'If you don't think COVID-19 is real, you're an idiot': Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister's emotional plea to residents

Elisabetta Bianchini
·3-min read
COVID-19 in Canada
COVID-19 in Canada

For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.

‘I’m the guy who’s stealing Christmas to keep you safe’

In an emotional speech at the end of a press conference on Thursday, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said “you don’t need to like me” after the province implemented strict COVID-19 restrictions.

“I hope in years to come you might respect me for having the guts to tell you the right thing, and here’s the right thing, stay safe, protect each other, love each other, care for each other...but don’t get together this Christmas.”

“I am the person who has come forward here in front of you 75 times and has asked you to do things you have never done before, and has asked you to do that everyday...I don’t like saying it but it’s got to be said, someone has to say it and so I’m the one who took on this job to say it.”

The premier went on to say that anyone who doesn’t believe COVID-19 is real is an “idiot” and staying away from people outside your household and taking actions to limit potential exposure is what’s needed to save lives.

The speech comes after an Angus Reid poll, released last week, which suggests Pallister is the lowest rated Canadian premier with only 32 per cent of respondents approving of him.

“I’m the guy who’s stealing Christmas to keep you safe because you need to do this now, you need to do the right thing because next year we’ll have lots to celebrate,” Pallister said.

“Know this about me, I did not get into politics for the adulation, I got into politics to do the right thing, try to save my town, try to help people. I do what I believe is right, I do what I believe is necessary, this is what you need right now.”

Manitobans will be ‘at the back of the line’ for COVID-19 vaccines

Earlier on in the press conference, Manitoba’s premier said the federal government’s planned allocations for COVID-19 vaccines puts Manitobans “at the back of the line.”

“The federal government is telling us that they are going to distribute the vaccine on a per capita basis based on the population, that sounds good if you don’t think beyond that simplicity,” Pallister said. “They are also telling us that they are going to hold back the portion of our vaccines for Manitoba that they would then allocate to Indigenous and First Nations communities.”

“What that would mean then is that Manitobans who do not live in northern Indigenous communities would be the least likely to get a vaccine in the country. There would be the least amount available in Manitoba, after the federal government holds back the portion for Indigenous people, of any province in Canada.”

The premier stressed that Manitoba has the highest proportion of Indigenous people of any province and the federal government needs to recognize Manitoba’s “unique needs” by “providing an additional allocation of vaccines for Manitoba to use in First Nations communities first and to do this across the country.”

“Thus far, the federal government has provided us with very little concrete information but what information we have gleaned gives us much to be concerned about,” Pallister said. “The federal government’s allocation approach is going to hurt Manitoba and it’s going to put Manitobans at a disadvantaged position.”

Check out our COVID-19 in Canada topic page for latest news, tips, health updates, cases and more.