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JAMES-FROM: Governments owe citizens a better explanation on lockdowns

“If it is possible to adopt compassionate and balanced measures to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity naturally or through vaccination.”

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Media coverage of the Great Barrington Declaration has been almost non-existent in Alberta’s mainstream media. This is an utter travesty; a blemish on our Fourth Estate. The Declaration is an important public health document offering a compassionate and balanced alternative strategy for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Quite simply, the public needs to know about it.

On October 4, 2020, professors Sunetra Gupta, Jay Bhattacharya, and Martin Kulldorff authored and signed the Declaration in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. These professors (from Oxford, Stanford, and Yale respectively) are accomplished scientists from prestigious institutions who have expertise in public health and epidemiology.  Since then, the public has been able to read and sign the Declaration online. There are now nearly 50,000 medical and public health scientists and practitioners and over 600,000 concerned citizens who have added their signatures.

Acknowledging that COVID-19 presents a significant threat, the authors of the Declaration point out: 

“We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.”

Indeed, data from Alberta bears this out. The average age for a COVID-19 fatality is 82 years, and to date, no one under 20 years old has died. The goal of any compassionate response to COVID-19 must be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity, whether naturally or through vaccination. Armed with these simple facts, how should we accomplish our goal?

The authors favour an approach different from extremists. Albertans are being inundated with pleas for all manner of lockdown, while those who are opposed to these measures are construed as misanthropes who want nothing at all to be done to protect the vulnerable. These are false alternatives, and neither are tenable responses for neither is capable of meeting the goal of minimizing both mortality and social harms. 

“Focused Protection” is what the Declaration’s authors ask us to consider. This consists of two things: first, those minimally at risk should go about their lives, should they choose to do so, in order to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, and second, those at highest risk should be offered rigorous protection tailored to suit local and individual needs.

This strategy, according to the authors, will both minimize fatalities and ameliorate the devastating public health consequences of lockdowns.

It’s difficult to believe at this point in the pandemic, but there are still those who refuse to acknowledge that lockdowns result in social harms rivalling those of COVID-19. Lockdowns result in deaths from despair due to economic ruin and social isolation, as well as untreated health issues like cancercardiovascular disease and the like. They also serve to increase spousal and child abusefamily breakdownsubstance abusesuicide and depression. And be warned, lower educational outcomes and poverty could affect our children and grandchildren for generations to come.

Alberta released a response to the Declaration on October 28, but instead of the thoughtful and fulsome analysis that we deserve, the response greatly misconstrued the Declaration and attacked a strawman. It is an interesting exercise to read the two documents side by side to parse the arguments. The response is inadequate, to say the least.

The response says that “herd immunity” is the “stated goal” of the Declaration. This is false. The stated goal is to balance the risks and benefits of all COVID-19 policies against the risks and benefits of other health concerns until we reach the inevitable end of the pandemic, which will come when we reach herd immunity naturally or through vaccination. Herd immunity is not a goal.

Later, the response mischaracterizes the Declaration as a “herd immunity plan.” But nowhere does the Declaration claim that herd immunity is a “plan.” Rather, it’s a biological result incidental to some portion of the population’s exposure to a pathogen. It’s a product, an outcome.

The response is replete with many other similar errors, which leads me to believe that focused protection has yet to be seriously considered by the Alberta government.

If it is possible to adopt compassionate and balanced measures to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity naturally or through vaccination. Albertans deserve that. If it is not possible, we deserve a far more rigorous analysis from our public officials explaining why we can’t implement it here.

Derek James-From is a freelance columnist and constitutional lawyer

Opinion

KAY: Suzuki exposed as a fraud who pays lip service to his causes

The wonder is it’s taken so long for the halo to slip. On the evidence, Suzuki was never anything more than a shameless self-promoting huckster, a step-right-up-folks barker in the carnival of climate-change alarmism.

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Reader’s Digest used to do annual polls to discover which prominent Canadians were deemed most trustworthy by the public.

In first place in 2010 for the second year in a row: “eco-champion” David Suzuki, was described on the Reader’s Digest website as “honest, compassionate, and communicating a clear message.”

How could so many Canadians have been so gullible? Long before 2010, it was clear to engaged conservatives one would have to be drinking Suzuki’s own special brand of Kool-Aid to write such a description in good faith.

It may be the Kool-Aid finally lost its magical power. Denunciations of Suzuki poured forth over his recent mischief-making in a supportive address to radical, law-breaking environmental group Extinction Rebellion at the site of a pipeline protest in B.C. Suzuki told the group there “are going to be pipelines blown up if our leaders don’t pay attention to what’s going on.” Quickly realizing from the blowback he had gone too far, Suzuki attempted to walk the threat back with an apology. But unlike in the old days when he could get away with such nonsense, Suzuki’s apology was perceived as too little too late, and didn’t play well with responsible media.

The wonder is it’s taken so long for the halo to slip. On the evidence, Suzuki was never anything more than a shameless self-promoting huckster, a step-right-up-folks barker in the carnival of climate-change alarmism. He always talked like a selfless eco-warrior, but he has never walked the walk. On the contrary. Suzuki’s hypocrisy in all matters he engages with knows no bounds.

He urges us to cut our carbon footprint to near zero, while he enjoys the use of his multiple lavish homes, including one in Australia, which he visits regularly. He wants us to take personal responsibility in our reproductive choices for reducing the global population, while he permits himself the pleasure of five children. (In 2011, Suzuki took them on a visit to French Polynesia, a 25,000 km round trip from Vancouver, paid for by a climate change award’s prize money in 2011.)

He claims the David Suzuki Foundation is a charity, but what kind of charity has a dozen registered lobbyists in Ottawa and another eight in B.C.? He claims his foundation is funded by individual Canadians, but it takes funding from such fossil fuel companies as the Alberta natural gas company ATCO and the pension fund of Ontario Power Generation, which has operated both coal-and-gas-fired plants.

Suzuki wants politicians jailed for “denying the science,” but denounces police when they apply actual laws to eco-extremist blockaders. His family is of Asian provenance, but he complains of immigration from Asian and African countries. He spouts “scientific” nonsense — he once claimed “up to 90% of cancer is caused by environmental factors,” when in fact it is more like between four and 19%, according to the National Cancer Institute — and then admits to the CBC (2013), “I have a lot of personal opinions, but that’s not backed up by anything I know.”

His coarse language and open contempt for media are legendary. Suzuki’s narcissism is so comprehensive that he withdrew scholarship funding at Carleton University because a professor there wrote a tepid review of his books.

He’s the ultimate con man, whose rigid control over communications with audiences or media usually prevents people from learning how ignorant he actually is about issues he claims expertise in.

In September 2013, however, Suzuki was publicly humiliated when he participated as a panel member for the ABC TV program Q & A, in which exchanges were spontaneous and recorded. The audience was largely composed of scientific researchers in the field, one of whom politely, but insistently, rebutted his denial of the then 15-year hiatus in global warning since 1998, as well as falsehoods Suzuki had stated as factual regarding the Great Barrier Reef.

Suzuki was clearly flummoxed by his interlocutor’s question: “Yeah, well, I don’t know why you’re saying that…in fact, the warming continues…Where are you getting your information?” The questioner cited impeccable sources by their acronyms, inside jargon to a layperson that should have been instantly recognizable to anyone self-presenting, like Suzuki, as an expert. Suzuki’s complete bewilderment in the face of the data rebutting his own confidently stated but erroneous statements exposed him in all his inglorious quackademic nakedness.

Since this episode occurred in Australia, the Youtube of the event might never have reached more than a handful of Canadians. It was only because Rebel News made unmasking Suzuki’s charlatanism a priority that interest surged and the episode went viral. Thanks to their relentless, but often entertaining public pursuit of Suzuki, people came to understand that the man they had once deemed “honest, compassionate and communicating a clear message” was in fact dishonest, misanthropic and untruthful. Not to mention more than a little creepy in his open, overtly sexist fascination with young women on college campuses.

I’ve only scratched the surface of Suzuki’s self-serving fecklessness. For a full picture of this mountebank’s abuse of Canadians’ goodwill, from which several of my examples above have been taken, read Sheila Gunn Reid’s meticulously annotated 2018 book, The Case Against David Suzuki: An Unauthorized Biography (free on Kindle).

Reid’s book was published by Rebel Media (full disclosure: Rebel Media also recently published a book I co-authored with Linda Blade.) I promise the indignation aroused by Reid’s continually amplified proof of Suzuki’s cynical disregard for truth or honour, conveyed in crisp, cheeky and wit-filled prose — she describes Suzuki as “the Bernie Madoff of the anti-oil crusade” — will hold you riveted for the few hours required to read from the first page to the last.

Read it, consider the unnecessary fear and self-loathing this feckless shaman has instilled in so many vulnerable Canadian children’s minds, and weep for the naiveté of those Canadians in their millions who have, through their adulation and material contributions to Suzuki’s snake-oil empire, helped build and sustain this hollow man’s ill-gotten fortune and prestige

Barbara Kay is a senior columnist for the Western Standard.
kbarb@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter: @BarbaraRKay

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Opinion

WAGNER: Alberta’s social conservatives should be afraid of an NDP return to power

When it comes to education policy in Alberta, the NDP is adamant that only one view of sexuality will be represented – and it’s not the traditional Christian view – even in schools that were founded with a specifically Christian purpose.

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The increasing possibility of a NDP electoral victory in 2023 should keep conservatives in Alberta awake at night. Much will be at stake if the ‘progressives’ come back to power.

Social conservatives in particular have a lot to lose, especially with regards to education policy. One of the most acrimonious issues during the NDP’s term in government concerned gay-straight alliances (GSAs) in schools. Most noteworthy, a number of private religious schools were on the verge of losing their government funding and accreditation for failing to explicitly embrace GSAs within their school policies. Only the election of Jason Kenney’s UCP saved these schools. On this file, the NDP is likely to pick up where it left off once back in office.

Discussions of this issue have been fraught with misinformation. The NDP and its supporters have portrayed their GSA policies as the one and only way to keep vulnerable students safe in schools. Thus, they imply, anyone with a different view is malevolent, is homophobic, and obviously wants to hurt kids. There’s a strict binary choice at work in the messaging: endorse the NDP’s solution or be labelled a very nasty person. There’s no other possibility. Most of the mainstream media has followed this NDP talking point to the letter.

The fact is, though, private Christian schools are formed and maintained only at great sacrifice by those involved. The parents pay extra fees to have their children attend these schools, and school employees often take lower salaries in order to serve in a religious educational mission. These are people who are making extra sacrifices — often at great personal cost — because they believe a particularly religious environment is what’s best for their children. The idea that they do all this and yet want to hurt kids is absurd.

But according to NDP propagandists, private schools with openly Christian statements on the nature of marriage and sexuality are harmful to vulnerable children. This was the basis of their demand to remove Christian doctrinal statements from school policies. Naturally, such doctrinal positions did not align with many of the social-justice identity politics of the NDP’s ideological makeup. Thus, they had to be forcibly removed.

When it comes to education policy in Alberta, the NDP is adamant that only one view of sexuality will be represented — and it’s not the traditional Christian view — even in schools that were founded with a specifically Christian purpose. The message was explicit: conform to the NDP’s ideology, or close. No diversity of opinion allowed.

As Donna Trimble put it so well at the time: “These schools have two choices. One is they strip their schools of any faith-based perspectives in their safe and caring policies in order to satisfy the government’s demands, and then they are giving up the very foundation and reason for their existence, or, two, they are shut down for their refusal to do so.”

And as Calgary Herald columnist Licia Corbella added, “Perhaps that’s the NDP’s ultimate goal? No choice, no diversity. Just NDP beliefs taught in Alberta.”

Of course, Jason Kenney put an end to the imposition of NDP ideology onto private Christian schools once he took power by passing Bill 8 — the Education Amendment Act — which rolled back the most authoritarian aspects of the NDP’s GSA program.

However, there were other facets to the GSA issue that he left in place, contrary to the wishes of many UCP members. At the UCP convention in Red Deer in May 2018, 57% of delegates voted in favour of parents being notified if their children joined a GSA. But Kenney opposed the resolution and said, “Guess what, I’m the leader. I get to interpret the resolution and its relevance to party policy…I hold the pen.” It did not become policy.

Some parental rights activists have not given up on this issue, however. One group, Bill 10 Court Challenge Organization, has continued to lobby UCP MLAs to strengthen parental notification provisions. It also promotes a petition encouraging the government to amend legislation so that children under 16 must obtain parental permission to join a GSA.

If and when the NDP comes back into power, the GSA issue will once again become front-page news. The acrimony of the NDP’s previous term will return with a vengeance — not because kids are being harmed — but because the NDP cannot tolerate any private Christian schools upholding a traditional perspective on sexuality. Ideological conformity is a central principle of “progressive” thought. This time, the non-government schools will not escape defunding and loss of accreditation.

With most of the mainstream media cheerleading the NDP on this issue as before, social conservatives will again be widely portrayed as sinister throwbacks of the Dark Ages, and their influence in Alberta society will decline even further. The election of an NDP government will not be pleasant for any segments of the province’s conservative/libertarian coalition, but the social conservatives have the most to lose.

Looking towards 2023, it seems like darkness is approaching.

Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

SELICK: AHS says it has no documents for its policy of disregarding natural immunity

The firefighters believe once they’ve recovered from COVID-19, they’ve got broad and long-lasting immunity — possibly even superior to that imparted by the vaccine.

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Freedom of Information (FOI) requests have long been a useful tool for journalists, lawyers, and ordinary citizens to gain access to documents the government might prefer them not to see. 

Sometimes, however, there is even greater value in finding out the government doesn’t have a single document in its possession to back up what it’s doing. 

A case in point is the recent FOI request sent to Alberta Health Services by lawyer Derek From. From is counsel for several Alberta firefighters and paramedics who wish to decline, for various reasons, mandatory COVID-19 vaccination. Their application challenging the constitutionality of Alberta Health Services (AHS) policy will be filed in the Court of Queen’s Bench imminently. 

Some of the firefighters have already acquired natural immunity to COVID-19 by virtue of having been sick with the illness and then recovering from it. However, the AHS document entitled Immunization of Workers for COVID-19 Policy 1189, makes no reference whatsoever to individuals with this medical history. Like everyone else, they are required to be “fully vaccinated” by November 30 or lose their jobs. 

The firefighters believe once they’ve recovered from COVID-19, they’ve got broad and long-lasting immunity — possibly even superior to that imparted by the vaccine. They’re therefore extremely unlikely to get COVID-19 again for a long time, and consequently wouldn’t be able to spread it to anyone else. They argue they’ve never seen any evidence indicating an unvaccinated person who has recovered from COVID-19 can actually spread the virus. 

Therefore, they wanted to know exactly what evidence AHS relied upon when preparing its policy. AHS seemed to presume people with natural immunity could pose a danger to others, but did it have any facts to back up that presumption? 

Lawyer From submitted a Freedom of Information request on November 21 asking for “all records of the scientific evidence that AHS relied upon in the development of the policy.” 

The answer came back within a few days: after conducting a comprehensive search, AHS could find no such records in its possession. 

There must be thousands of Albertans by now who are in the same position as the firefighters, having recovered from COVID-19. AHS has never even investigated whether there’s any need for them to be vaccinated. It appears to be oblivious to their condition, their concerns and their wellbeing. 

What’s worse is emerging evidence shows people who’ve developed natural immunity are more likely than other people to experience adverse reactions to vaccination, just as vaccinated individuals are more likely to experience adverse reactions after two doses than after one. The AHS policy of mandatory vaccination therefore puts those with natural immunity at greater risk than the rest of the population, when they are in fact the people who pose the least threat to others. 

It must be apparent to AHS executives that their policy arguably infringes on the constitutional rights of individuals to life, liberty and security of the person under Sec. 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They must know they will be called upon eventually to justify their policy under Sec. 1 of the Charter — in other words, to show the policy is “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

But their cupboard is bare. They don’t possess a single document showing the necessity of vaccinating people who have natural immunity, if their response to the Freedom of Information request can be believed. 

In other words, the policy is a huge bluff on the part of AHS — a despicable pantomime acted out for some unknown purpose, that will wreak havoc on the lives of thousands of Albertans as they scramble to replace their jobs and income, and simultaneously to bring their constitutional challenges before the courts. AHS displays shocking arrogance in continuing to inflict such burdens on the province’s residents when it must know that the policy will likely, eventually, be found unconstitutional.

The AHS is headed up by Chief Executive Officer Dr. Verna Yui, who reports to a board, which in turn is governed by the Alberta Ministry of Health. They proclaim their values include compassion, accountability, respect, excellence and safety. 

In my view, they are failing on several counts. 

Fire them all. 

Karen Selick is a columnist for the Western Standard

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