Discrimination against the unvaccinated: Danielle Smith clarifies her thoughts

Discrimination against the unvaccinated: Danielle Smith clarifies her thinking

UPDATE DAY

Alberta's newest Premier Danielle Smith already found herself having to explain her thinking on Wednesday after widely criticized remarks about the unvaccinated on Tuesday in the wake of her appointment to lead the province. 

Shortly after being officially named Premier, Ms. Smith sparked an outcry by claiming that unvaccinated people “are the most discriminated against group that I have seen in my life”. She made the remarks when announcing that she plans to replace the province's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, who has led Alberta's public health throughout the pandemic.

Many groups and politicians denounced these comments, leading the Prime Minister to clarify her thoughts on Wednesday, without however withdrawing them or apologizing.

“My intention was to highlight the poor treatment of individuals who have chosen not to be vaccinated and who have been punished for not being able to work, not to travel or, in some cases, not to see their loved ones”, she said, assuring that she did not want to compare the fate of the unvaccinated to that of marginalized communities.

Several organizations for the defense of immigrants, natives or sexual diversity have criticized the Prime Minister, deeming her remarks insensitive vis-à-vis marginalized communities.

The leader of the NDP opposition, Rachel Notley , abounded in the same direction. “First Nations communities are still grappling with the effects of the genocide. For the Premier of this province to ignore this trauma and say that unvaccinated people are the most discriminated against group in Alberta goes against all the work that we still have to do,” she said. p>

The issue of managing the pandemic has been much debated in Alberta. Opponents of the health measures – although they were less marked than elsewhere in the country – heavily criticized Prime Minister Jason Kenney on this issue, leading to a vote of confidence which he narrowly won in the spring. Mr. Kenney subsequently decided to resign.