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Andy Prest: Humanity loses when we start yelling at hospitals

In this divisive issue, let's all find common ground in not harassing sick children, OK?
vanc hosp protest
An ambulance passes through a crowd of people protesting COVID-19 vaccine passports and mandatory vaccinations for health-care workers, in Vancouver on Sept. 1, 2021.

There is a type of person that most decent folk try to avoid as much as possible.

I do my best to find the good in everyone, but these folks make it hard. After any interaction with this type of person you’re left wondering if this person is – and please excuse the salty language here – really dim-witted, or really mean-spirited. Or, heaven forbid, they might be a mixture of both. For simplicity’s sake, let’s call these people “dim spirits.”

For decent people who have a certain joie de vivre and a basic modicum of empathy towards fellow humans, interactions with dim spirits leave you angrier than you normally are. Your teeth are gritted, your fists clenched. You need a glass of wine, or a shower. Or a glass of wine in the shower.

These dim spirits are not in the least bit enjoyable to be around, is what I’m saying, and that’s why most people try to avoid them. Most people, in fact, are more than happy to go for months or years at a time without bumping into one. Sometimes it’s unavoidable – you literally bump into one in the dairy aisle, and before you know what’s happened they’re ramming you in the back of the leg with a shopping cart. 

Or sometimes, in a really unfortunate circumstance, you have a dim spirit in your life who you can’t avoid because they are at your work or in your family or the 45th president of the United States.

Remember that guy? The king of dim spirits. Those four-plus years were trying times for people who didn’t enjoy living every day in a bemused bewildered panic.

“You’ll miss the excitement when he’s gone!” some folks warned. Lol, no, I don’t.

What’s scary for many in Canada is that the dim spirit ethos has survived the president, survived the pandemic, crossed the border and is now seemingly gaining strength. If you want to find them – and trust me, you don’t – they are the ones who are protesting and heckling and causing trouble at hospitals.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not here to heap abuse on people who haven’t been vaccinated. You may have your own beliefs, or maybe you don’t like needles, or maybe you’re really busy, or maybe your cousin’s brother told you their mom’s gardener’s nephew took the vaccine and now they have polio, or maybe you did your own research and forgot to double blind all the samples in your fourth round of clinical trials. I mean ... none of those things should stop you from following the advice of credible experts and getting a vaccine to protect yourself and others from this still rampaging virus, but I get it – you’re hesitant. That shouldn’t be a death sentence, err...

And I’m certainly not going to criticize people who exercise their right to protest. One of the hallmarks of a functioning democracy is the ability to hold a peaceful protest, even if they’re protesting the cafeteria for not stocking Pop Tarts.

But protesting a health policy meant for the public good by harassing people at a hospital? Harassing patients trying to get cancer treatments? Harassing doctors and nurses working hard to keep anti-vax COVID patients alive? Harassing sick kids?

That’s ... mean-spirited. And dim-witted. And it doesn’t make sense.

It’s like protesting daylight savings time by burning down a watch factory. It’s like protesting gingivitis by giving the tooth fairy a wedgie. It’s like protesting a newspaper column by yelling at a tree. Wait – that actually does makes sense. Please send all complaints about this column to

The worst part of these protests is the cancer patients, the surgeons, the nurses – they can’t avoid the dim spirits. They have to go to the hospital, and they have to navigate a gauntlet of angry cranks to get there. Nope. Not OK. Not now, not ever.

It brings me no pleasure to call someone a dim spirit. I’d much rather share the light at the end of the tunnel when this pandemic is over (a light we’d all reach faster if everyone was vaccinated, mind you).

People complain about these vaccination issues being divisive, pulling humans apart. I’d argue it’s the virus that pulled us apart, but regardless. … I’m all for unity, for bringing people together. So let’s make this be the thing that pulls us together. Let’s not harass sick children!

That seems like a low bar. Are you with me? If not, OK. The tree will take your complaints.

Andy Prest is the sports and features editor of the North Shore News. His lifestyle/humour column runs biweekly.

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