Public servants who can get vaccinated and choose not to do so will face “consequences” for their decision if liberals return to power, Justin Trudeau said Tuesday when the issue of vaccine mandates exploded in the election campaign.

Just 24 hours earlier, the Liberal leader had said his government was studying how to implement a push on the eve of the elections to force federal workers to receive their COVID-19 injections.

He paused at the time by saying whether anyone should be fired, as the New Democrats had suggested as the ultimate punishment for federal workers who choose not to be immunized.

During a campaign stop in Markham, Ontario, Trudeau said a liberal government would impose “consequences” on unvaccinated public servants.

“The bottom line is that if someone who doesn’t have a legitimate medical reason not to get fully vaccinated or chooses not to get vaccinated, there will be consequences,” Trudeau said.

What are those consequences, Trudeau did not say.

The latest federal figures show that 73 percent of those 12 and older who are eligible are fully vaccinated. While the pace of second doses has slowed in recent weeks, emotions around the issue have risen throughout the campaign.

Trudeau was confronted by anti-mask protesters for the second day in a row Tuesday, this time during a whistle stop in Aurora, Ontario.

“Are you here to unmask our children?” One of them yelled, as he walked down the street, surrounded by a heavy police presence. Another yelled “you are killing our children!”

Trudeau, wearing his usual black mask, took a step toward the woman with the megaphone and yelled, “Please get vaccinated.”

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, speaking in Toronto, said the vaccines were critical, noting that she posted publicly on how to get vaccinated months after testing positive for COVID-19. He added that in some cases rapid tests, masks and other measures could be used to protect against the virus and its variants.

Trudeau follows Singh, promising “consequences” for unvaccinated federal workers. #ItsOurVote #CdnPoli # Elxn44

“We need to vaccinate people, but we also have a plan in cases where they are not,” O’Toole told reporters after outlining a promise of a GST holiday to boost spending.

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“Our plan is balanced, it’s reasonable, and … before it was taken off the internet, it seemed like it was actually what the civil service was recommending to the prime minister.”

The “that” was a note published over the weekend by the government’s director of human resources saying that alternative measures, such as tests and screenings, should be considered for public servants who do not want to be vaccinated. It was quickly removed Monday night and the Treasury Board said it contained misinformation.

Although Trudeau said the letter did not reflect his administration’s policies and was rejected by public officials, the Conservatives wrote to the Privy Council secretary on Tuesday asking for an investigation into what happened.

Rules during election periods, set by the secretary who heads the federal bureaucracy, are designed to prevent public officials from being drawn into the partisan fray.

In the letter to the secretary, the Conservatives charged that the “provisional convention” had been violated and that the letter was suddenly removed from the government website, and that an investigation was necessary to find “the persons involved and the exact addresses and communications in which those individuals engaged “.

The party asked for results before election day on September 20.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said he was concerned that the debate on vaccines in a hyperpartisan campaign setting could politicize the issue of vaccination, something that he, Trudeau and O’Toole agreed was necessary to end the pandemic.

But he was also clear in his support for a vaccination mandate for federal workers who provide services to Canadians, some of whom cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

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“If someone doesn’t get vaccinated in places that we know would put people at risk … then they wouldn’t be able to continue working in those places,” Singh said in Coquitlam, BC, where he outlined his party’s proposal to create jobs. .

“People have the option not to get vaccinated, but it is essential that we put in place all possible steps to encourage people to get vaccinated.”

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents 215,000 federal public service workers, said in a press release Tuesday that political party leaders have made “troubling statements” about disciplining or firing workers.

“PSAC has been in consultation with the federal government on its vaccination proposal, and our position is clear: Employees with a valid medical reason not to be vaccinated, or for reasons protected by human rights law, should be offered a formal accommodation under the law. “

Mandatory vaccinations have become a snap election topic as each party vies for votes, and new poll results suggest Liberals held a five-point lead on the eve of the election call.

35% of determined voters who participated in the poll expressed support for the Liberals, 30% for the Conservatives, and 20% for the NDP. Seven percent would vote for the Bloc Québécois, which presents candidates only in Quebec, while five percent support the Greens and two percent support the People’s Party of Canada.

The online survey of 2,007 Canadians, conducted August 13-15 by Leger in collaboration with The Canadian Press, cannot be assigned a margin of error because surveys conducted on the Internet are not considered truly random samples.

– With files from Mia Rabson, Stephanie Taylor and Allison Jones.

This Canadian Press report was first published on August 17, 2021.

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