‘Unnecessary’: Canadian province moves to repeal sweeping COVID powers law
EDMONTON, Alberta, October 19, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — One of Canada’s largest provinces is set to scrap a controversial bill originally put forth to combat COVID-19. The bill has been called a “betrayal of the electorate and of the rule of law.”
Last Thursday, Alberta’s health minister, Tyler Shandro, announced that the United Conservative Government under Premier Jason Kenney will repeal Bill 10, the Alberta Public Health (Emergency Powers) Amendment Act, 2020.
In a statement about Bill 10, Shandro said that it is “clear” that such government powers are no longer needed.
“Over the last number of months, it has become clear that with the right safety protocols in place and standing orders that allow for the assembly to work quickly in an emergency situation, the power to modify legislation by ministerial order is unnecessary,” Shandro said in his statement.
The JCCF suit argued that Bill 10, which was passed in 48 hours in early April, gave the Alberta government and its ministers too much power, allowing them to enact laws with no legislative oversight or debate.
Jay Cameron, a lawyer for the JCCF, told LifeSiteNews that the repeal of Bill 10, along with another controversial law, Bill 24, came about because of the JCCF’s court challenge.
“The Special Committee on Bill 10 and Bill 24’s amendments to the Public Health Act was constituted in response to the litigation the Justice Centre launched, and the concerns that we have publicly expressed,” Cameron told LifeSiteNews.
“The substance of these concerns is that Bill 10 vests legislative power in Cabinet Ministers, meaning that one Minister can unilaterally create expansive new laws during a public health emergency. This obviously nullifies the democratic process and the constitutional checks and balances on legislative power, which is highly alarming.”
In his statement about Bill 10, Shandro said a “Special Select Public Health Act Review Committee” was formed to review the Alberta Public Health Act “in light of our experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Shandro said a bill to “modernize the act” will be tabled in the spring of 2021, which will repeal Bill 10 and also sections added as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“In consultation with the government members of the select special committee, I have decided that our forthcoming amendments to the Public Health Act will repeal the Public Health (Emergency Powers) Amendment Act. In fact, our amendments will go further by repealing the power of a minister to modify enactments, which was added to the Public Health Act in 2002, in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” said Shandro in his statement.
LifeSiteNews reached out to Shandro’s press secretary for a comment on his announcement, but as of press time, there has been no reply.
Cameron told LifeSiteNews that Shandro’s promise to repeal Bill 10 is a good but “insufficient” first step. He added that the JCCF will continue to move forward in its litigation against the Alberta government until the bill is repealed.
“Bill 10 was passed in 48 hours without public consultation but for some unknown reason, the UCP wants to wait until spring to repeal it. I'm not aware of any statements explaining the delay,” Cameron told LifeSiteNews.
“We intend to advance the litigation until Bill 10 is repealed. Statements that it will be repealed because it is unconstitutional are a good but insufficient first step.”
Cameron also noted to LifeSiteNews that some MLAs on the Special “Review Committee” have stated “on the record” that they are aware that “Bill 10 and Bill 24 are unconstitutional.”
The JCCF legal challenge against Bill 10 is currently scheduled for a November 9 case management application date.
As for Bill 24, the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Amendment Act, 2020, in June, the JCCF issued a warning to the Alberta government regarding the latter’s passage of this bill.
At the time, the JCCF warned that the large and complex omnibus Bill 24, which amends 15 different laws at the same time, contains “power grab” provisions which “circumvents democracy” giving the Minister of Health and the Alberta government alarming new powers.
The repeal of Bill 10 comes after recent comments from Alberta premier Kenney saying his government is not going to “enforce our way out of this [COVID-19]” and not micromanage people’s lives.