A Tory proposal to ask the government to return to pre-pandemic rules for air travel to reduce airport wait times was rejected today in the House of Commons.
The proposal, put forward by Conservative MP and transportation critic Melissa Lantzmann, was supported mostly only by members of her party. Liberal MP Joel Lightbound, who publicly criticized his party’s restrictions on COVID-19 in February, voted for him.
The motion, which defeated 202 to 117, said a return to pre-pandemic rules and services was necessary to deal with “unacceptable waiting times” at airports.
She also said that the current restrictions are “ineffective”, that other allied countries have lifted COVID-19 restrictions at airports and other entry points, and that the measures are hurting the Canadian economy.
“We have not been able to find anyone who told the government to maintain the old health restrictions and to infringe on the rights of movement,” Lantzmann said in her speech in the motion on May 19.
And this leads us on this side of the House of Representatives to believe that there is no evidence, no standards and no good reason, other than the ideological motive to punish those who do not agree with the government.
Some liberal MPs who opposed the proposal avoided addressing the matter directly but criticized the conservatives.
“Isn’t the Conservatives quite selective when it comes to their concerns about economic damage? Will the member clearly denounce the protesters who caused so much economic damage earlier this year?” said Annie Kotrakis, Parliamentary Secretary to the Transport Minister, referring to the Freedom Caravan protests. and the blockade earlier this year to demand the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.
Kotrakis later said that she hears from Canadians angry “every day” about the current mandate, but that public dissatisfaction was not enough reason to raise it.
“Like them, I would like to put this long ordeal behind us, yet COVID is not behind us. It is still very much in our midst. One of the lessons many Canadians have learned during the course of this pandemic is the danger of prematurely relaxing public health measures,” she said.
Quebecois MPs also defended the current restrictions and lamented the low demand for booster shots in Canada.
The proposal states that “the current restrictions have been cited … as ineffective.” “Science is saying something completely different,” said Rep. Luc Désilets.
This morning, the papers were reporting that Canada’s third-dose vaccination rate ranks second among the G7 nations. Our vaccination rate appears to be 54.3%. What is my colleague’s response to that? “
NDP Member of Parliament Taylor Batrach said he agreed with many points from Lantzmann’s speech, but questioned why the proposal did not provide solutions in terms of staffing to address the current delays. He noted that staff shortages were the main factor contributing to the delay, according to testimony in the Transportation Committee from the Airports Board of Canada.
“Removing all pandemic measures and pandemic rules will not address the massive staffing shortage,” Batrach said.
“One way we can solve that is to bring back all the people the government has fired because of the federal vaccine mandates,” Lantzmann replied.
Transport Canada (TC) announced on May 27 that it was taking specific measures to address wait times, including creating a joint committee with stakeholder agencies to address bottlenecks at pre-boarding security screening and pre-departure checkpoints.
TC also said that both the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) are hiring more staff to increase processing capacity.
The federal government has moved slowly in removing restrictions compared to other domestic and foreign jurisdictions, and has taken a phased approach to loosening border rules and keeping vaccine mandates in place.
Meanwhile, travel among Canadians has increased as other pandemic restrictions have disappeared, leading to lengthy delays in passport renewals and applications.
Speaking in front of waiting times for a new passport, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said May 24.
“In the end, it’s good for people to start traveling again,” he added. “It’s great to have this pandemic somewhat behind us even though we know we still need to be vigilant and work on our passport challenges as quickly as possible.”