Positive polls in Poilievre lead to talk of easing border restrictions: Tories – Canada News

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The government was motivated to reconsider COVID-19 restrictions at Canada’s border because of the growing popularity of new Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, MPs from his caucus said Wednesday.

Several Liberal ministers confirmed they were debating whether to continue mandatory use of the ArriveCan app for international travelers and COVID-19 border restrictions such as face masks, which are set to expire on September 30.

The government has not made any final decisions, but will meet on Thursday afternoon.

That’s when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returns from the United Nations General Assembly, where he did not confirm whether his government is ready to lift or change any of the pandemic measures.

“Every step of the way, we’ve followed the recommendations and the best advice from medical experts, from public health experts, and we’ll continue to do that,” Trudeau said at a news conference at the United Nations on Wednesday evening.

“I can assure you that as we make decisions about how to move forward and change the situation around various tools that we have in place to keep Canadians safe, Canadians will be the first to know,” he said .

Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault also said Wednesday that the government would “follow the science” when asked about plans on Parliament Hill.

“We will continue to ensure that when we open the economy, we do so in a systematic and respectful way,” he said.

Current border restrictions mean that most foreign nationals cannot travel to Canada unless they have completed a primary series of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, unless they qualify for an exemption. For most vaccines, this means at least two doses.

Unvaccinated foreigners who fall into specific categories, such as temporary foreign workers, healthcare workers or airline or ship crew, are subject to mandatory arrival tests and a 14-day quarantine.

Vaccinated travelers, including Canadians, may also be selected for mandatory random testing — a system that public health officials have used as an “early warning system” for new strains of the virus entering the country.

Several Conservative MPs welcomed the prospect of an end to COVID-19 travel restrictions on Wednesday, but said they do not understand what has sparked those discussions – other than changing political tides.

“I think it may have something to do with the science changing on Saturday night when Pierre (Poilievre) was crowned,” Ontario MP Marilyn Gladu said heading into a Conservative caucus meeting.

Poilievre is a strong opponent of vaccine mandates, and his stance on COVID-19 restrictions was a popular element of his leadership campaign.

Saskatoon-Grasswood MP Kevin Waugh said the possible change could have something to do with recent poll numbers.

“Finally they’ve woken up because we have a new leader and the polls are not favorable for the Liberals,” Waugh said. “I mean they’re in trouble.”

Boissonnault directly rejected the conservatives’ proposal.

“The measures we put in place during COVID have nothing to do with the Conservative Party and leadership at the time, and nothing they do on their end affects how we govern or the steps we take to keep Canadians safe ,” he said heading into the Liberal caucus meeting Wednesday.

“As tourism minister, I want as many people to come here as safely as possible, so we will continue to discuss this within the government.”

Federal ministers will not say what recommendations they plan to bring to their cabinet meeting, but assured that their decisions will be guided by science rather than politics.

“As everyone knows, these measures are always reviewed on the basis of evidence, caution and epidemiology,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said on Wednesday.

Conservatives have criticized the government for the lack of transparency about the evidence used to inform public health decisions about COVID-19.

A case study by the international research group Pandemics and Borders published in April highlighted similar concerns.

“Claims about the use of scientific evidence to guide decisions have been widely made, but with limited disclosure of what constitutes that scientific evidence,” the researchers concluded after examining Canada’s pandemic border policies.

“Adherence to science-driven narratives, in this context, increased politicization in ways that ultimately undermined the use of science.”

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