Two minutes with the Justice Centre
Divided Canadians should agree on one thing: It’s the response to Covid that’s divided them and vaccine mandates are only the latest issue causing division between strangers, within families, and even in marriages. It’s a marker for the crucial distinction in human affairs: Does the state own the citizen, or do the citizen own the state?
It’s no coffee-shop small-talk. Citizens of authoritarian countries know regardless of what their constitution says, their government can actually do whatever it likes with them. For example, even though China has a constitution which technically guarantees freedom of the press, freedom of association, and “freedom of the person of the citizen,” their people have been treated as mere tools of the state, with heinous human rights violations(1) rampant and the arrest of dissident voices commonplace(2).
It’s always been so. The western concept of inherent individual freedoms and protection for minority rights to which Canada subscribes is just an island in history and geography, surrounded by oceans of oppression. Sadly, if popular support for tighter restrictions, mandatory vaccination(3) and now fining unvaccinated people has been accurately measured, the water’s rising around the island. Indeed, the Toronto Star, Canada’s second largest newspaper(4), recently recommended(5) ‘vaccination against COVID-19 (should be) the law.’ They were pushing on an open door. With the prime minister calling unvaccinated Canadians racist, extremist, anti-science and misogynist(6), it was unsurprising that Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos then encouraged(7) provinces to impose mandatory vaccinations.
Yet, controlling one’s body is a crucial element of personal agency and autonomy. Without that a person is no citizen at all, just a serf of whoever does have control. Uncomfortable as the reality must be for ‘do-the-right-thing’(8) Canadians, the difference between forcing medical procedures upon citizens against their will and harvesting organs from dissidents in China is one of degree, not kind(9).
Sadly, many Canadians still think that’s worth it even though over two years, the disease they fear so much has shown itself to have more in common with the annual flu than it does with the Spanish Flu of 1918. This, despite the fearful claims made in March of 2020(10). For that we should allow governments to dictate who can work, who can go to school, and who can visit you at your own home?
Some may enjoy sticking it to the prime minister’s deplorables now. But this is dangerous thinking: In the saddle today, under the horse’s heels tomorrow. Surrender one’s right to one’s body, and what will be taken next? If only Canadians could agree on that.
3. https://dailyhive.com/vancouver/canadians-support-mandatory-vaccination Among many others.