Canadians Actually Opposed Vaccine Passports as Early as May: Federal Research

By Neil Campbell | January 6, 2022
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
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Canadians opposed vaccine passports in May, months before the national rollout, revealed federally funded research
People eat lunch on benches during -4 C weather at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, Ontario, on January 5, 2022. The Provincial government closed restaurants to in person dining Wednesday, leaving the vaccinated to eat outside as the unvaccinated have since vaccine passports were installed. The Government of Canada was aware from focus groups conducted in May that the installation of vaccine passports was unpopular with citizens. (Image: GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images)

A report conducted by a federal government office advising the Prime Minister ascertained that Canadians actually opposed vaccine passports was delivered in October, according to a recent report.

The research backing the conclusion, however, was conducted as early as May, months before vaccine passports were universally installed one-by-one at the provincial government level.

Conducted at the bequest of the Privy Council Office (PCO), which directly advises Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, an obliquely-dubbed report titled Continuous Qualitative Data Collection of Canadians’ Views (CQDC) dated Oct. 29 was viewed by the heavily-paywalled Blacklock’s Reporter.

Coverage of Blacklock’s article by Epoch Times quoted the outlet as summarizing the findings of the report presented to the PCO, and subsequently the leader of the ruling minority Liberal government, as, “There was not a great desire among the Canadian public to implement such a program for Canadians.”

The report drew results from multiple focus groups across Canada and was prepared by research and public relations firm The Strategic Counsel (TSC).

“There was a concern about potential discrimination based on vaccination status,” stated the report, which added, “Many mentioned the impact of implementing vaccine passports on civil liberties, viewing it as an infringement on the ability of unvaccinated people to travel.”

The report also found many Canadians interviewed were concerned that “the implementation of vaccine passports was the first step towards a mandatory vaccination policy.”

“They felt moving in this direction was in direct contravention of Canadians’ right to choose in this case whether or not to be vaccinated, and that it might possibly impact employment opportunities and the ability of those who are unvaccinated to financially support their families.”

The CQDC appears to be a monthly sequence of reports prepared by TSC for the PCO that was once published on the Government of Canada’s Publications website.

However, the most recent report available on the website is the one Blacklock’s refers to in their article. This report is dated May of 2021, but has a delivery date of Oct. 29, 2021 and states the contract was awarded on Dec. 18, 2020, for which $1,618,838.00 in taxpayer’s funds were paid.

The document clarifies that this cycle of public opinion polling “included a total of twelve focus groups with Canadian adults (18 years of age and older) between May 4th and May 27th, 2021.”

It states that the dozen focus groups targeted “specific subgroups of the population” and were broken down into two general population focus groups, one in Northern Alberta and the other in Southern Ontario, followed by ten niche focus groups that assembled cohorts described as follows:

  • “Vaccine hesitant people” in rural east quebec and “vaccine hesitant racialized Canadians” living in the Greater Toronto Area;
  • A group “experiencing COVID-19 fatigue” and “exhibiting riskier behaviours” in the Greater Montreal Area, Saskatoon, and Regina;
  • “Opinion leaders and those paying close attention to the news” in Eastern Ontario, including self-identified “opinion leaders” aged 65+ in Atlantic Canada;
  • Parents of children in daycare in Lower Mainland BC and Northern Ontario;
  • First-shot vaccine acceptors in Quebec City and 65+ vaccine acceptors in Manitoba.

All focus groups were conducted on the Internet, and each was composed of 8 people or less. In total, only 83 people were probed for their opinions.

From the report, it appears the government was considering implementing the slogan “One Dose Summer, Two Dose Fall” in an effort to spur vaccine acceptance among the population.

The slogan ran into a certain amount of resistance in all focus groups because it made respondents ask questions that undermined the solidity of the one-voice public health rhetoric, such as, “Is there a possibility of a third dose being required?” and “If people get vaccinated and public health measures remain in place, then what exactly has changed between the summer and the fall in terms of what Canadians can do?”

It also appears that the Public Health Agency of Canada was considering using Canada Post to send a direct mail postcard vaccine acceptance propaganda campaign by attempting to link vaccination status to improved civil liberties.

The proposal also ran into resistance when some respondents “were somewhat more critical, believing that increased activities and the loosening of restrictions should be more clearly linked to cases of COVID-19 rather than to vaccination rates.”

Blacklock’s story appears to focus on the “Detailed Findings” section of the report, located on Page 50 of the 145 page report, where TSC’s research noted during focus groups probing for willingness to submit to vaccine passports that “several participants” expressed “negative feedback they had heard.”

The CQDC summarized such “concerns” from respondents as being centered on issues such as:

  • Respect for personal choice; 
  • Bona fide medical exemptions;
  • “Intra-family disputes that the issue of a vaccine passport seemed to be causing among family members with varying attitudes towards vaccination”; 
  • A feeling that showing health papers “seemed overly intrusive”; and
  • Vaccine status as a condition for employment.

However, in the “Related Findings” summarized portion of the report located much earlier on Page 15, TSC’s characterization of respondents’ willingness to accept medical status social segregation and a two-tiered society was somewhat more rosy.

“Several saw domestic vaccine passports as a useful tool in the immediate future, in order to control the public health situation before Canada had reached herd immunity,” said one portion. 

The section primarily focused on the issue of support for the implementation of a vaccine passport requirement for Canadians to use infrastructure such as planes, trains, and buses to travel domestically, a measure that was announced a few months later in August.

TSC called opinion “ divided,” but said “many were open to it as a temporary measure.”

“In both scenarios, the most common concern raised centred on possible infringements to Canadians’ civil liberties, specifically the right of people to travel whether or not they are vaccinated,” said TSC 

The CQDC added, “Several put forward that the requirement to carry proof-of-vaccination documentation might become a more permanent feature in Canadians’ lives going forward.”

Respondents voiced similar concerns at the prospect of vaccine passport requirements for attending large events such as concerts, and sporting events, an edict that quickly rolled out nationally and extended to virtually all “non-essential” businesses starting in August.

In the most recent example, Quebec is reported to be set to bar the unvaccinated from both liquor and cannabis stores early this month, despite the Province’s almost-85 percent single dose vaccine acceptance ratio.

The conservative and liberties-minded stance described as held by respondents in the CQDC come in contrast to polling held in October by the Angus Reid Institute that found a mere 23 percent of Canadian parents intended to spare their children from vaccination once the pediatric injection was approved

A second poll conducted by the company in November revealed that 70 percent of Canadians wanted to see the unvaccinated lose their jobs, including frontline workers and first responders.