Toronto MPP Roman Baber has been fired after posting an anti-lockdown message
Roman Baber, MPP for the Toronto riding of York Centre, was booted from his position in the PC Caucus on Friday morning just hours after publicly posting a statement opposing provincial lockdown orders.
"Lockdowns are deadlier than COVID," Baber wrote in a now-viral tweet shortly after 6 a.m. today, alongside an open letter to Premier Doug Ford requesting that the current lockdown measures be ceased.
"Look at the data — the virus is real but the crisis is mostly in [long-term care]. Let's focus on LTC & hospital capacity, but ending the Lockdown is best for our health."
Lockdowns are deadlier than Covid. I wrote a respectful letter to Premier Ford, asking to end the Lockdown. Look @ the data -the virus is real but the crisis is mostly in LTC. Let's focus on LTC & hospital capacity, but ending the Lockdown is best for our health.#onpoli #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/IIuvB7OXQo— Roman Baber (@Roman_Baber) January 15, 2021
Baber cited a number of valid statistics in his argument, including the fact that more than 3,000 of Ontario's 5,289 deaths have been among long-term care residents, and that approximately 70 per cent of deaths have been in patients over 80 years of age.
Also, that only about 200 people in the province under the age of 60 (actually 224 according to the province's latest numbers) have died from the communicable disease.
The elected official also touched on other topics, such as the fact that suicidal thoughts — and actual suicides — are on the rise along with eating disorders, and that opioid-related deaths have skyrocketed since the onset of the pandemic, indeed outpacing COVID-19 deaths in some provinces.
He stated that these deaths in Ontario "may be higher than the number of people who died from COVID outside LTC," which is correct when looking at 2020 alone: 2,200 opioid-related deaths vs. 1,830 COVID deaths outside of long-term care as of Jan. 1, a number that has since jumped to 2,142 as of Jan. 14.
"The lockdown isn't working. It's causing an avalanche of suicides, overdoses, bankruptcies, divorces and take an immense toll on our chidren. Dozens of leading doctors implored you to end the lockdown," he wrote.
"The crisis is largely limited to long-term care homes. With all LTC residents in 'red zones' to be vaccinated by Jan. 21, Ontario should end the lockdown and the catastrophic toll it's causing Ontarians."
Very well written. It absolutely infuriates me that this information is out there and available, but we are still forced into these crazy lockdowns and restrictions by arbitrary and unscientific decision making by those at the top. It’s a disgrace.— Alex (@fourthesauri) January 15, 2021
Baber also noted that "tens of thousands of businesses provincewide have had to permanently shut down," which he did not back up with a source — Restaurants Canada estimated that between March and December of last year, 10,000 restaurants had to close their doors for good as a result of pandemic closures across all of Canada.
He also contended that with only 387 COVID patients currently in the ICU among 14.5 million residents, hospital capacities are not as at risk as many believe, and cited some very low infection fatality ratios of 0.00003 to 0.054 per cent depending on age group, which are indeed in line with reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But, this number is a ratio, not a percentage, and not the same as mortality rate, which in Ontario sits around 2.3 per cent.
Please remember COVID is not just about fatality. There are many who were positive with long term health affects.— Derik Chica (@DerikChica) January 15, 2021
Remember ending a lockdown with no plan ($$$$$) in place for high positivity rate areas (ie. low income areas) is basically sacrificing some people.
Reactions to the statement have certainly been mixed, and it has garnered more than 1.1k retweets, 309 quote tweets and 2.7k likes in shortly over four hours at the time of publication.
Many of Baber's constituents replied requesting the letter not be sent on their behalf, while others enthusiastically agreed with his points and overall point of view.
Regardless of the public response, Premier Doug Ford removed Baber from Caucus within less than three hours of the tweet, also forbidding him from seeking re-election after his term as MPP is over.
"Mr. Baber's comments are irresponsible," Ford wrote in his own statement. "By spreading misinformation he is undermining the tireless efforts of our frontline healthcare workers at this critical time, and he is putting people at risk... there is no room for political ideology in our fight against COVID-19."
Baber has since replied to his ejection, saying that it's "regretful" since "many colleagues agree with me, including Doug Ford in large part. I don't regret speaking out for millions of lives and livelihoods decimated by Public Health, I serve the public."
Baber is not the first politician or health official who has either spoken out against lockdown measures or outright flouted them: dozens have been busted in recent days for taking non-essential vacations while asking citizens to stay home at all costs, while one MPP proudly posted a photo of a holiday dinner that defied indoor gathering limits.
Meanwhile, retailers large and small have been begging the government to permit them to reopen, calling current forced closures unfair, while businesses such as hair salons have proven how little their settings are conducive to virus spread.
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