OTTAWA – Federalist Conservatives declined to disclose how many of their elected members have been fully vaccinated, making them something different in Canada’s political arena.
Most federal and provincial parties are open about the vaccination status of their members, even though not all legislatures have adopted a rule that requires members to be fully vaccinated.
All government and main opposition members in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador say they have been fully vaccinated.
In Ontario, where Premier Doug Ford made vaccination mandatory to sit in his Progressive Conservative caucus, two of his MPPs say they are medically exempt. All opposition MPPs are fully vaccinated.
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A spokesman for New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says all members of the governing Progressive Conservative caucus have been fully vaccinated, except one who is undergoing cancer treatment and will have to get his second shot by the end of this month. Had to delay.
All except two legislators from Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government say they are completely immune. Both declined to disclose their vaccination status.
Mandatory vaccination rules have also been announced for entry into Nova Scotia’s Province House and Quebec’s National Assembly.
A similar policy was unveiled this week by the Board of the Internal Economy, the multi-party governing body of the House of Commons. It announced the need for double vaccination to enter buildings on the Commons premises, including the House of Commons Room.
Nothing has yet been decided for the Senate, which makes its own rules.
The move appears to have left Conservative leader Erin O’Toole in a predicament: She didn’t make vaccination against COVID-19 a rule to run as a Conservative candidate in the recent federal election, and she no longer does. Will say that out of their 118, how many MPs have been fully vaccinated. Also, he wants to return to an individual parliament when it resumes on 22 November.
O’Toole, who has contracted COVID-19 and promotes the value of in-person vaccinations, says he respects a person’s individual health choices.
The most recent analysis by The Canadian Press found that at least 80 Conservative lawmakers have been fully vaccinated, while two said they cannot be immunized for medical reasons. Two others declined to disclose their in-principle position and the others did not respond.
Some of O’Toole’s caucus champions need to keep their vaccination status private, like MP Jeremy Patzer of Backbench Saskatchewan. He recently wrote an op-ed saying he rejects “bullying tactics” to reveal private medical information to people, but later confirmed that he himself had been vaccinated.
Similarly, Alberta MP Glenn Motz posted on his website: “As much as I strongly support the use of vaccines in our fight against COVID-19, I oppose forced vaccination.”
Just as the Liberals drove compulsory vaccinations as a tack during the election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to criticize the Conservatives. He suggested this week that his decision to wait another month to recall parliament was to ensure that all of O’Toole’s team had time to vaccinate.
Conservative spokesman Matthew Clancy said the official opposition does not believe the nine-member Board of Internal Economy has “jurisdiction to infringe a member’s right to take his seat in the House of Commons,” but did not elaborate. Will it challenge the decision.
Professor Philip Lagasse from Carleton University, an expert on the Westminster parliamentary system, said the rules were not made to deal with public health, but it is up to lawmakers to make their own laws in their parliamentary house.
“The basic principle remains the same – it is a collective right and if the House as a collectivity determines that its security and ability to perform its functions is protected against any external force – a disease, or a police officer, or needs to be done, or a court – well, then it is like that,” he said.
“The reality is that we are not a pure democracy, we are a parliamentary democracy.”
He said some Conservative MPs may raise the issue of whether the Board of the Internal Economy can speak for the entire House of Commons.
However, if they force the Commons to vote on the issue, it is clear that the compulsory vaccination policy will easily pass with the support of Liberals, Bloc Québécois and NDP members.
Federal parties will also have to decide whether the Commons should resume all normal individual proceedings or continue with a virtual component, allowing lawmakers to participate in videoconferencing.
In BC’s legislature, there is a hybrid option for assembly and a rule that all legislators, employees, and guests must show proof of vaccination to gain entry to the building.
In Saskatchewan and Ontario, visitors must be double vaccinated or show a negative COVID-19 test result prior to entry.
In Manitoba, many continue to participate from afar. Speaker Mirna Drigger said in an email that the legislature had not yet dealt with the issue of vaccination requirements for its chambers.
In Alberta, Speaker Nathan Cooper said the decision about excluding an MLA from the Assembly should be made by the Assembly alone.
“It has been a very complex and fascinating time when our democracies wrestle with this fundamental building block of our society in the context of our democracy, and very real and proactive concerns around public health,” he said.
The Alberta NDP, which says all of its legislators are fully vaccinated, has prompted United Conservative Premier Jason Kenney to make sure its caucus is the same. Cooper said it has been “widely reported” that all UCP members are vaccinated, except those seeking a medical exemption.
Kenny has said he favors making sure all legislators are either vaccinated, or show a negative result from a COVID-19 test, to enter the assembly, which begins Monday Used to be.
Lagasse said that when it comes to introducing any new rules to parliament, an important question is how long they will last, especially when it affects the ability of the public and lawmakers to access these places. Is.
“We have to be careful with it, but you have to deal with it almost on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
–With files from Steve Lambert and Dirk Meisner
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 23, 2021