Provencher Conservative incumbent Ted Falk issued a correction and apology only hours after the Canadian Press shared comments Falk made in an interview with The Carillon.
In remarks published Sept. 9 in The Carillon, Falk encouraged voters to do their own research on vaccines. During that interview he referenced a Public Health England study of 130,000 people that he said, found "you were 13 times more likely to die from the Delta variant if you were double vaccinated then if you were unvaccinated."
His office was asked for a link to that study but did not supply one.
Fact checkers from Reuters and the Associated Press had debunked blog and social media posts that misconstrued information from a June technical briefing from Public Health England on the Delta variant and vaccine efficacy. Despite posts to the contrary, the data showed that vaccinated people are not at a higher risk of dying from the Delta variant than those who are unvaccinated.
In a statement released by the CPC, attributable to Ted Falk on Tuesday afternoon, Falk admitted he was wrong.
"The statistics I quoted were not correct," he said. "Vaccines are safe and effective. I have and will continue to be an advocate for getting vaccines to every Canadian who wants one. I apologize for any confusion caused by my comments."
Provencher Liberal candidate Trevor Kirczenow called on Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole to drop Falk as a candidate, saying despite the apology, the damage has already been done.
"The newspaper was printed and distributed to its approximately 4,000 subscribers last week in a part of the country where vaccine hesitancy is high and a fourth wave is starting," he said in an emailed statement.
Kirczenow said Falk could have corrected his misinformation when asked by The Carillon for a link to the study in question, but instead chose not to, shirking his responsibility as a leader.
"He refused to say whether he’s been vaccinated or not. In doing so, he declined an important opportunity to provide encouragement and confidence about vaccination to a community that it sometimes unsure. Now, even worse than that, he appears to be attempting to capitalize on vaccine hesitancy to win votes."
Dr. Doug Eyolfson, a physician and Liberal candidate for Charleswood-St James-Assiniboia-Headingley also condemned O’Toole and Falk for the original statement.
"This statement is not only categorically false, but also fuels vaccine hesitancy and seriously endangers our communities," he said in a Tuesday statement. "Mr. Falk is entitled to his own opinions, but not to his own facts."
- with files from Jordan Ross