Source: Facebook

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith appointed a “contrarian” doctor who expressed concerns about officials exaggerating the damage COVID-19 had on hospitals to lead a review of data collected from the pandemic. 

Smith selected Dr. Gary Davidson because she wanted to hear from a wide variety of viewpoints, including those who had previously been “shouted down in the public sphere.”

“I needed somebody who was going to look at everything that happened with some fresh eyes and maybe with a little bit of a contrarian perspective because we’ve only ever been given one perspective,” Smith told reporters at the legislature Tuesday.

“I left it to [Davidson] to assemble the panel with the guidance that I would like to have a broad range of perspectives.”

Davidson was appointed to the position a year ago and before that, he was the former chief of emergency medicine at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Center. 

The task force had initially been created in 2022, however, none of their work has been made public yet. 

Davidson became a controversial figure in 2021 during the fourth wave of the pandemic for claiming that hospital admission numbers had been manipulated and exaggerated to justify severe public health restrictions. 

His claims were refuted by Alberta Health Services, the province’s health authority. 

Smith had promised to redress COVID-19 grievances during her election campaign in 2022 and launched the creation of the task force upon becoming premier. 

Its mandate is to review the available data and make recommendations for how best to handle a future pandemic. 

It will also look at ways to better analyze public health data and will adhere to people’s concerns about vaccine side effects.

Smith’s government gave the project a budget of $2 million however, she thinks they will be able to complete it under budget, with its final report to be submitted to the government next month.  

Its publication will mark the second third-party COVID-19 analysis ordered under Smith’s administration. 

Former Reform Party leader Preston Manning filed an independent report about the province’s COVID-19 experience last year, in which he recommended that the government consider “alternative scientific narratives” as part of a “balanced response” in future health pandemics.

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley criticized Smith and the task force for what she called a waste of public funds given to a secret consultation panel headed by a man with “fringe views.”

“I believe the Earth is round, and I don’t think that the people of Alberta should be paying for people who believe it’s flat to be engaging in the conversation,” said Notley, according to CBC News.

Smith was critical of certain pandemic rules throughout the lockdown, like gathering restrictions, which she believed should be weighed against the potential long-term health consequences of people’s physical and mental well-being. 

She also questioned why alternative treatments to COVID-19 like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine were met with such hostility from public authorities, treatments which have since been approved in other countries. Ivermectin is now prescribed for early COVID-19 treatment in 28 countries, according to the European Parliament.