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COVID-19

Preston Manning announces National Citizens’ Inquiry into Canada’s COVID-19 measures

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From NationalCitizensInquiry.ca

A Citizen-Led Inquiry Into Canada’s COVID-19 Response

A citizens group, chaired by Preston Manning, has announced plans for a National Citizens Inquiry (NCI) into Canada’s response to COVID-19.

Canada’s federal, provincial, and municipal governments’ responses to COVID-19 were of an unprecedented nature and magnitude. The policy, legal, economic and health authority interventions into the lives of Canadian families, businesses and communities were, and to great extent remain, significant.

These interventions impacted the physical and mental health, civil liberties, fundamental freedoms, livelihoods, and overall social and economic wellbeing of all Canadians. The social impacts, business bankruptcies, delayed healthcare and avoidable deaths due to lockdowns, restrictions, and mandates have been profound. The fracturing of families and communities, and the erosion of fundamental Charter rights merits a thorough and comprehensive investigation.

“The magnitude of these interventions demands a comprehensive, transparent, and objective inquiry into the appropriateness and efficacy of the measures imposed,” said Manning, a former Federal leader. “We need to determine what worked and what didn’t and identify how we can respond better in the future.”

Normally such inquiries would be commissioned by governments under the provisions of the federal or provincial Inquiries Acts. However, commissioning an Inquiry whose primary purpose is to investigate governmental response would mean that governments would be investigating themselves. In the eyes of many Canadians, such a commission would lack the necessary credibility and integrity to have confidence that a proper investigation had taken place. Hence the need and desire for a citizen-led Inquiry.

It is also being recognized that in a healthy and functioning democracy, citizens need to be more actively involved in contributing to and monitoring the actions of government.

“Many Canadians have expressed a desire to see such an Inquiry conducted. And more are expected to do so by signing a petition posted at nationalcitizensinquiry.ca,” said Manning. “Over 11,000 Canadians have already signed the petition, and thousands more are signing each day.”

“A federally incorporated not-for-profit company – Citizens Inquiry Canada – has been established to receive and disburse funds needed to finance the Inquiry. A website is under development – nationalcitizensinquiry.ca – where information on the Inquiry will be available including location and dates for the inquiry, and eventually a record of the testimony and Commissioners’ recommendations.”

“Visitors to the Inquiry website,” said Manning, “will be invited to sign the Petition in support of the Inquiry, suggest the names of potential Commissioners for the Inquiry in whom they have confidence in their expertise and independence, and to donate to help finance the Inquiry. Since announcing this initiative, we have seen it resonate strongly from coast-to-coast: 10,000 Canadians have already signed the petition.”

It is anticipated that the inquiry will be launched in early 2023. Manning expects public hearings of two to three days each will be held in cities across the country, providing the opportunity for both virtual and in-person participation.

Ordinary citizens and experts in various disciplines, medical, legal, social, and constitutional will be invited to testify as to the impacts of the measures implemented by governments in the last two and a half years.

“The inquiry will examine the consequences on public and personal health, rights and freedoms, on specific demographic groups such as the aged and our children, and the economy. Those testifying before the Inquiry will also be asked for recommendations for how Canada’s response in matters as this could be better managed in the future.” A final Summary Hearing will be held in Ottawa, expected by the end of March 2023, with the Inquiry Commissioners issuing a report shortly thereafter containing their observations and recommendations.

You can watch the press release online below

 

 

 

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COVID-19

Quebec says only people at risk who haven’t had COVID-19 should get booster dose

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Only people who are considered at risk for severe COVID-19 — and who haven’t already been infected — need to get a booster dose, Quebec’s public health director said Thursday.

The vast majority of Quebecers have hybrid immunity — protection through vaccination and through a SARS-CoV-2 infection — making regular boosters unnecessary, at least for this winter and spring, Dr. Luc Boileau told reporters.

“People with hybrid immunity … have a very good protection against a severe form of the illness,” Boileau said. “And this immunity lasts for a long enough time that we can propose changes.”

Those who have been vaccinated but haven’t contracted the virus are also protected against severe COVID-19, he said, but their immunity “has a tendency to drop with time.”

Quebec’s vaccination committee decided to focus the province’s immunization policy on preventing hospitalizations and deaths, he said. People who are 60 and older or who have chronic illnesses, health workers, pregnant women and those who live in isolated regions are among the people who should get a booster every six months — but only if they have never caught the virus, Boileau said.

Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, chairperson of Quebec immunization committee, said the data shows that people already vaccinated for COVID-19 who have contracted the virus “maintain their protection.”

“Adding a dose doesn’t add a lot protection for severe (illness),” she said.

Health officials estimate that more than three-quarters of Quebecers under 60 have had COVID-19 over the past three years, while about half of those over 60 have caught the virus.

Boileau said only people who are immunocompromised should continue getting boosters even if they’ve been infected, “because their immunity could be affected by their condition.”

Before Thursday’s announcement, boosters were recommended for all people considered at risk of severe COVID-19. Boileau said COVID-19 vaccines will remain available to anyone who wants one. “We won’t refuse anyone,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2023.

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Alberta

‘The eyes of the world’: Trial starts for Calgary pastor charged in border blockade

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By Bill Graveland in Lethbridge

A court has seen video of a Calgary pastor encouraging truckers to keep blocking the Canada-U.S. border to protest COVID-19 restrictions because the world was watching.

The trial for Artur Pawlowski began Thursday in southern Alberta on charges of breaching a release order and mischief for inciting people to block public property at the border crossing at Coutts, Alta.

He is also charged under the Alberta Critical Infrastructure Defence Act with the wilfully damaging or destroying essential infrastructure.

The blockade that began in late January 2022 paralyzed Alberta’s main U.S. border crossing for more than two weeks .

The Crown’s case against Pawlowski consists of an agreed statement of facts and the 20-minute video of the speech that the pastor gave to protesters on Feb. 3, 2022.

In it, Pawlowski pleads with truckers to stay the course and not leave the protest, which was aimed at COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates.

Pawlowski visited the group at Smuggler’s Saloon, a location that became their headquarters. At the time, protesters were considering whether to leave Coutts for Edmonton to demonstrate in front of the legislature.

“I believe that the eyes of the world are fixed on this place right here. That’s right — this little pitiful piece of land,” Pawlowski told a cheering crowd in the video played for provincial court Judge Gordon Krinke in Lethbridge, Alta.

“The eyes of the world are fixed right here on you guys. You are the heroes. Don’t you dare go breaking the line.

“For the first time in two years, you have the power. You pack your stuff, you go to Edmonton and you will be lost.”

The pastor also told the crowd there weren’t enough police or a big enough army to deal with the protesters. He was arrested days later.

Pawlowski was greeted by about 300 supporters outside court Thursday before trial. Some held Canadian flags and signs reading “Free Pastor Pawlowski.”

Pawlowski told the group he had no regrets.

“I told the people this is a peaceful uprising. No guns. No swords. I stand by what I said a year ago,” he said outside of court.

“I am proud that I stood with the people that simply stood for their God and state. Our rights do not belong to the politicians or bureaucrats or even judges or Crown prosecutors. They belong to us, the people.”

Prosecutor Steve Johnston said the court must determine whether Pawlowski is guilty because he was a party to the events, and the Crown argues that he was.

The defence said it would not be calling witnesses in the trial, and closing arguments were expected Thursday afternoon.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 2, 2023

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