FIRST READING: The attacks against Poilievre have begun! Here's a sample
First Reading is a daily newsletter keeping you posted on the travails of Canadian politicos, all curated by the National Post’s own Tristin Hopper. To get an early version sent direct to your inbox every Monday to Thursday at 6:30 p.m. ET (and 9 a.m. on Saturdays), sign up here. TOP STORY Even before Pierre Poilievre took his seat in the House of Commons as Conservative leader, he’s been receiving an utter avalanche of partisan attacks and written criticism. If you’re a Poilievre dissident, this is because he’s a uniquely divisive figure operating well outside the bounds of normal discourse.
OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is demanding an end to the vaccine mandate for military members, but his health critic suggested the situation might need a more nuanced approach. © Provided by The Canadian Press
Last week, Poilievre called for an end to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, saying it was "obviously unscientific and contradictory" to keep that rule in place while ending the requirement for those crossing the border into Canada.
On Tuesday night, Poilievre circulated a video on Twitter of those comments from question period in the House of Commons on Sept. 23 and repeated his call for the rules to be changed.
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"Many of the men and women who want to fight to defend our freedoms aren't even free themselves to serve their country," he added. "End all the COVID vaccine mandates, now."
As of Saturday, the vaccine mandate for those in the Canadian military will be the last one left at the federal level. While Poilievre in his tweet pinned the responsibility for lifting them on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Department of National Defence says the choice is up to defence chief Gen. Wayne Eyre.
"This is a CAF leadership decision by the chief of the defence staff, based on advice from the Canadian Armed Forces surgeon general," Defence Department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said in an email.
"This is an institutional decision made to ensure operational readiness."
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The Canadian Press reported on Monday afternoon that in an interview with Jeremy Mackenzie, he said he was drinking when he made the comments and nobody meant any harm by it. Poilievre said in his statement that he had not known about Diagolon until "about a month ago.
In early August, Eyre told The Canadian Press that he planned to "tweak" the vaccine mandate for the Armed Forces in the next few weeks. At the same time, he defended vaccine requirements as necessary to keep the military ready to respond to any emergency.
On Wednesday, Le Bouthillier said the requirement remains and there is no timeline for changes.
Poilievre's message on Twitter appeared to call for an end to all COVID-19 vaccine mandates for military personnel, but Conservative health critic Michael Barrett acknowledged some service members may need to get inoculated for operational reasons.
At the same time, Barrett questioned the requirement as a condition for military service in Canada, given the federal and provincial governments have lifted virtually all other mandates.
"Every provincial government has done away with their vaccine mandate, the federal government has done away with it," he told reporters Wednesday on Parliament Hill.
Poilievre overtakes Trudeau as leader seen as best choice for prime minister: poll
The Ipsos poll conducted for Global News found Poilievre leading Trudeau in most provinces, despite voters feeling no party is equipped to tackle the major issues.The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found 35 per cent of Canadians surveyed believe Poilievre is the best candidate for prime minister, while 31 per cent said the same of Trudeau, who trails the new Opposition leader in a majority of provinces — including Ontario.
"So if there's a specific operational requirement, that's one thing. But I think that just as a condition of their employment, like anyone who works for the federal government, that that needs to be eliminated."
The Tories have long fought against Ottawa's vaccine mandates, but the party's former leader also acknowledged the situation was slightly different for those in the military.
Ontario MP Erin O'Toole, himself a military veteran, told reporters in January, when he was still Opposition leader, that "there will be a requirement for many and most operators to be vaccinated" against COVID-19 because they have a duty to serve.
Lawyer Phillip Millar, who represents several Armed Forces members who have challenged the military's vaccine mandate in Federal Court, accused the Liberal government of having used military personnel as "pawns" in their bid to advance vaccines in Canada.
Millar said the military can ill afford to lose hundreds of trained troops at a time when it is struggling with a severe personnel shortage just because they refuse to get their shots.
Senior bureaucrats probed cryptocurrencies after Poilievre campaign comments
OTTAWA — Senior federal bureaucrats examined whether cryptocurrencies protect against inflation not long after Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre made the claim as a candidate in the Conservative leadership race, according to an internal government document. The Privy Council Office, whose role is to provide non-partisan advice to the prime minister and cabinet, prepared a briefing note on the viability of digital currencies for the head of the public service weeks after Poilievre's comments in late March.
Poilievre, he added, "gets that the Liberal government is sacrificing Canadian security for a political policy that no longer makes sense."
Millar, whose clients include Warrant Officer James Topp, an army reservist facing a court martial for publicly speaking out against military vaccine mandates while wearing his uniform, also accused the Liberals and military leaders of "trying to save face" by refusing to end the mandate.
The Department of National Defence said more than 98 per cent of Canadian troops complied with the order. Defence Minister Anita Anand was briefed in June that 1,137 remained unvaccinated.
Those who refuse vaccination face the risk of forced removal from the military. The department says 299 unvaccinated troops have been ousted while disciplinary measures have been initiated against hundreds more.
Asked why the requirement remains in place, Le Bouthillier said the military is different from other federal departments since it is a "force of last resort" that must be ready at all times to conduct domestic and international operations — including in places with limited to no access to medical care.
"In fact, we have members deployed right now in the Atlantic provinces, where they need to keep both themselves and the communities they support safe," he added.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2022.
Stephanie Taylor and Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Chris Selley: Misogynist hashtag should be a wake-up call to Pierre Poilievre .
On Thursday afternoon, the Conservative Party of Canada announced it was calling off the search for whoever added the hashtag #mgtow to hundreds of videos on Pierre Poilievre’s YouTube channel beginning in 2018. The hashtag refers to “Men Going Their Own Way,” a group of proudly pitiful males who have decided society is too poisoned by feminism for them ever to find a partner, and therefore think it best they limit their social group to other male failures. That might sound like a win at first blush, but similarly radicalized men — so-called “incels” — have committed some notable atrocities.