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MLA Jason Nixon's comments should prompt removal: NDP

It's unacceptable to have someone at the table undermining medical advice, said David Shepherd, NDP health critic
Jason Nixon
Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon at a media conference on Thursday, April 30, 2020. Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

SUNDRE - The official Opposition NDP caucus is calling for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre UCP MLA Jason Nixon to be removed from the government’s COVID-19 cabinet committee following comments Nixon made in a recent Albertan interview.

In the Feb. 9 edition of The Albertan article “MLAs call for pandemic rules to be followed” Nixon stated, in part, that, “When the numbers are showing that regional approach (to reopening) will work, I think that makes sense. We have a very big province and different regions have different needs, so I have no concerns with a call for a regional approach  and will continue to push that to be put in place.”

On Feb. 11 the NDP caucus issued a release saying Nixon’s comments should be cause for his removal from the cabinet COVID-19 committee, which makes decisions regarding restrictions and other rules related to the pandemic.

“It is unacceptable to have someone at the table where the decisions on COVID are made actively undermining Dr. Hinshaw’s (Alberta’s chief medical officer of health) medical advice,” said David Shepherd, NDP health critic. 

“Jason Nixon has stated explicitly that he will use his position on that committee to push an agenda that Dr. Hinshaw has said could increase risk and put lives at stake.

“Premier Kenney needs to remove Jason Nixon from this committee and replace him with someone who understands and respects the science being presented.”

Dr. Hinshaw has “strongly asserted as recently as Feb. 16 that switching to a regional reopening plan could increase ‘risk in those locations’,” said Shepherd.

Asked for comment on the matter, MLA Nixon provided the following statement to The Albertan:

“In the article, I indicate my support for regional re-opening approaches where it is safe, appropriate and based on the advice of public health experts. If the NDP had read the article, they would know I was in fact calling for constituents to follow all COVID protocols and public health orders. 

“I appreciate the sacrifices made by all Albertans throughout the pandemic. I remain thankful for the continued diligence of the people of Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre.”

Nixon is the province’s minister of Environment and Parks.