Justin Trudeau says people who have chosen not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 must accept the consequences of those decisions, including job loss and restricted access to transportation and other services.
“It was their choice and no one would ever force anyone to do something they didn’t want to,” the prime minister said in an interview with CBC radio. The House aired on Saturday.
“But there are consequences when you don’t. You can’t choose to endanger your co-workers. You can’t choose to endanger the people sitting next to you on an airplane,” Trudeau said before heading off to international summits. in Africa and Europe.
Federal vaccine mandates played a major role in last fall’s election campaign and proved to be a hotbed of public anger earlier this year, which contributed to the occupation of downtown Ottawa and blockades at border crossings in four provinces.
More protests are planned in the nation’s capital over the Canada Day long weekend, though the federal government lifted most restrictions this week.
Trudeau spoke at length during The House interview about the riots, how his government responded to it and whether his own comments referring to protesters arriving in Ottawa as a “small marginal minority” with “unacceptable views” contributed to the anger.
“No. I will always call unacceptable rhetoric and hateful language wherever I see it,” he said, insisting that his comments in January were never aimed at vaccine hesitation, but at those he believes are deliberately spreading misinformation and misinformation.
“Now, unfortunately, with our modern world of social media and communication, this has been picked up, mixed up and extended. And I won’t start by saying that I was taken out of context, but my point was that there are people who are deliberately trying to incite hatred, intolerance and misinformation,” he added.
“And we need to call those people out even as we continue to do everything we can to thoughtfully and reasonably reach out to people who have concerns or concerns and focus on alleviating those concerns and concerns.”
Trudeau on taking divisive positions
There’s more than a little bit of Pierre Trudeau in Justin Trudeau the longer he’s been in office. There are no public doubts and, increasingly, no regrets. Like his father, young Trudeau is not inclined to shy away from a political fight, not least because of his decision to invoke the Emergencies Act.
The prime minister argued in the interview that the use of powers in the act did nothing to block freedom of expression or peaceful assembly. The line was drawn, he said, when it became clear to the government that this was an illegal occupation.
He compared her decision to end the protests, and the language she used to condemn those advocating illegal actions, with criticism of her decision that every liberal candidate must endorse a woman’s right to choose.
“Well, I’ve been accused of being divisive about it because people who believe deeply in being anti-abortion have been excluded from my perspective on it,” he said.
“Whenever you take a strong stand, especially one that is contested in society, there will be people who will feel that you are strong against them. And what you have to do at every step of the way as a leader is figure out whether or not it’s worth it.” the division to stand up for something you know is right, and whether it’s women’s rights or people’s freedom to be protected during a pandemic.”
Formal reviews are underway on the reasons behind the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act for the first time. And, like the decision itself, these hearings are not without controversy or drama.
Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino told the parliamentary commission in April that the act was invoked on the advice of the police. Since then, two other cabinet members, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, have told the same committee that they have not heard police recommendations to enact the Emergencies Act.
“I’m not aware of any law enforcement recommendations,” Blair said.
Trudeau was asked who is right.
“We had several advisors from Justice. From Public Security. From different areas,” he said. “But if you think about the specific tools, one of the concrete complaints was that tow truck drivers were not willing to send their equipment at the cost of being reported or harassed by these protesters.”
Is that what tipped the scales?
“Well, no… I said, ‘Okay. What are the tools for tow truck drivers to do that?’ And we saw that one of the only tools we had that would be effective in the time frame needed was to bring in the Emergencies Act.”
Opposition MPs are demanding full access to the decision-making process before the act was invoked. But witnesses, including RCMP commissioner Brenda Lucki and CSIS director David Vigneault, told them they do not have the power to publicize their conversations or advice to the cabinet.
“I can’t speak specifically about any advice that was given in the cabinet,” Lucki told the committee last month, when asked if his force had suggested the act be enforced.
She also deferred when asked if situational reports on what was happening would be released publicly, saying those reports belong to the government.
The prime minister said The House that the government will release these situational reports and what he called “the reality we were facing across the country”.
But demands that he renounce the long-standing practice of maintaining cabinet confidentiality will not be met, he said, to ensure ministers have the confidence to speak freely on matters of national importance.