A B.C. MLA has apologized after ‘liking’ Twitter posts that include the ‘herd immunity’ theory and attacking provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Renee Merrifield is the new MLA for Kelowna-Mission in the Okanagan, and is also the BC Liberals’ health critic.
Some of her recent ‘likes’ on Twitter caught the attention of political columnist and former NDP political strategist Bill Tieleman.
Tieleman questioned on Thursday why Merrifield has been clicking ‘like’ on tweets claiming children are being “used” to develop “herd” immunity, and that “we want them to become infected” with COVID-19.
Tieleman tweeted that while teachers and parents have every right to question PHO (provincial health officer) policies, a Liberal health critic ‘liking’ claims of deliberate infection of children and workplaces and personal attacks on Dr. Bonnie Henry are out of line.
Merrifield has since issued an apology to Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Merrifield issued the apology on her Twitter account, saying “As we’ve done since the beginning of the pandemic, the BC Liberal Caucus continues to fully support the hard work of public health officials.”
She added, “I want to apologize to Dr. Bonnie Henry if that has in any way called into question by my social media activity.”
While she did issue an apology, Merrifield said her ‘likes” were taken out of context, clarifying that in one case, for instance, she clicked “like” as a sign of support of a parent fearful her child wasn’t being properly protected.
“I don’t regret the intention, which was to really support a parent who is struggling because their child is unprotected in the schools or they feel that their child is unprotected in the schools,” Merrifield told Global News.
“So do I regret supporting that parent? No, I don’t regret supporting that parent. But I regret how it was taken out of context and then spun into something that it simply wasn’t.”
Merrifield said the Twitter storm started after she questioned why the NDP wasn’t using rapid tests for students and long-term care homes in the legislature.
Notably, many responses to Merrifield’s Twitter apology say she shouldn’t have apologized, with some saying that’s a critic’s job.
Merrifield has since deleted her likes on the tweets.
She added that she’s learned a lot from the experience and rather than be quick to re-tweet or ‘like’ a tweet, she will do more of her own tweeting.
“I’m going to use my own voice on Twitter a lot more,” she said. “And I’m going to definitely be much more mindful of how it could be used against doing good things.”
And she added, as a health critic, she will not stop asking questions.
“My heart is for the people. It is for British Columbians,” she said. “I am here to protect their health. I’m here to ask questions that they have. I’m here to be a megaphone and make sure that we protect our vulnerable populations.”