Preston Manning
Preston Manning

A citizen’s group chaired by Preston Manning announced plans for a National Citizen’s Inquiry (NCI) into Canada’s response to COVID-19.

The public-led inquiry will examine how all levels of governments’ pandemic measures harmed Canadians in four categories: health, fundamental rights and freedoms, social well-being and economic prosperity.

“The magnitude of these interventions demands a comprehensive, transparent, and objective inquiry into the appropriateness and efficacy of the measures imposed,” Manning said during a Wednesday press conference on Parliament Hill.

“We need to determine what worked, what didn’t, and how we can respond better in the future.”

Manning, a former Conservative MP and leader of the Reform Party of Canada, told reporters all levels of government took “unprecedented” responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Government-imposed lockdowns, public health restrictions and vaccine mandates negatively impacted the economic wellbeing, mental health, civil liberties and fundamental freedoms of Canadians.

He said the fracturing of families and communities, business bankruptcies, delayed medical appointments and erosion of Charter rights warranted a thorough investigation. One of the purposes of the NCI would be to determine “not just what went wrong, but what could be done differently?” in the future.

According to the NCI website, more than 11,000 Canadians have signed the petition to hold a citizen’s inquiry. Any Canadian — including experts and government officials — can request to testify at the inquiry.

The website also states the NCI will be a citizen-funded initiative that is “completely independent” from government.

“The NCI will proceed whether federal or provincial governments endorse or criticize the initiative,” it said.

Manning said while similar inquiries would usually be commissioned by governments under the provisions of the federal or provincial Inquiries Acts, in this case the federal government would be investigating itself for wrongdoing. Many Canadians — already skeptical of government wrongdoing — would see the commission as lacking necessary credibility and integrity to conduct a fair and unbiased inquiry.

“If the Liberal government took the initiative, the public would say ‘this is a whitewash.’ But if the opposition gets too militant on it, people would say ‘this is a witchhunt.’ So it’s best to keep the parties not directly involved,” Manning said.

Manning said, ideally, commissions would be held across Canada in the cities of Moncton (N.B.), Montreal (Que.), Toronto (Ont.), Saskatoon (Sask.), Red Deer (Alb.) and Victoria (B.C.) in 2023. The inquiry would then conclude with a summary hearing held in Ottawa, and a report would be created shortly afterwards.

Manning said he expects three categories of people would testify at the inquiry; ordinary Canadians that were harmed by public health restrictions, scientists and medical personnel with an “alternative narrative to the one put forth by governments,” and officials from all levels of government.

Canadians that have been injured by COVID-19 vaccines would also be called to testify. Manning told the Western Standard that back in June, the Canadian Covid Care Alliance held a three day-public hearing into Canada’s COVID-19 response, where several vaccine-injured Canadians testified. Manning expects something similar would take place during the NCI.

The NCI’s website lists two examples of the kind of testimony from vaccine-injured Canadians that could be heard at the inquiry: Dr. Arlene Singh-Dattoo, who received neurological damage from the Pfizer vaccine, and Kelly-Sue Oberle, who suffered cognitive impairment and blindness in one eye from the Pfizer shot.

Manning also indicated Canadians whose friends or family passed away from COVID-19 vaccines would be called to testify.

“They will be subject to cross examination and asked by somebody that’s very knowledgeable about their testimony, but hopefully people with these stories will come forward,” he said.

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