News of MPP Rick Nicholls’ ejection from caucus came as a significant surprise to many I am sure. I have known Rick for years and did not expect this. He is a wise and astute politician that I know loves his job and hence would likely do what is needed to protect and prolong his job. In this case he did not. That was Surprise No. 1.
Surprise (and disappointment) No. 2 was his statement explaining the situation and his position. He says he “took Doug Ford at his word”. Actually Rick, you didn’t. You interpreted his words the way you chose to. Doug Ford obviously meant exactly what he said when he stated that “vaccination is a choice and all Ontarians have a Constitutional right to make such a choice”, and that if you chose to remain unvaccinated you would be ejected from caucus.
Like all too many people Rick Nicholls assumed or interpreted that the right of choice to vaccinate inferred further rights. That if you choose to not get vaccinated you also retain the rights of people who choose otherwise. That you can fully participate in public events, resume activities (that expose you and the virus to others), or in this case, you can keep your job. That is not the case. This is a wrong assumption.
And this is the crux of our vaccination dispute today. Democracy has reached a point where some people feel they have a right/freedom to interpret anything and everything the way they want to.
This sense of entitlement grows as democracy matures, but at some point things that get out of balance and don’t make sense get corrected and it’s usually the basic laws of nature and humankind that play a role in bringing back a sense of order. A couple of those laws or rules apply here.
First, all choices come with implications – let’s call them consequences – both good and not so good. And if you want to have the privilege of choice, you must also accept the consequences. You don’t get to have all the benefits (or repercussions) that come with both choices. It doesn’t work that way.
This applies to all the choices in life that we make.
In an ideal world we would be able to have our cake and eat it too, but democracy and freedoms and rights must have some rules to work-by in order to be sustainable, just like nature.
Rick Nicholls’ benefit in his choice to remain unvaccinated was his ability to exercise his freedom of choice. That was very important to him and he got it. The other benefits he perhaps assumed or hoped he would get, and didn’t – like keeping his job in the PC caucus – were benefits that those choosing the alternative option of getting vaccinated earned with their choice. These benefits are not a form of “coercion” as Rick likes to put it. They are nothing more than the outcomes of making the right and safe choice.
Rights have a hierarchy, even in a democracy! Right to life is squarely at the top. Someone’s right to freedom of choice does not take precedent over someone else’s right to life or good health. Your right to choose ends when it impacts the safety of others lives.
In this case, the Ontario government felt the same way and upheld the ‘rights hierarchy’ in saying that “caucus members have a responsibility to show leadership “ and “allowing unvaccinated MPP’s to participate in parliament jeopardizes the health of members, their families and staff, and vulnerable people in their communities.”
Nicholls demonstrated his worth to the community of Chatham-Kent by putting his needs/views/desires ahead of his constituents and society on the most critical of issues – life, safety and health. While this is too often the case with most politicians it was was not a hill you should have chosen to die on, Rick. You are of little value to CK voters while you represent our community as an independent MPP.
And your ‘grand’ statement about this being “an affront to the democratic principles of this magnificent institution” are a grand testimony to the respect and consideration you don’t have for the office you hold and the voters you represent.
I’ll give you credit Rick for standing by your own personal principles. But in the job you were elected to do, your position and choice are wrong.
I hope you remain the gentleman I know you to be and accept the consequences humbly and honourably. You made the choice, accept it, and help others understand the implications that come with a similar choice.