An ethics professor in Canada gave what could be her final lesson at the university she has been employed at for the past 20 years. The lesson was regarding vaccine mandates. The professor's employer has implemented mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations, which she believes is unethical.
Dr. Julie Ponesse is an ethics professor at Ontario's Huron University College, which is affiliated with Western University. Ponesse, who holds a Ph.D. in ethics, delivered an emotional message about vaccine mandates in a video that has since gone viral.
"Today, I'm going to teach you a short lesson on a universally accepted ethics of coercing people into medical procedures," Ponesse said into the camera. "I'll be the example."
"My employer has just mandated that I must get a vaccine for COVID-19," the professor said. "If I want to keep working at my job as a professor, I have to take this vaccine."
"Here's my conundrum. My school employs me to be an authority on the subject of ethics. I hold a Ph.D. in ethics and ancient philosophy and I'm here to tell you, it's ethically wrong to coerce someone to take a vaccine," she said. "If it happens to you, you don't have to do it. If you don't want a COVID vaccine, don't take one. End of discussion. It's your own business."
"But that's not the approach of the University of Western Ontario, which has suddenly required that I be vaccinated immediately, or not report for work," she continued.
"I am facing imminent dismissal after 20 years on the job," Ponesse said for not wanting to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The professor explained that she is not an anti-vaxxer, and that she has had "plenty of vaccines in my life."
Ponesse noted she doesn't work in a "high-risk environment."
"I'm a teacher. I'm a university professor. My job is to teach how to think critically; to ask questions that might expose a false argument," she stated.
Ponesse questioned the effectiveness of the vaccines, "Nobody is promising that I won't get COVID, or transmit COVID if I get the vaccine."
"I'm entitled to make choices about what does and what does not enter my body regardless of my reasons," she said.
"This is my first and potentially my last lesson of the year," Ponesse said as her voice cracked after getting emotional. "In the spirit of Socrates, who was executed for asking questions, this lesson will consist of only one question."
The professor asked her students, "When a person has done the same job to the satisfaction of her employer for 20 years, is it right, or is it wrong to suddenly demand that they submit to an unnecessary medical procedure in order to keep their job?"
"The employee is not allowed to ask questions," the professor said. "She may only submit to the procedure or be fired. To my first-year students, is this right or is this wrong?"
Ponesse ended the video as she broke down into tears, and put her face in her hands.
Ponesse was condemned for calling the vaccines "experimental" and questioning the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccinations.
Arthur Caplan, the founding director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University Langone Medical Center, told the Toronto Star, "I think she is flat out wrong and it's not just a difference in opinion about morals, some of her facts are just incorrect. She's impugning the vaccine, calling it experimental, those are just not true assertions."
The National Post disputed the professor's claims:
Health authorities in Canada, and many other countries, approved the vaccines for emergency use after confirming their safety and efficacy. Almost three quarters of Canadians have received one dose of an approved vaccine — Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca — and more than 67 percent are fully vaccinated. In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in August 2021. Preliminary studies have found that the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are about 90 percent effective against COVID-19 and the vast majority of cases are now among the unvaccinated.
Ponesse emailed her department head on Tuesday to inform him that she would not get the COVID-19 vaccine, wear a face mask while teaching, or submit to coronavirus testing.
"It was within, I think, half an hour of sending that email that I received an email from my dean stating that I would be dismissed and put on temporary paid leave," Ponesse told the National Post.
The email reportedly informed the professor that she "will be placed on a temporary paid leave and you will not be allowed to attend campus."
Huron requires mandatory vaccination on campus, except for people who have received an exemption, but they must take a COVID-19 test twice a week.
"There is no testing option for those who choose not to be vaccinated," the Huron website states. "Those without proof of vaccination or an exemption will not be permitted on campus."
Ponesse explained that she is not seeking an exemption, "I want to be very clear in rejecting it in principle, I don't think we ever should have been in the place where we're looking at the situation of mandates, so I'm not just seeking an exemption to one, I'm challenging the very foundation of the idea."
Ponesse did receive support from People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, who called the administrators at Western University "fascist a**holes."
The video has been removed from YouTube for violating community guidelines.