Over 100 gather in Halifax to oppose proposed vaccine passport in Nova Scotia

More than 100 people showed up the demonstration on Saturday. Elizabeth McSheffrey/Global News

More than 100 people attended a rally in downtown Halifax on Saturday to protest a proposed COVID-19 vaccine passport system in Nova Scotia.

Liberal leader Iain Rankin said earlier in the week that his party would implement the so-called “ScotiaPass” if his party is re-elected in the provincial election on Aug. 17.

At the time, Rankin did not say whether the pass would be voluntary or mandatory upon implementation, citing the need to consult Public Health officials and take a look at the case numbers.

He billed it, however, as a tool for businesses to keep their patrons safe, and a way to ensure that restaurants, gyms, theatres and arenas can operate at full capacity.

Read more: Nova Scotia Liberals propose COVID-19 vaccine passport if elected Aug. 17

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On Saturday, the rally’s organizers said they weren’t interested in waiting to find out if the pass would be mandatory or voluntary, describing its very concept as a violation of personal freedoms and a slippery slope to denying Nova Scotians access to goods and services.

They stressed that the event was not an “anti-vax” rally and said they were more concerned about the privacy of their health information.

Some of the rally’s participants held signs reading, “Save Canada, no vax pass” and “Keep Nova Scotia open and free.”

Jonathan Dean, leader of the Atlantica Party, described the proposed pass as a form of “social coercion” that “intrudes into the freedom and liberty of the individual and families to make decisions on their own health.”

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While the ScotiaPass is, for now, just a campaign promise, Dean said he was “raising the alarm bell early, letting people know that this is a step too far and we won’t allow it.”

A representative of the People’s Party of Canada, who said she’s running as a PPC candidate in the next federal election, told some Nova Scotians who attended the rally not to speak to journalists and asked journalists who were there not to ask questions to participants.

Vaccine passports are becoming an increasingly hot-button issue across the country, especially as many provinces are dealing with a fourth wave of COVID-19.

Read more: Provinces divided on making use of COVID-19 vaccine passports. Here’s why

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Quebec’s health ministry recently announced its plan to launch a COVID-19 vaccine passport system in the province as of Sept. 1.

As well, Manitoba is issuing proof-of-immunization cards and QR codes to those who are fully vaccinated.

B.C health officials have said vaccine passports would be fully supported throughout the province, adding that they have been working with the federal government on the program.

— With files from Elizabeth McSheffrey

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