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‘We are Going to be Suppressed’: Thousands of Canadians Rally in Protest of Quebec Vaccine Passport

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: August 16, 2021
Demonstrators march past the Olympic Stadium in a protest against mandatory masks and curfews in May of 2021. As many as 100,000 Quebec residents hit the streets of downtown Montreal to protest Canada’s first vaccine passport mandate.
Demonstrators march past the Olympic Stadium in a protest against mandatory masks and curfews in May of 2021. As many as 100,000 Quebec residents hit the streets of downtown Montreal to protest Canada’s first vaccine passport mandate. (Image: ANDREJ IVANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Canadians protesting the installation of vaccine passports filled several blocks in downtown Montreal on Aug. 14 in advance of a mandate that will not only see the unvaccinated be excluded from “non-essential” businesses, but require the vaccinated to show their papers to participate as normal in society. 

The event was widely unreported in Canadian media, with only a short Canadian Press wire report and a small piece of coverage by Canada’s state broadcaster, CBC. The national broadcaster reported the crowd was big enough to occupy “at least four to five blocks on René-Lévesque Boulevard West” in downtown Montreal accompanied by chants of “no to vaccine passports” in French.

Westphalian Times reporter Marie Oakes shared footage of the protests on Twitter, showing their extensive reach, but the publication did not report on the event.

Footage taken at the rally from controversial right-wing pundit Chris Sky showed an enormous crowd. Sky estimated there were approximately 100,000 attendees at the event.

The scheme to be installed will require Quebec citizens to show their vaccine paperwork to access non-essential businesses such as restaurants and bars, festivals, gyms, and other activities.

CBC lamented the protesters were unwilling to speak with the outlet after the state broadcaster, in a similar fashion to U.S. based CNN, has followed a pattern of alienation and malalignment of individuals and groups who do not toe the establishment narrative. 

“CBC News approached several protesters on Saturday, most of whom declined to be interviewed. Those who were willing to speak were shouted down by the crowd and decided not to,” the report reads.

The announcement was made early in the month by Premier Francois Legault. On Aug. 10, Health Minister Christian Dube revealed the scheme would come into effect on Sept. 1 and would involve a QR-code based phone app, similar to what the Chinese Communist Party used in Wuhan city in the earliest days of the pandemic to crush citizen freedom, that would be piloted in the meantime.

According to a Canadian Press wire, Dube also said “the province will also enter into discussions with religious leaders around how the system could be used for religious events.”

Quebec’s vaccination rate is already one of the highest in Canada at 74.5 percent accepting at least one dose of an injection, according to provincial government data

Canadian Press noted during its report on the Aug. 14 protests that Premier Legault has decided there will be no parliamentary debate on vaccine passports, “saying it would expose Quebecers to inaccurate, dangerous conspiracy theories about vaccines.”

A spokesperson for the organizers of the event, Quebec Debout (Quebec Stand Up), Jonathan Hamelin, told reporters the lack of debate was a key reason for the necessity of the protest.

One protestor, Providence Jolicoeur, who drove two hours to Montreal to attend, told Canadian Press, “It was important for us to come down because we are going to be suppressed…The government needs to let us have our rights.”

Another, Veronique Whalen, a 31-year-old who said she does not normally attend protests, told AFP her reason for attending was because she believes vaccination should be personal choice, “It should be the choice of each person whether to be vaccinated. With the passports it is a means of forcing us.”

“I’m here for my children, I’m afraid for them. It’s discrimination.”

The attempt to install a passport system is not without its downsides. The Post Millennial notes an uptick in attempts at obtaining counterfeit vaccine certificates. In an Aug. 15 article, they referenced a story of a man who went to a Montreal vaccination site and offered the nurse “hundreds of dollars” to provide fake certification

The nurse refused and called security, and the man fled the scene.

On Aug. 13, the Canadian federal government announced just two days prior to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s move to call a snap federal election scheduled for Sept. 20 that all Canadians would now be required to show their vaccination passport in order to travel between provinces via plane or train.