EDMONTON, Alberta (LifeSiteNews) – A panel convened by Alberta’s freedom-oriented Premier Danielle Smith to investigate the previous government’s COVID governance released its findings, recommending many pro-freedom polices be implemented, such as strengthening personal medical freedoms via legislation so that one does not lose their job for refusing a vaccine as well as concluding that Albertans’ rights were indeed infringed on.
Smith started the Public Health Emergencies Governance Review Panel (PHEGRP) in January to investigate the province’s COVID governance under predecessor Jason Kenney.
The panel was tasked to review “legislation and governance practices used by the Government of Alberta during the management of the COVID-19 public health emergency.”
Smith, who leads the United Conservative Party (UCP), tasked former Canadian MP Preston Manning, who headed the Reform Party for years before it merged with another party to form the modern-day Conservative Party of Canada, to lead the panel. Manning was a vocal critic of excessive COVID lockdowns imposed on Canadians from 2020 to 2022.
The 116-page report released Wednesday made some 90 recommendations that the government should consider to be more prepared come a potential future health crisis and to avoid infringing on one’s personal freedoms and rights.
Among the findings, the report recommended that elected officials have the final say in matters of health emergencies and that school lockdowns should be avoided that cause immense harm to children.
Notable highlights from the report show a list of what are considered fundamental rights of Albertans that the report recommends the government take steps to protect, via the Alberta Bill of Rights.
The Panel commissioned Mr. Kelly-Gagnon, president emeritus of the pro-freedom Montreal Economic Institute, along with his associates to “prepare a paper on the protection of rights and freedoms during a public emergency, along with other solicited legal expertise, to develop this chapter.”
The paper, A Path Towards the Improved Protection of Rights and Freedoms in the Context of Public Crises and Emergencies (MKG paper), was included in the panel’s final report.
The paper suggested that the Alberta Bill of Rights be expanded to include the “right to personal autonomy and integrity” as well as making it so that “every Albertan is entitled to informed consent to medical, psychological or any other type of state-sanctioned care.”
It also recommended that every Albertan has the “right” to “choose to receive, or not to receive, medical, psychological or any other type of medical care or treatment.”
“The right of every Albertan not to be coerced, either directly or indirectly, into submitting to medical, psychological or any other type of care or treatment,” the recommendation reads.
Additionally, the panel wrote that the “Alberta Bill of Rights be amended to guarantee freedom of expression as well as freedom of speech.”
Also, the report noted that the Alberta Bill of Rights should be amended to ensure that the “Right of the individual not to be deprived of the means of earning a living, caring for their family or functioning in society.”
The report also noted that the Employment Standards Code should be amended to prevent people from being fired for choosing not to get a medical procedure (COVID vaccines). This would be to “disallow permanent dismissals of non-compliant employees during a temporary public emergency.
It also suggested that the final decision-making in health crisis be in the hands of elected officials and not un-elected health bureaucrats.
Smith took over from Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party (UCP) on October 11, 2022, after winning the leadership of the party. The UCP then won a general election in May 2023. Kenney was ousted due to low approval ratings and for reneging on promises not to lock Alberta down.
Under Kenney, thousands of nurses, doctors, and other healthcare and government workers lost their jobs for choosing to not get the jabs, leading Smith to say – only minutes after being sworn in – that over the past year the “unvaccinated” were the “most discriminated against” group of people in her lifetime.
The UCP government has already begun to try and prevent a future scenario where health officials rule supreme.
Smith is looking to pass a new law, Bill 6, or the Public Health Amendment Act, that would hold politicians accountable in times of a health crisis by putting sole decision-making on them for health matters instead of unelected medical officers.
Manning says future impacts on ‘civil liberties’ need to be ‘mitigated’ in future health crisis
Manning served as the leader of Canada’s now-defunct Reform Party and has been dubbed the “father of modern-day Canadian Conservatism.”
He was Canada’s leader of the Official Opposition from 1997 until 2000, trouncing both the NDP and the Progressive Conservative Party, with which it merged, for the spot.
Speaking about the final report Wednesday, Manning said in a press release that “Alberta, like the rest of the world, had to make decisions quickly and with limited, changing and even conflicting information.”
“It is my hope that by adopting these recommendations, the Government will be better equipped to cope with future emergencies and that the impacts on Albertans — their personal livelihoods, civil liberties and mental health can be mitigated to the greatest extent possible,” he added.
Speaking to independent media about the report, Manning noted the extreme harms caused by shutting down schools during the COVID crisis.
“The damage that you do by closing down the school system in comparison to the benefit you get, it’s just simply not worth doing,” he noted.
Manning also said that COVID vaccine passports can be avoided in the future via stronger legislation to protect Albertans’ rights.
“If you strengthen those rights provisions of the bill, you’d make it a lot more difficult to implement those types of measures,” he said.
Manning also led the National Citizens’ Inquiry (NCI) to look into the “unprecedented” COVID mandates imposed on Canadians by all levels of government.
Smith made headlines in October 2022 after promising she would look at pardoning Christian pastors who were jailed for violating so-called COVID policies while Kenney was premier.
Unlike her predecessor, Kenney – who imposed vaccine passports, mandates, and lockdowns during COVID – Smith did vow she was not going to “create a segregated society on the basis of a medical choice.”