Ontario Premier Doug Ford is coming under fire for remarks he made in Queen’s Park on Thursday suggesting an Indigenous MPP jumped the line to get his COVID-19 vaccine.
MPP Sol Mamakwa disputed Ford’s claim that Indigenous chiefs were upset he flew in to a remote community to receive his vaccine, saying he was asked to participate in order to help curb the vaccine hesitancy that the population was seeing.
When Mamakwa asked for answers about Ontario’s vaccine rollout in First Nations communities, Ford responded by accusing the MPP of jumping the queue.
“Not only did ORNGE fly in but the member [Mamakwa] flew in to to get his vaccine. So thank you for doing that and kind of jumping the line as I talked to a few chiefs that were pretty upset about that — for flying into a community that he didn’t belong to, but that’s neither here nor there,” Ford said.
The premier did not name the elders he referred to.
Both Mamakwa and NDP Opposition leader Andrea Horwath responded to Ford’s claim in scrums after Question Period, with the MPP saying it was community elders who invited him to take the vaccine to help combat vaccine hesitancy among Indigenous residents in Ontario.
“It was a hard decision to make even to get the vaccine, because of this,’ Mamakwa said. “When I sat down to take my second one [vaccine dose], an ORNGE physician and a doctor in southern Ontario, told me, ‘I’m so glad what you’re doing. I’m happy that you’re here. It will bring up the uptake of the vaccines in the north.
“I don’t want the people in the north to suffer the way I have seen,” the MPP continued. “That’s when I knew I made the right decision. It’s not jumping the line but it’s providing leadership.”
Mamakwa did not attempt to hide his vaccination, posting a video to his Twitter on Feb. 1 about his experience.
Horwath defended her MPP saying, “We all know vaccine hesitancy is a reality in many communities as a result of generations of systemic racism, historic traumas and poor treatment by the health system.”
“[Mamakwa] did what all of us are called to do. He stepped up, he led by example and he continues to be a big part of the efforts to show the vaccine is safe,” she continued.
“The premier needs to undo the damage that he did this morning,” Horwath said, calling on Ford to apologize for his comments.
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