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Judge rules legal Internet content cannot be censored

The Court said that Facebook has a legal obligation to remove illegal material, but only if there is a report that demonstrates the material is in fact illegal.

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Since the web is “not subject to the same controls that exist in traditional media,” legal Internet content cannot be censored, a Quebec judge has ruled.

The decision came following the case of a Facebook user falsely accused of harassment, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

“All users become content distributors,” wrote Justice Martin Sheehan of Québec Superior Court.

“Posts are often done instantly, without thinking and checking. These publications are not subject to the same controls that exist in traditional media.”

Sheehan said while content on social media “sometimes gives rise to comments which may amount to virulent personal attacks,” Internet publishers “do not have the same obligations as a traditional broadcaster.”

The Montréal man was falsely named by a Facebook group that aimed to name and shame alleged harassers, and the plaintiff said Facebook should be responsible for defamatory content.

“If this proposal by the applicant were to be accepted it would have the effect of granting everyone the power to censor the comments of others on the sole basis that this content could be considered disagreeable or offensive,” wrote Sheehan.

“This assertion runs counter to freedom of expression.”

The Court said Facebook has a legal obligation to remove illegal material, but only if there is a report that demonstrates the material is in fact illegal.

Hate speech is outlawed in Canada under 1970 amendments to the Criminal Code, but on June 23 cabinet introduced Bill C-36 An Act To Amend The Criminal Code to further ban legal online content deemed to “foment detestation or vilification.”

Internet publishers, bloggers, Facebook users and more would face $70,000 fines and investigation by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. The bill would also permit house arrest or electronic monitoring of Internet users suspected “on reasonable grounds” of thinking they might commit “an offence motivated by bias, prejudice or hate” without evidence of any actual crime.

The bill lapsed with the August 15 dissolution of Parliament. Cabinet has said, if re-elected, it will reintroduce the bill.

“We won’t catch everything that is awful out there,” Attorney General David Lametti earlier told reporters.

“There’s a lot of stuff out there that is absolutely brutal but doesn’t reach the standard. But we will identify a lot of things.”

Reid Small is a BC correspondent for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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BC top doc says declining vaccine protection over time means more boosters needed

Data from Israel — which has seen a steady increase in COVID-19 infections since June 2021, despite a high vaccination rate — showcases the transient nature of the jabs efficacy.

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Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has a Christmas present for British Columbians, and no, it’s not thousands of health-care workers getting their livelihood back — but rather: more COVID shots.

Health authorities announced Tuesday that COVID-19 booster vaccines will soon be available to the general population, making BC the first province in Canada to do so.

The announcement comes less than one week after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ensured nationwide booster shots for the coming years.

The province says “BC’s elderly and most at-risk” will be prioritized through the December holiday, but as of January 2022, boosters will be available for all British Columbians 12 and older.

Those registered in the Get Vaccinated System will receive a notification when it’s time for a booster jab, roughly 6-8 months after their previous dose.

“Our vaccines are highly effective. However, we are starting to see a gradual decline in protection over time. As a result, we are taking the proactive step of expanding boosters to everyone in our province,” said Henry.

Data from Israel — which has seen a steady increase in COVID-19 infections since June 2021, despite a high vaccination rate — showcases the transient nature of the vaccines efficacy.

Israel’s response, in an attempt to get cases down again, was to require booster shots after six months of one’s second dose in order to be considered “fully vaccinated.” Now officials in Israel are discussing the need for dose number four.

In BC, booster shots will not be included in the BC Vaccine Card for access to various settings — at least not yet — but the number of British Columbian’s lacking trust in the governments word grows steadily.

In May, 2021, Henry said “there is no way that we will recommend inequities be increased by the use of things like vaccine passports for services with public access here in British Columbia.”

Fast forward five months — vaccine passports are now enforced with no medical or religious exemptions, non-compliant businesses are being shut down, and workers are being removed from their jobs by the thousands for not getting the shot.

“I bet most politicians in Canada would admit that even they were surprised how malleable much of the public has proven to be,” writes political columnist, Spencer Fernando.

“No amount of hypocrisy or shifting narratives seems to stop a large number of Canadians from succumbing to fear-based appeals on the ‘need’ to restrict our rights and freedoms.”

Whether or not the fear is justified remains a point of vigorous dispute among scientists — with some focusing on the accuracy of BC’s testing methods when it comes to the data surrounding COVID deaths, hospitalizations, and positive cases as a whole.

“We don’t differentiate people that have died from COVID and have died with it,” said Dr. Steven Pelech, president and chief scientific officer at Kinexus Bioinformatics Corporation, and chair of the Scientific and Medical Advisory Committee at the Canadian Covid Care Alliance in an interview with the Western Standard.

Pelech argues the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are poorly done in BC due to a high cycle threshold (CT), which as a result yields a high percentage of false positives, thus crediting an inflated number of deaths to COVID.

The PCR test is a tool often used in medical and biological research labs to detect the presence or absence of a gene, and while the test can detect the presence of a virus if you are infected, it can also detect fragments of the virus post infection.

The higher the CT, the more likely it is to pick up fragments of inactive viral DNA.

“They may very well have the remnants of the viruses genetic material that they breathe in, or they may have already recovered from COVID,” said Pelech.

In contrast to Pelech’s words, Medical Director of the BCCDC, Dr. Mel Krajden says a high CT is necessary when using the PCR tests, arguing that despite a potential for false positives, it is needed to detect early infection.

“People don’t understand that in early infection you will get at very high CT a very low viral load, and then as the infection progresses you get a high viral load and a low CT,” Krajden told the Western Standard.

The test, however, does not differentiate between what may be an early infection vs what may be genetic debris that poses no threat.

“High levels of amplification increase your chances of picking up garbage, that’s the problem,” said Pelech.

“If you’re around 38 cycles, maybe one out of 10 results at that level is accurate, whereas the rest can be false positives.”

Krajden said the CT varies across jurisdictions in BC, but confirmed it is “typically in the range of 35-42,” and sometimes mid-40’s.

The province does not take the probability of false positives into account when reporting its COVID data.

Krajden said that regardless of how the PCR test is administered, the point of focus should be from a population prevention perspective, specifically vaccination — hence the booster shots.

“The single most effective way of shutting down this pandemic is having a population that is immune,” said Krajden.

“The vaccines protect people from severe disease and death, and they do an excellent job at doing that.”

While the actual level of protection against COVID-19 one obtains upon getting vaccinated is debated, it is widely agreed upon that the shots efficacy wanes over time — and that the class of antibodies produced by the jab do not prevent propagation of the virus within the airways.

Krajden did say that a vaccinated individual can be asymptomatic and have a high viral load — further confirming that vaccinated people spread the virus, often unknowingly.

“After vaccination you have lots of IgG antibodies in your circulation and there is not much at the site where the virus comes in, so you can receive and transmit,” said Pelech.

“And as for being a ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’… nonsense. Total nonsense.”

Reid Small is a BC correspondent for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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UCP MLA Aheer demands Kenney resign, praises sex scandal whistleblower

“I want to take a moment to applaud her (Ariella Kimmel) for her strength and to demand the resignation of the premier. This is a failure of leadership and a failure of being human.”

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Alberta UCP MLA Leela Aheer (Chestermere-Strathmore), has blasted Jason Kenney in a press conference and demanded the premier step down.

In a statement of claim, former chief of staff, Ariella Kimmel, detailed her time in a “poisoned work environment” and spoke of sexual harassment and the excess drinking she witnessed while working in the Legislature under Kenney’s government.

None of her allegations have been proven in court.

“I want to say how very sorry I am for Ariella who has a tremendous amount of courage and strength to be able to share her story,” said Aheer during a press conference Wednesday, following the explosive allegations Kimmel brought against the premier’s office.

“When somebody like her takes a step forward to say what happened to her and to come forward with the truth of this level, it makes us all take a pause about many things,” said Aheer.

“I want to take a moment to applaud her for her strength and to demand the resignation of the premier. This is a failure of leadership and a failure of being human.”

Aheer, former Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism, and the Status of Women, said Kimmel was her “lifeline to the premier’s office” calling her competent, strong and beautiful and said she “deserved to be treated with a completely different level of respect.”

“On behalf of anyone — and this is not a political issue, it’s not a particular party issue — this is an issue of people. It’s an issue of how we treat people who are coming forward with honesty and integrity about what has happened to them.”

Numerous tweets in response are calling on Aheer to “cross the floor” to join the NDP.

Richard Fantin tweeted: “A ‘strong woman’ or really strong person, would not continue to support a party that literally uses harassment as a matter of public relations policy. If you were ‘strong’ you wouldn’t need the UCP to back you and would have left long ago.”

“Cross the floor. Please,” tweeted former broadcaster Alicia Hope-Ross.

Aheer replied: “I’m sure people would be fine if I crossed the floor today. That would be completely understandable, but what does that do?

“I have a responsibility to stay put, make change, make it happen and call it out when it happens.”

When asked if she would launch a leadership bid to replace Kenney should he step down, Aheer said: “It would be completely self-indulgent to think about a leadership race at this time. It’s more important to make sure we get through COVID, but that doesn’t mean he (Kenney) has to be there.”

“Right now we can put an interim leader in, we have many many competent people in the ministry right now who can easily carry that forward until we get through COVID.” 

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UCP MLA claims Kenney knew about toxic workplace allegations

Kimmel’s lawsuit alleges sexual harassment and heavy drinking by ministers and staff in the premier’s office, which is responsible for overseeing ministries, CBC reported.

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A former UCP cabinet minister says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney knew about allegations of a toxic work environment in his government that included sexual harassment and heavy drinking.

“Ariella Kimmel is an incredible and courageous women (sic). Premier Kenney – you knew! Step down! ” tweeted Leela Aheer, UCP MLA for Chestermere-Strathmore.

Aheer was commenting on a lawsuit filed by Kimmel who claims she was fired after speaking out.

Kimmel’s lawsuit alleges sexual harassment and heavy drinking by ministers and staff in the premier’s office, which is responsible for overseeing ministries, CBC reported.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Kimmel has worked with the UCP government since May 2019, most recently as the chief of staff to the minister of jobs, economy and innovation from August 2020 until she was fired in February.

The statement of claim says Kimmel witnessed Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen drinking with other ministers and staff and appeared “heavily intoxicated.”

Kimmel had an on-and-off relationship with Dreeshen prior to being appointed chief of staff in 2020,” the CBC report said.

She alleges after expressing her concern about how much Dreeshen had been drinking, she was confronted by the minister who “aggressively yelled at her to the point where she was in tears and a concerned bystander intervened.”

The statement also points to another incident two days later where another group was drinking in the minister of health’s office. Kimmel alleges the minister’s principal advisor, Ivan Bernardo, made sexually inappropriate comments to one of her female staff members.

Kimmel claims her report of the exchange to Chris Thresher, chief of staff in health, and the premier’s director of issues management, Matt Wolf, went unanswered for close to a month.

On November 17, Kimmel was asked to meet with Kenney’s principal secretary, Larry Kaumeyer where she shared about her interaction with Dreeshen and the sexual harassment by Bernardo.

Kimmel said she was told by Kaumeyer that Bernardo was “not going to be fired” but would be leaving his position at the end of the year anyway. Kimmel said her other concerns were not addressed. Kaumeyer is no longer working in the premier’s office.

Kenney’s chief of staff, Pam Livingston, sent a statement to the CBC.

“Sexual harassment is abhorrent and has no place in our workplace and society,” Livingston wrote.

“This government has zero-tolerance for harassment and takes all allegations of this nature very seriously. We are fortunate to have a highly skilled and diverse public service and we are committed to providing a safe and productive workplace for all of them.”

Kenney’s office says they cannot comment as it is a confidential human resource matter and added that Kimmel’s termination was unrelated to the allegations raised in her lawsuit.  

Kimmel was terminated on February 5 even though she has been told by Kaumeyer she would not be fired for bringing her concerns forward. She is seeking more than $399,000 for damages and the salary owed to her until her contract would have expired in May 2023.

Kimmel says she is unaware of any formal investigation launched by the premier’s office surrounding her complaint brought forward against Bernardo, who has since resigned in December 2020 to return to practicing law.

Damages Kimmel is claiming in the lawsuit include: “poisoned work environment,” fabricating and spreading rumours against her, failing to implement a robust sexual harassment policy, terminating her employment in reprisal, causing mental distress and reputational harm, and affecting her future employment opportunities.”

…more to come

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

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