A new poll is revealing just how far some Canadians are willing to go to blame and punish their neighbours who refuse COVID shots.

According to an online survey conducted by Maru Public Opinion for the National Post, the majority (54%) of respondents said they didn’t care if an unvaccinated person died from the virus or became seriously ill.

The poll, published Wednesday and titled “the unvaccinated,” also suggests that almost half (48%) of Canadians believe those who haven’t gotten COVID shots are responsible for overwhelming the health care system.

Two-thirds (67%) said vaccination should be mandatory for everyone five and up.

When it came to punishing the less-than-one-in-ten Canadians who choose to go unvaccinated, support ranged among the following options:

·        ongoing restrictions from entering public spaces (77%)

·        fines of up to $150 per month (61%)

·        having to pay out of pocket for medical expenses (61%)

·        denied access to public health care (37%)

·        denied renewal of driver’s license (33%)

·        imprisonment for up to five days (27%)

The poll also surveyed the attitudes of Canadians who choose to remain unvaccinated, with nearly half (45%) saying they were “defending their civil liberty to make a choice for themselves.”

Another 42% claimed they were waiting on more information about the vaccines, while one in three (32%) trusted their own immune systems. Other responses ranged from opposing the government’s advice (22%) to believing COVID is “just a bad flu” (9%).

The poll follows statements by politicians blaming and demonizing unvaccinated Canadians for ongoing problems with COVID, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Quebec premier Francois Legault and New Brunswick premier Blaine Higgs, among others.

Trudeau’s comments in particular have received international condemnation, with writers, scholars and media personalities all denouncing their extremism. 

Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) president John Carpay told True North that the results of the poll, if accurate, were “very ominous for the preservation of Canada as a free society.”

The JCCF has opposed numerous vaccine mandates and punitive measures against the unvaccinated, most recently taking legal action against Quebec for announcing it would be levying a “significant” fee against those who choose not to get the COVID shots.  

“It would already be disconcerting if even a smaller number of Canadians thought it acceptable for governments to coerce or pressure people into any medical treatment,” Carpay said.  “If the poll is accurate and we have more than one third of Canadians who are hostile to the Charter right to bodily autonomy, this is very ominous for the preservation of Canada as a free society.” 

“Governments and most media outlets have irresponsibly stoked irrational fear of people who have not had the shot, with the result (intentional or unintentional) of creating a scapegoat for governments’ failed, destructive and Charter-violating policies in the past 22 months.”

People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier agreed, blaming the poll’s worst attitudes on “politicians and media who have been dehumanizing the unvaccinated for months.”

True North also asked Maru Public Opinion executive vice-president John Wright whether he believed such a poll risked deepening divisions in Canadian society.

“I have been polling for 32 years and have learned that understanding the dynamic of public opinion and making it available to the public at large is a healthy thing for our democracy,” Wright answered. “For those who support a punitive measure there is a healthy group that opposes that perspective.” 

“Everything that was in this poll had its genesis from things that have already been speculated upon: at least now, they are all quantifiable.” 

The poll was conducted on Jan. 14 and 15, representing an online panel of 1,506 Canadians. A comparable probability sample of the same size has a margin of error of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

As reported by True North on Tuesday, the majority of Canadians currently hospitalized for COVID-19 are fully vaccinated.

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