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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Quebec, convoys and vaccine rules

BY Will Nicholls Feb 28, 2022

It’s hard for the average Canadian to know exactly what the hell is going on these days. Perhaps Quebec Liberal leader Dominique Anglade summed it up best by saying, “Curfew, no curfew, unvaccinated tax, no vaccinated tax, vaccine passport which was deployed, maintained, now lifted. The contradictory messages of François Legault have been numerous and now must stop.”

Legault hasn’t been the only politician to act in that manner. Many of the politically inclined have been skating back and forth on the shifting ice of the pandemic. Many though are saying this is just a response to the convoys and not a real and measured response to the pandemic itself. 

Hell, even scientists are flip-flopping, with some saying it’s too early and not based in scientific facts. Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé claimed that “There is not link to the political environment.” He believes that it’s the “right time to do it, because it’s safe for public health.”

That’s why vaccine passports are no longer needed for provincial dope and booze stores and why bars and gyms will be fully open by March 14. Even though the passports will be phased out, it is recommended that we keep them with us in case there is a new wave in the future. Vaccine passports are still necessary for air and rail travel, whether domestic or international.

Masks will still be required in public spaces. Protestors don’t agree with this requirement. 

So, the convoys and supporters have won a few concessions, but many are tired of the protest itself and the political inaction towards it. An Angus Reid poll found that 65% of respondents felt Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the situation worse even though 69% opposed the protesters because of their approach and behaviour. A full 64% said they did not agree with ending all pandemic restrictions. Even so 49% said while they may not agree with everything the protesters want “their frustration is legitimate and worthy of our sympathy.” 

Which means 100% of us have contradictory opinions after two years of pandemic life.

Provinces have said that they could take away truckers’ driving licences and impose heavy fines including the possibility of jail time. The federal government invoked the Emergencies Act on February 14. Under this Act bringing children to the anti-government blockades, participating in the protest directly, or bringing aid like food and fuel to the protesters could result in a fine of up to $5,000 or five years in prison. The government can compel tow-truck companies to remove trucks from blockades and the RCMP are allowed to enforce provincial laws and by-laws in Ottawa. 

However, a Maru Public Opinion Poll found that 64% of Canadians supported using the Canadian military in a support role to end the protest. Given the weapons seized at another blockade out west this may be a needed measure to ensure the safety of Canadians, including the peaceful protesters. 

So, exactly what is happening and will be happening in the near and distant future is anybody’s guess. But politicians are realizing just how far they can go in restricting the rights of Canadians. And the average person is both against and in favour of all or some or none of the above.

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Will Nicholls is a Cree from Mistissini. He started his career off in radio and is still one of the youngest radio DJ’s in Canadian history, having a regular show on CFS Moosonee at the age of 12. Will was one of the founding members of the Nation, and has been its only Editor-in-Chief.