Jason Kenney apologizes for comparing unvaccinated people to AIDS patients

Edmonton—Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has apologized for making comparisons between the attitudes toward unvaccinated people and those held toward AIDS patients in the 1980s.

On Tuesday, the premier announced the lifting of Alberta’s Restrictions Exemption Program — the province’s vaccine passport that allowed businesses and venues to use a QR code to scan for vaccination status and avoid strict restrictions that would cap their capacity.

During the news conference, Kenney was asked about societal attitudes toward unvaccinated people.

“In a way, it kind of reminds me of the attitudes that circulated in North American in the mid-1980s with HIV/AIDS,” Kenney said.

“That there’s this notion that they had to be, kind of, distanced for health reasons.”

His comparison quickly drew strong backlash due to Kenney’s own past campaigning against rights for AIDS patients.

Kenney has faced widespread criticism in the past for his own activism against LGBTQ rights in the 1980s, including time he spent in San Francisco during that decade.

There’s an old recording of him speaking about how he helped overturn a law extending hospital visitation rights to same-sex couples during the AIDS crisis. It made headlines during the 2019 provincial election, which Kenney went on to win.

On Wednesday, Kenney tweeted his apology: “I made an inappropriate analogy to the stigmatization of people with AIDS.”

“I was wrong to do so and apologize without reservation.”


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