'Human experimentation': Tory MP sponsors e-petition disputing assured coronavirus vaccine safety

O'Toole responds after Tory MP sponsors petition questioning safety of COVID-19 vaccine

Conservative MP Derek Sloan has sponsored a parliamentary e-petition that raises questions about the safety of a future coronavirus vaccine.

It also states that “bypassing proper safety protocols means COVID-19 vaccination is effectively human experimentation.”

His decision to sponsor the e-petition comes despite repeated assurances from both public health and government officials that Health Canada will only approve a vaccine that is rigorously tested and safe to use.

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Meanwhile, the e-petition has already garnered over 22,000 signatures — meaning the government will be forced to issue a response.

While Sloan said he hasn’t read the petition since it was tabled on Nov. 3, he told reporters on Wednesday that it raised “good points.”

“On this particular petition, in all honesty, I haven’t read it since I tabled it there a couple of weeks back. I think there’s some good points in there,” Sloan said.

“I’d obviously have to look at every single point to tell you if I agree or disagree but my general philosophy is… petitions are another way to give constituents and Canadians a voice.”

Public health has repeatedly reiterated that no vaccine would be approved in Canada without a firm confirmation that it is safe to use.

E-petitions cannot be tabled without the sponsorship of an elected member of Parliament. As a result, many parliamentarians sponsor e-petitions they disagree with so they can ensure their constituents or advocacy groups can have the opportunity to have their voices heard.

In this case, the sponsor is from Dorchester, Ont., which is not in Sloan’s riding. However, Sloan did say in a statement that he generally sponsors any e-petition that he feels reflects concerns his constituents have, regardless of whether they reflect his personal convictions.

“Petitions are an important democratic tool, and it has been my policy to sponsor petitions, particularly those that dovetail with questions and concerns that are raised by constituents,” Sloan said in a statement emailed to Global News.

“On the issue of the COVID vaccine rollout, I’ve received hundreds of questions from constituents.”

While he did not directly address Global News’ explicit question as to whether or not he personally supports the contents of the petition, he said that his office “did not draft the petition” but that he believes citizens “have a right to raise any questions they feel are important to public health and safety.”

Sloan said that by answering the questions in the petition, the government can “increase public trust.”

“I do not agree that by asking relevant, timely questions about various COVID-19 vaccine candidates that a person is therefore somehow fuelling ‘anti-vaccine sentiment,’ as you have characterized it,” he added, responding to Global News’ question about whether he is concerned that the petition could boost anti-vaccine sentiment.

Meanwhile, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam has been going out of her way to combat vaccine misinformation in the lead up to the coronavirus vaccine roll-out. She announced on Wednesday that the Public Health Agency of Canada plans to roll out webinars in an effort to combat increasing misinformation surrounding the impending novel coronavirus vaccine.

She also reiterated that Canada takes the safety of vaccines seriously.

“The regulatory process is rigorous and (the federal government) would only provide vaccines that have gone through safety evaluations and efficacy evaluations,” Tam said.

The government has also repeatedly reiterated that Canada will not grant regulatory approval for any vaccine until it is safe to do so.

“Making sure a COVID-19 vaccine is safe before approving it is Health Canada’s priority, and when a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in a tweet on Tuesday.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh slammed Sloan’s decision to sponsor the e-petition during a Wednesday press conference.

“That’s an embarrassment, and I hope that that type of thinking is rejected soundly and that we encourage people to follow the best medical advice and the experts’ advice around getting vaccinated,” Singh said.

Sloan has not explicitly said whether he agrees with the contents of the e-petition.

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Global News also contacted Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s office to ask for his reaction to Sloan’s decision to sponsor the petition.

He reiterated that while “no vaccine is mandatory in Canada,” they are “important public health tools.”

“A COVID-19 vaccine will be extremely important in the ongoing fight against the virus,” O’Toole wrote.

“The federal government makes recommendations for vaccine use in Canada. The Trudeau government owes it to Canadians to provide clear information about the safety and effectiveness of each vaccine.”

O’Toole did not answer Global News’ questions about whether Sloan could be booted from caucus over his decision to sponsor the e-petition.

“It will be up to the provinces to decide if there will be any restrictions associated with not getting a vaccine, but they should be making that clear to Canadians now so they can make informed choices for themselves and their families,” O’Toole wrote.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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