LILLEY: Gladu raises serious issues in the wrong way and hurts her party

Gladu has acted in a way to raise plenty of suspicion.

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When Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu told the Hill Times earlier this week that she was forming a mini-caucus of MPs and Senators concerned about vaccine mandates, she may as well have declared it the anti-vax caucus. That is what many Canadians, including many inclined to vote Conservative, will be hearing regardless of Gladu’s intentions.

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Gladu has said that between 15-30 Conservative MPs and Senators could end up joining the group to discuss concerns around COVID-19 vaccines including people losing their jobs over their vaccination status.

“Our job as MPs is to raise the issues that our constituents are bringing, and ask the important questions and get the experts in on it, and set a path to take action to make sure that people’s rights and freedoms are protected,” Gladu told the Hill Times.

That’s all well and good, MPs should ensure people’s rights and freedoms are protected, they should raise important issues but how you do something is as important as well. By confirming this group’s existence but not saying how many members there are, not sharing any names and refusing to say if she herself is vaccinated, Gladu gives off the impression of being an anti-vaxxer.

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That’s not something most of the Canadian population have time or patience for at the moment regardless of political stripe.

Her actions raise the issue of vaccines and the Conservative Party’s difficult relationship with them once again. Intentional or not, she is challenging her leader and undermining the image of the party in the public eye.

Are there civil liberties issues to be raised around vaccination mandates? Absolutely there are but you can do that in a way that doesn’t make the vast majority of the public suspicious of you from the start.

Gladu has acted in a way to raise plenty of suspicion.

Across the country, more than 84% of people aged 12 and over have been fully vaccinated and they want their lives back. There are many Canadians angry with their unvaccinated neighbours which is part of the reason why poll after poll shows strong support for vaccine mandates and vaccine passports.

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A poll by Ipsos in the middle of the election campaign showed 80% supported mandatory vaccinations for all federal civil servants, 81% supported the same for teachers while 82% supported mandates for healthcare workers. That strong level of support included 75-79% support among Conservative voters.

Justin Trudeau politicized COVID-19 and vaccinations in the last election, which was dangerous for the country but it worked for him politically. Since the election, he hasn’t had to do much because the Conservatives keep shooting themselves in the foot on this issue.

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Gladu issued a statement Friday saying that she is not trying to challenge her leader, that she supports him and his positions. Too late, damage done.

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Raising civil liberties concerns is something that I will applaud Gladu for doing, even if it isn’t popular. Doing it in a way that will only help brand the Conservatives as an anti-vax party was foolish.

There is nothing conservative in distrusting science, in being against vaccinations as a viable medical tool to fight this virus. People acting as if being anti-vax is somehow aligned with conservative thinking are fooling themselves and trying to fool the public.

Erin O’Toole needs to get a handle on this issue, and his caucus, before it completely blows up the Conservative Party and with it, any chance of them ever winning again.

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