Conservative MPs, senators forming 'civil liberties' caucus to fight for unvaccinated

Published Nov. 4, 2021 5:44 p.m. ET
Updated Nov. 5, 2021 5:42 p.m. ET

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OTTAWA -- A group of Conservative MPs and Senators are organizing an intra-party “civil liberties caucus” with the aim of speaking up for the rights of Canadians losing their jobs because they are unvaccinated against COVID-19, CTV News has confirmed.

Long-time Conservative MP, and former party leadership contender Marilyn Gladu says there is discussion among 15 to 30 representatives to form the group, as first reported by The Hill Times.

Gladu said that the move is not a direct challenge to Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s leadership, but its instead for fighting for constituents who are now, or may be out of work for refusing to comply with mandatory vaccination rules.

O’Toole faced criticism throughout the election campaign for not imposing a mandatory vaccine policy among his candidates, and continues to refuse to say how many of his 118 MPs are unvaccinated.

While O’Toole is fully vaccinated and has encouraged Canadians to get roll up their sleeves, he has suggested rapid testing should be offered as an alternative. 

The Board of Internal Economy has announced a vaccine mandate for the House of Commons, requiring MPs to be vaccinated to enter the Chamber in-person as of Nov. 22. It’s a decision that members of the Conservative caucus have questioned, amid widespread support within the other parties.

O’Toole announced last week that the party would “respect and abide by” the decision but would be challenging it at the “earliest opportunity.”

After last week’s caucus meeting, O’Toole told reporters that his caucus agreed that when the new session begins, only fully-vaccinated Conservatives or those with valid medical exemptions who have been recently rapid-tested will be taking part in the House proceedings in-person next month.

Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney told CTV News Question Period on Sunday that O’Toole should go farther and show any unvaccinated MPs the door, removing them from his caucus.

“That's leadership,” he said.

“Who am I to argue with tens of thousands of brilliant scientists and doctors who urge the population desperately to get vaccinated?” said Mulroney.

“Look, you're not the leader to follow, you are the leader to lead, and if you think this is in the national interest, Canada's interest, you get your members of Parliament in line, and they have to support what you're doing.”

CTV News reached out to O’Toole for comment about the formation of the new inter-party caucus, but didn’t receive a comment at the time of publication

With files from CTV News’ Rachel Aiello.

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