A legal challenge on the 'mootness' of COVID travel mandates has been dismissed by the Federal Court of Appeal, reported Blacklock's Reporter.
On November 30, 2021, the federal government introduced mandatory Covid-19 Vaccination Requirements regulations, including travel by commercial air flights and VIA Rail for those who failed to provide proof of vaccination.
Lead plaintiffs in the case, including People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier and Brian Peckford, former premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, challenged the constitutionality of the 2021 travel bans for unvaccinated Canadians. A lower court dismissed the cases in 2022.
"Generally speaking, the applicants seek declarations of invalidity on various grounds in respect of the repealed air and rail passenger vaccine mandates," Federal Court Justice Jocelyne Gagné wrote in her 2022 judgment. "Yet it is well known that courts should refrain from expressing opinions on questions of law in a vacuum or where it is unnecessary to dispose of a case. Any legal or constitutional pronouncement could prejudice future cases and should be avoided."
Bernier and Peckford unsuccessfully appealed the decision after the judiciary wrote that it lacked "live controversy." They contend that reintroducing vaccine mandates is "highly speculative" at this juncture, given they expired on June 20, 2022.
At the time, the federal cabinet repealed the mandate after suggesting that 'new science' no longer justified their continuation.
"The decision is not based on something we woke up this morning and decided to do," then-transport minister Omar Alghabra told reporters at the time. "We have done our homework. This is what Canadians expect us to do."
"What is different about today?" asked a reporter. "I’ll tell you this position today took a lot of discussions," replied the minister.
Then-health minister Jean-Yves Duclos did not elaborate on the 'new science' that influenced their decision. "Our government’s response has always been informed by evolving science, research, prudence and expert public health advice," he said.
Two weeks prior, Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, issued a June 8, 2022, contending a seventh COVID wave could "very likely" happen, urging the federal government to take added precautions.
"I think the pandemic is not over," she said. "Given the continuous evolution of the coronavirus we think it is very likely we will get some more viral activity in the future."
As of writing, it is unknown how many passengers could not board their flights or travel by rail due to their medical status.
In addition, Transport Canada has yet to disclose how many transport workers were suspended or fired for opposing workplace mandates during the pandemic.
Among those fired include engineer Louison Tessier, whose employer, Via Rail, let him go on January 24, 2022 — six months before the feds lifted the vaccine mandate for rail employees. However, an arbitrator ruling earlier this year said his firing lacked "just and sufficient cause."
According to Tessier's contract with the company, no member could be fired "without a fair and impartial hearing." Labour arbitrator Graham Clarke agreed, ruling the railway "decided on its own initiative to add disciplinary consequences for non-vaccinated employees."