(LifeSiteNews) — Alberta’s new Premier Danielle Smith apologized to all the vaccine-free Albertans who were “discriminated” against during the COVID-19 so-called pandemic, adding that she is working to pardon those fined under COVID-era legislation, particularly pastors.
“I can apologize right now. I am deeply sorry for anyone who was inappropriately subjected to discrimination as a result of their vaccine status,” said Smith on Saturday while speaking at the United Conservative Party (UCP) Annual General Meeting (AGM).
“I am deeply sorry for any government employee that was fired from their job because of their vaccine status, and I welcome them back if they want to come back,” added the newly-elected premier.
Smith also said she is looking into creating an amnesty program to those charged for breaking non-criminal code COVID related rules under former-Premier Jason Kenney’s government.
The amnesty program would seek to pardon – among others – those pastors who were jailed for offering their faith services in defiance of so-called COVID health protocols.
“As for the amnesty, I have to get some legal advice on that. So, I’ve already asked my staff to request advice so I can see how we would be able to proceed on that,” said Smith.
“My view has been that these were political decisions that were made, and so I think that they could be political decisions to offer a reversal, but I do want to get some legal advice on that first,” she restated.
On October 11, Smith officially took over as leader of both the UCP and the province after Kenney stepped down earlier this year.
Unlike her predecessor Kenney – who imposed vaccine passports, mandates and lockdowns during COVID – Smith has vowed she is not going to “create a segregated society on the basis of a medical choice.”
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.
Many in the private sector also lost their jobs, along with many municipal workers such as firefighters. Many are currently engaged in legal battles with municipal governments over the jab mandates.
Smith blasts the jailing of pastors, promises pardons
While vowing to look into amnesty for all, Smith made a point of highlighting the Kenney government’s heavy-handed actions against Christian pastors in particular.
“When it comes to fines for a pastor, I mean, I have to tell you, the criminal code gives protection for pastors. You are not allowed to interrupt a sermon, that’s how seriously we take the role of our men and women who wear the cloth,” Smith told the Western Standard last Friday.
“And so, I think that there was an error made in that regard. I’m trying to figure out where that lies. I don’t think it lies in the Justice Department. I think that lies in the health department,” she continued.
“My intention would be to deliver a blanket amnesty. It was inappropriate political decisions that led to that inappropriate enforcement and so it seems to be a political decision to say we made a mistake. We’re sorry, [it] won’t happen again,” stressed the politician, adding “I think the experts let us down, so I’m not interested in taking any advice from them.”
Smith did say that for those who were charged with serious criminal offenses, “I think it would be inappropriate for me to step in if there’s criminal prosecution, in the case of firearms, for instance, or if there was an assault.”
The persecution of Christian pastors under Kenney
Section 176 of the Criminal Code of Canada makes it a crime to interrupt a church service and to arrest an “an officiant” when they are returning home from a service.
Despite this federal law, under Kenney, no fewer than three Alberta pastors were jailed for defying COVID mandates and thousands of others were fined for breaking draconian COVID rules.
In July, an appeals court nullified contempt charges against Alberta pastor Artur Pawlowski and his brother Dawid for protesting COVID health rules, ruling that a “not sufficiently clear” May 2021 ban on virus protests did not apply to them.
Pawlowski was jailed for three months after speaking out against COVID mandates when he gave a sermon to truckers blockading the highway in Coutts, Alberta.
Calgary Pastor Tim Stephens was also arrested on June 15, 2021 and was hauled away by police in front of his weeping children. The arrest of Stephens came after he held an outdoor church service contrary to COVID rules.
Yet another Alberta pastor, James Coates of Grace Life Church, spent 35 days in jail in 2021 for defying COVID rules, because he would not sign a bail agreement to stop leading his church.
His church was forced to shut down and was barricaded by government officials for several months.
Despite these severe actions, in January of this year, the Alberta government was forced to admit that it had overstated COVID hospitalizations attributed to the “omicron variant” by 60 percent.
Smith’s position against vaccine mandates – a core tenet of her recently victorious platform – is consistent with the fact that COVID jab trials have never produced evidence that the vaccines stop infection or transmission.