You Can’t Police a Virus Away

April 23, 2021 Updated: April 23, 2021

Commentary

Like other Canadian provinces, Ontario has turned into a police state where citizens are denied their basic human rights and civil liberties. The simple pleasure of freely leaving your own home to go and visit a friend is now illegal. Citizens can’t escape their own house arrest (a penalty normally reserved for  convicted criminals) unless meeting government requirements such as shopping for groceries or getting vaccinated.

Of course, one could easily escape the law by lying to police, claiming falsely to be on a shopping trip while actually driving to a friend’s place. But this, too, is a serious problem: Honest and law-abiding citizens now feel compelled to lie because of unjust laws. This is not the kind of society I want for myself or my children. A free and democratic country has just laws that treat citizens like responsible adults. When laws respect citizens’ human dignity and fundamental freedoms, there is no need to lie.

At a time when citizens desperately depend on their Charter right to protest peacefully outdoors against lockdown harms, including the loss of civil liberties, such peaceful gatherings are now illegal. Even though COVID doesn’t spread outdoors, and even though the minority of people who are truly threatened by COVID have the freedom to stay home, it’s still illegal for citizens to assemble outdoors in support of the free society, or for any other reason.

Ontario’s latest restrictions on Charter freedoms are harmful to the mental and physical health of Ontarians, the vast majority of whom are at little risk of serious outcomes from COVID itself, but have been suffering the loss of businesses, education, social connections, exercise, and countless other health benefits of normal living. Ontario’s new police state is constantly changing the rules, announced by press conference and never voted on by elected members of the provincial legislature.

It has been encouraging to see the vast majority of Ontario’s police forces making public commitments not to arbitrarily stop and question citizens outside of their homes. And Premier Doug Ford reversed course on another of his prohibitions, agreeing to allow children to have fun using playground equipment.

However, the new measures still allow for police officers to approach people they believe are participating in organized public events or gatherings. The Ontario Provincial Police is enforcing these policies, as demonstrated by a recent incident that appeared to be an unlawful physical attack on a 12-year-old boy by an OPP officer in Gravenhurst, Ont. In a video uploaded online, the boy is seen violently pushed to the ground by an OPP officer for not wearing a mask while riding his scooter with his friends at an outside park. Premier Ford’s new measures have turned the police against their communities, while doing nothing to stop the spread of COVID.

Still, lockdowns enjoy strong support amongst those with public sector privilege: politicians, university professors, social workers, teachers, police, government employees, and other public sector workers who are not suffering financially because of lockdowns. We are not all in this together.

The pretext for the police state, as we’ve been hearing for 13 months under these “temporary” measures, is health, safety, and saving lives. Yet there is nothing temporary about yearlong restrictions that are only becoming worse, without credible medical or scientific basis.

The new normal of Canada as a police state would indeed be lifesaving if the following components of the government’s narrative were true:

  • COVID is an unusually deadly killer that everyone should fear greatly;
  • we can stop a virus by locking down all of society for months on end or permanently;
  • lockdowns have saved lives, and are still saving lives; and
  • lockdowns do more good than harm.

Unfortunately, governments have not yet provided compelling evidence to support any of their four claims, which are propagated daily and unquestioningly by virtually every media outlet.

Governments will have to prove all four points, with evidence and not merely assertions, in Charter court actions in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.

Is COVID an unusually deadly killer that all should fear greatly? The governments’ own data and statistics tell us that COVID threatens people who are elderly and already sick with one or more serious health conditions, and that COVID is harmless to about 90 percent of Canadians. The COVID survival rate according to John Hopkins University is 98 percent, while some researches put it at even higher, 99.7 percent. Even for seniors over 70, the survival rate is 95 percent. COVID barely affected death rates in Canada in 2020, and it has had a negligible impact on the population’s life expectancy. This isn’t the Spanish Flu of 1918–20.

Can we stop a virus by locking down? There is no historical example of any society, country, state, or civilization that successfully defeated a virus by destroying its economy, forcing its citizens into isolation and loneliness, and shredding the social fabric. The virus is out and about, and the genie cannot be put back into the bottle.

Have lockdowns saved lives? Now that we are 13 months into the violation of our Charter rights and freedoms, we have plenty of international data on lockdowns. Sweden without lockdowns did far better than locked-down Belgium and Spain. South Dakota pursued individual responsibility while North Dakota locked its citizens down, yet both have very similar COVID death rates. Florida remained open while New York closed down, but New York’s COVID death rate is twice that of Florida’s. Politicians claim that “more people would have died if we had not locked down,” but there is no science to back up that claim.

Do lockdowns produce more harm than good? Politicians don’t want to know, and are not trying to find out the fate of 200,000 Canadians whose surgeries and other procedures were cancelled by COVID measures. Politicians don’t want to know how many people learned of their cancer diagnosis too late because lockdowns cancelled 500,000 MRI and CT scans. Politicians ignore the rising numbers of drug overdoses, and give no thought to how public health is harmed by banning gym use, team sports, most forms of recreation, entertainment and socializing, and so many other sources of joy. And the impact on children and young adults, who are turning up in trauma units in dramatically greater numbers with harms inflicted by caregivers or on themselves, can scarcely be fathomed at this point.

It’s easy to claim that lockdowns save lives, but difficult to prove. It’s easy to pretend that lockdowns are not inflicting severe harm on millions of people, but these harms cannot be avoided in the courtroom.

Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (jccf.ca), which is suing the federal government and provincial governments to end lockdown measures.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.