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Really, Surrey Board of Trade?

Jody Vance wants to know why anti-vaxx icon Robert Kennedy Jr. has been invited to speak in Surrey.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (JStone /

When it comes to anti-vaxxers, I’m with Meghan McCain. Here’s her post on Twitter:

McCain was referencing a story about a terminally ill child who was exposed to measles while in a California hospital. The 7-year-old boy was put in peril by a lack of herd immunity.

A few months ago, I wrote here about the measles outbreak in Washington state (which later spilled over the Canadian border) and how remarkably irresponsible and selfish anti-vaxxers are. Following that, I found myself inundated with hate mail from militant, conspiracy-theorizing, anti-vaxxers. They all ranted at me and sent links to speeches by one Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – a man now invited here in the fall to speak on “the environment.”

When the Surrey Board of Trade booked Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak on “environmental and the new green economy” topics at their September conference, they knew there would be public reaction. They also counted on lots of free press.

Boy oh boy, did they ever get it.

What the Board likely didn’t count on was how angry citizens in Metro Vancouver would get. The pushback is real – and valid. The Surrey Board of Trade should have no part in legitimizing a conspiracy theorist.

We are an educated bunch; there’s no place for anti-vaxxers in our midst.

The excuse that Kennedy is coming as “an environmental visionary,” and not for his stance on vaccinations, is clunky spin at best.

Kids shouldn’t have to worry about preventable diseases. Adults should not turn a blind eye toward anti-vaxx conspiracy theorists the like of RFK Jr.

There’s a difference between defending free speech and paying, propping up, and legitimizing.

The anti-vaxx movement is militant and unwilling to budge on their brand of truth – which is void of facts. Anyone who pushes back gets inundated with YouTube videos of a former producer on the Dr. Oz show and RFK Jr. That Jessica Biel has added her celebrity clout is yet another slap to the faces of kids who can’t be vaccinated.

Touting RFK Jr as a “visionary” on environmental issues feeds the fire of his followers. They will point to this event as “proof” he’s a respected voice on any topic.

RFK Jr denies he’s an anti-vaxxer; I say that’s semantics. If your perspective is rooted in a “concern about the safety of vaccines” then you are an anti-vaxxer — because the fact is, vaccines are SAFE.

Vaccine benefits massively outweigh the minuscule risk. The CDC has “estimated that vaccines prevented more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children over a 20-year period...There were about 2 claims of injury for every one million doses of all vaccines.”

It’s called science. Those who claim that science is only about “money and Big Pharma” are living in an alternate universe.

This stunt should be shut down. Surrey Board of Trade, I’m looking at you.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.