Catholic Vancouver August 26, 2021
‘These laws are unconstitutional, full stop’: a legal Q&A on mandates
The B.C. Catholic asked Jay Cameron, litigation director for the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, to assess B.C.’s new vaccination mandate. The non-profit legal organization has ongoing or pending court actions in five provinces regarding government COVID restrictions, including B.C.
B.C. Catholic: Are you concerned this vaccine card or proof of immunization in B.C. is crossing a line toward government mandated health care?
Jay Cameron: In Canada, people have a right to decide what medical treatment they receive or do not receive. The COVID shots are new and clinical trials will not be complete until 2023. As such, they are experimental. Each of the shots also contain warnings from Health Canada, including warnings about pericarditis, myocarditis, and thrombosis. It is unthinkable that B.C. is requiring these experimental injections as a condition of full participation in society, yet they are doing it. Yes, we are deeply concerned at this profound violation of peoples' constitutional rights. Moreover, it has become clear from the CDC’s own data that the vaccinated and the unvaccinated both spread COVID-19 as both groups if infected carry the same high viral loads.
In Iceland, where approximately 75 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated and over 90 per cent of people over the age of 16 have had at least one shot, that country’s chief epidemiologist recently stated that herd immunity from vaccination has not and cannot be achieved as the Delta variant can be contracted easily even by those who are vaccinated and spread to others. Similarly, in a July 2021 outbreak in Cape Cod MA where 469 COVID-19 cases were identified among residents who had travelled there and 74 per cent occurred in fully vaccinated persons. Out of five hospitalizations, four were fully vaccinated.
BCC: So if they can mandate this, why not other things?
JC: You are correct, if these mandates are not challenged or are approved by the courts, there is no question that it will open the floodgates to even greater government control over Canadians’ rights and freedoms, and our bodies.
BCC: Is this unprecedented in Canadian history? Is Canada’s legal tradition of accommodating differing viewpoints/rights disappearing here, or is it not relevant in this situation?
JC: We are unaware of any previous circumstance where a pharmaceutical company has rushed a product to market and has no liability for deaths or injuries, full studies have not been conducted, the governments have coerced and threatened people to get it, and Canadians may lose their jobs and civil liberties for refusing to take it. Yes, it is unprecedented.
BCC: How does B.C.’s situation compare to Quebec, which has also announced a vaccine passport plan. Are other provinces about to do the same?
JC: B.C.’s and Quebec’s vaccine mandates are very similar such that people will not be able to attend large events, restaurants and theatres without the vaccine passport. Manitoba has just announced that it will implement a full vaccine passport system as well for gyms and restaurants but the full details have not been announced yet.
BCC: Would religious/medical/conscience objections be a reasonable compromise? What about requiring masks or testing for those who object to vaccination?
JC: Our position is that these laws are unconstitutional, full stop. Seeking exemptions to the law implies that the underlying law is valid, and it is our position that it is not.
BCC: Are these mandates likely to head to the courts?
JC: Canadians have constitutionalized protections for conscience, religious, and security of the person, and it is apparent that for many citizens of B.C. that vaccine passports violate these fundamental freedoms. Yes, we expect there to be many court challenges.