Skip to main content

Alberta premier exploring 'pardons' for COVID-19 related fines and arrests


Premier Danielle Smith said she is receiving legal advice on how she can issue "pardons" to Albertans who received fines or were arrested for breaking COVID-19 public health restrictions.

Alberta's premier made the comments Saturday at a media availability following her address to the United Conservative Party members at their annual general meeting.

She claims since most fines and charges came from Alberta Health Services' administrative direction, the premier may be able to wade into rescinding them.

"It was a political decision to throw out the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to put those fines in place in the first place, and I think it can be a political decision to make amends and apologize for it and eliminate them," Smith said.

"The things that come to top of mind for me are people who got arrested as pastors, people who got arrested or given fines for not wearing masks," she added.

"These are not things that are normal to get fines and get prosecuted for," Smith said. "So I am going to look into the range of outstanding fines that there still are and to get some legal advice on which ones we are able to cancel and provide amnesty for."

In Canada, in most cases, the issuer of pardons is the federal parole board using the Criminal Records Act. Lieutenant-governors of Canadian provinces may issue pardons on the advice of cabinet. In the U.S., the president and most state governors can issue pardons directly for federal or state offences, respectively.

In her view, while encouraging individuals who want to get vaccinated to protect themselves is important, it was also time to stop "demonizing" people making the personal choice not to receive an immunization for COVID-19.

Smith also affirmed she is sticking to her plan to amend human rights legislation in the province to include vaccination status and linked the health care system's strain to mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies.

The vast majority of health-care workers did get vaccinated against the coronavirus and public health experts have previously said Smith's analysis of the delays plaguing Alberta hospitals has been "ill-informed."

When asked if she would apologize to people who faced discrimination for not being vaccinated, Smith said she would do it then.

"I'm deeply sorry for anyone who was inappropriately subjected to discrimination as a result of their vaccine status," she said. "I am deeply sorry for any government employee that was fired from their job because of their vaccine status, and I welcome them back if they want to come back."


Irfan Sabir, NDP justice critic, denounced the idea of granting amnesty to Albertans charged with violating pandemic-related rules.

"It is highly inappropriate that Danielle Smith continues to threaten political interference in the administration of justice and the rule of law," Sabir said in a statement Monday.

Sabir said Albertans believe in the rule of law and expect their provincial government to "uphold it, not undermine it."

"No one in the Premier's Office should be supporting or encouraging the breaking of any laws, federal, provincial or municipal," Sabir added. Top Stories

Stay Connected