‘Alarmingly invasive:’ This Ontario mayor may have his pay docked after asking a woman online if her COVD-19 vaccine changed her menstruation

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An Ontario mayor who has pushed COVID-19 propaganda could lose part of his salary after a scathing report by an integrity commissioner.

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West Lincoln Mayor David Bielsma is one of a small group of politicians in western Niagara’s staunchly conservative communities who have embraced anti-vaccination or anti-lockdown rhetoric. He is the only person who has to face sanctions from the political bodies of which he is a part.

First, his own council took away most of his powers, and now the regional council that his mayoralty has given him to sit on will consider suspending his salary.

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Bielsma’s decision to ask the St. Catherine lady, Emily Spanton, via Facebook earlier this year was “dangerously offensive,” “arguably abusive” and “irresponsible,” the Niagara Territory’s integrity commissioner told the Niagara Territory’s integrity commissioner in October. Received 8 reports.

Bielsma and Spanten are only acquaintances, and their question relied on conspiracy theories circulating on social media about vaccines harming a woman’s reproductive system.

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Following Spanton’s tweet about the message in May, West Lincoln City Council removed Bilesma from all of her committee positions, cutting her off from important debates and decisions about the city’s issues.

Now, Interim Integrity Commissioner Michael Maynard has recommended the regional council, where Bielsma also sits as a member, suspend Bielsma’s pay for at least seven days.

The council has the right to take away his salary for up to 90 days.

“We find it hard to believe that almost no woman (except perhaps, the closest family members of Councilor Bielsma) would not be offended by the councilor’s questions,” Maynard wrote in finding Bielsma’s message to Spanton that had hit Niagara. Violated the area’s code of conduct. “And even as men, it staggers us.”

This is not the first time Bielsma has been condemned for her COVID-19 propaganda activities.

In April, when Bielsma was a featured speaker at an anti-lockdown rally in St. Catharines, the city council removed Bielsma from its emergency steering committee and barred her from appearing in any public statements by the city about the pandemic. .

The moves have left Bielsma’s role as mayor to run council meetings and vote on issues.

Maynard began his investigation after a complaint was filed by Bielsma’s regional colleague, St Catharines regional councilor Laura Ip. In it, the IP said Bielsma had abused her position of authority and was “undermining the need for public health measures and the use of information gathered by our public health workers to promote her conspiracy theory about vaccines.” Trying to reduce the distribution of vaccines.”

The report said that although Bielsma apologized for his message to Spanton, his history of breaching the code of conduct suggests that a more severe punishment than mere reprimand is needed.

Maynard also asked the council to consider whether Bielsma had violated its rules by sharing a confidential draft of the report with others before the document was finalized.

The regional council will debate Maynard’s report on Thursday night. Bielsma did not respond to an interview request for this story, but did respond to Maynard during his investigation.

Bielsma told Maynard that his message to Spanton was private and had only been made public by him, and he gave her the option of not replying to the message.

He also attacked the integrity commissioner’s office, claiming it was being used “to suppress honest debate and information gathering.”

“We disagree with Counsel Bielsma’s claim that he is being ‘closed and cancelled,'” the report said. “rather, such report emphasizes that when a member does or says something with a harmful effect and in particular when they violate a code of conduct in doing so – there is a reasonable degree of reasonableness of those actions and statements.” There are consequences.”

Spanton said in an interview that she supports the punishment recommended for Bielsma. She also challenged his claim in the report that he apologized to her.

“He sent me a message explaining himself. It’s not an apology. If he acknowledged that it was inappropriate and apologized, I would have told him I accepted it,” Spanton said. “I ignored it.”

bilsma first Questioned the need for COVID-19 vaccines, Hug a masked anti-protest group and is a member of a national anti-lockdown coalition of politicians, with People’s Party of Canada leader Maxim Bernier as its star member.

Bielsma was accused of allegedly violating Ontario stay-at-home orders by speaking at a St. Catharines rally, where she claimed images of body bags and haz-mat suits were used to create fear and control the public. was being done. The case is still in the courts, and he faces a fine of up to $100,000 and a year in prison.

He has come under fire from regional politicians and the public for criticizing the local public health department. what he called “mom advice” — Drinking orange juice and wearing a tok as part of the COVID-19 safety message. Neither action will prevent or cure the infection.

There are other politicians in West Niagara who have embraced the propaganda – though not to the same extent as Bielsma has. None of them have faced reprimand.

West Lincoln Deputy Mayor Harold Jonker openly supported There are also members of Bielsma and an anti-lockdown coalition called End the Lockdown Caucus after the April rally. Jonker has claimed without evidence that COVID-19 public health measures are “unconstitutional” and not supported by data. He also participated in the same St. Catherine rally that Bielsma did.

Grimsby City Councilor Dave Sharp is also a member of the coalition and has protested the lockdown on his Facebook page. last month he Comparing vaccines is imperative to discriminate against people with disabilities.

The End The Lockdown Caucus has members nationwide and has opposed stay-at-home orders, COVID-19 restrictions and vaccine mandates. It was used by Bernier as a platform to build support for the PPC before the last federal election.

more recently, Niagara West Conservative MP Dean Ellison – Who said COVID-19 was flu in December 2020 and Canadians must learn to “live with it” – Came under fire for a Facebook post that suggested the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin could treat COVID-19. there is no proof It can treat a viral infection.

Last spring, Allison presented a petition to parliament claiming the drug, which is also used to deworm animals, was a safe treatment for COVID-19.

Since then, Allison – who says she is medically exempt from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine – claimed that his message was misunderstood, and he supports vaccination for Canadians.

one in Facebook post last week, Allison objected to any health care workers being fired because they refused vaccinations.

Beyond Bielsma’s case, some politicians in Ontario have faced consequences for expressing anti-lockdown or anti-vaccine sentiment.

However, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has expelled at least two members of his caucus over COVID-19 issues.

In July 2020, he ousted Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios for voting against a pandemic emergency measures bill. And last month, Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nichols was expelled from the caucus after refusing to vaccinate for “personal reasons.”

Durham MPP Lindsay Park was removed from her role as parliamentary assistant earlier this month because she “misrepresented” her vaccine position. He has since provided the government with a medical exemption and lives in the caucus.

Grant LaFlash is a St. Catherine-based investigative reporter with Manak. Reach him via email: [email protected]

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