Lyndie Hill, in Penticton, BC, has a business focused on adventure tourism and a gym camp. After years of forest fires and floods, 2020 was due to be her best year yet—but it all came to a crashing halt. Within the first three days of the lockdown, she lost $60,000 worth of business, and a 95% loss of business through the first quarter of the following year, and overall a 60% loss of business to date. So many of the rules were utterly nonsensical. She saw mental health in her community crumble. Parents had no place for their children, since her summer camp was restricted. She had to work under capacity limits, social distancing, and then “vaccine passports” for her indoor gym. She was instructed she would not be allowed to host a planned festival (which was just skills courses and events), so she changed the name to “Skills Courses and Events,” and it was then allowed. She took wage subsidies, loans, etc., and still had to mortgage her house to continue. The “vaccine passport” issue was particularly loathsome, especially when having to turn away kids. As a member of the Penticton Chamber of Commerce, she has seen the damaging impacts on many businesses from the entire region. In her field of tourism, the impacts have been severe.
The segregation, the isolation, the 100% fear “in your face, all the time,” the “daily terror tally” of how many people have Covid, everyone walking around in masks—there was no way of getting away from it all. She observed how this had an awful impact on everyone.
In response to questions from the panel, on whether the government asked for any impact assessment from her, she said simply: “No”. In the various school boards and community bodies to which she belongs, she regularly asked if anything was being done to redress all the negative impacts of the restrictions—and essentially nothing is being done. Now that “it’s all over,” as many seem to think, “everything is just being brushed under the rug” and the damage is being ignored. Her business was a kind of hybrid gym and tourism business, and government one-size-fits-all approaches, the blanket policies, placed an undue burden. They are expected to immediately repay government loans, and no private banks will touch them, especially now in this financial crisis. “No one was looking ‘big picture’ and planning for the health of our community, holistically”.
Richard Schabas, a retired public health physician who served as Chief Medical Officer of Ontario (1987-1997), declared himself a strong advocate for vaccines, in general, and, specifically, Covid “vaccines” having received three shots. He said this to clarify that nothing he is saying should be confused with “anti-vaccine” sentiment—but he is against mandates. He then outlined his extensive academic and professional background, one with extensive and lengthy experience in medical panels and public health bodies. Schabas stated, “I have looked on in horror” at what has been done in the name of public health. Covid mortality was mostly an issue for the frail elderly, but the biggest burden of the crisis has been borne by the young and healthy. Public health in the past was more holistic—it included physical, mental, and social well-being. That has been reduced to a matter of Covid “case” counts. The public health he practiced in the past in Canada was based on persuasion, not coercion—now, any public health measure immediately becomes a mandate. The irony is things such as “vaccine passports” have backfired. Those who did not want to be forced, became hardened by such measures, and the passports had no impact on preventing surges. In March of 2020 we uncritically accepted speculative mathematical models. Models, until then, were always understood to be imperfect at best, but suddenly they were taken as definitive: there would be four million deaths in the summer of 2020, we were told. That was false, as were all major modelling predictions for the past outbreaks of the last 20 years or so. Public health measures induced panic.
In 2019, the WHO’s document on non-pharmaceutical interventions should have been the basis for our response—but it was not. Our lockdowns were not based on any evidence. Mask wearing by asymptomatic persons—no evidence this was effective, said the WHO in 2019. Active contract tracing was not recommended. Surface cleaning was not deemed effective. Quarantining those who are assumed to have been exposed, made no sense—a wasteful and punitive measure, this was also not recommended by the WHO. In Ontario, the belief was that home quarantine quelled the 2003 SARS outbreak—false. Border closures, testing travelers, etc.—none of these were recommended by the WHO.
We panicked, imposed lockdown measures, and there was no clear goal. Our hospitals were largely empty in April and May of 2020. Then we had to lockdown to wait for the “vaccines”. Then we had to lockdown to wait until everyone was jabbed. Then we had to lockdown because of variants. We never had a clear idea of what we were trying to accomplish.
The Canadian plan for influenza emphasized not just minimizing deaths, but also minimizing disruptions. We used fear as a tool of public health policy, which was fundamentally wrong and destructive. We invoked fear deliberately. We cancelled dissenting views, at a time when there were so many uncertainties. A long-time contributor and frequent guest, he was personally cancelled by the CBC because his views were “akin to a climate change denier”. Colleges of physicians and surgeons shut down any doctor who questions the dominant policy. There has been no commitment to finding out if the measures work, or to develop a better science.
We have done great damage to ourselves. The worst is what we have done to our children, the group at lowest risk from Covid 19. Ten or twenty years from now, people may look back with horror. We have terrorized the elderly. We have deprived many of them of family contact during their final years. We have denied basic human rights, such as the freedom to protest, to practice religion, freedom of speech has been suppressed, and the right to bodily autonomy has been denied.
We need to make a real effort to learn the lessons of what has happened. We need to review our public health institutions.
In response to questions from the panel, he noted how British Columbia had the least stringent lockdown, and Quebec the most stringent—and BC had one third the mortality of Quebec. He also said that the debate here is not much different from the debate about influenza vaccination, where the frail and elderly and targeted. Why didn’t we take that approach? Instead we became obsessed with the notion that we could stop and control this virus, bordering on Zero Covid, if not being explicitly that kind of policy in the minds of some. We would have had less mortality, with less disruption to our society, if we had taken that approach. If a national investigation were to occur, it cannot be led by one person, nor can we promote group-think. He advocates for panels of credentialed experts rather than “mavericks with crazy ideas”. Politicians and public health officials have not done a good job in public messaging; there was no need for more fear-mongering and panic. Our job should have been to promote the idea of, “keep calm and carry on”. If leaders were not panicky, then they were criticized in these past two years: “Don’t they realize that everybody is going to die?!” Ridiculous and absurd predictions were made. There needs to be a reckoning. Many cried “fire” in a crowded theatre. David Ross applauded the presentation.
Schabas said that fear and intimidation won over common sense. There has been no admission of mistakes. He hopes that people have had enough with lockdowns and will not do it again. He is glad for the example of Sweden, which stuck to basic principles, whose Covid mortality is in the bottom third of European countries—and it is false that Sweden was some sort of Covid disaster. Sweden’s chief public health officer is also wholly independent of government, unlike the heavily politicized CDC in the US, which has now become the source of some of the worst, the sketchiest “research”. Public Health Canada is also an agency of government, and is federal rather than national.
Dean Allison, Colin Carrie, Nadine Wilson, and Steve VanLeeuwen, are all elected representatives. Dean Allison an MP from the Niagara area, reflected on cross-border realities. One of his constituents is married to someone across the border, and the multiple barriers (tests, quarantines) were both ineffective and needlessly obstructive. He also described some of the failures that occurred in hospitals in his region, where individuals died needlessly from things such as sepsis, and were denied any advocacy from family members.
Nadine Wilson, a Saskatchewan independent MLA, had disagreements with her government; she said was told by her constituents that their communities had effectively been killed by the lockdowns. People lost respect for and trust in their menacing government, which threatened to “hurt” them for resisting the “vaccines”. People were isolated, segregated, blocked from travel in their own country. Some of her constituents simply fled the country, for Nicaragua, Montana, and elsewhere.
Steve VanLeeuwen, a municipal councillor, one-time acting Mayor and owner of a boat dealership, said the biggest frustration was with the fear that was promoted in communities, and citizens not having anyone to advocate for them. Municipal councils resisted any questioning of the mandates and restrictions coming down from higher levels of government. He was removed as deputy Mayor for questioning, and was taken to the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario—a nine-month proceeding that cost the community tens of thousands of dollars. All his communications were scrutinized. The final report absolved him, and even noted that the information he was sharing was correct.
Colin Carrie heard mostly from suffering constituents, especially those who exercised their personal choices. He bemoaned the loss of democracy. More and more people are distrusting governments and courts. Canadians are being treated as if they were stupid. He decried the media cancelling those who do not espouse the dominant agenda. We are losing our democracy, trust in our institutions, even increased divisions in families, and doctors being stripped of their licenses, he noted.
What could be done to acknowledge the pain and difficulty experienced by Canadians? Colin Carrie said his office stayed open 24/7 to answer constituents’ questions. The despair and suffering the hearings have aired, are real. Governments have not listened to what people needed. Dean Allison conducted Zoom meetings with chambers of commerce, especially during the early period when people most feared Covid, and made sure to stay in touch. Nadine Wilson also tried to assist those in distress with the malfunctioning of the healthcare system, whose surgeries had been cancelled and so forth, as well as helping students who suffered discrimination by advocating for them and hiring lawyers. Steve VanLeeuwen, as a business owner as well, noted that many citizens did not really understand what was legal—the government changed the rules affecting businesses 76 times in Ontario. The number one thing people are looking for is protection from this ever happening again in the future, and that it must be prevented from recurring.
In terms of a national investigation, what terms of reference should it follow? Colin Carrie wants to see accountability. He denounces the misleading fear-mongering, and nudging, to get people to conform to “vaccination”. We need to look at negligence, even criminal negligence, for those officials who did not do their due diligence. Dean Allison wants to see the pandemic plans that were in place before 2020 (and were then tossed aside), restored and respected, and he wants to know why they were thrown out. Nadine Wilson focused on the media and its misinformation—there needs to be a list published in a prominent place of all propaganda pieces published by the media, that can be accessed by the public. There should be serious consequences for health agencies, and for doctors who failed to advocate for patients. Steve VanLeeuwen agrees with the principle of accountability. “What did you know about the harms caused by your policy, and what did you do?” He presented pages of documentation and videos from CCCA to his council—so now they cannot say, “I did not know”.
How many of your colleagues were approachable and accessible to their constituents? Colin Carrie repeats that the best thing that could have been done was to stay open, but cannot really comment on other MPs. Most want to turn the page, and just say that this is all over. Nadine Wilson noted that because of the official propaganda, she was the only one of the 61 MLAs who questioned the dominant policy. Steve VanLeeuwen found hopelessness and helplessness among municipal councilors. One councilor who voted to have him investigated has completely changed his mind and told him that he will forever live in shame knowing what he did, and is now questioning everything. Dean Allison noted how much peer pressure is a reality, well past adolescence. He has been ridiculed nationally and locally for quoting Dr. Pierre Kory and advocating for Ivermectin, and most elected representatives will not want to be exposed to such treatment. Let us just debate using the data, he urged.