Days-old website a big hit, says spokesperson

Author of the article:Jane Stevenson

Publishing date:Sep 09, 2021  

A syringe and a vial labelled "COVID-19 vaccine" are placed on a passport with printed words "COVID-19 vaccinated" in this illustration taken April 27, 2021.
A syringe and a vial labelled “COVID-19 vaccine” are placed on a passport with printed words “COVID-19 vaccinated” in this illustration taken April 27, 2021. PHOTO BY DADO RUVIC /REUTERS

Gillian Whyatt, of Toronto catering company Saucy Affairs, says it was a no-brainer signing up to the days-old website

The site, set up on Sept. 5, sees Canadian businesses in Ontario, B.C., Alberta and Quebec add their support for freedom of choice about whether or not to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s none of our business what someone chooses to do medically — that’s our stance,” said Whyatt, Saucy Affairs’ office manager-event coordinator and wife of chef-owner Glen Anderson.

“I’m not going to discriminate against our customers or my staff or even ask them any information. It just goes against our own ethics.”

Whyatt said that means the seven-year-old catering company won’t ask anyone who works for them or their clients about having a vaccine passport.

However, that could work against them in venues that do require proof of vaccines.

“It’s very possible,” said Whyatt. “However, since joining the couple of Facebook (groups called Ontario Business Support Against Vax Pass and Ontario Businesses against Health Pass) and this no pass site, we actually are going to get busier because of the people who support our decision. So we’re gaining (three) new clients because of that.” — set up by a group in East Gwilimbury, Ont. that wishes to remain anonymous for now — is an undisputed success, according to their spokesperson Brea Osler.

She said the site is getting 30,000 page views daily and over 1,000 businesses have signed up so far, the majority in Ontario.

“We’re very, very surprised — the support has been tremendous and is definitely climbing day by day,” said Osler.

But Osler stressed it’s up to each individual business on about whether they will or won’t require a vaccine passport from their customers.

“No pass means non-passive,” she said. “So businesses that are not going to be passive about the situation at hand. It doesn’t necessarily mean no passports.”

“We can’t speak on behalf of all the businesses on the site and say whether they’re going to implement the vaccine passports or not,” Osler said. “The only thing we can say is that they are in support of freedom of choice in Canada and they don’t believe in segregation or discrimination based on your medical status.”

Ontario professor on paid leave after refusing to get vaccinated or wear a mask

‘As Canadians, as rational, autonomous people, my view is that we have a right to decide what goes into our body, even if we have the worst reasons for it’

Author of the article:Tyler Dawson

Publishing date:Sep 09, 2021  

Julie Ponesse in a video she posted about her decision not to get vaccinated.
Julie Ponesse in a video she posted about her decision not to get vaccinated. PHOTO BY JULIE PONESSE / INSTAGRAM

A philosophy professor at a college affiliated with the University of Western Ontario says she has been put on paid leave and is unable to teach students because of her refusal to get vaccinated, which violates the school’s COVID-19 policy.

But the high-profile dispute puts into focus an issue which is likely to face many of the estimated 3.7 million people in Canada who are vaccine hesitant or outright refuse to take a shot — what can employers demand of employees in these circumstances, and what might employees have to submit to.

Howard Levitt, a Toronto employment lawyer with Levitt Sheikh, says exemptions based on religion or medical issues, under Ontario’s human rights code, are very limited. Collective agreements, in unionized scenarios, may have a clause on such an issue, Levitt said, but generally speaking, there is not much to prevent or reject the imposition of such policies.

“People have beliefs, personal beliefs, and personal ethics about many, many things, but if they collide with the employer’s rules and policies, you’ve got to basically leave them at the door if you want to work for that employer,” Levitt said.

Huron requires mandatory vaccination on campus, except for people who have received an exemption, either for medical reasons, or creed or religion. In those cases, people must be tested twice weekly.

“There is no testing option for those who choose not to be vaccinated,” a notice on the Huron website says. “Those without proof of vaccination or an exemption will not be permitted on campus.”

On Tuesday, Ponesse emailed her department head to inform him that she would not get a vaccine, not upload proof of vaccination, not wear a mask while teaching or submit to testing to prove she’s COVID free.

“It was within, I think, half an hour of sending that email that I received an email from my dean stating that I would be dismissed and put on temporary paid leave,” Ponesse said.

The email, which the National Post has seen, tells Ponesse she “will be placed on a temporary paid leave and you will not be allowed to attend campus.” Even if she were to get an exemption, the email says, she would have to get rapid testing and wear a mask, which she has refused to do.

Ponesse said she may qualify for an exemption, but her objection is to the mandate itself, and seeking an exemption “acquiesces to the mandate in some sense.”

“I want to be very clear in rejecting it in principle, I don’t think we ever should have been in the place where we’re looking at the situation of mandates, so I’m not just seeking an exemption to one, I’m challenging the very foundation of the idea,” Ponesse said.

However, Ponesse has also made questionable claims about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. In a video posted online, she calls the vaccines “experimental.”

Health authorities in Canada, and many other countries, approved the vaccines for emergency use after confirming their safety and efficacy. Almost three quarters of Canadians have received one dose of an approved vaccine — Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca — and more than 67 per cent are fully vaccinated. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in August 2021.

Preliminary studies have found that the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are about 90 per cent effective against COVID-19 and the vast majority of cases are now among the unvaccinated.

Many universities and businesses across Canada have been grappling with some sort of vaccination mandate and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that all federal public service employees, and those in federally regulated transportation sectors, must get vaccinated. Provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, have announced a vaccine passport system.

Bruce Anderson, chair of Abacus Data, reported this week that of Canada’s adult population of 29.5 million people, seven per cent (two million) were vaccine hesitant and six per cent (1.77 million) would not take the vaccine no matter how much they were pressured.

My view is that we have a right to decide what goes into our body, even if we have the worst reasons for it

Drew Davidson, a spokesman for Huron, wrote in an email that the deadline for proof of vaccination was Tuesday. If people were awaiting an exemption request or a second dose, they had to provide proof of twice-weekly negative rapid antigen tests, Davidson said.

“While I can’t comment on individual HR matters, I can confirm to you that at this time, no one at Huron has been dismissed as a result of this policy,” Davidson wrote.

Ponesse said she has since asked for more information about what her stance means for her future at Huron, and, if it comes to it, what the terms of her termination might be. She also said she’s attempted to enlist the help of the Huron University College Faculty Association, but said many unions have been supportive of vaccine mandates in the first place. (The union did not respond to the National Post’s request for comment before deadline.)

Over the past few months, Ponesse has appeared on right-wing blogs and podcasts, including Maxime Bernier’s YouTube show.

The Canadian COVID Care Alliance, an organization that expresses skepticism about COVID-19 vaccines and public-health measures used to combat the pandemic, has been promoting a video of Ponesse explaining her decision not to get vaccinated. The group suggests stocking up on ivermectin — an anti-parasite medication — should you get COVID, which is not a recommended treatment for the novel coronavirus.

Ponesse says she had first wrote to the dean expressing her concerns about the university’s vaccine mandate several weeks ago.

“I am one of the only ethicists, and potentially the only person with a background in medical ethics at my college, and I would have expected my chair, who’s also a philosopher, and then also members of the administration, to at the very least engage with me, to express some curiosity, to invite more comment from the person who is hired to teach the very subject that we are engaged in right now,” she said.

While she says she has concerns about the vaccines themselves — which have been tested and studied extensively and approved for use by governments around the world — she also has ethical concerns about policies that coerce compliance.

“As Canadians, as rational, autonomous people, my view is that we have a right to decide what goes into our body, even if we have the worst reasons for it,” Ponesse said.

Twenty years on, the cultural fault-line remains

For the west, there are no “forever wars”. For the Islamists, war is indeed forever

Melanie Phillips
Sep 10

Second plane crashes into World Trade Centre south tower, September 11 2001

Few of us, if any, will ever forget those terrible images of the 9/11 attacks on America. Twenty years on, it’s painfully clear that many westerners still don’t grasp the full nature and scope of what they witnessed when the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in Lower Manhattan fell.

On that dreadful day, the west was brought face to face with the fundamentalist strain dominant in the Islamic world. This involves the promotion of jihad, or holy war, against the non-Islamic world and those Muslims who the fundamentalists think aren’t Islamic enough.

The west, particularly Britain and America, had mostly ignored the fact that this war had already been under way against itself for at least a decade.

In the 1980s, western-backed mujahideen ran the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan. The British and Americans ignored warnings that those fighters were Islamic fundamentalists who would now be galvanised to follow their defeat of the Soviet empire by attempting to defeat what they saw as the western one. The rise of al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks were the result.

But the west had also ignored the mounting evidence of a cultural onslaught against it that had been waged by both Sunni and Shia Islam for years.

Britain seemed oblivious to the fact that, during the 1980s, Muslim immigrants had brought with them institutions dominated by the fundamentalist Wahhabi strain of Islam that had been imported into Pakistan and Bangladesh from Saudi Arabia. With a growing domestic constituency of fundamentalists who were being either ignored or indulged, Britain was sleepwalking into Islamisation.

In 1989, the British writer Salman Rushdie was sentenced to death by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, for insulting Islam in his novel The Satanic Verses. He was forced to live in hiding for years, with his book publicly burned on British streets.

Yet few grasped that this was far more than an attack on a writer. It was an attempt to force the west to submit to Islamic values. And the emergence of the Shia Islamic Republic of Iran itself galvanised in turn the Sunni world to jihad.

After 9/11, however, the west told itself that jihadi fundamentalism was a “perversion” of Islam. This is dishonest. While many western Muslims endorse human rights and deplore the atrocities perpetrated in the name of their religion, jihadi excesses are nevertheless rooted solidly in Islamic religious texts. Sept. 11 was an act of Islamic holy war.

Those who cannot even bring themselves to name the enemy that is waging war upon them will be defeated by it. That’s why the claim of “Islamophobia” is so troubling.

For while real prejudice against Muslims is wrong, “Islamophobia” was invented by the holy warriors of the Muslim Brotherhood to silence any adverse comment of Islam. It was a religious obligation to impose a Muslim law of blasphemy. By enlisting against “Islamophobia,” the west has effectively bent its knee to Islam — whose very name means submission.

Even today, Britain has not outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood, ignoring the way its sponsorship of myriad groups and institutions has embedded the jihad into British and western society.

In 2004, The Washington Post reported that American Muslim Brotherhood supporters made up “the US Islamic community’s most organised force” by running hundreds of mosques and business ventures, promoting civic activities and setting up organisations to promote Islam.

Yet documents unearthed during the Holy Land Foundation trial in 2007 alleged that the Muslim Brotherhood in America was involved in weapons training, counter-espionage against the FBI and CIA, and “eliminating and destroying the Western civilisation from within”.

No less perversely, the west has continually denied that the Arab and Muslim war against Israel is rooted in Islamic holy war (a blindness shared by Israel itself, which chooses to deal with this war of annihilation on more manageable nationalistic rather than religious grounds). It has similarly ignored the antisemitism that courses through the Islamic world, even though leading Islamists have acknowledged that their fear and hatred of the Jews lie behind their war on the west and modernity.

The 9/11 terror attacks didn’t just reveal the west’s blindness over Islamisation. They also exposed its cultural and civilisational fault line that had been opening up since early in the 20th century.

British isolationism is rooted in the carnage of the First World War. In America, the avoidance of what Thomas Jefferson called “entangling alliances” goes back to the founding fathers.

Appeasement-minded Britain and America woke up to the threat from Hitler almost too late — and too late to prevent the Holocaust.

But after the Second World War, Western elites persuaded themselves they could actually abolish war itself. Economic ties would avoid it, international law would prevent genocide, and war itself would be replaced by negotiation and “peace processes”.

For a while 9/11 punctured this lethal fantasy, resulting in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to suppress their incubation of Islamic terror.

In both places, however, the west was unable and unwilling to stay the course. Public rage at the junking of the “never war” fantasy was hugely compounded by the west’s strategic error in believing that invading these countries and then helping them become democratic societies would draw their terrorist sting.

The seriousness of the resulting mistakes in Iraq, in particular, seemed to confirm the influential view, in a west that had lost its belief in itself, that this arrogant and imperialistic culture had no right to tell others how to behave.

So the west failed to see that, while the execution of these wars may have been deeply flawed, the necessity to defend itself against a deadly foe was all too real and had not gone away.

This loss of cultural self-belief had many causes. Secularism had eroded the biblical foundations of the west. The carnage of World War I destroyed the belief in dying for your country.

Most devastatingly of all, the Holocaust passed a shattering judgment against modernity. So in the repudiation of its foundational beliefs, the west arrived at precisely the same point as the Islamic jihadists.

Of course, westerners never saw any similarity between themselves and Islamists locked into the seventh century and whom it dismissed as incomprehensible, crazy and worthless.

But in a mirror image, the west was busily severing the connection with its own historic values. This was compounded by an arrogant assumption that western attitudes were universal.

The west therefore tried to impose its utopian, post-modern belief in negotiation and compromise upon a Middle East and Islamic world that saw conflict solely in terms of victory and defeat, strength and weakness.

And so the west has continued to repeat its fiascos by indulging in the same fantasies that it will end the “forever wars” — whether through the Israel-Palestine “peace process,” the Iran nuclear deal or abandoning Afghanistan, where both British and American governments are now spinning themselves the fantasy that Taliban “realists” will keep the Taliban jihadists in check.

For Islamists, war is indeed forever. For such fanatics, defeat is only ever temporary.

For the west, however, there are no “forever wars.” Its wars are either won or lost; there are victors and vanquished.

And military strength matters less than belief. The 9/11 attackers didn’t use sophisticated military hardware. They hijacked civilian aircraft and turned them into flying human bombs of enormous destructive potential.

What fuels the jihad is the power of an idea. That idea is the cult of death.

To overcome a cult of death, the west needs a belief in life. Its own life. That is the way to draw the necessary courage and resolve from this most sombre anniversary; but alas, it seems the most difficult of lessons to learn.

Jewish News Syndicate

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