The mayor of a small community west of London, Ont. is planning to refuse the province's vaccine passport by not frequenting businesses that don't "welcome" all Ontarians.
Jackie Rombouts, who leads the Township of Warwick, says she is speaking out against it, not because she is opposed to vaccinations. Instead, she says she's upset by the imposed mandate that forces people to get the shot.
"I am very grateful for the vaccine and that those people who wanted to get vaccinated were able to. I am against the mandates that are forcing people to make a decision," Rombouts said.
She explained on Afternoon Drive Tuesday that she is hearing from many constituents who feel the same way.
Beginning September 22, Ontarians will need to prove that they're fully vaccinated to enjoy nonessentials such as dining indoors or going to the movies. A system using QR codes and a verification app will be rolled out a month later.
"This is my opinion and my opinion alone," Rombouts said. "I need that to be very clear. My council had nothing to do with this initiative at all and I would expect that the Township of Warwick will continue to abide by the provincial rules as we are mandated to do."
The mayor had posted her statement on social media and says she is overwhelmed by the response she has received.
Other small town mayors disagree
Thames Centre Mayor Alison Warwick is "struggling" with Rombouts' stance and disagrees with her refusal to attend organizations or businesses mandated by the province to require a vaccine passport.
"Those businesses have no choice," Warwick said Tuesday. "The province has told them that they have to have this policy that includes the vaccine passport. So, to be able to say that you're not patronizing those businesses, to me, is very confusing."
"These are strange times and we're really polarizing people when we're saying things like this and a lot of times municipalities don't have a choice," she said. "They have to follow what the province has mandated."
Cathy Burghardt-Jesson, the mayor of the Township of Lucan Biddulph, admitted that she "struggled with the idea of a passport and what all that means" but ultimately agrees with the province's program.
She didn't want to comment on Rombouts' statement but explained how "lots of times we're asked to do things that we're uncomfortable with but we do it for a sense of duty."
As mayor, Rombouts sits on the Lambton Public Health board. When asked whether she intended to step down , she said she would not.
Hear the full interview with Jackie Rombout: