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You can’t check out any time you like, and you can never leave (until the government lets you)

February 2021

Canadian civil liberties seem to be under attack with the announcement that quarantine hotels have been established to “detain” those returning to Canada who don’t present a valid, negative test for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Virus.

I have mixed feelings about the idea of quarantine hotels. With the CCP Virus still ravaging our country over a year after the first case was detected, the reality that closing our borders to all but essential cargo shipments may have drastically curtailed the spread of the virus, is becoming very clear.

One year later, the borders still aren’t really closed. Although the land crossings are closed to non-essential travel, air travel is still wide open. There is nothing illegal about taking an airplane or helicopter flight across the border, even if it’s from a helipad in Niagara Falls, Ontario, to Niagara Falls, New York, where you meet up with a delivery service that has transported your car across the border, so you can drive it to your condo Florida for the winter. That has actually been happening.

As of 5 February 2020, Taiwan, who did actually close their borders and instituted mandatory testing for returning citizens, has had 924 confirmed cases, and a grand total of NINE deaths, from the CCP Virus, according to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, out of a population of 23.83 million.

Meanwhile, we were told it was racist to close our borders, even when it was Chinese-Canadians who were telling us to close them; the same ones who probably were getting information from their family members still in China, that there was something wrong in their former homeland.

Now, on the plus side for the quarantine hotels, they may succeed in making people think long and hard about whether their perfectly legal trip across the border is really necessary after all. For those who still need to travel, you have been warned that you may be confined to one of these hotels.

Does anyone remember when the borders were first ordered “closed” last March, those returning were quarantined at the RCAF base in Trenton for two weeks. Why did we discontinue that practice? Overall, I’m not in favour of forcibly detaining people, at a military base or in a hotel, but if we had kept up the quarantine in the spring at bases like Trenton for those early groups returning to the county, and actually shut the border to all but essential cargo shipments, maybe we wouldn’t need to be forcibly detaining people now.

Of course, a counter to the quarantine hotels is mandatory self-quarantine in your own home, as has been the practice until now. While that is a good option, it depends solely on the travelers obeying the order to self-quarantine. While most have complied, and authorities have done their best to do regular compliance checks, all it takes is one person to violate the self-quarantine order on one occasion, even for as little as one hour, for infection to spread.

On the negative side of the quarantine hotels, it’s frankly quite frightening to see our Charter Rights so easily suspended; maybe even unlawfully violated. There have been reports of travelers being hustled off to the hotels, under threat of arrest, and not being allowed to advise family members where they are going to be held, even those who may be at the airport to pick up the traveler.

Ironically, criminal charges are thrown out based on some of the potential Charter violations that have been reported in relation to the quarantine hotels. Although being arrested for non-compliance would definitely be worse, people could hardly be blamed for facetiously pondering the idea.

I also object to the announced $2000 cost per person that will be billed to the traveler for their anticipated three-day stay at the quarantine hotel. Yes, $2000?! Are the “guests” being forced to stay at a Ritz-Carlton? I didn’t even pay that much for a three-night stay at the Holiday Inn in the SoHo neighbourhood of Manhattan. I hope at least you get unlimited access to the mini-bar!

If people are going to be forced to quarantine anywhere other than their home, it should be at a reasonable rate. Charging $2000 for three nights is punitive.

There have also been reports of barely palatable food being served to the “guests,” consisting of little better than box lunches. Anyone who served in the army should be OK with that part, but for everyone else, it would be pretty depressing.

The biggest problem I have with this new quarantine issue, besides the potential Charter violations, is why is the government doing this now? Why is the government changing the rules at this point in the game? After allowing international travel to continue for the past year with few actual restrictions beyond quarantining at your own residence, on the honor system, why now.

Part of reason for this new quarantine policy, this literal suspension of our Charter Rights, is to deflect from the fact that Trudeau has completely bungled the vaccine acquisition and distribution. The ONE job he had to do, and he completely bungled it.

It appears Trudeau has found yet another way to make Canadians pay for his mistakes.

Sources: Coronavirus disease 2019(COVID-19) – Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (cdc.gov.tw), Concern growing around mandated hotel quarantine restrictions | CTV News, Justice Centre Sues Ottawa for ‘Forcible Confinement of Travellers’ (theepochtimes.com).

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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