The Ontario MPP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington who refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 was removed from the governing Progressive Conservative caucus on Thursday.
Premier Doug Ford defended the party’s decision to oust Rick Nicholls, saying elected officials must “lead by example” on vaccination.
Mr. Ford said Mr. Nicholls won’t be permitted to seek re-election as a Tory candidate after he “failed to provide a legitimate reason” for not getting vaccinated.
“It is my expectation that every PC caucus member and candidate not only support the role vaccines play in the fight against COVID-19, but also be vaccinated to protect themselves and the people in their community,” Mr. Ford said in a statement.
He wrote that elected officials “must rightfully be held to a higher standard."
Although Nicholls and Scarborough Center representative Christina Mitas were both given a deadline of 5 p.m. on Thursday to show proof of vaccination or a medical exemption, Ford let Mitas off the hook, noting that she provided a medical exemption statement from a physician and will stay in caucus, taking “additional precautions” while carrying out her duties.
Mr. Nicholls told a news conference earlier on Thursday that he made the “personal choice” not to get vaccinated and wouldn’t be immunized against the virus.
“Under no circumstances will I, nor should any Ontarian, be forced or coerced to do something against their will,” he said. Nicholls did not elaborate on his personal reason for not taking the vaccine.