Conservatives are arguing against a vaccine mandate for members of Parliament. Susan Delacourt writes:
The federal Conservatives have picked a strange time to abandon populism.
Who would have thought that COVID-19 vaccinations would turn some members of the opposition into unapologetic elitists, claiming their elected status exempts them from a duty to public health?
This is the odd turn emerging in the debate over whether the House of Commons needs to be a mandatory-vaccination zone — an idea that keeps running into backlash from members of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.
Like their cousins south of the border, the Conservatives claim that personal freedom trumps public health:
“I know it’s kind of quaint — archaic, maybe — to talk about parliamentary privilege during a pandemic, but it’s been upheld through many crises,” Conservative MP Mark Strahl told the Star last week. “We’d better be very, very careful that we don’t cavalierly toss it aside.”
What Strahl and other MPs are apparently arguing is that they have more rights to refuse COVID-19 vaccinations than others, even their own staffers on Parliament Hill — the perks of power, if you like.
In any other context, an MP’s refusal to comply with public orders or even guidelines would be seen by the general public as a remarkable act of nerve. Being an MP doesn’t mean you get waved through security at the airport without baggage checks, for instance. “Don’t you know who I am?” is not a reputation-enhancing phrase for any MP in the current climate.
If anything, in fact, MPs are scrutinized even more than ordinary citizens these days, to make sure they haven’t lost touch with the citizens they represent.
When are we going to finally realize that the Conservatives stand for privilege, not the people? They are showing their true colours.
Image: Cornell Daily Sun