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Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Dec. 2.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota says the chamber’s governing body overstepped its authority when it required anyone entering the Commons precinct to be fully vaccinated.

Rota sided Thursday with the Conservatives in concluding that the all-party board of internal economy did not have the authority to impose a vaccine mandate.

He said only the House itself can make a decision to restrict access to the chamber and other parliamentary buildings.

However, Rota’s ruling changes nothing for MPs or anyone else wanting access to the precinct.

Last week, Liberals and New Democrats joined forces to approve a motion to resume hybrid sittings, which also specified that anyone entering the precinct must be fully immunized against COVID-19 or have a valid medical exemption.

Rota, who chairs the board of internal economy, said it’s important to consider the context of the board’s decision, which was taken before the Commons resumed sitting and was intended to keep people safe once they did return to work.

The Conservatives had the option to follow up on Rota’s ruling with a motion to either censure the board or refer the matter to a Commons committee. It chose not to move a motion and the Speaker’s office said later that Rota now considers the matter closed.


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