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What is the Emergencies Act? A primer on the law invoked by Trudeau to quell protests

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OTTAWA — The federal move to invoke the Emergencies Act could allow authorities to forbid more large trucks from rolling into the gridlocked area around Parliament Hill.

The Liberal government’s decision Monday to use the law for the first time also gives officials more muscle to shut down gatherings likely to get out of hand and order companies, such as towing firms, to do necessary work.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and key cabinet members were short on details at a news conference announcing imposition of the Emergencies Act’s public order provisions. As a result, the specific geographic areas to which it would apply were not immediately clear.

They said the measures would be targeted, time-limited and proportionate.

“They will only be applied where they are truly necessary,” Trudeau said.

Declaring a public order emergency under the law would give authorities the power to control streets near Parliament Hill now jammed with vehicles, said security expert Wesley Wark.

Wark, a senior fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation, said before the announcement Monday it means the government could prevent travel in and out of that protected zone.

Antigovernment blockades have immobilized downtown Ottawa and wreaked havoc at several important border crossings with the United States this month.

The Emergencies Act, passed in 1988, is intended for use when:

— an urgent and critical situation, temporary in nature, endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians;

— the capacity or authority of provinces to handle the situation is considered lacking; and

— the crisis cannot be defused effectively using other Canadian laws.

The Emergencies Act allows officials to direct people to “render essential services” for reasonable compensation, a power that could help authorities enlist help to move huge vehicles.

“What it means is they could, for example, order tow truck companies to perform essential service in removing trucks blocking the downtown core,” Wark said

The Ottawa police have said many towing firms refuse to move the rigs clogging streets due to threats by protesters and the fear of losing future business from the trucking industry.

The emergencies law also permits the regulation or prohibition of any public assembly expected to lead to a breach of the peace.

Philip Boyle, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo who studies public safety, wondered how geographically large a perimeter the law might cast, for instance, in Ottawa’s downtown.

Boyle did not foresee sweeping, mass arrests under the provisions. He anticipated police giving people a reasonable amount of time to leave geographic zones singled out under the emergencies law. “And if they don’t, then we will see a large number of arrests.”

Breaching any order or regulation made through the emergencies law could result in a penalty of up to five years in jail and a fine of $5,000.

The special temporary measures ushered in by the law would be subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the protections it affords to people who are arrested.

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said the federal government had not met the threshold necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act.

“Governments regularly deal with difficult situations, and do so using powers granted to them by democratically elected representatives,” she said. “Emergency legislation should not be normalized. It threatens our democracy and our civil liberties.”

Once invoked, the Emergencies Act requires holding a public inquiry within 60 days after the crisis has ended, and the resulting report being tabled in Parliament within one year.

Wark says that when protests are over, a “deep-diving and very serious” inquiry will be needed to better understand threats to national security and improve laws and enforcement practices.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14, 2022.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta premier defends new rules on in-person learning, no mask mandates in schools

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By Dean Bennett and Colette Derworiz

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is defending new rules ordering schools to provide in-person learning during the current wave of viral illnesses, saying a clear, measured response is crucial for students and parents.

“We need a normal school environment for our children, and we need to make sure that the classrooms stay open to be able to support our parents,” Smith said at a news conference in Medicine Hat on Friday.

“That’s why we made the decision that we did — to give that clear direction.”

Her comments came a day after she announced regulatory changes saying school boards must provide in-person learning. Schools also can’t require students to wear masks in school or be forced to take classes online.

The changes take effect immediately.

“Anyone is welcome to wear a mask if they feel that that is the right choice for them, but we should not be forcing parents to mask their kids, and we shouldn’t be denying education to kids who turn up without a mask,” Smith said.

She has said mask rules and toggling from online to in-person learning adversely affected the mental health, development and education of students during the COVID-19 pandemic and strained parents scrambling to make child-care arrangements when schools shut down.

That’s over, Smith said.

“We’re just not going to normalize these kind of extreme measures every single respiratory virus season,” she said.

School boards have been asking for more direction as a slew of seasonal respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses, along with some COVID-19 cases, have led to high classroom absentee rates and have jammed children’s hospitals.

In Edmonton, Trisha Estabrooks, board chair for Edmonton Public Schools, said the decision provided the clarity that the board was seeking.

“All Albertans now understand that it’s not within the jurisdiction, and nor should it ever have been within the jurisdiction of individual school boards, to make decisions that belong to health officials,” said Estabrooks.

She said the province has made it clear that any future public health order would supersede the new rules.

The in-person learning change applies to grades 1-12 in all school settings, including public, separate, francophone, public charter and independent schools.

The masking change applies to those same grades and schools, but also to early childhood services.

The Opposition NDP criticized the new rules, saying it’s unrealistic to force schools to be all things to all students while also handling a wave of viral illnesses and not providing additional supports to do it.

Jason Schilling, head of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said the government needs to work with school boards to figure out how to make this work.

“You have schools that are struggling to staff the building, (they) can’t get substitute teachers, teachers are sick, they’re covering each other’s classes, principals are covering the classes,” Schilling said in an interview.

“And then to say if you go online, you are to still offer the same programming in person — we just don’t have the people to do that.”

Wing Li, communications director for public education advocacy organization, Support our Students, said it will be difficult for schools to offer hybrid learning without any additional resources.

“There are no teachers,” Li said in an interview. “Pivoting online was mostly due to staffing shortages, which is worse now three years in.”

Li said online learning is challenging for students but, when temporary and supported, can keep schools and communities safe from spreading illness.

“This is a quite aggressive use of the Education Act to enshrine an ideology,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2022

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Brownstone Institute

Three Medical Policies that Need Immediate Changing

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From the Brownstone Institute

BY Pierre KoryPIERRE KORY

You can’t make this up: The same cast of characters who erred so badly on COVID-19 want a do-over. A head-turning essay in The Atlanticwent so far as to plead for “pandemic amnesty.” For many in the medical community who have been derided by the likes of Dr. Anthony Fauci and his fanatics, these words ring hollow. Talk, as they say, is cheap, especially with the benefit of hindsight. Before a COVID-19 mulligan can be considered, here are three policies that must change.

First, “vaccine or bust” proponents must admit their approach overpromised and underdelivered. President Biden has repeatedly declared COVID-19 a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” despite the science indicating otherwise. His claim that the vaccinated “do not spread the disease to anyone else” was rated “mostly false” by PolitiFact. Simply lowering the goalposts about less severe symptoms is insufficient. This is not what we were promised.

Making matters worse was the weaponization of this misinformation to influence public policy. It wasn’t just a smug Rachel Maddow telling her audience in March 2021 that the “virus stops with every vaccinated person.” This so-called science was used to pit Americans against one another, keep children out of school and force personnel out of critically important positions in the military, schools and first responders. Last fall, 5% of unvaccinated adults reported leaving their jobs.

I should know. I’ve been on the receiving end of threats to my livelihood.

This brings us to point two: The new California law empowering the punishment of doctors deemed guilty of spreading “misinformation” must be repealed before it can inflict further damage. Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, California Assembly Bill 2098 enables the state to strip the medical licenses of professionals who veer from the preferred political party line.

It’s a disturbing trend taking hold across the country. The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) recently voted to remove Dr. Peter McCullough, one of the nation’s leading cardiologists, from his certifications in cardiovascular disease. Mr. McCullough’s sin had nothing to do with his performance in caring for patients, but rather with questioning the necessity of the COVID-19 vaccine for younger populations. With their far-reaching certification authority, the ABIM has the power to make any doctor’s life a living hell. Mr. McCullough’s fate now hangs in the balance until his Nov. 18 appeal date. This dangerous precedent must be nipped in the bud in the nation’s most populous state (governed by an oft-mentioned future presidential candidate) before it can take hold elsewhere.

Third, the District of Columbia must scrap its vaccine mandate for children in schools once and for all. Last week’s vote to delay compliance until January 3, 2023, is not enough. DC is one of the only school districts in the country with this type of requirement, going further than their counterparts in New York City or Los Angeles.

Last month, nearly half (44.7%) of DC school students fell short of COVID-19 compliance, according to Axios. In a city where 60% of the school-age population is Black, this mandate is not only unnecessary but is perpetuating further inequity. The pandemic has already taken an incredible toll on our children’s education, with math and reading scores falling to astonishing new lows. It is beyond misguided to bar children from attending school unless they receive a vaccine for an illness that poses a far smaller hazard to their health than the soaring crime rates in our cities.

From masks to breakthrough cases to alternative treatments, the so-called experts have amassed a track record of incorrect judgments that make political pollsters look good by comparison. Even in the fog of a once-in-a-century pandemic, these decisions were not just borne of inexpert and incorrect scientific knowledge but rather driven by a rush to push a medical agenda.

Our organization, the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) practices what we preach. As data evolved over time, we updated our recommendations and approaches accordingly. It wasn’t luck. We were following the science. Sadly, government agencies stuck with their unceasing policy recommendations that were increasingly divorced from the science.

One thing most people can agree on: COVID-19 won’t be the last public health emergency. There are already concerning headlines about an early spike of RSV impacting children. The leaders of captured health agencies must learn from their mistake of allowing the pharmaceutical industry unimpeded control of pandemic health policy. Americans are incredibly forgiving people willing to show grace, but step one in that process is a willingness for those in charge to admit their mistakes.

Republished from Washington Times

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  • Pierre Kory

    Pierre Kory is a Pulmonary and Critical Care Specialist, Teacher/Researcher. He is also the President and Chief Medical Officer of the non-profit organization Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance whose mission is to develop the most effective, evidence/expertise-based COVID-19 treatment protocols.

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