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Baber says Ontario lockdown “fails to protect those actually at risk.”

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Rookie Ontario legislator Roman Baber was ejected from the government caucus for challenging the pandemic lockdown regime of Ontario Premier Doug Ford. (Photo: Corriere.ca)

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Roman Baber, MPP for York Centre in Toronto, risked his career for disagreeing with the Ontario government’s decision to impose strict lockdowns to control COVID-19 infection rates. In a two page letter to Premier Doug Ford he explained why, with an extensive analysis. On Friday, January 15, Ford kicked him out of the Ontario Progressive Conservative caucus, accusing Baber of “spreading misinformation”.

The 41 year old rookie MPP provided Ford with facts and statistics from experts about the negative effects of the lockdowns and how they are not achieving the desired goals, as COVID 19 virus numbers are continuing to climb. His overriding concern is that millions of people in Ontario are experiencing financial and mental devastation.  

Despite the political fallout, including calls from the opposition NDP to reconvene the provincial legislature to remove Baber as Justice Committee chair, he did not back down in his defence of the anti-lockdown position he struck. He took to Twitter to assert his removal from the government benches that day was “a regretful decision since many colleagues agree with me, including @fordnation in large part. I don’t regret speaking out for millions of lives & livelihoods decimated by Public Health, I serve the public.”

Baber also tweeted, “The lockdown is grounded in false public health narrative, poor planning and bad data. While Doug only cares about re- election, lockdowns are killing more than saving.”

As a new week dawned a former Chief Medical Officer of Health – who trained the current CMO – derided Ford’s pandemic plan and provided his own expertise in supporting Baber’s letter. On January 18 Dr. Richard Schabas, who served as CMO from 1987-97, wrote that “MPP Baber made five key points and I believe he was correct on all five items,” pointing out that “lockdown was not part of our planned pandemic response and is not supported by strong science.”

He also stated, “The government has resorted to fear mongering to encourage compliance with lockdowns.”

In an exclusive interview with TheJ.ca, the now-Independent MPP elaborated on why he challenged Ford on the Ontario lockdown policy, and how he views the data and the sociological toll on the community.

In response to some of the over-the-top attacks on him, Baber carefully insisted that he could in no way, be labeled a “Covid-denier.”

“Covid is very real – and it could be very dangerous to a small group of folks, typically those living in group homes or long term care and over 80 or with one or more serious pre-existing conditions. In the 10 months we’ve learned it’s not nearly as deadly as we thought,” and therefore he believes that pandemic policy should “protect them through infection control and vaccines.”

Rather than improve health outcomes, “the lockdowns are having a catastrophic effect on our entire population… a very significant health and mental health toll and that’s true for children in particular. In my letter I tried to suggest we need to weigh the risk fairly (and) let the healthy move on for the sake of their health.”

His critics had mocked his assessment and his supporters because he (and they) hold no medical credentials – and Baber was having none of it:

“The bulk of the GTA has been in lockdown since Thanksgiving weekend and we’re seeing there’s no effect on case trends,” he said. “The premise of science is scientific discovery, scientific discourse, the ability to prove what you’re saying, and in order to prove what you’re saying you have to be able to question what it is that folks are saying.”

Having practiced law for 12 years, primary in litigation, “I have questioned a lot of doctors and accountants…  I believe you don’t necessarily have to be a medical doctor in order to read data… You can appreciate that locking down people may make them want to commit suicide without being a doctor. You can appreciate addiction may go up, without being a doctor… I believe that ordinary people can read numbers.”

“The current strategy of locking everyone down is not something we’ve ever done and with good reason…it doesn’t work and it causes a catastrophic toll”. As such, he is “absolutely certain that public sentiment is not with the lockdown, that the public deserves significantly more credit than politicians and public health give them. The trend is to abandon this position and return to our lives.”

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Baber, who earned his law degree at the University of Western Ontario, was born in l980 in the former Soviet Union. He and his family moved to Israel, when he was eight and immigrated to Canada in l995 when he was 15.  They settled in Toronto in the Bathurst Street and Sheppard Avenue area. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the 2018 election in a constituency where Jewish voters comprise 20 per cent of the electorate.

“The Jewish community feels very affected by this but I don’t believe any of these issues are exclusive to the Jewish community,” he explained. “Folks who send their kids to private school have been adversely affected as they don’t enjoy the same (financial) supports as public schools do; adapting to PPE and adapting to remote learning has been costly… a lot of Jewish Schools are suffering because of the economic effects, tuitions payments are down, and charitable contributions are significantly down,… it affects all independent schools.”

One aspect of the negative effects of the lockdown restrictions has been on religious practices.

”The other element I hear about is Minyan, and that is not attainable under the current circumstances. Folks are really struggling, from all walks of life all ridings, all religions are really suffering from the pandemic.”

Citing “so many atrocious stories from my constituents,” he explained that is why “I proposed we need a more balanced approach.”

“We recognize who suffers and is really in danger from the virus and we proceed to protect them, and that is something we haven’t done to date,” he said of the continuing outbreaks in retirement and long term care homes. “I’m not sure what the efficacy of the lockdown is when you fail to protect those that are actually at risk.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was all for Roman Baber being a member of his Conservative caucus, until he was against it. (Photo: Facebook)

While declining to discuss his communications with the PC caucus or Premier Ford prior to his letter, Baber revealed his contrary opinion began to form last spring.

“I felt considerable relief at the end of May when a number of studies came out which concluded that the infection rate of Covid is significantly higher than case rates.”

He referred to studies from Europe, New York and Los Angeles that indicated the infection rate is around 10-20 times the case rate, which he said was “very good news because the death rate … is significantly lower than we originally thought and that observation gave me a lot of comfort that Covid is not nearly as deadly as we originally thought.” Baber pointed out that Dr. Schabas agreed that “the government should not be using case fatality rate and should be using an infection fatality rate” to guide policy.

Baber was asked what kind of support he had received from constituents or from legislators in the wake of his dismissal:

“I am sure a lot of my colleagues agree with me, but more importantly I have received a ton of support outside of government and outside of media. Overwhelmingly, the ratio of supporters to detractors is 5 or 6 to 1. I am so heartened by the words of encouragement.”

 This stands in contrast to the very difficult pronouncements from my colleagues,” said Baber, citing how “the government accused me of misinformation, (and) the health minister demanded I apologize to families of victims. This is just absolutely absurd, in fact it’s anti-scientific.”

A phalanx of police appeared on bike, on horseback and on foot in November to shutter a Toronto restaurant that refused to be lockdown-compliant (Photo: xinhuanet.com)

Baber did ask “to speak to the police issues” as part of our interview.

“I don’t want to comment on the law, (but) I’m watching scenes of police officers arresting people on the street for essentially non-compliance with provincial orders, promoted by seeking of ID and so forth. I know the Toronto police,” who he described as “the kindest most professional force in the world.”

“What we are seeing right now is not the Toronto police, they are living in a bizarro world. We must try to restore normal so ordinary citizens are not put in jeopardy.”

Baber expressed deep concern that those who dare to suggest there is a better government approach to managing the spread of Covid are treated as heretics. He remains “absolutely certain that public sentiment is not with the lockdown, that the public deserves significantly more credit than politicians and public health give them. The trend is to abandon this position and return to our lives.  

“I’m perplexed by what has transpired, I think it’s a combination of political correctness and cancel culture. And it’s regretful because lives are in the balance.”

(With files from Doris Strub Epstein)

Marty Gold is the Editor-in -Chief of TheJ.ca. Known for investigative reporting, he has specialized in covering municipal and provincial politics, and a wide range of sports and entertainment, in newspapers, magazines, online, and on his first love, radio. His business and consulting experience includes live events and sales, workplace safety, documentary productions, PR, and telecommunications in Vancouver, Los Angeles and across Canada, and as a contestant on CBC-TV Dragons Den.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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