Poilievre touts anti-vaccine mandate invoice whereas promising ‘bodily autonomy’ for all Canadians

Conservative Chief Pierre Poilievre rose within the Home of Commons Tuesday to induce different MPs to undertake laws that will prohibit Ottawa from once more imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates on federal staff and the travelling public.

Poilievre first launched the personal member’s invoice, C-278, final 12 months when he was working for the social gathering’s management.

It has since been picked up by Conservative MP Dean Allison, a famous anti-mandate critic who, like his chief, supported the trucker convoy that loudly opposed the federal government’s strategy to COVID-19.

The laws shouldn’t be anticipated to move the Commons when it comes up for a vote later in the present day. Poilievre’s promotion of the invoice, nevertheless, suggests the Tories usually are not but able to drop their opposition to the COVID insurance policies that outraged some within the social gathering base.

Poilievre mentioned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “maliciously divided” and attacked Canadians who shunned the COVID-19 vaccine by imposing an “unreasonable” coverage that pressured some individuals to get the shot or face penalties like job losses or further hurdles on the border.

“He divided, insulted and name-called thousands and thousands of individuals proper throughout this nation who’re patriotic, law-abiding, respectable individuals,” Poilievre mentioned of the federal government’s now-defunct vaccine mandate coverage.

Trudeau went past “guiding and defending Canadians to punishing individuals who selected to not take the COVID-19 vaccine,” Poilievre mentioned.

Days after asserting the mandate, Trudeau “referred to as an election and tried to take advantage of that political second with a purpose to regain energy,” Poilievre mentioned.

RCMP officers take a protester into custody on the Ottawa anti-vaccine mandate protest in February, 2022. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

The coverage did function prominently within the 2021 federal election because the Liberal Celebration routinely highlighted ex-leader Erin O’Toole’s opposition to the mandates.

There hasn’t been a COVID-19-related mandate in place since final 12 months, when Ottawa dismantled its regime because the virus turned extra manageable.

When the vaccination requirement for federal public servants was lifted in June 2022, workers who had been positioned on depart with out pay had an opportunity to return to their common work duties.

Poilievre argued the laws is important now as a result of Ottawa may reimpose its mandates.

Poilievre mentioned he helps “bodily autonomy” and believes all Canadians can determine for themselves what they put in their very own our bodies.

The overwhelming majority of the social gathering’s delegates at a latest coverage conference agreed with that place.

About 68 per cent of delegates in Quebec Metropolis voted to affirm that Canadians ought to have “the liberty and proper to refuse vaccines.”

Conservative delegate Patrick Wuori waves a flag.
Conservative delegate Patrick Wuori calls on the group previous to social gathering chief Pierre Poilievre’s speech on the Conservative Celebration conference on September 8, 2023 in Quebec Metropolis. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Adopting this invoice, Poilievre mentioned, can be a “recognition that this ugly chapter in our historical past, of turning Canadians in opposition to Canadians and utilizing a public well being matter to tug aside our nation, is completely behind us.” 

The Liberal authorities has lengthy defended its vaccine mandate coverage as a set of measures designed to maintain individuals secure from a lethal virus. Greater than 50,000 Canadians have died of COVID-19, in line with public well being knowledge.

The federal government has mentioned it imposed its mandates to encourage extra individuals to take the photographs, which have been credited by public well being officers with serving to the nation emerge from the pandemic.

The overwhelming majority of Canadians heeded public well being recommendation and received not less than two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Finally rely, about 84 per cent of all individuals aged 5 and older are thought of “totally vaccinated,” in line with federal knowledge.

Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux referred to as the Conservative strategy to pandemic administration “irresponsible” and “reckless.”

“Opposite to what the Conservative Celebration tries to espouse, vaccinations labored. Vaccinations made a distinction,” he mentioned throughout debate on the invoice Tuesday.

“I imagine that there are some who acknowledge the significance of public well being and see the valuation of vaccinations,” Lamoureux mentioned of Conservative MPs. “However portion don’t, and that is from the chief down.”

Liberal MP Chris Bittle mentioned there isn’t any doubt about why Poilievre is pushing this coverage.

“We all know who they’re making an attempt to rally to. They closed down this metropolis for a couple of weeks. They closed down worldwide borders. They tried to grind the financial system to a halt,” he mentioned of the trucker convoy.

“In one other pandemic, we might not need that social gathering in cost. It’s simply not definitely worth the danger.”

A person draws out Moderna vaccine during a COVID-19 vaccine clinic
An individual prepares a Moderna vaccine dose at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at St. Lawrence School in Kingston, Ont. in January 2022. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

NDP MP Don Davies, the social gathering’s well being critic, mentioned Poilievre has peddled “misinformation” about this laws.

The invoice would solely ban COVID-19 mandates — however some Conservative Celebration literature has advised it will stop future vaccine mandates.

Whereas agreeing with the Conservatives’ declare that Trudeau and the Liberals “politicized” Canada’s pandemic response, Davies mentioned passing this laws may tie the arms of the federal government if COVID-19 returns as a urgent public well being risk.

Davies mentioned the choice to impose a vaccine requirement ought to “all the time be primarily based on the most effective accessible proof, present science and recommendation of consultants,” not Conservative MPs “with little or no background in any of these issues.” 

Bloc Quebecois MP Caroline Desbiens mentioned her social gathering “refuses to purchase the conspiracy theories” that the Conservative social gathering is “promoting” about vaccine mandates.

She mentioned the invoice is Allison’s “umpteenth try and discredit vaccines.”

“COVID-19 was not a conspiracy. It was a tragedy,” she mentioned in French.

“The Conservatives’ sympathies lie with pandemic deniers. Our total society may sometime need to sacrifice its security and safety to the anti-vax beliefs of a small group of people who find themselves nonetheless in denial.”

Allison defended the invoice, saying it was “fallacious to divide and discriminate in opposition to Canadians primarily based on a private medical choice.”

“It was fallacious for the federal government to demonize Canadians who didn’t agree with the heavy-handed strategy of imposing unscientific mandates,” he mentioned.

The concept that the mandates have been “unscientific” is up for debate.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam and Dr. Howard Njoo, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, hold a press conference during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa.
Chief Public Well being Officer Dr. Theresa Tam and Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public well being officer, maintain a press convention through the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public well being officer, has defended the varied vaccine mandates. She mentioned in February 2022 that it was “apparent” they labored.

“We noticed a plateau within the uptake of vaccines after a very great effort by Canadians, after which after the introduction of vaccine mandates by the varied provinces and territories and jurisdictions, we did see an uptick,” she mentioned.

However Tam additionally mentioned a month later that it was time to re-examine the coverage as a result of the science confirmed the first sequence of the COVID-19 vaccine — the primary two doses — provide little or no safety in opposition to an Omicron an infection, which was by then the dominant pressure.

The federal government began dismantling the mandates in June of that 12 months as public well being officers began to shift their positions on their effectiveness.

Allison mentioned the mandates “broken our nation like I’ve by no means seen earlier than.”

“Of us have been fired. Of us misplaced their livelihoods. I can not imagine this really occurred right here in Canada,” he mentioned.

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