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Conservatives call for emergency debate on vaccines, Keystone as parliament resumes

Last Updated Jan 25, 2021 at 3:23 pm CST

Storm clouds pass by the Peace tower and Parliament hill Tuesday August 18, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

Conservative leader calls for emergency debate over Pfizer vaccine disruption


Erin O'Toole argues Prime Minister 'bet the jobs of thousands of Canadians on a single phone call to the president'


OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – MPs are back at work in Ottawa and the opposition is taking aim at the prime minister over recent controversies, including the slow vaccine rollout at the governor general scandal.

The pandemic seems top of the agenda, with Conservative leader Erin O’Toole calling for an emergency debate over the disruptions of Pfizer doses “to improve the Liberal vaccine plan and get Canadians back to work.”

It was confirmed on Jan. 19 that this week’s Pfizer delivery of COVID-19 vaccines would be deferred due to upgrades being made at the company’s manufacturing facility.

“Premiers report they have run out of vaccines. This week, Canada will receive zero vaccines,” he said Monday before going head to head with the prime minister on the floor of the House.

While the number of vaccines Pfizer will ultimately ship to Canada has not changed, the delay has created some concerns among provinces, where vaccine rollout is already well under way.

Only half of the expected number of doses from Pfizer will come in the first two weeks of February.

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeated his insistence that the disruption is only temporary.

“We know that momentary delays are happening on Pfizer, but we will be receiving hundreds of thousands of doses later in February,” Trudeau said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland defended the government’s pandemic response and notes, there is a possibility of new travel measures.

“Absolutely the right thing for us to be actively considering tougher measures, given the virulence that we’re seeing of COVID around the world,” she said.

Keystone XL and choosing a new governor general

In the first showdown in the House, O’Toole also chose to focus on U.S. President Joe Biden’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Why did the Prime Minister bet the jobs of thousands of Canadians on a single phone call to the president?” O’Toole said.

The prime minister defended himself, saying his government has supported workers and the project from the start.

O’Toole also called for an emergency debate into the cancellation of the pipeline expansion.

The Conservative leader is also targeting the prime minister on the resignation of the governor general, demanding Trudeau consult the opposition before making a recommendation on Julie Payette’s replacement. It’s something Trudeau is under no obligation to do.

“Listen, the prime minister is never under the obligation to do the right thing. I just think he should do the right thing. Show some leadership, prime minister,” O’Toole said.

Earlier in the day, the NDP targeted the prime minister over the resignation of Governor General Julie Payette, asking whether proper vetting was completed and demanding that opposition play a role in choosing her replacement. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh also said he doesn’t believe Payette should receive the hefty pension that she’s entitled to.

Jagmeet Singh is also pushing the government to improve paid sick leave. He also plans to push to take profit out of long-term care, which is a jurisdiction that normally falls under provincial governments.