The so-called “National Citizens Inquiry” established last fall by Preston Manning complained on Easter Sunday that TikTok has joined YouTube in suspending its account, presumably for spreading misinformation about COVID-19.
Never mind the moral panic about China using TikTok to spy on us all, the social media platforms’ bans are a darned shame, according to whoever’s running the official-sounding unofficial inquiry dreamed up by the 80-year-old former godfather of the Canadian right, because it’s “preventing us from sharing valuable information about our citizen-led and citizen-funded initiative investigating the government’s #COVID-19 policies.”
Whether or not the information being spread by the NCI is all that valuable is another question entirely, as the obviously well-funded “citizen led inquiry” appears to have been created only to undermine the Trudeau Government in Ottawa and give a platform to cranks pushing various COVID conspiracy theories.
“By suspending our account, TikTok is silencing the voices of citizens who want to participate in this critical inquiry,” huffed the NCI Twitter account, which given the decaying social media platform’s current ownership is presumably nowadays safe from a similar suspension there.
The whole idea of the NCI is so lame even Postmedia hardly has had anything to say about it in its news columns since January, when the National Post last devoted some ink to it, including a boring screed by Mr. Manning himself. Other major media outfits seem to have ignored it almost completely, which seems reasonable under the circumstances.
Still, this got me thinking about Alberta’s equally ridiculous but actually official inquiry into COVID-19 public health measures and what it’s been up to lately.
Mr. Manning abandoned the NCI ship in November last year when Premier Danielle Smith had the Alberta government advance him $235,000 to head a “panel” on this province’s response to COVID-19 – which shouldn’t be a problem since he’d already written a piece of “bizarre speculative fiction” about a report by an imaginary federal inquiry that, among other things, saw public health officials being criminally charged for doing their jobs.
To call Mr. Manning’s turgid literary effort “fiction” does fiction a grave injustice. “Made up” and “virtually unreadable” would all be more accurate descriptions for the 46-page booklet published by Frontier Centre for Public Policy, a low-rent Winnipeg-based version of the Fraser Institute known for its climate change denialism and attacks on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Scuttlebutt at the time Alberta’s effort was announced suggested Mr. Manning was paid up front to run the “Public Health Emergencies Governance Review Panel,” which isn’t supposed to report until November this year, just in case the NDP won the election and sent the old coot packing. The panel has a total budget of about $2 million.
In any event, since Ms. Smith is a well-known COVID skeptic and quack cure enthusiast who viewed COVID-19 mitigation measures by public health officials as part of a vast conspiracy to restrict our freedom to shop, it can be taken as given she’s not looking for a balanced report that will actually teach us anything useful about how to respond to future public health emergencies.
Mr. Manning added five panel members in February, all of them likely to be sympathetic to Ms. Smith’s and Mr. Manning’s views on the topic at hand.
University of Calgary law professor Lorian Hardcastle told the CBC at the time of the appointments that “the panel seems like it’s been designed to reach the conclusion that the government successfully balanced lives and livelihoods. I don’t think this panel is going to result in any meaningful improvements whatsoever.”
That may be an optimistic take, though, if the UCP gets a chance to use its conclusions to seek revenge on public health officials for requiring health care workers, for example, to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
According to the Alberta Government’s website, the panel is now busy examining contributions from the public to its online questionnaire and whatever experts it deigned to contact.
With Ms. Smith mired in the Pastorgate Scandal of her own making, which is also related to her screwy ideas about COVID-19 and public health measures, I suppose it’s unlikely she’ll decide to use the Public Health Emergencies Governance Review Panel to distract from her current troubles.
But readers will have to admit that, given the nature of her efforts to minimize the significance of her telephone conversation with the criminally charged pastor in question, such a development is not entirely out of the question.
As an aside, at least one worthy pundit as objected to the term Pastorgate.
“We do not have to ‘-gate’ everything, Episode 452,” complained CBC’s Jason Markusoff on Twitter Sunday.
One of the nice things about writing your own blog, of course, is that one can say whatever one wants (subject to the usual legal restrictions) without having to answer to the petty strictures of newsocrats.
Of course, if I may say so myself, my coinage is the perfect shorthand to telegraph the meaning of Ms. Smith’s phone conversation with Artur Pawlowski and its implication of the breadth and gravity of Premier Smith’s interference with the administration of justice.
That said, I am grateful to Mr. Markusoff for helping to ensure widespread use of the #Pastorgate hashtag.