Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she’s asking Justice Minister Tyler Shandro and his deputy minister to consider “on a regular basis” whether charges made for breaching Covid-19 restrictions are in the public interest.
The premier made the comments on Thursday, less than three months after saying she wanted to seek pardons for those who violated Covid-19 restrictions.
Smith said crown prosecutors and the Department of Justice are independent bodies and she wants to ensure the process remains independent.
“I have asked them to consider all charges under the lens of: is it in the public interest to pursue and is there a reasonable likelihood of conviction? As we continue to see some of these cases go through, some of them get dropped, some of them fail, they have to consistently recalibrate,” she said.
“But I asked them on a regular basis as new cases come out, is it in the public interest to pursue and is there a reasonable likelihood of conviction.”
At the United Conservative Party’s annual general meeting last year, Smith said she was 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 said on October 22.
Smith won the United Conservative Party leadership last summer after promising never to introduce Covid restrictions again and to resist federal pressure to do so.
Under former premier Jason Kenney, Alberta implemented serve lockdown restrictions, like other Canadian provinces. Albertans were fined for breaching quarantine orders, masking rules, and for gathering in greater numbers than the province allowed.
In November, Alberta Pastor Tim Stephens was acquitted on charges of violating the province’s public health orders requiring physical distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Stephens spent a total of 21 days in jail in regards to the charges.