Ontario MPP kicked out of PC caucus for calling lockdown 'deadlier than COVID'
TORONTO -- An Ontario MPP who sent Premier Doug Ford a two-page letter calling the provincial lockdown "deadlier than COVID" has been kicked out of caucus for his "irresponsible" comments.
Progressive Conservative MPP Roman Baber issued a public letter to Ford on Friday morning, saying that the lockdown isn't working and that they cause "an avalanche of suicides, bankruptcies, divorces, and takes an immense toll on our children."
His letter was sent one day after a stay-at-home order was put into effect for the province. In addition to the stay-at-home order, which requires people by law to only leave their house for essential reasons, nearly all non-essential businesses have been forced to close.
"The lockdowns aren't working," Baber wrote. "They are killing lives instead of saving lives. I plead with you to accept this reality and end the lockdown."
Baber calls for Ford to end the lockdown and "let Ontarians go back to normal life."
In a statement released on Friday morning, Ford said that "effective immediately Mr. Baber will no longer be sitting as a member of the PC Caucus."
He will also not be permitted to seek re-election as a Progressive Conservative member, Ford said.
"Mr. Baber's comments are irresponsible," Ford said. "By spreading misinformation he is undermining the tireless efforts of our front-line health-care workers at this critical time, and he is putting people at risk. I will not jeopardize a single Ontarian's life by ignoring public health advice."
"There is no room for political ideology in our fight against COVID-19–rather, our response has been and will always be driven by evidence and data. Furthermore, Mr. Baber has put himself ahead of his PC Caucus team, who have worked around the clock for months to support and protect the people of Ontario through this public health crisis."
In a post to Twitter on Friday morning, Baber called the decision to remove him from caucus "regretful."
"I don't regret speaking out for millions of lives and livelihoods decimated by public health, I serve the public," he wrote. "The lockdown is grounded in false public health narrative, poor planning and bad data … I couldn't watch the suffering anymore."
Ontario's Ministry of Health also released a fact sheet onFriday, disputing the claims Baber made in his pubilc letter to the Ford government. The full release from the government has been included at the bottom of the article.
Moreover, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) called out the MPP after he "mischaracterized" their research regarding recent "thoughts or feelings of suicide" among residents throughout the pandemic.
"The data shows that suicidal ideation has increased but that's due to the overall impact of the pandemic," CMHA CEO Camille Quenneville wrote in a scathing news release issued Friday.
According to the CMHA, Baber falsely claimed that the lockdown measures, not the pandemic, had caused 10 per cent of Canadian adults in September to report recent thoughts or feelings of suicide.
"At a time when so many Ontarians are struggling, we are disappointed that the MPP has for political purposes misconstrued statistics about the sensitive subject of suicidal ideation," Quenneville continued.
Baber also came under fire in October, after he told someone on Twitter waiting for the results of their COVID-19 test that they should see their elderly parents.
In a statement provided to CTV News Toronto in October, Baber's executive assistant said the MPP’s comment was of a "general nature about the importance of family and mental health."
"He quickly clarified that if tested, one 'should wait for negative diagnosis and after that exercise good judgment.'"
However, Baber’s twitter profile showed that he made the comment at around 10 p.m. on a Monday and only began clarifying the statement on Tuesday morning.
He has never removed the original tweet.