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'Their views are unacceptable in 2020,' N.B. education minister says of anti-vaxxers
FREDERICTON -- Last Thursday's vote on mandatory vaccines was the first time in almost four months that -- publicly -- New Brunswick MLAs didn't agree on something.
The controversial bill, authored by Education Minister Dominic Cardy, would have mandated vaccinations for all public school students – except those with a medical exemption.
Although seven Liberals and 13 Conservatives voted for it, it wasn't enough.
The defeat of the bill hasn't stopped Cardy from continuing to call out so-called "anti-vaxxers" on social media.
"I'm going to confront them in the same way I would people who are racist or sexist or homophobic, by calling them out and telling them their views are unacceptable in 2020," Cardy said. "And I'm going to be there to fight against them as long as I've got the mandate to do that from the folks who elected me."
And Cardy says allowing those views to go unchallenged is worse.
Stil, Liberal leader Kevin Vickers calls some of Cardy's language "inappropriate."
"It certainly doesn't make it conducive to collaboration and cooperation, so I encourage the premier to correct the minister and ensure that the type of language he's been using on social media, and the media in general, be corrected," Vickers said.
Political scientist J.P. Lewis says Cardy is "a different sort of politician" and the dynamics around the vote were difficult to predict.
Despite the outcome, the province's four parties have still learned to cooperate through the pandemic on the all-party cabinet committee on COVID-19.
"It's such an exceptional situation," said Lewis. "What's truly fascinating to see that it's lasted this long and that, as of the house adjourning, there are plans to continue it through the summer."
Cardy says the threats have continued despite the vote being over, but he's also received messages from disappointed constituents too.
"This is about standing up for things that are important and I'm not going to apologize to that for anyone."
He says there won't be a second bill, saying his colleagues have spoken, but it won't stop him from confronting the issue, on social media or otherwise.