Erin O’Toole says all CAF members should be vaxxed

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Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said he believes all those in uniform should be vaccinated against COVID-19, after the Federal Court rejected a request by some military members for exemption from a vaccine mandate order.

O’Toole, a veteran, had a direct message to those serving in the Canadian Armed Forces hesitant to get the jab.

“My message to the military, military families right now is simple. Thank you for your service. The vaccines are safe and effective. Ask questions to military doctors…and make sure you’re part of our fight against COVID-19. I think everyone in uniform should be vaccinated,” he said, taking questions from reporters on Thursday.

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His comments come after the Federal Court rejected a request by four members of the Armed Forces for “temporary prohibitive injunction” of the vaccine mandate ordered by Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre in the fall.

Members were to get vaccinated by end of November — a deadline which was extended to Dec. 18 — or face remedial measures, including possible dismissal from the military.

The order follows a similar requirement for all federal public servants as the Liberal government sought to set an example for all Canadians to get vaccinated. Eyre has also said his order is intended to protect the military during the pandemic.

Justice Janet Fuhrer ruled that “none of the applicants has met the test for temporary or an interlocutory injunction.”

The document goes on to state that the applicants also failed to show that their interests outweigh the public interest in “ensuring, to the extent possible, the readiness, health and safety of the Forces, the Defence Team, and the vulnerable groups they may be called on to serve, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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The four members and their legal counsel argued that mandate violates their religious beliefs and human rights, regarding disabilities, privacy and medical treatment.

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They noted that no member gives up their constitutional rights the moment they don a uniform.

The federal government recently approved a Quebec request for military assistance in support of the province’s vaccination campaign. Deployment to areas in need began Monday.

O’Toole stipulated on Thursday that while he believes vaccines are the most important tool to get out of the pandemic, there must be steps taken to address the hesitant.

“How do we answer their questions? Get that hesitancy down and in some cases have reasonable accommodations to make sure people don’t get pink slips because they’re not vaccinated,” he said.

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