Kevin Vickers, NB Liberal Leader, is calling for the removal of the “notwithstanding clause” from Bill 11, An Act Respecting Proof of Immunization, as well as a free vote on the amended legislation.
“For the first time in this province’s history, Minister Cardy is proposing legislation that denies individual rights and freedom contained in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedom of the Constitution Act 1982 and in the Human Rights Act. He is taking away fundamental individual rights. This is a dangerous precedent.”
Since 1982, the notwithstanding clause has been used in only two provinces – Saskatchewan and Quebec.
Vickers also called on the minister to bring some accurate or certified data on vaccination rates in our schools to the debate in the legislature so MLAs can make an informed decision.
“New Brunswick can and must do a better job educating parents on the critical role of protecting their children from serious, even life threatening, infections and on the safety of vaccines. And we must substantially improve documentation on the vaccination status of our citizens, especially children and those who work with them in schools and in early education and childcare centres.”
The Liberal Leader noted that opposition to the inclusion of the notwithstanding clause in Bill 11 is widespread throughout New Brunswick and within the Legislature itself.
The minister’s stance is being questioned beyond our borders, even nationwide. Distinguished Nova Scotia paediatrician and vaccine advocate, Dr. Noni MacDonald, described New Brunswick’s proposed legislation as “too simple” an approach, with the real answer being more education and more resources.
Vickers repeated his call for the Government to remove the notwithstanding clause from Bill 11. “We’ve never before stripped people of their basic rights in this province. The Liberal Party wants no part of a bill that does that, and we want the Minister to tone down his rhetoric and have a respectful debate. If the Conservatives don’t remove this clause, the Liberal official opposition will propose an amendment and call for a free vote on this bill.”