John Carpay – National Post
Pandemic-era lockdowns and travel restrictions violated the freedoms of association, conscience, religion, mobility and peaceful assembly set forth in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Even today, despite acute under-staffing in health care, the British Columbia government still prevents many doctors and nurses from returning to work, solely because they legitimately exercised their right to bodily autonomy by refusing the COVID vaccine.
Governments have also disregarded the constitutional principle of democratic accountability. Our Constitution requires that prospective laws be debated, and come into force only after approval by a vote of elected representatives who are accountable to the people.
To a significant degree, members of Parliament and of provincial legislatures abandoned their constitutional power to make laws for the better part of three years. Legislators did not debate the restrictions that drove many Canadians into unemployment, poverty, isolation, loneliness, depression and despair. Instead, they empowered unelected health officials to speak new laws into force at news conferences.
A public health emergency should not be used as a pretext for suspending the legislature’s normal obligations and proceedings. To ensure that these egregious violations of Canada’s Constitution do not occur again, legislative reforms are needed.
Other social and economic measures — such as unemployment, bankruptcies, homelessness and public debt — should similarly be accounted for. The government should also monitor the quality of care received by seniors in long-term care facilities, including their right to frequent in-person visits from loved ones.
The right of every individual to choose to receive or not receive medical treatments (including a vaccine) should be added to human rights legislation as a prohibited ground of discrimination.
Based on respect for the scientific method, legislation should require the colleges of physicians and surgeons to respect the right of all doctors to research, write and speak freely. Doctors should not have to fear any adverse consequences for expressing heterodox opinions. Further, the colleges should respect the doctor-patient relationship by neither compelling doctors to prescribe certain treatments, nor prohibiting them from proscribing others.