Tory CandidateDerek Sloan Asks “Which Canadian big-city mayor has gone totally W-H-O?”

9:02 PM (2 hours ago)

Toronto Mayor John Tory is really excited about Ontario entering Stage 3 of reopening and bars and restaurants opening up again.

Actually, what he’s really excited about is slapping a whole lot of regulatory restrictions on them.

On Sunday, Tory sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford containing six recommended rules to be imposed on these establishments, which have absorbed a catastrophic financial hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tory is calling for mandatory masks for all staff and patrons, earlier closing hours, occupancy restrictions, and for all patrons to provide contact information that is to be kept for 30 days, to allow for tracing as needed.

Wow! Where to begin?

Asking everyone for their contact information is not going to go over well. That’s a bit of a safety issue. They might get a lot of false information.

Again, as with the mandatory facemask rules, you have to wonder whether recommendations like these are really about protection—as is claimed—or politics.

Tory says that “experts” believe that masks keep people safer and that restaurants and bars pose a higher level of risk for the spread of the coronavirus.

Are these the same experts who were saying back in March that masks weren’t necessary outside of hospitals, and that anyone who suggested that the borders should be closed was a racist?

We all want to stop the spread of COVID-19. We’ve all made extraordinary sacrifices toward that end. No businesses have been hit harder than the hospitality industry. Many of them have closed and are never coming back.

In some cases, establishments built by generations of hard work and dedication are gone forever.

A recent Leger poll shows that a national average of 22% of Canadians will avoid bars and restaurants for as long as masks are mandatory there.

We all need our country’s economy to rebound from this setback, and bars and restaurants must be part of the resurgence. We don’t need politicians like John Tory making the hard road back even more difficult for them.

Mayor Tory’s recommendations are evidence of state overreach, which has reared its ugly head during this crisis. Using the pandemic as a cover, it imposes draconian limitations on our freedoms in the name of the common good.

Those who voice opposition are shouted down as selfish and reckless, and the statists consolidate their power.

Once given up, these freedoms will be difficult to regain.

John Tory is also calling for mandatory masks in residential apartment buildings.

Canadians who feel more comfortable wearing a facemask should be by all means do so, but masks should not be made mandatory.

Re-openings of businesses should be done responsibly and safely, but without being hamstrung by statists who, having had a taste of authoritarianism, are hungry for more.

I remain 100% opposed to making any eventual COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for Canadians.

I will continue to guard against any unjust limitations of our rights introduced in the name of public safety or other invocations of the “common good”.

More Restrictions On Movement & Savage Fines in the Pandemic Hysteria: More State Tyranny

COVID-19: NOTL store fined $880 for patrons not social distancing – on the sidewalk outside

A sign outside of Nina Gelateria asks people to practice physical distancing. (Richard Harley) Share this:

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Kevin MacLean, Managing Editor May 20, 2020 | Wednesday

A store in Old Town has been fined $880 for violating a provincial order after patrons on the sidewalk outside were found to be ignoring pandemic social distancing rules.

The owners of Nina Gelateria and Pastry Shop were ticketed by a Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake bylaw officer for a violation on Sunday, May 3.

Downtown NOTL was packed with visitors that weekend, despite a state of emergency and few services being available. More than 10,000 vehicles entered Old Town that Saturday and Sunday, according to town traffic count data.

The town refused to release any details on the ticket, citing privacy statutes and the fact the matter was before the courts.

NOTL’s acting senior enforcement officer Henry Boese said he can’t talk about it. “That incident is currently with the Ontario Court of Justice and I can’t speak about it,” he said.

In response to a question asking to clarify the town’s position on what businesses should be doing on sidewalks to enforce distancing, spokesperson Lauren Kruitbosch said, “Businesses should be taking reasonable steps to enforce physical distancing within the business. Sidewalks can be used by pedestrians waiting in line to enter a store (while maintaining physical distance). They can’t however, be used for business purposes.”

Mark Martinovic, who co-owns Nina Gelateria with his wife Klaudia, confirmed receiving the ticket, a $750 set fine plus costs totalling $880. The fine has been paid, he said.

Until that first weekend in May, the shop, at 37 Queen St., was “closed on the weekends as we were just catering to our locals, Monday to Friday,” Martinovic said in a statement to The Lake Report.

The store owners heard there would be a parking ban and many bylaw officers in town for added support, “so we decided that it would be OK to open up. We have always followed the provincial guidelines in the store with signs and floor markings,” he said.

“As a take-out/curbside pickup establishment, we never had any issues with serving our sweets, pizzas, crepes or panini sandwiches safely.”

On Sunday, May 3, Queen Street was very busy. “We wish we received a warning or some communication first, but we ended up receiving a fine for not enforcing physical distancing in front of our store.”

“A big problem is that the sidewalk is shared by people waiting to get inside the store (while waiting in line) and with pedestrian traffic and it clearly presents a challenge for businesses and the town, moving forward.”

Some of the customers outside were families, who, when standing together in line, can appear to not be complying with physical distancing requirements, Martinovic said.

“But as they are a family unit, they stay in close proximity together and this is allowed under present regulations.”

“The good news since then is that we have maintained positive communication with the town and are working together to make sure we are on the same page,” he said.

Kruitbosch said the town has laid 42 charges during the state of emergency, which was declared on March 23.

“Some were laid as trespass, the majority for violation of the (province’s) emergency order. The identities of persons or businesses charged are protected by the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.”

“Sloppy” Joe and the Values Test

Throne, Altar, Liberty

The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Friday, May 15, 2020

“Sloppy” Joe and the Values Test

“Sloppy” Joe Baconburger was the owner of a restaurant. It was an independent eatery called the Celestial Carnivore. As you have probably deduced it catered to a meat-eating clientele. Barbecue ribs, steaks grilled to perfection, pork chops, and prime rib – these were the staples of the supper menu. Its hamburgers, fried chicken and chili con carne were all popular. The pizza section of the menu had but a single entry and that was for “Meat Lovers”. The Carnivore was most famous, however, for a sandwich.

This sandwich was a multi-layered spectacular. Forget the mere clubhouse or even the triple-decker. This sandwich had separate layers for roast beef, roast pork, roast turkey, and roast lamb. Each layer also contained a hearty portion of ham and bacon and slices of various sorts of cheese. If you wanted, vegetable fillers such as lettuce, tomato, and cucumbers would also be added, but these were optional. It was served smothered in chili and gravy. Naysayers called it “the heart attack waiting to happen” but every day people would come from near and far to order it.

One day something strange happened. Like any other day, “Sloppy” Joe arrived at the Carnivore early, pulled into his parking spot, got out of his car, and headed towards the door. Then he ran into a wall. Or at least it felt like a wall. Whatever it was he could not see it. There was nothing there to the visible eye but something was blocking his path to the entrance.

Baffled by the invisible barrier and uncertain of what to do about it, “Sloppy” Joe turned around and took a step in the direction of his car. He was unable to go any further, however, because he found his path impeded yet again by the unseen wall. Turning to his left and right, he discovered that he was boxed in on all sides.

Uttering something that need not be put down in print, “Sloppy” Joe looked around and saw his neighbour Bob walking down the sidewalk on the other side of the street. He called over to Bob, asking him to go for help, but Bob just kept walking along. “Sloppy” Joe called louder, but there was still no response. He then screamed at the top of his lungs but Bob did not seem to hear him. Whatever was keeping him from leaving or entering his business was apparently also trapping all sound.

Eventually Bob looked around and saw “Sloppy” Joe at which point “Sloppy” Joe began to gesture as best he could within the confines of his transparent cage. Bob shook his head and said “Better stick to cooking Joe, that pantomime act is never going to sell.”

Soon thereafter one of his employees arrived for her morning shift. She waved to “Sloppy” Joe and said hello as she moved toward the restaurant entrance but did not seem to notice anything was amiss. When she got as close to the door as “Sloppy” Joe was, however, a look of surprise came over her face and then, as she turned in all directions, one of panic. “Sloppy” Joe realized that she was trapped too. One by one, his employees showed up, and each in turn got trapped within an invisible box.

“What will happen when my customers start to show up?” “Sloppy” Joe asked himself.

He did not have long to wait. The first customer, one of his regulars, showed up like clockwork at the time the restaurant normally opened its doors to the public. He too found himself stuck between the mysterious unseen walls. The same happened to every other customer that arrived after him.

Before long the area around the restaurant was surrounded by people, trapped in place by invisible boxes. There was approximately six feet of space between each of them.

All of a sudden, a loud maniacal cackle came descending upon them from above. Looking up, they saw a man standing on top of the restaurant, holding a device that resembled a cross between a machine gun and a video camera. Groaning inside, “Sloppy” Joe recognized the man as Dr. Tofu Veggiebrain the notorious mad scientist and leader of an animal rights/environmentalist activist group that wanted to make veganism mandatory and which had been targeting him and his restaurant with harassment of various sorts for years.

“How do you like my latest invention, ‘Sloppy’ Joe?” Dr. Veggiebrain asked. “I call it the Insta-Mime. Soon you and all others who murder and eat our animal brothers and sisters will be trapped between invisible walls in the world’s most despised form of performance art forever.”

It looked like he might be right. Within an hour the police, fire department, and other emergency services had been called in and they could find no way of releasing anyone from the invisible boxes. The police wrote “Sloppy” Joe and each of the others a ticket for breaking the by-law against public displays of pantomime and then took off.

Soon, however, word of the strange impromptu mime session outside of the Celestial Carnivore got out and within a couple of days it made its way to the Marshmallow Monks (1) in the Carpathian Mountains. They immediately contacted “Eddy” Johnson who rushed to the scene as Reaction Man, (2) battled Dr. Veggiebrain, and freed everyone from their invisible prison. Since this is not an actual episode in The Adventures of Reaction Man but merely an essay illustration in which he makes a cameo appearance, I will not elaborate on the details, but will instead skip ahead to the aftermath of the trial of Dr. Veggiebrain.

After Dr. Veggiebrain was convicted criminally, “Sloppy” Joe filed a civil action against him to recover the losses his business suffered over the period in which he, his employees, and his customers had been mimed. It was not difficult to obtain a ruling in his favour for the law on the matter and the principle of natural justice underlying that law are quite clear. If you deliberately harm somebody else’s business he is entitled to compensation.

Things became complicated, however, when Dr. Veggiebrain said that he would not contest the ruling and would gladly pay the damages – but only on the condition that the Celestial Carnivore sign a statement of agreement with his vegan values and convert to serving only plant-based food.

Whereas most judges would not agree to such a stipulation, “Sloppy” Joe was unfortunate enough to have Justice Bob Baddecision of the Ontario Inferior Court hear his case. Judge Baddecision, who as we know is a close friend of Lucy himself and is prone to live up to his last name, (3) considered Dr. Veggiebrain’s stipulation to be entirely reasonable, and ordered that it be carried out.

You have likely already figured out the point of this story. Therefore I will make my commentary brief.

A man’s business is his livelihood. If your actions are demonstrably responsible for harming or destroying another person’s business, by the laws of natural justice you are required to compensate him for this damage. You do not get to hold the compensation to which he is entitled hostage until he meets your demands. If you attempt to do so you are guilty of a form of blackmail or extortion.

Over the past two months many people have seen their businesses suffer to the point of insolvency. This was not due to substandard goods, poor service, or other faults of their own. Nor can it be attributed solely to causes which are outside human control and for which no human agency can be held responsible. The coronavirus did not destroy these people’s businesses. Government ministers and their health officers did with their mandatory social distancing regulations, shelter in place orders, and lockdown of so-called “non-essential” businesses and services. This is why these businesses are entitled to government assistance at this time. Such assistance is not a “bail out” nor is it socialism, although it will have the same long term effect as these of saddling generations to come with an unthinkable tax and debt burden. It is certainly not the government being compassionate, no matter how much Captain Airhead tries to dress it up in these terms. It is the government paying compensation for damage it has itself inflicted.

This is why the government has no right to impose a values test on the small businesses that apply for such compensation. Since the government put these businesses in danger of bankruptcy, justice demands that the government pay restitution. As the party that has committed the injury, the government does not get to hold back this restitution until the party that has sustained the injury agrees to support abortion and the alphabet soup agenda. Its values test is a form of extortion.

Don’t let Captain Airhead get away with it.


(1) To learn more about the Order of the Marshmallownians see “Brother Moonpie and the Devil’s Apocalypse.
(2) “Eddy” Johnson previously appeared in The Adventures of Reaction Man: Episode One – The Origin and The Adventures of Reaction Man: Episode Two – Reaction Man Versus the Marxist Zombie Army.
(3) Justice Bob Baddecision of the Ontario Inferior Court and Lucy the gender-confused devil feature in Lucy’s Day in Court and Justice for Minnie?
Posted by Gerry T. Neal at 6:30 AM Labels: “Sloppy” Joe Baconburger, COVID-19, Dr. Tofu Veggiebrain, Justice Bob Baddecision, Justin Trudeau, Marshmallownians, mimes, Reaction Man, values test, vegans

Sacrificing Billions to Save Thousands?

Throne, Altar, Liberty

The Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign

Friday, April 24, 2020

Sacrificing Billions to Save Thousands?

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”
– Rudyard Kipling

The way the World Health Organization, our power-hungry politicians, the technocratic boobs with tunnel vision who are our health apparatchiks, and the cheap harlots of the mainstream media talk about it, one would think that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a real life equivalent of the artificially engineered, antibody resistant, superflu which wipes out most of the world’s population in Stephen King’s 1978 novel The Stand and the various adaptations thereof. It is not. Although it is possible that like the weaponized flu strain in the novel, it escaped from a laboratory, that of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, it is not remotely comparable in terms of lethality. It is basically a normal strain of bat influenza that has jumped species to humans, that has been spreading rapidly due to it being new to the species and thus our having no built up immunity to it yet, but most people are not at risk of anything worse than the ordinary flu from it. Those who are most susceptible to developing the severe and potentially lethal form of pneumonia that it can produce are the same people susceptible to catching pneumonia and dying from H1N1 and the other, ordinary, seasonal strains of the flu.

From the beginning of this pandemic it has been apparent that the WHO’s claims with regards to the lethality of this virus have been greatly exaggerated. Although the press in its daily reports has used “staggering” and similar scare words to describe the rising death tolls, the numbers themselves have not supported the use of such adjectives. Not when taken in context at any rate. COVID-19 has not become the leading cause of death, it is nowhere close to it. The overall number of deaths from all causes for the period of this pandemic has not risen astronomically in comparison with the number for the same period in other years. Indeed, in some areas that have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 this number has been down from recent years.

In most countries, the epidemiologists’ original projections of expected deaths from this disease have been radically revised downward. At some point the mortality rate will have to undergo a similar radical adjustment. Contrary to the lies of the health authorities and the media, the official death count for COVID-19 is not too low but too high. Even though the vast majority of people who have caught this virus and died have had multiple other conditions that also contributed to their demise these have all been classified as deaths from COVID-19. If deaths from regular influenza were counted the same way the mortality rate for the flu would be much higher than it is. Similarly, the other number that goes into the mortality rate calculation is much too low. Since a large number – as many as fifty percent some estimates put it – of those who contract the virus are completely asymptomatic, the total number known to have been infected is obviously much, much, lower than the true number of infected. Indeed, when we consider that international travel in and out of Hubei province was allowed long after the initial outbreak began there – and long after Red China shut down travel from that province to the rest of their own country – during a period in which Western countries, sick with a liberalism far more lethal than this virus, resisted imposing travel restrictions on China, it is almost certain that the virus had made it into all of our countries long before we noticed that it had arrived.

Since the potential lethality of this virus has been hugely exaggerated, the extent to which the repugnant, totalitarian, Communistic measures being taken almost everywhere are “saving lives” is also exaggerated. In pointing this out I do not wish merely to throw water on those currently engaged in a nauseating orgy of self-congratulatory, backslapping, tripe over their efforts to save lives by sacrificing our freedoms, but to contrast the low number of lives saved with the potentially much higher number of lives endangered by the same measures.

While I am no fan of Karl Marx – Groucho is much more my style – and am of the firm opinion that he was wrong about almost everything, there are a few rare exceptions to this. One such exception was the sentence with which he opened his letter to Louis Kugelmann on July 11, 1868. He wrote “Every child knows a nation which ceased to work, I will not say for a year, but even for a few weeks, would perish.” With this sentence he introduces an argument that is neither interesting nor relevant to the subject at hand, but the sentence itself states an obvious truth, one very similar to that which is found in the verses by Rudyard Kipling quoted at the beginning of this essay.

The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus continues to be remembered to this day for his theory about population size and the food supply. Human beings, Malthus argued, can increase our food supply through improved means of production, but if we do so the natural human response will be an increase in reproduction. The increase in reproduction will be faster and larger than the increase in food production so that the growth in population size will exceed the increase to the food supply and as a result there will be famine, poverty, starvation, disease and death. His essay on the Principle of Population was first published in 1798. He expanded and revised it in 1803, and published several further editions with minor revisions before his death in 1834. From that day to this, it has inspired several prophecies of doom, the most famous of recent times being the 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb by Stanford University’s Paul Ehrlich which predicted that hundreds of millions of people would die in the 1970s from starvation due to overpopulation. That, of course, did not happen.

There is obviously a flaw somewhere in Malthus’ theory. The question is where. According to the popular Demographic Transition Model, first developed by Warren Thomson in 1929, the problem is with his understanding of human nature. According to this theory, as societies progress towards industrialization they pass through stages and, after they have achieved a certain level of industrial development, fertility rates drop drastically and population size stabilizes. While the demographic history of Western countries and other developed countries such as Japan in the twentieth century would seem to bear this interpretation out, explaining its having passed into conventional wisdom, it has not gone without challenge. Dr. Virginia Deane Abernethy of Vanderbilt University, for example, in her book Population Politics (Transaction Books, 2000) gave several examples of empirical evidence that goes against the theory, making the case that popular late twentieth century progressive efforts to combat Third World overpopulation and poverty with policies based upon the assumption of the DTM, such as foreign relief and liberal immigration to the West as a population safety valve, have not worked as the model would have predicted but have, if anything, made the problem worse. The sharp decline in fertility that developed countries have experienced since the end of the post-World War II Baby Boom is better explained by other aspects of the transition to modernity, such as a severe weakening of the traditional idea that producing posterity is a duty we owe to our ancestors, than by industrial prosperity itself.


The other leading explanation of the flaw in Malthus’ theory is that he vastly underestimated our capacity to improve and increase the food supply. This explanation is also borne out by the history of the twentieth century and much more consistently than that of the DTM.

Now, if this explanation of what went wrong with the predictions based upon Malthus’ theory is the correct one, and I believe it is, then what could potentially happen when we have a global population of 7.8 billion people and we shut down the economy all over the world, jeopardizing out ability to produce food at this improved and increased capacity?

Why, lo and behold, we have just discovered where the potential for a death rate as a high as the one in Stephen King’s book is to be found.

Yes, shutting down the economies of practically every country in the world, is indeed a move that will put the food supply in jeopardy. When those who produce and sell food are almost the only ones allowed to be open they are essentially being asked or told to work for nothing, for nobody else is producing anything with which to pay them. Yes, governments are printing and handing out fiat money by the gazillions, but money has no intrinsic value. Its role in the marketplace is to be a convenient stand-in for real goods. The X number of dollars that you pay someone for Y amount of magic beans, represents the cow that you would have traded in a barter exchange. Perhaps that is a bad example, because both beans and cattle are sources of food, but I think it still gets the point across. If only category of producers are allowed to actually produce anything for sale in the market, the currency that is exchanged in that market will rapidly become worthless, and those producers will become overburdened and start to fail. It is estimated that nine million people in the world die from hunger every year. It is responsible for half of the deaths of children under the age of five. This is over three times the number of people known to have been infected with COVID-19. It is about fifty times more than the number who have died after contracting the virus. As of this writing, the number who have died from hunger in 2020 so far is almost three million. That’s about fifteen times the number who have died after contracting COVID-19, whether the virus was the primary killer or not. The measures being taken to combat COVID-19 will drive the number who die from hunger up and by considerably more than they can bring the number who die from COVID-19 down.

There are those who would say that this is the intentional and deliberate true purpose of the global lockdown. I would not go that far. The problem with the interpretation of events as being the intended outcome of a very powerful and malevolent cabal is that it requires assuming that politicians, bureaucrats, technocrats, and the like possess an almost superhuman level of competence. In reality, these are people who think they are Sherlock Holmes, when they are actually Jacques Clouseau – the Jacques Clouseau portrayed by Peter Sellers in Blake Edwards’ Pink Panther films, not the version of the character more recently portrayed by Steve Martin. Unlike the latter, who is able to scrape together enough deductive reasoning to actually solve the case by the end of his movies, Sellers’ classic interpretation of this character was of a bumbling, clumsy, nincompoop whose incompetence is matched only by his vanity and arrogance, and who succeeds only through an extraordinary degree of sheer accidental luck.

That having been said, large scale global depopulation has been one of the chief goals of the environmentalist wing of the United Nations and its ultrawealthy backers like Bill Gates, George Soros, and the late Maurice Strong since at least the 1992 “Earth Summit” at Rio de Janeiro that produced the famous – or, depending upon your perspective, infamous – action plan “Agenda 21.” These people represent the most extreme version of one of the two distortions of Malthus that have been around since his own day. While his detractors, like Victorian novelist Charles Dickens, unjustly accused him of heartlessly wishing upon people the famine, poverty, and death his theory predicted, his supporters, especially those of more recent times, have advocated measures to combat overpopulation that he himself would have found morally repugnant, such as abortion, infanticide, and totalitarian state control of reproduction. Those who want the world’s population reduced by as much as eighty to ninety-five percent are the worst example of this sort. The overlap between the institutions such as the United Nations and individuals such as Bill Gates who advocate this radical agenda and those behind the global lockdown is certainly worth taking note of.

Whether intentional or merely the result of the kind of stupidity that is the unique property of technocratic experts – “I had no idea my solution to Problem X would create the much worse Problem Y because that is not my field of expertise” – the potential lethality of the measures being taken to combat COVID-19, far exceeds that of the disease itself.
Posted by Gerry T. Neal at 6:14 AM Labels: Agenda 21, Bill Gates, Blake Edwards, COVID-19, George Soros, Groucho Marx, Karl Marx, Maurice Strong, Paul Ehrlich, Peter Sellers, Rudyard Kipling, Stephen King, Thomas Robert Malthus, Virginia Deane Abernethy

Rex Murphy on COVID-19: The power to censor speech and other great ideas from our Liberal overlords

Rex Murphy on COVID-19: The power to censor speech and other great ideas from our Liberal overlords

Let’s tap this serpent of an idea on its little head before its fangs emerge and it develops a real appetite


Rex Murphy

April 17, 2020
7:35 AM EDT

If there is one positive thing that can be said about this terrible plague we’re enduring, it is that now and then, it gives the Trudeau government some really, really great ideas.

Sure it was only a couple of weeks ago that the Liberals came up with the idea that they — a minority in Parliament, remember — should give themselves the power to tax and spend for the next two years, without having to get parliamentary approval. It was a truly brilliant idea, except that it ignored the fact that approving government spending is one of the most important functions of Parliament. Take away its authority over spending and the House of Commons might just as well be any old bingo hall, or with a little imaginative renovation, a one-of-a-kind Costco store.

Now, compliments of Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc, we learned that the Liberal government is contemplating legislation to make it an offence to, as a CBC report put it, “knowingly spread misinformation that could harm people.” In plain language, this government is openly thinking of making itself the official censor of what can and cannot be said about COVID-19. Pure brilliance again, don’t you agree?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, embraces Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc in 2019. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Well, actually, no. Don’t even think of it. Better still, to borrow a phrase from Greta Thunberg: how dare you? There is already a government that has that power, and in some cases brutally exercises it. That is the government of the Communist Party of China.

And what has it done with that power? It barred telling the truth about COVID-19, and instead told lies about it. On the where it happened, when it happened, how it happened and how it spread, the Chinese government confounded, confused and lied about a plague that has now hobbled the whole planet. And China “officially reprimanded” the doctor who initially tried to warn people about the coronavirus, and who, with dread irony, actually died from it. (A postmortem apology followed from the government. That surely helped.) Admire the Chinese government if that’s your thing, but on this subject, it is not an example to be followed.

So, let’s tap this serpent of an idea on its little head before its fangs emerge and it develops a real appetite. The problem with government having control over what is said and written, completely aside from it being the utter contradiction of a liberal democracy, is that governments — especially on a matter such as this pandemic — are simply not competent enough to know what is right and what is wrong.

Legislators in the House of Commons convene to give the government power to inject billions of dollars in emergency cash to help individuals and businesses through the economic crunch caused by the coronavirus disease outbreak, on Parliament Hill, April 11, 2020. Blair Gable/Reuters

What is required for a government to pass a law against misinformation? To begin with, it presumes an infallible authority that’s able to make judgments on what is, or is not, correct information. Even worse, it presumes the government has the ability to make judgments on a matter that, incontestably, is not yet fully understood by anybody.

This virus is new. The investigation of its nature, transmission, the best policies to confront it, the extent of the response to it, even the nature of the response — all of these elements are, at best, in an incomplete and early stage of understanding.

Experts have varying degrees of skill and knowledge. If experts disagree, which happens often, will some of them be silenced? In actuality, a divergence of opinions can be seen as a path to the full truth emerging. But this cannot happen if the government gags those who may seem to be wrong at the present moment.

A man wears a mask as he walks past a mural showing a modified image of the Chinese Communist Party emblem, in Shanghai, on Jan. 28. Aly Song/Reuters

On the purely political front, there are equal objections to giving government censorship powers. Governments take to extensions of their power like bears to honey. The more power they get, the more they believe they alone should exercise it. Power swells the ego. Add more power, and if you follow the analogy, a little balloon soon thinks it’s the Hindenburg. And a government swollen with power does not like other voices.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau barred the leader of the Opposition from joining talks with other opposition leaders because, in Trudeau’s own memorable words, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer “disqualified himself from constructive discussions with his unacceptable speech earlier today.”

Yet it is not for Trudeau, or any other prime minister, to determine what is “acceptable speech” from his constitutionally positioned critic, the leader of the Opposition. Nor is it proper for this minority government, which has had enough struggles of its own over misinformation — on masks, on screening at airports, on our relative security from the pandemic — to decide what the rest of us can, and cannot, say or write about this unique crisis.

National Post

Marni Soupcoff: Don’t make free speech the next COVID-19 victim in Canada

Marni Soupcoff: Don’t make free speech the next COVID-19 victim in Canada

As we have seen with this pandemic, the government doesn’t – and shouldn’t – have a monopoly on the truth

It’s not difficult to imagine productive things the Canadian government could be doing to respond to a virus that has caused more than 1,000 deaths in the country, infected tens of thousands of Canadians, and shut down the economy.

Passing a law dictating what people can and cannot say about SARS-CoV-2 is not one of those things.

The government could be using its power to secure personal protective equipment for health-care workers, facilitate an increase in testing capacity, and clear regulatory red tape that stands in the way of efficient vaccine research.

There is no question these steps could be helpful, and they are just three examples of many. Then, why oh why are federal politicians instead using their time to make plans to censor online expression about a pandemic that could use more creative ideas, not fewer.

Why are federal politicians using their time to make plans to censor online expression?

A sample of what Privy Council President Dominic LeBlanc has to say on the matter of criminalizing the online spread of ideas the government deems dangerously untrue: “This is not a question of freedom of speech. This is a question of people who are actually actively working to spread disinformation, whether it’s through troll bot farms, whether (it’s) state operators or whether it’s really conspiracy theorist cranks who seem to get their kicks out of creating havoc.”

Realizing that the people running the country believe that freedom of speech doesn’t apply — even as a consideration — in cases where they don’t like the speech in question … well, it’s scary, especially in the middle of a frightening crisis that makes government power grabs seem deceptively innocuous.

It sounds great to crack down on dangerous “cranks” pushing “disinformation.” Until you realize that a couple of months ago, anyone who was suggesting COVID-19 could and would spread through community transmission here — a notion Canadian public health leaders were scoffing at — would have been considered such a “crank.” Just a couple of weeks ago, anyone stating that wearing a mask in public was useful in stopping the spread of COVID-19 would also have been deemed a crackpot by the feds’ standards. Thankfully Mr. LeBlanc hadn’t yet come up with a law that would have shut them up.

Dominic LeBlanc is embraced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after being sworn in as President of the Privy Council in Ottawa on Nov. 20, 2019. Blair Gable/Reuters

As we have seen with this pandemic, the government doesn’t have a monopoly on the truth — it’s barely competent enough to recognize the truth when the truth is hitting it on the head. Do you really want that entity to have the power to decide which ideas about COVID-19 are valid and may be voiced and which ones are wrong and must be punished?

It’s not necessary to imagine, in the abstract, what sort of damage this kind of censorship would do. The scenario has already played out in China.

In December 2019, ophthalmologist Li Wenliang tried to sound the alarm in China about a mysterious new virus that was causing SARS-like symptoms. Within days, he was picked up by police and reprimanded for “making false comments on the Internet.” He died of COVID-19 six weeks later.

The scenario has already played out in China

A recent report by researchers at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy showed that a day after Chinese doctors issued their warning about the illness, China’s most widely used social media app, WeChat, quickly blacklisted related terms, including “SARS outbreak in Wuhan” and “Unknown Wuhan pneumonia.” (WeChat doesn’t have a lot of competition since the Chinese government blocks access to Facebook and Twitter.)

While the deadly disease was spreading through China’s Hubei province, WeChat was censoring instructions and advice about wearing face masks and washing hands — information that would have saved lives but was deemed fake news by Chinese authorities at the time.

Doubtless it is obvious that this is an example Canada should not follow. One man’s whistleblower is another man’s havoc-wreaking conspiracy theorist. Allowing one of those men to impose criminal penalties on the other is a damaging way to deal with the difference.

A lone person walks past closed businesses in Toronto’s Kensington Market on April 15, 2020. Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

It is true that there are scammers out there taking advantage of the fear generated by the pandemic, trying to make a buck by posing as people or institutions they aren’t.

But it is also true that there are already laws on the books to punish and prevent this foul flavour of fraud.

Don’t add on a new law that will leave skeptics — a group that has grown in number as the government’s flubbed response to COVID-19 has become evident — even more distrustful of government than they already are.

This is a matter of free speech. And during a pandemic, free speech and the unimpeded flow of information can mean the difference between life and death.

Let’s hope the federal government finds safer ways to keep itself busy.

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As civil liberties erode, Canada must not allow COVID-19 outbreak to infect the rule of law

Skip to Main ContentCBCMenu COVID-19: What you need to know

As civil liberties erode, Canada must not allow COVID-19 outbreak to infect the rule of law

Government can suppress civil liberties in the name of protecting them, but how far will it go?

Joseph Arvay, David Wu · for CBC News Opinion · Posted: Mar 26, 2020 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: March 26

Measures taken by the federal, provincial and municipal governments to try and stop COVID-19 from spreading have some asking where the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms stands in light of this pandemic. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

This column is an opinion by Joseph Arvay QC and David Wu, lawyers at Arvay Finlay LLP in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C. For more information about CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ.

When the lock-downs started occurring in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei, China, quarantining more than 50 million people, many observers in Western countries thought it impossible for such Draconian measures to be implemented in the democratic West.

Only an authoritarian government could implement such liberty-infringing measures, right?

Yet the premier of Nova Scotia announced strict legal measures Sunday to enforce isolation and social distancing, measures that include fines and even potential imprisonment. He said, “a failure to follow public guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19 puts our civil liberties at risk.”

That statement might have struck some as counter-intuitive or something of an oxymoron. We usually see our civil liberties as being a bulwark against state action that seeks to deprive us of our rights and freedoms, such as the right to liberty, and the freedoms to assemble in public places and associate with our friends, families and colleagues. And yet here was a provincial premier claiming that these new laws — laws that would do just that — are in effect civil libertarian measures.

Similar measures to counter COVID-19’s transmission are now in place or expected at all levels of government in Canada: federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal.

Provinces, cities crack down on social distancing rules

  • 8 days ago
  • 1:59

Provincial and local governments are cracking down on people who are not following social distancing or quarantine rules to try to prevent further spread of COVID-19. 1:59

This raises legitimate legal questions – how far can the state go to erode our civil liberties in the name of protecting them? And where does the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,which applies to federal, provincial and municipal laws, stand in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic?

A declaration of a local, provincial, or federal emergency does not in and of itself suspend the operation of the Charter. Our fundamental Charter rights currently remain in place, and all laws and government actions aimed at tackling the pandemic still need to be compliant with the Charter.

We have no doubt that the measures taken so far by governments – from orders in some provinces to close all non-essential businesses, to the bylaw amendments in some cities to increase fines to up to $50,000 for breaches of emergency orders – are compliant with the Charter, because none of our rights and freedoms are absolute. All can be infringed by laws that “are demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

These various measures would strike most people as proportionate to achieve the pressing and compelling state objectives of protecting our citizens from a deadly virus. Rights and liberties must sometimes make way in the pursuit of other legitimate societal objectives, like public health.

And such rights and liberties can themselves sometimes be in conflict (for example, one’s right to liberty and association versus another’s right to life and security of the person in the current pandemic).

‘Enough is enough,’ Trudeau toughens talk on isolation

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  • 1:58

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau toughened his language around self-isolation and social distancing while considering implementing the Emergencies Act. 1:58

How much further might the government go?

There is now much talk of social unrest. Scuffles have broken out in grocery stores that ran short of items, and on March 19 the London Daily Telegraph reported that, “Food retailers have warned that riots and civil disobedience could break out within weeks if production is unable to keep up with demand.” Meanwhile, gun and ammunition sales in Canada are rising significantly.

Desperate people sometimes take desperate measures. If the COVID-19 pandemic worsens and poses an even greater threat to our society, we can expect government measures increasingly to infringe on our civil liberties if needed to deal with unrest.

Is a total lock-down in our future? Unrestricted state spying or surveillance? Suspension of habeas corpus? Martial law?

It seems safe to say that Canadians are in uncharted territory, and that includes our governments.

Ontario closes all non-essential services to slow COVID-19 spread

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  • 1:51

Ontario Premier Doug Ford ordered all non-essential stores and services to close at the end of Tuesday, to slow the spread of COVID-19. 1:51

Undoubtedly the state will be accused by some of doing too much, and by others of doing too little. Both sides could potentially rely on the Charterto bolster their position.

But the reality is that the Charterwill not hamstring unprecedented government measures that are designed to tackle an unprecedented crisis, as long as such measures can be justified.

What the Chartermandates is proportionality and balance. Particular care needs to be taken not to worsen the already precarious situation of our homeless, prisoners, those seeking refugee status, sex workers, drug addicts and other vulnerable and marginalized communities.

These are, no doubt, very fearful times. But what we hope is not in the cards is a government invoking the “Notwithstanding clause” in section 33 of the Charter. That would mean that there are no restrictions on those governments that decide to enact laws that abolish our legal rights and fundamental freedoms.

That, in our opinion, would be an unnecessary overreaction and a dangerous one.

Let’s not give the COVID-19 virus that power. It is causing enough havoc; let it not infect the rule of law.


About the Author

Joseph Arvay

Joseph Arvay QC is a lawyer at Arvay Finlay LLP in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C.CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices|About CBC News

  • 5 days ago
  • 5 days ago

A ‘dramatic increase’ in coronavirus deaths could make Prime Minister invoke rules to track cellphone data

A ‘dramatic increase’ in coronavirus deaths could make Prime Minister invoke rules to track cellphone data

Shruti ShekarTelecom & Tech ReporterYahoo Finance CanadaMarch 26, 2020

El primer ministro canadiense, Justin Trudeau, se dirige a canadienses sobre la pandemia de COVID-19 desde Rideau Cottaga en Ottawa, Canadá, el jueves 26 de marzo de 2020. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press vía AP)
ASSOCIATED PRESS

In an effort to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has invoked the Quarantine Act requiring those returning from abroad to self-isolate. Ontario’s former information and privacy commissioner says if deaths increase exponentially the government could enact measures to track cellphone data to further limit the spread. 

“Let’s say the number of COVID-19 [deaths] in Toronto or Ontario tripled. Maybe they would use that as the excuse or a reason needed to invoke it,” Ann Cavoukian said in an interview. 

“I don’t know because I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want my mind to go there. But I would think a dramatic increase would possibly get them doing that.”

As of March 26, there are a total of 13 deaths reported in Ontario that are related to the coronavirus; there are 35 deaths in the country.  

During a press conference on March 25, Trudeau indicated that the government was “not taking measures” like collecting anonymous cellphone data to track the spread of the virus. 

“We recognize in an emergency situation we need to take certain steps that wouldn’t be taken in a non-emergency situation, but that is not something we are looking at now,” Trudeau said. “But all options are on the table to do what is necessary to keep Canadians safe.”

Cavoukian said that Trudeau said nothing was off the table because he is aware of these rules. 

“There are, unfortunately, privacy laws that can be invoked by the government that will enable them to engage in behaviours that wouldn’t be permitted under the [privacy] act. All privacy acts have these kinds of emergency measures, they’re supposed to be a last resort,” she said. 

“They’re supposed to be time-limited, clear sunset clauses, full transparency associated with what the government is doing.”

Cavoukian said that she didn’t think we were at that point yet for the prime minister to invoke rules and said “we should never get to that point.”

“When you are collecting all the personal information of citizens that just encroaches upon their freedom without privacy,” she said. 

Toronto Mayor John Tory initially said the city was collecting anonymous location data already, as first reported by The Logic, but later retracted his statements. A spokesperson clarified in an email that Toronto was not collecting any data. 

Bell, Telus, Rogers, and Shaw Communications’ Freedom Mobile confirmed in emailed statements that they have not been approached by the City of Toronto to gather cellphone data. 

Jesse Hirsh, president of Metaviews, said in an interview that these measures should have already been invoked. 

“I’m surprised that they have not already collected anonymized location

[data]

because given that both the federal government and the provincial government over the last few days have been escalating language around voluntary self-isolation, this would be one way to verify and find evidence instead of the government guessing,” he said. 

“I’d rather the government instead of guessing that people are or are not complying. I’d rather that they have accurate evidence.”

He added that collecting this data raises privacy concerns but they’re “minor privacy concerns” as this data is helpful in terms of informing public health policy. 

Hirsh noted that if the government drafted policy they would be able to work with the Privacy Commissioner to ensure the protection of the data and how it would be used. 

“We can have our cake and eat it too,” he said. “The expertise exists within the federal government.”

Stephanie Carvin, a security expert and assistant professor at Carleton University, doesn’t think these measures will be taken any time soon and most likely would be taken at a later date when things have restored back to normalcy. 

“You would almost want to implement something like this if the situation improved and we had an open society again,” she said.

“Let’s say if you were able to flatten that curve and then over a period of 18 months, you’re waiting, and all of a sudden there are flare-ups in the country and you want to contain it. That’s when something more targeted might be useful.”

Carvin indicated that even if the government were to take these measures it would require a lot of moving parts and individuals to get on board to make it happen. 

“People think that there’s some kind of switch we can flick, and it’s not that easy,” she said.

She also added that even if the government were able to track the data, they would have to be explicit in terms of what they were collecting and how it was to be used. 

“It’s just not clear to me, how that would be done, by who, under what circumstances,” she said.