Skip to content

Evan Saugstad: Tyranny of the majority

I'm vaccinated against COVID-19, but we all have the right to determine what does or does not go into our body
Evan Saugstad: "I didn’t write and argue this from the point that vaccinations are bad or not needed, as I have had mine. I write this because it is no one else’s business as to why I did, just the same as it is no one else’s business if I had chosen not to."

saugstadOn Monday I watched as John Horgan, Bonnie Henry, and Adrian Dix tried to explain why they believed it is correct to penalize all those who do not believe in COVID-19 vaccinations.

They probably sounded good to those who live and die on their every word as to why anyone who has not received a vaccination should be viewed as an outcast and penalized as such.

Except they forgot one basic tenet of life and democracy in Canada: Canada protects the rights of the minority and guards against what is called the tyranny of the majority.

Backing up a bit, what John, Bonnie, and Adrian said is that anyone, no matter the reason, will be penalized if they do not agree to have two consecutive vaccinations as approved by themselves.

Period. End of discussion. No exceptions.

For those who did not watch or pay attention to what was said, one comment stands out.

Dr. Henry talked statistics and who is likely to contract COVID, who is likely to transmit and so forth, and so be that. Don’t know if she is correct, don’t know if she is wrong, but I can live with that, except it is interesting she could never tell us how many people in our communities contracted COVID, but she can now clearly tell us all how many are not vaccinated.

What the not-so-good Dr. Horgan added was that he thinks he is on safe ground mandating penalties for all who do not get vaccinated, as 75% of B.C. residents are fully vaccinated and they all wish for him to force everyone else to get vaccinated as that is the will of the people.

I missed the part as to why our government wouldn’t just send anyone who refuses to be vaccinated straight to jail and be done with it.

At the news conference, I listened carefully for what this means and I am certain that they were very clear and that there are no exceptions: Get vaccinated in B.C. and if you don’t, suffer the consequences. No excuses, no reasons, no exceptions.

I stated this is the tyranny of the majority, and for good reason. Democracy generally means that the majority rules, and for most things it works, but there are exceptions. In a fair and just society, exceptions are usually applied when a majority view or belief is one that penalizes or marginalizes a minority one.

COUNTERPOINT: A Mama’s perspective on vaccine mandates

Canada and B.C. are no different. We have had our fair share of history of penalizing minorities.

Remember the Little Sisters fight against the government and its definition of explicit materials? If not, Little Sisters was a small business in Metro Vancouver who sold/rented/showed explicit materials. The government of the day decided that this was immoral and damaging to the majority, so they confiscated their materials, ordered them shut down, and charged them with crimes.

Little Sisters disagreed and fought back and, in the end, won. Supreme courts said government cannot make all decisions as to what one may watch or not, and that in trying to do so, infringed on the rights of a minority — in this case, those who wished to view what others thought of as explicit material.

They won, and today one can find and view almost anything imaginable if they so choose.

I could go on about how this decision has not been good for our society but that is not the point. The point is that what one person believes is great and necessary is not necessarily what everyone else believes. Consequently, we learn to live with these court decisions and accept that not every minority right is the best decision for the majority.

Public sentiment cannot drive how society punishes individuals in a free and democratic society.

One would think that Premier Horgan would have had the guts and gumption to just mandate every person in B.C. be jabbed and be over with it. He didn’t because he knows and understands the backlash this would have. We all have the right to determine what does or does not go into our body. So instead he used the backdoor and mandated others to be the tyrants.

I didn’t write and argue this from the point that vaccinations are bad or not needed, as I have had mine. I write this because it is no one else’s business as to why I did, just the same as it is no one else’s business if I had chosen not to.

I also have no problem if individuals or businesses wish to restrict access to their private premises based on vaccinations, or masks, as I can choose whether I go there or not.

My issue is that government is now saying individuals and businesses have no choice, and that is wrong.

As we will soon find out, this mandate is not only about restricting access to places considered discretionary to our day-to-day life.

Many people travel from the north to the south for medical care that is not available or offered locally. Drive yourself or travel in Northern Health’s Connector bus, Fort St. John to Vancouver, to see your doctor. Travel can take two days, each way. Better pack a ham sandwich as you will not be able to eat in a restaurant if you are not vaccinated.

Travel in B.C. from another province that does not offer vaccination cards and the same will apply. Better bring your own kitchen, as one can still get into grocery stores to buy food. Just can't let someone cook it for you. Same for those who live here and have reasons not be vaccinated. Better not try traveling around B.C. for any reason, as you will soon find what the province describes as discretionary may actually be essential for your wellbeing.

And to the process: Is it really up to us to figure out a way to get the card? How about putting the onus back on government to send us the card as they have all the information. I am also quite sure there will be many more examples surface was we begin to digest just what they have done and what this truly means.

And as I finish this, like magic, Dr. Henry does it again. Another announcement, not even 24 hours later. Everyone put their masks back on.

Now, that may not sound out of the ordinary, but the fact that these were not both announced at the same time suggests to me that not a lot of thought has gone into the what, why, and how of the province's COVID response.

How do you spell winging it?

Evan Saugstad lives and writes in Fort St. John.