COVID-19 vaccine passport to be made mandatory in Quebec's National Assembly

Quebec Premier Francois Legault, second to right, and members of the National Assembly stand in a minute of silence to honor the victims as the legislature resumes with limited attendance of members during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wednesday, May 13, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

The COVID-19 vaccination passport will be made mandatory in the National Assembly, the Bureau of the National Assembly declared late on Thursday.

The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) and the Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) were in favour of the proposal, making up the majority of the votes.

The Parti Québécois (PQ) and Québec solidaire (QS) say they were opposed to the suggestion because the measure was not recommended by public health officials.

"It's important that parliament set an example," said Eric Lefebvre with the CAQ. "We are disappointed with the position of Québec solidaire and the Parti Québécois and we will let them explain why they are so resistant to such a measure."

At a press conference with Health Minister Christian Dubé, Public Health Director Horacio Arruda said he was not consulted on the issue, but added the passport can be imposed "for reasons of exemplarity."

"I'm not saying it's inappropriate," he said. "On an epidemiological basis, I have no evidence to recommend the imposition of the vaccine passport at the Assembly."

Dubé criticized the PQ and QS for their reluctance in imposing the vaccine passport.

"I don't understand why parliamentarians don't want to set an example for Quebecers. I think it's much more a political decision than a public health decision," he said.

Thursday morning, PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon argued the Assembly should stick to public health directives and refrain from politicizing the issue.

He said imposing a vaccine passport could further anger Quebecers who are already unhappy with elected officials.

He added the vaccine passport is required for non-essential activities, while parliamentary democracy, according to him, is essential.

QS Parliamentary Leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois notes it's the National Assembly's job to set an example and that includes complying with the advice of public health.

"As public health does not recommend the passport in the assembly, it is necessary to comply with this recommendation," he argued. "We have been on the side of science since the beginning of this pandemic."

The rule will come into effect on Oct. 21.

-- This report was first published in French by The Canadian Press on Sept. 30, 2021.  

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