Since the Government of Quebec under Premier François Legault decided to jump the gun today and announced the coming of “vaccine” certification on September 1st, possibly in response to the opposition’s demand for always harsher measures, I decided to post these extracts from my larger work earlier than planned. As always, the imitation of Americans is instant in Canada—this comes in the same week that New York City imposed its own “vaccine” certification system. In fact the Liberal Party in opposition added a cruel and perverse twist to the naming of the vaccine passport, calling it a “Freedom Passport”. Without the passport, no freedom, hence the indefinite suspension of the constitutional rights of a select group of Canadians, discriminated against on the basis of their health status. This must also mean that workers in “non-essential services” (does that include political parties?) will be mandated to get injected, or else be fired. A “vaccine passport” is thus also mandatory “vaccination” at the same time. Bruised by many months of lockdowns, private businesses are required to not only collaborate with the state, and agree to reduce their revenue by refusing customers, they also agree to be effectively deputized as the state’s auxiliary police service. Where under Canadian law it is stated that citizens are required to involuntarily divulge their private health information to strangers, it is not known, nor did Legault at any point cite any legal support (let alone scientific support) for this measure. We need to further analyze this obvious slide into full-fledged dictatorship, which uses a “pandemic” as a convenient cover and as a gold mine for imposing always more authoritarian measures.
Health Discrimination in Quebec
The Government of Quebec began planning to penalize the “vaccine hesitant,” by removing from them the freedom to access “non-essential services,” as defined by the government (Manitoba is also following). This is clearly a case of shaming and stigmatizing, and the invention of a threat from those who are officially libelled as a dangerous Other. Having invented a vaccine passport (in the works for several months), for which at first the government claimed there was no use, now the government reveals its intended use: to segregate the public and pressure people to allow themselves to be injected, preemptively blaming them for any rise in “cases” given spreading variants (to which the vaccinated are also clearly vulnerable, and which they can spread). The passports, using QR codes, were easily hacked in a trial, thus the system would further breach persons’ private data. The federal government of Canada has not gone so far—since vaccine passports are discriminatory, divisive, and force people to reveal their personal health data—but is reportedly considering mandatory vaccination for all federal employees. Quebec Premier Legault, citing the flimsiest of evidence of increased infections (blamed on the unvaccinated, without any evidence) announced on August 5, 2021, that “vaccine passports” would indeed go into effect on September 1st. The “science” behind this, needless to say, is more akin to magic.
There has also been resistance to vaccine passports internationally, not just on the streets of Europe in massive weekly protests that the media refuse to cover, but also from the WHO. In the UK a parliamentary committee concluded that the scientific case for certification has not been made, that passports are discriminatory on prohibited grounds for discrimination, that there are valid concerns for privacy and data protection, and that such passports have “the potential to cause great damage socially and economically”. However, as noted by the Security and Policing Subgroup that advises the UK government, “Once the majority of the population is vaccinated, the exclusion of individuals who refuse vaccination may have public support” (SPI-B, “Lifting Restrictions: Security and Policing Implications,” February 10, 2021, p. 7)—thus one ostensible aim of mass vaccination is precisely to facilitate discrimination against the resistant. One report from France painted a complete picture of devastation wrought by the introduction of this certification regime, where citizens now have to qualify to enjoy inalienable human rights.
Vaccine certification is coercive, placing people under duress and violating free and informed consent; it is also entirely redundant and unnecessary if public health is really the issue. To be clear: vaccine certification is not a health or medical issue, it is political. Anything concerning inclusion/exclusion, controlling population mobility, borders, and passports, is by definition part of the political domain of the state. Highlighting the politics of vaccine passports, even the acute partisanship of the politics involved, witness Democrats in the US who applaud the entry of unvaccinated migrants from Central America, and yet simultaneously call for the exclusion of unvaccinated Americans from universities, schools, workplaces, and entertainment venues.
What is usually overlooked is that such a system of vaccine certification means the removal of basic rights for everyone in Quebec who is required to furnish proof of official approval to enter whichever establishment (a minor change in the app can change the range of access immediately): the right to participate in civic life is thus abrogated, rendering citizenship provisional and tentative. At a very minimum, this expands the already vastly expansive range of regulations that exist at all levels of government in Quebec, a multiplication of powers of oversight and surveillance that render personal autonomy fictitious. When people comply with this, they agree that all aspects of their everyday behaviour are now subject to licensing.
Testing the Logic of the Passport
Examine the logic of the Quebec government’s decision. For this purpose I will use a semi-fictionalized example based on elements of my own routine, and for this purpose the reader will need to assume that the person in question has not been vaccinated. Let’s begin: schools are declared essential services, so there will be no vaccine discrimination when accessing them. Professor X teaches at a university in Montreal, but does not live in the city. To get to that university, Professor X spends 1.5 hours on a heavily packed train. In the train station itself in Montreal, there is a sandwich and coffee bar, in the middle of masses of people swirling around it—there is no feasible way of barring entry, since it has no walls and no door. After the train station, Professor X switches to a crowded Metro system. He arrives at his campus’ Metro stop, and shuffles in a massive throng of people to go up escalators. Then he squeezes into a packed elevator. He arrives at a packed classroom with no windows and poor ventilation. Class lasts three hours. That is just part of the work for that day. After all is done, on his way out of Montreal, he decides to stop at a restaurant near the campus, to have a bite alone—and it is there where he is barred entry.
(Not only that: within the very same building where Professor X teaches and has his office, there are two cafes and a pub—one of the cafes has only two walls—presumably, he will be denied access to services within the same building and among the same people to which he delivers his service.)
Everywhere else, he has been inside of crowds, for many hours, but suddenly when it comes to having a burger off campus, no, that is just too much. Why? Because the “vaccinated,” benefiting from a “vaccine” that keeps them “safe,” still need to be protected from the unvaccinated. Never has such a low bar of immunity been set for a “vaccine”. The vaccinated ought to be wondering exactly what was squirted into their veins that fails to make them immune to the unvaccinated. As for the unvaccinated, they will be protected from dangerous restaurants, but somehow they will also be safe among thousands of people in buildings that are like stacks of cruise ships. The vaccinated will be protected both inside the restaurant, and inside the train station, yet Professor X cannot have a burger in the restaurant, but he can have a sandwich in the train station. The virus understands these nuanced differences and respects the government’s finicky little dividing lines.
What is to be done to people working in “non-essential services,” who are themselves unvaccinated? Are they to be laid off? How is access regulated to establishments that offer a mix of both “essential” and “non-essential”? Will guards with QR code scanners be posted in each aisle? Meanwhile, all “non-essential services” will presumably need to dedicate personnel to stand guard at entrances and scan the QR code of each single person seeking entry to the establishment. There will be lines of people—people lining up like compliant little toddlers, shifting from foot to foot, and repeating this for each store they visit. The security theatre we found in airports all these years, will now be everywhere: every “non-essential” store will have to become a security clearance point, like in an airport.
If the Quebec government’s aim was to increase exasperation, add to confusion, multiply divisions among people, expand bureaucracy, violate the right to privacy, securitize daily life, openly signal politicians’ lust for total power, effectively suspend civil rights and nullify the defining rights of citizenship, and to maximize distrust of the authorities, then this strategy is refined beyond measure. Success is assured, unquestionably.
It’s an “exotic” word, so of course “educated” Canadians working in the media will struggle with it. Some in the Canadian media take umbrage at anyone calling such a pass-based system of discrimination, “apartheid”. They think that “apartheid” is a holy word, that is racially exclusive property belonging to a specific people. To call one act of discrimination by the same word used for another act of discrimination, somehow “cheapens” and “diminishes” that other discrimination. In other words, there is “good discrimination” which is to be applauded (“vaccine passports”) and then “bad discrimination” (which only became bad in Canada when it was politically convenient). Yet, what is the essence of apartheid? Two of the three definitions listed by The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language state: “A policy or practice of separating or segregating groups” and “The condition of being separated from others; segregation”. Separation, segregation, discrimination—linking “vaccine passports” with apartheid is all the more warranted when we recognize the fact that targeted Others are forced to contain their movements within what is allowed by a pass. In both cases, the pass is associated with a certain biological property, whether it is skin colour or one’s health status.
Canada, at an official level, likes to celebrate itself as place where diversity and inclusivity reign, and where we face the injustices of the colonial past. This is very convenient, as a distraction. It is a stance that distracts from the new injustices being perpetrated in the immediate present, right under everyone’s nose.
Medical apartheid is precisely the kind of regime we would expect in a Health Security State as discussed extensively by Giorgio Agamben. Writing specifically about “vaccine passports” (or the Green Pass in the case of Italy) in a recent article which, translated from Italian, is titled “Second-Class Citizens,” he explains:
As happens every time a despotic emergency regime is established and constitutional guarantees are suspended, the result is, as happened with the Jews under fascism, the discrimination of a category of humans, who automatically become second-class citizens. This is the aim of the creation of the so-called green pass. That it is a discrimination based on personal beliefs and not an objective scientific certainty is proved by the fact that in the scientific field the debate is still ongoing on the safety and efficacy of vaccines, which, according to the opinion of doctors and scientists who there is no reason to ignore, they were produced quickly and without adequate testing.
Despite this, those who stick to their free and well-founded belief and refuse to be vaccinated will be excluded from social life. That the vaccine is thus transformed into a sort of political-religious symbol aimed at creating discrimination among citizens is evident in the irresponsible declaration of a politician, who, referring to those who do not get vaccinated, he said, without realizing that he was using a fascist jargon: “we will purge them with the green pass”. The “green card” constitutes those who do not have it in bearers of a virtual yellow star.
This is a fact whose political gravity cannot be overstated. What does a country become in which a discriminated class is created? How can one accept living with second-class citizens? The need to discriminate is as old as society and certainly forms of discrimination were also present in our so-called democratic societies; but that these factual discriminations are sanctioned by law is a barbarism that we cannot accept.
Such a certification regime—let us be absolutely clear about this—is authoritarian for everyone. It is not authoritarian just for the “unvaccinated” alone. Everyone who abides by such a system, agrees to furnish documentary proof to gain access to what was previously free and open to them. They thus agree to concede access, on grounds arbitrarily decided by the state. What was previously taken for granted, is now the focus of heightened securitization. This is effectively the abolition of the very concept of everyday life, for everyone.
To end on a personal note, this is an exceptionally depressing time in which I find myself. From the start, I suspected that our summer here of lessened restrictions was just a brief interim period, the carrot dangled in front of the mule before the stick struck our hindquarters again. Never have I personally witnessed such a dark curtain of fascism pulled across a society, and with such insignificant protest, and to the cheers of fake opposition parties and even faker media. Nobody will see this, thanks to ever widening censorship. I knew this was just the beginning of much worse to come, and this newest measure is itself an open door to a permanent “pandemic” of authoritarianism, fear, and the abolition of anything that can meaningfully be called society. It has come to pass, things have finally fallen apart.
Update: Tuesday, August 10, 2021
In revisions to the initial announcement, the Quebec government managed to make matters a little better, and a little worse. First, the government clearly signalled its continued subversion of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, by turning rights and freedoms into privileges. Quebec Premier François Legault announced “certain privileges” would be extended to people who are adequately vaccinated against the virus—what was once normal, taken for granted, and a right to freedom of movement, has now become a “privilege”. “We are revoking your privileges” is the kind of talk one would hear in a prison—no more weekend passes, no visitors, no extra time in the yard, “privileges”. Those without “privileges” (i.e., formerly rights under the law), can now endure a form of solitary confinement, until they learn to improve their behaviour. The thrust of the so-called “sanitary pass” is thus still punitive, and it returns adults to a stage of their lives that they last experienced in primary school (when they were also denied any say in what vaccinations they would get).
There was also a partial retreat: previously, the announcement was that only the fully “vaccinated” would have access to “non-essential” services—this has been narrowed down now to gyms, bars and restaurants, festivals, and large public events such as concerts. Retail stores are unaffected.
Yet there is a basic contradiction: people who are fully vaccinated may dine in a restaurant, but the staff of the restaurant are not required to be fully vaccinated. In other words, the pass affects the customers, but not the workers—but both are in the same space at the same time. Workers remain in a legal zone, while customers are banished to an extra-legal zone.
Respect for the Labour Code continues, but that may be temporary:
“In the type of establishments where a passport will be needed, employees will not be required to be vaccinated, but customers will. In this regard, [Health Minister] Dubé explained that the government would comply with the rules of the Labour Code, at least ‘for the time being’. He said staff vaccination ‘cannot be required’. ‘There is really a difference between the client and the employee,’ he said, ‘because legally, work is a right’. He would not comment on the case of teachers”.
While saying that “legally, work is a right,” that is a right that apparently may not apply to teachers, and is almost certain to be stripped from healthcare workers. Quebec is likely to impose mandatory vaccination on all healthcare workers. Of course, workers may refuse, and if they do they will easily find ample job opportunities waiting for them in other provinces and other countries, where they are likely to be paid more and be treated with more respect. The Quebec health system, already broken, could now suffer further losses beyond the many nurses who have reportedly already quit.
The so-called dangerous and highly infectious Delta variant—so legendary that it deserves an all-consuming focus denied to lesser diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiac diseses—continues to underperform and underwhelm: at the time of writing, no new deaths had been reported in days, and there were 17 people in ICU, in a province with more than eight million people. Yet, this has been called the start of a fourth wave, presumably referring to the virus and not to waves of incessant absurdity flowing from the mouths of officials.