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Definition of "Independent"

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

Sent: January 1, 2022 1:57 PM To:; Cc:; Subject: Definition of "Independent"

Dear Sir or Madam,

I’m writing today to correct one of the very misleading stories you published today: “Group calls for lockdown: Independent group calls on B.C. to declare 3-week ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown”. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines “independent” as “[f]ree from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others”, or “[n]ot determined or influenced by someone or something else; not contingent”. Your story advises that an “independent” group called Protecting Our Province BC (POP) has advised a three week “circuit breaker” lockdown, notwithstanding that we are now 21 months into the pandemic, and not one lockdown, circuit breaker, or otherwise, has had any impact on this now endemic disease. Let’s analyze the “independence” of the members of the POP, for edification purposes:

Expert Advisors:

Dr. Colin Furness, Asst Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health (“DLSPH”), University of Toronto: As Castanet should be aware, DLSPH ““receives funding from government, philanthropic, not for profit and private sector organizations. Private sector funding sources include vaccine manufacturers.” When one pokes further, DLSPH discloses “engaged partnerships” with the World Health Organization and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, which is partnered by the WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank and the Gates Foundation. Gavi accepts donations from “corporate partners; . . . vaccine manufacturers; . . . research and technical institutes; and implementing country governments.” (

Dr. David Fisman, Professor, DLSPH: On top of being funded by DLSPH, Dr. Fisman was, until recently, a member of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, a group that has been red-flagged for its acceptance of funding from Big Pharma. Dr. Fisman has spent the past 21 months issuing ludicrous doomsday modelling predictions, and has received honorariums from several pharmaceutical companies, including Moderna and Pfizer.

Dr. Ashleigh Tuite, DLSPH: In addition to being paid by DLSPH, Dr. Tuite has collaborated with Dr. Fisman on SARS-CoV-2 studies, as well as Dr. Peter Juni, the scientific director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. Dr. Juni at least has had the grace to admit that the COVID-19 vaccines are useless: “In reality, there is no way – if it comes to infection – to distinguish anymore between a person who is not vaccinated and a person who has received two doses.” (CBC, December 27, 2021.)

Dr. Jens von Bergmann, BC COVID-19 Modelling Group (the “Modelling Group”): The Modelling Group is another group that seems to not want to let go of its 15 minutes of fame. If you review its COVID-19 predictions for the past year, you will see that it predicted “disaster” in March, 2021 and advocated vaccinating children to protect adults in October, 2021. Members of the Modelling Group are also affiliated with the Canadian Network for Modelling Infectious Disease, which has been provided with $2.5M worth of federal funding for 2021 and 2022.

Dr. Amit Arya, University of Toronto, McMaster University, Doctors for Justice in LTC: As well as being affiliated with the University of Toronto, Dr. Arya is “very active on Twitter”, where he spends his time “battling misinformation” – presumably, that means anything with which Jack Dorsey doesn’t agree. Given that Twitter keeps on deleting reputable doctors who speak the truth (including, just recently, Dr. Robert Malone), and has now been hit with several lawsuits for constitutional infringement, I think we can safely assume Dr. Arya has been compromised.

Dr. Malgorzata Gasperowicz, University of Calgary: As well as working for the University of Calgary, which receives a lot of funding from Big Pharma, Dr. Gasperowicz is a co-founder of ZeroCOVIDCanada and member of Protect Our Province Alberta group. Epidemiologists worldwide have advised that “Zero COVID” is an impossible achievement, as this virus is found in animal reservoirs. Notwithstanding this reality, ZeroCOVIDCanada endorses strict quarantining, online learning for school children, “aggressive test/trace/isolate” and federally financed lockdowns (aka “taxpayer financed lockdowns”). I was unable to determine who funds ZeroCOVIDCanada; perhaps a “journalist” at Castanet could do some digging?

Steering Committee:

Dr. Karina Zeidler, UBC Faculty of Medicine: Dr. Karina wears a mask while giving speeches, outdoors, 10’ away from others, about locking school children up. She seems fun, and totally not crazy as she warns her five followers about the dangers of the Delta variant:

Jen Heighton, Safe Schools Coalition BC: Safe Schools Coalition recommends that BC move to online learning until COVID-19 test positivity rates fall below 5%. Ms. Heighton doesn’t appear to understand that the inflated number of “cases” we have seen during this pandemic are a direct result of the misuse of the PCR test, nor does she appear to have any epidemiology experience.

Dr. Amy Tan, UBC Faculty of Medicine: UBC helped develop the Pfizer vaccine. Enough said?

Dr. Lyne Filiatrault, retired: I couldn’t find much on Dr. Filiatrault – perhaps a “journalist” could hop in and run a conflict check?

Dr. Damien Contandriopoulos, University of Victoria and former CIHR Applied Public Health Chair: I think Dr. Contandriopoulos might be the one person on this board who understands what is going on here, as he authored “About Academic Bullshit in Nursing” -

Andrew Longhurst, Simon Fraser University: Mr. Longhurst has a MA in Geography with a thesis entitled Policy Frontiers: City-Regional Politics of Poverty and Drug Policy Mobility. I’m not sure how that qualifies him to opine on the necessity of restrictions that may have the effect of bankrupting and killing innocent people? Or maybe, he is the expert on how to marginalize people and force them into poverty? In which case, he is well suited for his role on the POP.

Dr. Rob James, BC COVID-19 Modelling Group: Oh good, another member of the Modelling Group. Remember that time they told us there were going to be mass deaths last March? Don’t worry, they’re also predicting mass deaths in January due to Omicron (the virus that hasn’t killed anyone yet … but the Modelling Group is crossing its fingers!).

Dr. Manya Sadouski: Dr. Sadouski is a general practitioner who appears to err on the side of hypochondria, advocating for remote patient consults at a time when the province was advising doctors to return to in-person settings; I understand Dr. Sadouski’s pain, I too, hate getting out of my pj’s to go to work.

Dr. James Heilman: Mr. Heilman is an emergency physician. He does not appear to have any experience in epidemiology.

Kerri Coombs, Broadcast Technician: The only “Kerri Coombs” I could find on the internet is a Keri Coombs who was one of the first female grips in Alberta and gaffers in BC. Another “expert”?

Jaclyn Ferreira, “Disability Inclusion Advocate”: Apparently Jaclyn’s special skillset is being “at high risk for COVID-19”:

As per usual, the problem with all of these groups proclaiming dire warnings about the sky falling is that they myopically believe that COVID-19 is the only threat to civilization. It has now been 21 months: long enough to know that lockdowns don’t work, long enough to know that COVID-19 is no more deadly than the flu, long enough to know that we are killing our youth and elderly by isolating them and shaming them, long enough to know that three shots of Pfizer are going to leave your immune system depleted and begging for a booster, and long enough to know that closing gyms while leaving the cannabis stores open wouldn’t make sense, if any of this was about our health.

Please do better. Your abject parroting of the lies, and your inability to question the motivation of anyone advocating for extreme restrictions, is starting to look less like lazy journalism, and more like paid advertising for the Canadian Communist Party. I’ve cc’d the National NewsMedia Council, as it was extremely misleading and disingenuous to identify the POP as “independent”. National NewsMedia Council: please sanction this blatant attempt at distributing propaganda on the pretext that it is an objective news story.

May 2022 bring a return to critical thinking skills and journalistic integrity.

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