Liberal MP breaks ranks with party on COVID-19, says government is dividing Canadians
OTTAWA — The federal government must reassess its divisive and stigmatizing approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, Liberal member Joël Lightbound said Tuesday in a rare public display of internal dissent within the governing party.
Lightbound, who represents the Louis-Hébert riding in Quebec City, broke ranks with his political party and later resigned as Quebec’s caucus chairman, telling reporters the Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has set a tone and policies that are divisive and risk undermining public trust.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people wondering why just a year ago, we were all united, all in this together,” Lightbound said. “Now that we have one of the most vaccinated populations in the world, we’ve never been so divided.”
Lightbound held his news conference at the same time a federal cabinet meeting was scheduled, a day after MPs held an emergency debate on the truckers protest outside Parliament Hill, which is in its second week.
The protest, dubbed the “Freedom Convoy,” began late January when truckers and other protesters parked their trucks in front of Parliament Hill and demanded an end to vaccine mandates and other public health orders. Protest leaders have since demanded the government be unlawfully removed from power.
Lightbound condemned the hateful signs at the protest, such as Nazi symbols and Confederate flags, but he accused the government of painting all the protesters with the same brush and having no desire to adapt its policies to reflect the evolving science of the pandemic.
Mandatory vaccination for truckers, he said, is a policy that is “against recent World Health Organization recommendations and for which we have no figures as to what we are trying to accomplish in an epidemiological point of view.”
“The World Health Organization recently recommended dropping many border measures, including vaccine requirements, as they’ve proven to be ineffective in fighting the propagation of the Omicron variant,” he said.
He said he has become uncomfortable with the government’s tone around the pandemic, saying it “went from a more positive approach to one that stigmatizes and divides people.”
The government, he continued, should provide Canadians with a clear and measurable road map detailing when federal restrictions related to the pandemic will be lifted.
Lightbound said Canadians are confused to see other countries such as Ireland and Spain — which have lower vaccination rates than Canada — dropping all restrictions.
“People are worried that measures which ought to be exceptional and limited in time are being normalized with no end time, like vaccine passports, mandates and requirements for travellers,” he said. “They are worried because they feel it’s becoming harder and harder to know where public health stops and where politics begin.”
Trudeau told reporters later on Tuesday that the restrictions imposed by his government and others across the country have worked.
“This government has been focused every step of the way on following the best science, following the best public health advice to keep as many people safe as possible,” Trudeau said.
“We have seen the curves lower in Canada than elsewhere. We’ve seen lower death rates, we’ve seen quicker economic recovery because Canadians stepped up, because Canadians got vaccinated. I can understand frustrations with mandates but mandates are the way to avoid further restrictions or having to be restricted.”
Chief Government Whip Steven MacKinnon told reporters he would meet with Lightbound later in the day.
Lightbound, for his part, said he doesn’t intend on leaving the Liberal party and remains hopeful that the government will change its approach. Following the news conference, however, Lightbound announced his resignation as chairman of the party’s Quebec caucus. “I’m very happy to support my successor in the continuation of my work,” he said on Twitter.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Feb. 8, 2022.
— By Virginie Ann in Montreal
The Canadian Press
Supreme Court of Canada won’t hear unvaccinated woman’s case for organ donation
The Supreme Court of Canada will not hear the appeal of an Alberta woman who was unwilling to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to get a life-saving organ transplant.
Annette Lewis was diagnosed with a terminal disease in 2018 and was told she would not survive unless she received an organ transplant.
She was placed on a transplant wait list in 2020, but was informed a year later she would need to get the COVID-19 vaccine to receive the organ.
Lewis said taking the vaccine would offend her conscience and argued the requirement violated her Charter rights to life, conscience, liberty and security of the person.
“I ought to have the choice about what goes into my body, and a life-saving treatment cannot be denied to me because I chose not to take an experimental treatment for a condition — COVID-19 — which I do not have and which I may never have,” Lewis said in an affidavit previously submitted to court.
The case was dismissed by an Alberta court, which said the Charter has no application to clinical treatment decisions, in particular for doctors establishing preconditions for organ transplants.
Justice Paul Belzil ruled that standard of care must be the same for all potential recipients or it could result in “medical chaos.”
The Alberta Court of Appeal upheld the decision, prompting Lewis’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“Ms. Lewis is deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear her case,” Allison Pejovic, Lewis’s lawyer, said in a news release from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
“She had hoped that justice would prevail in the courts for herself and other unvaccinated transplant candidates across Canada.”
Pejovic said Lewis’s constitutional challenge ends with the Supreme Court of Canada’s dismissal but she will continue trying to get the life-saving surgery.
Lewis recently filed a separate legal action against Alberta Health Services, an Alberta hospital and the transplant doctors.
There is a publication ban on the doctors’ identities, the organ involved and the location of the transplant program.
Lewis is arguing negligence in the decision to remove her from the high-priority transplant list, saying it amounts to medical malpractice.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms said Lewis will ask the court at an upcoming injunction hearing to grant an immediate reinstatement to the transplant list pending the result of the court action.
WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network
From the youtube channel of Dr. John Campbell
With notes from the World Health Organization website, Dr. John Campbell explains the WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network. To see the WHO’s press release click here or scroll below the video where it is attached.
Press release from the World Health Organization
The European Commission and WHO launch landmark digital health initiative to strengthen global health security
The World Health Organization (WHO) and European Commission have announced today the launch of a landmark digital health partnership.
In June 2023, WHO will take up the European Union (EU) system of digital COVID-19 certification to establish a global system that will help facilitate global mobility and protect citizens across the world from on-going and future health threats, including pandemics. This is the first building block of the WHO Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN) that will develop a wide range of digital products to deliver better health for all.
“Building on the EU’s highly successful digital certification network, WHO aims to offer all WHO Member States access to an open-source digital health tool, which is based on the principles of equity, innovation, transparency and data protection and privacy,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “New digital health products in development aim to help people everywhere receive quality health services quickly and more effectively”.
Based on the EU Global Health Strategy and WHO Global strategy on digital health, the initiative follows the 30 November 2022 agreement between Commissioner Kyriakides and Dr Tedros to enhance strategic cooperation on global health issues. This further bolsters a robust multilateral system with WHO at its core, powered by a strong EU.
“This partnership is an important step for the digital action plan of the EU Global Health Strategy. By using European best practices we contribute to digital health standards and interoperability globally—to the benefit of those most in need. It is also a powerful example of how alignment between the EU and the WHO can deliver better health for all, in the EU and across the world. As the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, there is no better partner than the WHO to advance the work we started at the EU and further develop global digital health solutions,” said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.
This partnership will include close collaboration in the development, management and implementation of the WHO GDHCN system, benefitting from the European Commission’s ample technical expertise in the field. A first step is to ensure that the current EU digital certificates continue to function effectively.
“With 80 countries and territories connected to the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate, the EU has set a global standard. The EU certificate has not only been an important tool in our fight against the pandemic, but has also facilitated international travel and tourism. I am pleased that the WHO will build on the privacy-preserving principles and cutting-edge technology of the EU certificate to create a global tool against future pandemics,” added Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market.
A global WHO system building on EU legacy
One of the key elements in the European Union’s work against the COVID-19 pandemic has been digital COVID-19 certificates. To facilitate free movement within its borders, the EU swiftly established interoperable COVID-19 certificates (entitled ‘EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate’ or ‘EU DCC’). Based on open-source technologies and standards it allowed also for the connection of non-EU countries that issue certificates according to EU DCC specifications, becoming the most widely used solution around the world.
From the onset of the pandemic, WHO engaged with all WHO Regions to define overall guidelines for such certificates. To help strengthen global health preparedness in the face of growing health threats, WHO is establishing a global digital health certification network which builds upon the solid foundations of the EU DCC framework, principles and open technologies. With this collaboration, WHO will facilitate this process globally under its own structure with the aim to allow the world to benefit from convergence of digital certificates. This includes standard-setting and validation of digital signatures to prevent fraud. In doing so, WHO will not have access to any underlying personal data, which would continue to be the exclusive domain of governments.
The first building block of the global WHO system becomes operational in June 2023 and aims to be progressively developed in the coming months.
A long-term digital partnership to deliver better health for all
To facilitate the uptake of the EU DCC by WHO and contribute to its operation and further development, WHO and the European Commission have agreed to partner in digital health.
This partnership will work to technically develop the WHO system with a staged approach to cover additional use cases, which may include, for example, the digitisation of the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis. Expanding such digital solutions will be essential to deliver better health for citizens across the globe.
This cooperation is based on the shared values and principles of transparency and openness, inclusiveness, accountability, data protection and privacy, security, scalability at a global level, and equity. The WHO and the European Commission will work together to encourage maximum global uptake and participation. Particular attention will be paid to equitable opportunities for the participation by those most in need: low and middle-income countries.
Dr. John Campbell’s Presentation notes:
WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network https://www.who.int/initiatives/globa…
WHO has established the Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN). Open-source platform, built on robust & transparent standards, that establishes the first building block of digital public health infrastructure, for developing a wide range of digital products, for strengthening pandemic preparedness
Background Member States used digital COVID-19 test and vaccine certificates As the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, at the onset of the pandemic, WHO engaged with all WHO Regions to define overall guidance for such certificates and published the Digital Documentation of COVID-19 Certificates
https://www.who.int/publications/i/it… https://www.who.int/publications/i/it… there is a recognition of an existing gap, and continued need for a global mechanism, that can support bilateral verification of the provenance of health documents
The GDHCN may include Digitisation of the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, verification of prescriptions across borders
International Patient Summary Verification of vaccination certificates within and across borders Certification of public health professionals (through WHO Academy) Expanding such digital solutions will be essential to deliver better health for people across the globe.
The GDHCN has been designed to be interoperable with other existing regional networks EU-WHO digital partnership https://www.who.int/news/item/05-06-2… • LIVE: WHO and @EU… https://commission.europa.eu/strategy… WHO and the European Commission have agreed to partner in digital health.
This partnership will work to technically develop the WHO system with a staged approach to cover additional use cases, In June 2023, WHO will take up the European Union (EU) system of digital COVID-19 certification to establish a global system, that will help facilitate global mobility
This is the first building block of the WHO Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN)
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO aims to offer all WHO Member States access, On the principles of equity, innovation, transparency and data protection and privacy Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
This partnership is an important step for the digital action plan of the EU Global Health Strategy, we contribute to digital health standards and interoperability globally
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market The EU certificate … has also facilitated international travel and tourism I am pleased that the WHO will build on …. cutting-edge technology … to create a global tool against future pandemics
One of the key elements in the European Union’s work against the COVID-19 pandemic has been digital COVID-19 certificates. WHO will facilitate this process globally under its own structure … allow the world to benefit from convergence of digital certificates. Expanding such digital solutions will be essential to deliver better health for citizens across the globe.
The WHO and the European Commission will work together to encourage maximum global uptake and participation.
Tour the 2023 Red Deer Hospital Home Lottery grand prize dream home
Hundreds of thousands march in Poland anti-government protests to show support for democracy
Saskatchewan landowners fight against illegal drainage washing out land, roads
Premiers need to keep talking about the health-care crisis: medical associations
Poilievre threatens to filibuster budget bill if Liberals don’t meet demands
GM to invest more than $1 billion in two Flint, Mich., plants
Alberta’s province wide state of emergency ends as wildfire situation improves
Health1 day ago
WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network
Alberta2 days ago
Lawyer tells Alberta’s highest court review board biased in de Grood’s case
Top Story CP2 days ago
Gauld nets winner as Whitecaps beat CF Montreal to claim Canadian Championship
Top Story CP2 days ago
American Roger Reeves wins Griffin Poetry Prize for ‘Best Barbarian’
National1 day ago
Trans, non-binary students under 16 in N.B. need parental consent for pronoun changes
Business1 day ago
Liberal budget bill passes in House of Commons after Conservative filibuster attempt
National1 day ago
‘Unmitigated gall’: Senator rejects minister’s call to pass Liberal guns bill quickly
Alberta2 days ago
Canada under pressure to produce more food, protect agricultural land: report