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A lone Ontario MPP’s war against a second lockdown

The rogue MPP has been a thorn in the government’s side, providing some of the only opposition to Covid-19 policies in the Ontario legislature.

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Whether it’s a by-product of ramped up testing or a legitimate phenomenon, Ontario is reporting a second wave of COVID-19, citing an all-time high of 797 new cases well above the first-wave high of 640 new cases on April 24. Despite processing nearly 40,000 cases daily, Ontario’s 153 assessment centres have been whittling down a backlog that was once at 90,000 cases.

Independent Ontario MPP Randy Hillier is not singing from the official government songbook on the province’s latest round of hardline measures. Hillier has long been the odd man out in Ontario politics. Expelled from the PC Caucus by Ford in early 2019, Hillier has proven a genuine maverick his entire career.

Hillier told the Western Standard that the severity of the illness should be measured by deaths and hospitalizations, not by positive test results. He says the tests are unreliable and weren’t designed for what they are being used for.

“Barbara Yaffe stated in July that we could have [almost] 50 per cent false positives. Now that’s a high, high number. You’ve got to say to yourself, why are we using a test that has such a high error rate?”

Hillier says “disinformation, misinformation, uncertainty, and doubts” were common in the first months of the pandemic, but the low number of deaths on the infected Diamond Princess cruise ship – especially among those who weren’t elderly – were evidence enough to know that COVID-19 fears were overstated.

In May, the rogue MPP called on the government to end the state of emergency and restore power back to the provincial parliament. He says the government made bad decisions when it wouldn’t let people take their loved ones out of seniors’ care homes and rejected the Ontario Medical Association’s offer of staffing those homes with dedicated physicians. He says two-thirds of Ontario 3,000 COVID-19 deaths occurred in care home facilities.

“We were told that the infection fatality was going to be worse than the Spanish flu. And now the WHO has released the fatality rate last Friday and it’s pretty much the same as the seasonal flu,” Hillier said. “We see that Stats Canada for 2018 says there were 8,500 who people died from influenza-related illness. And we’re at 9,200 this year for COVID.”

Hillier says the risks of “asymptomatic spread” and “touching surfaces” have turned out to be “not true,” though it might be more accurate to say they were greatly overstated. “There were so many misconceptions. Everything was misconceptions.”

“There is a far greater number of people who are challenging the dogma and the narrative that has been proposed to us and has been drilled into us . . . with frightening results. More and more people are feeling confident and comfortable that speak out and speak up against these policies. And I am confident at the end of the day the facts will be far more important than the fear that has been generated.”

Despite being relegated to the lonely far corner of the legislature, Hillier has kept up contacts with his former colleagues in the PC Caucus, and says that more MPPs share his perspective on the virus than have the courage to say so publicly.

“Listen, I can tell you quietly, but there’s more Conservatives who are supporting me than their are Doug Ford,” Hillier said with a chuckle. “But there’s that coercive element of politics. And they’re fearful of being kicked out of caucus or they’re fearful of retribution or coercion from the party brass so they’re not speaking up.”

Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios was kicked out of the PC Caucus in July by Ford for voting against a bill granting the government sweeping emergency powers, and stripping the Ontario legislature of much of its oversight responsibilities. She now sits with Hillier in the “Siberian” corner of the legislature. 

Premier Ford was dismissive of an anti-lockdown protest in April, calling the demonstrators “yahoos.” However, a renewed groundswell of protest has emerged. On September 26, hundreds gathered at Younge and Dundas square to protest new measures. Twenty prominent doctors wrote an open letter to Doug Ford, published in the Toronto Sun October 1, to urge the premier not to return to lockdowns.

“Overdoses have risen 40 per cent in some jurisdictions. Extensive morbidity has been experienced by those whose surgery has been cancelled, and the ramifications for cancer patients whose diagnostic testing was delayed has yet to be determined,” the doctors wrote.

Regardless, Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, said on October 5 that she was “very seriously asking again that everyone rethink their Thanksgiving plans” and urged a four-week suspension of indoor service at bars and restaurants and indoor group exercise classes.

Ford refused. “If there’s a request to shut down restaurants, I have to sit back and look at the evidence,” he said at Monday’s press conference.

“The easy thing to do is without seeing endless data is just close everything down. I’m sorry, I’m not prepared to do that to people’s lives right now,” Ford said.

“I would [need] to exhaust every single avenue before I ruin people’s lives,” he said. “Show me the evidence. Hard, concrete evidence.”

Hillier has doubts. “At no time have I actually seen them operate on evidence. Even the mandatory masks that he [Ford] announced last Friday, there is no evidence that they work. So, if you’re going to gamble and bet on Doug Ford using evidence to make decisions going forward, be prepared to lose a lot of money. There’s two things driving Doug Ford right now: trying to appease a very fearful public, and a very singular and distorted view by many in the public health business.”

In the provincial parliament, Hillier held up an R.F.P. for detention centres in Ontario, suggesting they could detain a broad range of people, not just COVID-19 carriers. The PC minister rose in the house only to say, “Next question.” 

“I see COVID is in a very grave light and it concerns me gravely, not about the virus but about where our society is going to end. I think it would be beneficial for all your readers to think about what the future looks like and if they ought to speak up and influence where we end up. Because an authoritarian regime and the end of representative government, a complete loss of our freedoms and liberties is not going to be a good place.”

Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Correspondent for the Western Standard

Features

MAKICHUK: TOP SECRET – Meet the real-life James Bonds

“We haven’t had a female Bond in the films, but there are already lots in real life.”

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Like James Bond, they cross borders with fake identities and passports.

They operate in small isolated teams and have access to the full array of 007 gadgets designed by the spies’ Q section.

Its members are famed for not always looking like soldiers. Some speak different languages and can pass as foreign nationals.

The standing joke is that they could fit in at an embassy party or a whorehouse in Istanbul.

And just like Bond, they are all highly trained in firearms and hand-to-hand combat.

In fact, their training is considered “amazing even by SAS standards.”

But unlike the fictional 007 character, these assets don’t work for MI6, the famed British Secret Intelligence Service.

They are an elite section of the SAS, known as “The Increment.”

According to a report in the UK’s The Sun, the existence of the secret unit, “E Squadron,” was inadvertently confirmed this week when bungling Army top brass leaked the personal details of more than 70 Special Forces troops.

Buried deep in a spreadsheet of 1,200 soldiers’ names, trades and military units was a single reference to “22 SAS E SQN.”

It was the first written proof that the unit exists.

E Squadron is the fifth and newest limb of 22 SAS, the world’s most famous Special Forces regiment, whose motto is Who Dares Wins.

But its work is so secret that its troops are kept apart from the other four Sabre Squadrons, A, B, D and G, at their headquarters in Hereford, the Sun report said.

The squadron’s main task is to work with MI6 on top missions all over the globe.

SAS legend Andy McNab spent three years with the unit from 1991 to 1993, after his patrol in the first Gulf War which he wrote about in his book Bravo Two Zero.

He said the unit — which was hand-picked from the SAS — was “the closest to what James Bond does” of any British secret service.

But almost 30 years after he left, he said his work was still too secret to reveal, the Sun report said.

Another former member, who asked not to be named, said: “We were moving in and out of countries on different passports. Always in civvies, overseas all the time. It was busy.

“It was the James Bond stuff — use your imagination.”

The ex-member added: “You had to be able to blend in. People were picked for their ability to do undercover work.”

While some MI6 officers are firearms trained, it is never to the same level as their counterparts in E Squadron.

The former soldier said: “MI6 and MI5 are always distancing themselves from James Bond, saying they aren’t really like that. It’s true — spies aren’t like James Bond, they’re eggheads. Give them a gun, they wouldn’t know what to do with it.

“E Squadron solves that problem but they do a lot more as well.”

The places where they often have to work, using civilian cover identities, make it impossible to be armed, so they are all trained in deadly hand-to-hand combat, the Sun report said.

SAS author Chris Ryan served with Andy McNab on the 1991 Bravo Two Zero mission, in which a SAS patrol was deployed into Iraq during the first Gulf War to destabilize Saddam Hussein’s war strategy.

Says Ryan: “To be in the Increment is to be the best of the best.”

According to SOFREP.com, The Increment are strictly black ops — deniable missions that would be disavowed by the British government if compromised.

These could include:

  • Secret military assistance to foreign powers
  • Clandestine insertion and extraction of intelligence agents
  • Covert reconnaissance/intelligence gathering

Today E Squadron’s members are drawn from the three Tier One Special Forces units — the SAS, the SBS and the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, the Sun report said.

The SBS provides specialist frogmen and mini-submersibles which can be used to insert teams undetected on foreign shores.

The SRR, whose soldiers specialize in plain-clothes surveillance operations around the world, provides a large number of women.

The unit was formed out of 14 Intelligence Company, which was known as the Det, and operated undercover in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles.

A source said: “Women are often the best at this sort of work. If a group of blokes turns up, it always looks suspicious.

“We haven’t had a female Bond in the films, but there are already lots in real life.”

The Increment’s troops were among the first British soldiers in Afghanistan, ahead of the US invasion in 2001.

They were also involved in the 2011 uprising in Libya which toppled Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the Sun said.

A former E Squadron soldier said the unit was heavily involved in Iraq in the run-up to the 2003 invasion.

He said: “E Squadron are military people. They have rules of engagement.

“Is it a licence to kill? It is certainly not carte blanche. But the nature of soldiering means it’s sometimes necessary to take life. Everyone is trained in deadly force.”

Dave Makichuk is a Western Standard contributor
He has worked in the media for decades, including as an editor for the Calgary Herald. He is also the military editor for the Asia Times.
makichukd@gmail.com

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Features

Why does this BC area have the rudest postal code in Canada?

The area of Canada that easily takes the title for most unfortunate postcode has to be a street in Delta East Central: V4G1N4 (VAGINA). 

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A U.K. online business — apparently with buckets of time on its hands — has researched and unveiled what it calls “Canada’s rudest” postal codes.

Research by Money.co.uk shows the most unusual and awkward postal codes (the wacky Brits called it a “postcode”) in Canada and the UK and looked at the potential it can have on house prices.

As every maple-syrup blooded Canuck knows, Canadian postal codes contain a six-digit string of numbers and letters to create the final outcome, if one ignores the hyphen that splits the codes 

Using numeronyms —words where a number is used to form an abbreviation — the Brits discovered some odd pairings.

For example, in Timmins, Ont. you’ll find the postcode P4N-1C5. Nothing too eye-popping there until you dissolve the hyphen and are left with P4N1C5 (PANICS).

M4X1M5  (MAXIM) is more associated with a mens’ mag, not a vibrant area of downtown Toronto.

In another example, one area of Winnipeg sports the R3L1C5 (RELICS) code. 

However, the area of Canada that easily takes the title for most unfortunate postcode has to be a street in Delta East Central: V4G1N4 (VAGINA). 

The Brit release noted with the average Canadian house price currently around $716,828, living in a postcode such as V4G1N4 may actually effect your house price. However, no proof of the claim was offered.

Here are the top 21 most unusual/amusing postcodes in Canada:
• B3G1N5 (begins) Eastern Passage, NS;

• B4N4N4 (banana) Kentville, NS;

• L1V1N6 (living) Pickering Southwest, ON:

• L3C3L5 (levels) Orilla, ON:

• L4G3R5 (lagers) Aurora, ON;

• M4G1C5 (magics) East York (Leaside), ON;

• M4L1C3 (malice) East Toronto (India Bazaar / The Beaches West), ON;

• M4R1N3 (marine) Central Toronto (North Toronto West), ON;

• P3N1L3 (penile) Greater Sudbury (Val Caron), ON;

• P4N1C5 (panics) Timmins Southeast, ON;

• R3J3C7 (reject) Winnipeg (St. James-Assiniboia SE), MB;

• R3L1C5 (relics) Winnipeg (River Heights East), MB;

• R3M0V3 (remove) Winnipeg (River Heights Central), MB;

• R3T1R3 (retire) Winnipeg (Fort Garry NE / University of Manitoba), MB;

• S3N1L3 (senile) Yorkton, SK;

• S7R0K3 (stroke) Saskatoon Northwest, SK;

• T1R1N6 (tiring) Brooks, AB;

• V1C4R5 (vicars) Cranbrook, BC;

• V1K1N6 (Viking) Merritt, BC;

• V1X3N5 (vixens) Kelowna East Central, BC;

V4G1N4 (vagina) Delta East Central, BC.

Mike D’Amour is the British Columbia Bureau Chief for the Western Standard.
mdamour@westernstandardonline.com

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Features

What you need to know about new Alberta government restrictions

“Once a medical mask exemption is presented by an employee from a medical professional, an employer is well advised to accept the exemption at face value without further inquiry.”

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Guest contribution from Jonathan Denis, former minister of justice and solicitor general of Alberta.

COVID-19 is a very divisive subject, and the laws and regulations around it can be confusing as they are both complex and often changing.  Our office (Guardian Law Group LLP) has been receiving increasing inquiries about the restrictions reintroduced by the Government of Alberta.

In response to rising daily infection rates – the so-called “fourth wave” – Premier Jason Kenney announced the new restrictions are as follows:

  1. Masks – Effective September 4, 2021, masks are mandatory for all indoor public spaces and workplaces until further notice.  Schools are not required to impose forced-masking, but school boards will continue to set their own COVID-19 management policies.

There are further requirements and exceptions to the province-wide forced-masking regulations:

  1. Children under two-years of age are exempt;
  2. Individuals who have a medical exemption from masks are required to obtain a medical exemption letter from a doctor, nurse practitioner, or psychologist.  This medical exemption letter may be presented when in a public setting if requested by law enforcement, or in Court if a ticket is issued. A non-exhaustive list of medical conditions for which mask exemptions are granted include sensory processing disorders, developmental delay, cognitive impairment, mental illness, facial trauma, recent oral surgery, allergic distractions, or respiratory distress (I.e. asthma).
  3. Human rights legislation adds a further layer of complexity. Employers are not permitted to ask an applicant or an employee about current or past medical conditions. Therefore, once a medical mask exemption is presented by an employee from a medical professional, an employer is well advised to accept the exemption at face value without further inquiry.
  • Early “Last call” – Also on the same date, restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, night clubs, and other licensed establishments are required to end alcohol service at 10 pm MST. 
  • Voluntary recommendations – 
  1. Gatherings for unvaccinated people: The province is recommending (but not yet requiring) that unvaccinated Albertans limit their indoor social gatherings to “close contacts” of only two cohort families to a maximum of 10 people.
    1. In-person work: The province is also recommending that plans for in-person return to work be paused and that employers revert to work-from-home where possible.  

There is no legal requirement for mandatory vaccination.  Vaccination info can be found at ahs.ca/vaccine.

The province is also providing incentives for a $1 million draw for those who have two shots which will close on September 23, 2021.  You can enter this draw at alberta.ca/lotterty.  There is also a lottery to win an outdoor adventure which can be entered at alberta.ca/outdoor-adventure-vaccine-lottery.aspx.  Lastly, the province is now offering a $100.00 payment to persons who receive a first or second dose between September 3 and October 14, 2021.

Disclaimer: This column is for information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.  We recommend that you follow all laws and regulations.  If you have questions about your rights and responsibilities, please consult a private lawyer.

Jonathan Denis, Q.C. is a partner at Guardian Law Group LLP in Calgary.  He previously served as a two-term MLA and in five cabinet roles, most notably as Alberta’s 23rd Minister of Justice, Solicitor General, and Attorney General.  He has made the choice to be vaccinated twice.

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Petition: No Media Bailouts

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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No Media Bailouts

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