Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is scheduled to speak with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today after an all-party board decided that everyone entering the House of Commons precinct – including MPs – must be vaccinated.
While the Liberals, Bloc Québécois and NDP have all supported mandatory vaccination, the decision made behind closed doors and announced Tuesday night was taken in spite of objections of the Conservative Party, which has opposed mandatory vaccination policies and is the Official Opposition with 119 elected MPs.
Conservative Whip Blake Richards, who is a member of the board, issued a statement Wednesday in response to the decision.
“I can’t discuss what happens at an in-camera meeting but I will say that we’ve always said that vaccines are [the] most important tool to get us out of this pandemic,” he said.
“As we said during the election, workplace health and safety can be assured through vaccination or the demonstration of a recent negative rapid test result. While we encourage everyone who can be vaccinated to get vaccinated, we cannot agree to seven MPs, meeting in secret, deciding which of the 338 MPs, just elected by Canadians, can enter the House of Commons to represent their constituents.”
It is not yet clear whether the new Parliament will maintain the recent practice of hybrid sittings, in which Members of Parliament can participate in debates and committee meetings remotely via video link.
Today, Mr. Trudeau is also talking to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Elizabeth May, in her capacity as Parliamentary leader of the Green Party of Canada about their priorities as the post-election opening of Parliament looms on Nov. 22. He previously held talks with Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet.
In a statement, Mr. Singh said he will use his time to press such priorities as continuing pandemic supports for Canadian workers and small businesses, and stepping up climate-change efforts with an emissions reduction target of at least 50 per cent. The NDP leader will be holding a news conference later today following his meeting with Mr. Trudeau.
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NO VACCINATION; NO ACCESS TO COMMONS PRECINCT - MPs and anyone else who wants to enter the House of Commons precinct will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 effective with the planned Nov. 22 opening of Parliament, the Speaker says.
LAWYERS TO FEDS: STOP LEGAL ACTION ON TRIBUNAL DECISIONS - Representatives of the Canadian Bar Association are urging the federal government not to pursue any further legal action against a pair of human rights tribunal decisions that could make Canada liable for billions of dollars in compensation to Indigenous children and their families. Story here.
NO FORD APOLOGY ON IMMIGRATION REMARKS - Ontario Premier Doug Ford is refusing to apologize for remarks his critics say implied that some immigrants come to the province only to collect social assistance.
NEW GOV-GEN PROMISES TO TREAT EMPLOYEES WELL - Mary May Simon is, in her first interview since becoming Governor-General, promising staff that she will build a positive work environment after her predecessor Julie Payette left the job amid accusations that Rideau Hall had become a toxic workplace under her watch. From CBC. Story here.
INFLATION AT 18-YEAR HIGH - Canadian inflation surged in September at the fastest pace since 2003 on higher fuel and housing costs, arriving at a time of boisterous debate over the duration of rising price pressures.
QUEBEC GOVERNMENT DETAILS PRIORITIES - Quebec Premier François Legault on Tuesday made decentralizing the province’s health system a key priority as he laid out the priorities for the final year of his government’s mandate.
SUGARY DRINKS TO BE TAXED - To boost health outcomes, the Newfoundland and Labrador government has unveiled details of what it says will be the country’s first tax specifically targeting sugary drinks.
TOP MOUNTIE OUSTED BY N.B. GOVERNMENT -New Brunswick’s government forces out the senior RCMP officer in the province. From CBC. Story here.
HEALTH-ORDER CRITICS BACK CONTENDER TO BE MANITOBA’S NEXT PREMIER - Vocal critics of Manitoba’s pandemic-related public health orders — including a protester who has been charged a dozen times — are openly campaigning for a Progressive Conservative leadership candidate - former federal cabinet minister Shelly Glover - who says she supports the restrictions. From CBC. Story here.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
Private meetings. The Prime Minister holds telephone talks with Official Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole, Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada in her role as Parliamentary leader, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh on priorities ahead of the scheduled Nov. 22 return of Parliament.
No details on the leaders schedules provided by their offices.
The Angus Reid Institute says new polling finds that two in five Canadians (41%) say now is the time for emergency benefits programs launched by the federal government to come to an end – including almost three in 10 (29%) who received benefits themselves. Details here.
Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how the rest of Canada should react to Alberta’s equalization referendum: “Even had Albertans turned out in record numbers, and even had they voted overwhelmingly for the “yes” side, it would still not have given them the power to amend the Constitution of Canada on their own – or to oblige the rest of Canada to do it for them. What, then, should be the response from the rest of Canada? Nothing. Its response should be to do precisely nothing. That Albertans dislike equalization was known before the vote; that they still dislike it is hardly an earthshattering revelation.”
Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on Quebec caving in to unvaccinated health-care workers: “Unvaccinated health care workers in Quebec knew they had that leverage, which is why they could call the government’s bluff. And Mr. Legault, stuck between two undesirable outcomes, had to opt for the less universally damaging one. It’s a win for unvaccinated staffers, but better than a loss for absolutely everyone in Quebec.’
Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on Canada’s banks joining Mark Carney, signalling a shift from the West’s fossil fuel dependency and delighting OPEC: “Canada’s six largest banks last week became the latest global financial institutions to join former central bank governor Mark Carney’s efforts to steer lending away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy investments. By joining the United Nations-convened Net-Zero Banking Alliance, led by Mr. Carney, the UN special envoy on climate action and finance, the big six banks formally committed to shifting their lending away from projects and activities that generate greenhouse gas emissions “to align with pathways to net zero by mid-century, or sooner.”
Don Braid (Calgary Herald) on a former Calgary police officer now a city councilor being urged by Jason Kenney, among others, to quit over the disclosure of past inappropriate conduct with a teenager: “Premier Jason Kenney later agreed that the former police officer should resign if the facts of his relations with a 16-year-old girl are correct as reported. “Sexual impropriety with a minor is appalling, but especially if that misconduct comes from somebody in a position of power, like a police officer,” Kenney told a news conference. “If these claims are true and these revelations are correct, I think it would be the honourable thing to step aside, yes, absolutely.” Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver added: “I agree with what the Premier said. If the worst of the allegations turn out to be true, then, yes, he should resign. But we still need to do our due diligence and find out what the facts are.”
Rob Shaw (DH News) on how John Horgan has gone from a champion of open access to government information to presiding over plans for a new $25 fee for access-to-information requests: “For many years, if you wanted to find a champion of open government in BC, who would rail against the shadowy politicians in Victoria that used every trick in the book to keep the paper trail of their decisions secret, you’d end up talking to one guy: BC NDP leader John Horgan. Horgan would hold court in the hallways of the Legislature promising anyone who’d listen that if he was ever in charge he’d never do the “outrageous” things the BC Liberals did to hide government information from the public, through “pathetic” barriers, fees, delays, mass record deletion and obfuscation. “People need to understand that it’s not just about politics,” Horgan said in 2015. “We’re supposed to have freedom of information so the public understands why their government was making decisions on their behalf.” But that was back then, when Horgan was opposition leader. This week, as Premier, Horgan sat quietly in the legislature while his citizens’ services minister tabled a bill that will add steep new fees to access government information — a move far more harmful to transparency than the things that used to tick him off in opposition.”
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