The facts are in, but the false narrative continues. The latest piece of government propaganda comes by way of an April 28, 2021 form letter that Alberta's Health Minister Tyler Shandro is sending to Albertans who write to him about COVID lockdowns.
Minister Shandro claims that "Alberta's initial approach to contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect Albertans was measured, balancing the need to protect health system capacity and provide care to Albertans in need, while limiting the impact on our businesses."
There is nothing "measured" about shutting down thousands of small businesses like restaurants, pubs, gyms, theatres, and recreational facilities. There is nothing "balanced" about closing schools, museums, universities and so many other places, while keeping big box stores open. These measures are unprecedented and enormously oppressive. Keeping liquor and cannabis stores open was also a political move, having nothing to do with science or public health.
If crippling Alberta's already-hurting economy was "measured" as claimed by Minister Shandro, his government would now be presenting evidence to support that claim at the trial of Pastor James Coates in Edmonton. But after trampling Albertans' civil liberties for more than 13 months, the Alberta Government has declared itself unwilling or unable to put medical and scientific evidence before the court, where government restrictions are being challenged as unjustified violations of the Charter.
This tells you everything you need to know about how "scientific" and "evidence-based" the government's restrictions are. If restrictions on our fundamental freedoms were based on science, the government would be presenting this science in court today, the trial having started on May 3, 2021. The government had ample notice that the constitutional validity of its public health orders were being challenged by Pastor Coates.
Minister Shandro's reference to protecting "health system capacity" is disingenuous, considering that many hospitals in Alberta (and every other province) have for many years been periodically over-loaded. The long-standing problem of "hallway medicine" isn't caused by COVID, and most hospitals were near-empty in early 2020. Moreover, the government has now had more than 13 months to expand hospital capacity (including training more doctors and nurses to work in ICUs). The government could have expanded hospital capacity for a fraction of the cost inflicted on Albertans' livelihoods, not to mention the tens of billions in new debt that must be repaid by our children and grandchildren.
Shockingly, Minister Shandro has the chutzpah to assert that his government provided "care to Albertans in need" when in fact his government cancelled 22,000 medically necessary surgeries. He also forced Alberta's dentists, chiropractors, physiotherapists, podiatrists, massage therapists and other health professionals into unemployment for months on end, inflicting harm on tens of thousands of Alberta patients who depend on these health care providers. The government did not provide care for Albertans in need, but removed the care. The government is making no effort to find out how many of these 22,000 patients were harmed or even killed because Minister Shandro cancelled their surgeries.
Minister Shandro claims that "the health measures implemented to address hospital capacity ensures that critical treatments, such as heart surgery or cancer treatments, are still available." But he maintains his silence about Gerry Dunham, the 46-year-old Medicine Hat man who needed pacemaker surgery because his heart was operating at only 25 percent capacity. Minister Shandro cancelled Gerry's surgery. Gerry died two weeks before Fathers Day, 2020, leaving two grieving daughters, then ages six and eight.
Minister Shandro estimates that approximately 167,000 out of 172,755 businesses are open, such that 96 percent are "substantially able to operate." This ignores how many businesses, while technically "open," have suffered massive losses in the past 13 months. For example, many restaurants remain open for take-out but only because they are locked into leases, and rent is their largest monthly expense. So it makes sense to provide take-out food, but only because some money is better than none at all. Minister Shandro presents no data on how many of his "open" businesses are losing money every month as they rush towards bankruptcy. Claiming most businesses are "open" is like saying people on life support are alive.
Minister Shandro asserts that "Albertans have a responsibility to slow the spread of the virus" but neither he nor Chief Medical Officer Deena Hinshaw nor any member of his United Conservative Party caucus (nor any member of the NDP Opposition) has provided any proof that 13+ months of varying restrictions on Albertan's liberties has reduced the transmission of COVID. Other countries and states provide ample evidence that lockdowns are useless against a virus. California implemented a full lockdown, while Florida had no lockdown and is fully open, yet both warm, sunny states have similar death rates. The same goes for locked down North Dakota and free South Dakota, both with very similar death rates.
Perhaps the biggest lockdown lie is the notion that we can stop a virus once it's out and about. The international evidence, now abundantly available as we suffer through our fourteenth month of the temporary "two weeks to flatten the curve," shows no correlation between lockdowns and COVID death rates. Who can provide a single historical example of any country or society that successfully used lockdowns to vanquish a virus? Lockdowns are a giant political experiment, based on speculation and unproven theory.
Minister Shandro clings to the fiction of asymptomatic spread to justify his mistakes: the idea that healthy people should all live in fear of each other, wear a mask, stay six feet apart, limit social interactions to a two-dimensional computer screen, forego healthy activities like team sports and gym usage, and refrain from spending Christmas with loved ones. Our office has asked him numerous times to provide the specific medical and scientific evidence on which he relies to support his belief in asymptomatic spread. We've received no response. This is exactly like his failure to produce medical and scientific evidence in court, where his health orders are now being challenged as unjustified violations of Charter freedoms.
Minister Shandro asserts that "it takes a delicate balance to be able to protect Albertans' physical and mental health as well as our economy, small businesses and health care services." With suicides, rising drug overdose deaths, deaths from cancelled surgeries, cancer deaths from lockdown-delayed MRI and CT diagnoses, and 13 months of government-imposed isolation orders (enforced with hefty fines) it's dishonest to pretend that lockdowns are "protecting" Albertans' physical and mental health.
There is no "balance" here, delicate or otherwise. The government should have focused protection on the vulnerable, while allowing everyone to pursue and maintain their physical, mental, emotional and financial health and well-being.
"We must work together to protect one another," claims Minister Shandro. But there is no "we" when it comes to the impact of lockdowns. Politicians, teachers, university professors, police, government employees, and other public sector workers have (with very few exceptions) been collecting their full salaries since March of 2020.
How long would lockdowns have lasted if the foregoing privileged elites had had to survive on $2,000 per month in CERB or EI benefits? Two weeks? One month? Two months? I will join Minister Shandro in believing in a "we" when every public sector worker agrees to start living on $2,000 per month, and to accept this salary indefinitely, not knowing when (if ever) the salary will return to its previous level. Then, and only then, will we all be "in this together."
As for "protecting one another," Minister Shandro appears ignorant of the fact that Covid is harmless to roughly 90 percent of the population, and dangerous to only 10 percent, most of whom are seniors with cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other serious health conditions. Minister Shandro should know, based on his own government's data and statistics, who the vulnerable 10 percent are. But he and his government have failed miserably in protecting vulnerable seniors in nursing homes. If there is any evidence that locking down the entire population made (or now makes) any difference, I would like to see it. So would the Court, I'm sure.
To his credit, Minister Shandro makes one assertion that is likely true: "For every 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 identified, approximately 80 people will require hospitalization two weeks later." If only the media, when reporting scary "case" numbers, would also mention that more than 90 percent of these "cases" refer to people who aren't sick and will not be harmed by COVID. The "cases" reported on by media, and used by politicians to violate our rights and freedoms, do not refer to sick people, but to PCR test results that were never designed to diagnose COVID, and which frequently misdiagnose actual cases of COVID.
The government's own data tells us that of the 309,000 Canadians who died in 2020, only 5 percent died with Covid (and not necessarily of Covid). Of 38 million Canadians, very few of us are going to get sick. Almost all who get sick will get over it, the survival rate being 99.77 percent. COVID has only a negligible impact on life expectancy. Healthy people do not spread COVID, and casual contact is not enough to transmit it.
Ultimately, facts will prevail over fear, and truth will vanquish lies. In the interim, Canadians will continue receiving misleading letters from politicians who continue to violate our Charter freedoms without medical or scientific justification.
Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms which is suing the federal and provincial governments to end lockdown restrictions.