No Canadian MP has been denied a seat since a Soviet spy in 1947—will vaccine mandates change that?

According to the Procedure and Practice rules, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has no authority to compel MPs to get vaccinated to retain their seat.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC

Members of Parliament cannot be denied their seat in the House of Commons, reports Blacklock's Reporter.

According to the Procedure and Practice rules, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has no authority to compel MPs to get vaccinated to retain their seat.

This comes after the PMO stated that Prime Minister Trudeau expected all sitting members to be fully vaccinated.

"Among the first orders of business will be working with all parties to ensure all MPs in the House of Commons are fully vaccinated against Covid-19," Trudeau’s office wrote in a statement. "Canadians expect their elected representatives to lead by example in the fight against the virus, and the Prime Minister will be raising this with other leaders."

According to Blacklock's, only three MPs have ever been denied their seat since Confederation: Louis Riel in 1875, Thomas McGreey in 1891, and Fred Rose in 1947, who was found to be a Soviet agent.

Arguments have been made on both sides, with Conservatives largely championing freedom of choice for MPs, including party leader Erin O'Toole.

Conservative MP Mark Strahl told the Toronto Star last week that he opposed any vaccination requirements for MPs.

Strahl told the outlet that alternatives, such as daily rapid tests, would suffice for unvaccinated MPs.

"I know it's kind of quaint—archaic, maybe—to talk about parliamentary privilege during a pandemic, but it's been upheld through many crises... We'd better be very careful that we don't cavalierly toss it aside... There should be options for people who feel they cannot take a vaccine," he said.

Dissenting opinions have come from virtually all other parties,  including from Bloc leader Yves Francois Blanchet, who said that unvaccinated Parliamentarians should "stay home."

"They get fully vaccinated, or they stay home," Blanchet said in September. "But Parliament should not come back under any kind of hybrid formation... I think it might have been necessary and legitimate, that would proceed a few months or a year ago. But now we know that we can go on with the way this building is supposed to work, and we should not refrain from doing so because a few persons don't believe that the vaccine works. This belongs to another century."

NDP MP Peter Julian released a statement in September stating that all Parliamentarians should be vaccinated upon return to the House.

"All of our NDP MPs are vaccinated and we've been very clear that federal government employees must be vaccinated too. Getting vaccinated is the right thing to do and elected leaders have a responsibility to set a good example by following public health advice," Julian said.

As of Monday, October 18, over 80 percent of Canadians 12 and older have received two doses of the vaccine.


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