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Preston ManningScreenshot/CPAC

EDMONTON, Alberta (LifeSiteNews) — The government of Alberta under new freedom-oriented Premier Danielle Smith will be establishing an “expert panel” to investigate her predecessor Jason Kenney’s government’s use of COVID dictates. The panel will be led by former MP Preston Manning, who has been critical of lockdowns.

The panel said in an announcement last week the Alberta government will review “the legislation and governance practices used by the Government of Alberta during the management of the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

It will be tasked with recommending “changes necessary to improve government response to future health emergencies.”

“There are valuable lessons we learned from the Alberta government’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency,” Smith said. “It’s important that we apply those lessons to strengthen our management of future public health crises, and the panel’s recommendations will be key in doing so.”

Smith took over from Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party (UCP) on October 11, 2022, after winning the leadership of the party. Kenney was ousted due to low approval ratings and for reneging on promises not to lock Alberta down.

As for the panel led by Manning, it will look specifically at how the government can better respond to any future health emergency while at the same time “mitigating impacts on the social well-being, mental health, civil liberties and livelihoods of Albertans.”

“With this feedback in mind, the panel will review relevant legislation to ascertain whether there are amendments that can assist the government to improve their response to a future public health crisis,” the government says.

According to Manning, who will serve as the panel chair, it is crucial that “we take the opportunity to review the province’s COVID-19 response and examine whether and how that approach can be improved in future health emergencies.”

“I look forward to working with my fellow panelists and hearing from Albertans about how the province can best achieve this objective,” he noted.

Manning will be making recommendations to the Premier in the coming weeks as to who will serve on the panel. A final report and recommendation will be given to the government by November 15.

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.

This will be the second COVID inquiry to be led by Manning, who was a vocal critic of excessive COVID lockdowns imposed on Canadians from 2020 to 2022.

In November, Manning announced that he will lead the National Citizens’ Inquiry (NCI) to look into the “unprecedented” COVID mandates imposed on Canadians by all levels of government.

The panel will also allow for public input, which can be done online at

Smith made headlines in October after promising she would look at pardoning Christian pastors who were jailed for violating so-called COVID policies while Kenney was premier.

She recently made clear the courts are “independent,” but has asked her senior justice minister to regularly reflect on whether charges made against people who broke draconian COVID rules are in the “public interest.”

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.”

Thus far, she has flat-out refused to impose any mask or other COVID mandates on Albertans despite pressure from some provincial unions.

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.

Thus far, some Alberta pastors who were jailed and charged for breaking COVID health dictates, such as Alberta Pastor Tim Stephens, have been acquitted of their charges.

Stephens, a Christian clergyman from Calgary, spent a combined 21 days in jail.

He was arrested at the request of Alberta Health Services (AHS) on a May 13, 2021, order from Alberta Associate Chief Justice John Rooke, which allowed anyone who broke COVID rules to be arrested without a warrant.

Stephens was the third Alberta pastor jailed for defying COVID rules, which were all but scrapped by March 2022.

Alberta-based Christian pastor Artur Pawlowski last month was vindicated in court again after some of his COVID-related charges levied against him in 2020 for feeding the homeless and attending a pro-freedom rally were stayed by Crown prosecutors.