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FILDEBRANDT: The lockdown that stole Christmas

“The social uniformity required for another lockdown to work clearly no longer exists.”

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Of all the strange and arbitrary things governments have done through the ages, cancelling Christmas has got to rank up there.

Here at home – and in many jurisdictions around the world – governments have used their largely unchecked powers to wrestle with the COVID-19 pandemic, culminating finally in the cancellation of Christmas, on pain of fines and even arrest.

Rare in the history of the free world is there an example of a government regulating or prohibiting non-abusive interactions within the confines of peoples’ private homes. Alas, as 2021 enters our horizon, we have crossed a dangerous threshold.

As COVID-19 spread from its incubator in Wuhan, China in March of 2020, peoples in free and non-free countries around the world overwhelmingly stood together in the face of what they were told was a historic pandemic on the scale of the Spanish Flu. Most people are not virologists and have little-to-no expertise in the danger of a novel virus. We have little choice but to trust the experts.

Even skeptics of state power could voluntarily comply with health restrictions in the face of what limited evidence we were presented with. The predictions were dire, and responsible individuals would do their part.

By June 2020, all of this changed.

The first shoe to drop was the credibility of the World Health Organization (WHO). Caught in the pocket of the Chinese Communist Party, the WHO turned itself inside-out to protect the regime responsible for the initial outbreak and silence the doctors sounding the early alarm. Despite this, Canada’s federal government clung to the WHO as sacrosanct.

Next came Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Thersa Tam. Initially ruling that face-masks did little to nothing to stop transmission, she back-flipped and recommended that the provinces make them mandatory. She never admitted that she was wrong; only that masks did nothing before, and were critical now.

Small business owners were subject to arbitrary government closure of their source of livelihood, while big box stores were allowed to continue operations relatively unimpeded.

But most devastatingly – and thankfully – the predictions proved to be woefully inaccurate.

The resulting fatality rates were far below even the “best-case scenarios” of most government modelling. A picture began to emerge of a virus that was highly contagious, but whose fatalities were almost exclusively the elderly and sick.

In Alberta and much of the developed world, the average age of a COVID-19 fatality is 82. The average life expectancy of an Albertan is 81.5 years.

This is not as the alarmists claim a dismissal of the value of the lives of the elderly or sick. It is a fact that should inform how we address a serious – but not apocalyptic – pandemic.

Governments continued to take a shotgun approach, with mask mandates and lockdowns applying to the public broadly, rather than more targeted measures focused on the truly at-risk demographics. There is a role to play for the less at-risk demographics still capable of carrying and transmitting the virus, but that role is surely lighter, and voluntary.

Those who feel that the risk of contraction is just too great, are free to lock themselves down.

Closer to home in Alberta, the government has oscillated between a laissez faire approach (relative to other provinces) and authoritarian Ontario-style lockdowns. This has resulted in the worst of both worlds, with little of the benefit.

We received neither the benefits of widespread heard-immunity, or the protection of a protracted lockdown to starve the virus out.

In a moment of sincerity, Premier Jason Kenney apologized to small business owners who were forcibly shuttered during the first lockdown that began in March, while big box stores often saw record profits. He recognized that it did little or nothing to improve public health, and put them at an unfair competitive disadvantage.

In the face of relentless and almost uniform media and NDP criticism, Kenney stood his ground against another total lockdown. Instead, he imposed half-measures with bizarre restrictions on who people are allowed to go to restaurants with. Without police doing background checks at every dinner table in Alberta, it was impossible to enforce.

On the Danielle Smith radio show, Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley slammed Kenney for not imposing a total lockdown, including on restaurants and bars. Kenney was quick to shoot back, accusing the opposition leader of recklessly killing businesses.

It is difficult to say if Kenney has genuinely changed his mind in the space of a week, or if it was just the pressure from the onslaught of the media, but Kenney caved and imposed a total lockdown. Alberta is closed, again. It joins the lockdown-happy governments of Ontario’s Doug Ford and BC’s John Horgan.

The oscillation will continue, and won’t do much. Alberta has gone from a lockdown, to eased-restrictions, to hard-restrictions, to another lockdown. But unlike the first lockdown, there is far from universal buy-in.

An Angus-Reid poll found that at least 35 per cent of Albertans intend to defy government orders and meet with family over Christmas. It wouldn’t be a great surprise if many more just didn’t want to tell a pollster that they planned on breaking the law.

A lockdown requires near universal public buy-in. It no longer exists.

Governments have been caught spreading incorrect, and sometimes dishonest information. Politicians and media have too often been caught stoking fear for political ends. Media have been caught doing it to sell ads and get clicks.

Conspiracy theorists have taken these misdeeds and built larger narratives around them, and a following.

The proverbial “Karens” have taken up this moment not as a public health crisis, but as a chance for public virtue signalling. The wearing of the mask is for them less about mitigating the transmission of a virus, then about proudly displaying their social solidarity.

Conversely, many skeptics quickly came to see the mask not as a health protection measure, but as the dark side of the symbol that the Karens proclaim: submission to authority.

Almost as soon as it started, COVID-19 has been a victim of the culture war.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s early measures to stop air traffic from China were labelled as “racist” by his critics. The pandemic was apocalyptic, but not so apocalyptic as to stop travel from the virus’s breeding ground.

As the left came to broadly favour lockdowns and mask-mandates, the right came to see it as excessive statism. As the left came to view the right as science-denying conspiracy theorists, the right came to view the left as slavish, state-worshiping authoritarians.

Whatever the truth, the social uniformity required for another lockdown to work clearly no longer exists.

A good many people will grumble and grudgingly comply with the lockdown and mask-mandates, but a likely large minority will have none of it. For them, Christmas will be held clandestinely.

A lockdown observed religiously by 50 per cent, grudgingly by 20 per cent, and defied by 30 per cent will not succeed. All it will achieve is greater economic and social hardship, and continue to divide an already divided society.

Derek Fildebrandt is the Publisher of the Western Standard
dfildebrandt@westernstandardonline.com

Derek Fildebrandt is the Publisher, President & CEO of Western Standard New Media Corp. He served from 2015-2019 as a Member of the Alberta Legislative Assembly in the Wildrose and Freedom Conservative parties. From 2009-2014 he was the National Research Director and Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. dfildebrandt@westernstandardonline.com

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. David Elson

    December 10, 2020 at 11:03 pm

    Since the first lockdown failed to stop the virus, why would anyone think a second lockdown is likely to have a better result?

    It has been said the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result each time.

    The same could be said for “asking” Ottawa to play fair.

  2. warrenzoell

    December 10, 2020 at 9:48 am

    12,983 Covid 19 deaths in Canada from a population of 37,590,000 is a death rate of 0.0319233%.
    Providing those Covid 19 deaths are in fact Covid 19 deaths.
    Plus when you take into account that around 47,000 Canadians die each year from heart disease and stroke, give or take. Canada’s number one killer, but you don’t see rights being taken away and economies being destroyed because of it. The panic induced by our governments and media over Covid19 becomes even stranger.

  3. John

    December 10, 2020 at 9:48 am

    Does nobody do a fact check on wearing these stupid masks for a prolonged period of time, lets say 30 minutes and longer??? They catch many things nasty that are floating in the air, as they should, but they only catch a small fraction of the tiniest particles like viruses, the worst is they become an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, mold, rust or mildew, etc.. And the more clogged up they become the harder it is to breathe, starving the body of oxygen and making it very likely to inhale insane amounts of pathogens that have multiplied in the masks themselves.

    Does nobody question the mortality rate? Almost all people that (unfortunately) died had at least 2 more serious underlying conditions, incl. old age. Why does nobody point this out and why don’t the authorities address these facts first?
    And as someone mentioned in a previous post, why has nobody died of the flu or pneumonia since the pandemic started?
    Far more people died because of cancelled or postponed medical treatment or mental health issues caused by the draconian measures implemented by governments than of this virus. People are left to die while they are waiting for a covid test to come back before they can receive medical attention, that is a fact!
    The weak and the vulnerable should be protected, the rest of us will be fine.
    My 2cts.
    P.s., I didn’t even mention the long term economic damage and the financial hardship caused by these lockdowns. The government can’t keep printing money forever, somebody has to foot the bill eventually. $1.4 trillion fed. debt and millions out of work is serious stuff!

    • Allen

      December 10, 2020 at 9:49 am

      This country is chock-full of obedient morons with nothing to believe in but the government. They lack critical thought because they lack purpose. Unfortunately, there is far too many of them, and you just can’t fix stupid. We have an uphill battle ahead of us, but the truth is worth fighting for.

      • warrenzoell

        December 10, 2020 at 9:49 am

        As
        Ben Franklin said “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to
        purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

  4. Allen

    December 10, 2020 at 9:46 am

    The government is not entitled to ‘cancel’ my Christmas. I did not agree to that.

  5. Mars Hill

    December 9, 2020 at 11:58 pm

    Dan Crenshaw succinctly describe this situation down south and the reason I believe it’s here (you don’t want to hear my ccp cabal rant)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ6p0_hA97o&feature=youtu.be

    • Allen

      December 10, 2020 at 9:49 am

      I would love to have a Solid Snake-esque freedom fighter like him representing Alberta. This dude is seriously badass.

  6. warrenzoell

    December 9, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    A must read from SDA –
    “Where did these endless lockdowns come from?”
    https://www.smalldeadanimals.com/2020/12/09/where-did-these-endless-lockdowns-come-from/

  7. Helge Nome

    December 9, 2020 at 6:31 pm

    While I agree with some things stated in this article, I disagree with others: This virus is a real threat and has already killed over 12000 Canadians. If let loose, it will kill 10 times that number before the carnage is over.

    I used an industrial mask when going shopping while Dr. Tam was poo pooing masks in the spring and I am not a “virtue signaler”.

    • warrenzoell

      December 9, 2020 at 7:19 pm

      Yeah you are.

    • Ah Jaysus

      December 9, 2020 at 8:39 pm

      Have you noticed that virtually nobody has died from the flu, pneumonia etc this year? These illnesses have been repackaged as Covid 19 and you’ve fallen for the ridiculous hysteria.

    • Allen

      December 10, 2020 at 9:46 am

      I’m sorry you’re scared, but 12000 is a minuscule number compared to our population. I’m way past the ‘every life matters’ point, too. It’s a numbers game now, do some math. What’s happening because of this trojan horse ‘virus’ is completely unacceptable.

      • warrenzoell

        December 10, 2020 at 9:48 am

        12,983 Covid 19 deaths in Canada from a population of 37,590,000 is a death rate of 0.0319233%.
        Providing those Covid 19 deaths are in fact Covid 19 deaths.

      • Allen

        December 10, 2020 at 9:48 am

        No kidding. Not like we’ll ever know.

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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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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Wokism tarnishes Sally Ann’s trusted image

Yet, by singling out white donors, the Salvation Army appears to have embraced the racism it denounces.

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The Salvation Army foolishly thrust itself into the intolerant world of woke when it issued a blanket call for apologies and repentance from allegedly racist whites.

In what appears to have been an attempt to appease the destructive radical woke crowd, the Salvation Army tarnished its trusted image. What a shame.

On the heels of a swift backlash, the Salvation Army retreated from, or is at least rethinking, its push to promote anti-racist and critical race theory that points an accusing finger at white donors.

On one hand, the Salvation Army “denounces racism in all forms” and has operated on that principle since it was founded by William Booth in 1865.

Yet, by singling out white donors, the Salvation Army appears to have embraced the racism it denounces.

In its global guidebook entitled Let’s Talk About Racism, the Christian charity urged white donors to “lament, repent, and apologize for biases or racist ideologies held and actions committed.

“In the absence of making anti-racist choices, we consciously uphold aspects of white supremacy, white-dominant culture, and unequal institutions and society,” the document states.

The Salvation Army asked white people to think about how they’ve “consciously or unconsciously” supported prejudices against racial minorities and “acknowledged with regret, that Salvationists have sometimes shared in the sins of racism and conformed to economic, organizational, and social pressures that perpetuate racism.”

In another document, entitled Study Guide on Racism, the Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Commission, said white people are guilty of “unconscious bias” and “unwittingly perpetuate racial division” even if they don’t overtly show it.

“We must stop denying the existence of individual and systemic/institutional racism. They exist and are still at work to keep white Americans in power.”

You’d think the Salvation Army was responding to droves of white people writing cheques or shoving bills and coins into the Red Kettles while stipulating their charitable donations must aid whites only.

Of course, that doesn’t happen.

The Salvation Army appears to have been duped, or bullied, by woke radicals. It even adopted their language.

Wokism, despite pious proclamations that claim to fight for race, gender and sexual injustice, is a nasty thing based on hardcore Marxist ideology.

In reality, it is intolerant, venomous, and strives to crush anyone who disagrees with what it promotes. It has a particular distaste for Christians.

The woke radicals don’t care the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign alone supports 2.1 million people in 400 Canadian communities, or that the organization serves 128 countries and preaches the gospel in 175 different languages.

Or that volunteers, many of them white, manning the kettles for hours on end, do so out of colour-blind love.

The outcry against the Salvation Army’s guidelines was fierce.

It prompted a statement from the American arm of the organization denying it is peddling woke messaging and critical race theory.

“The guide ‘Let’s Talk About Racism,’ was issued as a voluntary resource, but it has since become a focus of controversy. We have done our best to provide accurate information, but unfortunately, some have chosen to ignore those efforts. At the same time, international headquarters realized that certain aspects of the guide may need to be clarified.”

It said claims the Salvation Army believes donors should apologize for their skin colour and that the organization has abandoned its Christian faith are “simply false and they distort the very goal of our work.”

The International Social Justice Commission “has now withdrawn the guide for appropriate review,” said the statement.

The Study Guide on Racism wasn’t even mentioned.

“The Salvation Army’s beliefs are, and have always been, rooted in scripture. That includes our complete rejection of racism, which is in stark contrast to the biblical principle that we’re all created in the image of God,” Maj. Jamie Locke, secretary of public relations with Alberta and Northern Territories Division, told theWestern Standard.

“The Salvation Army believes that the world is enriched by a diversity of cultures and ethnicities, and we are committed to working towards a world where all people are accepted, loved, and valued. We serve all without discrimination, and we respect and value the unique views and beliefs of our employees, volunteers, and donors.”

The Salvation Army has always been a rock in this world, often the first on the scene in a crisis, reaching out to pick up the fallen and discarded, an organization founded on strong Christian principles carried out with love.

It is a beacon of light and all that is good and noble.

It’s tough to criticize the Salvation Army.

But the fault lies in the message delivered, not false interpretations of what it clearly stated.

When you target a particular skin colour that’s racism, even in today’s climate where piling on white people is in vogue.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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