Conservatives protest ‘meeting in secret’ to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory in Parliament

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OTTAWA—The federal conservatives behind the move to require mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations on Parliament Hill are challenging the decision-making process.

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On Tuesday evening, the group of MPs charged with setting rules for the House of Commons announced that by November 22, all members of Parliament and their staff members would be fully protected against COVID-19 to enter Parliament buildings. Vaccination will be required. .

While the decision was championed by the Liberals and the New Democratic Party, both of whom have advocated that approach, the Conservatives were initially silent.

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But on Wednesday, one of the Conservative lawmakers on the board of the Internal Economy, which made the decision, said his party objected to the way it was made.

Blake Richards said, “We encourage everyone who can be vaccinated, but we cannot agree to a meeting in secret for the seven lawmakers who decide whether to be elected by the Canadian people.” Who among the 338 MPs who passed can enter the House of Commons to represent their constituents.” said in a written statement.

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It was unclear whether the party “cannot agree” meant the Tories wanted to disobey with vaccination rules, or if the party would seek a way to formally challenge them, either in the Commons or in court.

A spokesperson for the party did not immediately return phone and email inquiries to Star on Wednesday seeking clarification on Richards’ statement.

Richards wrote that the party supports vaccination against COVID-19, and sees vaccines as the best means to end the pandemic. But, he said, conservatives also believe workplace safety could also be addressed by the use of rapid testing.

He also said he would not discuss what happened during Tuesday’s private meeting of the Board of the Internal Economy, where the decision on vaccination was taken.

The new policy will apply to parliamentary buildings in downtown Ottawa, known as “precincts,” although people with a valid medical exemption from vaccination will also be allowed to enter by showing proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.

The debate about mandatory COVID-19 vaccination has been a challenging one for the Conservative caucus, and the party’s refusal to require vaccination to its candidates or disclose their vaccination status became a key issue during this summer’s election campaign .

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is due to hold personal meetings with Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May to discuss priorities for the coming session.

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Stephanie Levitz is an Ottawa-based reporter who covers federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @ Stephanie Levitz
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