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"Alberta's approach has never been to impose a lockdown," declared Alberta Premier Jason Kenney on Twitter on October 11, 2020.
The Premier was responding to comments by Dr. David Nabarro of the World Health Organization, who urged world leaders to "stop "using lockdowns as your primary control method" for COVID-19.
Dr. Nabarro's assertion that lockdowns cause world poverty and child malnutrition, and make "poor people an awful lot poorer," contradict multiple previous WHO statements supporting lockdowns. His comments align with the "Great Barrington Declaration," signed by more than 30,000 medical doctors, epidemiologists, immunologists, professors of medicine, health economists, biostatisticians, microbiologists, oncologists, and infectious disease experts from around the globe.
The "Great Barrington Declaration" mentions worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health, leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, as examples of lockdown harms. The "Declaration" holds out "focused protection" of the vulnerable as "the most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, [allowing] those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk."
Perhaps Premier Kenney agrees with Dr. Nabarro and with the "Great Barrington Declaration," and now opposes lockdowns.
However, Premier Kenney's declaration that "Alberta's approach has never been to impose a lockdown" would come as a surprise to Patrick Lefebvre, Cory Teichroew and Patrick Tipper, who were issued $1,200 tickets at a peaceful protest at the Legislature grounds this past May.
Citizens were ticketed, detained, and in some cases handcuffed for simply exercising their Charter freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly. The thousands of Albertans forced into unemployment by lockdowns this past March would also be surprised by the Premier's claim that no lockdown was imposed in Alberta.
The Premier argued further in his tweet that "We had prudent, limited public health restrictions early in the Covid period to flatten the curve while we expanded the capacity of our health system. Our focus was, and is, on education & personal responsibility."
The many Albertans who were forced to cancel weddings, and who were legally prohibited from attending the funerals of their loved ones, might disagree. The thousands of small businesses forced to close their doors, including restaurants, bars, gyms, theatres, hairdressers, and nail salons might think these restrictions were not as "prudent" as the Premier claims.
Children who were prevented from putting on the school plays, music recitals and dance performances, for which they had practiced for months, and the thousands of students deprived of real and meaningful graduation ceremonies, might not view the lockdowns as "limited." Patients who were legally prohibited from seeing their physiotherapists, podiatrists, chiropractors, optometrists, dentists and chiropractors, for months on end, would disagree with the Premier's assertion that lockdowns were imposed only "early in the Covid period."
If Premier Kenney truly opposes lockdowns, he should remove the current, ongoing restrictions on citizens' freedoms. Promoting the fantasy that "Alberta's approach has never been to impose a lockdown" is both false and unhelpful. Premier Kenney should allow restaurants to determine their own rules and policies, rather than operating at half-capacity as they must now do because of mandatory social distancing policies. He should allow children to attend school without being forced to wear masks.
He should allow martial arts studios and other sporting activities to resume fully normal operations, rather than forcing them to continue on their current road to financial ruin. He should force municipalities to scrap their illegal by-laws that make masks mandatory. He should allow charities to hold fundraising dinners not limited to only 50 people. He should see to it that Albertans can once again worship God in full freedom, including singing in houses of worship, without fear of government bureaucrats imposing massive fines.
In Alberta today, it's still not fully legal to feed our souls and spirits by socializing freely with other people in pubs, restaurants, curling rinks, football stadiums, theatres and concert halls, and at religious gatherings, 12-step programs, political gatherings, charity fundraisers and other in-person meetings. The cold, wet lockdown blanket is upon us still.
If Jason Kenney truly opposes lockdowns, he should end them immediately and restore fully our Charter freedoms to move, travel, associate, assemble and worship. Pretending that lockdowns were not imposed, or that they have been lifted, is insulting to the many Albertans who have suffered so much, and continue to suffer, because of lockdowns.
Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.