Last month, Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls stood firm against taking the COVID-19 vaccination. And it was not a decision without consequence. Premier Doug Ford had issued an ultimatum: all his MPPs had to get jabbed by a set day and time, or face expulsion from caucus. And it was no bluff. Indeed, precisely one hour before the deadline, Nicholls, who was first elected in 2011, held a brief press conference at Queen’s Park noting that he was not going to acquiesce to the premier’s demand nor deadline.
Said Nicholls: “I took the premier at his word that vaccination is a choice and that all Ontarians have a constitutional right to make such a choice. Like almost two million eligible Ontarians, I choose to exercise this autonomy over my own body, while continuing to work hard for the people of Ontario.”
Shortly thereafter, Ford gave Nicholls the boot. No reasonable accommodation to be seen here.
That Nicholls was kicked from caucus was bad enough. But in the department of adding insult to injury, members of the NDP approached House Leader Paul Calandra and said they’d very much like Rick to be banished from the Ontario Legislature permanently, given that he is supposedly a modern-day Typhoid Mary given his lack of jabs. (The question arises: if everyone in the House is double-vaccinated and wearing masks and practicing social distancing, how could Nicholls be a one-man super-spreader in the first place? Or is this experimental vaccine really that... useless?)
Now you would think that with the PCs enjoying super-majority status, that Calandra would’ve told the COVID-Karen members of the opposition to take a long walk off a short pier. But no. Nicholls says Calandra actually tried to convince him to retire; Nicholls informed him that wasn’t going to happen any time soon. And that’s when Calandra allegedly intimated that when the legislature resumes sitting next month, Nicholls might be forced to walk the plank, should the opposition put forth a motion that Nicholls must leave — something that could pass, should a majority of Rick’s former colleagues go along with such a motion. (We reached out to Paul Calandra but never received a response.)
In any event, the question arises: are we living in a democracy — or a dictatorship? It’s egregious enough that Rick Nicholls was kicked out of caucus — but now political foes and friends alike might further cancel him by forever banishing him from the legislature? Shameful.