Transcript: Do We Need Vaccine Passports? | Mar 31, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit and shirt, and a spotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Do we need vaccine passports? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says ALREADY, YOU NEED A NEGATIVE COVID-19 TEST RESULT TO DO CERTAIN THINGS: FLY BACK TO CANADA, FOR INSTANCE. NOW, AS VACCINES BECOME INCREASINGLY AVAILABLE, DOES IT STAND TO REASON THAT YOU MAY NEED TO BE VACCINATED TO DO CERTAIN OTHER THINGS, SUCH AS WORK, TRAVEL, OR EVEN GO TO THE MOVIES? COULD THAT MAKE SOMETHING SUCH AS VACCINE PASSPORTS AN ATTRACTIVE IDEA GOING FORWARD? OR WOULD SUCH AN IDEA BE TOO INVASIVE OF CANADIANS' PRIVACY? LET'S CONSIDER THAT TONIGHT WITH: IN GUELPH, ONTARIO: NEENA GUPTA, SHE'S A PARTNER AT THE LAW FIRM GOWLING WLG, PRACTICING EMPLOYMENT AND HUMAN RIGHTS LAW...

Neena is in her fifties, with short chestnut hair. She's wearing glasses, a red blazer and a patterned red blouse.

Steve continues AND IN NORTH TORONTO, THERE'S: MICHAEL BRYANT, FORMER ONTARIO ATTORNEY GENERAL, NOW HEAD OF THE CANADIAN CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION.

Michael is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing glasses, a black suit, striped shirt and pink tie.

Steve continues IT'S GOOD TO WELCOME YOU TWO ONTO TVO TONIGHT FOR A RATHER TIMELY AND IMPORTANT CONVERSATION, I'D SUGGEST. JUST FOR THOSE, NEENA, WHO DON'T REALLY HAVE AN IDEA OF HOW THIS MIGHT WORK, HELP US OUT THERE. HOW WOULD A VACCINE PASSPORT ACTUALLY WORK?

The caption changes to "Neena Gupta. Gowling WLG."

Neena says A VACCINE PASSPORT IS REALLY A SHORTHAND FORM FOR AN AUTHORITATIVE RECORD OF YOUR VACCINATION, AND IT CAN BE DIGITAL, IT CAN BE SOMETHING ON YOUR SMARTPHONE, OR IT COULD BE SOMETHING... A PIECE OF PAPER THAT IS ISSUED, LIKE SOME KIND OF IDENTIFICATION. SO THE FIRST THING WE STRUGGLE WITH WHEN WE TALK ABOUT VACCINE PASSPORT IS, WHAT ARE WE LOOKING AT? WHAT IS THIS ENTITY GOING TO BE, AND HOW WILL WE AGREE ON WHAT CONSTITUTES AN AUTHORITATIVE RECORD OF SOMEONE'S VACCINATION.

Steve says A HA. THESE ARE THE QUESTION QUESTIONS, WHICH WE WILL GET INTO IN A SECOND WITH THE FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL. BUT, MICHAEL, I GUESS WE SHOULD POINT OUT, THIS IS ALREADY IN PLACE IN, FOR EXAMPLE, ISRAEL. NOW, CAN YOU TELL US, BASED ON YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE EXPERIENCE THERE, WHAT DID ISRAELIS WHO ARE VACCINATED DO THAN THOSE WHO HAVE YET TO BE VACCINATED CANNOT DO?

The caption changes to "Michael Bryant. Canadian Civil Liberties Association."

A picture shows a man and a woman holding up a paper with a QR code.
Another picture shows two women holding up smartphones showing a screen with a green and purple interface.

The caption changes to "Ticket to ride."

Michael says YES, IN ISRAEL THEY HAVE A GREEN PASSPORT SYSTEM, AND THEIR EQUIVALENT IN CCLA, WHICH HAS GOT THE ACRONYM OF ACRE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT ITS IMPLICATIONS. WE'LL GET INTO THAT BUT THE WAY IT WORKS RIGHT NOW IS THERE ARE ACTUALLY CARROTS AND STICKS. INTERESTING, CARROTS AND STICKS. THE STICK IS YOU CAN'T GET IN TO CERTAIN PLACES UNLESS YOU HAVE IT, SUCH AS CONCERT HALLS. LET'S JUST PICK THAT ONE. AND OTHER LARGE GATHERINGS. RESTAURANTS AND SMALLER GATHERINGS CONTINUE TO BE PROHIBITED IN PARTS OF ISRAEL. BUT THE FLIP SIDE OF IT IS, THE GOVERNMENT IS PROVIDING INCENTIVES FOR PEOPLE TO GET VACCINATED. I MEAN, THEY AREN'T BIG MONEY INCENTIVES, BUT THEY'RE NEVERTHELESS INCENTIVES, WHICH HAS BEHAVIOURAL ECONOMISTS EXCITED ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT INCENTIVES, WHICH WE REALLY HAVEN'T SEEN MUCH OF IN WESTERN DEMOCRACIES, BECOMES PART OF THE WAY IN WHICH WE FIGHT PANDEMICS IN THE FUTURE.

Steve says NEENA, WE JUST SAW A COUPLE OF PICTURES FROM I GUESS SOME ISRAELI CITIZENS WHO HAD IT EITHER DIGITALLY OR THEY HAD A PIECE OF PAPER IN THEIR HANDS. IS THAT HOW YOU IMAGINE IT MIGHT WORK IN CANADA?

Neena says YES, EXACTLY. AND IN CANADA, WE ARE RELATIVELY A SMALL NATION WITH HUGE TRADING PARTNERS, AND SO WHATEVER WE DO HERE IN CANADA WILL HAVE TO BE SOMETHING THAT WORKS FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO PERHAPS TRADE OR DO BUSINESS IN THE STATES OR TRADE OR DO BUSINESS WITH ANY ONE OF OUR PARTNERS, SUCH AS THE EUROPEAN UNION, THE U.K., OR LARGE PARTIES IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC. SO I SUSPECT THERE'S GOING TO BE A HEAVY EMPHASIS ON DIGITAL PORTAL AND DIGITAL VACCINATION RECORDS.

Steve says LET ME DO A QUICK FOLLOW-UP WITH YOU ON THAT NEENA. IF, FOR EXAMPLE, MICHAEL MENTIONED CONCERTS. LET ME TAKE ANOTHER EXAMPLE. AIRLINES. IF WE ASSUME THIS IS GOING TO WORK FOR AIRLINES, GIVEN THE INTERNATIONAL NATURE OF THAT BUSINESS, THAT PRETTY MUCH... WELL, PRETTY MUCH EVERY COUNTRY HAS GOT TO BE IN OR THIS IS NOT GOING TO WORK.

The caption changes to "Neena Gupta, @gowlingwlg_hr."

Neena says WELL, I WOULD HAVE TO SAY THAT MAJOR ECONOMIC PLAYERS WILL HAVE TO BE IN. THEY'RE GOING TO DRIVE THE AGENDA. IN PREPARATION FOR THIS INTERVIEW, I READ A WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE WHICH SAYS THAT THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IS STRUGGLING WITH TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHICH 17 MAJOR INITIATIVES GLOBALLY AND IN THE UNITED STATES FOR SOME KIND OF DIGITAL OR OTHER VACCINE CERTIFICATION IS THE ONE THAT THEY SHOULD BE WORKING WITH. SO, YES, IT'S GOT TO BE SOMETHING THAT WORKS INTERNATIONALLY, AT LEAST IF CANADIANS WANT TO EVER TRAVEL ABROAD AGAIN, OR AT LEAST THAT'S HOW IT FEELS.

Steve says OKAY. LET ME PROPEL THIS CONVERSATION ALONG BY READING SOMETHING THAT COLLEEN FLOOD AND BRIAN THOMAS, BOTH OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA AND THEIR CENTRE FOR HEALTH LAW, POLICY, AND ETHICS WROTE IN THE GLOBE AND MAIL. HERE IS THE EXCERPT. SHELDON, I'D ASK YOU TO BRING IT UP AND PEOPLE CAN READ ALONG.

A quote appears on screen, under the title "The case for a COVID-19 vaccination certificate." The quote reads "While the costs associated with a certification regime may affect unvaccinated individuals, they would collectively be minimized by facilitating safe gatherings. As things stand now, many airlines and governments are requiring COVID tests or imposing costly hotel isolation rules. Beyond that, lockdowns have imposed huge costs so society in the form of job losses, mental health effects, and so on. The choice is between a world where everyone remains cycling in and out of lockdowns, versus a world where lockdowns are limited to gatherings that risk disease spread. To prefer universal lockdowns is to pursue a perverse 'levelling-down' vision of equality."
Quoted from Colleen M. Flood and Brian Thomas, The Globe and Mail. February 22, 2021.

Steve says OKAY. MICHAEL BRYANT, I'M NOT EVEN GOING TO ASK A QUESTION THERE. WHAT'S YOUR TAKE?

The caption changes to "Michael Bryant, @MJ_Bryant."
Then, it changes again to "A challenge to one's rights."

Michael says NO. OF COURSE THOSE WERE THE TWO CHOICES, THEN IT'S TRUE. BUT REALLY WHAT WE'RE... WHAT OUR CONCERN IS WITH VACCINE PASSPORTS, AND, YOU KNOW, LET'S SEPARATE THE DOMESTIC FROM THE INTERNATIONAL, IN PART BECAUSE THE VAST MAJORITY OF CANADIANS DON'T ENGAGE IN INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL REGULARLY. I'M NOT SAYING THEY NEVER DO. BUT MANY, MANY... THERE'S A SMALL NUMBER OF CANADIANS WHO UNDERTAKE A LOT OF INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL AND THEY WILL NO DOUBT DOWNLOAD ALL 17 APPS AND BE REGISTERED ON ALL 17 APPS AND WILL BE ABLE TO TRAVEL GLOBALLY. TO A CERTAIN EXTENT THE MATTER OF INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL IS A FOREIGN AFFAIRS ISSUE AND CANADA IS GOING TO NEED TO ENGAGE IN A LEVEL OF DIPLOMACY IN RECIPROCITY THAT IT ALWAYS HAS TO IN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS. COMING BACK TO HOW IT AFFECTS CANADIANS AS CANADIANS, THE PROBLEM WITH THE VACCINE PASSPORT IS IT'S REALLY THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE. WE DON'T KNOW THAT BEING VACCINATED MEANS YOU'RE IMMUNE, NUMBER ONE. AND NUMBER TWO, THE POINT OF VACCINATING EVERYBODY IS TO ACHIEVE HERD IMMUNITY. AND SO WHETHER OR NOT I'M VACCINATED OR NOT IS NOT THE POINT, IS NOT THE PUBLIC HEALTH STRATEGY. THE PUBLIC HEALTH STRATEGY IS TO REACH HERD IMMUNITY, AFTER WHICH COVID GOES AWAY, BECAUSE IT DOESN'T HAVE ENOUGH PLACES TO GO. AND UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE IMMUNE PASSPORT MAKES NO SENSE. IT'S A DISCONNECT BETWEEN THE MEANS AND THE ENDS. AND THERE'S A DOWNSIDE TO THESE IMMUNITY PASSPORTS WHICH INVOLVE INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, WHICH WE CAN GET INTO, OF COURSE.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says WE SHALL GET INTO THAT. NEENA, IN THE MEANTIME, LET ME GET YOUR TAKE ON THAT PASSAGE FROM PROFESSORS FLOOD AND THOMAS.

Neena says FRANKLY, I WISH I HAD WRITTEN IT. I THINK IT ARTICULATES EXACTLY HOW I BELIEVE WE SHOULD GET OUT OF THE PANDEMIC. IT'S VERY NICE TO TALK ABOUT WE SHOULD ACHIEVE HERD IMMUNITY, AND I THINK WE ALL ARE ACHING FOR THAT DAY, BUT WE KNOW THAT COVID-19 AND ACHIEVING HERD IMMUNITY IS GOING TO TAKE SOME TIME YET. AND IT'S NOT CLEAR TO ME, WITH THE LEVELS OF VACCINATIONS WE'RE SEEING IN CANADA AND THE RAPID CHANGE IN THE COVID-19 VARIANTS THAT WE'RE SEEING, THE VARIANTS OF CONCERN, WHETHER WE'RE ACTUALLY GOING TO GET TO HERD IMMUNITY, OR WHETHER OR NOT COVID-19 AND ITS VARIANTS ARE GOING TO BE ENDEMIC AND POP UP FROM TIME TO TIME. I THINK WE DO HAVE A STARK CHOICE OF SAYING, WELL, WE'RE GOING TO STAY IN CYCLING-LIKE LOCKDOWNS UNTIL SUCH TIME AS WE CAN GET EVERYBODY TO HERD IMMUNITY... WHATEVER THAT LOOKS LIKE, BECAUSE NO INFECTIOUS DISEASE PERSON HAS BEEN ABLE TO SIGH THIS IS WHAT HERD IMMUNITY WILL MEAN... OR HAVING A WAY OF HAVING LIMITED OPENING WHERE WE BELIEVE PEOPLE ARE FULLY VACCINATED AND THEREFORE DO NOT RISK SPREADING DISEASE FURTHER. AND SO THIS IS REALLY AN INTERIM SOLUTION. I'D LOVE TO GET WHERE MICHAEL IS SAYING WE'VE ACHIEVED HERD IMMUNITY AND THEREFORE WE CAN OPEN UP. BUT I'M NOT CONFIDENT THAT WE'RE GOING TO GET THERE. AND THE CURRENT STATE... AND I AGREE WITH YOU THAT THE SCIENCE IS EVOLVING... BUT IT APPEARS FROM THOSE ISRAELI DATA THAT WE'RE SEEING THAT NOT ONLY DOES THE COVID VACCINE STOP ME FROM GETTING SICK, SO IMMUNIZE ME, THEY ALSO SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE TRANSMISSION OF DISEASE. IN OTHER WORDS, IF YOU HAVE A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO ARE FULLY VACCINATED, THAT GROUP EFFECTIVELY HAS ACHIEVED SOME KIND OF INTERNAL IMMUNITY. AND SO I THINK WE NEED TO LOOK AT THAT INTERIM SOLUTION BECAUSE FIGHTING COVID FOR A LONG TIME.

Steve says LET ME PUT THIS COUNTER-ARGUMENT TO MICHAEL BRYANT, AND I APPRECIATE, MICHAEL, YOU'RE HERE OBVIOUSLY REPRESENTING AN ORGANIZATION THAT LOOKS OUT FOR OUR CIVIL RIGHT. THAT'S YOUR JOB. WHAT ABOUT THE NOTION THAT UNPRECEDENTED TIMES CALL FOR UNPRECEDENTED MEASURES?

Michael says YEAH... WELL, TWO THINGS. FIRSTLY, IT IS TRUE THAT THE RISK OF INFECTION GOES DOWN AND THE LIKELIHOOD OF IMMUNITY GOES UP IF YOU GET VACCINATED. BUT WE DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH. I MEAN, WE DON'T HAVE THAT INFORMATION YET. WE DON'T KNOW THAT SOMEBODY VACCINATED ISN'T CARRYING THE DISEASE. THE SCIENCE IS NOT IN ON THAT. SO IF WE HAD IMMUNITY PASSPORTS, THAT WOULD BE ONE THING. BUT WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT VACCINATION PASSPORTS. NUMBER ONE. SO I THINK THAT ONE DOESN'T NECESSARILY FOLLOW THE OTHER. SECONDLY, YOU KNOW, AT WHAT COST? AT WHAT COST, IS THE QUESTION. AND THE REASON WHY WE WOULDN'T IS BECAUSE WE WANT TO BE A SOCIETY THAT ACHIEVES PROPORTIONALITY BETWEEN HUMAN RIGHTS, ON THE ONE HAND, AND PUBLIC INTEREST ON THE OTHER HAND. AND, LET'S BE CLEAR RIGHT NOW. THIS IS PURELY HYPOTHETICAL. SUPPLY AND DEMAND... YOU KNOW, WE HAVE A HUGE SUPPLY PROBLEM. RIGHT NOW DEMAND OUTSTRIPS SUPPLY EXPONENTIALLY. SO WE CAN'T HAVE ANY GREEN PASSPORTS LIKE THEY HAVE IN ISRAEL HERE IN CANADA AT LEAST UNTIL EVERYBODY HAS HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE INOCULATED, BECAUSE OTHERWISE IT JUST MEANS THAT THE ELITES ARE GOING TO BE ABLE TO HAVE ACCESS TO FULL SOCIETY, AND THE VULNERABLE AND THOSE WHO ARE NOT ABLE TO GET A VACCINATION BECAUSE OF A MEDICAL CONDITION OR THE YOUNG, BECAUSE THE VACCINATION ISN'T BUILT FOR THEM, THAT THEY'RE JUST OUT OF LUCK AND THEY DON'T GET TO PARTICIPATE IN SOCIETY BECAUSE WE WERE IN TOO MUCH OF A RUSH TO GET EVERYBODY BACK INTO A MOVIE THEATRE.

Steve says WELL, LET'S GO WHERE YOU INVITED US TO GO A FEW MOMENTS AGO, WHICH IS TO SAY THE PRIVACY ISSUES. ARE YOU NOT SATISFIED THAT THIS COULD BE DONE IN SUCH A WAY THAT WOULD RESPECT THE PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUAL CANADIANS?

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Michael says WELL, I MEAN, IT REALLY BOILS DOWN TO CONSENT. AND I DON'T THINK YOU'RE GOING TO GET MEANINGFUL CONSENT TO PEOPLE REVEALING THEIR PRIVATE HEALTH INFORMATION IF IN FACT YOU'RE COERCING THEM INTO BEING GIVEN A TICKET TO PARTICIPATE IN SOCIETY. THE CONCERN IS THIS, THAT... YEAH, IT'S EASY... I DON'T KNOW, IT'S EASY FOR ME TO GO OUT THERE AND SAY, YES, I'VE BEEN VACCINATED. I DON'T HAVE ANY MEDICAL CONDITION GETTING IN THE WAY OF ME AND THE PUBLIC. BUT THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO HAVE MEDICAL CONDITIONS THAT DISALLOW THEM FROM BEING VACCINATED. SO IF THEY'RE ONE OF THOSE, IF THEY GET A YELLOW PASSPORT BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT VACCINATED BUT THEY FIT INTO A MEDICAL EXCEPTION AND THEY'RE ALL MASSED UP, THEN THEY'RE BASICALLY WEARING A BIG SIGN SAYING, "HERE'S MY HEALTH INFORMATION, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, FOR ANYBODY WHO WISHES TO CARE. I'VE GOT ONE OF THE, YOU KNOW, SEVEN OR DOZEN MEDICAL CONDITIONS OUT THERE THAT EXEMPTS ME." AND NOT EVERYBODY WANTS THEIR PRIVATE HEALTH INFORMATION SHARED WITH THE WORLD, AND THAT'S A RIGHT UNDER OUR CONSTITUTION.

Steve says SO IF I HEAR YOU CORRECTLY THEN, AND NEENA, I'LL GET YOU TO SPEAK TO THIS, THE ISSUE OF CONSENT IS KEY. IF CANADIAN CITIZENS DON'T CONSENT TO DO THIS, THEN THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE TO? ARE YOU THERE AS WELL?

Neena says I ACTUALLY AGREE WITH MICHAEL ON THIS ONE. I MEAN, IF PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO PROVIDE THEIR PROOF OF VACCINATION TO PARTICIPATE IN CIVIL SOCIETY, THAT'S THEIR CHOICE. THEY ARE, HOWEVER, NOT ENTITLED TO SAY, "WELL, I WANT TO BE TREATED EQUIVALENT TO PEOPLE WHO ARE VACCINATED." IN OUR SOCIETY, HEALTH AND SAFETY HAS BEEN ONE OF THE RECOGNIZED FACTORS THAT WE CAN LOOK AT IN ORDER TO DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT CERTAIN INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS SHOULD GIVE WAY FOR THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF THE INDIVIDUAL OR THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF THE COMMUNITY. I MEAN, ROUTINELY WE'RE ASKED IN OUR SOCIETY FOR HEALTH AND SAFETY INFORMATION. SO HEALTH INFORMATION. I REMEMBER BEFORE I STARTED UNIVERSITY HAVING TO PROVE THAT I HAD A NEGATIVE TB TEST. MY CHILD HAD TO PROVE THAT THEY HAD VACCINATIONS IN ORDER TO BE ENROLLED INTO A PUBLIC SCHOOL. WE'RE NOT ASKING OUR CITIZENS ANYTHING MORE THAN WE'VE ASKED OUR CHILDREN AND STUDENTS TO PROVE IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN SOMETHING IMPORTANT, WHICH IS EDUCATION. NOW, PEOPLE CAN CHOOSE... YOU KNOW, THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GET VACCINATED AND THEY'RE GOING TO WANT US TO GET TO HERD IMMUNITY AS FAST AS SOCIETY CAN. AND THAT IS INDEED UNFORTUNATE, AND THEY MAY HAVE TO BE INDIVIDUALLY ACCOMMODATED. BUT I DON'T SEE WHY WE SHOULD CONTINUE LOCKING DOWN A GROUP OF SOCIETY THAT HAS BEEN VACCINATED, THAT PROVIDES A VERY LOW RISK OF DISEASE SPREAD... AT LEAST NOW. I MEAN, THAT'S THE TENTATIVE INFORMATION. WE MAY HAVE TO GET...

Steve says CAN I JUMP IN WITH A FOR INSTANCE? SINCE YOU RHETORICALLY POSED THE QUESTION. YOU CAN TELL ME IF THIS IS RIDICULOUS. I'LL USE A CLICHED EXAMPLE THAT A BAKER CAN'T DENY A GAY COUPLE THE RIGHT TO PURCHASE A CAKE BECAUSE THEY THINK THAT'S AN INFRINGEMENT ON HUMAN RIGHTS. IT'S ILLEGAL TO DENY, IF WE CAN GO TO THE JIM CROW SOUTH OF 60 YEARS AGO, DENY A BLACK PERSON A SEAT AT A CAFETERIA. CAN WE DENY SOMEBODY WHO DIDN'T HAVE A VACCINE PASSPORT THE RIGHT TO GO TO A MOVIE OR, YOU KNOW, TO SHOP AT A CERTAIN STORE?

Neena says YEAH, I DON'T AGREE WITH THAT ANALOGY AT ALL. I DON'T KNOW THAT A GAY COUPLE COMING INTO A BAKERY CAUSES A RISK OF DISEASE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE IN THE BAKERY OR THE STAFF AT THE BAKERY. SIMILARLY, HAVING A BLACK PERSON COME AND EAT AT A COUNTERTOP IN ALABAMA DID NOT INCREASE THE HEALTH AND SAFETY RISK FOR THOSE INDIVIDUALS IN THAT CAFE. HAVING SOMEBODY WHO IS NOT VACCINATED... I MEAN, THE PROBLEM WITH COVID IS ASYMPTOMATIC TRANSMISSION. SO THESE PEOPLE DO POSE AN INCREASED RISK OF TRANSMISSION OF DISEASE TO EVERYBODY ELSE WHO IS WITHIN 6 FEET OF THEM AND NOT MASKED UP, NOT USING PPE. IT'S A LEGITIMATE HEALTH AND SAFETY DIFFERENTIATOR. AND SO I DON'T THINK IT'S AN APPROPRIATE ANALOGY TO USE AT ALL.

Steve says OKAY. MICHAEL, IT'S A HEALTH THING, IT'S NOT A CIVIL RIGHTS THING. DISCUSS.

Michael says WELL, A DISABILITY IS AN IMMUTABLE CHARACTERISTIC, JUST AS SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND RACE IS AN IMMUTABLE CHARACTERISTIC. AND IF I CAN'T GET VACCINATED BECAUSE I'M DISABLED, BECAUSE I HAVE A PARTICULAR MEDICAL CONDITION THAT MAKES ME ALLERGIC TO THE PFIZER VACCINE WHICH, YOU KNOW, HAPPENED, WE FOUND OUT, WHEN PFIZER WAS RELEASED IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, THEN IT MEANS THAT I CANNOT PARTICIPATE IN SOCIETY BECAUSE OF THIS IMMUTABLE CHARACTERISTIC. THE ARGUMENT IS, ON THE OTHER SIDE, THAT THE PURPOSE IS JUST SO VITAL THAT YOU HAVE TO MAKE AN EXCEPTION HERE. BUT I SAY THAT THERE CAN BE ACCOMMODATION OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO CAN'T GET VACCINATED, AND THERE MUST BE AN ACCOMMODATION OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO CAN'T GET VACCINATED, TO ALLOW THEM TO PARTICIPATE IN SOCIETY, PARTICULARLY WHEN WE DO NOT KNOW TODAY THAT GETTING A VACCINE EQUALS IMMUNITY AND IN FACT THERE MAY BE MANY OTHER WAYS, SUCH AS MASKING AND DISTANCING, THAT WOULD ALLOW THE UNVACCINATED TO PARTICIPATE IN SOCIETY. AND SO GOVERNMENTS, EMPLOYERS, AND AS A SOCIETY WE NEED TO COME UP WITH THAT ACCOMMODATION, WHICH IS REALLY WHAT WE DO IN CANADA ALL THE TIME: ACCOMMODATING DIFFERENCES AND ACCOMMODATING PEOPLE'S HUMAN RIGHTS. YES, EVEN IN, IF NOT ESPECIALLY, IN A NATIONAL EMERGENCY SUCH AS A PANDEMIC.

Steve says WE ACCOMMODATE BUT THERE'S USUALLY ANOTHER WORD THAT GOES ALONG WITH THAT, AND THAT IS REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION. AND I'M GOING TO GO TO NEENA ON THIS PART OF IT. LET ME UP THE ANTE HERE. MICHAEL JUST MENTIONED EMPLOYERS. CAN YOU IMAGINE A SITUATION WHEREBY SOMEBODY RUNNING A RESTAURANT FINALLY GETS TO REOPEN THAT RESTAURANT, WANTS TO BRING SOME OF THE WAIT STAFF BACK. ONE OF THE WAITERS, ONE OF THE SERVERS, HASN'T HAD HIS OR HER SHOT AND MAYBE DOESN'T PLAN TO GET HIS OR HER SHOT OR MAYBE CAN'T GET HIS OR HER SHOT, AND THEN THE EMPLOYER SIMPLY SAYS, WELL, YOU KNOW WHAT? IF YOU HAVEN'T GOT A SHOT, I REALLY CAN'T LET YOU WORK HERE. YOU'RE A HEALTH HAZARD TO MY CUSTOMERS. CAN THAT EMPLOYER LEGITIMATELY FIRE THAT EMPLOYEE?

Neena says SO I DON'T THINK IT'S A LEGITIMATE GROUNDS FOR FIRING SOMEONE, AND I WOULD SAY THAT YOU'D HAVE TO GET THE CURRENT HEALTH ADVICE AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THAT WAITER CAN SAFELY SERVE USING THE UNIVERSAL PRECAUTIONS AND ESSENTIALLY PEOPLE WHO ARE VACCINATED, IF PUBLIC HEALTH AGREES... BECAUSE WE'RE ALL SORT OF IN THIS HYPOTHETICAL WORLD WHERE PEOPLE VACCINATIONS WHERE SAY IF YOU HAVE A VACCINATION, YOU DON'T NEED TO WEAR MASKS. THAT'S A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION. I DISAGREE WITH MICHAEL VEHEMENTLY SAYING, OH, WELL, HAVING THOSE KIND OF MASKING IS STIGMATIZING PEOPLE...

Michael says I NEVER SAID THAT. I NEVER SAID THAT WEARING MASKS...

Neena says I APOLOGIZE.

Michael says YOU MISHEARD ME, NEENA.

Neena says I MISHEARD YOU. THERE'S A CONCERN THAT DERIVATIVELY THEY WILL DISCLOSE HEALTH INFORMATION, PEOPLE CHOOSE NOT TO BE VACCINATED TO ARE ALL SORTS OF REASONS. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO CONTINUE TO BE VACCINE HESITANT. THERE ARE PEOPLE WITH RELIGIOUS GROUNDS AND DISABILITY GROUNDS WHERE THEY'RE SORT OF FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE ABOUT HAVING VACCINATIONS. IT'S EARLY DAYS YET. WE DON'T KNOW WHAT LEVEL OF VACCINE UPTAKE THERE WILL BE AT THE END. RIGHT NOW THE DEMAND IS HUGE. AND SO I BELIEVE THAT THERE WILL BE ACCOMMODATIONS THAT THAT EMPLOYER CAN TAKE IN MOST CIRCUMSTANCES. THE EXCEPTION MAY BE WHERE THERE ARE NURSING CARE PROVIDED TO VULNERABLE PEOPLE. I'M NOT SURE THAT SCENARIO IS A HARDER SCENARIO THAN MAYBE THE WAIT STAFF.

Steve says MICHAEL, YOU AND I PROBABLY BOTH SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ON TWITTER. I GUESS TAKE THIS FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH. WE PUT A LITTLE SURVEY ON TWITTER LAST WEEK JUST FOR THE HECK OF IT TO SEE WHAT PEOPLE THOUGHT ABOUT IT. I'M NOT GOING TO PRETEND FOR A SECOND THIS IS A SCIENTIFIC SURVEY, BUT IT IS WHAT IT IS. SHELDON, PUT THIS UP. WE POSED THE QUESTION: SHOULD VACCINATION PASSPORTS BE REQUIRED TO TRAVEL?

A tweet by "@TheAgenda" pops up with poll results showing that 81.5 percent of respondents voted Yes and 18.5 percent No to the question "Should vaccination passports be required to travel?"

Steve says AND APPARENTLY WE GOT NORTH OF 80 percent OF THE PEOPLE CHIMED IN SAYING, YES, VACCINATION PASSPORTS SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO TRAVEL. THOSE NUMBERS SUGGEST YOUR SIDE OF THE ARGUMENT HAS A BIT OF A BIG JOB AHEAD. WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO ABOUT THAT?

Michael says WELL, IF I LIVE IN A SOCIETY OF MOB RULE, AND I DON'T, THE POINT HERE IS TO PROTECT PEOPLE'S RIGHTS. AND MY CONCERN IS WITH THAT 18 percent. I THINK WE NEED TO, WHENEVER WE LOOK AT SOCIETY, AS ROSIE ABELLA SAYS, LOOK AT IT WITH THE VULNERABLE. I THINK WE SOLVED THIS DEBATE TO A CERTAIN EXTENT IN THAT BOTH YOUR GUESTS ARE IN AGREEMENT THAT ACCOMMODATION IS DOABLE. SO IF WE CAN HAVE MASKING FOR WAITERS OR SOME EQUIVALENT ACCOMMODATION FOR WORKERS WHO CAN'T BE VACCINATED TO DO THEIR JOB BECAUSE MASKING AND DISTANCING AND OTHER PRECAUTIONS END UP LOWERING THE RISK TO THE POINT WHERE THAT ACCOMMODATION IS SUCCESSFUL, THEN WE COULD DO THE SAME THING ACROSS THE BOARD. I'M NOT SAYING THAT PEOPLE SHOULD BE ABLE TO FULLY SYMPTOMATIC, SNEEZING ALL OVER THE PLACE, RUN INTO A PHONE BOOTH WITH ANOTHER PERSON. OF COURSE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO NEED TO MASK. THE QUESTION REALLY IS WHAT'S REASONABLE? WHAT IS A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION, AS YOU SAID, STEVE. AND I THINK PEOPLE NEED TO TAKE STEPS, IF THEY CAN'T BE VACCINATED, IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN SOCIETY. I THINK THAT'S REASONABLE. YES, IT'S TRUE THAT THERE IS SOME STIGMA AROUND THAT, POSSIBLY. BUT LASTLY, THAT IS NOT NECESSARILY GOING TO BE THE CASE BECAUSE I THINK A LOT OF VACCINATED PEOPLE ARE GOING TO CONTINUE TO BE MASKED BECAUSE OF THEIR CONCERN OF GETTING IT FROM OTHERS. SO I THINK MASKS ARE HERE TO SAY. I DON'T THINK THAT'S GOING TO BE THE BADGE OF THE UNVACCINATED, NECESSARILY. I MEAN, WE HAD PEOPLE WEARING MASKS BEFORE COVID BROKE OUT. AND, YES, EVERYBODY... I SHOULDN'T OVERSTATE IT BUT I'M SURE MANY, MANY PEOPLE WOULD AGREE WITH MANDATORY VACCINE LAWS. BUT WE LIVE IN A CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY. WE HAVE A CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS. SO WE NEED TO REALLY GET OUT THE SCALPEL AS OPPOSED TO THE SLEDGEHAMMER TO FIND WAYS TO COME UP WITH THE KIND OF REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HERE FOR WORKERS AND FOR EVERYBODY, AND IT MAY CHANGE DEPENDING ON THE VENUE. SO IT MAY BE THAT IF IT'S AN OUTDOOR STADIUM, THERE'S A DIFFERENT RISK AT PLAY FOR THE VACCINATED VERSUS THE UNVACCINATED, AND THOSE KINDS OF REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS AND A CLOSE LOOK AT WHAT THE SCIENCE IS, AS OPPOSED TO LETTING FEAR AND EMOTION DRIVE THE LAW. IF THE LAW WAS DRIVEN BY TWITTER, THEN WE WOULD HAVE A PROBLEM. BUT MERCIFULLY, IT'S NOT. IT'S CHECKED BY THE CONSTITUTION.

Steve says LET'S NOT DO AN OUTDOOR STADIUM. LET, NEENA, DO AN INDOOR CLASSROOM. DO YOU THINK WE ARE GETTING TO THE POINT WHERE TEACHERS, FOR EXAMPLE, WILL BE OBLIGED TO BE VACCINATED AND HAVE A VACCINE PASSPORT IF THEY WANT TO CONTINUE TO TEACH?

The caption changes to "Make it mandatory?"

Neena says SO, YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT JUST THE TEACHERS, IT'S ALSO THE STUDENTS. LET'S LOOK AT THE FACT THAT WE REQUIRE STUDENTS TO BE VACCINATED AGAINST A NUMBER OF CHILDHOOD COMMUNICABLE DISEASES. WE MAY FIND WHAT WE HAVE IS TEACHERS WILL BE REQUIRED TO BE VACCINATED IF THEY WANT TO BE IN CERTAIN KINDS OF CLASSROOM SETTINGS, AND IF THEY CAN'T BE OR DECIDE NOT TO BE, THEN THERE WILL HAVE TO BE SOME OTHER MODE TO DEALT WITH THEM. THEY MAY HAVE TO DO REMOTE TEACHING. MAYBE THEY'RE WORKING WITH A DIFFERENT POPULATION. SO YOU WOULD HAVE TO LOOK AT THE SPECIFIC SCHOOL BOARD AND TO SEE HOW THAT TEACHER IS GOING TO HAVE TO BE ACCOMMODATED, IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, IF THE REFUSAL IS DUE TO DISABILITY AND-OR RELIGIOUS REASONS WHICH ARE PROTECTED UNDER OUR CONSTITUTION. BUT I CAN SEE THAT. AND REMEMBER, WE'VE HAD MANDATORY VACCINATIONS OF SIGNIFICANT DISEASE IN MANY SECTORS FOR A VERY LONG TIME.

Steve says WE HAVE A MINUTE LEFT HERE FOR ME TO GIVE MICHAEL BRYANT TO SPEAK TO THE ISSUE OF, BASED ON YOUR BEST UNDERSTANDING OF WHERE THIS COUNTRY'S AT LITIGIOUSLY SPEAKING, CAN WE IMAGINE THERE WILL BE HUMAN RIGHTS CASES ABOUT THIS GOING FORWARD?

Michael says I HAVE NO DOUBT THERE WILL BE MANY CIVIL CASES. WE ARE IN LITIGATION, THE CANADIAN CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION, ON MOBILITY RIGHTS, ON THE TREATMENT OF PRISONERS, ON THE HOMELESS, CERTAINLY I WOULD IMAGINE THAT WE WILL BE IN LITIGATION ON THIS, DEPENDING ON WHETHER OR NOT THE PROVINCES DON'T UNDERTAKE A NATIONAL RESPONSE AS OPPOSED TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PUTTING IN PLACE A RESPONSE. I THINK THAT THE... I JUST WANT TO SAY WITH RESPECT TO... WE ALREADY REQUIRE KIDS TO BE VACCINATED. NO, THAT'S NOT THE CASE. WE REQUIRE THEM TO DISCLOSE THEIR HEALTH RECORDS TO EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS, WHICH HAVE TO KEEP THEM PRIVATE, AND THEN DECISIONS ARE MADE ABOUT WHETHER TO ACCOMMODATE THEM OR NOT. THERE ARE CHILDREN WHO ARE NOT ABLE TO GET VACCINATED BECAUSE OF A MEDICAL REASON, AND THERE NEEDS TO BE SOME ACCOMMODATION OF THOSE PEOPLE TOO. BUT OTHERWISE, YOU KNOW, I THINK THE QUESTION IS: WILL VACCINE INDIVIDUAL REQUIREMENTS BE BROUGHT IN BY EITHER A PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OR NATIONALLY BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, AND IF SO, WILL THEY BRING THEM IN TOO EARLY, BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVE NOT REALLY BEEN GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY TO AND THE VULNERABLE ARE GETTING THE DOUBLE WHAMMY OF DISCRIMINATION. AND THEN LASTLY, IS IT USED FOR ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, FOR SOME CIRCUMSTANCES, AND WHAT DO THE ACCOMMODATIONS LOOK LIKE. THAT'S WHERE GREAT EFFORT NEEDS TO BE MADE TO TRY AND BALANCE OUT AND REACH PROPORTIONALITY BETWEEN FIGHTING COVID ON THE ONE HAND AND PROTECTING OUR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS IN CANADA ON THE OTHER HAND.

The caption changes to "Producer: Sandra Gionas, @sandragionas."

Steve says TO USE NEENA'S WORD WE LOVE VEHEMENT BUT ALSO CIVILIZED DEBATE AND DISAGREEMENT ON THIS PROGRAM. SO WE THANK YOU FOR COMING ONTO TVO TONIGHT AND SHARING YOUR VIEWS.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Michael says THANK YOU.

Neena says THANK YOU, MICHAEL.

Michael says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Neena says THANK YOU, STEVE.

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