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Anti-vaccination group to challenge New Brunswick mandatory immunization bill

Click to play video 'Anti-vaccine groups vow to fight New Brunswick’s new vaccine regulations' Anti-vaccine groups vow to fight New Brunswick’s new vaccine regulations
WATCH: One of Canada’s largest anti-vaccine groups is vowing to fight the proposed vaccine exemption law all the way to the supreme court. Silas Brown reports – Aug 28, 2019

The president of one of Canada’s largest anti-vaccination organization says he is willing to fight New Brunswick’s proposed mandatory vaccination bill in court.

Ted Kuntz of Vaccine Choice Canada told the committee on the law amendments committee that if Bill 39 were to become law, the group would pursue a challenge to the Supreme Court of Canada if necessary.

“I was asked the question if Vaccine Choice Canada would take this to the Supreme Court and the answer is yes,” Kuntz told reporters after speaking before the committee.

“Families indicated a strong desire to protect our right to informed consent in Canada and if it gets taken away from us, citizens have said that they will take it as far as they need to protect that right.”

READ MORE: ‘There are no two sides’ to vaccine debate, N.B. education minister says

When asked what grounds on which a legal challenge would be launched, Kuntz says he would leave that up to the lawyers.

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Kuntz also confirmed that Vaccine Choice Canada paid travel expenses for at least three of the witnesses appearing before the committee.

“This is a unique opportunity. I don’t know if you realize the significance of what happened here and what is happening here over three days,” he said.

“This is the first time that the voice of the families that have been injured by vaccines is having an opportunity to speak to government about the consequences of their policies.

“When we saw the opportunity that was presented here in New Brunswick, we knew that this was important for us to bring representation so that the MLAs here in New Brunswick would have information available to them for their decision making that would otherwise not be available to them.”

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But the stacked docket of people in opposition to Bill 39 often ran right up against their half-hour time limits, leaving little time for questions from committee members — leading some to worry that witnesses are not facing the appropriate level of scrutiny.

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“That’s not what I was anticipating or expecting at all,” said government house leader Glen Savoie when asked about the lack of time for questions.

Savoie voiced concerns about the number of American anti-vaccine activists speaking before the committee.

“I never would have anticipated that people from other countries would come to this committee to speak,” he said.

“I want to hear from people who are taxpayers here in the province so that we can get a perspective of the people who are actually going to be affected by this law.”

READ MORE: New Brunswick government to launch public consultations on mandatory immunization bill

The only witness to offer full-throated support for the bill was Child and Youth Advocate Norman Bossé.

“We’ve looked at the evidence out there, we’ve looked at the rights of the child and we’ve said while some might be compromised by passing a mandatory vaccination bill, vaccination rates in the province have been static for a number of years and we’re concerned about that because we’re concerned about the health of children in the province,” he said.

“Do we need an outbreak to do something? Is that the time to do something? No, let’s be proactive.”

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Bossé called the bill “a slight modification” to existing rules.

“You’ve only taken away one section of the exemption. If there’s somebody out there who really believes this will hurt their child, they can use the medical exemption,” he said.