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January 27, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The former leader of Canada’s official opposition has said lockdowns imposed due to COVID-19 have caused “ever-increasing” violations of Canadians “fundamental freedoms,” such as worship, peaceful assembly, free speech, and freedom of association. He also called upon Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti to address the situation.

“Regrettably, it must also be emphasized that these violations have been occurring for more than 10 months and in large and ever-increasing numbers throughout the country,” wrote Preston Manning in a letter to Lametti.

Manning served as an MP for the Reform Party (one of the past parties that became the current Conservative Party) for years, and was the leader of Canada’s official opposition from 1997 to 2000. He said freedoms granted by Canada’s charter of rights and freedoms need to have a “balance” with current health measures.

“While health under our Constitution is primarily a provincial responsibility, given the federal role in responding to COVID-19 and in bringing the charter into being, surely it is the federal government that ought to take the lead in balancing our COVID response with the rights and freedoms that are enumerated in the charter,” wrote Manning.

Manning stated that Lametti’s ministry should conduct “comprehensive assessments of the impacts of health-protection measures on the rights and freedoms of Canadians,” and then “openly and transparently present the results of such assessments to Parliament.”

Special sessions of Parliament, wrote Manning, should be convened until the virus has passed to give “each member” the opportunity to “report on the health situation in his or her constituency,” and report the “positive and negative impacts of the health-protection measures adopted.”

In addition to Canadians’ “fundamental rights” guaranteed by the charter, Manning wrote that other rights are being infringed upon, as well, “including … democratic rights, mobility rights, legal rights, equality rights and the right of every citizen and permanent resident to ‘pursue the gaining of a livelihood.’”

“The denial of the right to pursue the gaining of a livelihood, which includes the right to work and operate a business, is particularly devastating, as it affects the social, economic and financial well-being of millions of Canadians,” wrote Manning.

Manning noted that he “fully” recognizes the threat of COVID-19, and stressed that in the “interests” of all Canadians, the government should have an “equitable balance” between protecting health and one’s rights afforded by the constitution, and explain why “extraordinary measures are required.”