A female mayor of a community in northern Ontario is fighting for the penalty stripped from her pay after a tweet asking a woman if her vaccination changed her menstrual cycle.
“When I see interesting things happening, it’s rather alarming to me,” said Robyn McQuiston of Sault Ste. Marie, who has learned about her fine through her extensive local media coverage. “It seems like a bit of overreach and I really don’t know how anyone could look at me and say I’m unacceptable.”
“I thought it was quite literally the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” she told “Canada News: Next Generation” on CBS Television Network.
McQuiston, a long-time pediatric nurse, said the tweet was meant to encourage people to get immunized as a way to prevent some of the disease they’re exposed to.
“I thought the tweet was to say if you don’t get vaccinated, you’re inviting it,” she said. “But obviously it’s got out of hand.”
Her tweet, which has since been deleted, said: “Ask the woman in the Google+, @DrEliane. ‘Your vaccination changes your #mood.’”
“The stereotype that women are not strong and don’t want to know about themselves, I don’t subscribe to,” McQuiston told the program. “They want to feel appreciated.”
Dr. Eliane Houle, who is on the Sault Ste. Marie Public Health Advisory Committee, said the problem with the tweet is that people are talking about her “in a way that could potentially be giving those who don’t have their vaccinations a mistaken impression about me.”
“People are saying I’m not really a nurse, I’m not really for public health, but if I’m calling you a ‘medical professional,’ of course I’m for public health,” Houle said.
The fine is being examined by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The committee in question is the Office of the City Act Administrator, the official in charge of reviewing the mayor’s pay.
“I’m not saying that she’s going to be fine,” the office’s chief executive officer, Stephen Butt, told CTV News. “We certainly recognize that a fine, punitive fines, are a way to hold government officials accountable for their conduct, so that the public and their communities feel supported.”
“But in this situation, in particular, there is no requirement to correct the record as it relates to the use of that hashtag, and as I said, we have other charges open,” Butt said.
The Canada Human Rights Act forbids discrimination in employment, accommodations, use of public services, work hours and transfer.
A spokeswoman for Ontario’s Ministry of Government and Consumer Services said the Ministry is looking into this matter.
The federal Human Rights Act forbids discrimination on account of race, color, creed, religion, sex, sex-based injury, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation or other status.
With files from Catherine Donaldson-Evans