Canadian province to track citizens via cell phones, ‘deal with’ those who break quarantine
EDMONTON, Alberta, April 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — In the name of combating the coronavirus, government officials from one of Canada’s largest provinces, Alberta, are planning to use people’s cell phones as a tool to track their whereabouts.
This past Tuesday, the premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney, stated that quarantine orders will be strongly enforced, “including using technology like smartphone apps” to track those under orders to stay home.
“We want to know if that person’s actually going to go home, and stay home and if not, we can deal with that individual before they spread the virus,” said Kenney Wednesday in the Alberta Legislature.
This would apply to Albertans under quarantine orders and travelers who arrive in Alberta from nations with high infection rates.
On his Facebook page Tuesday, Kenney posted “Alberta’s relaunch strategy,” which is designed to help the province return back to normal once the lockdowns put in place because of the coronavirus have been lifted.
It has five main points: 1) a goal of testing 20,000 people a day for the coronavirus, 2) expanding the effort at tracking close contacts of those infected with the virus, 3) stronger provincial border screening, 4) enforcing strict quarantine measures using smartphone apps, and 5) encouraging the use of masks in public.
Jay Cameron, a lawyer for the Alberta-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), told LifeSiteNews that observing people via a smartphone app constitutes a search of an individual.
“Monitoring someone’s whereabouts using their cell phones is, of course, a search,” said Cameron.
Cameron noted that this type of action directly violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“Yes, it is an infringement of section 2(c) and (d) assembly and associational rights, respectively, as protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as section 7 security and liberty rights, and section 8 rights which protect against illegal searches.”
The second and fourth steps of Kenney’s relaunch plan involve the monitoring of people, which is something many nations around the world have started to do, using the coronavirus as justification.
Kenney said his government's goal is to follow what nations such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore have done to combat the coronavirus. These nations have used smartphone apps to track their coronavirus infections.
LifeSiteNews contacted the Alberta government for comment regarding the relaunch strategy but as of press time has not received a response.
Recently, whistleblower Edward Snowden warned that authorities around the world are exploiting the pandemic to increase surveillance and track individuals.
In Canada, the pro-abortion prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said in late March that “all options are on the table” when it comes to combating the coronavirus. This includes leaving the door open to the possibility of tracking Canadians’ cell phones via a dedicated app or through one’s cell phone provider.
Alberta has a population of just over 4 million people and, as of Wednesday, has recorded 29 deaths from the virus with 1,423 confirmed cases.
Canada has been in a nationwide lockdown since early March, with all public schools, churches, sporting events, and sit-down restaurants, and most stores deemed non-essential, shut. As of today, Canada has registered under 20,000 cases with 462 deaths.
Alberta constitutional freedom lawyer says government coronavirus measures are an overreach
On April 2, the Kenney government rammed through Bill 10, the Alberta Public Health (Emergency Powers) Amendment Act, 2020. According to Cameron from the JCCF, this new legislation gives the Alberta government sweeping new powers to essentially create new laws without any Legislative Assembly approval.
“A cabinet minister can now decide unilaterally, without consultation, to impose additional laws on the citizens of Alberta, if she or he is personally of the view that doing so is in the public interest,” says the JCCF analysis of Bill 10.
Cameron told LifeSiteNews that Bill 10 is very concerning in the powers it gives cabinet ministers.
“Because there is no limit on this power apart from prohibiting the unilateral creation of new taxes, it opens the door to the near limitless use of power and therefore widespread abuse of civilians,” said Cameron.
Cameron noted that the new bill could give Alberta health minister Tyler Shandro the power to create new laws that would force everyone in the province to be tested for the coronavirus.
In addition to this, Cameron added that the new law could “restrict who is permitted to drive in public places. Or institute large-scale house arrests. Or order the removal of people with the virus from their houses as was proposed by the World Health Organization. Or order forced vaccination.”
Due to the way the law is drafted, Cameron notes that there are “very few limits on what could be done, and again, there is no oversight from the legislature during a public emergency and for a period of up to 270 days from the issuance of a ministerial order.”
When asked if he thinks the current coronavirus health crisis response is government overreach, Cameron said the real issue is the effect on the economy due to the shutdown, and the fact that a ministerial order is all it would take to confine people to their homes.
“The virus is dangerous to some people but most people survive it, many without any symptoms at all. What is also dangerous, and I’d argue far more so, is a forced shutdown of the economy, record-high unemployment, people confined in their houses by a ministerial directive,” said Cameron.
Of grave concern, says Cameron, is how the collateral damage done by the shutdown will undoubtedly lead to widespread domestic abuse and criminal activity, the destruction of people's livelihoods and careers, and potential opportunistic power-grabs by governments.
In March alone, Alberta lost 117,000 jobs as a result of the coronavirus, which is the worst job loss number in a month in the history of the province.
Cameron noted that Bill 10 did not include any public consultation and that Albertans did not vote in Kenney for the types of measures he just passed.
“The Kenney government does not have a mandate from Albertans to cancel representative democracy and instead vest the power of the elected legislature in Tyler Shandro, or any other minister,” said Cameron.
Along with the concerns noted by the JCCF, Leslyn Lewis, a pro-life candidate in the running to become the next leader of the Conservative Party, stated in a Twitter message yesterday that she is very concerned that Canadians’ civil liberties are being restricted because of the coronavirus.
“I am greatly concerned that our civil liberties are being restricted with no real plan for when they will come back. Temporary safety measures are necessary when warranted, but governments must also be seized with the urgency to restore our freedoms and should demonstrate a clear plan to restore society to a state of normalcy.”
Campaign Life Coalition warned Alberta’s social conservatives about Kenney’s “rapid slide to the left”
Alberta was governed by the left-wing, socialist, and pro-abortion New Democratic Party under Rachel Notley from 2015 to 2019. Kenney defeated Notley and her party to take over the premiership with a majority government, winning on a campaign focussed on getting Alberta’s economy back on track after NDP overspending and low oil prices.
Kenney had an excellent pro-life voting record during his time as a federal member of Parliament, but this changed when he became a politician at the provincial level.
In 2018, Kenney, and most of his United Conservative Party caucus, abstained from voting against a bill from the then-NDP government that banned pro-lifers from standing outside Alberta abortion facilities.
Kenney commented that he was not going to be “playing games” on social issues.
“We’re not going to play games with divisive social issues. We’re here to focus on job creation and economic growth, [and] market access for energy products,” Kenney was quoted as saying.
His comments came with a fierce backlash from Campaign Life Coalition’s Jeff Gunnarson, who said of Kenney’s non-vote, “The NDP are not playing games. They are trampling on pro-lifers’ rights whenever they can get away with it, and shame on Kenney for not standing up for basic human rights and freedoms.”
In 2018, as the leader of the UCP, he hosted his own pro-homosexual “Pride” event, due in large part to Calgary Pride at the time not allowing his party to officially participate in the event.
Kenney said at the time: “Today in Calgary Pride we celebrate diversity for all Albertans, including gay and lesbian Albertans, and people who identify in different ways in terms of their sexuality.”