Chatham-Kent–Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls told The Chatham Voice he has “no regrets” about refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
The decision cost him his job as deputy speaker of the Ontario Legislature and saw Premier Doug Ford him toss him from the Progressive Conservative caucus.
Nicholls, who will now represent C-K-L as an Independent, said Sunday he has received tremendous support for taking a stand against what he calls “an experimental drug, not a vaccine.
“The outpouring of support has been incredible,” Nicholls said. “Not just locally, but from across the country.”
While he acknowledged there are plenty of people who disagree, Nicholls said he made his decision “based on principle.
“It’s all about choice,” the veteran politician explained, adding it comes down to the fact people should be free to choose what they put into their bodies.
Nicholls said the decision by Ford Friday to oust him from caucus is purely political. He said the premier’s office was under pressure from Toronto media nosing around about the number of MPPs who were vaccinated.
Pressure was created by the opposition as well, he added.
Nicholls said he received a “demanding ultimatum type phone call” from one of Ford’s top aides Aug. 16, advising him he had 72 hours to get the shot.
The politician called it a “bullying” tactic, and one hour before the 5 p.m. deadline Aug. 19, he called a press conference announcing his decision.
“I fully knew what the consequences would be,” Nicholls said. “I was prepared to put my political career in jeopardy. I know a lot of people are disappointed in it, but this is my choice.”
Scarborough MPP Christina Mitas, is the only other MPP who has not taken the vaccine to remain in the PC caucus. She has been provided a medical exemption from her doctor.
Nicholls, who has served three terms in office, said he took Ford “at his word” when he said the government would not mandate vaccines for the people of Ontario.
He doesn’t believe the vaccine should be mandated in any form and does not support municipalities forcing the employees or the general public to get the shot.
Ultimately, Nicholls said, it came down to his belief that not enough clinical research has been done to support the COVID-19 vaccine and determine its long-term effects.
Nicholls, who was invited to tell his story at a People’s Party of Canada fundraising dinner held by Chatham-Kent-Leamington federal candidate Liz Vallee on the weekend, said he’s not joining the PPC.
“I will remain apolitical on this,” he said. “I am not switching parties.
“My party is the independent party.”
By the time Nicholls finishes his current term, he will have served Chatham-Kent-Leamington for 10.5 years.
No names have been put forward by the PCs to fill his spot, but the MPP said there are plenty of good people ready to fill the seat.
“I’ve worked hard to keep this riding blue and I would want it to stay blue,” Nicholls said, adding he won’t run in the next election.
Nicholls said he holds no animosity towards the premier or his colleagues at Queen’s Park.
Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice