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Ontario’s proposed ‘Immunity Passport’ may violate Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The minister said that the government won’t force a COVID vaccine on anyone but cautioned there would be consequences for those who don’t take it.

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The Ontario Ford government is considering adopting an “immunity passport” to show who has taken a COVID-19 vaccine and will be eligible for certain activities once vaccination becomes widespread.

The comments were made by Health Minister Christine Elliott at a press briefing on Tuesday.

Elliott was being asked about vaccine distribution, including convincing more people to take the shot once it is available. The minister said the government won’t force a COVID vaccine on anyone but cautioned there would be consequences for those who don’t take it.

While the idea of an “immunity passport” isn’t a new idea, it may well violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms – which guarantees mobility rights to Canadian citizens, say experts.

Press secretary Alexandra Hilkene said the government is looking at many options for vaccine “tracking and surveillance.

“This includes exploring developing tech-based solutions while also providing for alternative options to ensure equitable access to any potential ‘immunity passport,’” Hilkene told the Toronto Sun.

An immunity passport restricting everyday societal activities could violate several sections of the Charter, including:

Section 2 – Fundamental Freedoms;

•             (a) freedom of conscience and religion;

•             (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

•             (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

•             (d) freedom of association.

Sec. 6 – Mobility Rights; and Sec. 7 – Life, liberty and security.

Litigation specialist Jonathan Lisus, a Toronto lawyer who has argued many Charter cases, said the actions described by Elliott would likely end up heading to court for a judge to rule on.

“The question will be whether the infringements can be justified under Sec. 1,” said Lisus told the Sun.

“For example, I can see a credible argument as a condition of visiting in hospital or air travel. It gets harder the broader the application.”

Section 1 of the Charter is the clause on which constitutional challenges are often argued. It reads: “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

Lisus said Section 1 one of the Charter allows governments to infringe on rights if the infringement “can be demonstrably justified.”

Cara Zwibel, director of the fundamental freedoms program at Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said while there are a lot of details to learn, the idea of excluding people based on vaccine status, would be problematic.

The global conversation on imposing a mandatory requirement to provide a government-issued ID card is moving rapidly toward acceptance with Hungary and Iceland leading the pack.

“At this point in the pandemic, there is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an “immunity passport” or “risk-free certificate,” said the World Health Organization.

“People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice. The use of such certificates may therefore increase the risks of continued transmission.”

Pfizer said immunity from inoculation may last up to a year. Vaccinations may have to be repeated yearly.

Ken Grafton is the Western Standards Ottawa Bureau Chief.

He can be reached at kgrafton@westernstandardonline.com

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Federal bureaucrats very pleased with themselves at start of pandemic

In self-congratulatory internal emails, the department said it was “very proud” of doing a great job on pandemic management, “a great story for us.”

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“We’re good! We’re very very good!”

At least that’s what the staff at the federal Public Works department felt about themselves as COVID-19 deaths in Canada were approaching 9,000, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

In self-congratulatory internal emails, the department said it was “very proud” of doing a great job on pandemic management, “a great story for us.”

“I know how difficult it has been,” wrote James Fitz-Morris, director of communications.

Fitz-Morris told staff “we should be very proud of what we put out.

“It’s a really great page that tells a great story for us,” he said July 31 as COVID deaths that day numbered 8,961.

The economy at the time had shrunk 11 percent, and unemployed totaled 2,182,600 Canadians.

A handout for reporters said: “The Government of Canada is dedicating approximately $6 billion to buying personal protective equipment, medical equipment and supplies to keep Canadians safe.”

Staff in a May 29 email exchange cautioned scriptwriters not to refer to “our government” in statements to the public. “You can say ‘our government’ but we can’t!” wrote Elizabeth Lindsay, director general of communications.

“We’re everybody’s government!” replied Fitz-Morris. “You sure are!!!!” replied Lindsay.

Cabinet in the first weeks of the pandemic heaped praise on federal managers for their pandemic response. At one press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland described public health officers as national celebrities.

“I have observed as a former journalist that chief public health officers across the whole country have become this generation’s rock stars,” Freeland said April 14.

“Thanks to public servants who have been working around the clock,” Prosperity Minister Mona Fortier told the Commons finance committee May 28.

“Our amazing world class civil servants, they are doing an amazing job,” Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen told the Commons June 17.

“Many public servants are working hard to develop and deliver support to Canadians,” Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos testified at a May 8 hearing of the Commons government operations committee.

“Federal employees are continuing to be productive in their efforts to provide Canadians with the government services they depend on every day, and to provide critical services and the many new measures quickly developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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O’Toole hires former Huawei executive

O’Toole has already said if elected prime minister there is no way he would allow the Chinese-backed Huawei onto’s Canada’s 5G networks.

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Tory party leader Erin O’Toole has hired a former top executive of the controversial Chinese firm Huawei.

O’Toole brought on board Jake Enwright, who was Huawei Canada Vice President & Director of Corporate Affairs. He will handle research and issues management for the Conservatives.

O’Toole has already said if elected prime minister there is no way he would allow the Chinese-backed Huawei onto’s Canada’s 5G networks.

Enwright worked for former Tory leader Andrew Scheer, leaving his office in 2018.

Many countries around the world have banned Huawei claiming it would allow the Chinese to use the 5G system to spy on their countries.

Canada and its Five Eyes allies — the U.K., New Zealand and Australia — are under pressure from fellow member, the U.S., to ban Huawei on security grounds.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau still hasn’t made a decision on whether to allow it in Canada.

“Unlike Justin Trudeau, I don’t take entities of the Chinese regime at their word. If I’m PM Huawei will be banned from 5G,” tweeted Tory leader O’Toole on September 17.

It cames on the day, the Globe and Mail reported Huawei had communicated to Ottawa that it promised not to spy on Canada.

“Huawei Canada has put together a legal agreement between the company and the federal government that outlines a ‘no back-door, no-spying’ pledge,” the Globe reported from their sources.

Ottawa has spent almost two years studying whether to allow Huawei into 5G networks.

Bell Canada and Telus Corp have announced they will not partner with Huawei in their 5G network and instead go with Ericsson and Nokia.

Both companies use Huawei in their 4G networks.

Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on on December 1, 2018, following an extradition request from U.S. officials who alleged she violated sanctions on doing business with Iran.

Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained in China days later and were later charged with espionage.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Hamilton police drop COVID mask caper

Police said they have no leads and no suspects, in the theft of the masks that had just been flown in from China by the Department of Public Works.

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Hamilton police have dropped the case into the theft of millions of COVID-19 masks from the hamilton airport, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Police said they have no leads and no suspects, in the theft of the masks that had just been flown in from China by the Department of Public Works.

“A report on their investigation was completed in October which found there were no additional investigative leads to pursue,” said Stéfanie Hamel, spokesperson for the department.

“The products were not recovered.”

Two million surgical masks, part of a shipment of 34 tonnes of pandemic supplies, were pilfered from a CargoJet warehouse at Hamilton last July. The department concealed the robbery at the time.

Hamel said the masks were “stolen between Saturday, July 4 and Monday, July 6” when the heist was reported to police. Authorities did not estimate the value of the loss but charter aircraft costs alone ranged from $500,000 to $800,000.

Hamilton’s airport authority Thursday said it only learned of the robbery when alerted by Blacklock’s.

“We comply with aviation regulations to ensure the airfield is safe and secure,” managers at John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport said in a statement.

“Services related to the storage or movement of goods by ground transportation from the airport are controlled by the respective cargo carriers.”

The robbery was disclosed in an internal Department of Public Works email.

Staff said they only learned of the heist when a shipment by Purolator truck from Hamilton to a federal warehouse in Vaudreuil, Que. failed to appear.

“A shipment of approximately two million surgical masks was picked up at the CargoJet warehouse,” wrote staff. “Canada has been advised by Purolator that the masks were not picked up by one of their subcontractors as scheduled.”

The robbery occurred after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Hamilton airport publicly announced the shipment.

CargoJet has declined comment on the robbery. Purolator also refused to respond to questions.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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