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Board exceeded its authority in imposing vaccine mandate for Commons: Speaker

Anthony Rota says only the House itself can make a decision to restrict access
Anthony Rota is escorted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative leader Erin O’Toole to the Speakers chair after being elected as the Speaker of the House of Commons Monday, November 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Anthony Rota says the chamber’s governing body overstepped its authority when it required anyone entering the Commons precinct to be fully vaccinated.

Rota has sided with the Conservatives in concluding that the all-party board of internal economy did not have the authority to impose a vaccine mandate.

He says only the House itself can make a decision to restrict access to the chamber and other parliamentary buildings.

However, Rota’s ruling changes nothing for MPs or anyone else wanting access to the precinct.

Last week, Liberals and New Democrats joined forces to approve a motion to resume hybrid sittings, which also specified that anyone entering the precinct must be fully immunized against COVID-19 or have a valid medical exemption.

Rota, who chairs the board of internal economy, says it’s important to consider the context of the board’s decision, which was taken before the Commons resumed sitting and was intended to keep people safe once they did return to work.

The Conservatives can now follow up on Rota’s ruling with a motion to either censure the board or refer the matter to a Commons committee.

—The Canadian Press

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