Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, left, and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, centre right, ride in the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Alta., Friday, July 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, left, and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, centre right, ride in the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Alta., Friday, July 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Proof of vaccination gaining support; even in Alberta

Our friends at Angus Reid are always asking Canadians their opinions on various issues, and whatever your faith in polls, their findings are often interesting.

This week in addition to taking Canada’s pulse on the federal election, Angus Reid asked Canadians about their opinion on vaccine passports.

The latest polling shows that support for the passports for participation in many public space events is climbing.

The vast majority of Canadians are vaccinated. 75 per cent of us have at least one dose, 64.5 per cent are fully vaccinated. Some provinces and territories have higher rates than others, with Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories the lowest.

77 per cent of Canadians says they prefer encouraging the unvaccinated to get the shot with regulation rather than reward, ie. vaccine passports rather than incentives.

That’s Jason Kenney in Alberta’s latest plan, pay the unvaccinated $100 for getting the shot.

Kenney is resisting any idea of vaccine passports, even as 11 Alberta mayors last week, including the mayor of Edmonton, called for him to begin such a program. And polls show that Albertans are coming around to the idea as well. Angus Reid finds that the number of Albertans who would support proof of vaccination in pubic places has risen to 54 per cent. That’s up 14 per cent in just one month. It’s climbing higher every day. And the majority of Saskatchewan residents now support the passport as well.

Ontario, B.C., Quebec and Manitoba are in the process of implementing passports now. And these provinces have very different governments. B.C. is NDP, Ontario is Conservative, Quebec is the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) and Manitoba is well… still Conservative but under interim leadership as Brian Pallister stepped down at the end of August. A case could be made that Pallister’s handling of the pandemic was a big part of his downfall.

In any event, these four provinces who are implementing the passports are doing so with majority support of their residents despite some rather loud protests.

I admire Rob Ford in Ontario’s position on this. I know! Shocking!

Ford had resisted passports, saying he felt they would “split society”.

However, many medical officers, and business groups such as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Toronto Region Board of Trade began calling for passports to avoid complete shutdown of the economy again.

And Ford listened to them. He listened.

He said when announcing Ontario’s passport program that it was no secret he wasn’t in favour, but decided it was necessary based on advice from the province’s medical officer of health.

So yes, he flip flopped, but he owned it. It was politically brave of him, even as some of his own cabinet members remain against it.

And I don’t think he’s going to pay too big a price for it. In fact I will be very surprised if his numbers are down any further because of it.

But in Alberta, Kenney prefers the carrot to the stick and is firmly resisting calls for the passport. His offer to pay the vaccine resistant $100 to get the shot has not been received well. The money was quickly labelled Kenney’s Pennies and has been scorned by many. But there are signs behind the scenes that he may have to shift. Black Press reported last week that while Kenney says no to the passport, his government is quietly developing a scannable QR code that can be downloaded to make it easy to prove vaccination status. Which is exactly what B.C. will be requiring.

So maybe Kenney is going to listen to the medical experts. Or maybe his own poll numbers, currently disastrous, are going to force him to change his mind. Or maybe he’s going to run out of Kenney’s Pennies before everyone is vaccinated.

Carolyn Grant is the Editor of the Kimberley Bulletin