Dennis L. Modry BSc, MD, MSc, FRCS, FACCP, FACS is the Clinical Associate Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Alberta. He is also the Founder and Director of the Heart, Lung and Heart-Lung Transplant Program and was the Director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (1984 – 2015).
Dear Premier Kenney:
Many Albertans – myself included – commended you on your previous commitment to a balanced approach to protecting Albertans from COVID-19, while at the same time not completely abrogating our freedoms and rights such as free speech, peaceful assembly, association, and our ability to earn a living and care for our families.
(Tuesday) you imposed new lockdown measures which severely limit and, in some cases, shut down entirely many social, family, friendship, spiritual, recreational and entertainment pursuits that Albertans rely on for their well-being, just as you did in the spring. While you have commendably spared small businesses from suffering the complete shut-down they experienced this past spring (and your apology for this mistake is laudable and honourable), it seems that you have not learned much from the lockdown harms which Albertans experienced earlier this year.
The evidence that you provided for this lockdown is both suspect and incomplete and does a disservice to Albertans who deserve more from you. A major tenet of the Hippocratic Oath that physicians like myself ascribe to is “First Do No Harm”, which is ignored by this imposed lockdown.
Is it too late to correct this lockdown error? No, not if you are willing to be better informed. We have learned a great deal since the onset of this pandemic, much of which is the result of how different regions and countries have attempted to control the spread of COVID-19 and treat those infected. Now we know who is at greatest risk and have proven effective therapies for those who are seriously ill, as reported by the National Institute of Health on Dec 3, 2020; and we are on the cusp of mass immunization consequent to multiple vaccines soon to be available worldwide. The public should be reassured, rather than locked down.
Within the last few weeks, new evidence informs a more nuanced approach to better protect Albertans without unintended and unacceptable consequences, such as defined in the excellent recommendations of the Great Barrington Declaration, further addressed below.
I acknowledge with reverence those Albertans who have passed on from COVID-19, just as I acknowledge many others like Jerry Dunham who have died because lockdowns prevented their access to healthcare for very serious non-COVID-19 illnesses and conditions. I acknowledge the many with despair who have died from suicide and drug overdose. We now know that lockdowns are more lethal than COVID-19, and must learn from what has transpired to ensure we do not continue to make the same mistakes. Were you not informed of these facts, or did you simply ignore them?
Please consider the following evidence and unintended consequences that should give you the courage to retract the restrictions:
- We are nowhere close to overwhelming our healthcare system. As of December 9, 2020 there were 654 COVID-19 patients in 8,500 beds, or 7.7 per cent of capacity. There were only 112 patients in 272 ICU beds, or 41.2 per cent of operational capacity, however, you have stated publicly that the ICU capacity can be increased to 1,081 beds. This implies that, at present, only 10.4 per cent of potential ICU beds are filled.
- Have you evaluated what percentage of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are actually in hospital because of COVID-19, as opposed to with COVID-19, wherein it is the underlying disease that is the actual reason for the admission? The public deserves to know.
- Have you evaluated the percentage of patients who died with, but not from COVID-19? This information is extremely important to share with the public who deserve a fair and balanced presentation of the facts to both prevent fear and panic, as well as garner buy-in of government policy.
- Are you aware that the PCR test for COVID-19 has a false positive rate of up to 50 per cent according to the CDC (USA Center for Disease Control), and up to 90 per cent by other sources?
- Are you aware of how many people have died or become seriously compromised because they could not access healthcare for non-COVID-19 disease, including treatments for heart disease, cancer, and other life-threatening problems? Lockdowns are more lethal than Covid-19, which cannot be over-emphasized. Do you not think that the public should know this?
- Are you aware of how many people have committed suicide due to government-imposed lockdowns and the shuttering of businesses, schools, colleges, and universities? Have you tried to find out?
- Do you believe that it is ethically and morally appropriate for government to pick winners and losers by defining what is an essential versus a non-essential business, or activity such as, but not limited to, social, recreational, fitness-related, or spiritual pursuits?
- Are you fully aware of the magnitude of the economic devastation Alberta has sustained, and that we are spiralling down rapidly to a have-not province, according to the Fraser Institute?
- Are you aware of how many divorces have occurred consequent to lockdowns and loss of income? What about the increase in domestic abuse, family violence and increase of substance abuse?
- Are you aware of the short- and long-term effects on the mental health of our most vulnerable, including our children?
- Have you been apprised of how much crime has increased due to people becoming desperate just to stay alive?
- Finally, in the interests of transparency, please provide the information highlighted above to all Albertans on a daily or weekly basis on the AHS website, various social and other media sources available, so that we the people of Alberta can work with you, rather than question the validity of imposed interventions that are no longer required.
Your consideration to rescind the lockdown should also be based on fact. I implore you to read the Great Barrington Declaration authored by professors in medicine from Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford, who are experts in epidemiology, immunology, biostatistics, vaccine development, mathematical modelling, and public health policy. The Declaration has been co-signed by 38,154 medical practitioners, as well as 12,717 medical and public health scientists world-wide. Please also review the section in the Declaration on Frequently Asked Questions. You will be better informed and better able to give proper consideration to a more humane, compassionate and effective approach, rather than inflicting a multitude of harms on 4.4 million people. Please consider the following targeted recommendations:
- All testing should stop immediately, particularly for those who are asymptomatic, except for;
-People presenting to hospital with respiratory problems
-Nursing home employees with ‘point-of-care’ testing
- Nursing homes should have a comprehensive campaign for;
-Staff education in infection control
–Vitamin D daily for all inhabitants
-Electronic audiovisual communications for loved ones wishing to stay in touch
- There is also gathering evidence on the use of Ivermectin to prevent COVID-19, as evidenced in this Senate Testimony on December 8, 2020. The evidence for effective prophylaxis with Ivermectin is compelling
- Everywhere – hospitals included – should open immediately with conventional pre-Covid-19 precautions.
- Mandatory mask-wearing should cease (except for health professionals) as there is no credible scientific basis, as evidenced in the November 18, 2020 Danish randomized controlled trial reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Further, no country has reported a change in the trajectory of COVID-19 diagnosis consequent to widespread public testing of asymptomatic citizens before and after the institution of a countrywide mask mandate.
- Interventions such as total lockdowns, social distancing, and compulsory mask use are causing more harm than good. The genie (virus) is out of the bottle and the spread cannot realistically be controlled at all by the current interventions.
- Contact tracing and snitching should cease immediately.
- AHS must come clean with Albertans and provide robust information on the unintended consequences of lockdown measures which were initially well-intentioned but have now proven to be harmful to Albertans’ mental, physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and economic well-being; as well as lethal from suicide, drug overdose and inability to access healthcare for serious non-COVID illness and conditions.
- Finally, as healthcare is in your purview, please ensure that decisions come from your government/AHS, and not from municipalities who do not have access to the necessary resources and expertise to justify restrictions of any kind.
In conclusion, we have learned much over the past several months. Perhaps most important is the knowledge that lockdowns are more lethal than COVID-19, which should compel you and your government to end them. Your advice and policies for the benefit of Albertans should be predicated on one important tenet of the Hippocratic Oath, “First Do No Harm”, and a focussed approach will achieve just that, as explained in the Great Barrington Declaration.
As for each of us Albertans, we must simply adapt and learn to accommodate to COVID-19, as we all did every previous year with seasonal influenza. We must all take personal responsibility for our health and take actions that are in each of our best interest, including vaccination if one is so inclined, which may well be of benefit if one is COVID-19 negative. Healthcare, like all freedoms, must and should always remain an informed choice, not a government directive.
Dennis L. Modry, BSc, MD, MSc, FRCS, FACCP, FACS
Clinical Associate Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Alberta
Founder and Director of the Heart, Lung and Heart-Lung Transplant Program
Director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (1984 – 2015)
MORGAN: Should potentially dangerous candidates be given the voters list?
“One potential option would be moving for a court injunction against candidates – like Johnston – that have clearly signalled their willingness or intent to abuse the information found in the electors list.”
Voter lists have long been provided to registered candidates in elections at all levels of government. Candidates have to affirm they will only use the information for campaign purposes and there can be significant penalties for misuse of voter lists.
Those voters lists are often, unfortunately, misused by some unprincipled candidates for everything from telemarketing to campaigning during non-election periods. While these abuses are not to be disregarded, they tend to be mere annoyances in most cases.
That has changed with the prospect controversial Calgary mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston may get access to electors lists.
While every candidate – including fringe candidates – has received the electors lists in the past without issue, Johnston is presenting a new problem. He has openly vowed to track down AHS employees and make an armed visit to their homes. This may just be Johnston’s usual hyperbolic online ranting, but it cannot be easily dismissed.
Johnston’s history shows him to be a very troubled individual who could very possibly be dangerous. He is facing multiple charges right now in different provinces, including assault. He has been known for targeted harassment of individuals on a racial basis. In Ontario he harassed and defamed a restaurant owner so badly that an Ontario court awarded the restaurant owner $2.5 million in a suit against Johnston. That kind of settlement is extraordinarily rare in Canada.
In light of his history, how comfortable should we be with the likes of Johnston having access to the address and phone numbers of everybody in your household? Unless things change, that’s exactly what will happen this fall.
This developing issue has many concerned. Most people didn’t even realize that candidates for office had access to these lists, and they are beginning to ask why candidates have access to such information in the first place.
There are three reasons candidates get access to voters lists.
One is they are very valuable tools for campaigning.
The second is that by providing challengers with the list, it evens the playing field with incumbents and well-funded candidates who have their own database.
The third and more important reason is that giving candidates access to these lists offers a layer of protection against electoral fraud.
In our electoral system, the candidates themselves actually offer the best oversight and scrutiny in order to ensure there has been no abuse of the process. Every candidate is allowed to have scrutineers who represent them during every aspect of the voting process from ensuring the ballot boxes are empty before being used, to ensuring that nobody is trying to influence electors in polling places to being present during the counting of the ballots. In giving access to the process for every candidate, the system has a very good internal checking method that actually doesn’t cost taxpayers any money.
Part of that access to the process includes giving candidates the list of electors. If candidates didn’t have voters lists, how could they ensure that a person wasn’t registered to vote multiple times? How could it be discovered if one household somehow had 50 registered voters within it? Would it ever be caught if a deceased person had somehow cast a ballot? While uncommon, these kinds of things have happened before in elections around the world – or inner party nomination races here – and tha’is why modern election systems give candidates the means to watch for these kinds of abuses.
Mayoral candidate Jyoti Gondek has been requesting the practice of sharing electoral lists with candidates be ended for everyone. There’s merit to considering this, but it has to be understood in doing so with such relatively short notice, this will come at a cost.
Checks and balances can be created that would help candidates ensure the integrity of the electoral process without actually giving the candidates full access to the lists of electors. That sort of policy would take time to formulate, and there is no way such a policy could be in place in time for an election this fall. That would mean if electoral lists were not given to candidates this year, we would be losing that layer of protection in the process. This would unlikely make much difference to outcomes, but you can rest assured many people would use this as an excuse to question the process and the outcomes of the election.
Another consequence of the removal of access to electoral lists to candidates would be it would add to the already formidable advantage held by incumbent or major candidates. In municipal politics, incumbents already have massive fundraising and name recognition advantages over challenging candidates. While they will never admit it, you can rest assured incumbents still have copies of the electoral lists from past elections. While the data would be four years out of date, it would still be very valuable to the campaign. It defies belief no candidates would use those lists in the coming campaign while up-and-coming candidates are forced to build their own databases through manual door knocking. Coun. Gondek is well aware of this.
In all probability, Gondek, Farkas, and perhaps a few other more established candidates already have access to an older list. Freezing candidates out of obtaining the list would provide the big candidates with a huge, unfair advantage.
It’s worth considering ending the practice of sharing this information with candidates in the future. I know I wouldn’t want my personal information going to an individual such as Kevin Johnston, along with a number of the other candidates in the race for that matter. We have to remember, however, changing the policy on the fly like this will have an impact on the ability of many to campaign and it will reduce electoral scrutiny this fall.
One potential option would be moving for a court injunction against candidates – like Johnston – that have clearly signalled their willingness or intent to abuse the information found in the electors list. No city bureaucrat could be trusted with a delicate decision like this, but if it can be sufficiently proven in court, it should be fair enough.
Our political environment is far too charged right now for any nuanced policy debates to happen. Particularly in Calgary, where the mayor has been race-baiting and sowing division among the public and other elected officials. It’s clear we will have to address this issue of the privacy and safety of the electorate.
The only question right now is when.
Cory Morgan is the Alberta Political Columnist for the Western Standard and Host of the Cory Morgan Show
GARYK: How environmental groups use kids as props
“There’s plenty of time to indoctrinate our offspring later. Is it too much to ask that the eco-extremists keep their politics out of the classroom?”
Environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and others were quick to attack the Canadian Energy Centre – better known as the ‘War Room’ – for expressing their disdain over an inaccurate representation of the oil and gas industry in the Netflix movie Bigfoot Family, which depicted a mountain top being blown up to extract oil.
It was overkill that brought some justified criticism upon the War Room, but there isn’t any fuss when these same groups use children to promote their extremist agenda.
This agenda is pushed on young kids across North America. The made-in-Canada 3% Project, founded by self-described climate change activist Steven Lee in 2012 when he was 19 years old, tours across the country holding free assemblies in schools.
Their website is transparent about their objectives.
“Our goals are simple: to achieve more consensus Canada-wide that climate change is real, that its biggest cause is human-created, and to empower youth to take local action towards climate change solutions in their communities.”
The 3% Project’s founder knows how to influence young people. He’s a policy advocate to the UN, a public speaker at international forums — including UNICEF, G8 Summits, NATO and UNESCO — and his website says he was trained by Al Gore as a Climate Reality Leader. It’s this extensive experience that has allowed him to realize “starting these projects young is a great way to keep climate change and empowerment at the forefront of a learning, growing mind. The leaders of tomorrow are already in our schools.”
In Alberta, it may be up to individual teachers and boards to decide who gets an audience with their students; however, it doesn’t enhance learning to invite non-expert activists with an anti-oil and gas agenda that use extremist, fearmongering, and indoctrination tactics into schools.
Climate science is a complex topic that’s worthy of serious study; however, without presenting a clear argument on both sides — and one that includes the positives that result from having access to abundant affordable energy — young people are not being offered enough information to make their own informed opinions. Rather, they’re being told what to think.
There’s a push to create youth activists in schools. Under the guidance of a Coquitlam school counsellor, a group of BC youth researched plastics pollution and “plotted strategy” that resulted in a meeting with BC’s Environment Minister. Their request? Give municipal governments the power to ban single-use plastics.
The group is a hodgepodge of students ranging in age from 11 to 17. One has to wonder how they happened to come together and whether they freely chose the cause they did?
There’s also the metastasizing of climate lawsuits by young people around the globe. There was a recent lawsuit lead by Ecojustice, where seven Ontario youth took the Ford government to court alleging “the Government of Ontario’s weakening of its climate targets will lead to widespread illness and death and violates Ontarians’ Charter-protected rights to life, liberty, and security of the person.”
Where did youth aged 13 to 25 get enough money to fund a climate-related lawsuit, and how did the seed for the idea germinate?
Similarly, the David Suzuki Foundation was “supporting 15 youth from seven provinces and a territory taking the Canadian government to court for violating their [Charter rights by perpetuating climate change.”)
The Suzuki Foundation claims these youth, ages 11 to 20, are part of a global movement of young people holding their governments accountable to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“The goal is to reduce global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 410 to 350 parts per million or lower by the end of the century, by reducing Canada’s emissions and increasing carbon sequestration.”
Children are being taught the fear of climate change at a young age. Youth climate activist Greta Thunberg recently published a children’s book.
“Greta saw living creatures everywhere, struggling to stay alive”…“She saw cities swallowed under rising oceans”…“She saw the smoldering sun scorch the earth, leaving it bone dry”.
The eco-extreamists are trying to scare our children into believing the world will end if we do not stop driving gas-powered cars.
No one asks what the proposed solutions are or how what these children are doing as individuals to reach their objectives. Adults are not allowed to question the motivation of the kids or their handlers. Youth are expected to unquestioningly trust these activist’s knowledge of the complex subject matter, yet skeptical adults are expected to keep their distance because they’re “just kids.”
There’s plenty of time to indoctrinate our offspring later. Is it too much to ask the eco-extremists keep their politics out of the classroom?
Deidra Garyk is a Columnist for the Western Standard
HARDING: How I was fined $2,800 for reporting on Regina’s freedom rally
“Police interference in media coverage and enforcement of political doctrine might be standard practice in some parts of the world, but not Canada.”
Sixteen people were fined following their attendance at Saturday’s “illegal” freedom rally in Regina, SK. Despite going to the demonstration to interview the speakers and cover the event, yours truly was among those who received a $2,800 fine. And it happened despite clearly demonstrating to police that I was there for journalistic purposes.
May 8 say hundreds gathered for a freedom rally in Regina’s Victoria Park to hear speakers such as Maxime Bernier, Mark Friesen, and Laura Lynn Thompson. This was a newsworthy event and a journalistic opportunity not to be missed. The opportunity to interview these members of the lockdown resistance movement in person might not come again. As they left the event, I walked with my recording device in hand to seize my final opportunity to get a few quotes.
As the crew readied themselves to get into a truck for subsequent events, police cruisers showed up to hand $2,800 tickets to the three noted above, and another speaker, activist R. B. Ham. At that point I introduced myself to police as a journalist with the Western Standard.
I asked the police if I would have problems if I went back to the event. They suggested I not cut through the park on my way back to the bus. I walked straight down the street and encountered another two police officers, whom I asked the same question: “am I permitted to attend as a journalist?” An officer who had been taking pictures of attendees told me that decision would be made by someone higher up the food chain than him.
At that point I overheard R C the Rapper, who hails from Edmonton. When his performance ended, I interviewed him, walked down the pathway for pictures. We were almost out of the park when police confronted us.
An officer I had not seen before asked for my identification. I told him that I was there as a journalist and showed him my writing portfolios online. Then he asked me why I wasn’t wearing a mask or social distancing. I pulled the mask out of my pocket and told him that I wore it until I got to the park, but after people started staring at me, I took it off. It was a place and time largely reversed from government-endorsed gatherings at Costco, where wearing a mask – outdoors – made one stand out.
There is no cabinet order from the Moe government requiring one to wear a mask outside; just an order not to protest.
Regardless, the officer decided to issue me a ticket immediately. (The rapper also received a ticket there, as well as one at an event the following day in Saskatoon.) Oddly enough, as this was happening, Premier Moe announced that as of May 17, the allowable limit for public gatherings would rise from 10 to 150.
My ticket begs some disturbing questions. Are only government-funded journalists that wear a mask outdoors allowed to cover events of this nature without being ticketed? Is it only government-funded media outlets that deceptively say few people were at an event that was, in fact, attended by hundreds?
Police interference in media coverage and enforcement of political doctrine might be standard practice in some parts of the world, but not Canada. Already, big tech companies censor and regulate dissenting opinion, and Bill C-10 is preparing the way for the federal government to directly control the content not just of online media like the Western Standard, but of individual users.
Canada, and Saskatchewan, have entered a dark chapter that we are a long way from knowing the end of.
Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Political Columnist for the Western Standard
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