The Conservative Party is protesting a new mandatory vaccination policy that would ban members of parliament who aren’t fully vaccinated from entering the House of Commons’ precinct when Parliament resumes on Nov. 22.
The federal Conservatives voiced their protest in a statement after the House of Commons governing body announced the new rules on Oct. 19, requiring MPs and their staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to be allowed into the chambers. Individuals with medical exemptions who cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine can instead provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 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,” Conservative MP Blake Richards said in the Oct. 20 statement.
Richards is one of the two Conservative members on the Board of Internal Economy, which issued the statement declaring the new mandatory vaccine policy after a closed-door meeting on Oct. 19. The board also includes four Liberal MPs, one Bloc Québécois MP, and one NDP MP.
“This [vaccination] requirement will apply to any person who wishes to enter the House of Commons Precinct, including members and their staff, political research office employees, administration employees, members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, parliamentary business visitors, contractors and consultants,” the board’s statement said.
The Conservatives also raised objections to more virtual chamber meetings in the new parliamentary session.
“Canadians deserve a government that is accountable to its constituents and that’s why under no circumstances will Conservatives support virtual Parliament,” the party’s statement said.
The Board of Internal Economy’s new measure comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau consults with opposition leaders on the return of the Parliament.
The Liberal Party and the NDP required their candidates to be vaccinated against COVID-19 during the 2021 federal election campaign, though the restriction was not applied to staff members.