Nicholls no longer an independent MPP

Rick Nicholls

By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

There may be a silver lining for Rick Nicholl following his ejection from Ontario’s Progressive Conservative caucus.

Ousted by Premier Doug Ford in August 2021 for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the Chatham-Kent–Leamington MPP now finds himself laying the groundwork for the emerging Ontario Party.

Nicholls, who announced he was joining the right wing party just before Christmas, said that for him, making the move all boils down to “choice.

“We want to be the conservative party of choice for Ontario,” Nicholls said recently, adding the vaccine has become Canada’s hot-button issue.

“We’re doing this in the name of health,” he said, noting he does not agree with government forcing people to take what he calls an “experimental drug.”

However, Nicholls has been heavily criticized for his anti-vaccine beliefs. Ontario’s NDP health critic France Gelinas went so far as to say Nicholls is abusing his power and contributing to the spread of COVID-19.

The Ontario Party was founded in 2018 but it barely got off the ground. Now it has a new leader in Derek Sloan, the former Conservative MP for Hastings-Lennox and Addington.

Sloan ran for the Conservative leadership in 2020 but was expelled after taking a donation from an alleged white supremacist.

Sloan has also been criticized for opinions on same-sex marriage, LGTBQ rights and his zealous opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Sloan made an appearance in Chatham in May, attending an anti-lockdown protest in Tecumseh Park. Five people were charged in connection with the event, but it is unknown if Sloan was among them. However, he was charged under the Reopening Ontario Act in Aylmer.

In the meantime, Sloan and Nicholls are making history with Sloan taking on the leadership role and Nicholls as the first sitting member of the Ontario Party at Queen’s Park.

Nicholls said he feels confident in his new role. He’s helping recruit candidates to the party and is writing policy, adding the Ontario Party is pro-family, pro-liberty and pro-freedom.

He’s also confident in the support he has.

“I do have quite a following across Canada,” Nicholls explained, citing the responses to his various social media channels, adding he has “a lot of support locally.”

His media presence is also gaining traction, Nicholls said, adding he recently appeared on a popular podcast syndicated out of Nevada.

Nicholl’s new beginning may lead him to running for re-election for a fourth term next year – something he didn’t think possible when he was forced to leave the PC party.

But Nicholls isn’t giving anything away.

When asked if he will seek a fourth term in June 2022, the veteran politician gave an open-ended reply.

“That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?” he said.


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