Conservative MP removed from Parliament Hill over vaccination status
Saskatchewan MP Cathay Wagantall was escorted off Parliament Hill
Conservative member of Parliament Cathay Wagantall was removed from the grounds of Parliament Friday for violating COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
Wagantall, an MP who has represented the Saskatchewan riding of Yorkton—Melville since 2015, sat in the House this week despite not having provided proof of vaccination.
The Board of Internal Economy, which sets administrative rules for Parliament, has decreed that all individuals in the House of Commons precinct must provide proof that they are fully vaccinated.
WATCH | Conservative MP removed from Parliament grounds over vaccine rule
Wagantall told reporters in a press conference Friday that as she entered Parliament Hill's West Block earlier in the day, she was expecting some form of action to remove her from the House of Commons precinct.
Wagantall said that after she entered the building, the Sergeant-at-Arms asked to speak to her in his office. She didn't offer details of that conversation but said that as she headed to the Commons chamber, Conservative House leader John Brassard warned her that there might be action to remove her if she left the Commons.
"So my goal was to not leave unless I was basically forced to," she said.
Wagantall said that when she left the building to attend a 1 p.m. Veterans Affairs committee meeting, the Sergeant-at-Arms escorted her off Parliament Hill to her car. She ended up attending the meeting virtually.
Wagantall — who also cannot board a plane or train because of vaccination rules — said she's been driving to Ottawa from her riding in Saskatchewan. She said she has not been in her Parliament Hill office since November of last year.
She did not reveal whether she's vaccinated against COVID-19.
"This is ridiculous. Ontario is open. My province has been open for a long time," Wagantall said.
She didn't provide many details when asked what her future plans are for attending House of Commons proceedings. She said she and her party will continue to fight for the end of the vaccination requirement.
"I'm prepared to do whatever I need to do to continue to do my job as best I can, in light of the circumstances, and yeah, from there we'll see what happens," Wagantall said.
Opposition House leader calls for end of vaccine requirement
In a media statement, Conservative House Leader John Brassard said Wagantall "has every right to be in the House of Commons."
He also criticized the prime minister's approach to COVID-19 vaccine mandates beyond Parliament Hill.
"Make no mistake, the restrictions in the House of Commons are at the direction of the prime minister," Brassard said. "He could end these tomorrow if he wanted to. He could also end the restrictions he placed on millions of Canadians who are still unable to travel or have lost their jobs."
Wagantall mentioned a number of times that she chaired the National Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa earlier in the week and was close to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at that event.
Brassard pointed to the event as a contradiction.
"[Trudeau] had no problem sitting next to MP Wagantall at last week's Prayer Breakfast, but he won't sit across the aisle from her in the House," he said. "The hypocrisy is astonishing."
In a statement on the incident, a spokesperson for the Speaker of the House of Commons pointed to the Board of Internal Economy's ruling.
"To be allowed within the House of Commons precinct, individuals must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This requirement applies to any person who wishes to enter the House of Commons precinct, including Members and their staff," the statement reads.
It also mentioned that there are medical exemptions for a limited number of cases.
"Reasons for medical exemptions to this requirement must follow the guidance from the Ontario Ministry of Health document entitled 'Medical Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccination' and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization," the statement said.