medical officers responded to the area. Medical officers attempted to treat the man, but ultimately he died at the scene,” the ASIRT release said of the final confrontation.
“A loaded semi-automatic .22-calibre rifle, as well as a range finder, were recovered from the incident scene and have been seized as exhibits.”
RCMP identified the suspect last week as Lionel Ernest Grey of the Gift Lake Metis Settlement. Police had said that he’d died from injuries following his arrest, but they hadn’t say what injuries he’d had or how he died.
They said a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit.
ASIRT said its investigation will examine the actions of police, while the RCMP will maintain responsibility for the investigation of the suspect and his actions.
The agency said that since investigation is underway, it won’t be releasing any further information.
ASIRT is investigating another shooting in northern Alberta on Sunday night that also ended with a suspect dead and a police dog injured.
Mounties said they were looking for a suspect who fled on foot after a dispute in a vehicle near the community of Ardmore, southwest of Cold Lake. They said officers and a police dog found the suspect, there was a confrontation and an officer fired a gun.
The man died at the scene and the dog was taken to a veterinarian and treated for a non life-threatening injury.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 21, 2021.
The Canadian Press
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