‘I made a mistake’: Horwath changes tune on mandatory vaccines after stinging rebuke from Del Duca

By Michael Talbot

Hours after Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca accused her of “teaming up” with Premier Doug Ford in opposing mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for health care workers and teachers, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has apologized and changed her tune on the contentious issue.

Del Duca, who is calling for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all front-line health care and education workers, lambasted Horwath for suggesting to the CBC that Charter Rights supersede a mandatory vaccine policy.

“Unlike Mr. Del Duca, I don’t take lightly people’s Charter rights,” Horwath said in the interview Wednesday.

“We can’t simply ignore that there are folks that are not going to get vaccinated and I don’t think the right thing to do is shut them out, as it appears Mr. Del Duca is prepared to do,” she said.

On Thursday, Del Duca expressed his disappointment in Horwath, and accused her and Ford of working together to “appease or appeal” to a fringe group of anti-vaxxers.

“When you are running to be premier, you have to put the health, safety and protection of the people of this province as your paramount concern, not your own political self interest,” Del Duca said in an online conference with journalists.

“I didn’t expect that from Andrea Horwath,” he added. “I certainly didn’t expect her to team up and partner with Doug on this.”

Del Duca called Horwath’s stance a “sorry spectacle” and further argued that the Charter needs to be respected “in its totality.”

“There are reasonable limits that were explicitly put into the Charter, so yes, we have our freedoms and rights but we have a reasonable obligation to one another,” he said.

Hours later, Horwath went on the record saying she now supports a mandatory vaccine policy.

“On Wednesday, I made a mistake suggesting a mandatory vaccine policy during a global pandemic should take a back seat to Charter rights,” she said in a statement.

“I regret the comment. I was wrong.”

“I fully support mandatory vaccination in health care and education, based on science and public health priorities,” she added.

“I should have made that position clearer, much earlier, in support of the health and safety of the most vulnerable among us: seniors, people with disabilities, people who are sick, and children who can’t yet get their vaccines.”

Premier Ford, meanwhile, has long maintained that his government would encourage, but not make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory.

Del Duca is also calling for a standardized province-wide vaccination certificate.

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