Liberals to make blocking healthcare buildings criminal offense
Speaking in Vancouver today, Prime Minister Trudeau said it’s “not OK” that hospitals across the country have had to deal with blockades caused by anti-vaccination protestors.
“To know that a nurse, going into a late shift, crossing a parking lot, might be afraid that there’s going to be someone there to spit on her or shout obscenities at her – that’s not OK,” Trudeau said. "It’s unfortunate really, that we have to get to this point where we have to point out that that’s not something that should be done.”
Several protests are scheduled today for hospitals across Canada in opposition to public health measures, such as vaccine passports. One group, the Canadian Frontline Nurses, sought to rally supporters for a “silent vigil to honour those affected by measures put in place over the last year an a half.”
The Liberals have made it part of their platform that businesses who require proof-of-vaccination from employees or customers “can do so without fear or legal challenge.”
Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole condemned any harassment outside hospitals, but did not go so far as to say he'd outlaw protests near them.
“This harassment of our frontline nurses, doctors, is completely unacceptable. We all owe a huge debt of thanks to our frontlines, to those nurses, to the folks in our hospitals. I appreciate and respect them,” he said.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh added there is “no space at all” for protests that threaten health-care workers or patients. “It is wrong, it is not the place for protests,” he said. “What we are doing at the federal level to achieve this goal is that we would make it an aggravating element of a sentence if someone was in any way threatening a health-care worker, threatening patients, impeding their ability to access care.”
Trudeau says he will use provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada that prevent the intimidation of journalists, extending that to health-care workers.
“We think that these people deserve our highest level of protection because they have done so much for all of us over these past 18 months,” he said.