Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she’s seeking legal advice on granting amnesty to individuals and businesses fined for violating Alberta’s Covid restrictions.
Smith said most charges were administrative fines from Alberta Health Services due to a political decision to “throw out the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
“I think it can be a political decision to make amends and apologize for them and eliminate them,” Smith told the media at the UCP annual general meeting on Saturday.
Smith won the United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership and Alberta premiership earlier this month following a leadership race in which she campaigned on promises never to introduce Covid restrictions again.
She also said churches in Alberta are facing tens of thousands of dollars in fines and the Charter must be respected. Alberta respects the freedoms of mobility and conscience rights, Smith said.
On Friday, the Calgary Herald reported that Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping was open to introducing Covid restrictions again.
“You can never say never. If something comes at us we’ll have to look at it and say, ‘OK, what additional tools we may need to put in place at that point in time,’’’ Copping told the Herald.
In response to a question from True North about whether Smith is backtracking on anti-restriction policies she campaigned on, Smith said she’s not. Copping’s comments were “not in regards to COVID-19, it was him imagining sort of a worse-case scenario at some future point,” she said.
Smith also said Copping was imagining a scenario like a meteor hitting Alberta.
Smith said she’s aligned with her health minister who knows a Smith government will not consider reimplementing Covid rules.
“In the context of Covid, we are not having restrictions again,” Smith told True North.
“I know (Copping) is 100% on board with both the reforms for Alberta Health, as well as making sure we do not have restrictions again in the fall.”
At a press conference last week, Smith appeared to suggest Alberta Chief Medical Health Officer Deena Hinshaw would be fired. Smith said she won’t take advice from Hinshaw, and that she’ll be looking for a new team of public health advisors.
The premier also used her wide-ranging press conference on Saturday to offer an apology to Albertans who were discriminated against because of their COVID-19 vaccination status.
“I am deeply sorry for any government employee that lost their job and I welcome them back if they want to come back,” she said.