Conservative MP sponsoring petition containing ‘misinformation’ about vaccine was ‘unhappy’, says Hajdu – National


Health Minister Patty Hajdu says it’s “unfortunate” that Tory MP Derek Sloan has chosen to support a petition she says is “full of misinformation” about a coronavirus vaccine.

Sloan sponsored a parliamentary e-petition in early November to question the safety of a potential coronavirus vaccine. The petition also states that “bypassing proper safety protocols means vaccination against COVID-19 is in fact a human experiment.”

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It comes as public health and government officials have provided repeated assurances that Health Canada will only approve a vaccine that is rigorously tested and safe to use. Sloan did not say if he agreed with the contents of the petition.

Meanwhile, the e-petition already has more than 25,000 signatures, which means the government will eventually be forced to respond.

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“It is unfortunate to see politicians using their power to provide disinformation to Canadians when Canadians need clear, concise and science-based evidence,” Hajdu said, speaking to reporters on Friday.

“The Government of Canada has continuously worked against disinformation, since the onset of COVID-19.”

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When Global News contacted Sloan on Wednesday, he said it was important to ensure that Canadians had the opportunity to voice their concerns.

“My office did not write the petition, but I believe citizens have a right to raise any issues they feel are important to public health and safety,” Sloan said.

Electronic petitions cannot be filed without the sponsorship of an elected Member of Parliament. Because of this reality, a good number of parliamentarians sponsor electronic petitions with which they do not agree in order to give their constituents a voice.

Coronavirus: O’Toole responds after Tory MP sponsored petition questioning safety of COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus: O’Toole responds after Tory MP sponsored petition questioning safety of COVID-19 vaccine

In this case, the sponsor is from Dorchester, Ontario, which is not in the riding of Sloan. However, Sloan said in a statement that he generally sponsors any e-petition that he says reflects the concerns of his constituents.

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“Petitions are an important democratic tool, and my policy has been to sponsor petitions, especially those that align with the issues and concerns raised by voters,” Sloan said in an emailed statement to Global News.

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“On the issue of the deployment of the COVID vaccine, I have received hundreds of questions from voters.”

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Sloan did not directly respond to Global News’ explicit question as to whether or not he personally supports the contents of the petition.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Tam Concerned about Spread of Misinformation Regarding COVID-19 Vaccine'

Coronavirus: Tam concerned about spread of misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus: Tam concerned about spread of misinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccine

However, Sloan said that by answering the questions in the petition, the government could “increase public confidence.”

“I don’t agree that by asking relevant and timely questions about various COVID-19 vaccine candidates that a person is somehow fueling ‘anti-vaccine sentiment’, as you have characterized it,” he added, responding to Global News’ question on whether he fears the petition may reinforce anti-vaccine sentiment.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also asked on Friday about Sloan’s decision, which prompted him to stress that vaccine safety is a top priority for the government and regulators.

“The work Health Canada is doing to ensure that this vaccine – that every vaccine approved – is safe for Canadians is without compromise. There are no cut corners, ”Trudeau said.

“As we move forward, it is extremely important that support for scientists, physicians, healthcare professionals and local public health authorities continues to be shared. That is why it is up to every parliamentarian to defend science to support the work of our experts who work very hard to keep Canadians safe.

Click to play 'This is disinformation' video: Lethbridge MP receives negative reactions to post about COVID deaths'

‘It’s disinformation’: Lethbridge MP receives negative reactions to message about COVID deaths

‘It’s disinformation’: Lethbridge MP receives negative reactions to message on COVID deaths – November 24, 2020

Hajdu also noted that she has worked hard to ensure that health agencies remain independent from government – a reality that moves politics away from regulatory approvals.

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“It is important for the confidence of Canadians to know that politicians are not the ones who decide whether vaccines are safe or not, whether drugs are safe or not, whether medical equipment is precise enough or not,” a- she declared.

She added that the government is working hard to make sure it tackles any misinformation that spreads about vaccines.

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“We work as a government to provide credible information in different ways… we regularly have a lot of information being passed on to Canadians,” Hajdu said.

“The reluctance to vaccines is real and I certainly hope elected officials won’t contribute to the fear of science-based public health advice.

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