May 20, 2021
Health Minister Tyler Shandro told the UCP caucus Thursday morning that the government has told officials to go after high profile breakers of COVID-19 lockdown rules, according to a UCP MLA who spoke to the Western Standard on condition of anonymity.
Those people likely involve Chris Scott, Ty Northcott, and pastors James Coates, Tim Stephens and Art Pawlowski.
The source says that Shandro made the statement when he was updating the UCP caucus on the COVID-19 situation in the province.
It is rare, and analysts say dangerous, for politicians to get directly involved with the justice system.
“The purpose of law in a free and democratic society is to liberate, not to restrain. Our legal system and its independence from political interference helps contribute to a just society where power is constrained so that freedom and safety are available to all,” wrote lawyer Michael Spratt for Canadian Lawyer.
“But this is a fragile system, built on trust in its legitimacy. That, however, has not stopped politicians from trying to place their thumbs on the scales of justice.
“The message to those seeking to interfere in the administration of justice must be clear. Take your stinking paws off the justice system you damn, dirty politicians.”
The Kenney government has repeatedly said that it does not direct prosecutors for individual cases.
On May 5, Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said the government will take “concrete action” on those flagrant cases, though he did not give specifics.
“It’s become clear that there are a small few who refuse to comply with reasonable and legitimate public health orders. As minister of justice and solicitor general, it troubles me to see the rule of law being eroded in this way. Action must be taken,” Madu said.
A new working group made up of representatives from Alberta Health Services, police and police chiefs, Crown prosecutors, Occupational Health and Safety, and Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis was set up to help deal with the problem, Postmedia reported.
“Enforcement is expected to be timely and escalate through the ladder of enforcement actions quicker than normal. It is important to note that the individual/organizations have already established a blatant willingness to ignore directions or other initial enforcement actions,” reads the framework obtained by Postmedia.