Ontario MPP Rick Nicholls booted from PC caucus after refusing to take COVID-19 vaccine
MPP Christina Mitas will remain in caucus as she provided a statement of medical exemption
An Ontario legislator who was warned to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has been removed from the Progressive Conservative caucus after telling reporters he wouldn't take the shot.
In a statement Thursday, Premier Doug Ford said Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nichols "failed to provide a legitimate reason for exemption from vaccination.
"As a consequence, he is no longer a sitting member of the PC caucus and will not be permitted to seek re-election as a PC candidate," the statement said.
Nicholls was one of two Tory legislators facing a Thursday evening deadline to show proof of vaccination or a medical exemption.
Ford said Scarborough Centre MPP Christina Mitas will remain in caucus because she provided a statement of medical exemption signed by a physician. The statement also says Mitas will take "additional precautions" while carrying out her duties as an elected representative.
Nicholls had previously said he made a "personal choice" not to get immunized and won't be "coerced" into taking the vaccine.
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Ford had earlier said he wouldn't make the vaccine mandatory because he considers it a constitutional right not to take the shots.
Nicholls says he "took the premier at his word" and raised his concerns about the policy with Ford.
"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," Ford said in his statement.
"I'm once again asking every single eligible Ontarian who has not yet received a vaccine to please get vaccinated now."
With files from The Canadian Press