While our Prime Minister was out in Tofino riding the waves on a little post-election holiday last weekend, I was being harassed non-stop by his public health police in the aftermath of my own birthday trip to New York City.
I travelled to the Big Apple for five days, returning Sept. 27.
Two days before my wife and I boarded our Porter Air flight to Newark, we took the requisite antigen tests.
A few days later, we were given COVID PCR tests at a mobile site in New York City, the prerequisite to board our return flight and to re-enter Canada.
Both sets of tests were negative.
On my last morning in the Big Apple, I spent some time filling out the ArrCan app as well. I meticulously recorded the detailed questions about where and what date we got our first and second vaccine shots.
When we arrived at Billy Bishop Airport Monday evening with our vaccination cards, our negative test results and proof we’d filled the ArrCan app, we were whisked through.
But three days after our return, I started getting e-mails from the Public Health Agency of Canada, warning me I could be in big trouble if I didn’t quarantine for 14 days – and take COVID tests on the first and eighth days after my arrival.
This was followed by a similar email from the Ontario medical officer of health Kieran Moore.
Then the phone calls started.
At first, thinking the 1-888 number was from telemarketers, we didn’t answer.
But by Sunday the calls were persistent, coming almost every two hours.
Over the course of Sunday and Monday, I received 10 phone calls in total.
When we answered the call Monday afternoon, a computer voice imperiously proceeded to force me through a series of questions about whether I’d remained in quarantine and taken my first day COVID test.
When I answered no to the test, the computer voice informed me I had not met the protocols and could be subject to a minimum $5,000 fine.
I suspected I was dealing with a similar situation to Lois Winstock about whom I’d written in early September after she too was harassed by the federal public health police upon returning home from a trip to North Carolina.
However, I was under the impression that the apparent glitch in the system would have been fixed by now.
After all, the Trudeau government changed the rules for fully vaccinated travellers two months ago on Aug. 9, lifting the requirement to quarantine for 14 days.
But I guess engaging in a $610-million useless election took priority over fixing anything.
Like Winstock, it was downright frustrating that I was being hassled by a computerized phone call, which did not permit me to advise anyone that they’d made a mistake.
The threats even made me wonder if I’d soon be receiving a knock on my door from the public health police.
Health Canada spokesman Anne Genier advised Tuesday that if a border services officer confirmed upon entering Canada that I qualified as a fully vaccinated traveller, I “should not receive further emails or notifications from ArriveCAN.”
Indeed there were no calls or emails on Tuesday.
But the e-mails and phone calls started up again with a vengeance Wednesday.
Genier gave no indication as to when this apparent glitch would be fixed.
However, if the Trudeau government can’t get these changes straight after two months – in which they had to deal with a smaller subset of Canadians travelling outside of the country – how can we expect them to handle their newest edict to provide proof of full vaccination before flying, taking the train or a cruise ship anywhere in Canada as of Oct. 30?
It’s easy to crow that Canada will have the “strongest” travel measures in the world – and threaten stiff penalties for non-compliance – as the Trudeau government did Wednesday.
The execution is quite a different matter.