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Scrap the App

[:en]This is not the first time I have written on this subject. I hope it will be the last, given the growing calls for Ottawa to scrap the ArriveCan app.
As one columnist articulated it this week: “The app has long been nonsensical and outdated, but it’s now also a constitutional menace and needlessly divisive. It’s time to put ArriveCAN on the next flight to nowhere.”
I heartily concur.
Conservatives have questioned the app from day one and have been calling for its removal for months.
The glitchy app was redundant, to begin with, given that Canadians were already required to show provincial proof of vaccination at the border.
The Trudeau government’s insistence on having the app or facing fines and quarantines has discriminated against the elderly and those who choose not to have a smartphone.
One couple who contacted my office tried multiple times to download the app while in the US. It simply would not work. They arrived at the border and were told to pull over and try again. They tried again for nearly an hour to no avail. It was only then they were informed of a systemwide glitch.
This glitch in June led the app to erroneously issue quarantines for some 10,000 fully vaccinated individuals. By the time the glitch was sorted out, many had lost twelve days of their lives. Who will be held responsible for that lost time and for those lost wages?
The Trudeau Government says they fixed the glitch within six days; however, they didn’t bother (or worse, chose not to) inform those who had been quarantined until the full twelve days was up.
The government also cannot get its story straight, with one statement blaming the app for “autonomously” issuing the quarantine orders while another government spokesperson claimed it was/is “CBSA and public health officials…who determine if an individual is subject to public health restrictions and needs to quarantine.”
So, which is it?
Whoever made the mistake, unlawfully violated the mobility rights of Canadians, and the right not to be arbitrarily detained. Those are serious charges.
The ArriveCan app was developed and continues to be updated behind closed doors. There is no way for the public to have assurance the issue has indeed been addressed and that it won’t continue to happen, or even that their personal information is secure.
This is typical of a government that refuses to be transparent with Canadians.
It has been reported the government is looking at easing penalties for not downloading and using the app, but that is not enough.
In the US, the CDC is easing travel restrictions. Canada should follow suit and drop any remaining mandates. After all, the so-called “scientific” basis for quarantining healthy individuals (be they vaccinated or not) is the public health equivalent of the emperor’s new clothes.
The fact the government insists on keeping the app in place is proof they only want to track the movements of Canadians.
Rather than admit to their mistakes, the government continues to move backwards, and double down on past failures and overreaches. For example, the recent re-instituting of “random” (if you believe that one) testing at airports—airports already thrown into chaos due to (you guessed it) the ArriveCan app.
As the National Post puts it:
“ArriveCAN has become a symbol of government overreach, incompetence, indifference, and dysfunction. That reputation is not undeserved.”
Whether it’s chaos at airports, erroneous quarantines, discrimination, or charter violations, it’s time to drop the remaining mandates and it’s time to scrap the app.