Vaccine Passport Mandates Go Viral Across Canada

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British Columbia's premier John Horgan looks on as Premiers gather during a meeting set-up by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Montreal, on December 7, 2018 at the Marriott Chateau Champlain. Horgan announced on August 23 that vaccine passports would be required in his province. The trend is spreading across Canada with de facto mandates imposed by professional sports teams.
British Columbia's premier John Horgan looks on as Premiers gather during a meeting set-up by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Montreal, on December 7, 2018 at the Marriott Chateau Champlain. Horgan announced on August 23 that vaccine passports would be required in his province. The trend is spreading across Canada with de facto mandates imposed by professional sports teams. (Image: MARTIN OUELLET-DIOTTE/AFP via Getty Images)

Vaccine passports are coming to a second Canadian province, British Columbia, after recently-reelected New Democrat Party Premier John Horgan made the announcement on August 23.

Horgan relied on the rhetorical statement, “Getting vaccinated is the way forward through the pandemic,” to justify the policy implementation during a press conference.

Although the BC government refers to their implementation as a “vaccine card,” very-left mainstream media outlet The Globe and Mail reported, “The new system will allow people to show proof of vaccination on their phones or by calling a confidential hotline,” in an August 24 article.

The Globe says passports will not be required for places of worship or essential businesses such as grocery stores and hospitals. They will, however, apply to casinos, nightclubs, restaurants, bars, theatres, and gyms. Horgan was paraphrased as saying, “Businesses that offer recreational services want to make sure they can continue to provide quality entertainment.”

The Premier was quoted as saying businesses wanted a passport mandate because of concern for staff safety and viral transmission, “And they want to do it in a way that gives their patrons confidence that they’re taking every step possible to make sure they can attend an event, they can go to a spin class, they can go out for dinner and not be fearful that they may come into contact with someone who might be able to transmit COVID-19.”

Yet, the notion that vaccine acceptance relates to transmissibility has had much doubt cast on its scientific veracity in recent weeks after data from Israel showed as much as 95 percent of severely symptomatic Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients and 90 percent of hospitalizations in the country’s third largest hospital, Herzog Hospital, were fully vaccinated.

In the United States, Centers for Disease Control data that tracked Massachusetts residents who attended large public events found 469 positive PCR tests diagnosed in one town between July 3 and 17. 74 percent of the positive cases were fully vaccinated individuals, 79 percent of the breakthrough vaccinated patients were symptomatic, and four out of five hospitalizations were vaccinated.

Nonetheless, Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry was paraphrased as telling reporters, according to The Globe, that, “The passport system is needed,” because, “Almost 90 per cent of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases, and 93 per cent of its COVID-19 hospitalizations, have been in people without two doses of vaccine.”

Henry’s administration came under scrutiny in July after Dr. Charles Hoffe, a community doctor in the small town of Lytton, went public with concerns about vaccine safety after five of his patients, all First Nations indigenous people, suffered severe and obscure neurological side effects after receiving the Moderna mRNA variant of the injections.

When Hoffe tried to contact Henry’s office for assistance, he was referred only to a “vaccine specialist” who told him there should be no neurological side effects. Hoffe said he was told, “These are all coincidences. These are nothing to do with the vaccine. These were just going to happen. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Just like people can have blood clots, people die, people get Bell’s Palsy.”

After Hoffe wrote Henry an open letter voicing his concerns and spoke to multiple independent media outlets, he met with retaliation from the Interior Health Authority, a subdivision of Henry’s office, who suspended his practice at the Lytton emergency room where he had served the community for 28 years.

In July, Henry’s office also sent a spam mailout to BC residents encouraging vaccine acceptance that disclosed the recipient’s vaccine status on the outer envelope.

Henry told reporters there would be no exemptions granted, even for those who have rare medical conditions, “If there are those rare people who have a medical reason that they can’t be immunized—these are discretionary events that we are talking about, so they will not be able to attend those events through this period of high risk. There are no exemptions for other reasons as well.”

The “vaccine card” will be launched on Sept. 13, and although it will not come into full effect in the Province until Oct. 24, Henry said after Sept. 13 residents will have to be at least single-vaccinated to participate in non-essential society.

Simon Fraser University professor, Scott Lear, justified the installation of a two-tiered society in Canada in the following manner, “It’s a bit of a stick and a carrot because we’re saying, ‘Okay this is what you could participate in if you’re fully vaccinated.’ Or it could be looked at as, ‘This is something you could lose’.”

The comments were similar to those made by New York City’s Democrat Mayor, Bill de Blasio, who recently installed vaccine passports in an August 24 interview with MSNBC, “Human beings do well when they have carrot and stick. So, a mandate helps people to realize it’s time,” he said.

According to the website COVID-19 Tracker Canada, almost 75 percent of BC has accepted at least one dose of the gene therapy based SARS-CoV-2 injections and 67 percent count as fully vaccinated.

Going viral

Although Canada’s Francophone province, Quebec, was the first province to lead the way with a vaccine passport requirement earlier in the month, many Canadian institutions are implementing their own de facto passports by mandating vaccination as a requirement for participation. 

The Toronto International Film Festival will require proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test for all attendees according to an August 23 Canadian Press wire report, walking back statements it made only two weeks earlier on August 12 that claimed passports would not be required.

Additionally, the Toronto Blue Jays also announced on August 23 vaccine and testing passports would be required for fans who attend home games at the Rogers Center. 

In July, Ontario Conservative Party Premier Doug Ford stated vaccine passports would not be a provincially mandated requirement in Ontario, “No, we aren’t doing it — simple as that. We aren’t going to have a split society…I think it’s our constitutional right to take it or not take it. No one should be forced to do anything.”

Also on August 23 in Calgary, Alberta, the Calgary Flames, Calgary Hitmen, and Calgary Stampeders all announced together that vaccine and testing passports would now be a requirement for fans.

On July 12, Alberta’s United Conservative Party Premier Jason Kenney vowed vaccine passports would not become a Provincial mandate, stating “I believe they would in principle contravene the Health Information Act and also possibly the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.”

Kenney made the announcement at his annual Stampede Breakfast event. The Calgary Stampede ran without vaccine passports, with the exception of the Nashville North country music tent, which was sponsored by vaccine acceptance group 19toZero, an organization co-founded by Jia Hu, a University of Calgary professor, and funded by companies such as Pfizer, Moderna, Merck, and Shaw Communications.

  • Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.