Premier Smith seeking legal advice to pardon COVID-19 rule violators

Danielle Smith is seeking legal advice on whether she can pardon those fined for non-criminal violations of health restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is seeking legal advice on whether she can pardon those fined for non-criminal violations of health restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The things that come to top of mind for me are people who got arrested as pastors (and) people given fines for not wearing masks,” Smith told reporters Saturday at the United Conservative party’s annual general meeting.

“These are not things that are normal to get fines and get prosecuted for. I’m going to look into the range of outstanding fines and get some legal advice on which ones we are able to cancel and provide amnesty for.”

Smith also expanded on her promise to introduce narrow changes to the Human Rights Act this fall to forbid discrimination based on COVID-19 vaccination status.

She said the act won’t focus on all vaccinations, just COVID-19, because it is an issue that is political, not medical.

“Since it was a very specific reaction to a very specific vaccine mandate, we’re going to be very precise when we write the legislation,” she said.

“We have to get back to an attitude of you take a vaccine to protect yourself.

“(But) we have to get away from this attitude that you demonize those who make a different choice.”

Smith has been outspoken in her criticism of vaccine passports as well as employees, particularly in Alberta Health Services, not being allowed to work without a COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic.

On her first day as premier earlier this month, she said the COVID-19 unvaccinated were the most discriminated group she has seen in her lifetime.

During her speech Saturday at her party’s AGM, held at the River Cree Resort and Casino on Edmonton’s western outskirts, she reiterated her sharp criticism of Alberta Health Services, the arm’s-length agency of the government tasked with administering and delivering front-line care under policy direction from the Health Ministry.

She blames it for failing Albertans during the pandemic for not creating enough beds for the crush of patients and for forcing health staff to get COVID-19 vaccinations to come to work.

She places current long wait times for care and for ambulance dispatch at the feet of AHS and has promised to reorganize the entire AHS governance system and fire the AHS board by mid-January.

“The system, my friends, is broken,” Smith, told the 1,800 delegates in the hall.

“Most of those managing AHS today are holdovers from the NDP years. They have had their chance to fix this bloated system and they have largely failed on almost all accounts. Failure is no longer an option,” she said to cheers.

Smith, speaking to reporters, also declined to elaborate on comments she made to the Western Standard online outlet in a livestream interview Friday.

In that interview, Smith pledged to end an AHS information-sharing deal with other health providers such as the Mayo Clinic and Harvard University under a program administered by the World Economic Forum.

“We’ve got to address that,” Smith said Friday.

“Why in the world do we have anything to do with the World Economic Forum? That’s got to end.”

Asked about the comments Saturday, Smith declined to elaborate, saying she’s focused on fixing the health system.

Asked why she would address the issue on the Western Standard livestream site but not in the news conference, she said, “As you know there are certain forums that are entertainment forums. I was on an entertainment forum for a long time (as a radio host).”

The World Economic Forum refers to a high-profile yearly conference of global political and business leaders that in mid-2020 proposed a “great reset” for joint action post-COVID to reorder society from education to social contracts and working conditions.

Since then, there has been a growing online conspiracy accusing the WEF of being a secret cabal of world leaders determined to exploit the pandemic as an opportunity to introduce radical social change to dismantle capitalism.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2022.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press


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