Despite death threats, BC politician with COVID-19 vaccine message says he won’t back down
A longtime member of the British Columbia legislature has said that “the influence of Alberta” is a factor in a part of British Columbia where intensive care units cannot accommodate the influx of patients. COVID-19 patients.
MPP Mike Bernier said the proximity to Alberta “has put us back from day one” when it comes to some northerners avoiding vaccination.
“That would be the Alberta influence. A good portion of the people of Dawson Creek, Pouce Coupe, the Fort St. John area, are very connected, whether for personal reasons or through work, with Alberta,” did he declare.
“And we’ve seen the problems in Alberta with a strong message of trying to get people vaccinated until recently, and the crisis they’re in.”
Bernier said some were so angry when British Columbia introduced vaccine passports that they posted messages online about shooting him for supporting the policy.
Most people in the British Columbia area are not anti-vaccine, said Bernier, a member of the opposition Liberal Party from British Columbia.
“They have strong will and don’t like government intervention. They just want to work and raise their families and are very skeptical of government officials in general telling them what to do,” he said. .
Bernier came out strongly in favor of vaccination, making him a target of threats. The MP contracted COVID-19 in late April, saying public health officials told him he was likely infected with the coronavirus days before he received his first dose of the vaccine.
Comment “Go shoot this guy” on social networks
About 100 people gathered outside his Dawson Creek office last month, where Northern Health said 55% of those eligible received a second dose on Tuesday. British Columbia’s overall vaccination rate was about 82 percent on Thursday.
“I was contacted by the RCMP because they had set up a big rally page on Facebook, and someone went over there about 10 minutes before saying, ‘Perfect, now we know where he is. Let’s take our guns and go shoot this guy so as not to “I don’t have to listen to him anymore,” said Bernier.
“I can’t back down on the message of what I know and think is fair to the people in my area. And, you know, no one is going to talk me out of it just by making threats.”
Bernier responded to the crowd by standing in the back of a van and saying that such online comments make it harder for people in public life to try to represent all voters.
Provincial politicians thank Bernier
At a press conference Thursday, Premier John Horgan congratulated Bernier and his Liberal colleague from British Columbia Dan Davies, whose constituency of Peace River North includes Fort St. John, for their vigilance in encouraging vaccination .
Health Minister Adrian Dix also publicly thanked Bernier and Davies, as well as the local mayors.
As provincial health worker Dr Bonnie Henry and politicians on both sides of the legislative aisle advocate for more people to get vaccinated, at least one northern region mayor has questioned whether the number The high number of hospitalizations was actually due to the fact that people were not vaccinated.
Pouce Coupe Mayor Lorraine Michetti said politicians create divisions in a community by encouraging people to get vaccinated because it is a personal choice.
“People have paid property taxes, they have paid income taxes. They have the right not to be vaccinated if they don’t want to be,” Michetti said in an interview, adding that she was fully vaccinated.
Michetti, whose Facebook posts have come under scrutiny in the past, has already made controversial and misleading remarks about the severity of the pandemic. She was removed from all committee and portfolio positions by the rest of her board.
In a recent Facebook post shared with local media, she wrote, “I want to see these hospitals where people who have not been vaccinated against COVID are. We all know the news lies!
Asked about Michetti’s comments at a provincial press conference, Dix said: “Our healthcare workers deserve better than leaders suggesting they don’t face what has been incredible pressure in our healthcare units. intensive care from people with COVID-19. This is a very difficult time. ”
“Historical distrust of government”
In the case of First Nations, other reasons explain the decline in vaccination rates.
Dr Shannon McDonald, Acting Chief Medical Officer of the First Nations Health Authority, said indigenous people who were not vaccinated “have really harbored a historic distrust of government, in general of health systems,” noting anti-native racism in British Columbia. healthcare system as described in a report earlier this year was “triggering.”
McDonald said the number of COVID-19 cases had increased dramatically in the 203 communities in the province where he was responsible, from 10 to 15 a day in mid-August to 256 after the holiday weekend. Job. Fifty-two of these communities are in northern British Columbia
McDonald said there were lower vaccination rates among people aged 19 to 39 in those communities, where they are “in their 50s to 60s.”
The health authority recently changed its tactics to increase vaccination rates from mass clinics to having vaccine doses available in the community at all times so that people who come for regular medical appointments can get referrals. answers to their questions and decide if they want to be vaccinated in the place.