MPP who refuses to be vaccinated against COVID-19 says he won’t seek re-election

The from Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative caucus for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccination says he won’t run in next June’s provincial election as an Independent — and he will be allowed into the legislature, despite efforts to have him barred.

Already banned from running for the PCs, Rick Nicholls (Chatham-Kent—Leamington) said it would be difficult to be effective and get attention for issues in the legislature without being a member of a political party.

“What can I do? I’m only one person, an Independent in a sea of 123 other MPPs,” Nicholls, 70, told the Star. “I’d be last in line for all the scrums.”

Nicholls was dismissed from the PC caucus Aug. 19 after Ford set a deadline for his MPPs to be vaccinated or provide a doctor’s note with a legitimate medical exemption.

“It’s sad. It’s disappointing,” said the veteran of 10 years at Queen’s Park. “I’m still waiting for the premier to call me. They said he would.”

Despite full approval of COVID-19 vaccines by Health Canada, and the fact that more than five billion doses have been administered around the world, Nicholls said he considers them “experimental” and that people who have received vaccinations are “sheep.”

Slightly more than 75 per cent of eligible Ontarians over age 12 are fully vaccinated, including 70 per cent in the Chatham-Kent public health unit.

While Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca has when the fall session begins on Sept. 13, Speaker Ted Arnott said that is unlikely to happen.

“In my view, the imposition of a vaccination mandate on MPPs would have the foreseeable effect of conflicting with MPPs’ rights to enter the precinct to preform an discharge their parliamentary duties and responsibilities,” Arnott said in a letter to the Liberals.

“I believe that following public health guidelines and other steps that have been taken here at the legislative assembly have successfully allowed the assembly to meet without any instances of on-site transmission or contracting of COVID-19,” he added.

“I will continue to direct that measures be taken to guard against COVID-19 going forward.”

New Democrat MPP Peggy Sattler has asked other parties for a meeting to discuss pandemic protocols and a mandatory vaccination policy for the fall session.

When the session begins, Nicholls will face removal as deputy speaker because he is no longer affiliated with the PCs.

, Christine Mitas of Scarborough Centre, was allowed to remain in caucus after producing a note of medical exemption.

Every other sitting MPP has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Rob Ferguson is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: