Canadian provinces begin backing off vaccine mandates amid lingering Freedom Convoy protests


Some Canadian provinces announced they are rescinding their vaccine mandates as protesting Canadian truckers continue to block major arteries on the Canada-U.S. border and clog the Canadian capital despite a crackdown from the Ottawa Police.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced during a Tuesday evening press briefing that the province’s vaccine passport program would end effective midnight, and that most of the province’s health rules would be over within three weeks.

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“Our approach to COVID must change as the disease changes,” Kenney said. “The restriction exemption program has served its useful purpose. It has done its job.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Thursday, May 2, 2019.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Thursday, May 2, 2019.
(David Kawai/Bloomberg)

Kenney attributed his administration’s change of heart to high vaccination rates, declining hospital cases and a continued drop in the spread of the omicron variant, though his province has also made international headlines because recalcitrant truckers shut down a major border crossing into Montana for more than a week. Alberta has also drawn attention for its repeated imprisonment of clergy.

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Protesters stand on a trailer carrying logs as truckers and supporters take part in a convoy to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates for cross-border truck drivers in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Jan. 29, 2022. (REUTERS/Patrick Doyle/File Photo)

Protesters stand on a trailer carrying logs as truckers and supporters take part in a convoy to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates for cross-border truck drivers in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Jan. 29, 2022. (REUTERS/Patrick Doyle/File Photo)

Kenney also relented regarding the restrictions on children in the province, announcing that mandatory mask rules will be canceled for children under 12 in all settings and for all children in schools. “Given the very low threat that COVID-19 poses to the health of children, it is no longer justifiable after two long years to continue to disrupt and restrict the normal lives of kids,” the premier said.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe also said Tuesday that his government will start lifting its pandemic public health orders in a phased approach, beginning Monday with the removal of its vaccine passport program.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe listens during a news conference following the Canada's Premiers meeting in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. (Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe listens during a news conference following the Canada’s Premiers meeting in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. (Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Quebec, which previously announced plans to punitively fine the unvaccinated, said Tuesday that most restrictions would be lifted by March 14.

The busiest border crossing in North America was shut down Monday as Canadian truckers made it to the Detroit-Windsor border, snarling traffic on a major thoroughfare into Michigan.

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Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency Sunday afternoon as approximately 500 trucks and vehicles with the “Freedom Convoy” continue to linger in the streets of the Canadian capital to protest vaccine mandates. The declaration came hours after the Ottawa Police threatened to arrest anyone who brings fuel or other material support to the truckers.

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