EDITORIAL – Civic leaders have a duty to lead when it comes to the COVID jab

(Image: CFJC Today)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

WHAT ARE WE TO THINK when civic politicians won’t take the jab?

Civic governments are trying to decide whether to join the mandatory vaccination train for their employees, which raises the issue of whether members of City councils should get on board, too.

The self-mandating of vaccinations by public bodies is a sticky issue. MPs and MLAs have done it but Vancouver council, while philosophically supporting the jab for itself, refuses to make it compulsory. Richmond, on the other hand, voted Monday to mandate vaccinations both for staff and council. Burnaby council is thinking it over.

In Kamloops, City management will require staff to be double vaccinated by Dec. 15. Since council members aren’t City employees, they would have to make their own policy.

Coun. Denis Walsh thinks forcing anyone — whether employees or politicians — to be vaccinated if they want to keep working is interference with “bodily autonomy.”

“I definitely think that mandating is unethical whether you’re a council or an employee,” he told me.

He’s no stranger to COVID-19, having contracted it last March and, thankfully, getting through it without serious illness.

Due to pre-existing medical conditions and a belief in “natural immunity,” Walsh hasn’t taken the jab.

Many politicians, from prime minister to small-town mayors, have very publicly had the jab in order to encourage others to do it. We’ve seen them on TV during the photo ops.

But that’s different than officially requiring colleagues to be vaccinated in order to enter council chambers and take care of business. And there’s the question of whether they could participate remotely for an indefinite period.

There may or may not be legal issues around a City council legislating mandatory vaccinations for its members, but maybe that’s not even the point.

The people who represent us are supposed to be leaders. They can either lead us in the wrong direction, or lead by example and help get us safely through this pandemic.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at


TEASER: If municipal politicians want to mandate the jab for civic workers…. should they mandate it for themselves as well?…. Taking a shot… on the Armchair Mayor.

About Mel Rothenburger (9378 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

8 Comments on EDITORIAL – Civic leaders have a duty to lead when it comes to the COVID jab

  1. The “science” worked for Ajax but not for vaccinations?
    Time for Denis to offer his resignation.

  2. Bang on Mel!

  3. For Kamloops City Council to show leadership with supporting Covid-19 vaccination protocol. I would recommend that one city councilor show courage and a put motion on the floor to have council vote to have Coun. Denis Walsh “Persona non grata“.
    There must be consequences for one’s actions.

  4. To be remembered come the next election.

  5. Sean McGuinness // October 27, 2021 at 5:16 PM // Reply

    The choice to be vaccinated is not really one’s private concern — it is a choice which potentially could affect other people and has life or death consequences. If one chooses to live in a society, then one should respect the fact that you and society are dependent on each other.

    That we have civic leaders who refuse to be vaccinated is unconscionable. These are exactly the people who should understand that vaccines are only going to be effective if, at a minimum, a very large percentage of the population is vaccinated. If people chose to exercise their “bodily autonomy” and didn’t get eg. the polio vaccine, then kids today would probably still being dying of this disease. Mr. Walsh, this is the 21’st century. Get with the program.

  6. I am truly surprised by this development. Mr. Walsh has always took the scientific approach, on Ajax and on climate change for example. Did he fall down the stairs, or something, to cause trauma?

  7. Ian MacKenzie // October 27, 2021 at 3:56 PM // Reply

    At the same time as I admire Mr. Walsh as a principled man who thinks for himself, seldom just following the council flock, I’m not impressed with his short-sightedness re mandating vaccine jabs. He is very lucky that his natural immunity saw him through what might have been a deadly disease for another person without the same amount of natural immunity. And I would not wish to be working on a city crew without all members being vaccinated. How do we know whether they al have Denis’s “natural immunity”. Certainly the data on such conundrums certainly doesn’t support his position. Sometimes we’ve just got to take the jab so we protect all the others we meet. He’s lucky, but everybody he meets may not be. Perhaps he should reconsider for the sake of others.

  8. His notion of bodily autonomy should be countered with the notion of organizational self interest and protection. That is the lamest excuse I have heard, and, from a representative (would-be) of the public, totally irresponsible and childish.

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