OTTAWA — Conservatives say all 338 members of Parliament should be able to vote on whether they must be fully vaccinated to enter the House of Commons.
Tory whip Blake Richards is asking the Commons Speaker, Anthony Rota, to rule that the the seven-member, multi-party body that governs the House does not have the authority to impose a vaccine mandate on all MPs.
He emphasizes that Conservatives believe in getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and that the shots are the best way to end the pandemic.
But he says they question the way in which the decision to impose a vaccine mandate was made.
Last month, the board of internal economy voted in a policy requiring those entering all buildings in the House of Commons precinct to provide proof of vaccination or have a medical exemption.
Richards says he and the other Conservative MP who were at that meeting abstained from the vote.
He says Tories believe the committee lacked the jurisdiction to make such a decision that carries “sweeping constitutional implications” because it affects MPs’ access to Parliament.
He raised the issue as a point of privilege and says he wants to see all MPs decide on a “vaccination or test mandate” to enter the chamber and other parliamentary buildings.
“This is a balance that we can find, and a balance that we can strike,” he argued in the Commons late Tuesday.
Rota took Richards’ point under advisement and will rule on it at a later date.
The Conservatives’ formal complaint against the vaccine policy is the latest chapter in their three-month struggle against mandatory vaccination in general, which first emerged as an issue during the September election campaign.
Leader Erin O’Toole refuses to say how many of his 118-MPs are double vaccinated against COVID-19 or how many have claimed medical exemptions, saying he respects their right to privacy.
He is the only federal leader to take that position, which has exposed him to attacks from the Liberals, as well as New Democrats, who accuse the Conservatives of wanting special treatment.
The other parties say all their MPs are fully vaccinated and support mandatory vaccination for admission to the Commons precinct.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2021
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press