LILLEY: Mandatory vaccinations an affront to Charter and Canadian ideals

Engaging in a draconian measure such as mandatory vaccinations for a small group of people would be politically dangerous and practically difficult

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms has gone from a beloved document to an afterthought.

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Governments of all stripes and at all levels have ignored the guarantees in the Charter in favour of measures to defeat COVID-19. And most Canadians have welcomed and embraced the measures.

Now we appear to be ready to do that again with the Trudeau Liberals pushing for provinces to embrace mandatory vaccination policies, not for some specific jobs or activities but for the entire population.

“I see it coming personally,” federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Friday. “Not now. I don’t think we are there yet.”

It would be difficult for the federal government to impose such a mandate, so Duclos said the federal government wants the provinces and territories to do it.

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“This is a conversation which I believe provinces and territories, in support with the federal government, will want to have over the next weeks and months,” he said.

Translation, we want the provinces to do our dirty work for us. We want the provinces to trample the Charter guarantees of freedom of conscience and religion and the right to life, liberty and security of the person.

That’s what a mandatory vaccination policy would do.

I may be triple vaxxed and encourage everyone to get their shots but I don’t want to live in a country where governments can force any medical intervention on a citizen as a condition of living. Most mandates so far have been limited to certain jobs or activities, a fact that would likely help them survive a Charter challenge.

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This idea though goes beyond saying a doctor or nurse treating vulnerable people must be vaccinated, it goes beyond restricting movement, it goes well beyond school vaccination requirements, which allow parents to opt out. This would fly in the face of what we have said we believe in as a country and make a mockery of the Charter that Trudeau and the Liberals wrap themselves in at every turn.

Fines rather than forcible inoculation would be the likely way to do this. It’s what some European countries are doing. Greece is imposing a monthly fine of about $144 on people over 60 not vaccinated while Austria is looking at a fine equivalent to $5,000 for those over 50 without a shot.

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Some provinces are already saying no.

“Alberta’s Legislature removed the power of mandatory vaccination from the Public Health Act last year and will not revisit that decision, period,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Friday.

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Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe also rejected the idea.

“While we strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated to protect yourself and others from serious illness, in Saskatchewan this is a personal choice, not one imposed on you by the government,” Moe said.

At this point, neither Ontario’s Doug Ford or Quebec’s Francois Legault have commented on the Duclos statement.

This idea goes against what Trudeau himself said many times just a few months ago when he promised vaccines for anyone who wants one but denied any mandates were coming.

“We’re not a country that makes vaccination mandatory,” Trudeau said during an appearance on the Brandon Gonez Show in May 2021, citing people who may object for health or religious reasons during that interview.

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That of course was before his government did polling that showed he could gain an advantage by politicizing this issue, channelling the anger of vaccinated Canadians against the unvaccinated. That’s what he did during the last federal election and that’s what his government is doing once again.

Trudeau is trying to use anger and emotions rather than facts, science and data to drive his agenda.

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The truth is about 90% of all adults in Canada are vaccinated — it’s higher for older age groups most at risk and vaccine uptake among younger age groups less at risk continues to grow. There is also the fact that the hospital crush happening right now is mostly vaccinated patients showing up sick and vaccinated staff calling in sick.

Engaging in a draconian measure such as mandatory vaccinations for a small group of people would be politically dangerous and practically difficult.

If Canadians believe in the Charter we supposedly hold dear, we should all reject this idea.

blilley@postmedia.com

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