National Post Letter

The old poli sci major in me could not allow John Ivison’s column to stand. Please see the letters section in today’s National Post for my response to the argument that it is somehow “illiberal” for governments to impel individuals to get vaccinated.

Re: Trudeau shows liberal principles have left the Liberal Party, John Ivison, Jan. 12

The essence of liberalism is not, as John Ivison claims, that “individuals should not be forced to conform to other people’s beliefs,” but rather John Stuart Mill’s harm principle: “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”

Choosing not to get vaccinated against a dangerous and highly transmissible virus puts the lives and safety of other people at risk. This places vaccination squarely within the rightful exercise of government authority.

We can agree or disagree on the specifics of any given policy, but let’s not muddy the terms of debate. For Justin Trudeau or anyone else to employ legislative power in favour of vaccination falls well within the parameters of Mill’s liberalism.

David Taub Bancroft, Vancouver

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