A Conservative bill to bar future vaccine mandates failed to pass Parliament Wednesday, as all other House parties appeared to endorse "unjustified abuses of federal power" moving forward.
By a 205 to 114 vote, the federal government rejected Bill C-278, An Act To Prevent The Imposition By The Federal Government Of Vaccination Mandates For Employment And Travel. Bloc Québécois and Green MPs also opposed the bill, calling it "a bit of a nightmare."
"This bill targets the unreasonable overreaches of the federal policy and unjustified abuses of federal government power," said Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre, sponsor of the legislation. It would have prohibited any reinstatement of COVID vaccine mandates under the Canada Labour Code, Aeronautics Act, Railway Safety Act and Canada Shipping Act, reported Blacklock's Reporter.
On January 24, 2022, unvaccinated Engineer Louison Tessier got the boot from his employer, Via Rail, six months before the vaccine mandate for rail employees had been lifted.
Labour arbitrator Graham Clarke claimed, "VIA did not have just and sufficient cause" to let Tessier go, as his contract explicitly wrote that no member could be fired "without a fair and impartial hearing."
However, in a separate case, a federal tribunal ruled that an Ontario healthcare worker could not receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits after losing his job for failure to comply with his employer's COVID jab and testing policy.
Anthony Cecchetto, a former employee at Lakeridge Health in the Greater Toronto Area, went on unpaid leave in September 2021. Lakeridge Health dismissed him a month later.
The last of the COVID mandates expired as of October 1, 2022, prompting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Cabinet to express their profound regret over the bill being tabled.
“I think most Canadians recognize how difficult a time that was and how important and safe vaccines were,” Government House leader Karina Gould told reporters October 25. "This is just riling up people," she claimed.
According to Blacklock's Reporter, the federal government has no estimate on the number of Canadians who lost jobs under vaccine mandates. They claimed the Public Health Agency of Canada never advocated those mandates.
"From a public health perspective, we want people to be sort of informed and make a voluntary choice to get a vaccine," Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer, told reporters January 21, 2022. "People should be encouraged. It doesn’t have to be because there’s a mandate."
While Trudeau initially opposed mandates, confidential in-house Privy Council research revealed that Liberal voters, such as retirees, francophones and women under 34, were most supportive of mandates while likelier Conservative voters, such as working men, suburban families with children and Prairie residents, were most opposed.
"Successful segmentation of the general population depends upon exploiting the diversity in the opposition and offering Canadians experiences, services and messages tailored to their needs or values," said the in-house study, Psychographic Segmentation Of Canadians Regarding Covid-19.
"Using population segmentation works well," wrote analysts.
The 2021 federal election became a referendum on vaccine mandates, with Trudeau winning re-election with 32.6% of the popular vote. Unvaccinated people were “putting at risk our kids,” he told supporters at an August 31, 2021, campaign rally.
"These are extremists who don’t believe in science," Trudeau said September 16, 2021. "They are often misogynists, also often racists. It’s a small group of people that muscles in and we have to make a choice," adding: "Do we tolerate these people?"
In January, former Finance Minister Bill Morneau publicly condemned Trudeau and his Cabinet for "polarizing" Canadians by making COVID mandates a wedge issue. Poilievre also chimed in on the matter.
"The Prime Minister had the temerity to go on television about three months ago and claim he never forced anyone to get vaccinated," Poilievre told the Commons October 24. "He claimed it should be a matter of personal choice."
The Tory leader outright condemned the prime minister for dividing millions of unvaccinated Canadians across the country, whom he referred to as "patriotic, law abiding, decent people."
However, PPC leader Maxime Bernier pushed back against the "fake Conservatives," who he accused of remaining docile during two years of "authoritarian COVID mandates."
"[They] never raised a finger to defend the unvaxxed," he said. "They feared the backlash from the hysterical media and some of their base [and] now that it’s politically safer, they’re voting on a bill to ban vaccine mandates for federal employees."
Bernier proceeded to call the Conservative Party "unprincipled cowards" over their dismissal of Yukon candidate Jonas Smith in 2021, over his opposition to vaccine mandates during the COVID pandemic.