3. Dr. Bernard Massie
(second NCI Commissioner)
Dear fellow Canadians,
In this formidable journey of the commission, I would like to share some lessons I've learned. I've learned that collectively, we've been paying too much attention to our material comfort and not enough to truth and integrity. A culture of lies, blatant lies, or complacent silence has allowed our institutions to rot from within. The COVID-19 crisis has exposed that our Western societies are sliding towards totalitarianism, a slope that cannot exist without the consent and active participation of the governed. We are all responsible for what's happening, one way or another.
Restoring a vibrant culture of accountability, thriving on truth, is the only way to rebuild the most important asset of a prosperous and benevolent society: trust. Trust cannot be demanded; it has to be earned by speaking and acting with integrity. One of the gravest dangers to democracy is the tyranny of the majority that has forgotten the primordial importance of truth and liberty grounded in individual responsibility. This responsibility cannot and should not be outsourced to the administrative state.
Unless a true safe space is created for the flourishing of new ideas, freely challenged by rigorous scientific debates, society will eventually crumble into obsolescence. When society is in a constant state of crisis, one has to question the competence and/or the motives of the ruling class, including the administrative state.
We must protect as sacred the principles and institutions that have been used for centuries in the rigorous scientific process. Money and institutions should facilitate this process, not subjugate it. People working as elected officials in the administrative state should not end up being the masters of our destiny but rather civil servants of the institution at the service of the people.
We are learning the hard way that institutions that become dysfunctional can and will fail us when we need them the most. As engaged citizens, we must embark and take part in a major reform of our institutions and not leave it to the elusive others. Let's not be discouraged by the magnitude of the task; in the end, we owe it all to our children and grandchildren.
Is the administrative state benevolent or guilty of malfeasance? As the famous late Nobel laureate physicist Stephen Jay Gould judiciously said, "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it's the illusion of knowledge." In Canada, the administrative state uses the illusion of knowledge to maintain its power. This was evident throughout the three-year COVID-19 experience when bureaucrats and administrators were portrayed as all-powerful.
However, this is only an image accomplished through an elaborate and inextricably interwinding web of deceit. Meanwhile, politicians were more than happy to impose popular but ill-advised health measures, justifying these emergency policies as well-intended measures to protect public health. Sadly, the majority of people succumbed to the measures out of fear, lack of unbiased and objective information, and questionable trust in longstanding institutions.
In this context, as long as people perceive a benefit from the government narrative, everything will be done to protect the illusion of the effectiveness of ill-advised health measures. But, as we witnessed, the administrative state, to achieve this end, relies on poor modeling and statistics full of omissions while ignoring scientific knowledge and understanding.
The administrators also dismiss the wisdom of true experts who have credentials considerably above the pretended expertise of technocrats. These technocrats systematically censor any dissenting voice that threatens their authority. This is best illustrated by numerous accounts of the ignorance of epidemiology, the ineffective and unfitting non-pharmaceutical interventions, their willful ignorance of state-of-the-art medical practice, and, last but not least, their superficial knowledge of the intricacies of the immune system.
The only way out of this conundrum is to protect our constitutionally protected freedom of speech, wherein diverse beliefs, thoughts, and opinions are respected, and likewise, conversations, debates, and dissenting voices are heard. This should be particularly true in the scientific and medical professions.
We know the very essence of society is human interaction, and embedded therein are relationships. As human society thrives on narratives that present a distorted view of reality and define culture according to unwritten rules, new narratives need to emerge. These are particularly critical when society faces a major crisis like the pandemic. Sometimes, low-resolution representations of reality need to be updated and subsequently redefined by rigorous debate to orient better decision-making and implement better solutions to vexing problems.
Going forward, this report is an attempt to craft a more balanced and objective narrative based on the hundreds of testimonies heard during the 24 days of hearings across Canada. Why? Because Canadians deserve to hear the concerns raised and forge their own informed opinions regarding the health crisis we have just faced, including the appropriateness of the mitigation measures used by government authorities.
It will be up to the reader to determine for themselves whether this new narrative is a more comprehensive representation of reality than the messaging delivered by the government and the mainstream media during the past three years.
This report examines the health, civil, economic, and social issues resulting from the COVID-19 response. The report also makes specific recommendations to improve the management of any future health crisis. Our report focuses on answering questions that are in the realm of scientific and forensic investigation: what happened, how did it happen, and although the why deserves attention, the commissioners have determined that it is beyond the scope of this investigation. It is for this reason that the commissioners have agreed to abide by the witnesses' testimony to the best of their ability, seeking the truth.
Moreover, by engaging in this cross-country experience, we can come together as a nation, restoring the very principles and freedoms that have defined Canada since 1867.
Considering the critical reliance of our modern society on science and technology, there is a need to distinguish knowledge derived from rigorous scientific methods from beliefs often influenced by ideology and propaganda. To help distinguish between these two, we recommend the following:
1. Basic training in epistemology and critical thinking should be incorporated into both humanities and scientific or technological education curricula.
2. Experts who participate in public forums should undergo strict scrutiny based on the following three fundamental criteria:
a. Demonstrated cutting-edge knowledge and expertise, as evidenced by their involvement in past or ongoing scientific research, providing proof of their understanding of the subject matter under discussion.
b. Lack of conflict of interest.
c. Willingness to engage in evidence-based public debate with other experts who may hold different opinions, using rhetoric that avoids ad hominem attacks, appeals to authority, or invoking the so-called scientific consensus.
In closing, implementing any of our recommendations will be an uphill battle. Even though people sharing the view of this report are still a minority, we are witnessing a steady growth in the number of people raising their awareness level. Once we know, we can no longer unknown, and the truth will set us free.