Thu. May 26th, 2022

A header from Joel Harden.
Joel Harden. Kitchissippi Times file image.

Posted by Joel Harden, MPP for Ottawa Center

On September 13, I arrived at Civic Hospital. Anti-vaxxers and anti-masks held a protest there as part of a nationwide day of action. I was concerned that the protesters intended to block or disrupt the hospital – as has happened elsewhere.

One of the protesters came over to say hello. It was one that our MPP office has helped, an ingredient that lives with daily pain and whose lives have broken down.

My heart sank. Next to me stood one that our community has left behind. I was shown videos of their involvement in anti-mask, anti-vaccine protests. The component noted about the speeches they had given to massive crowds and the support they had received.

When the ingredient shared anti-vaccine and anti-mask arguments, I was not filled with anger. I felt a deep sadness and awareness of the challenge that lay ahead of us during COVID-19: how do we talk to those who are persuaded by disinformation campaigns?

I told the voter that we did not agree on these issues. I encouraged them to be safe and aware of the safety of others. And I will not stop fighting for justice in their disability claims.

I support COVID-19 vaccination mandates and I support COVID-19 vaccine certificates. Ontario must implement these measures, and this will have consequences for those who refuse to be vaccinated. Protests are likely to continue and we need to keep everyone safe.

That is why we are calling for hospital safety zones to protect patients and staff. We have asked Premier Ford to assemble the legislature immediately to help make that happen.

But as we do so, let us resist the urge to demean others and engage in disinformation campaigns with persuasive arguments. Let’s build that bridge so others can cross.

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