Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has no desire to give amnesty to violators of COVID mandates. She says that Canada works differently than other jurisdictions.
Just before Christmas, she told Rebel News she met with Crown prosecutors to consider if these cases still served the public's best interests.
But during a media blitz last week, Smith said her conversations with prosecutors didn't specify factors unique to COVID violators. According to her accounts, she only asked if ongoing cases pertaining to the pandemic have a reasonable chance of conviction.
Now, she is no longer pursuing COVID amnesty for Albertans who violated public health orders during the COVID pandemic.
"[Smith] is either lying now or she was lying then. Clearly, lying is happening. There is a lot of lying going on," said NDP Leader Rachel Notley.
In a statement Friday, Smith said her language "may have been imprecise" as she had not met with prosecutors. Alberta's Justice Ministry corroborated that she only met with Minister Tyler Shandro and the deputy attorney general to discuss "options" on the outstanding cases.
However, on Saturday, the Premier did not mention to the listeners of her weekly Corus radio call-in show that she sought "options."
"I've never called a Crown prosecutor. You're not allowed to do that as a politician. Everyone knows that" she said.
Smith has delivered contradictory explanations for who she has talked to and the nature of her discussions regarding the prosecutions of those who violated public health orders.
"It is a bit frustrating, there's no question, that once the wheels of justice roll on certain cases, there isn't anything a politician can do other than watch it play out," Smith told the Newman podcast.
"That's the kind of decision-making we must leave to the Crown prosecutors."
The Premier's recent remarks represent a departure from her staunch support of protesters against COVID health restrictions.
After becoming Premier in October, she pledged to redress perceived abuses of individual rights and freedoms during the pandemic.
"I am deeply sorry to anyone inappropriately subjected to discrimination owing to their vaccination status and any government employee fired from their job," added Smith. "I welcome them back."
"I don't think I've ever experienced a situation where a person was fired from their job or not allowed to watch their kids play hockey or visit a loved one in long-term care or the hospital."
However, shortly after making that pledge, she apologized for calling unvaccinated Albertans the "most discriminated group" she has seen in her lifetime.
When asked by the media about offering amnesty to those prosecuted for breaking COVID rules, Smith said she would pursue it. Now, her office told The Canadian Press they are not contemplating legislation to redress affected residents.
A Leger poll commissioned by Rebel News uncovered 73% of United Conservative Party supporters want pandemic prosecutions against pastors and small businesses dropped by the Alberta government.
However, half of Albertans oppose such an amnesty.
Those most opposed are 86% of NDP supporters, of which 70% "strongly oppose" the move, while 59% of Albertans 55 years and older oppose amnesty for offenders, including 43% who "strongly oppose" a lenient approach.
Yet, over one-third of Albertans support Premier Danielle Smith's proposal to end COVID prosecutions for violating the lockdowns and mandates. She even maintained support from 32% of the general public for extending that same amnesty to everyone charged or fined during lockdowns and mandates.
Sixty-seven percent of UCP members overwhelmingly support the initiative.