Alberta Premier Danielle Smith gives an Alberta government update in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, who promised less than three months ago to seek pardons for COVID-19 health violators, now says she will let justice take its course. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Alberta premier backs off on promise to seek pardons for COVID-19 health violators

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, who promised less than three months ago to seek pardons for COVID-19 health violators, now says she will let justice take its course.

Smith says she is urging Crown prosecutors to consider the public interest and the likelihood of conviction in these cases but says in the end it is their call.

She stressed the system is founded on an independent justice department and independent Crown prosecutors.

Smith became premier in October after winning the leadership of the United Conservative Party on promises to redress perceived abuses of individual rights and freedoms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She announced she would seek legal advice to pursue pardoning non-criminal violators of health restrictions, such as pastors who ignored gathering limits at services and people fined for not wearing masks.

Smith also promised legislation last fall to change human rights laws to forbid discrimination based on COVID-19 vaccine status, but never introduced the bill, saying further study was needed.

Smith has called the COVID-19 unvaccinated the most discriminated group she has ever seen in her lifetime.

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