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Horgan slams Alberta premier's vaccine discrimination stance as 'laughable'

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The premier of British Columbia is calling out his counterpart in Alberta over comments she made Tuesday about the discrimination faced by those who choose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Danielle Smith, following her swearing in Tuesday as Alberta's new premier, vowed to amend provincial human rights law to protect the unvaccinated from discrimination.

The unvaccinated "have been the most discriminated-against group that I've ever witnessed in my lifetime," Smith told reporters at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton.

"I don't think I've ever experienced a situation in my lifetime where a person was fired from their job or not allowed to watch their kids play hockey or not allowed to go visit a loved one in long-term care or hospital, not allowed to get on a plane to either go across the country to see family or even travel across the border," she added.

"We are not going to create a segregated society on the basis of a medical choice."

John Horgan on Wednesday called the comment "a good example" of what he won't miss when he steps down as B.C. premier in the coming weeks.

"I can't respond to that because it's laughable, quite frankly," Horgan said during an interview with Victoria radio station CFAX 1070.

'HAPPY TO WALK AWAY'

Horgan, who says he will retire from provincial politics once his successor is chosen in an upcoming B.C NDP leadership race, said there are more pressing issues facing Canadians than protecting the rights of the unvaccinated.

"These are critical times, and for the incoming premier to focus on a sliver of the population who chose not to get vaccinated when there are all these other challenges, seems short-sighted to me and I just disagree with her," Horgan said.

"I don't agree with the premier of Alberta and perhaps it's a good thing that I'm not required to do that," the premier said. "I'm quite happy to walk away from that."

Smith, 51, ran and won the United Conservative Party leadership race last week to replace Jason Kenney as leader and premier.

She ran on a promise to provide human rights protections for the unvaccinated and fire the top management of Alberta Health Services, the province's health-care provider.

Smith also announced she plans to be replace Dr. Deena Hinshaw as Alberta's chief medical health officer.

Horgan, by contrast, said he is proud of the work that B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix accomplished in their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in the province.

"Letting Adrian and Bonnie take the lead on COVID made complete sense to me," the premier said. "Because when I'm looking for medical advice, I didn't phone my Member of Parliament, I phoned my doctor."

With files from The Canadian Press

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