Politics

Most Tory MPs vaccinated, but those who aren’t should do it: Opposition House leader

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OTTAWA — Opposition House leader Gerard Deltell says any of his Conservative colleagues who are not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 should roll up their sleeves.

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Starting Nov. 22, those wishing to access buildings in the parliamentary precinct, including elected members, will need to be fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

The Conservatives party is the only one with seats in the House that has so far refused to confirm how many of its members are fully immunized against COVID-19.

Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole didn’t make vaccination a condition for candidacy in the recent federal election and says he respects the rights of individuals to make their own health choices and to keep that information private.

That position, which sets him apart from other party leaders in the House, has dogged him since the national vote. He has had to manage the issue of vaccine mandates within his caucus, as MPs have varying views on the policy’s importance.

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Deltell says he believes the majority of the Conservative’s 119 MPs are immunized and hopes “that everybody will get vaccinated to sit in the House of Commons.”

“If they want to attend the House of Commons, which is their duty, they have to be vaccinated,” he told reporters before entering the party’s national caucus meeting Thursday.

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O’Toole has said any MP he’s tapped to take on a critic role will be ready to appear in the House of Commons. He excluded members who have expressed controversial, inaccurate or critical opinions about COVID-19 vaccinations or the party’s position around ‘vaccine passport’ policies.

An analysis by The Canadian Press shows at least 82 Conservatives, including O’Toole, say they have been double vaccinated.

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At least four, including Ontario MP Leslyn Lewis, say they don’t disclose their vaccination status as a principle, and two others say they can’t be immunized for medical reasons. Lewis had previously questioned the efficacy of vaccinating children against COVID-19.

In an attempt to strike a balance between caucus members who strongly oppose vaccine mandates and those who feel like the issue has become a distraction for Conservatives, O’Toole has said when the House resumes it would raise a point of privilege with the Speaker over how the decision was made.

He’s taken issue with the fact the policy wasn’t set by MPs in the House of Commons, but was decided by an all-party parliamentary committee that governs administrative issues.

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MPs are required to show proof-of-vaccination any time before they walk into the House of Commons on Monday to select a Speaker — Parliament’s first order of business — which has to be done through in-person voting. Many have done so at their swearing-in events and kiosks have been set up around the Commons for MPs to show their vaccination certificates.

Joel Godin, a Quebec MP, said Thursday that he believes it’s important for all elected members to be able to vote.

Asked if he was worried about colleagues being unable to access the House because they were unvaccinated, Winnipeg MP Marty Morantz, who is fully vaccinated, said: “We’ll see.”

— With files from Jordan Press

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