MPP Rick Nicholls kicked out of PC Ontario caucus after refusing to get COVID-19 vaccine – .

MPP Rick Nicholls kicked out of PC Ontario caucus after refusing to get COVID-19 vaccine – .

Rick Nicholls, the MP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington, was kicked out of the Ontario Progressive Conservative caucus after refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Nicholls announced Thursday afternoon at a press conference in Queen’s Park that he had made the decision, along with his wife, not to be vaccinated for personal reasons.

“I made the personal decision not to inoculate the COVID-19 vaccine. I took the Prime Minister at his word that immunization is a choice and that all Ontarians have a constitutional right to make that choice.

“Like nearly two million eligible Ontarians, I choose to exercise this autonomy over my own body while continuing to work hard for the people of Ontario.

In a statement released Thursday, Premier Doug Ford said elected officials should lead by example and be held to higher standards. He said Nicholls had not provided a “legitimate reason” for not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

“As a result, he is no longer a sitting member of the PC caucus and will not be allowed to be re-elected as a PC candidate,” Ford said.

“I expect every PC caucus member and candidate to not only support the role that vaccines play in the fight against COVID-19, but also be vaccinated to protect themselves and people in their community.”

The expulsion means Nicholls will now sit as an independent. He is one of the last two members of Premier Doug Ford’s party not to have been vaccinated.

Ford said another unvaccinated PC caucus member, Scarborough Center MPP Christina Mitas, would stay after providing “a medical exemption statement signed by a doctor.” The Prime Minister added that Mitas had “assured that she would take extra precautions in the exercise of her functions as elected representative”.

Members of the PC caucus had until 5 p.m. Thursday to provide proof of vaccination or a medical exemption statement signed by a doctor or registered nurse.

Failure to provide documents will result in their expulsion from the PC part.

An article in the QP Briefing on MPs immunization status sparked an emergency caucus conference call on Tuesday morning. During the call, a source told CTV News Toronto that one of the two unvaccinated MPs spoke about why he was not vaccinated and the importance of personal choice.

A senior cabinet minister answered the call that members of government are held to higher standards and will be subject to more scrutiny, the source said.

Nicholls claimed Thursday that he was threatened by the director of the Ontario PC 2022 re-election campaign.

“Sadly, in a humiliating tone, this individual threatened that I would be kicked out of the PC Ontario caucus if I didn’t vaccinate by 5:00 pm today,” he said. Nicholls did not name the director.

CTV News Toronto obtained emails to caucus members from Chief Whip Lorne Coe on Tuesday asking MPPs to provide him or Government House Leader Paul Calandra with the immunization documents.

“I have expressed my concerns about our policy in private to the Premier and the PC Caucus of Ontario,” said Nicholls. “But under no circumstances should I or any Ontarians be forced or coerced into doing anything against their will. To do so is an affront to the democratic principles of this magnificent institution.

Nicholls was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 2011. He is currently Deputy Speaker of the Government and Chair of the Committee of the Whole.

“Until 5pm today, I’m still a member of the PC caucus and will stay there until I’m told otherwise,” Nicholls said.

“But no matter what, I will continue to serve the people of the great riding of Chatham Kent Leamington where there is no greater honor than serving your own community, province and country.

– with files from Chris Herhalt and Colin D’Mello


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