Pallister Passports

Commentary, COVID-19, Government, Brian Giesbrecht

The Pallister government has recently announced a new tactic in its campaign to persuade more people to become vaccinated – immunization passports. Those carrying passports will not have to isolate for two weeks when returning to Manitoba. Proof of both doses of an approved vaccine are a requirement.

The campaign to convince more people to choose vaccination is obviously legitimate and necessary. However, the government’s plan comes close to forcing people to get vaccinated, and is illegal, dangerous and unfair.

Illegal because a government simply has no right to force a citizen to be injected with an experimental vaccine. The government knows this, but chooses to ignore the illegality until forced to stop.

Dangerous, because the vaccines might be harmful to the health of some people. Those with inflammation, or blood-clotting problems, for example, might be advised by their doctors not to choose vaccination. It is also not at all clear that teenagers should be vaccinated. Germany recently announced that only teenagers with medical conditions that made Covid particularly dangerous for them should be vaccinated. 

Recent research suggests that young men and previously infected people who may not need the vaccine might also think twice. Vaccination is a personal choice, and a decision that one should discuss with their physician. It is extremely unwise for a government to force a citizen to accept a medical procedure that might permanently harm – or even kill them.

Unfair because a family wishing to travel might have a member in one of these health categories. It is unfair to force them all to vaccinate. However, even if a person simply chooses not to be vaccinated, they have a right to that choice. They have accepted the risk, and vaccinated people are at no significant risk from them.

But unfair mostly because these passports are certain to impact negatively on the poorest of our citizens. Generally, the people who are not vaccinated are the inner-city poor, and religious groups in southern Manitoba. The hospital and ICU beds are in large part occupied by the poorest people from the mean streets of Winnipeg, as well as the poor from some of the rural indigenous communities. 

For various reasons, many of these people are not choosing vaccination, and they are infecting one another. The recently announced program to reward people for becoming vaccinated may or may not be successful to get the vaccination numbers up. 

But at the end of the day, a certain percentage of the population will be vaccinated, and a certain percentage will not. We have to live with that.

Meanwhile, these new Pallister Passports might be put to all sorts of uses. Want to deny a disadvantaged person entry to a hotel or restaurant? Simply insist that anyone wishing entry must have a passport. There are many similar abuses that come to mind that will further marginalize minorities.

These are a few examples only of why these passports are such a bad idea. The government’s policy of thoroughly frightening the population, and then responding to the demands of those most frightened is doing great harm. These passports are another sad example. Wiser leaders have outlawed their use either by the government or corporations. That is what we should do.

The Pallister Passport plays fast and loose with people’s health and civil liberties. 

It should be scrapped.

 

Brian Giesbrecht, retired judge, is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash.