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Aitchison condemns Lewis’ Nuremberg email as « dog whistle » to COVID vaccine critics

Aitchison condemns Lewis’ Nuremberg email as « dog whistle » to COVID vaccine critics

OTTAWA — Conservative party leadership candidate Scott Aitchison is condemning Leslyn Lewis’ message to members last week about the Nuremberg Code and medical experimentation as nothing but a « dog whistle » to COVID-19 vaccine critics.

Aitchison made the comments in a missive sent to party members Thursday, with less than two weeks before they must return their ballots for a new leader by the Sept. 6 deadline.

Aitchison, an MP first elected for the party in 2019 and again last year, entered the leadership race as a largely unknown figure.

Throughout the race, the rural Ontario representative has campaigned on a message of restoring decency in politics at a time when leaders of different stripes have been accused of stoking division.

He referred to those values in Thursday’s message, saying he has heard from Canadians who were confused and « appalled » at the comparison Lewis drew between contemporary issues and the Holocaust.

In her message, Lewis provided a timeline of moments in history when humans have been subjected to experimentation, including some Indigenous children in residential schools who were malnourished.

She wrote that, « even in modern times the tenets of informed consent and voluntary participation in scientific experiments, can be easily undermined by even our modern governments. »

Although Lewis didn’t mention COVID-19 in last week’s note about the Nuremberg Code — a set of research guidelines established after the Second World War, in which Nazi doctors carried out inhumane experiments on prisoners — Aitchison says some opposed to COVID-19 vaccinations have described requirements to get one to the horrors of Nazi Germany.

« Leslyn’s email was a dog whistle to these people so loud that it sounds more like a freight train’s horn, » Aitchison said.

« Let me be clear — being offered a vaccine that prevents serious illness and our governments’ responses to this pandemic are not the same as being tortured in a Nazi concentration camp. »

Lewis has not responded to a request for comment about her email and Aitchison’s criticism of its content.

Aitchison also touched on a recent decision by the Liberal government to cut ties with a group hired to do anti-racism work after it was discovered one of its consultants sent out an antisemitic tweet.

Many Conservative MPs have roundly criticized the government, questioning what kind of vetting occurred.

« If we want to actually deliver on the promise of better government, we as a party must do better as well, » Aitchison said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2022.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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