Health critic Renee Merrifield presents anti-mask petition in the Legislature, says she doesn't agree with it

MLA files anti-mask petition

BC Liberal health critic and Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield presented a petition by an anti-mask organization Thursday in the Legislature, despite saying she disagrees with the premise.

The petition was on behalf of 4,500 parents of B.C. school students representing all school districts in the province.

"These parents are opposed to the current provincial health order in relation to mandatory masking of school children. They oppose the mandate for all children in grades 4 through 12 and do not support further measures to extend masking to lower grades," Merrifield said in introducing the petition.

"The organization has an intention not to divide people, instead they simply want parents, children, people of B.C. to be able to retain their autonomous rights over the decisions surrounding their children. I will forward the petition to the office of the clerk on behalf of these parents."

On social media, Merrifield defended her decision to present the petition, saying while she disagrees with the premise, "I fulfilled my role, as their MLA, in the presentation."

"Petitions from constituents are presented in the BC Legislature daily. As an elected official it is my role to present petitions from my constituents when they request it," Merrifield wrote on social media.

The government guidelines on petitions suggest that, while MLAs are the only ones who can officially present them, it is discretionary and not mandatory.

"Members are not required to present petitions, and it is entirely at a Member’s discretion whether or not they choose to do so," reads the petition page on the BC Legislature site.

"[For the record], I have always supported wearing masks to prevent spread of Covid19 & all other health orders," she tweeted.

The NDP has been attacking her on social media since she tabled the petition.

This is not the first time Merrifield has come under attack for statements related to the pandemic.

Earlier this year, she sparked controversy when she promoted the benefits of vitamin D, and touted staying fit and healthy to help ward off COVID-19, something disputed by health experts.

When contacted for comment, Merrifield deferred to her statements made on Twitter.

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