The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Canadian non-profit public interest law firm, put out a news release warning Calgary’s Emergency Management Chief Tom Sampson and Mayor Naheed Nenshi that if they impose a hard 28-day “circuit breaker” lockdown, the firm will take “immediate legal action”.
Sampson said CBC News on Sunday that he believes Calgary should impose a 28 day “circuit breaker” lockdown, which would shut down all businesses that the city doesn't deem “essential”. This would likely mean following Manitoba in shutting down churches and gyms while allowing pot stores to open.
Sampson wrote a number of tweets on November 14, where he described the rise in COVID-19 cases as “an incoming tsunami.” In his tweets he stated that “This second wave is large and it may run over our healthcare system. We must stop the spread of COVID-19, there is little to debate here… the tsunami siren is wailing.”
The Justice Centre’s website states that their mission is “to protect the Charter freedoms of Canadians to gather, assemble and worship, and to reject destructive restrictions that lack a justifiable basis.”
The firm sent a letter to Mr Sampson and Mayor Nenshi on Tuesday warning of legal action. The letter states “Your threat to lockdown the City of Calgary is a gross usurpation of authority. There is no statutory authority for your proposed exercise of this power, nor historical precedent for the use of such extraordinary authority in the history of this nation by an official such as yourself. No such power is delegated to you under the Municipal Government Act, or the Constitution of Canada. Further, you are not a medical officer of health in the Province of Alberta.”
The firm believes that the threat made by Calgary’s Emergency Management Chief is not fact based and fails to consider AHS data on actual COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations and ICU capacity. This AHS data states that 97 percent of people who contracted COVID-19 were either asymptomatic or mildly ill. The firm also states the inaccuracy of testing and the fact that less than 3 percent of COVID-19 cases require hospitalization.
The AHS data also challenges the claim that “hospitals will be overrun”, as COVID-19 patients currently only make up 3 percent of Alberta’s hospital beds. Alberta’s provincial government also announced that ICU capacity can be expanded to 1374 beds, currently only 4 percent people in ICU have COVID-19.
Justice Centre President John Carpay says that “Lockdown policies have crippled our economy and society. Most small businesses are not going to survive another lockdown. People’s mental and physical health have suffered immensely by government overreach.”
“Albertans have died and are dying because of cancelled surgeries, delayed cancer diagnoses, drug overdoses, and suicides. Lockdowns have imposed serious harms on patients denied access to their physiotherapists, massage therapists, optometrists, chiropractors, osteopaths, podiatrists and dentists. Outside of the privileged public sector, countless Albertans have been driven into unemployment, poverty and despair. The economy has been decimated, and the hopes and futures of tens of thousands of Albertans are destroyed, not because of the virus, but because of policies based on fear, not facts.”
The Justice Center also noted that Mr Sampson and Mayor Nenshi are public officials with a secure salary and pension. Unlike working class Albertans, these two officials will face no monetary consequences if they impose a lockdown. Carpay adds that “We have put the City of Calgary, Mayor Nenshi and Mr. Sampson on notice. We will immediately begin court proceedings for an injunction if they attempt to carry through on threats to lock down the City of Calgary, which violates our most fundamental Charter freedoms without factual justification,” “We urge government officials to focus on protecting the vulnerable, instead of arbitrarily restricting the liberty of healthy citizens, which will have no effect on reducing the risk of transmission among the vulnerable elderly in nursing homes,”