Dennis L. Modry BSc, MD, MSc, FRCS, FACCP, FACS is the Clinical Associate Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Alberta. He is also the Founder and Director of the Heart, Lung and Heart-Lung Transplant Program and was the Director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (1984 – 2015).
Dear Premier Kenney:
Many Albertans – myself included – commended you on your previous commitment to a balanced approach to protecting Albertans from COVID-19, while at the same time not completely abrogating our freedoms and rights such as free speech, peaceful assembly, association, and our ability to earn a living and care for our families.
(Tuesday) you imposed new lockdown measures which severely limit and, in some cases, shut down entirely many social, family, friendship, spiritual, recreational and entertainment pursuits that Albertans rely on for their well-being, just as you did in the spring. While you have commendably spared small businesses from suffering the complete shut-down they experienced this past spring (and your apology for this mistake is laudable and honourable), it seems that you have not learned much from the lockdown harms which Albertans experienced earlier this year.
The evidence that you provided for this lockdown is both suspect and incomplete and does a disservice to Albertans who deserve more from you. A major tenet of the Hippocratic Oath that physicians like myself ascribe to is “First Do No Harm”, which is ignored by this imposed lockdown.
Is it too late to correct this lockdown error? No, not if you are willing to be better informed. We have learned a great deal since the onset of this pandemic, much of which is the result of how different regions and countries have attempted to control the spread of COVID-19 and treat those infected. Now we know who is at greatest risk and have proven effective therapies for those who are seriously ill, as reported by the National Institute of Health on Dec 3, 2020; and we are on the cusp of mass immunization consequent to multiple vaccines soon to be available worldwide. The public should be reassured, rather than locked down.
Within the last few weeks, new evidence informs a more nuanced approach to better protect Albertans without unintended and unacceptable consequences, such as defined in the excellent recommendations of the Great Barrington Declaration, further addressed below.
I acknowledge with reverence those Albertans who have passed on from COVID-19, just as I acknowledge many others like Jerry Dunham who have died because lockdowns prevented their access to healthcare for very serious non-COVID-19 illnesses and conditions. I acknowledge the many with despair who have died from suicide and drug overdose. We now know that lockdowns are more lethal than COVID-19, and must learn from what has transpired to ensure we do not continue to make the same mistakes. Were you not informed of these facts, or did you simply ignore them?
Please consider the following evidence and unintended consequences that should give you the courage to retract the restrictions:
- We are nowhere close to overwhelming our healthcare system. As of December 9, 2020 there were 654 COVID-19 patients in 8,500 beds, or 7.7 per cent of capacity. There were only 112 patients in 272 ICU beds, or 41.2 per cent of operational capacity, however, you have stated publicly that the ICU capacity can be increased to 1,081 beds. This implies that, at present, only 10.4 per cent of potential ICU beds are filled.
- Have you evaluated what percentage of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are actually in hospital because of COVID-19, as opposed to with COVID-19, wherein it is the underlying disease that is the actual reason for the admission? The public deserves to know.
- Have you evaluated the percentage of patients who died with, but not from COVID-19? This information is extremely important to share with the public who deserve a fair and balanced presentation of the facts to both prevent fear and panic, as well as garner buy-in of government policy.
- Are you aware that the PCR test for COVID-19 has a false positive rate of up to 50 per cent according to the CDC (USA Center for Disease Control), and up to 90 per cent by other sources?
- Are you aware of how many people have died or become seriously compromised because they could not access healthcare for non-COVID-19 disease, including treatments for heart disease, cancer, and other life-threatening problems? Lockdowns are more lethal than Covid-19, which cannot be over-emphasized. Do you not think that the public should know this?
- Are you aware of how many people have committed suicide due to government-imposed lockdowns and the shuttering of businesses, schools, colleges, and universities? Have you tried to find out?
- Do you believe that it is ethically and morally appropriate for government to pick winners and losers by defining what is an essential versus a non-essential business, or activity such as, but not limited to, social, recreational, fitness-related, or spiritual pursuits?
- Are you fully aware of the magnitude of the economic devastation Alberta has sustained, and that we are spiralling down rapidly to a have-not province, according to the Fraser Institute?
- Are you aware of how many divorces have occurred consequent to lockdowns and loss of income? What about the increase in domestic abuse, family violence and increase of substance abuse?
- Are you aware of the short- and long-term effects on the mental health of our most vulnerable, including our children?
- Have you been apprised of how much crime has increased due to people becoming desperate just to stay alive?
- Finally, in the interests of transparency, please provide the information highlighted above to all Albertans on a daily or weekly basis on the AHS website, various social and other media sources available, so that we the people of Alberta can work with you, rather than question the validity of imposed interventions that are no longer required.
Your consideration to rescind the lockdown should also be based on fact. I implore you to read the Great Barrington Declaration authored by professors in medicine from Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford, who are experts in epidemiology, immunology, biostatistics, vaccine development, mathematical modelling, and public health policy. The Declaration has been co-signed by 38,154 medical practitioners, as well as 12,717 medical and public health scientists world-wide. Please also review the section in the Declaration on Frequently Asked Questions. You will be better informed and better able to give proper consideration to a more humane, compassionate and effective approach, rather than inflicting a multitude of harms on 4.4 million people. Please consider the following targeted recommendations:
- All testing should stop immediately, particularly for those who are asymptomatic, except for;
-People presenting to hospital with respiratory problems
-Nursing home employees with ‘point-of-care’ testing
- Nursing homes should have a comprehensive campaign for;
-Staff education in infection control
–Vitamin D daily for all inhabitants
-Electronic audiovisual communications for loved ones wishing to stay in touch
- There is also gathering evidence on the use of Ivermectin to prevent COVID-19, as evidenced in this Senate Testimony on December 8, 2020. The evidence for effective prophylaxis with Ivermectin is compelling
- Everywhere – hospitals included – should open immediately with conventional pre-Covid-19 precautions.
- Mandatory mask-wearing should cease (except for health professionals) as there is no credible scientific basis, as evidenced in the November 18, 2020 Danish randomized controlled trial reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Further, no country has reported a change in the trajectory of COVID-19 diagnosis consequent to widespread public testing of asymptomatic citizens before and after the institution of a countrywide mask mandate.
- Interventions such as total lockdowns, social distancing, and compulsory mask use are causing more harm than good. The genie (virus) is out of the bottle and the spread cannot realistically be controlled at all by the current interventions.
- Contact tracing and snitching should cease immediately.
- AHS must come clean with Albertans and provide robust information on the unintended consequences of lockdown measures which were initially well-intentioned but have now proven to be harmful to Albertans’ mental, physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and economic well-being; as well as lethal from suicide, drug overdose and inability to access healthcare for serious non-COVID illness and conditions.
- Finally, as healthcare is in your purview, please ensure that decisions come from your government/AHS, and not from municipalities who do not have access to the necessary resources and expertise to justify restrictions of any kind.
In conclusion, we have learned much over the past several months. Perhaps most important is the knowledge that lockdowns are more lethal than COVID-19, which should compel you and your government to end them. Your advice and policies for the benefit of Albertans should be predicated on one important tenet of the Hippocratic Oath, “First Do No Harm”, and a focussed approach will achieve just that, as explained in the Great Barrington Declaration.
As for each of us Albertans, we must simply adapt and learn to accommodate to COVID-19, as we all did every previous year with seasonal influenza. We must all take personal responsibility for our health and take actions that are in each of our best interest, including vaccination if one is so inclined, which may well be of benefit if one is COVID-19 negative. Healthcare, like all freedoms, must and should always remain an informed choice, not a government directive.
Dennis L. Modry, BSc, MD, MSc, FRCS, FACCP, FACS
Clinical Associate Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Alberta
Founder and Director of the Heart, Lung and Heart-Lung Transplant Program
Director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (1984 – 2015)
FILDEBRANDT: $131 Sloan donation leak was an inside job – Conservative MPs tell us so
Conservative MPs say O’Toole’s office has been caught clearly trying to set Sloan up. This is amateur House of Cards.
What I’m about to write here doesn’t take a lot of intelligence to put together. But since nobody has yet – at least publicly – let me connect some very clear dots.
On the evening of January 18, federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole announced that he was “asking” his MPs to kick fellow Ontario Tory MP Derek Sloan out of the party’s caucus.
Far-left gotcha-propaganda website Press Progress said that they have proof that Sloan accepted a $131 donation from a man named Paul Fromm.
Who the hell is Paul Fromm? Until a few hours ago, I – and probably 98 per cent of Canada – had never heard of the guy. Turns out that he’s a particularly loathsome white supremacist.
The Press Progress hit piece was complete with lots of colourful pictures of Fromm doing his best impression of a Nürnberg rally. The intention was clearly to link Fromm with Sloan.
Doing their best Pravda knock-off, Press Progress has done this before, libelling mainstream – even moderate – conservative politicians in Alberta as a 21st century sturmabteilung. It’s what they do best.
O’Toole did his best surprised face and tweeted furiously.
“Derek Sloan’s acceptance of a donation from a well-known white supremacist is far worse than a gross error of judgment or failure of due diligence.”
Conservative MPs tell me that they all learned about it in the press.
Now you don’t need to be on Team Sloan to smell a rat here. You just need two eyes and half a brain. Let’s examine the evidence.
One: Almost no candidate is aware of every – or even most – of the donations that they receive. It is processed by the campaign’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). For small campaigns like Sloan’s, that position is often a volunteer, or at the least, not a professional. I could have accidentally accepted blood diamond money while I was in politics for all I know.
Two: No candidate – and I repeat no candidate – is aware of the details of donations the size of Paul Fromm’s: $131. It’s a rounding error. I only ever ran to be an Alberta MLA in my time in politics, and I did not know who was giving me $131. I knew if someone was giving me $1,000. Maybe even $500. Never, ever, $131.
Three: I have never heard of Paul Fromm before. Unless you’re a full-time Nazi hunter, you probably have never heard of Paul Fromm either. I’m doubtful that Press Progress had heard of him until they had this gently brought to their attention.
Four: Paul Fromm’s big $131 donation was processed not just by the Sloan campaign, but by the Conservative Party of Canada itself. Had the CPC had recognized this name, they would have flagged it. They didn’t. They do apparently expect Derek Sloan’s CFO to however.
Five: If the Conservative Party of Canada – with its legendary resources – could not flag this $131 donation, then it is not reasonable to expect a fourth-place also-ran campaign to have the resources to do it.
Six: Elections Canada only requires the disclosure of donor names for contributions over $200. It is illegal for them to disclose donations under that amount. The only two entities that would have had any awareness of Fromm’s donation are: Derek Sloan, and, the Conservative Party of Canada’s staffers.
Seven: Press Progress could not have legally obtained information about the donation except from: Derek Sloan, or, the Conservative Party of Canada. Take your best guess about which one gave the information to Press Progress.
Sloan is not a centrist Tory in the mould of O’Toole, and has a reputation as a bit of a maverick. Leaders do not like mavericks in their caucus.
And Sloan is the only rival that O’Toole faced for the Conservative leadership that currently has a seat in the House of Commons.
Multiple Alberta and Ontario Conservative MPs the Western Standard has spoken to tell us that they and Sloan found out about this in the media. They also tell us that they believe that this was entirely an inside-hit job by O’Toole via the Leader’s Office or party HQ.
One veteran Conservative with inside knowledge of the matter says that several MPs intend to vote against O’Toole’s demand to expel Sloan…if they get a secret ballot.
The Reform Act legally requires that they do, but I’m sure smart people in Ottawa can find a way around that.
And even if his caucus showed some spine, O’Toole has unilaterally declared that Sloan will not be allowed to seek the CPC nomination in his constituency again, even if his local members want him. Grassroots stuff.
From the MPs we have spoken to at least, the Conservative Caucus is bitterly divided. While Sloan has his share of enemies in the party, they see – without much need for a tinfoil hat – that this is clearly instigated at the behest of their own leader. And they tell us that they are afraid that O’Toole could come for them next on trumped-up charges (no pun intended).
What could O’Toole possibly be thinking? There are other ways for leaders to purge troublesome underlings. They can bring forward better false charges of impropriety. They can do a better job of covering their tracks. They can just go the route of Andrew Scheer via Brad Troast, and rig the nomination against them.
This is amateur hour House of Cards.
Derek Fildebrandt is Publisher of the Western Standard
MORGAN: Alberta needs less talk, and more action from Kenney
“Premier Kenney needs to pick a lane and to stick to it with authority.”
Support for the United Conservative Party under Premier Kenney’s leadership has collapsed. Exclusive polling for the Western Standard has the UCP languishing at an abysmal 26 percent support while the NDP is at 41 percent while the new and still leaderless Wildrose Independence Party has climbed to 9 percent province-wide. This trend is nothing less than catastrophic for the UCP and they will need to make some major changes if they hope to be re-elected in 2023.
With nearly two years in power now, it is tough to point to any concrete changes or policies from the Kenney government. While Jason Kenney talked a great game at campaign time, we have seen little follow-through. Where is the promised democratic reform through citizen’s initiated referenda and recall legislation? Where is the fiscal conservatism and moves to get the budget under control? When will the government act on even one of the Fair Deal panel recommendations?
While Premier Jason Kenney continues to try to be everything to everybody, he is losing support on all fronts. The NDP-left will never learn to love the UCP, yet Kenney remains reticent to take on the government unions which are opposing all efforts at fiscal reform or efficiencies. Kenney has talked tough with unions, but won’t act. It’s time to take a stand and start cutting spending, not just haircuts. We are running out of money and taxpayers are running out of patience. It won’t become any easier for waiting.
On the democratic reform front, Kenney needs to implement the promised referenda and recall legislation. It has been nearly two years and this doesn’t need to be studied any longer. We know what we need and we know what we voted for. Give it to us already.
On the Western alienation front, Kenney has been at his most disappointing. This again has been clearly indicated in the recent polling commissioned by the Western Standard. Support for independence is exploding to new records in Alberta. While the UCP was not elected with a mandate to pursue independence, they were elected as a party expected to stand up to Ottawa. It is time that they did it.
Ottawa has more control over Alberta today than when Jason Kenney came to office. Tough talk is clearly not working.
No more panels. No more “expert” studies. No more kicking the can down the road. Albertans want some leadership and they want somebody to protect Alberta’s interests from an increasingly hostile federal government.
We have made it clear that we want a provincial pension plan. I doubt that I will see it implemented before I am old enough to collect it, and I am only 49 years old.
Why more study on whether or not we want a provincial police force? We know we want it. Now start working on what it will take to create it. What did we get? The province commissioned yet another study.
Where is the Alberta Chief Firearms Officer we were told we would get? How hard is it to appoint somebody? Instead, we got an Alberta Firearms Advisory Committee. More talk.
We are getting a referendum on equalization at least, but Kenney has made clear that there will be no ‘or else’ consequences if Ottawa and the other provinces fail to make reforms.
We are living in tough times. Citizens want to see leadership and that means seeing leaders making tough, definitive decisions. Wishy washy approaches to issues aren’t acceptable.
Premier Kenney needs to pick a lane and to stick to it with authority. If you oppose lockdowns, don’t impose them. If you support lockdowns, do it unapologetically and do it in full. Trying to appease both sides only alienates both sides.
Talk is cheap and we are tired of hearing it. If the current government can’t discover how and where they want to actually act on things, they will be replaced in the next election, and I fear for what that replacement may be.
Cory Morgan is the Podcast Editor and a columnist for the Western Standard
OUELLETTE & SHAW: Freedom of expression is under attack in Canada
“While Canada is a relatively free country, the pandemic has exacerbated our pre-existing shortcomings in terms of freedom of expression.”
Our freedom of expression is under attack. In recent years, there’s been a significant trend toward censorship in the media, in academia, and among the general population. The controversy at the University of Ottawa over the use of the N-word is one example among others. Why do we need to worry about this trend? For one thing, an attack on our freedom of expression is also an attack on our standard of living.
The virtues of freedom of expression are widely recognized: It improves the quality of our democratic institutions, facilitates the exchange of ideas, and leads to sounder, more transparent public policies.
But aside from these benefits, there is also a strong link between freedom of expression and economic growth. This is confirmed by the economic literature and by many academic papers from different researchers at Stanford University, Dartmouth College, and the University of California, Berkeley, who all arrive at the same conclusion: The exchange of ideas stimulates innovation, and innovation is one of the main engines of economic growth and rising living standards.
Encouraging the exchange of ideas and the protection of freedom of expression is therefore intuitively beneficial, and this is confirmed by the scientific literature. But concretely, what would the average Canadian stand to gain if our governments put in place public policies encouraging greater freedom of expression?
According to our calculations and our econometric model, individual Canadians would be an average of $2,522 richer each year. Obviously, this amount wouldn’t be deposited directly into one’s bank account, but rather, a gradual increase in our living standards would result from the effects of more freedom of expression.
In the sample of 132 countries used in our study, Canada is among the top 15 per cent in terms of freedom of expression. But while it is true that we live in a relatively free society, taking this good ranking for granted would be a mistake.
Indeed, governments have a lot of room to grow when it comes to improving freedom of expression, especially if we compare ourselves to Norway, the top country in the ranking. There, it is standard practice for politicians to make constant efforts, encouraged by citizens, to better protect freedom of expression.
In contrast, in Canada, and especially in certain provinces like Quebec, the government can arbitrarily decide to subsidize one media outlet rather than another, which can potentially hinder media independence and lead to biased and less reliable information. Not to mention that it is increasingly difficult to obtain information from our governments through requests for access to information, which hampers proper public debate. This situation should alarm us.
In order to improve the country’s performance in terms of freedom of expression, thereby also improving our standard of living, we have three recommendations:
- Favour media independence from government by limiting arbitrary subsidies and, in their place, creating a regulatory and fiscal framework favourable to all media;
- Encourage Canadian public universities to protect freedom of expression in order to truly allow their researchers, professors, and students to express themselves freely without risk of reprisals;
- Increase the information and data available to the population by reducing the need to make requests for access to information, in order to facilitate public debate.
While Canada is a relatively free country, the pandemic has exacerbated our pre-existing shortcomings in terms of freedom of expression. We must not allow the current situation to become the new normal. For the sake of our standard of living and the wealth of our country, we must do more to promote and protect the freedom of expression of all Canadians.
GUEST COLUMN: By Miguel Ouellette, Director of Operations and Economist, and Maria Lily Shaw, Economist, Montreal Economic Institute
FILDEBRANDT: $131 Sloan donation leak was an inside job – Conservative MPs tell us so
O’Toole moves to expel Sloan from Tory caucus over $131 donation from Paul Fromm
Ousted UCP MLA Rehn blames clerical error for expenses confusion
‘My life had value’ – message from Calgary woman who died with pre-existing conditions
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