The government of Quebec is planning on introducing a vax passport. The government of Canada is looking at “mandating” COVID vaccination as a condition of employment for the federal government and corporations regulated by the feds. Dr. Bonnie Henry hinted today that she was fed up with healthcare workers who were not vaxed. If you want to enter a restaurant in New York City you have to prove at least one shot.
As I have said before, I am not at all an “anti-vaxer”, I am just not in any rush to get “the jabs” as I would like a lot more data on their long term effects. One mid term effect which is now emerging is that the efficacy of the jab in preventing serious illness appears to wane at about the 6 month mark. And, of course, the jab does not prevent infection or transmission of COVID, it appears to reduce the severity of COVID should you contract it. And all of this comes at the price of potential adverse consequences for a small number of those jabbed.
Against that people are arguing that there are good reasons to encourage people to get jabbed – principally their own health. Encouragement in the form of celebrity endorsements, free stuff, lotteries and the like seem like fair ball to me. But we go over the foul line when we impose consequences for not being jabbed.
I use the term “consequences” advisedly. Not being permitted to attend an event without vax proof is a consequence and, in my view, incompatible with a rights based view of humanity. It is a mild infringement to be sure, but it really is the top of a slippery slope and should be subject to strict scrutiny. Now, it can be argued that a venue or a rock band or a restaurant has a right to exclude whomever it wants so long as it does so without violating general anti-discrimination laws. However, this sort of exclusion regime will almost certainly be operated using government issued credentials.
The entire concept of a vaccine “passport” or “certificate” issued by the government – provincial, in the case of Canada – is acceptable right up until it is used to visit consequences, however well-intentioned, on those who lack that passport. This is not a loss of “priviledge”, it is the loss of the most basic right to be treated equally because you are person and a citizen.
Confronted with a disease which has a recovery rate of 99.9% for the non-elderly and relatively healthy the inner authoritarian in everyone from Premiers to pundits suddenly is put on parade.
“Just as we began to think the COVID pandemic was coming to an end, a fourth wave has arrived, due almost entirely to the unvaccinated. As a result, restrictions are coming back, masks are returning, and our short precious summer looks like it may become even shorter yet. Scott Gilmore, Macleans
(Interestingly Gilmore is so eager to administer “the stick” that he contradicts his claim about the nasty unvaccinated in the very next paragraph. “Even those of us who fully vaccinated are being forced to mask back up. This is because we have now learned that the new and deadly Delta variant can still be carried and transmitted by the immunized.” Which is it Scott? And, Scott, look up the word “immunized”.)
Once that inner authoritarian is in charge, the sky is the literal limit – no flights for the unvaxed, no restaurant dining and, at the extreme end, no job, no grocery shopping, no public transport. The rationales range from the alleged danger of the unvaxed spreading the disease to interesting theories about how the unvaxed will destroy “herd immunity” and act as human petri dishes for the incubation of ever nastier “variants”. That there is not a shred of evidence for any of these outcomes does not seem to deter the “papers please” crowd.
I suspect parts of Canada are in for a nasty, authoritarian, fall. Scott Gilmore is a reliable indicator of bien pensant thinking in Canada and he wants to beat the unvaxed with all manner of sticks. Can’t wait really. The government of Quebec, fresh off six months of curfews, seems to enjoy curtailing the rights of it citizens.
The BC government seems more modest in its medical authoritarianism – vax mandates for healthcare workers, maybe. But BC’s case numbers are going back up and with that rises a need to “do something”.
Here is the root problem: COVID19 is not going away. It will, eventually, but when is deeply uncertain. The “vaccines” don’t actually work quite as well as had been hoped. They do not immunize, rather they confer a degree of protection from serious illness. With flu season just around the corner, the public health establishment has pretty much run out of bullets. A fact tacitly conceded in Alberta where all restrictions have been cancelled as has non-symptomatic testing.
Vax mandates and passports are not going to change the COVID outcomes. They will let Scott Gilmore put a bit of stick about and Premier François Legault to coerce the long suffering people of Quebec a while longer but there is no reason to believe this is anything but an extension of the sanitary theatre we have had to put up with for the last 18 months.
The Gilmores and Legaults might be better advised to look at improving the general health of the population, actually building the backup facilities to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed and to take a serious look at the treatment options for COVID. Not nearly as much good, clean, totalitarian fun; but ultimately more productive.