One Richmond Centre candidate is calling for compassion even for those opposing COVID-19 vaccines and passports while some groups across Canada are spreading misinformation about masking and vaccine efficacy.
Green candidate Laura Gillanders called for compassion, respect and dignity for both sides of the debate, saying the country should be unified facing the pandemic and doing a “better job of outreach.”
“We have to listen to people who are afraid of the vaccine and who are afraid that their rights are being taken away,” Gillanders said. “These are genuine fears that people are having.”
Gillanders was taking part in the Richmond News’ all-candidates debate where candidates vying to be elected in the Sept. 20 laid out their opinions on housing, COVID-19, climate change and the economy.
While Gillanders called for reaching out to those opposed to vaccines and passports, she still said the public should trust health experts and science to combat the spread of the virus.
People’s Party of Canada (PPC) candidate James Hinton said the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been “devastating and heartbreaking” and it’s had “massive negative repercussions on all Canadians,” for example, on people’s mental health and the economy.
Hinton claimed a standard pandemic response is to protect the vulnerable and let the rest of the healthy population continue their normal lives.
In fact, this is being called a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” as the vast majority of people in ICUs with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, according to health officials in many jurisdictions across North America.
In the debate, he called for more freedoms in face of societal restrictions ordered by various levels of government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both Gillanders and Conservative Alice Wong, the incumbent MP, criticized the government for holding an election in the middle of the pandemic.
The Liberals were about 20 months into their mandate with a minority government when they called the election this summer.
Furthermore, Wong claimed the Liberal government wasn’t prepared to respond to an emergency like this.
“It’s important that we must never be caught again as unprepared (as) when COVID hit last year,” Wong said.
The Liberal candidate, Wilson Miao, said the “best line of defence” is to get vaccinated, and he pointed out there is enough supply of vaccines for all Canadians.
Not getting vaccinated was “endangering the next generation” – children under 12 are not yet able to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The PPC’s Hinton was the only candidate to argue against the widespread measures to curb the spread of the virus.
The NDP candidate Sandra Nixon pointed out no one is being forced to be vaccinated. (Although, long-term care workers, volunteers and personal service providers will have to be vaccinated by Oct. 12.)“We need to trust our health officials and their experience and their care for us,” Nixon said.
She added that people she’s spoken to in the hospitality industry want vaccine passports as it will make them feel safer at work.