Cathay Wagantall, a Conservative member of Parliament, was kicked off the premises of Parliament on Friday for failing to comply with COVID-19 vaccine regulations.
Despite not having shown confirmation of immunization, Wagantall, who has represented the Saskatchewan seat of Yorkton—Melville since 2015, sat in the House this week.
All individuals in the House of Commons precinct must present confirmation that they are completely vaccinated, according to the Board of Internal Economy, which sets administrative standards for Parliament.
Wagantall told reporters at a press conference on Friday that she expected to be removed from the House of Commons precinct when she approached Parliament Hill’s West Block earlier in the day.
Wagantall claimed that the Sergeant-at-Arms approached her when she entered the premises and demanded to talk with her in his office. She didn’t go into detail about the exchange, but she did say that when she walked into the Commons chamber, Conservative House leader John Brassard warned her that if she left the room, she might be removed.
“So my goal was to not leave unless I was basically forced to,” she said.
Wagantall said the Sergeant-at-Arms escorted her off Parliament Hill to her car when she left the building for a 1 p.m. Veterans Affairs committee meeting. She ended up virtually attending the meeting.
Wagantall, who is likewise unable to travel by plane or rail due to vaccine restrictions, said she has been driving to Ottawa from her Saskatchewan riding. She hasn’t been in her Parliament Hill office since November of last year, according to her.
She didn’t say whether or not she had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
“This is ridiculous. Ontario is open. My province has been open for a long time,” Wagantall said.
When asked about her future plans for attending House of Commons proceedings, she gave little answers. She stated that she and her political party will continue to campaign for the repeal of the vaccination mandate.
“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.