Judge reveals Dr. Hinshaw’s answers to 3 questions on confidential cabinet discussions

A Calgary judge has made public Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s responses to three questions she answered in a private hearing about confidential cabinet discussions.

The questions are for a case started by a group of Albertans who launched a court challenge seeking to have COVID-19 public health orders ruled unconstitutional.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Barbara Romaine issued a decision at the end of April stating “the public interest in disclosing Dr. Hinshaw’s answers to the questions posed by the court outweighs the public interest in keeping the evidence confidential.”

Lawyers for the Government of Alberta had objected and produced a document from Sonya Savage, then the justice minister, stating discussions between Hinshaw and cabinet must be kept confidential.

Ultimately, it was decided that Hinshaw would answer three questions in a private hearing so the judge could decide whether to make the answers to those questions public and part of the hearing evidence.

The questions were: 

  • Did the premier and cabinet … ever direct you, Dr. Hinshaw, to impose more severe restrictions in your CMOH orders than you had recommended to them? 

  • Did cabinet ever direct you to impose more severe restrictions on particular groups such as churches, gyms, schools and small businesses than you had recommended to them? 

  • Did you ever recommend to cabinet that restrictions should be lifted or loosened at any period of time and that recommendation was refused or ignored by cabinet?

On Friday, Romaine confirmed that Hinshaw’s answer to all three questions was “No.”

Lawyers for the province previously indicated it would consider appealing Romaine’s decision should she rule the answers be disclosed.

However, on Friday in an email to CBC News, lawyer Nicholas Trofimuk confirmed that “the respondents (government) decided not to appeal Justice Romaine’s decision on public interest immunity.”

The plaintiffs and respondents are now moving on to written arguments, with a decision not expected in the case for several more months. 

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