From the National Citizen’s Inquiry
The National Citizen’s Inquiry (NCI) – a citizen-led inquiry into Canada’s response to COVID-19 – is finalizing plans to hold hearings across the country. With two of five commissioners now in place, the inquiry has booked its first two events – in Atlantic Canada and Central Canada.
Across the country, we are seeing more and more clear signals that Canadians are not only ready to ask the hard questions about how our governments reacted to this pandemic, but also require the answers.
Another Liberal minister has said the quiet part out loud. Former Finance Minister Bill Morneau joined his one-time colleagues Joel Lightbound, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Marcus Powlowski, John McKay and Yves Robillard in expressing dismay that the Trudeau Liberals used vaccine mandates as a political wedge issue, an approach that “stigmatizes and divides people” as Lightbound put it.
In fact, after two years of vaccine distribution, the state broadcaster this week also published one of its first articles chronicling widespread vaccine injuries. The article acknowledged that those suffering from adverse effects also deal with “silence” and “stigma” as a result of the overly politicized tone set by Ottawa.
In Ontario, 164 former health care workers rallied to let the public know that, while the provincial health care system buckles under immense pressure and nurses are shipped in from other parts of Canada, there are hundreds of workers that were terminated because of vaccination mandates – and to the surprise of most – they are still not permitted to resume their careers.
In Alberta, Premier Danielle Smith has commissioned a Public Health Emergencies Governance Review Panel which will “review the legislation that guided Alberta’s response to COVID-19 and recommend changes to improve the handling of future public health emergencies for Albertans.”
On that note, Preston Manning will be stepping away from his role as spokesperson for the NCI to chair the Alberta review. The NCI welcomes this positive initiative by Premier Smith and believes the people of Alberta will be well-served by the appointment of Mr. Manning as Chair. Taking over for Manning is acclaimed investigative journalist Trish Wood. Wood worked for 10 years on CBC’s Emmy Award-winning Fifth Estate before exposing the heartbreaking stories of Iraq War veterans in What Was Asked of Us and later pioneering the modern renaissance of true-crime storytelling. This experience has allowed her to hone the kind of unapologetic critical thinking and investigative skills that she will bring to bear in this role.
Plans for the Inquiry’s in-person hearings – supplemented by virtual participation – are now being finalized. The first hearings will be in Atlantic Canada e.g. Truro/Nova Scotia, March 16,17,18 and Montreal/Quebec, 22, 23, and 24 of March.
Additionally, the Inquiry has appointed its first two commissioners. They are Bernard Massie and Ken Drysdale.
Invitations will soon be sent to government officials at all levels across the country. These individuals will be invited to provide their perspectives and reflect on the decisions that were made.
Invitations are also extended to experts in the areas of economics; health care; mental and physical wellbeing; constitutional expertise; learning; and any other area significantly affected by pandemic response at any level. The Inquiry is also welcoming non-experts with personal stories that will help illuminate any unarticulated and overlooked shortcomings in the government responses. As demonstrated in the article reference above, there are many Canadians who feel silenced and stigmatized.
Take the example of Christian and Margarita
Immigrants from Mexico, they chose to start a life and a family here in Canada. Christian holds a PhD and was a lecturer at a prominent Canadian university. His wife was a program manager for a regional health authority.
After soberly considering their risk profile against the available data, as well as suspecting that the mRNA vaccination was incompatible with aspects of their faith, they chose to wait.
And in their situation, we see the unfortunate cascading effects of these poorly considered policies, developed in bureaucratic silos.
Christian and his wife – who worked from home, incidentally – were both put on indefinite administrative leave by their employers. Both streams of household income effectively removed.
And because of the Federal government’s policies, they were also deemed ineligible for any employment insurance.
Being immigrants, they also did not have family around them. In fact, their main community connections were from a church they attended. Unfortunately, they were also no longer allowed to attend worship services because of the imposition of the vaccine passport program by the provincial government.
At the time this happened, Christian and Margarita were also living on an island. Federal travel mandates left them effectively stranded.
In the span of a month, these highly skilled individuals – who had made Canada their new home – lost all income; were disqualified from any social assistance; lost their primary community support system; and could not even get on a plane to leave.
Now Christian and Margarita are in the process of returning to Mexico, where they have more confidence that the government will leave them in peace.
It is stories like this that will not be heard at an internal meeting between government officials and senior bureaucrats. It is stories like this that demand a citizen’s inquiry.
About the National Citizen’s Inquiry
NCI is a citizen-led and citizen-funded initiative that is completely independent from government. In early 2023, the NCI will hear from Canadians and experts and investigate governments’ COVID-19 policies in a fair and impartial manner. The NCI’s purpose is to listen, to learn, and to recommend. What went right? What went wrong? How can Canadians and our governments better react to national crises in the future in a manner that balances the interests of all members of our society?
Freedom Convoy organizer sues Trudeau gov’t for freezing his bank account
the day the EA was invoked, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland mandated certain bank accounts be frozen under the EA. In total, close to $8 million in funds from 267 people were locked. Additionally, 170 Bitcoin wallets were frozen.
Chris Barber, one of the leaders of the 2022 Freedom Convoy protests against COVID mandates, is suing the federal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for freezing his bank account and hundreds of others involved with the demonstrations after a recent court ruling declared the Emergencies Act (EA) was unconstitutional and unreasonable.
Barber’s lawsuit comes shortly after a Canadian federal court last month ruled that the Trudeau government’s use of the EA to quash the Freedom Convoy in 2022 was unconstitutional. The court ruled that the use of the EA was a direct violation of the Charter and thus “not justified.”
A trucker from Saskatchewan, Barber was heavily involved in the Freedom Convoy, which saw thousands make their way to Ottawa in protest of COVID vaccine mandates and lockdowns. His lawsuit claims that his Charter rights were violated through the dictates of the federal government.
The lawsuit was filed two weeks ago in the Court of King’s Bench in Saskatoon. Among its claims is a section alleging that the federal government abused its power to go after the truckers.
The EA controversially allowed the government to freeze the bank accounts of protesters, conscript tow truck drivers, and arrest people for participating in assemblies the government deemed illegal.
On February 14, 2022, the day the EA was invoked, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland mandated certain bank accounts be frozen under the EA. In total, close to $8 million in funds from 267 people were locked. Additionally, 170 Bitcoin wallets were frozen.
The freezing of bank accounts by Freeland without a court order was an unprecedented action in Canadian history and was only allowed through the Liberal government’s invocation of the never-before-used EA.
As a result of Freeland’s order, Barber’s bank account was frozen. He owns a trucking company, and according to the lawsuit, the frozen bank account resulted in missed payments as well as defaulting on loans, which negatively impacted his credit rating.
“This disruption deprived (Barber and his wife) of the ability to conduct basic financial transactions and live normal lives, leading to severe inconvenience, hardship, embarrassment, exclusion from modern society, and damaged personal and business relationships,” a portion of the lawsuit reads.
In early 2022, the Freedom Convoy saw thousands of Canadians from coast to coast come to Ottawa to demand an end to COVID mandates in all forms. Despite the peaceful nature of the protest, Trudeau’s government enacted the EA on February 14, 2022. Trudeau revoked the EA on February 23.
As for the freezing of bank accounts, Barber’s lawsuit alleges that the Trudeau government’s decision to do this was for the “improper purpose of dissuading and punishing” Freedom Convoy protesters who were exercising their Charter rights.
The lawsuit also lists Barber’s wife along with his trucking business as lead plaintiffs.
At this point, no statement of defense has been filed by the Trudeau government, Global News reported.
According to the lawsuit statement, Barber’s bank personal and business bank accounts were frozen only a day after the Trudeau government enacted the EA. He was not able to withdraw or deposit money or use his credit cards, and even his automatic bill payments were stopped.
According to the lawsuit, Barber “suffered and experienced fear and anxiety due to the anticipated loss of income.”
Barber and Freedom Convoy leader Tamara Lich have been involved in a lengthy trial after being charged and taken to court by the government. The trial has been put on hold, with its resumption date uncertain. It is also not yet clear how the recent court ruling will affect the trial.
LifeSiteNews reported just over a week ago that Lich, Barber and a host of others filed a $2 million lawsuit against the government.
Freedom Convoy lawyer Keith Wilson said Section 24 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms “gives Canadians the right to sue their government for damages when Charter rights are violated.”
“Doing so affirms the seriousness of respecting Charter rights and is intended to deter future governments from breaching Canadians’ fundamental rights,” he said.
An investigation into the use of the EA, as per Canadian law, was launched by Trudeau. However, it was headed by Liberal-friendly Judge Paul Rouleau, who led the Public Order Emergency Commission. Unsurprisingly, the commission exonerated Trudeau.
Federal and provincial politicians have come out in support of the truckers. Last week, LifeSiteNews reported that newly elected Conservative Legislative Assembly of Alberta (MLA) member Eric Bouchard praised the Freedom Convoy protesters for doing what “was right” in opposing to COVID mandates.
Trudeau gov’t appeals federal court ruling that Emergencies Act use was ‘not justified’
Trudeau’s appeal will be heard in the Federal Court of Appeal where he personally appointed 10 out of the 15 judges.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has appealed the ruling which found that its use of the Emergencies Act in 2022 to crush the Freedom Convoy was “not justified.”
On February 22, the Trudeau government filed an appeal against Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley’s decision that the enactment of the EA to end the 2022 Freedom Convoy protesting COVID mandates violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“The Federal Court erred in fact and law in declaring that the Regulations infringed subsection 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” a copy of the appeal obtained by CBC News alleges.
The appeal requested that the January decision be overturned, claiming that measures did not violate Charter rights and was justified considering the circumstances.
The document further claimed that Federal Court’s decision was not accurate because it had the “benefit of hindsight” which the Trudeau government did not have in 2022.
It argued that the court should have examined if the Trudeau government “had reasonable grounds to believe” that the EA was justified.
Notably, in the Federal Court of Appeal, where the case will be heard, 10 out of the 15 judges were appointed by Trudeau.
In addition to 10 of the court justices, Chief Justice Yves de Montigny likewise owes his position to Trudeau. While he was appointed to the court by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he was promoted to the role of Chief Justice by Trudeau in November 2023.
The appeal comes after the landmark decision that Trudeau was “not justified” in invoking the EA to shut down the 2022 Freedom Convoy which protested COVID regulations and vaccine mandates.
According to the ruling, the EA is meant to be reserved as a last resort if all other means fail. It cannot be invoked unless all other measures have been exhausted.
Furthermore, the ruling pointed out that there were other means to end the protest, such as provisions in the Criminal Code, which the province of Alberta had argued at the time.
The decision stated that, in addition to being an unnecessary measure, the EA had violated Canadians’ Charter rights, specifically infringing on freedom of thought, opinion, and expression.
On February 14, 2022, the EA was enacted to shut down the Freedom Convoy protest which took place in Ottawa. The popular protest featured thousands of Canadians calling for an end to COVID mandates by camping outside Parliament in Ottawa.
Measures taken under the EA included freezing the bank accounts of Canadians who donated to the protest.
Trudeau had disparaged unvaccinated Canadians, saying those opposing his measures were of a “small, fringe minority” who hold “unacceptable views” and do not “represent the views of Canadians who have been there for each other.”
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