Part Three: The Last Stop
By Travis D. Smith
“All of this is unusual and it’s making me feel uneasy.”
– Obi-Wan Kenobi, Revenge of the Sith
Being a rights-bearing person means that one can say no. There are things one doesn’t have to do or say or give up. Once this system of passports, mandates, and more is fully operational, good luck saying no anymore. Good luck appealing to any of your rights once you’ve already agreed it is best for us to jettison some of our most fundamental. It’s not simply that we’ve been had in agreeing to these measures; it’s that we risk being haved and haved again.
Some will say we’re only replacing individual rights with social rights; but the advocates of social rights have always known that they represent a denial of rights. That’s why they like them. They use the language of rights to get us on board with forfeiting our rights in exchange for their violation on behalf of an abstraction at the discretion of those in charge, who are hardly disinterested.
To ridicule people who weren’t eager to take the current mRNA vaccines it was often said that it’s not like they contain microchips or change your DNA. What’s clear now though is that if the government tells us eventually that we do in fact need to change our DNA—because if we don’t, we pose a threat to our fellow Canadians—our media and our neighbours will swiftly castigate and condemn anyone who doesn’t readily adjust. What makes you think your DNA is so special anyways? And similarly: Don’t you know that your nanotech implants and digital interfaces protect everybody else?
If you haven’t already, check out the federal government’s own website slavering over the impending advent of Biodigital Convergence. Heck, they’ve kind of already got us on board a bit. The mRNA vaccine technology—in which an artificial, synthetic, non-human, foreign, computer-model-based genetic product has been deliberately incorporated into our cell functionality—is already stealth transhumanism. No mystery ingredients required. I mean, it’s only a teensy, tiny bit of transhumanism, but we’ve got to start somewhere. Now someone doesn’t fully belong to the community unless they’re one of us, marking the beginning of a new kind of speciesism. At what point does resistance become futile?
Backing off from far-fetched futurism to address the present more directly: Workplace mandates are underway. There’s a debate to be had whether the definite harm inflicted upon identified people for the sake of relieving some indeterminate degree of risk to others is proportionate. It’s still to be seen how many people’s lives will be upended, potentially irreparably, by these policies in comparison to the reduction in hospitalizations that is counted as their principal justification.
Moreover, I haven’t seen any serious discussion of the longer-term question (though it’s nearer than we realize) of what’s going to have to be done with the ejected if they can’t find a way to bounce back after they’ve been bounced. Maybe the plan is to so ground them down that they come crawling back, begging to take any shot they can get, more as penitence than medicine. Otherwise, I suppose, someone has to take out the trash.
Isn’t it weird that they had to cajole so many health care professionals into taking the shots? Isn’t it astonishing that there are any at all who would rather lose their jobs than submit to the jabs?
The vaccines’ inability to reliably prevent transmission should delegitimize mandates. The further disregard for naturally acquired immunity when it comes to mandates is particularly baffling. Either that or it’s telling. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci can’t give a straight answer as to why the authorities are so determined to get these shots into everyone’s arms, including those whose immune systems already possess broader and longer-lasting protection against a range of variants than the narrow and limited antibody response prompted by the original spike proteins alone. Instead, he makes another disingenuous call for future discussions and studies that could only see completion after it’s too late to make a difference.
In the United States, President Biden gave a speech imposing sweeping mandates of a sort that would have resulted in a general strike and an immediate shut-down of the entire public sector and marches and more in the streets if the exact same policy had been proposed by the previous president. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has since imposed a mandate on federal workers in Canada, too. While the rest of us keep our literal facemasks on, the prime minister has of late in press conferences like that one and several recent campaign speeches perceptibly changed his tone and allowed the metaphorical mask to drop from his face.
In Canada and the United States alike we’re starting to witness the effects of mandates within the medical profession. The full detrimental impact of these policies, resulting already in “unforeseen limited staffing availability,” remains to be felt by all members of the public, whether or not one is vaccinated. There was already a shortage of trained professionals and exhaustion among those practising. They’re calling it an “unintended consequence,” but it’s almost like those imposing the mandates want the hospitals to be more overrun.
Isn’t it weird that they had to cajole so many health care professionals into taking the shots? Isn’t it astonishing that there are any at all who would rather lose their jobs than submit to the jabs? Am I the only one hearing stories of physicians taking early retirement, too? Do these trained professionals feel that the jobs they’d be expected to do if they must continue under the terms in effect would no longer be the jobs they trained for? What have they seen or heard?
Occasionally, stories like Dr. Rochagné Kilian’s resignation in Owen Sound pop up on alternative media sites, but who in the media establishment is conducting investigative journalism into this strange phenomenon? The closest I have found is a CBC article from October 13 featuring a few remarks from three Quebec nurses, only one of whom would give their name. Apparently other possible sources backed out of interviews out of fear of reprisals. The CBC dutifully responds to the nurses’ concerns by reciting the refrain that the vaccines are safe and effective. Hopefully that’s all these nurses needed to hear. How is it that nobody had told them until now?
When it comes to exemptions to mandates, it is evident that there is no intention to grant many. “Exceedingly narrow, specific, and somewhat onerous to obtain,” was the prime minister’s description of his standard.
When it comes to exemptions to mandates, it is evident that there is no intention to grant many. “Exceedingly narrow, specific, and somewhat onerous to obtain,” was the prime minister’s description of his standard. Whichever exemptions are granted, there’s no reason to believe they won’t be withdrawn in time.
As regards the adjudication of religious exemptions, it’s abominable that secular powers like the Ontario Human Rights Commission are entrusted with reading people’s hearts to discern the sincerity or validity of their commitments and beliefs and dismissing them out of hand for not conforming to officially accredited creeds. As regards what few medical exemptions are being allowed at present, the most absurd criterion being applied is that someone may be exempted from a second dose if they had a really bad reaction to the first. One must take the jab to find out that one shouldn’t have taken the jab.
On September 13, the CBC ran an article about someone who had a horrible experience following the first shot, but Public Health nonetheless recommends, and his employer still requires the second. The CBC shrugs. Them’s the breaks. The U.S. FDA’s infamous draft list of adverse outcomes shows that they knew early on that bad side effects would range wildly, but the development and distribution of these treatments happened so rapidly that it was impossible to acquire data sufficient to know what conditions are contraindicated.
It’s not like bureaucracies, necessarily operating on generalizations and simplifications, can appreciate differences between persons, from body to body—certainly not when an emergency has been declared. Meanwhile, medical professionals, too, seem similarly obliged to disregard the differences between their own patients and give them all the same direction, otherwise they put their own positions in jeopardy.
Mandates are coercive enough to compromise the principle of voluntary consent. What other coercive measures might come next? On September 3, Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared on CBC’s The National to say in plain speech that the time for coercion has come for Canada. Apparently, he is not only able to bamboozle Congress under oath with impunity; he presumes to tell other nations how to use their police powers. Being King of the World naturally comes with the territory after having declared oneself essentially indistinguishable from Science Itself.
In that obviously pre-scripted exchange—the only kind of interview Dr. Fauci likes to do—CBC’s Andrew Chang does his best impression of Kent Brockman welcoming his new insect overlords, offering to be helpful in rounding up others.
How is it that Dr. Fauci, the godfather of gain-of-function research, doesn’t know by now where this virus came from? That ignorance alone suggests that maybe he isn’t very good at his job. (Of course, if he does know and isn’t telling, he’s bad at his job in a worse way.) If there’s any event during COVID times we could point to and say that sure looks like an actual conspiracy, it was the behind-covering cover-up Lancet letter from February 2020 in which Fauci’s friends pre-emptively declared the lab-leak hypothesis a conspiracy theory. The same Dr. Fauci now informs Canadians that it’s time for outright coercion.
I am concerned about the number of Canadians who are concerned about the trajectory these coercive measures might take. The recent reaction among those on high alert to the Premier of Saskatchewan’s September 13 emergency order permitting entrance into any building without a warrant, confiscation of private property, collection of any information, prohibitions on travel, the relocation of persons, and more, indicates how on edge some people are getting. When Provincial Command was authorized to lead the emergency response through the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre as of October 7, Scott Moe roundly mocked anyone who expressed concerns about potential abuses of power in a tone-deaf fashion that seemed designed to further antagonize. Ha-ha, the silly farmers think we’re going to steal their cows.
In my own small town, locals have wondered why a construction company that specializes in steel buildings has suddenly starting shipping significant numbers of containers under black tarps that look like they could contain components for rapidly deployable temporary hospitals or relocatable military buildings. A defunct transporting facility on the edge of town suddenly sporting a freshly surfaced yard surrounded by high-tech exterior lighting and barbed wire fencing is enough to get people gossiping. It’s strange reports of unusual observations like these that random people across the continent are tucking into TikTok videos as if they suspect something insidious is afoot. It is a disturbing sign that people’s imaginations are getting the better of them. Our impending federal travel ban is further fuelling people’s paranoia.
On August 13, the Government of Canada announced that it will be constructing five “Safe Voluntary Isolation Sites” in the vicinities of remote towns in Northern Ontario. The Public Health Agency of Canada says they’re to help people where “crowded housing conditions and high costs make it unsafe or impossible to self-isolate.” Conditions like these burden Timmins, Cochrane, Hearst, Kapuskasing, and Moosonee—the last stop on Ontario’s northbound train—more than I realized.
To rile up followers in advance of upcoming protests, one notorious anti-COVID-policy activist on Twitter openly called them “concentration camps” on October 13. Canadians can only respond to such allegations with disbelief, especially when uttered by disreputable types. Obviously, worst-case interpretations of these facilities’ purposes cannot be true because this is still Canada. I can nevertheless imagine what Solzhenitsyn would say, and I still remember bigoted curmudgeons in the 1980s declaring that everyone with AIDS should be shipped off to Baffin Island.
Given that people are saying mandates and passports portending unemployment and social death for non-compliance aren’t technically coercive, I can imagine how someone’s response to the ultimatum “Do this or go there” might be reckoned as sufficient to call their confinement at such a site voluntary—for their safety as well as ours. It looks like Saskatchewan has already dispensed with voluntariness when it comes to transporting people to secure isolation sites. In this context, Dr. Theresa Tam’s tranquil meditations on sending non-compliant persons to mandatory quarantine detention centres from the 2010 National Film Board documentary Outbreak remain somewhat disquieting.
I’m sure the accommodations are going to be comfortable enough and the occupants in these sites will be glad for the opportunity to be isolated there. My point is, extrapolating from the attitudes and acrimony expressed nowadays, further stoked by our authorities’ inflammatory rhetoric and restrictive policies, I am no longer so confident that some number of Canadians wouldn’t be okay with it if the worst-case interpretation were true—especially should breakthrough cases spike or new variants emerge. Neither of those concerns would worry us so much if the vaccines worked like we would have liked.
To conclude, I would like to say that whatever is coming, I am sure that it cannot properly be called fascism or communism. I know this because the Royal Canadian Legion has implemented the vaccine certificates in the bars of its local branches, and to be a member of the Legion you must attest that you’re neither a fascist nor a communist. Who knows what new modes and orders might emerge consequent to COVID times? Whether it will be something much worse than what we knew before or somehow surprisingly better may take the next ten to one thousand years to find out.
Travis D. Smith is Associate Professor of Political Science at Concordia University in Montreal. He holds a PhD from Harvard University. His prize-winning dissertation, On the Generation of New Natures, 2005, examined the political meaning and significance of modern medicine. His publications in political theory include several contributions to the study of the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes. In addition to his interest in issues at the intersection of politics, technology, and religion, he also teaches and writes on topics exploring the relationship between storytelling and education. In 2018, he published Superhero Ethics.