Americas

Canada to require COVID-19 vaccinations for federal lawmakers, some MPs to miss out

2 minute read

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference at a Cabinet retreat in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada September 14, 2020. REUTERS

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OTTAWA, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Canada's House of Commons will require all 338 lawmakers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 when they return to work next month, potentially locking out some members of parliament from the official opposition Conservatives.

Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau narrowly won re-election last month, saying he would insist on vaccine mandates for federal workers, people traveling domestically, and his own candidates.

Three of the four opposition parties represented in the House of Commons also support vaccination requirements for lawmakers, but the Conservatives of Erin O'Toole oppose mandates and did not require their candidates to be inoculated. The party declines to say how many lawmakers have not received shots.

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"Individuals must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to be allowed within the House of Commons," House Speaker Anthony Rota, a Liberal, said in a statement late on Tuesday after a meeting of the Board of Internal Economy, a panel of seven legislators that sets House rules.

The vaccination requirement will apply to everyone who enters a House of Commons space, he said.

The Conservatives said they were sticking to their position that while vaccinations were important, safety could also be ensured by using rapid tests

"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," senior party member Blake Richards said via email. He did not say whether the party would seek to contest the ruling.

Trudeau is due to speak to O'Toole on Wednesday. Lawmakers will return to the House on Nov. 22.

The government's leader in the House of Commons, Pablo Rodriguez, believes a hybrid meeting model used during the pandemic could be left in place to allow lawmakers to attend virtually, spokesman Simon Ross said by email.

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Reporting by Steve Scherer Editing by Paul Simao and Diane Craft

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