OPINION: It’s time to follow the scientific method — and re-evaluate Canada’s COVID approach

Author of the article:Special to Toronto Sun

Publishing date:Jun 28, 2021  •

A sign promotes COVID-19 vaccination Wednesday, May 12, 2021 north of Shannonville, Ont.
A sign promotes COVID-19 vaccination Wednesday, May 12, 2021 north of Shannonville, Ont. PHOTO BY LUKE HENDRY /Luke Hendry

By: Claus Rinner, Donald G. Welsh, Jan Vrbik, John Zwaagstra, Laurent Leduc and Valentina Capurri

Did you know that the average age of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths in 2020 was almost 84 years, while the average age at death in Canada in 2019 was only 76.5 years?

You would think that these Statistics Canada data published on June 1 would give politicians, public health officials, and the media reason to re-examine the threat of SARS-CoV-2 and consider age-specific response measures.

An extraordinary burden is put on children, youths, and young families, who are at virtually no risk from the virus nor contribute significantly to its transmission. And blanket emergency orders are being extended for the nth time, although they have been only marginally effective over the last 15 months.

We are a group of academics with PhDs spanning the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities. What we have in common is a daily practice of critical thinking and following the scientific method.

Science continuously questions previous findings, explores new approaches, and validates or refutes them with evidence. As scientists and scholars, we categorically reject the notion that “the science is settled”. Science never settles.

What we know about COVID-19 has changed over the last 15 months. For example, did you know that asymptomatic transmission is no longer considered relevant for SARS-CoV-2 spread? Yet, why are the implications of the updated science on mask mandates and social distancing not being discussed?

How could one-half of the United States go safely back to the old normal with no mask mandates, distancing rules, or vaccine requirements, while the province of Ontario maintains one of the tightest restrictions of civil liberties in the world? Why are dissenting doctors silenced by their professional organizations and the media, instead of being listened to and cross-examined?

In early 2020, asymptomatic transmission was suspected to pose a risk large enough to respond to the novel coronavirus with unprecedented lockdowns and mobility restrictions. Normally, any important government policy is subject to a cost-benefit analysis – why was this not done for the COVID-19 measures?

Independent Canadian researchers predict a devastating toll: one study estimates that 5-10 times more life is lost due to lockdowns (measured in years of life lost prematurely, i.e. Canadians dying earlier than they would without lockdowns), as compared to any lives that may have been saved, and another study pegs the costs at up to 282 times greater than the benefits.

The collateral damage of lockdowns on our emotional, physical, and mental health is increasingly coming to light. And so is the impact of mobility restrictions on the fabric of society: for more than one year, we have been encouraged to refrain from regular social contact and to perceive those around us as carriers of disease and death. Considering that humans are social beings, this is an unprecedented experiment that might have devastating long-term effects, especially on children.

The United States has been a political battlefield for different approaches to responding to COVID-19. Consider California versus Florida. California imposed full dining closures and stay-at-home mandates in November-December 2020, whereas Florida had lifted most restrictions as early as September 2020.

Despite California’s strict measures, the daily death counts attributed to COVID19 continued to rise during the third wave and peaked in January-February 2021. A similar rise was seen in Florida but the peak level was lower than for California, followed by a steady decrease.

Florida has done remarkably well, health-wise and economically, throughout the pandemic and that with a population more than half that of Canada squeezed into a landmass similar to Nova Scotia.

It does not take a degree in medicine or public health to see the possibility that the threat of SARS- CoV-2 was greatly exaggerated and the Western world’s pandemic response badly mismanaged. It is extremely dangerous to suppress diverging analyses and censor opposing views, as has been happening with respect to COVID-19 in mainstream and social media, in the public sphere and at the workplace, and even in our universities and parliaments.

If we do not maintain careful checks and balances on government and public health officials, we run the risk of taking the wrong path for too long. This is the situation we are facing right now, and it is imperative that we stop and retrace our steps to find a sensible, sustainable way to deal with SARS- CoV-2, as we do with other endemic viruses.

This country has to fully re-open and get back to normal life, along with restoring long-established pandemic preparedness.


EDITORIAL: Trudeau ‘hate speech’ law could harm anyone


What could possibly go wrong with BillC-36? Those who are woke, a militant cancel culture and the perpetually offended on the prowl for anything they deem hateful. A different point of view, a differing narrative could be called “hate speech”. Feelings trump facts, truth is hate speech, we are already there.

I am not sure what is more alarning , BillC-36 or the fact that we have a federal gov’t that is seeking to shut down Canadian’s freedom of speech while most of us are still in various forms of lockdown. Most of us are just looking for our lives back and yet Trudeau and cabal took advantage of weary Canadians in a supposed “pandemic” to bring BillC-36 to the table.

Awake yet?

If you have been paying attention, “sunny ways” already brought compelled speech to Canada under BillC-16, that is when Jordan Peterson came to the forefront sounding the alarm and he was proven right. Compelled, telling you what you must speak. We have a PM who has said that he admires China’s dictatorship, Cdns, should have believed him.

Canadians must say no to this government and BillC-36 or any other bill that undermines our freedoms of speech.

Author of the article:Postmedia News Publishing date:Jun 27, 2021  

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, June 25, 2021.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, June 25, 2021. PHOTO BY BLAIR GABLE /REUTERS

There’s an old joke about free speech that goes something like this:

“What’s hate speech? It’s speech we hate!

Terms like hate speech are very subjective and hard to nail down with legal precision.

Different people will have different notions of what qualifies as hate speech. They will project their own biases into their definitions. Some will just seek to outlaw things that they don’t personally support.

That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Yet there’s very good reason to fear that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government are planning to do just that.

Hot on the heels of ramming through Bill C-10, which was criticized by free speech and legal experts, the Liberals will now try to push through Bill C-36.

The stated goal of this legislation is to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to include a definition of hate speech and then categorize it as legal discrimination.

Who can have a problem with that? Hate speech is bad, right?

It depends upon the definition. The devil is in the details.

This new law defines hate speech as “content that expresses detestation or vilification of a person or group” — and this includes over the Internet.

Yikes. That’s pretty broad.

Expressing detestation of a group? What does that even mean?

What it will mean in practice is that anyone will be able to make nuisance claims that someone else’s Twitter or Facebook post violates their rights.

The proposed law says people can be fined $20,000 for the first offence and $50,000 for the second.

The truth is that this law makes a mockery of real laws on the books that pertain to things like making threats as well as libel and defamation. This is the stuff of real courts and it’s right these laws are already on the books.

What Trudeau is planning will lead to kangaroo court attempts to punish speech that some people find offensive.

Justice Minister David Lametti claims that these laws will only be used to go after “the worst of the worst” offenders.

Sorry, but we find that hard to believe. After all, Section 13 — this law’s controversial precursor that was eventually removed — was previously used by claimants to take mainstream Maclean’s magazine to court.

Bill C-36 is more trouble than it’s worth.

Section 13 Rises from the Dead

by Mark Steyn
The War on Free Speech

The “free world” barely pretends to favor free speech these days. The triggered interns who infest the big publishing houses openly demand their employers pulp the latest manuscripts from J K Rowling and Jordan Peterson. The totalitarian wankers of the British police sit around the station all day monitoring Twitter for transphobic quips, which is far more congenial labor than getting off their flabby arses and catching criminals. The woke billionaires of social media boast openly of their success at “fortifying” the US election by memory-holing unhelpful content.

Beyond those specifics, there are few takers for the principle of “free speech”. For most people under thirty – forty? fifty? – freedom of expression takes a back seat on ever more issues. On climate, Islam, race, immigration, LGBTQWERTY and of course ChiCom-19, there is one correct position and it is entirely legitimate therefore to quash any dissenting views.

In such a world it is no surprise to find that Justin Trudeau’s ministry is preparing to restore “Section 13” of the Canadian Human Rights Code. The repeal of that vile law represents one of my few victories in the political realm. As the saying goes, there are no permanent victories in politics, and I would have a tougher time winning that battle today: The principled lefties (Margaret Wente) who offered support have themselves been canceled, and the queasier ones (Neil Macdonald) who objected on the grounds that all the attention was merely helping me sell even more books have been supplanted by more committed warriors who feel that, with Zuckerberg and Bezos at your back, there is no one so lofty he can’t be brought low.

Even a decade ago, Stephen Harper’s supposedly right-wing ideologues had no stomach for the fight. His “conservative” attorney-general was useless and his “conservative” human-rights commissar was on the other side. When the issue came up in Cabinet, the consensus was that “Steyn’s going to lose” – as every other defendant had lost – and therefore there was no point getting involved. Maclean’s was the country’s biggest-selling news magazine, and its excerpt of America Alone was a short clip from a Number One Canadian bestseller. But the “human rights” commissions had feasted on fringe losers and had worked up an appetite for meatier fare.

And so it was that it was not the Government that moved to rid Canada of this awful law, but a plucky backbencher, Brian Storseth, in a private member’s bill. Here is what I wrote nine years ago in Maclean’s – June 2012 – when the abolition of Section 13 finally received Royal Assent:

Coloured people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it.

Thus, Ray Bradbury in his prescient 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451. On June 6th, the day after Bradbury’s death at the age of 91, the House of Commons passed Brian Storseth’s private member’s bill repealing Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Fahrenheit 451 draws its name from the temperature at which books burn; Canada’s Fahrenheit 13 is its frosty northern inverse—the temperature at which the state chills freedom of expression. Free speech is the lifeblood of free societies, and, as this magazine has learned over the last half-decade, our decayed Dominion was getting a bad case of hypothermia.

We’re not alone in this. In Britain, Australia, France, Denmark, the Netherlands and many other places, democratic societies have become far too comfortable in policing the opinions of the citizenry. But even by comparison with our Commonwealth cousins and Western Europe, Section 13 and its provincial equivalents are repugnant—practically, philosophically, and operationally.

As a practical matter, an extremely narrow licence to combat the mortal threat to Canadians of 1970s answering machines effortlessly metastasized into investigating the country’s most-read magazine for publishing an excerpt from a Number One Canadian bestseller. Which was entirely predictable to everyone except genius jurists on the Supreme Court—because make-work bureaucracies are never going to content themselves with being a little bit pregnant.

Philosophically, it was a cure worse than the disease: Ian Fine, the senior counsel of the Canadian “Human Rights” Commission, declared that his organization was committed to the abolition of hatred—not “hate crimes,” not even “hate speech,” but hate—a human emotion; you know, like the human emotions the control-freak enforcers attempt to abolish in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Stepford Wives. Any society of free peoples will include its share of hate: it could not be human without it. And, as bad as racists and homophobes and Islamophobes and whateverphobes may be, empowering Mr. Fine’s ever more coercive enforcement regime to micro-regulate us into glassy-eyed compliance is a thousand times worse.

Operationally, Section 13 was stinkingly corrupt. There are some 34 million Canadians, yet just one individual citizen had his name on almost every Section 13 prosecution of the last decade. Just as Matthew Hopkins appointed himself England’s Witchfinder General in 1645 and went around the country turning in raven-tressed crones for the bounty of a pound per witch, so Richard Warman appointed himself Canada’s Hatefinder General and went around turning in shaven-headed tattooed losers in their mums’ basements for far more lucrative bounties of tens of thousands of dollars. He filed his complaints as a supposedly “offended” and “damaged” private citizen while an employee of Her Majesty’s Government. And, in fairness to the original witchfinder, Matthew Hopkins didn’t personally put on a pointy black hat and ride around on a broomstick – whereas Mr Warman joined Stormfront and other “white supremacist” websites and posted copious amounts of hate speech of his own, describing, for example, Jewish members of cabinet as “scum” and gays as a “cancer.” That’s how “hateful” Canada is: there’s so little “hate” out there that the country’s most famous Internet Nazi is a taxpayer-funded civil servant.

For Warman, there was little risk: you paid his costs, and the dice were loaded. After Hosni Mubarak was “re-elected” with 97.1 per cent of the vote, he was said to be furious with his officials for stealing too much of the election and making him look like one of those crude ham-fisted dictator-for-life types like Saddam and Kim Il-Sung. So next time round his officials arranged for him to “win” with a mere 96.3 per cent of the vote. Canada’s “human rights” commissars had no such squeamishness: until (in the wake of our exposure of the racket) the tenacious Marc Lemire won his landmark victory in 2009, Section 13 prosecutions had a three-decade 100 per cent conviction rate even the Soviets might envy.

That wasn’t even the most basic affront. Until Maclean’s intervened in 2008, Lemire’s Section 13 trial was scheduled to be held in secret. I couldn’t quite believe this when I chanced to happen upon the “judge’s” rationale, and I suggested en passant that we should get Maclean’s estimable QC Julian Porter to file a whatchamacallit, a brief or motion or whatever, referencing precedents and other jurisprudential-type stuff, and put a rocket up these totalitarian buggers by treating their dank outhouse of pseudo-justice as a real courtroom subject to real law. Secret trials are for Beijing and Tehran, yet in the name of “human rights” they were introduced to Ottawa.

The line that sums up my objection to the racket was formulated by the Toronto blogger Kathy Shaidle:

You’re too stupid to tell me what to think.

In recent days, the last lonely defenders of the Canadian thought police have all volunteered to demonstrate Miss Shaidle’s proposition. The Opposition critic for “public safety,” Randall Garrison, bemoaned the demise of the commissars’ “power to educate Canadians.” “We do have a serious problem,” said Garrison. “If you take away the power to take [websites] down, it’s not clear they have any mandate to even talk to people about it and educate them about it.”

Unlike Canada’s government-in-waiting, I don’t want the state to have a “mandate” to “educate” the citizen about his opinions. Generally speaking, re-education camp hasn’t worked out so well in those systems that have adopted the Garrison program. Yet joining him, inevitably, in a final desperate defence of Section 13 is Bernie Farber, former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress and Barbara Hall’s rumoured successor as Ontario’s Chief Censor. Captain Farber is determined to go down on the Good Ship Stupid. As evidence of the need for Section 13, Mr Farber excitedly tweeted that “when Nazis rejoice we known [sic] something must be very wrong.” Section 13 is all that stands between you and jackboots on the 401!

Just for the record, the last “hate crime” conviction secured under Section 13 was an Internet post read by just eight people, which works out to 0.8 per cent of a Canadian per province, or, if you include territories, 0.6153 per cent of a Canadian—most of whom were undercover civil servants playing dress-up Nazis. Indeed, at least one of those 0.6153 per cent of a Canadian was Mr Farber or one of his colleagues, since the CJC was an “interested party” on the suit and presumably, if they were that “interested,” they actually read the thing.

But nobody else did.

There is a tragic quality to the obtuseness of what Ezra Levant calls Canada’s “official Jews.” Europe is awash in explicit Jew-hatred on a scale unseen since the Second World War: synagogues are burned, schools are attacked, children are murdered, and, even on quieter days, Jews are enjoined to walk around Toulouse and Amsterdam and Malmo without any identifying marks of their faith. In Calgary, demonstrators of a certain, ahem, religio-cultural background march under placards proclaiming “Death to the Jews!” In Toronto, their comrades stand on sidewalks and express enthusiasm for a new Holocaust. But, as long as there’s one last penniless loser neo-Nazi getting his swastika tramp-stamp touched up at the tattoo parlor in Redneck Junction, Bernie knows his priorities. Canada’s “human rights” regime is less than useless against real threats to social tranquility, but it does enable cardboard crusaders to enjoy cosy sinecures pursuing phantom enemies.

Meanwhile, Warren Kinsella, whom older readers may recall as Jean Chrétien’s attack poodle, began his column bemoaning the end of Section 13 by asserting that people would now be free to use the words “Kike. Nigger. Faggot. Paki. Chink.”

Actually, lots of people use those words all the time. Mordecai Richler used to refer to his favorite berth at Le Mas des Oliviers as “the Kikes’ round table”; there is nary a gangster rapper for whom the epithet “nigger” is not as omnipresent as “moon” and “June” were in less attitudinal ditties; and the best-known comedy sketch of Canada’s acclaimed Kids in the Hall has just one word in the script, recurring over and over: “Fag.” As for “Chink,” a couple of years ago Kinsella himself was forced to make a grovelling apology to “the Chinese community” after an ill-advised jest about ordering the cat at his favourite restaurant in Ottawa: even the most censorious of politically correct enforcers occasionally forget themselves and accidentally behave like normal human beings. Kinsella made the mistake of assuming that, just as rappers can sing “Strictly For My N.I.G.G.A.Z” and gay comics can do fag jokes, so a Liberal of impeccable Trudeaupian credentials is free to engage in feline Sinophobia. You would think, after the Chinese cat got his tongue, that Mr. Kinsella might be somewhat chastened. But no, he too is determined to go down with the Good Ship Stupid:

The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled
Denouncing ev’ry naughty word
Emerging from his head.

“You weren’t hurting anyone, you were hurting only things!” wrote Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451. “You were simply cleaning up. Janitorial work, essentially. Everything to its proper place. Quick with the kerosene! Who’s got a match!”

Toss ’em on the bonfire—criminal words, illegal cat jokes, they’re only things.

I wish Randall Garrison and the other defenders of censorship and secret trials and 100 per cent conviction rates understood. As I said here years ago, it’s not a right-left thing, it’s a free-unfree thing. And I’m glad the Parliament of Canada is finally on the right side of that divide.

~Well, that last bit was wrong. Because in the intervening years we have reached the stage where free speech is now openly mocked as a weird fringe right-wing obsession. The left feels it has no need of freedom of expression because it controls the culture, and therefore in the new world of “approved speech” they’re the ones who grant approval, so what’s the problem?

Still and all, I am glad I won a decade ago. It taught me a lot about framing issues and shifting opinions, and those skills will surely come in useful in the dark years ahead.


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