Should Leftists and Progressives trust Pfizer and Big Pharma?


Josh Kaye

Josh is the main author of Northern Currents – A Leftist perspective on Canadian politics. Josh is an electrician of 10 years and has been interested in radical politics for even longer. Follow on Twitter at @ncjoshkaye.

Like most articles with a headline posed as a question, the answer is no. Pfizer and other Big Pharma companies are classic examples of everything that is wrong with our global, corporate, new world order. While this is true, we should make the distinction between these large corporations and the scientific community as a whole.

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There has been no shortage of controversy over supposed “Leftists” such as Jimmy Dore promoting all sorts of explicit anti-vaccine and covid-denying propaganda. The result of this is a small portion of Leftists parroting these propagandistic talking points, making themselves appear no different than far-right PPC supporters.

These Leftists may as well join the conspiracy caucus of the federal Conservative party, whose supporters have an all-to-friendly relationship with conspiracists. While their intentions – skepticism of corporate and government power – may be honourable, they are simply displaying their lack of understanding of how science works.

Skepticism vs Denialism

On the one hand, corporations such as Pfizer do have a terrible track record of choosing corporate profit over human life. Pfizer has a history of illegal marketing of drugs such as gabapentin, valdecoxib, sirolimus, Geodon, and Lyrica. They have a history of suppressing internal whistleblowers. About 500 people died because of defective heart valves they produced.

During an outbreak of measles, cholera, and bacterial meningitis occurring in Nigeria, Pfizer was also accused of “using the outbreak to perform unapproved human testing, as well as allegedly under-dosing a control group being treated with traditional antibiotics in order to skew the results of the trial in favor of Trovan. Nigerian medical personnel, as well as at least one Pfizer physician, said the trial was conducted without regulatory approval.”

All this information is freely available for the public to see on Pfizer’s Wikipedia page. It is as damning as it sounds, people needlessly died or were injured due to corporate negligence and the pursuit of profit.


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On the other hand, it would be a mistake to conclude that because Pfizer committed horrible acts in the past, that they are currently doing the same with the Covid-19 vaccines. This is simply fallacious reasoning. Pfizer also has a plethora of more commonly used medications listed on its website such as Advil, Chapstick, and Robitussin that haven’t had any controversy surrounding their use.

A healthy mistrust of large corporations is always a good thing, but if taken too far, one will find themselves deviating into the realm of conspiracy very quickly. Our criticisms must be evidence-based.

More crucially, this left-anti-vaccine crowd misses the broader structure of quality control in the scientific community. We all understand (or should at this point) how peer-review works. Pfizer did the clinical trial for their vaccine which was then peer-reviewed by the journal.

Once published, the results are made available to the entire scientific community to scrutinize and analyze. This process of community scrutiny often leads to retractions of studies that prove to be incorrect or fraudulent. This same process has led to Ivermectin studies being retracted. Thus far, nobody has found any issues with the vaccine data.

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Real-world data has also confirmed the safety and efficacy of vaccines in every country they have been made available to the masses. Vaccine mandates are working and are the key to ending this pandemic.

More recently, covid-denialists have trotted out one BMJ article of a supposed whistleblower exposing “falsified data, unblinded patients, employed inadequately trained vaccinations, and [slow follow up] on adverse events reported in Pfizer’s pivotal phase III trial.” These claims have been shown to be lacking in evidence and important details, and are a fraction of the study.

So what do we as Leftists make of all this?

The Left has always had a strong tradition of emphasizing the importance of science and empirical understanding of the world. Remember that foundational socialists such as Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Engels considered their approach to economics as “scientific socialism.” Marx himself admired the scientific advances made possible by Capitalism:

The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground — what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?

Manifesto of the Communist Party

As Leftists, we should not dismiss the labour of the workers of these pharmaceutical companies. Years, even decades of research, testing, education, and development of these vaccines would not be possible without these essential workers. Of course, this is all in the context of an economy driven by profit and capital accumulation which is less than ideal. It’s not the science we want, it’s the science we get.

Under capitalism, large private corporations monopolize and privatize scientific inquiry. We should be pushing for the nationalization of big pharma and medical production – with democratic control. What we should not do is dismiss the global scientific consensus that Covid-19 is a serious problem, and that vaccines are essential in fixing this problem and saving lives. We should not align with conspiracists, conservatives, or fascists. This shouldn’t be a controversial opinion!

Wake up Sheeple! How covid conspiracists miss the biggest ‘conspiracy’ of all.


Josh Kaye

Josh is the main author of Northern Currents – A Leftist perspective on Canadian politics. Josh is an electrician of 10 years and has been interested in radical politics for even longer. Follow on Twitter at @ncjoshkaye.

It’s no secret that conspiracy theories have skyrocketed in popularity over the last 20 months. We all probably know more than a few people who have gone off the deep end promoting theories of a “New World Order” that is supposedly being imposed upon the otherwise oblivious herds of sheeple.

Global News recently reported that “two in five Canadians (40 percent) considered it “definitely” or “probably true” that “certain significant events have been the result of the activity of a small group that secretly manipulates world events.”

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Photo: Markus Winkler

It’s as if covid-conspiracists think that none of us have ever heard of these conspiracies before, as if we all didn’t watch the same things on YouTube back in 2010. It’s all exactly the same. “Do your research!” and “Lookup Blackrock!” they exclaim at you, rather parrot-like, while your eyes roll to the back of your head.

This turn toward alternate, outlandish explanations of current events is simply an attempt to make sense of the Covid-19 pandemic, no doubt. It is infinitely easier to interpret what is going on when it is assumed that someone or some group of people are in control of the entire situation – even if they have nefarious intentions. It is much harder to accept that maybe, no one really is in control. The pandemic requires a collective effort to beat this virus. It is also true that many of these theories align with Conservativism all too neatly.

What strikes me the most about the claims made by this coalition of covid-conspiracists, including anti-vaccine adherents, is just how close some of them are to understanding what is really going on. Some of them are actually on the brink of grasping broader left-wing ideas of class dynamics in society.

Capitalism itself is not a conspiracy, obviously. But under our global capitalist system, there are two prominent classes of people: those that make a living from owning capital (for example land, money, or a business) and those that rent their time in the form of wage labour or a salary. 


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Conspiracy theorists rightly point out that certain corporations and people have too much wealth and power. They love to play connect the dots: this billionaire owns this company, and this company has ownership of these companies, who are jointly owned by these other billionaires over there. They love to make connections between certain individuals who will hold seats on the board of directors of multiple companies, or that companies will have an ownership stake in multiple other companies.

All these things are true, this is a feature of capitalism. What they miss though, is the collective class interest of these networks of powerful individuals. 

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Conspiracists will attribute all major world events to a select handful of the wealthy elite. We all know the usual individuals incorporated into these theories: George Soros, the Rockefellers, Hillary Clinton and others, and they can turn anti-semitic really quickly. They miss the point that these individuals are a small – but still powerful – subset of the larger capital-owning class that share the same broad interests.

They see the connections but miss the bigger picture.

Photo: Claudio Schwarz

This capital-owning class consists of multiple stakeholders: companies, individuals, families, banks and even governments. All of these compete against each other and form coalitions when it proves to be mutually beneficial. What they do share in common is their class interest in neo-liberal policies of:

  • Lower minimum wages and minimal worker protections
  • Elimination of borders for corporations
  • Deregulation, privatization, lower corporate taxes
  • Hyper-exploitation of under-developed countries’ resources and people
  • Multinational free-trade agreements

Covid-conspiracists will often talk about this “New World Order” as being imposed on us while we are all distracted by Covid-19. Sorry, this is incorrect. The New World Order is already here; we have been living in it the whole time. 


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This already existing New World Order accelerated its brutal levels of inequality during the 1980s with so-called trickle-down economic policies. It was devised under Ronald Reagan in the USA, Margaret Thatcher in the UK, and Brian Mulroney here in Canada, with the help of the wealthy and powerful capital-owners of society. 

Is not the fact that we now have billionaires claiming that they will end world hunger with their own private fortunes enough evidence that we live in a New World Order? If our global capitalist system has such massive concentrations of wealth already, surely this meets the criteria?

To any serious Leftist reading this, this won’t come as a shock to you. I have simply described a simplified Marxist class analysis of capitalism, and a potential inroad for conveying these ideas. As stated earlier, Covid-conspiracists see the connections but miss the bigger picture of class society.

A battle of ideas surround Covid-19. Vaccine mandates offer hope for us all

First of all, I just want to say thanks.

Thanks to all of you who have been – or will be – fully vaccinated. Thanks to healthcare workers of all types who have worked relentlessly for the past year saving the lives of strangers. Thanks to the scientists and researchers in Canada and abroad for literally inventing a cure for a novel virus within months. At any other period in history, this would have been simply unthinkable.

Photo: @fusion_medical_animation

Winning the battle of ideas

The vast majority of those of us who live in Canada have gotten the jab twice now. As I write, we are at 74% of the eligible population is fully immunized. Nice.

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This is a signal that the “war of ideas” surrounding Covid-19 is almost over, in Canada at least. The same cannot be said about our the USA, which is seemingly turning into a virus factory at this point. I’m just waiting for a Florida variant any day now.

This battle of ideas can be characterized by 2 opposing sides. With covid-denialists and anti-vaxxers on the one hand, and the rest of us who respect the institution and practice of science on the other, we have largely won the battle of ideas. Over 3/4 of the population have taken the pro-science side.


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This is not to paint vaccine-hesitant folks with the same brush as the aforementioned anti-science zealots. Slowly, as millions of more doses of vaccine are given around the world, the vaccine-hesitant are coming to understand the not only are the vaccines safe, but they work. Some need a little more persuading but vaccine hesitancy has become an almost untenable position at this point. They will get there

Across Canada, the under 40 age group is the next arena of battle in this war of ideas. 62% of those aged 30-39 are fully immunized. The number drops to 55% for 28-29. Sure they were the last in line, but we can’t forget many of them are no doubt influenced by people like Joe Rogan. 

You don’t know what you’re talking about, Joe

Rogan has an immense platform on Spotify with the biggest podcast on the audience. It’s a damn shame too because he uses his reach recklessly and he is embarrassingly wrong on many things. So much so that recently the scientist of a study that Rogan himself cited, had to come in and clear the air and explain to the world how Rogan had got it so wrong.

Recently I had a co-worker tell me that because he was so young, he simply didn’t need the vaccine because he was “low-risk” (as if he really knew the risk involved). He also said that the vaccine was pointless because it didn’t stop the transmission of the virus. 

Guess what my co-worker’s favourite podcast is? Yep, the Joe Rogan Experience. Both of these points were transmitted straight from Spotify to this guy’s brain. Millions of other brains too, I would guess. Talk about a super-spreading event (of misinformation).

As anyone could have reasonably guessed, these points are both flat out wrong. Yet they persist in the minds of many young people. Luckily, newer studies have been done to measure vaccine efficacy against the delta variant. Despite the barrage of media reports of breakthrough cases – which do happen – the vaccines still hold up.

On the issue of transmission, many cases (a positive PCR test) are prevented by the vaccines in the first place, thus preventing further transmission. This is simple vaccine efficacy. Also, the amount of virus present in your system (viral load) is much lower than if you are unvaccinated:

The vaccine made by Pfizer in New York City and BioNTech in Mainz, Germany, was 92% effective at keeping people from developing a high viral load — a high concentration of the virus in their test samples — 14 days after the second dose. But the vaccine’s effectiveness fell to 90%, 85% and 78% after 30, 60 and 90 days, respectively.


The vaccine developed by Oxford and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca in Cambridge, UK, was 69% effective against a high viral load 14 days after the second dose, falling to 61% by 90 days.

The drop in effectiveness shouldn’t be cause for alarm, says Sarah Walker

Nature: COVID vaccines protect against Delta, but their effectiveness wanes

It’s not 100% perfect, but it’s very good all things considered. This is a huge step in protecting the elderly and immunocompromised who are much more likely to experience breakthrough cases.

Vaccine mandates

Canada is currently entering its fourth wave of Covid-19, this time with many of us fully vaccinated. So far, provinces have differed wildly on strategies of moving towards “back to normal.” 

The Albertan strategy has been the most reckless, seemly trying to open everything all at once. They even tried to end mandatory quarantine for covid-positive people if you can believe it. Unsurprisingly, they had to backtrack due to a higher case count than expected.

Funny enough, Erin O’Toole, current leader of the official opposition has recently backed the Albertan premier and his cronies in public health. There has been much condemnation of Jason Kenny’s Covid-19 leadership from various scientists and public health officials from across the political spectrum. Despite this, O’Toole characterized Kenny’s Covid-19 response as being handled “far better than the federal governments has.” Yikes.

British Columbia, on the other hand, has chosen a vaccine passport approach – one of the first in the country. Many non-essential services will simply not be available to the unvaccinated. This is most likely the province’s final push to get the last remaining few vaccinated and get stronger herd immunity.

It seems to have proven successful too. This final push to get as many people vaccinated as possible almost doubled the new registrations and bookings during the first 2 days since the announcement.

The vaccine passport has been the subject of debate during the course of the pandemic. I was skeptical of both the need for it and whether it was a legitimate curtailment of individual freedoms at first. But I do think it is legitimate, and many Canadians seem to agree.

Using the power of the state to prevent people from causing harm or significant risk causing harm to others isn’t a controversial opinion. This is what the government is doing: preventing harm.

Is this heavy-handed? Yes, but it is justified because it prevents people from harming others or putting them at significant risk. We are still in a pandemic after all. Is it tyranny? No. The real tyrants are the tiny minority who insist on their “right” to infect others or put others at risk.

There is also a collective component to the vaccine passport that will be anathema to any hardcore libertarian individualists. The simple fact is that the more people vaccinated, the better it is for everyone. This is due to a stronger herd immunity. 50% vaccinated is not great. 80% is much better. 90-100% vaccinated could eliminate this virus entirely, in the same way we eliminated measles. This is the best possible outcome and one we should strive for!

In other settings, it is simply a no-brainer. Here I would include places such as long-term care homes or hospitals. If you are an anti-vaxxer, why are in in a field so reliant on science and medicine in the first place?

Remember that the current vaccine passport system is an alternative to previous lockdowns or restrictions. It is the opposite of a lockdown – lockdowns shut down society, the vaccine passport is an attempt to reopen society and get back to normal. The tiny minority of anti-vaxxers are the ones keeping this pandemic going; it is time for them to get out of the way. I’ll be thinking about them while I’m at the bar, enjoying a drink.

What if we all get Covid-19? Why vaccines are the cure to contagion

Photo: Ivan Diaz

The Covid-19 pandemic has been in full swing for over a year now in Canada. Early on, many questions circulated among the population about the new virus and what we, as a society, should do to counteract its harmful effects. 

At this point, Covid-19 has become the most studied virus in history; entire armies of scientists and doctors have gone to extraordinary lengths to understand how the virus works how to prevent its spread. Over 74000 studies have been done over the past year in what can only be described as a global, collective counter-attack of scientific inquiry.

Many questions have been answered, too. We learned early on that masks have an important role to play in reducing spread. We know much more about the airborne transmission and mechanics of respiratory viruses. We’ve also learned much about how people react to such global threats, with many retreating from reality and turning to conspiratorial thinking.


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So what has happened here in Canada, One year in? As a resident of BC, I will focus mainly on how Covid-19 has affected us in this province. I do believe that there is enough similarity throughout Canada that these results can be generalized pretty well.

Transmitting terrible ideas

There is a relatively small (yet loud) class of people who would like to see us reach herd immunity through “natural infection.” That means without a vaccine and simply allowing the virus to circulate through the population freely. I’m looking at you, anti-vaxxers and supporters of the so-called Great Barrington Declaration.

These types of people tend to think that those aged under 60 are “low risk” and therefore shouldn’t worry too much about getting the virus. Typically they want to simply focus on protecting the elderly while allowing the rest of society to continue as normal. Details are lacking of how they would actually achieve this, unfortunately. The hundreds of long-term care outbreaks prove how difficult it is to only isolate one group of people who require many different services that require interacting with others in close proximity.

Either way, the data shows that this “young people are low risk” narrative is simply not the case. Sure they are much lower risk than the elderly, but there are far too many harmful effects for this to be plausible. A thought experiment can gives us imperfect, although still useful, information to assess whether or not this is true. We simply have to ask the following:

What would happen if we let all BC residents contract the virus?

In short: death, destruction, the apocalypse, and possibly the second coming of Christ. Okay, maybe not, but still. 

What does the data reveal?

BCCDC’s weekly situation report (week 11, table 4) breaks down, by age, how many hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and deaths have happened in the province. The trends of these data points have been fairly consistent throughout the pandemic. We can extrapolate this data to the whole population – with caveats – to get a very rough idea of what is truly possible with this virus.

If we extrapolate this data to the whole population this what we get:

Data taken from BCCDC situation report: week 11, table 4. Figures were taken from the table and extrapolated as if the entire population had Covid-19. For each age group, cases would be equal to total population.

Before getting into the major caveat, we get a wrong, but rough estimate of 97224 total deaths in BC highlighted in red. This is an overestimation though, for one very obvious reason: there are many asymptomatic cases that aren’t caught through our contact tracing system.

During the first wave, it was estimated that there were about “8 times more infections than reported cases.” So while it was reported that BC had about 2500 cases by the end of May 2020, the true number was probably closer to 20,000. This was for the simple reason that our contact tracing system was simply not in place. It had not been ramped up to a level that could adequately trace every infection – it was a brand new pandemic after all.

This all changed very quickly though. By November 2020, Canadian Blood Services reported that BC had about a 1.5% infection rate thanks to antibody testing. This means that about 77,000 people BC had been infected, while the reported number at the time was about 33,000. So our contact tracing system has started to catch up, with about half of infections being caught.

So, looking at the table above, it’s obvious that our 97,000 potential deaths in BC are way off. This is why I added two more additional rows at the bottom of the graph: One for the scenario of the first wave in which we caught 1/8 of all infections and one for later on when we caught about 1/2 of all infections.

Remember, the exact numbers here are not what is important. What is important is getting a rough idea of what could happen if Covid-19 is left to circulate freely. 

A crucial point is that the first wave was much smaller than the second (and current third) wave. So the more realistic number is probably closer to about half of all infections recorded, not 1/8. This gives us a total of about 48000 potential deaths in BC, and a whopping 174,000 hospitaliztions. That’s pretty staggering.

Photo: Spencer Davis

Aren’t most of these deaths of the elderly?

In short, yes but there are far too many younger deaths and hospitalizations too. Two additional columns were added to the right of the graph to see how this would pan out in the scenario that we have only recorded about 1/2 of all infections. While deaths are fairly low from the 0-50 age group, from there they take off. 

The common claim from covid-deniers is that most of those that die from Covid-19 are already close to dying anyway. Here we can see that is simply not true. There could easily be 2000+ deaths in the 60 and below group

From age 60-70 there could easily be 5000 deaths and would be very tragic; these people can hardly be considered to be on their death bed.

Hospitalizations matter too

It gets worse with hospitalizations. In the 1/2 all cases recorded scenario, we are easily seeing 40,000 hospitalizations in the below 60 age group alone. Tell me, do you think that could overwhelm our hospitals? Sure, if you’re under 60 you might survive, but do you really want a respiratory illness severe enough to be hospitalized? Or worse, sent to an intensive care unit?

Once hospitals have been overwhelmed, as is already the case in some lower mainland hospitals exceeding capacity, the number of deaths will increase. Hospital workers will become more strained and will have to stop admitting new patients. Did you just get into a car wreck? Sorry, we’re full here, find somewhere else.

It is often claimed by covid-deniers that BC has thousands of unused beds. This is true, but the number of beds doesn’t matter. New, temporary beds can be built fairly easily but will do nothing if there is not enough staff to take care of an influx of thousands of new patients. 

A 2015 study found that Canada-wide, there are about 3100 hospital ICU beds capable of invasive ventilation. In BC that number is about 300-400, with many regions hours away from these resources. The threat of overwhelming our hospital system is very real.

A way out, back to normal life.

Again the point here must be made clear: the exact numbers of potential deaths and hospitalizations are not the point here. There are other people out there much smarter and more knowledgeable than I that can get much more accurate numbers. The point is simply to grasp the scale of what is possible with Covid-19. This data puts to shame any idea of “natural herd immunity” or that “only the elderly need to be cautious.”

One simple fact that anti-vaxxers and covid-deniers miss is that while some death rates may seem small, a small percentage of a big number is still a big number. The total death rate of Covid-19 seems to be around 0.5 percent, although this depends on many factors. But 0.5% of 5 million is still 25000 deaths.

This is not just relevant to those of us in BC. The numbers may be different as BC does have an older population than other provinces, but the problem – and solution – remains the same across Canada and the rest of the world too.

Luckily there is a way out of all of this. Take a vaccine as soon as you can. Take whichever is available to you. If you have any type of health issues in which the vaccine might cause harm to you, then consult a doctor.

Historically, vaccines have arguably been one of the biggest success stories of of the human race – and the story of Covid-19 will be no different. Vaccines have been responsible for saving the lives of millions of people around the world, as Infectious Disease doctor Lynora Saxinger points out:

Real-world data has shown very conclusively that vaccines are safe, and as more people get vaccinated transmission of the novel coronavirus from person to person is slowing down. All vaccines have been proven effective at their main goal: Preventing severe hospitalization and death.

Just get a damn vaccine.

The University of Toronto Mississauga is making students pay for services that are closed.

 Marty Nov

Marty is a first year environmental management student at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Aside from the environment, Marty is interested in how power is distributed amongst different social systems and true democracy.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of facilities at the ‘University of Toronto Mississauga’ have been closed. However, UTM students are still required to pay mandatory fees, called incidental fees, for these closed facilities as well as still having to pay for high course fees. Here is the breakdown of these incidental fees and the course fees for the University of Toronto Mississauga.

University of Toronto Mississauga

RAWC Fee

The first mandatory fee is the ‘UTM Athletics Fee’ which comprises a payment of 154.41$ for the first semester and 205.88$ for the second semester. The athletics fee includes a gym membership to the Recreation, Athletics and Wellness Centre (RAWC) which gives students access to the RAWC’s facilities such as a 25-meter pool, a sauna, a 200-meter indoor running track, outdoor tennis courts, a full-sized indoor basketball court, a weightlifting center, and a gym which includes state-of-the-art fitness equipment.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the RAWC was closed on the 13th of October 2020, a little over a month after the classes of the first semester started, which was the 9th of September 2020. Even though the RAWC was closed for the majority of the first semester and will most likely remain closed for the second semester, UTM students are still required to pay the ‘UTM Athletics Fee’ for both semesters. When the registrar was contacted regarding this issue, the response was that they will not be offering refunds for the ‘UTM Athletics Fee’.


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Although the UTM wouldn’t be offering refunds, the registrar did say that they have reduced this fee by 25% from last year and that the university is offering live-at-home fitness activities and an Instagram page with athletic challenges. By reducing the fee by 25%, seeing as how the RAWC was closed, this means that 25% of the ‘UTM Athletics Fee’ in a regular year would be going towards the RAWC and 75% would be going towards these online alternatives. The 25% discount does not reflect the reduction in value that UTM students now receive from the ‘UTM Athletics Fee’.

If you had a gym membership that had an optional discount of 25% but all you got were Instagram posts and live-at-home training, you probably would never take that discount. However, for UTM students, this discount is not only nonrepresentative of the new value of the ‘UTM Athletics Fee’, but is a forced payment and not an offer.

UPass Fee

The second mandatory fee that UTM students can not use is the ‘UTMSU Miss. U-Pass’. This fee gives students a U-Pass, a MiWay pass that allows UTM students to use the MiWay transit for the duration of the school year and is provided by the ‘University of Toronto Mississauga Student Union’ or ‘UTMSU’. The cost for this mandatory fee is 131.39$ for the first semester and 131.39$ for the second semester.

While the U-Pass is significantly cheaper than the 135$ monthly pass that MiWay provides (seeing as how a semester lasts 3 months), UTM stopped offering in-person classes in mid-October. Even when classes were being provided in-person, the majority of classes were online and since mid-October, all classes have been put online. If the reasoning for having a discounted bus pass was for students to have a cheap transport option to their in-person classes, then once classes were put online, there should have been a refund for the ‘UTMSU Miss. U-Pass’ fee. However, this did not happen.


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Seeing as how the ‘UTMSU’ is in charge of this fee and not the university, we contacted the UTMSU to ask why there wasn’t a refund for this now useless U-Pass. They responded by saying that they have been able to send U-Passes to students by mail, no longer requiring students to physically pick up their U-Pass at the UTM Campus and that they are working with the City of Mississauga on getting refunds which might occur in early March. Still, not only are UTM students forced to pay for an unfairly discounted athletics fee, but we are also paying for a university bus pass to a campus that is closed.

This fee is also exclusive to UTM students seeing as how St. George and Scarborough campuses do not have such a fee. It is also interesting how last year, the UPass had an opt-out option. However, for this year, the only year where every UTM student can’t use the UPass, the UPass is mandatory.

Student Services Fee

The third mandatory fee is called the “UTM Student Services” fee. This fee is 131.12$ for the first semester and 201.25$ for the second semester. This fee entails services that come from different UTM facilities such as the Centre for Student Engagement (CSE), Career Center, International Education Center (IEC), Recreation, Athletics and Wellness Centre (RAWC). Even though the “UTM Student Services” fee was reduced by 35%, the services that are currently provided from this fee still do not match the current value.

The CSE is a hub that has all the connections that students would need including connections to clubs, connections to different organizations at the school and connections to volunteer opportunities. This seems to be a very good initiative however because it is online, a lot of the opportunities that the CSE provides are more limited.

Toronto Students. Photo: Shubham Sharan

The IEC is a center that helps international students get used to the UTM campus and helps domestic students with the international exchange program. However, seeing as how there are very few international students currently on campus at the UTM and how the international exchange program has been cancelled for this year due to the pandemic, students should have the ability to opt-out of this portion of the “UTM Student Services” fee.

Finally, the “UTM Student Services” fee also pays for the RAWC. As previously mentioned, the RAWC building is currently closed and the only recreation services that are provided are live virtual fitness classes as well as Instagram posts. The “UTM Student Services” fee in a normal year seems to be very helpful for students but seeing as how the pandemic has limited the accessibility of the services provided by this fee, students should be able to opt-out and receive a refund for this currently useless fee.

E-transcript Fee

The fourth fee is not mandatory but is a ridiculous fee nevertheless. Before the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of UTM facilities, the ‘Transcript Center’ at the University of Toronto St. George campus would provide, upon demand, physical transcripts to students from all UofT campuses for a 15$ fee. With the closure of the ‘Transcript Centre’, they are no longer providing physical transcripts but are providing digital e-transcripts to students. Even though the transcript is now in a digital format, students still have to pay the 15$ fee as if it were a physical copy which is absurd.

Financial Issues for Students

By combining these three senseless yet mandatory fees from both semesters, they add up to almost 1000$. This is an absurdly high amount of money, especially when you take into account the fact that the course fees at the UTM have remained at 610$ per course, the same price as was in years prior. This is appalling seeing as how a study by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations showed that 62% of students and 76% of faculty members believe that online learning has been detrimental to the education quality provided at Ontario universities.

The main reason for this belief is that the loss of human connection has made learning and studying a lot more difficult. From personal experience, learning with a professor in front of you in real life and studying alongside other people your age really does make the retention of information a lot easier. Even though we have had a significant decrease in the quality of education, we are still having to pay the same amount as we would for higher quality education.

Employment Problems

An issue that compounds with these unreasonably wasteful mandatory fees and high course fees are that students are having a harder time finding a source of income. A study by Statistics Canada shows that youth between 15-25 have had an increase in unemployment of about 10%, which is significantly higher than all other age groups. With finances being a notable concern for university students, having unfairly high course fees and almost scam-like mandatory fees is quite unethical especially when it comes from one of the top 20 universities in the world.

Our Demands

We as students of the University of Toronto Mississauga have two demands; an ability for students to opt-out and receive refunds for the mandatory fees listed above, and for course fees to be reduced by 20%. We have tried all that we can as students to have our demands realized; we have spoken to the university administrative staff, we have written articles to the university newspaper, and we have gathered over 10,000 petition signatures across campuses regarding this issue. Unfortunately, our opinions are being actively dismissed seeing as how the university has not budged on its decision to change course fees and to allow refunds for these mandatory fees.

We have tried to force change from the inside but this has not been successful. With the university caring more about its reputation and money rather than its students, we are writing this article as a demand for help from external media and external voices to showcase this issue with the hope that the university now has an actual reason to listen to their students.

On the behalf of all UTM students,
Thank you very much

Public health over profit: Covid-19 is surging under Jason Kenney

“The cure cannot be worse than the [virus] itself,” said Trump back in March.

It seems that Alberta premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro have taken Trump’s words to heart. The dynamic between the two and Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Health Officer, echoes the uneasy tension between Trump and Anthony Fauci.

Jason Kenney, Tyler Shandro, and Deena Hinshaw. Photo: The Canadian Press

Kenney and Shandro have been antagonizing public health officials, according to CBC News. Covid-19 is currently surging with over 1700 new cases on Saturday. The situation is quickly spiralling out of control.

This comes as former NDP premier Rachel Notley accused Kenney and Shandro of suppressing and undermining public health recommendations by Deena Hinshaw.

From CBC News:

The cabinet committee, to which she and the group reported, was pressuring her to broadly expand serology testing, which is used to detect the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in the blood.

The problem was that the tests had limited large-scale clinical value and Hinshaw believed it would overestimate the virus’s presence in the population. 

“Honestly, after the battle that we had about molecular testing, I don’t have a lot of fight left in me,” Hinshaw said during that meeting.

The level of political direction — and, at times, interference — in Alberta’s pandemic response is revealed in 20 audio recordings of the daily planning meetings of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) obtained by CBC News, as well as in meeting minutes and interviews with staff directly involved in pandemic planning.

Taken together, they reveal how Premier Jason Kenney, Shandro and other cabinet ministers often micromanaged the actions of already overwhelmed civil servants; sometimes overruled their expert advice; and pushed an early relaunch strategy that seemed more focused on the economy and avoiding the appearance of curtailing Albertans’ freedoms than enforcing compliance to safeguard public health.

But at the daily pandemic briefing Wednesday, as the province announced its 500th death, Hinshaw reiterated her belief that her job is to provide “a range of policy options to government officials outlining what I believe is the recommended approach and the strengths and weaknesses of any alternatives.

 “The final decisions are made by the cabinet,” she said, adding that she has “always felt respected and listened to and that my recommendations have been respectfully considered by policy makers while making their decisions.”


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Related: The Conservatives are hostile towards those we need the most

Jason Kenney’s attempt at “avoiding the appearance of curtailing Albertans’ freedoms” is a clear-cut effort to pander toward anti-mask and anti-vaccine people.

Taking aim at healthcare workers, too

Since the start of being premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney has antagonized the most valuable community possible during a pandemic: doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers. With 750 layoffs of nurses on the line, Kenney and his government have refused to meet with United Nurses of Alberta to renew contract negotiations. United Nurses of Alberta is the union that represents 30,000 nurses in the province.

Things have gotten so bad under Kenney’s leadership that the Alberta Federation of Labor, a group of unions, has asked Albertans to boycott businesses that support the United Conservative Party. Healthcare workers are leaving Alberta to such an extent that other provinces are looking to poach those leaving the province.

“My message today to Saskatchewan is that we will invest in healthcare,” said Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “My message today to Alberta doctors and nurses: come on over, Saskatchewan will welcome you with open arms under an NDP government.

It gets worse with Kenney too. Many Conservatives in Canada long for the day that we give up our prized healthcare system in favour of a “free market” based system, American style. The UCP is chipping away at socialized healthcare with Bill 30, which allows for public funds to be funnelled to for-profit healthcare. The recently formed party has a history of cutting public sector jobs and voted to reject the commitment of upholding principals in the Canada Health Act.

The track record of Conservatives in power across the country speaks for itself. This is a party hostile to healthcare workers, but not so hostile to big business. Their willingness to stand against healthcare workers during a global pandemic is truly horrifying.

A New Wave of Hate: Anti-Asian Sentiment on the Rise

The second wave of Covid-19 is here in Canada and many questions loom as to how the future of the pandemic will play out. One thing that is for certain, though, is that a new wave of hate has spread throughout Canada. This is a wave that cannot be weakened via social distancing or lockdowns. This is an infection of hatred: Anti-Asian sentiment has soared since the outset of the pandemic.

Photo: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

There are legitimate reasons to be critical of the Chinese government, at the behest of Xi Jinping, for their handling the Covid-19 pandemic. They clearly tried to suppress information during late 2019 and early 2020. Doctors and other whistleblowers such as Li Wenliang were silenced for warning others of mysterious pneumonia cases in Wuhan. Li paid the ultimate price, dying of Covid-19 on February 7, 2020.

What isn’t legitimate is to lump all Chinese (and other East Asian) people together and blame them for being the cause of the pandemic. This is clear-cut scapegoating.

Hate Crimes on the Rise

As early as July Vancouver police were warning of noticeable increases in reported anti-Asian hate crimes. By September hate crimes against Asian people had grown by a staggering 878%. Racists caused 9 hate crimes in the fist 9 months of 2019. In 2020, 88 cases have been reported during the same time period. This is in Vancouver alone. Toronto and other cities across Canada are reporting similar trends.


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Other ethnicities such as Indigenous people have also been caught up in this new wave. Racists aren’t known for their ability to distinguish between different ethnicities, for obvious reasons. They’re just not a very bright bunch.

A great deal of research has established that the vast majority of hate crimes and incidents go unreported. A poll in BC has corroborated this: “Since March, one-in-four residents of East Asian and South Asian descent have endured racial slurs or insults,” says Mario Canseco, of Research Co.

One in four. Think about how shocking that is, for a country that prides itself as being a beacon of multiculturalism, diversity, and tolerance.

Statistics Canada released a report detailing perceptions of personal safety. For white people (not a visible minority) about 6% reported racial or ethnic harassment or attacks. This number jumps to 31% for Chinese people and about 27% for Korean people. People of East-Asian descent occupy the top 5 spots of feeling unsafe in their own country during the pandemic.

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/45-28-0001/2020001/article/00046-eng.htm

What Trump says matters in Canada too

Since taking office in January 2020, Donald Trump has presided over a presidency with a noticeable increase in hate crimes and incidents, including a spillover into Canada too. Trump has consistently referred to the novel coronavirus, currently out of control in his own country, in very racist terms. Calling Covid-19 the “Chinese Virus” is extremely problematic, according to the World Health Organization due to the “unnecessary negative effects on nations, economies and people.”

“In recent years, several new human infectious diseases have emerged. The use of names such as ‘swine flu’ and ‘Middle East Respiratory Syndrome’ has had unintended negative impacts by stigmatizing certain communities or economic sectors,” says Dr Keiji Fukuda, Assistant Director-General for Health Security, WHO. “This may seem like a trivial issue to some, but disease names really do matter to the people who are directly affected. We’ve seen certain disease names provoke a backlash against members of particular religious or ethnic communities, create unjustified barriers to travel, commerce and trade, and trigger needless slaughtering of food animals. This can have serious consequences for peoples’ lives and livelihoods.”

Ostensibly, Trump claims that he uses this phrasing because he wants to make sure everyone knows that the virus originated in China. Everyone already knows this though, so I ask, what’s the point? What is he really trying to do here?

Why on earth would any rational-minded person conflate an entire country of almost 1.4 billion people with a despotic government? How could that be anything but an intentional demonization of Chinese people?

This type of backward thinking doesn’t halt at the border, unfortunately. Remember when Derek Sloan questioned Theresa Tam’s loyalty to Canada? While Sloan was in the race to become the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, he criticized Canada’s top doctor in a bizarre campaign video. Sloan questioned whether Tam worked “for Canada or for China” and stated that “Dr. Tam must go! Canada must remain sovereign over decisions.” Given that Tam is from British Hong Kong, one wonders about the intent behind those statements.

Not your ordinary Rebel Scum

Speaking of problematic lingo, Ezra Levant has also joined in. Levant is the owner of Rebel News, which boasts 1.39 million followers on his YouTube channel. His newest book is literally called “China Virus: How Justin Trudeau’s Pro Communist Ideology is Putting Canadians in Danger.”

Putting Justin Trudeau and the phrase “Communist Ideology” in the same sentence is a comical leap into fantasy for anyone who has a basic understanding of left-wing ideologies. That aside, clearly Ezra has found a significant audience in alignment with this Trump-like language.

In a YouTube video about his book, he recites the previously mentioned quote from the WHO regarding problematic naming of diseases. His response to the quote? He simply responded that the WHO is dominated by “communist China” and that he is a free person who can say whatever he wants. He also does the classic, “China is not a race, its a country.” Sinophobia, xenophobia, racism: its all the same shit, just in a different pile. Life must be easy when you don’t have to think about the consequences of your actions.

To his (negligible) credit, in his YouTube video Levant does distinguish between the Chinese government and Chinese people in his book. The problem, though, is that not everybody who comes across this book knows that. Not everyone is going to read the book.

Titles and headlines matter, especially in the age of social media. Its is very common these days for social media users to simply skim headlines of articles without actually reading the content. I am not of Asian descent, but if I was, I could easily imagine coming across this book – or worse, a person with this book – and feeling threatened. On the other hand, how many of his supporters wont buy the book and simply be influenced or emboldened by the title? Such questions have no concrete answer but are worth thinking about.

Confront Racism at all costs

It’s 2020, and we still have to deal with this shit. When I say we, I don’t mean white people. Racism is still prevalent in our society, and consequently Asian and other visible minorities are taking the brunt of this new wave.

Anti-Asian riots broke out in Vancouver’s Chinatown in 1907, with banners labelled, “For a White Canada.” It may seem like Canada has progressed far enough past this point and that we will never, as a society, return to this type of thinking. In order to prevent that, we must confront anti-Asian racism wherever we can, so as to prevent normalization in our culture.

The Conservatives are hostile towards those we need the most

While the coronavirus pandemic started spreading across the globe, many governments were caught off guard and had to act quickly. Those countries that elected to put their top scientists in charge and listen to their expertise were more successful in flattening the curve than those that didn’t.

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Photo: Chrisopher Austin

We can easily compare Canada to the USA, whose government failed to listen to their top scientists and come up with a cohesive national strategy. The Trump administration and Republican governors routinely silenced and attacked scientific opinion. Canada, on the other hand, put Theresa Tam, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, front and center of the pandemic response. Most other provinces followed suit, following the guidance of their own top scientists and doctors.

It is true that our Canadian government made mistakes as well, albeit not to the same degree. For those of us further left than the Liberal party of Canada, there are valid criticisms of Justin Trudeau’s handling of the pandemic response. In the first round of CERB, for example, there were many people left out such as students, seniors, and those in the gig economy. Luckily Trudeau was pushed to make the program more inclusive by both everyday Canadians and the NDP.

Fair criticism aside, one question to consider: How would Canada have fared under a Conservative government?

Reopen the economy… in May?

As early as May, then leader of the Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer, was already echoing “re-open the economy” rhetoric. This Trump-like rhetoric expressed a narrative common to far-right, pro-big business pundits and politicians. At this time Canada had flattened the curve, but had a long way to go in reducing daily case numbers. Would Scheer have reopened the economy too early?


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Pierre Poilievre, opposition critic for finance, had a similar approach. Poilievre excessively whined about the cost of Trudeau’s response plan, and advocated for a ‘free market’ solution to create jobs and economic growth. Never mind that had programs like CERB and the Wage Subsidy never been introduced, much of that public debt would be our own personal debt. That is, many of us would have to take out loans or pay with credit in order to make it through the pandemic. Never mind that business supports and rent relief actually saved many businesses from going under in the first place, making recovery that much easier. Never mind that grocery store executives most likely colluded to cut workers pandemic pay raises. Classic free-market move there.

Conservative deficit hawks like to make a fuss about Canada’s public debt reaching 1 trillion dollars. This is most likely going to happen by the end of this fiscal year. It’s not as scary as it sounds though, as debt financing is simply how modern governments work. When determining the health of an economy, the debt to GDP ratio is a better indicator than absolute debt as a dollar amount. It is projected that Canada will reach a 50% debt to GDP ratio after having a consistent 30-35% for the last decade. Keep in mind too that it was almost as high as 70% in 1994. The World Bank estimates that countries with 77% or higher for long periods of time will experience slow economic growth due to the deficit. This rise in debt to GDP is only temporary and as we recover from the pandemic, we will go back to normal.

Source: Canada Debt Management Strategy

Ford, Kenny, and Moe

Even during a pandemic the conservative, pro big business agenda never rests. Doug Ford sought to strip healthcare workers of their collective bargaining and other rights with Bill 195. Dave Murphy, president of CUPE Local 7800 said, “This is the way the government of Ontario pays back the heroes and heroines of this province by then stripping them of their vacation rights, their leave of absence rights, their seniority rights, their health and safety rights.”

On the topic of free markets, Doug Ford defended price gouging of Covid-19 tests. Ontario has had lax rules on gathering sizes and little requirements on who may be tested. Compared to BC, Ontario had gathering sizes of up to 100 while BC is limited to 50. BC requires that one must either have symptoms or have an exposure to a confirmed case in order to get tested while Ontario rules are relaxed.

These two factors have resulted in unnecessarily long line-ups at testing facilities. One company, HCP Diagnostics, offered the chance to “skip the line” and take a test for $400. Doug Ford dismissed the concerns of price gouging saying, “It’s a free market society.” Contrast that to Justin Trudeau’s recent affirmation that vaccines will be free to all Canadians.

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Since the start of being premier of Alberta, Jason Kenny has antagonized the most valuable community possible during a pandemic: doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers. With 750 layoffs of nurses on the line, Kenny and his government have refused to meet with United Nurses of Alberta to renew contract negotiations. United Nurses of Alberta is the union that represents 30,000 nurses in the province.

Things have gotten so bad under Kenny’s leadership that the Alberta Federation of Labor, a group of unions, has asked Albertans to boycott businesses that support the United Conservative Party. Healthcare workers are leaving Alberta to such an extent that other provinces are looking to poach those leaving the province.

“My message today to Saskatchewan is that we will invest in healthcare,” said Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “My message today to Alberta doctors and nurses: come on over, Saskatchewan will welcome you with open arms under an NDP government.

Healthcare workers protesting UCP cuts

It gets worse with Kenny too. Many Conservatives in Canada long for the day that we give up our prized healthcare system in favor of a “free market” based system, American style. The UCP is chipping away at socialized healthcare with Bill 30, which allows for public funds to be funneled to for-profit healthcare. The recently formed party has a history of cutting public sector jobs and voted to reject the commitment of upholding principals in the Canada Health Act.

Over in Saskatchewan, a candidate for Scott Moe’s Saskatchewan Party was caught promoting conspiracy theories about Covid-19. Daryl Cooper deleted Facebook posts on his official campaign page that included claims that 5G caused Covid-19 and other Qanon conspiracy theories.

Same old Conservatives

At the federal level, the Conservatives, having just gone through a leadership election, are going through an identity crisis. It seems that through electing Erin O’Toole, the social conservative base is still a powerful voice within the party. This is worrisome in and of itself, as social conservatives aren’t known for their embrace of science.

If we were to wonder about an alternate future in which the Conservative Party of Canada was in power during the current pandemic, we wouldn’t need to use our imaginations to understand how they would govern. The track record of Conservatives currently in power speaks for itself. This is a party hostile to healthcare workers, but not so hostile to big business. Their willingness to stand against healthcare workers during a global pandemic is truly horrifying.

Refugees aren’t safe in the USA. Canada must help out.

street metal pillar with various stickers

Our southern neighbors are at a boiling point with a torrent of racial unrest and questions about whether or not the current president will honor the results of the upcoming election. Xenophobia and racism has been a central theme of the current administration. As a result of this, the United States is no longer a safe country for many people of color, immigrants, and refugees.

street metal pillar with various stickers
Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

In 2004, Canada and the USA entered into an pact called the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement. The central purpose of this agreement was to control the flow of refugees, mandating that refugees entering into either country make their asylum claim in the first country they arrive in. That is, a refugee could not arrive in the USA, and then travel to Canada to make an asylum claim.

This agreement requires that signatory countries have a good human rights record. Countries are also required to have signed onto the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1984 Convention Against Torture. Refugees are extremely vulnerable as they are by definition, not protected by their own governments.


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One does not have to look to hard in order to find obvious violations of this agreement by the United States, by leaders both current and past.

Torture was standard operating procedure during the (illegitimate) Iraq war under George Bush, and cheered on by American news commentators on a nightly basis. One right wing war hawk, John Bolton, was a key proponent of the use of torture during the Bush Administration. He was then given a spot in the White House under the current Trump administration as a national security advisor. Although he has since left the administration on less-than-friendly terms, this signifies that the current president does not consider human rights to be relevant when choosing his team.

Stephen Miller, the not-so-subtle white nationalist, also currently enjoys a seat at the table of the Trump administration. Indeed, he has been very influential in any race or immigration related policy in recent years. He is known to be a powerful mastermind behind such programs as the Muslim travel ban, refugee intake reduction, hiring over 10,000 more ICE agents, and separating children from their parents at the Mexico-US border. Miller also went as far as to block a white house study that found that refugees had a net positive effect on government revenues.

Clearly, with people like this in the White House, the USA is not a safe country for immigrants and refugees.

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The Covid-19 pandemic deepens the problem too. Immigrants and refugees are more likely to contract the virus for a variety of reasons. Those unfortunate enough to be detained in ICE detention facilities are often kept in over crowded and unsanitary conditions. An astounding 20% or more of detainees have tested positive for the virus. How is that not torture?

The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) requires the continual review of all countries designated as safe third countries. Canada’s federal court has made a landmark ruling that the Safe Third Country Agreement infringes on the rights of asylum seekers coming into Canada. This ruling has been suspended for six months in order to give Parliament time to respond. “Refugee claimants turned away at the Canada-U.S. border face grave human rights violations in the United States, notably atrocious conditions in immigration detention,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. Have we heard much from parliament about this?

Abolishing the Safe Third Country isn’t an outlandish call to action either. Refugees from Haiti that were resettled in the USA are already trying to escape to Canada. This is due to the very real fear of being sent back to Haiti due to president Trump’s decision to end their protected status in the USA.

Clearly, with people like this in the White House, the USA is not a safe country for immigrants and refugees.

It is clear that Canada must disband from this agreement for the sake of refugees fleeing persecution from around the world. Even if a Biden administration successfully takes power in January, it is too late. The damage has been done already – xenophobia and racism have been unleashed by Trump. White supremacists have been emboldened, and are on the hunt looking to recruit from conspiratorial minded groups.

Canada is not immune to racism and xenophobia, but we will be better suited to take in refugees for a long time to come.

Canadian Freedom and Anti-maskers. Covid-deniers just don’t get it.

In this land we call Canada, much has been made about citizens handing over certain freedoms in order to get ourselves out of the Covid-19 pandemic. When it comes to mask wearing, the science has already been settled. Wearing a mask is one important tool among many to help break chains of infection, and slow the spread.

Photo: engin akyurt

Yet a strikingly large cabal of anti-vaxxers, Qanon cultists, 5G conspirators, and even white supremacists have aligned themselves under a twisted banner of “Freedom.” They claim that mask mandates (by a government or business) are a destruction of ones individual freedom.

It’s not just mask wearing either. Social distancing, lock downs, contact tracing, vaccines and any other measure that actually helps us survive the pandemic are all seen as an overbearing police state to these folks.


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To counter these covid-deniers, comparisons are often made about seat belt laws or drunk driving laws. If you think that the government enforcing mask wearing is gross abuse of state power, then what about drunk driving laws? Don’t they infringe on your freedom to drive while intoxicated? A typical response from them is along the lines of, “Well no, you see, drunk driving laws are there to protect everyone else around you.” And then it dawns on them.

These comparisons are great for proving that it is reasonable for a government to enforce specific measures for public safety. But it does miss out on a much more valuable and broad point: the role of government in public health.

Public health is a major responsibility of all levels of government. Most of us, whether left or right wing, do believe the state has some crucial role in public health. We can debate how much, but only the most hard core right-libertarian types deny this role of government.

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Examples of this are everywhere. Fluoride in our drinking water has been around since the 1950’s. Building codes exist to prevent mold and hazardous materials in our homes. Pollution regulations exist to keep toxic fumes out of our air supply. Health initiatives range from safe sex, obesity, nutrition, mental health, drug use, healthcare accessibility, and the list goes on. The state provides an entire army of scientists and professionals to improve health of the public.

Surely, mandating masks and social distancing during a once in a lifetime pandemic is not an overreach of government. Lock downs, hard as they may be for all of us, are not an overreach either. They are a last resort needed to ensure public heath once cases have outrun contact tracing efforts.

Anti-mask really in Vancouver, BC

It is not only legitimate that the state play an active role in fighting a pandemic in 2020, it should be expected. One only has to look to our southern neighbors to see that Donald Trump’s failure to act and make national plan. Republican state governors followed suit in places like Florida, Texas, and Arizona and now more than 200,000 people are dead.

It is quite obvious that those who view our governments response to the pandemic as an “assault on freedom” do not understand freedom in Canada. Our freedoms are very well defined in the Canadian Charter of rights and Freedoms. Evan Solomon, on his show calls these people “dangerous, ill informed idiots.”

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is one of the most important documents in Canada. Unfortunately it seems that none of these pandemic-deniers have even read the first line:

1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html

Any type of freedom will have limits, as different freedoms will eventually come into conflict. The conflict here is between freedom of association and expression versus the right to “life, liberty and security of the person.” It should be concluded that one does not have the freedom to put others at risk of sickness or even death. Government interventions in a pandemic aiming to manage public health should therefore not be seen as an erosion of personal freedoms. Rather, it can be reasonably justified as fulfilling its role in public health.