Liberal leader Justin Trudeau continued his drive to make mandatory vaccination an electoral issue on Friday, calling conservative opposition to such a system “irresponsible” and “dangerous”, while urging the party to mandate all of their candidates a chance.
Speaking to reporters at a campaign stop in Winnipeg, where he announced new sick pay benefits, Trudeau said that “protecting Canadians is one job of the government,” and Conservative leader Erin O’Toole pledged to make non-vaccinators get rapid testing rather than injections. A “mistake” threatens public health.
In his strongest speech yet, Trudeau said Canada “cannot afford the Tory party’s approach that denies science and spreads misinformation about public health measures.” Trudeau did not provide any details.
“Let’s not even get started on vaccinations,” Trudeau said. “Canceling our obligation to make sure everyone on a plane or train is vaccinated? This isn’t just irresponsible. This is dangerous.”
Trudeau said vaccine hurdles, such as those in the conservative fold, put children at risk. Since COVID-19 shots are currently restricted to people 12 and older, Trudeau said “adults should do their part and go get vaccinated to keep kids safe” as the summer holidays approach.
At a rally in Calgary late Thursday, Trudeau gave a blistering speech in which he said 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 train next to people who have been vaccinated and endangered,” he said. “We need to be strong. We have 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 as he has been running the government; Focusing on “misleading” and “dividing” Canadians by politicizing vaccines.
“Out of the gate, in this pandemic election that nobody but Justin Trudeau wants, he’s been trying every day to divide people,” O’Toole said. “I will always stand up for the rights of Canadians.”
Tests vs Vaccines
O’Toole said he got both shots, filmed the vaccination to encourage supporters to roll up their sleeves and thinks vaccinations are the best way to end this health crisis, but he said he doesn’t believe it. Forcing people to take an injection.
The federal government has announced that, starting next month, all federal public service employees and workers in certain federally regulated industries such as airlines and railroads must be vaccinated.
Ottawa also said, at some point this fall, that the vaccine mandate will apply to all travelers on commercial planes and trains.
O’Toole opposes these requirements. Rather than asking public servants and travelers for a chance, O’Toole said, if elected, he would require them to pass a quick test before going to work or on 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 the Liberal Party, it does not require its candidates to get a lead before meeting voters.
“The difference between what we deliver and what the Conservatives want to do is stark,” Trudeau said today.
“Canadian governors will not tell that all of their candidates have been vaccinated because it’s not clear that they all have, but they also won’t force people to be fully vaccinated on planes and trains in the coming months. We think that’s a mistake.”
Liberal candidate Jim Carr, who is running for re-election in southern Winnipeg, sent O’Toole a letter asking him to follow the example of Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who recently expelled an unprotected MP from his caucus, and expelled candidates who refused a shot.
“It’s never too late to do the right thing,” Carr said.
Do you have an election question for CBC News? Email us: Ask@cbc.ca. Your input helps inform our coverage.
Find out who is ahead in the latest polls on our website Survey Tracker.
Asked if it would be hypocritical for governors to pressure vaccines while his campaign routinely violates physical distancing guidelines, Trudeau said that members of his campaign team wear masks, undergo rapid tests and follow local health measures “as much as possible, as much as possible. Everyone around country”.
All major party leaders are campaigning in the prairie today.
After stopping in Winnipeg, where the Liberal Party holds four seats, Trudeau traveled to Regina. Trudeau is trying to restore urban leadership to Regina Wascana, a seat held by former MP Ralph Goodall who failed in the last election.
The party fared poorly in the prairie region in the 2019 elections, a faltering owing in large part to environmental policies that were widely seen as anti-oil and gas.
After stopping in Winnipeg, O’Toole traveled to Saskatoon as the Conservatives attempt to fend off the NDP challenge. In previous elections, the NDP routinely won seats in Saskatchewan, but it has been disqualified in recent years as the party’s power base has shifted to Central Canada. Conservatives hold all fourteen seats in Saskatchewan.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is today to revive the fortunes of the NDP in the province – the party’s birthplace. Singh visited the Cowessess First Nation, a community where a preliminary investigation indicates that former residential school students were buried.
CBC’s Poll Tracker suggests that conservatives have Unbelievable driving in the prairie provinces.