Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has backtracked after being heavily criticized for saying she supports Charter rights over mandatory vaccinations.

“I don’t take lightly people’s charter rights, and so that’s why what we’re saying is rapid tests, or your vaccination status and being vaccinated,” Horwath said on CBC News Wednesday.

“We can’t simply ignore that there are folks that are not going to get vaccinated and I don’t think that the right thing to do is just to shut them out.”

Horwath faced swift backlash after the interview, including from federal NDP MP Charlie Angus, who said opposing mandatory vaccination amounted to “idiocy.”

“I just wrote to the party and told them they better push her to walk back her vaccination comments because the [Liberals] will drive a truck over our party for such idiocy,” Angus said in a Wednesday tweet, which was later deleted.

Horwath has since apologized for the comments, now claiming that she fully supports mandatory vaccinations in key sectors.

“I regret the comment. I was wrong. I fully support mandatory vaccination in health care and education, based on science and public health priorities,” Horwath said Thursday. 

“I should have made that position clearer, much earlier, in support of the health and safety of the most vulnerable among us: seniors, people with disabilities, people who are sick, and children who can’t yet get their vaccines.”

Justin Trudeau said he’s considering requiring federal workers and those employed in federally regulated sectors to get vaccinated. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has stated that he will not make vaccinations mandatory for workers in the province. 

“No, we aren’t doing it — simple as that. We aren’t going to have a split society,” said Ford. 

“I think it’s our constitutional right to take it or not take it. No one should be forced to do anything.” 

Alternatively, Ontario Liberal Party Leader Steven Del Duca has stated that under his government COVID-19 shots would be mandatory for education workers and healthcare workers. 

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