Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau continued his push to make mandatory vaccination an election issue Friday calling the Conservative opposition to such a regime “irresponsible” and “dangerous,” while urging the party to mandate that all of their candidates get a shot.

Speaking to reporters at a campaign stop in Winnipeg, where he announced new sick pay benefits, Trudeau said “protecting Canadians is job one of the government,” and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s pledge to make the unvaccinated take rapid tests rather than shots is a “mistake” that threatens public health.

In his strongest rhetoric to date, Trudeau said Canada “can’t afford the Conservative party’s approach that denies science and peddles disinformation on public health measures.” Trudeau did not mention any specifics.

“And let’s not even get started on vaccines. Scrapping our commitment to make sure everyone on a plane or a train is vaccinated? That’s not just irresponsible. That’s dangerous,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau said vaccine holdouts, like those in the Conservative fold, are putting children at risk. With COVID-19 shots currently restricted to people 12 and older, Trudeau said “adults need to do their part and go get vaccinated to keep kids safe” as summer break comes to a close.

At a Calgary rally late Thursday, Trudeau gave a fiery stump speech saying Canadians need to re-elect his government to protect the country from the unvaccinated.

“You know what? If you don’t want to get vaccinated that’s your choice, but don’t think you can get on a plane or a train next to vaccinated people and put them at risk,” he said. “We need to be strong. We need to put people first.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who was also in Winnipeg today to promote his jobs plan, said Trudeau is running his campaign like he ran the government; with a focus on “misleading” and “dividing” Canadians by politicizing the vaccines.

“Out of the gate, in this pandemic election that no one other than Justin Trudeau wanted, every day, he has been trying to divide people,” O’Toole said. “I will always defend the rights of Canadians.”

Tests vs. vaccines

O’Toole said he’s had both of his shots, he filmed the immunization to encourage supporters to roll up their sleeves and he believes vaccines are the best way to bring this health crisis to an end, but he said he just doesn’t believe in forcing people to get a shot.

The federal government has announced that, starting as soon as next month, all federal public servants and workers in some federally regulated industries like airlines and railways must be vaccinated.

Ottawa has also said, sometime this fall, the vaccine mandate will apply to all travellers on commercial planes and trains.

O’Toole is opposed to these requirements. Rather than require public servants and travellers to get a shot, O’Toole has said, if elected, he’d demand they pass a rapid test before going to work or boarding a bus, train, plane or ship.

While the Conservative Party has said it will follow all public health guidelines during this campaign, unlike the NDP and Liberal parties, it is not requiring its candidates get shots before meeting voters.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, shown entering the party’s studio for a virtual telephone town hall meeting with New Brunswick voters Thursday, says Trudeau is dividing Canadians by politicizing the COVID-19 vaccine. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

“The difference between what we’re offering and what the Conservatives want to do is stark,” Trudeau said today.

“Conservatives won’t tell Canadians that all their candidates are vaccinated because not all of them are obviously, but also, they are not going to be enforcing people to be fully vaccinated to go on planes and trains in the coming months. We think that’s a mistake.”

Liberal candidate Jim Carr, who’s running for re-election in Winnipeg South Centre, sent a letter to O’Toole asking him to follow the lead of Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who recently kicked an unvaccinated MPP out of his caucus, and expel candidates who refuse a shot.

“It’s never too late to do the right thing,” Carr said.

Have an election question for CBC News? Email us: [email protected] Your input helps inform our coverage.

Find out who’s ahead in the latest polls with our Poll Tracker.

Asked if it was hypocritical for him to hammer the Conservatives on vaccines while his campaign routinely flouts physical distancing guidelines, Trudeau said members of his campaign team are wearing masks, getting rapid tests and following local health measures “as much as possible, as much as everyone else is across the country.”

Source From CBC News

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