Tory MLA criticizes province’s vaccine policy in social media post

WINNIPEG — A government MLA is against the mandatory vaccine policy and use of passports, and he’s speaking out about it using residential schools and internment camps to make his point.

Radisson PC MLA James Teitsma tells CTV News he believes the policy will exclude people.

“I really am opposed to forced or coerced vaccinations,” Teitsma said.

As of Sept. 3, Manitoba is limiting places like restaurants, gyms, sporting events and theatres to people with both shots. Children under 12 are allowed in with fully vaccinated caregivers.

Teitsma says he is fully vaccinated, encourages others to do so and works to debunk myths about the vaccine.

But he believes mandating vaccines will only increase vaccine hesitancy and decrease uptake.

“The audience that they’re dealing with have a deep rooted suspicion of government,” said Teitsma

He posted a lengthy opposition to his government’s plan online. He wrote that human rights violations like forcing Indigenous children into residential schools and Ukrainian and Japanese Canadians into internment camps and forced sterilizations have one thing in common – they were popular and favoured by the public.

Later he wrote that expanded use of passports and widespread use of mandatory vaccines had a flood of support and appear to be popular.

“The commonality that I’m trying to draw there is simply that popular opinion and public support shouldn’t be the measuring stick,” said Teitsma

The MLA also wrote people are more at risk going to a Winnipeg Blue Bomber game with vaccinated people than having two unvaccinated, asymptomatic people over for a visit.

In a statement, Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said Teitsma’s remarks are a health hazard, calling for him to be kicked out of caucus.

“It is absolutely unacceptable and sheer ignorance to compare a vaccine mandate with residential schools, internment camps and forced sterilizations,” Lamont said.

Health Minister Audrey Gordon was asked about Teitsma’s comments.

Gordon said her aim is to protect vulnerable people by ensuring everyone is on board to increase vaccine uptake.

“My focus as Minister of Health and Seniors care is to work with all Manitobans and MLAs and cabinet ministers and leaders of the opposition,” said Gordon

In January, Teitsma had additional committee appointments revoked for travelling with his family during a lockdown over the holidays.

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