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What is going on in Canada and New Zealand?

By Andrew Allison, Chief Executive

Whilst the UK has moved away from lockdowns, restrictions, Covid passports, and the mandatory wearing of face coverings, both the Canadian and New Zealand governments are continuing to do the opposite.

A convoy of tens of thousands of Canadian truckers moved its way across the country last week and arrived in the capital Ottawa yesterday. Truckers are protesting against vaccine mandates and other policies implemented by Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. His response was to insult them and then go into hiding. He described them as a "small fringe minority" and people who hold unacceptable views.

Nova Scotia has enacted emergency legislation prohibiting those protesting against COVID-19 measures from blocking the Trans-Canada Highway near the New Brunswick boundary. The Emergency Management Act also applies to people who stop or gather alongside the highway. You can find out more by watching this interview on Neil Oliver's show in GB News last night. In Quebec, those who are not vaccinated will be charged a health tax.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, a country which officially abandoned its zero-Covid policy last year, there is very little evidence that the country has moved on from March 2020, despite around 90 per cent of those living in the country being double jabbed. A two-tier society is being developed by Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, (just as it is by Trudeau in Canada) where those who are vaccinated have more freedom than those who are not. 

Dan Wooton, writing in the Daily Mail, notes that "after just nine confirmed Omicron cases, Ardern plunged the entire country into red alert, a form of lockdown that bans large gatherings, enforces mask mandates, makes Covid passports compulsory if you want to live normally as part of a 'two-tier society', and reintroduces work from home orders." That sounds very much like a zero-Covid policy to me - one which cannot and will not work if New Zealand wants to get back to anything like normality. 

Families cannot reunite, even if a parent is dying. As Dan Wootton notes:

"Each month, around 50,000 desperate Kiwis – many trapped overseas in countries where their visa has run out or desperate to see sick relatives – have been forced to sign up online to enter a waiting room where they are placed in a virtual queue. Only around 1,500 'winners' a month gain tickets.

"And that's just the start of it. Once you 'win' the lottery, you have to pay for an exorbitantly expensive flight and then about £1,500 to spend 14 days in government run hotel quarantine, where the army has been sent in to ensure no one absconds."

One would think that when governments react in these ways, completely dividing society, and destroying businesses and livelihoods, that a majority would stand up and say no. Sadly, this is not the case. The vast majority of Canadians and New Zealanders support their governments. One can speculate as to the reasons why, but I would put fear at the top of the list. Jacinda Ardern once told New Zealanders (and I will never forget this) to "dismiss anything else, we will continue to be your single source of truth.” She needs to be reminded that George Orwell, in his famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, was issuing a warning, not offering a blueprint. 

Justin Trudeau called a snap general election last year. Despite his draconian policies, he remained Prime Minister, with the results largely unchanged from the general election in 2019. New Zealanders went to the polls in October 2020. Jacinda Ardern recorded a landslide victory. You reap what you sow. 

I used to think that both Canada and New Zealand were populated by freedom loving people. I have been disabused of that opinion. We have endured much during the last couple of years in the UK, but we have not gone anywhere near the level of restrictions imposed in New Zealand. We have gone too far in mandating vaccinations for health care and NHS workers, but we do not suffer from the levels of authoritarianism currently being displayed in Canada. I am concerned, though, that if Boris Johnson had followed the examples set by Trudeau and Ardern, too many people would have supported him. I would like to think that we would have protested in sufficiently large numbers, but I honestly don't think that we would have done. 

There are many other governments in the world who continue to strip freedoms away from their citizens - some are very close to home in Europe, and I haven't even touched on Australia. I can't say that I am grateful to Boris Johnson for returning freedoms which were not his to take away. The way we allowed people to die alone was disgraceful. Allowing elderly and vulnerable people to exist without any meaningful human interaction was cruel. Sweden didn't close schools, but we deprived children of their education for months on end. In the first lockdown, children's playgrounds were closed. Millions more are now suffering from mental health problems. The number of people who will die from preventable illnesses is still yet unknown. Having said that, when I look at what is still being endured by people in other countries, I am grateful that I live in the UK - warts and all. 

Andrew Allison in conversation with Philip Davies MP - Lockdown restrictions must end

Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns for The Freedom Association, chatted to Philip Davies MP. Philip is the Conservative MP for Shipley and serves on The Freedom Association's Council and Management Committee. They talked about the damaging lockdown restrictions and how the Government should end them, not only for the sake of the economy, but for people's health and wellbeing in general.

To watch the podcast on YouTube, click here

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WATCH Lockdowns: the case against

The Rt. Hon Esther McVey MP and Philip Davies MP argue the case against lockdowns. They are damaging, not only to the economy, but to the overall health and well-being of the country. This was a Freedom Association webinar which took place on Tuesday 8th December 2020. It was chaired by David Nuttall, a former MP for Bury North.

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Hard-won basic freedoms are at serious risk for many years to come

The following is a guest post by Philip Davies MP. Philip is the Conservative MP for Shipley, and is a member of The Freedom Association's Council and Management Committee.

If anyone had said a year ago that in Britain, in 2020, it would apparently be “normal” to be told we could not meet up with family and friends in our own homes when we liked in the numbers we liked, that shops, businesses and sporting venues would be ordered to close by the Government, that there would be a curfew imposed on restaurants and bars (assuming that they were even allowed to open in the first place), that we would all be wearing face coverings unless we carried an exemption card and that, for breaching these rules being enforced by state sponsored snitches, we would be breaking the law - you would have thought they had completely and utterly lost the plot. 

Being asked as an MP to support measures before Parliament which dictate that “No person may leave or be outside of the place where they are living without reasonable excuse” goes way beyond any of my wildest nightmares of possibility for the state of freedom in this country.

Yet this is exactly what has happened. 

I have been shocked at how easily people have had their freedoms taken away from them. Some people may not have considered it to be such a big deal at the beginning – even just thought it to be a very temporary inconvenience – but it is now as plain as day the extent to which some of our most basic freedoms have been usurped. Once we entered this unfortunate state, the question was always going to be how on Earth we were ever going to get out of it given the Government’s reasons for getting us into it in the first place.  

People have been scared witless by all the coverage and talk of COVID-19. I do not blame them for being very concerned. We have had a Tweedle-glum and Tweedle-never-glee constantly on hand to point out all the worst-case scenarios. Then there has been the reciting of all the death statistics without much in the way of context followed by the scary projections about hospitals being unable to cope. All this despite the figures increasingly being disputed and the actual position in hospitals not being necessarily unusual especially when, in previous years, we have also seen tens of thousands of excess winter deaths – not least from flu and pneumonia.

I also have huge concerns about the actual real level of excess deaths caused solely by COVID-19. There is the question as to whether or not someone would have actually sadly died from something else instead. In addition, I believe that there have been occasions when a death has been counted as a COVID-19 death when, in fact, the person actually died of another cause. This is over and above the already revised-down figures that were produced after it was revealed that the official numbers being broadcast daily on news channels and in briefings earlier this year had included everyone who died of anything at all as a COVID-19 death if they had ever tested positive for the virus at any time previously.

If the real picture were known, I imagine we would conclude that the risks are actually less still but, even using the official figures for now, these facts are what should be informing people’s own choices – not the nanny-knows-best approach of the Government.

During a virtual meeting I had with Professor Whitty, he confirmed that the overall mortality rate from COVID-19 is thought to be between 0.4 and 1%.  Probably 0.7%. Possibly even less. Of those over 80, the chances of dying are 1 in 10, and, of course, other conditions being present are a major factor. As all the figures show, the chances of dying at younger ages is very, very low indeed. 

We are constantly being told that people who have COVID-19 - but do not know they have it - could be infecting vulnerable people without realising.  This “kill your granny” argument seems to be the trump card of those keen to have us all under some degree of effective house arrest.  Of course nobody wants to kill their granny, or anyone else for that matter, but these things need to be a matter of individual choice.

I believe it should be up to my 77-year-old Mum to decide whether she wants to meet up with her grandchildren – bearing in mind any potential risk involved. I know that she, and many other people in even more at-risk categories, are very clear that they should be able to make their own decisions. In most cases, spending time with their families is definitely worth any risk as far as they are concerned – as not doing so is unthinkable. 

On the other hand, those who take a different view of the virus and want to be more cautious should be equally free to do so. If people do not want to mix socially, do not want to stay in a restaurant past a certain time or choose to isolate themselves completely for whatever reason at all then that should be entirely a matter for them. People should be free to do as little or as much as they want - it is their life.

In fact, a Government’s missive to those in the very vulnerable category regarding the changes to the ongoing restrictions over Christmas, says:

“Forming a Christmas bubble is a personal choice and should be balanced against the increased risk of infection.”

Why can’t this approach apply across the board?  Freedom (albeit still very restricted here) should not just be for Christmas.

Those who want to shield themselves should be able to do so with support and help from others if needed and those who do not should be able to resume normal life now.

The sight of the sons being told they could not comfort their grieving mother at their own father’s funeral a little while ago just sums up how inhumane the current approach is. The fact that the official at the funeral thought it was the right thing to do shows how far we are moving away from the land of hope and glory to the land of fear and misery.

Talking of all this being inhumane, where are all the usual human rights agitators? The very ones who are always so keen to support the right to family life for murderers and terrorists. Where are they fighting for the right to family life for the millions of law-abiding people in this country who simply want to meet up with their families but are being told that they will be breaking the law if they do?

It is the British spirit not the Official spirit that should be leading the way in these difficult times.

We need to get back to a situation where the scientists are there to advise, not decide. If the scientists ran the country with the sole mission of eliminating avoidable deaths and stopping the NHS being over-run (as they seem to be wholly focusing on with COVID-19) they would surely ban everything we enjoyed that wasn’t risk-free – tobacco, alcohol and cars for starters, not to mention foods deemed at any time not to be perfectly healthy. We would all be mandated to be immunised against anything and everything, prevented from taking part in all sports that have an element of risk and stopped from travelling to other countries that might not be as safe as Britain. The list of prohibitions would be endless and the freedom to live our lives as we want would be replaced by endless Government diktats.

That would be unthinkable.

Winston Churchill had it right when he said:

“Scientists should be on tap, but not on top.”

Yet these scientists and the whole sheer panic that has been cultivated over COVID-19 seems to have somehow managed to persuade people that they should be prepared to be locked up in their own homes to await further instructions on their life from the Government. Whether you agreed with the first lockdown, or the massive restrictions we have had to endure, or not, does not really matter now – we are where we are. In effect, it is like starting again each day. Whilst we may now hopefully have a vaccine that is apparently mainly effective to gradually offer people, the virus is still here and what happens if we get a new coronavirus – COVID-21 or COVID-22 and so on? We certainly cannot carry on effectively shutting down the country every time something like this happens.

I believe people were prepared to give the Government the benefit of the doubt at the beginning. However, they are not stupid, and the longer this has gone on the more they have come to oppose and question what they are being told to do.  

They are also waking up to the fact that the Government’s random rules restricting our most basic of freedoms are not even based on the science we’ve all been told they were following in some cases – for example when it comes to the number of people who can meet up, the arbitrary curfews, the loss of the right to run one business compared to another and the bizarre application of different restrictions based on huge areas and not on local facts. There is literally no basis at all for some of these decisions it seems and many just do not make any sense. People are getting increasingly fed up with all these erratic edicts and of being told what they can and cannot do every day.

As Margaret Thatcher said:

“….the state must be the servant of the people and not the master. There must be no drift into paternalism. Paternalism is the enemy of freedom and responsibility. Although it adopts a smiling, human face it is like all kinds of interventionist government….”

We must learn the lessons of this year - and fast. We cannot keep preventing people – by law – from living their lives as they see fit. Otherwise we will just be carrying on with this failing approach which will undoubtedly ruin the overall health and wealth of our great country and put our cherished, hard-won basic freedoms at serious risk for many, many years to come. 


WATCH Philip Davies MP and the Rt. Hon Esther McVey MP argue the case against lockdowns in a Freedom Association webinar held on Tuesday 8th December. To watch it, click on the image below. 

Join us for our next webinar - Lockdowns: the case against

Please join us for our next webinar on Tuesday 8th December at 6.00 pm. We will be exploring why lockdowns are damaging, not only to the economy, but to the overall health and well-being of the country. 

Confirmed speakers are:

Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley and TFA Management Committee Member

Esther McVey, Conservative MP for Tatton

Sammy Wilson, DUP MP for East Antrim

The webinar will be chaired by David Nuttall, a TFA Council member and a former MP for Bury North 
Places are limited. Click HERE to register. 

We cannot go through more months of this misery. The human and economic costs are too great. The cure is worse than the disease.

By Andrew Allison, Head of Campaigns

In the East Riding of Yorkshire, where I live, we entered the lockdown on 5th November in Tier 2. We will leave the lockdown next week in Tier 3. This is despite falling rates of infections which were happening before the Government decided to lockdown down the country for a second time. If you try and look for logic in the Government’s decision making process, you won’t find it. 

I can travel from my home to Stratford-upon-Avon, over 150 miles away, and never leave a Tier 3 area. I can drive from my home to Lancaster, a journey of 140 miles, and also never leave a Tier 3 area. Millions of people are affected by decisions which resemble the Partition of India. 

The Government is effectively killing the hospitality industry. Pubs and restaurants in Tier 3 areas which rely on the pre-Christmas trade to get them through the rest of the year will have been closed since 5th November. Many will never reopen again. 

Those pubs which do not serve food in Tier 2 areas are banned from opening. Many of those will never reopen again. But even those pubs which do serve food are not going to see a rush of customers through their doors. If you live in a Tier 2 area you cannot have a meal and a drink with anyone outside your household bubble. Ministers appear to be so out of touch that they don’t realise that people want to meet friends and family outside their bubbles. It’s what makes life worth living, especially at Christmas. And pubs and restaurants have done everything they can to make their premises Covid safe. Pubs and restaurants are safe places to meet - much safer than people meeting in homes, yet they are being beaten across the head with the bluntest of instruments. 

Conservative MP for Shipley and Freedom Association Management Committee Member, Philip Davies, told the Telegraph and Argus, his local newspaper, that being in Tier 3 is “desperate for the local economy, particularly for the hospitality industry, it is absolutely catastrophic.” He went on to say that his “heart goes out to the businesses and the people working for them. It’s desperate for them. This will absolutely be the final straw for many of them. It is an absolute scandal. It is not going to be a happy Christmas for all those businesses that have been destroyed and for the people losing their jobs.”

I have said this before and I will say it again: the Government has to rethink its strategy. Protect the vulnerable if they want to shield, but they shouldn’t be forced to do so. Loneliness is a killer and many older people have had very little social interaction for the past eight months. But younger people need social interaction, too. The number of people suffering from depression is skyrocketing. 

When the economy tanks, human misery follows. Businesses close, millions of people face unemployment, and hundreds of thousands of people may lose their home. The economy puts a roof over your head, puts food on the table, and clothes you and your children. We cannot go through more months of this misery. The human and economic costs are too great. The cure is worse than the disease.