Ashley Hughes: Leaving vaccine mandates and travel restrictions in place is embarrassing

Trudeau owes Canadians an explanation

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The prime minister, instead of gallivanting at international summits, needs to answer questions at home, namely: why is the federal government still forcing pandemic-era travel restrictions upon his own citizens?

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a chance to do the right thing last week, when the House voted on Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman’s opposition motion calling for the immediate reversion to pre-pandemic rules for travel.

Instead he played divisive politics and the motion was defeated 202 to 117, with Jagmeet Singh’s NDP providing the kind of support envisioned when Singh signed up to keep this minority government in office until the next election.

Trudeau owes Canadians an explanation. He is using what was a real public health crisis — a threat that has significantly reduced in recent months — to continue playing the politics of division. Leadership has nothing to do with following public-opinion polls.

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There are no good reasons to continue to discriminate against the unvaccinated minority, or to perpetuate the airport that’s inconvenienced the majority, who are vaccinated and rightly wish to travel.

Nearly 85 per cent of the eligible population in Canada have been fully vaccinated, which is higher than the rates of vaccination in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand — countries that have all eased, or are about to ease, travel restrictions. Unlike in Canada, all of the above countries now allow their own unvaccinated citizens to travel within and outside their borders.

Other than Australia and New Zealand, COVID hit these countries harder than in Canada, where the death per million as of April 26 was 1,023; in France, the deaths per million were 2,045; UK, 2,574; and the US, 2,995. Mexico’s rate was 2,513.

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So why the discrepancy? Rather than showing the leadership one would expect of a prime minister, Trudeau is leaving the heavy lifting to his bureaucrats and cabinet ministers.

After the assessment vote, it was Transport Minister Omar Alghabra who was put in awkward position of claiming his government is still consulting with experts and other jurisdictions.

Which jurisdictions might these be? Certainly not the provinces, as they have all decided that the public health emergency that once justified segregation based on vaccination status has passed.

Trudeau and his government need only watch the thousands of vaccinated and unvaccinated, unmasked hockey fans who crammed into the Saddledome and Rogers Place for the recent Battle of Alberta to know what the provincial governments think of such anachronistic COVID measures.

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And he certainly need not consult with the British, who announced loud and clear to the world over the weekend just how far they have moved on from COVID, by putting on a four-day extravaganza to mark Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

That it has taken this long for the Conservative Party of Canada to find its voice on this issue and to at last take up the fight against this hard-left government is in itself a dereliction of duty.

Where was the libertarian voice fighting against the creation of a two-tiered society last summer? These will eventually be questions for Conservatives to wrestle with as they choose a new leader in the coming months.

For now, reasonable-minded Canadians should be thankful that at last the Opposition is looking like it’s prepared to stand up and at least begin to ask the questions of this government that should have been asked months ago. Namely, where is the evidence showing that preventing unvaccinated Canadians from flying is effective at reducing transmissions of COVID-19?

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Even some Liberals don’t believe their own government’s policies. “Nothing about the re-evaluation of travel-related measures has been transparent,” Liberal MP Nate Erskine-Smith wrote on Twitter about his decision to abstain from voting on the Conservative motion.

Let’s remember that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was brought in by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the father of our current prime minister, to enshrine the rights of minorities. He feared the majority couldn’t be trusted to protect the rights of minorities — rights he fiercely defended. I bet he wasn’t imagining it would be his own son against whom the minority needed such protections.

In Trudeau the elder’s “just society,” the “state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.” It also has no business in the private confines of a doctor’s office.

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It is now clear that the continued imposition of these outdated restrictions is nothing more than punitive over bruised egos from the trucker protest. Trudeau owes it to Canadians to fully explain why the government’s travel restrictions and vaccine mandates are being kept in place past their best before date, or to do the right thing and allow Canadians the freedom to travel, regardless of vaccination status.

National Post

Ashley Hughes is a British-born freelancer living in Vancouver.

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