NS Tory leader calls out MP who sponsored petition questioning COVID-19 vaccine approval

A Conservative Party of Canada MP who sponsored a petition questioning vaccine safety should “get more informed on the topic,” says the leader of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party.

Each Sunday, Tim Houston sends out an email newsletter on a variety of topics to subscribers. In this week’s edition, under the heading “Failing Grade,” Houston refers to the petition sponsored by Ontario MP Derek Sloan, which suggests the approval process for the COVID-19 vaccine is akin to human experimentation.

“Without vaccines, we could still have polio. ‘Measles’ would still be a frequent word in our vocabulary,” Houston writes.

“Now is not the time to fear monger or float conspiracy theories. Now is the time to trust our Health Canada leaders and the science behind them.”

‘A very rigorous approval process’

In an interview Monday, Houston said he was surprised an elected official would align themselves with that kind of petition. COVID-19 has affected a lot of people’s mental health and Houston said he believes the thought of a vaccine and its ability to help restore some normalcy after months of lockdowns is something many people are clinging to right now.

“Anything that kind of undermines that, takes that hope away from people, it’s kind of surprising to me that anyone would engage in that at this stage,” said Houston, who accused Sloan of creating “unnecessary fear.”

Sloan’s leader, Erin O’Toole, said on Monday that he disagreed with the petition and its contents. The Canadian Press reported that O’Toole said he has faith in Health Canada and the advice coming from federal public health officials.

While some people might take issue with governments and decisions they make, Houston said it’s important for people to understand that it is public health officials — not politicians — who test and approve vaccines.

“This is a process through Health Canada, a very rigorous approval process also that’s happening in other countries,” he said, pointing to the United States and United Kingdom as examples.

Governments must be open

While it’s important to preserve public confidence in officials with Health Canada and provincial public health agencies, Houston said there is also room to question elected officials on decisions they make related to the pandemic.

He has recently raised concerns about the lack of details available about some of the Nova Scotia government’s spending decisions, particularly $228 million in infrastructure stimulus spending. Premier Stephen McNeil has repeatedly refused to authorize the release of details about the projects that make up that program.

Houston has also called on the province to make available as many details as possible about its preparation for receiving and administering a vaccine, so the public knows what to expect when one becomes available.

Last week, Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang outlined initial details about the effort, noting the province was awaiting further information from Ottawa. Strang said the province could receive initial doses beginning as soon as later this month.

On Monday, Prime Minister said there would be several hundred thousand doses of vaccine in Canada before the end of the year and they would be distributed to provinces on a per capita basis.

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