Vaccine Mandates and Passports: Confusing by Design

If you are confused by COVID requirements, you are not alone and it is not by accident. It is by design. Photo: Echo360

Update September 23, 2022: Biden Administration Clarifies That Government Will Not Enforce Federal Contractor COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate


The US government has announced that COVID is such a grave threat to the public, truck drivers will need to be vaccinated in January. After all of the Christmas presents are delivered, apparently, we will get around to addressing the grave threat presented by COVID. Somehow, that doesn’t sound very grave to me.

Here’s one story about how grave threats are handled: my old boss Tony Clement was Ontario’s Health Minister in 2003 during the SARS outbreak. He once told me about being in a midnight meeting with public health officials and executives from Hewlett-Packard, which was experiencing a SARS outbreak at one of its facilities where thousands of workers were employed.

While government officials pondered the most effective way to stop the spread of SARS, Hewlett-Packard executives decided to use the best technology at its disposal at that moment: it electronically disabled everyone’s parking pass.

By daybreak, employees reporting for work and trucks making deliveries were stuck out on the road, unable to enter the property.

“That must have been a disaster!” I gasped when he told me.

“It was chaos,” he agreed. “But, they were out on the road, in their cars, and eventually they all got the message to go home and wait for more information. They weren’t in the building, spreading or catching SARS.”

As a means of dealing with the threat immediately, it wasn’t perfect; but it took less than two months. It made people believe the threat was clear, real, and imminent; meanwhile, telling citizens a threat is real and imminent, and will be dealt with two months from now, is confusing.


I have spent a lot of hours reading websites, talking to government officials, and checking in with drivers in an attempt to be able to make a clear statement, for the benefit of readers, what the rules around “Vaccine Mandates” are, how they are being applied.

The rules and regulations around Ontario’s Vaccine Passport (not the same thing as the Vaccine Mandate) are even more ephemeral: you have to have it to go places, except the places that can’t be bothering asking for it or looking at it.

When RWN asked readers if they planned on getting Ontario’s Vaccine Passport, two replied with this image.

(“I haven’t seen a restaurant that has purchased the scanner yet,” one customer told me, while a restaurant owner shouted at me when I asked: “I GOT their two vaccines! I am not getting a third vaccine, they can shove that up their ass!!” He angrily showed me his arms, which broke out into a painful, itchy rash after the second shot. He hasn’t checked a single Vaccine Passport yet, and never plans to).

As someone who often gets paid to write government bafflegab for a living, I am here to tell you: this information is not confusing by accident. It is confusing on purpose. It is confusing for a reason.

It is confusing by design.

Why would the province of Ontario, or Canada’s federal government, or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, distribute information which is confusing by design?

There could be several reasons, but in this case, I suggest the #1 reason is this: governments know they do not have the constitutional authority to make the demands they are making. They hope that if they whistle them out quickly, wave them around officiously, pay for enough advertising and command enough headlines, citizens will accept these new “mandates” and comply without question.

And to be clear, if the police officer or the restaurant hostess or border agent or public health inspector you get stuck with believes the mandates are enforceable, you are going to get enforced upon. That happens.

Or, you might happen upon an official who says, “Meh, who cares?” That happens too.

Government officials and the media who cover them are loathe to acknowledge the fact that many experts in constitutional law are challenging these mandates in court. The judicial process is going to be long, drawn-out and tedious; by the time the courts rule on whether governments had any right to do what they did, the deed will be done.

For example, when President Joe Biden announced he was mandating the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) to mandate employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines for their staff, his entire mandate consisted of some words he said at a microphone, a verbal announcement. There was no written legislation or even regulation provided to employers to provide them outline or direction on how to go about mandating this vaccine.

By the time wording for the standard was published online and made effective on November 5th, at least 10 states had already filed lawsuits against it.

So, should workers get the vaccine to keep their jobs, or wait for the results of the lawsuits and get fired?

That’s a pretty crappy choice.

Nov. 15th update: Court stays enforcement of Biden’s Covid Mandate – read the decision here

Excerpt from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to stay the enforcement of President Biden’s vaccine mandate:

“We begin by stating the obvious. The Occupational Safety and Health Act, which created OSHA, was enacted by Congress to assure Americans ‘safe and healthful working conditions and to preserve our human resources.’

It was not—and likely could not be, under the Commerce Clause and nondelegation doctrine—intended to authorize a workplace safety administration in the deep recesses of the federal bureaucracy to make sweeping pronouncements on matters of public health affecting every member of society in the profoundest of ways.

On the dubious assumption that the Mandate does pass constitutional muster—which we need not decide today—it is nonetheless fatally flawed on its own terms.

Indeed, the Mandate’s strained prescriptions combine to make it the rare government pronouncement that is both overinclusive (applying to employers and employees in virtually all industries and workplaces in America, with little attempt to account for the obvious differences between the risks facing, say, a security guard on a lonely night shift, and a meatpacker working shoulder to shoulder in a cramped warehouse) and underinclusive (purporting to save employees with 99 or more coworkers from a “grave danger” in the workplace, while making no attempt to shield employees with 98 or fewer coworkers from the very same.

 The nondelegation doctrine constrains Congress’s ability to delegate its legislative authority to executive agencies….the Mandate’s stated impetus—a purported “emergency” that the entire globe has now endured for nearly two years, and which OSHA itself spent nearly two months responding to—is unavailing as well. And its promulgation grossly exceeds OSHA’s statutory authority.”

Here in Canada, constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati has already filed lawsuits against Ontario, British Columbia and the Canadian federal government.  Lawyers have organized to create the Free North Declaration, stating “Covid rules are inconsistent and irrational. Authorities enforce them selectively and preferentially, coming down hard on common people while turning a blind eye to the privileged…we protest the uncalculated harms that Covid policies are causing to people’s health, livelihoods, relationships, and mental states. We oppose the mass hysteria and anxiety that governments and the media are fuelling. Most of all, we object to the deterioration of our civil liberties and the failure of our legal institutions – legislatures, governments, administrative bodies, and courts – to protect them.”

A lot of us are making choices with long-term consequences based upon very short-term information; what’s even worse, we aren’t even aware we are making a choice when we do it.

A few words here, an online form filled in there, a quick jab here: BOOM. That choice was made. Did it have to be made so quickly? Did it have to be made AT ALL?

We may never know.

So, here’s what my effort to produce a simple information piece on vaccine mandates, vaccine passports and vaccines yielded: the available information is confusing. It is not confusing by accident; it is confusing by design.

Are you prepared to make a long-term decision based on your faith in information provided by short-term governments working so hard to confuse you?

Choose carefully.