The federal government made a conscious and well-considered decision to impose a strict travel vaccination mandate that would not allow for compassionate exemptions, court documents reveal.
Documents recently obtained by The Epoch Times relate to four lawsuits challenging the mandate that have shed some light on the thinking that led to a policy intended to have a “strong” and “world-leading” mandate.
Jennifer Little, director general of Transport Canada’s COVID Recovery Team, was responsible for drafting the mandate policy, which included developing recommendations for decision makers regarding mandate exemptions.
Little, who filed an affidavit in April, was questioned in early June as a government witness in defense of the travel mandate. She was asked during cross-examination if it was her idea not to have compassionate exemptions.
“While developing a policy … we looked at a number of circumstances. This was intended to confirm … policy direction by decision makers,” she said.
Little mention is that she was the lead author of an October 2 brief for Transport Minister Omar Alghabra titled “Implementing a vaccine mandate for the transport sector”.
He described the policy as “one of the strongest travel vaccination mandates in the world”.
Transport Canada’s manager said the summary contains all the considerations for various exemptions.
“And did you specifically recommend that there be no exemptions for travelers on compassionate grounds?” said lawyer Sam Presvelos.
“So that was one of our considerations. It was something for the decision makers to decide whether or not to include it as one of the very few exceptions,” Little said.
“We had guidance to allow very few exceptions in the policymaking that … we were working on … over the course of the fall.”
Pak said that the fewer exemptions given to the unvaccinated, the safer and more secure the transportation system would be.
Many people have contacted The Epoch Times to share stories of how, because of the mandate, families were broken up or missed important moments like weddings and funerals.
Liability of Carriers
Carriers were responsible for issuing exemptions. To avoid their liability under human rights legislation, exemptions were allowed for medical or religious reasons, Little said.
Little’s statement lists the exemptions granted by air carriers between October 30, 2021 and April 19, 2022:
- 371 waivers to receive medical care with an 83 percent approval rate
- 409 exceptions for medical contraindications with a 55 percent approval rate
- 900 religious exemptions with a 38 percent approval rate
There is also a National Interest Exemption Program to allow the unvaccinated to travel for reasons that are “in the national interest and critical to Canada’s success as a country,” Little said in the statement, giving the example of someone who must travel to participate in a clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine.
This program was also used to bring in unvaccinated Ukrainians fleeing the war.
The travel vaccination mandate for planes, trains and some marine vessels went into effect on October 30. It was suspended on June 20, but the Liberals said it could be reinstated if the virus picks up.
While ministers have repeatedly said they were following science and public health advice in establishing and maintaining the mandate, court documents so far show the Public Health Agency of Canada did not recommend it.
The Epoch Times contacted Health Canada to find out if any individual, agency or group within the department has ever recommended that the government impose, maintain or remove vaccine mandates.
An unnamed spokesperson did not directly respond and instead noted that those policies were set by Transport Canada and the Treasury Board.