The Liberals and NDP are telling their candidates running in the coming federal election that they must be fully vaccinated as Canada enters a fourth wave of the pandemic.
Both parties are in the midst of verifying that all nominated candidates and those in the nomination pipeline now have received two doses of vaccines approved by Health Canada. Anyone who isn’t vaccinated won’t be allowed to run under the Liberal or New Democrat banners.
“We have been confirming vaccination status with our team of candidates across Canada,” wrote Liberal party spokesperson Braeden Caley in a statement to CBC News. “The health and safety of Canadians is always our top priority, and adherence to all COVID-19 public health guidance is taken extremely seriously.”
The NDP said all of its current MPs have already received two doses and is telling candidates to wear masks while door-knocking and at community events. The Bloc Québécois said all of its candidates are already fully vaccinated so it doesn’t need to make it a requirement and is now encouraging staff and supporters to do the same.
The Conservatives and the Greens, meanwhile, said they’re encouraging their candidates to get vaccinated — but are not making it mandatory.
“While we respect Canadians’ right to keep their personal health information private, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole publicly announced that he received his vaccine in April, and has encouraged Canadians, as well as candidates, to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” wrote Conservative Party spokesperson Cory Hann in a statement.
CBC News has reported that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is planning to visit Rideau Hall on Sunday to ask that Parliament be dissolved, triggering a federal election on Sept. 20.
WATCH | Federal election expected on Sept. 20:
Canadians can expect a federal election on Sept. 20: sourcesThursday, August 12 – Trudeau is expected to call on the governor general Sunday to dissolve parliament and trigger an election. We’ll break down what the main issues are with our panel. Plus hear why one doctor is calling Covid-19 the polio of our time. 1:31:43
Just days before the election call, the government announced it will soon require all public servants to be vaccinated. All commercial air, train or cruise ship passengers must also be fully vaccinated before travelling.
The Conservatives argued Friday that while vaccines are “the most important tool to fight against COVID-19,” it “supports Canadians’ right to determine their own health choices.”
Conservative MP David Yurdiga, who represents Fort McMurray, Alta. in the Commons, recently called the idea of mandatory vaccination “tyrannical” and suggested the Liberals would be “using severe government overreach for political gain.”
The People’s Party of Canada said it will not be requiring or encouraging candidates to get vaccinated. Party Leader Maxime Bernier has tweeted his party is “not ‘pro-vax’ or ‘anti-vax.'”
“It’s not our business, it’s a personal decision,” wrote People’s Part of Canada spokesperson Martin Masse in a statement. “We believe in freedom of choice, personal autonomy and informed consent on such matters.”
While the Conservatives are not requiring that their candidates be vaccinated, they are making it mandatory for all staff and media travelling with O’Toole to be fully vaccinated. The party is also requiring that journalists travelling with the leader provide proof of double vaccination and stating that regular COVID-19 screenings and rapid tests might be required daily, according to a media registration form.
The Bloc Quebecois said its campaign bus is considered a place of work and it has installed plastic barriers between seats, according to its media registration form. Passengers must also be seated two meters sideways from one another, according to the form.
“If the Trudeau government confirms its ill-advised decision to call an election in the midst of the resurgence of the pandemic, we can ensure that we will follow the health measures in place such as wearing masks or physical distancing for all of our activities,” wrote the Bloc’s campaign president Yves Perron in French in a statement.
All major parties are requiring party staff and journalists travelling with party leaders during an election campaign to be fully vaccinated. (Grant Linton/CBC)
Liberal party said it is having regular conversations with experts, campaign teams and candidates about COVID-19 protocols and organizing virtual options.
The NDP is planning, when possible, to hold events outdoors and, when indoors, collect the names and contact details of everyone there for contact tracing, according to George Soule, the NDP’s campaign communications director. The party is also considering having its team wear masks both inside and outside at events along with on bus, planes or public transport, said Soule.
The Green Party said it also will have protocols in place for pandemic campaigning, according to a statement.
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Thursday that all organizations need to follow local health protocols during the election campaign in order to hold an election safely. There are more than 13,000 active COVID-19 cases across the country, mostly among the unvaccinated. She called on all workers, campaigners and voters to get fully vaccinated, hold gatherings outdoors and wash their hands.
Elections Canada has been preparing for an election call and plans to lease larger spaces for this election — places like hotel ballrooms, hockey rinks and vacant retail spaces. The agency is also planning to have fewer poll workers interacting with voters, to ensure those workers have personal protective equipment and that plexiglass shields are added between voters and workers. Elections Canada said it has also made the process for applying online to vote by mail easier.