Home Government 44th Parliament of Canada Surprising debate about vaccinations two-years-in as blockades continue

Surprising debate about vaccinations two-years-in as blockades continue

Livelihoods, health and communities being impacted by ongoing blockades.

Thursday February 10, 2022 | NATIONAL

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends


Even as more than 90 percent of Canadians have been double-vaccinated against COVID-19, two years into the pandemic Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today found himself defending his Liberal government’s position on the blockades and the value of vaccinations, during debate in the House of Commons.

“We’re going to remain focussed on our work to end the blockades,” said Trudeau. Trudeau said in response to challenges from the Official Opposition Leader Candice Bergen that the Conservatives have been “enabling, supporting and cheering on these blockades”.

trucks, coutts, border
Blockade of trucks at the Canada-USA border crossing at Coutts, AB [BBC web].

Trudeau today said he understands that people want their livelihoods back. He also said that “the way we will change our measures” is by listening to scientists and public health.

Indeed, without vaccines, the pandemic would have had a much more devastating impact on Canadians; public health data clearly shows that.

As of January 30, 2022 Canada’s vaccination coverage in people with two doses of COVID-19 vaccine was 78.69%, and for three doses was at 40.51%.

In national media, coverage of on-the-street interviews with people participating in the blockades has surfaced opposition to the mandating of vaccines, more-so than against vaccination itself.

Prior to the last few weeks, most Canadians have not only realized the benefits of vaccination against COVID-19 but have in large number become fully vaccinated (until recently that was two doses, and now includes a third or booster shot).

phac, 2 doses, jan 30, 2022
Two doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered to 78.69% of the Canadian population at Jan 30, 2022 [Public Health Agency of Canada]

Jurisdiction:

Vaccine supplies and pandemic leadership have been the responsibility of the federal government, under the guidance of Health Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). The provinces and territories have the responsibility to deliver public health care, including immunization programs.

IST twitter, blockades
@IslandSocTrends on Twitter, Feb 10, 2022.

Today NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh during Question Period purported that Trudeau is “hiding behind jurisdiction” and should quickly do everything he can to stop the blockades, noting the border blockades at Coutts in Alberta and at the Ambassador bridge at Windsor, Ontario.

Supply chains are being impacted, and laws are being broken. Canadians are being hurt by inaction. The cost of food is going up as delivery to warehouses and retail stores is impacted. The automobile manufacturing sector is laying people off because needed parts aren’t getting across the border.

“It’s typical in Canada for every issue to be turned into a federal-provincial jurisdictional squabble,” said retired BC MLA David Schreck on Twitter today. “But who thought that would happen when we are essentially under attack by domestic terrorists,” he said in response to Island Social Trends tweeting the day’s news about NDP encouraging some action against the blockades.

Today Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in the House of Commons that the Conservatives have been “justifying” the blockades. “The way we change our measures is by listening to scientists,” said Alghabra regarding pandemic management.

This week both Saskatchewan and Alberta have begun lifting or have fully lifted all public health restrictions related to the pandemic, except in some cases to continue wearing masks.

A light touch so far:

Generally speaking, law enforcement has taken a light touch as if hoping the people involved in the blockades will get tired of the siege and depart. Ottawa police and RCMP have cited lack of resources, and in recent days the federal government has said they will supply whatever is needed. The number of trained personnel in many police forces across Canada has become strained during the pandemic.

In Ottawa, not wanting to put their own personnel in harm’s way is one aspect of the early non-response by local police, as well as being slow to organize to some enforcement. In recent days there has been some ticketing for noise bylaw infractions and other minor things (this list according to Global News on February 3):

  • Eight charges for unnecessary noise (honking of horns);
  • One charge for transporting dangerous goods (insecure fuel cars);
  • One charge for an improper muffler;
  • Four charges for disobeying traffic signs;
  • Two charges for driving the wrong way on a one-way street;
  • One charge for an unsafe lane change;
  • One charge for distracted driving;
  • One charge for running a stop sign;
  • Six speeding tickets;
  • And five document offences.

Blockade funding:

The so-called Trucker Convoy that started the protests against mandatory vaccination 14 days ago quickly turned into illegal occupation of streets in Ottawa and at several border points across the country. Over $10 million in funds collected for the truckers through the GoFundMe crowd-sourcing online web portal very quickly had to be largely refunded, as it was discovered that foreign funds were being contributed to support the illegal actions of the blockades.

alistair macgregor, gofundme
NDP Public Safety Critic Alistair MacGregor challenged the process of blockade crowd-sourcing by GoFundMe [Feb 3, 2022 – Twitter].

During the February 3 meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Safety, NDP critic Alistair MacGregor (MLA for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) put forward a motion to investigate the role GoFundMe plays in funding hate, specifically white supremacy, and antisemitic movements. “The company has ties to extremist events like the current convoy in Ottawa which pose a threat to Canadians,” the NDP said in a statement.   

Health & family impacts:

There is an impact on the health of people living in the downtown Ottawa area during the occupation by trucks for two weeks now. That includes the noise of horns blaring (until that was finally locally enforced a few days ago) and the significant pollution levels in the air as a result of the burning of diesel fuel in the streets.

Evidently about 100 children have been in the company of their parents in the trucks within the Ottawa trucker’s blockade for up to two weeks. The Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa is funded by the Ontario government and is empowered to seize children from families if necessary.

randall garrison, ad, 2021
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