Commentary

The latest news in the increasingly bizarre world created by the politicians in response to COVID-19 is that Québec Premier François Legault has decided to impose a health-care surcharge on people who do not get vaccinated. The ostensible rationale behind the surcharge is that, in the premier’s words, “the vaccine is the key to fight the virus.” The main point of his remarks, however, was political. Mr. Legault plainly wanted to blame someone else for the deplorable state of affairs in his province.

We all know who the scapegoats are by now, and sure enough the premier announced that “those who refuse to receive their first dose in the coming weeks will have to pay a new health contribution.”

The “contribution” is being called a tax in many news reports, though it sounds a good deal more like a fine. This is an important distinction legally, which I happen to have written about. The purpose of a fine is relatively simple. It is punishment.

Mr. Legault went on to say that the fine will be significant. He then tried to extricate himself from the situation by saying that he is only imposing the measure because the people who have been vaccinated are asking him to do so. This is a stretch, to say the least.

I do not believe the polls that are currently making the rounds, which are highly transitory and part of an orchestrated campaign to vilify the unvaccinated. They merely establish that the politicians have succeeded for the moment in turning people against each other.

The main goal of our political leaders at this point is to blame someone else for the problems in the hospitals, which are a direct result of their mismanagement of the health-care system. The decision to dismiss or suspend unvaccinated health-care workers is naturally part of the problem.

The deeper issues are foundational. The news for Mr. Legault and the other premiers is that we live in a system that places fundamental limits on government. We have a constitution, which comes first, and he is not entitled to do what he wants without regard for our personal rights and freedoms.

The basic constitutional issue with the new measure, as with other COVID policies, lies under Section 7 of the charter, which guarantees personal autonomy. Everyone has the right to “life, liberty and security of the person.” The guarantees of freedom in Section 2 of the charter complement this basic right. Under these sections, everyone has the right to make their own fundamental decisions in life, which includes decisions on matters with regard to our health.

As Brian Peckford, the former Newfoundland premier who helped bring in the Charter of Rights, has stated, the primary requirement in the charter is that the limitations on these rights and freedoms need to be legally justified. Decisions regarding your own body cannot be taken away from you without the most compelling evidence.

The kind of evidence that would be sufficient to justify the decision to force people to submit to an unproven medical procedure against their will has never been presented to the courts. Instead of justifying their increasingly onerous limitations on our rights, the politicians have spread fear and panic, and targeted the unvaccinated.

I can only agree with Mr. Peckford, who has also pointed out that the scientific evidence is not on the side of the politicians. The latest data from the British government, for example, establishes that “fully vaccinated” individuals have been hospitalized at a much higher rater than the unvaccinated over the past few months. Four out of five COVID deaths are among the vaccinated. Then there are the vaccines’ side effects, which the politicians, medical officials, and media are determined to ignore.

There is plenty of evidence, in Canada and elsewhere, which shows that the vaccine project is an abysmal failure, pushed by politics rather than medicine. The emperor has no clothes.

The bigger concern is that the checks and balances in our system of government have basically collapsed. The general failure of the media, the courts, and other institutions in society to stand up to the unconstitutional actions of government is inexcusable.

The politicians are in denial, of course, and the worse the news on the vaccines, the more spiteful they become. The mainstream media is still following their lead. One columnist wrote last week, for example, that the unvaccinated “are so dug in at this point that little will move them.”

It is a preposterous inversion. It is the politicians who have dug themselves in too deep and cannot find a way out. Instead of admitting their mistakes, they are trying to force the rest of us to fall in line. Those who refuse to do so will be punished.

The problem for Mr. Legault is that we live in a “free and democratic society,” to use the words of the constitution, which is founded on the belief that people have the right—and I daresay the responsibility—to make their own decisions in life, whether we agree with them or not. The politicians have no authority to take that right away from them.

The scapegoats in the COVID narrative are those people who are doing what they should be doing and making their own decisions with regard to their bodies and their health. Mr. Legault is now bringing in a fine to punish them for exercising their constitutional rights.

I have to wonder what comes next in this new and Kafkaesque kind of world. It is beyond imagining.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Paul Groarke

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Paul Vincent Groarke is a retired lawyer and academic. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy and has published extensively on the history of common law, ethics, and philosophy. He has recently commented on the COVID crisis in “The System of Rules,” a book in which he discusses political theory in language that anyone can understand.

Paul Groarke

www.theepochtimes.com

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