Legislative assembly

Sask. legislature rejects motion to drop in-house testing option

The government has warned it will set a “dangerous precedent,” but vaccine mandate critic Nadine Wilson voted against all odds with the NDP.

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The Saskatchewan legislature rejected an NDP motion to remove a testing option as an alternative under a chamber vaccine mandate.

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Instead, Saskatchewan Party members supported a policy allowing two options: Members could present a vaccination certificate or a record of a negative COVID-19 test in the past 72 hours. Government House Leader Jeremy Harrison said all but one member was vaccinated, apparently referring to Independent MP Nadine Wilson.

NDP House leader Vicki Mowat said MPs must set an example for the public. She filed a motion on Thursday to change house rules to require all members to show proof of vaccination, with good faith medical reasons verified by a doctor being the only exception.

“We have to hold ourselves to higher standards as elected officials,” Mowat said. “We have to follow the science.”

But Harrison said the move would set a “dangerous precedent” because it would effectively bar a member from sitting in the chamber.

“The majority of this chamber, based on political differences, would prevent that person from participating,” he said.

Wilson spoke at a rally against the public health measures outside the Saskatchewan Legislative Building on Wednesday. She resigned from the Saskatchewan Party caucus following a dispute over vaccination.

Harrison criticized his views but defended his right to represent his constituents.

“We strongly disagree with the Member and the position she has taken with respect to immunization …” said Harrison. “But this member was duly elected. This member should have the opportunity to participate in this Chamber.

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The NDP also attempted to require masks to be worn at all times in the House, while the government wanted to allow MPs to remove their masks only while speaking.

When MPs rose to vote, Wilson joined NDP MPs in supporting Mowat’s amendments. “I believe in democracy,” she said, without having the opportunity to explain her unexpected vote further.

Wilson has not publicly disclosed her vaccine status, but the Saskatchewan Party accused her of misrepresenting her in the spring.

All government members rejected Mowat’s amendments. The test option will remain and members will not be required to mask themselves when speaking.

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