Cabinet minister determined to shun vaccine questions

Ron Schuler attends meeting, still won't admit to being inoculated


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Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler attended a cabinet meeting Wednesday in which participants had to be fully vaccinated, but he refused to acknowledge his own vaccination status.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/12/2021 (468 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler attended a cabinet meeting Wednesday in which participants had to be fully vaccinated, but he refused to acknowledge his own vaccination status.

After the ministers left the morning meeting at the legislature, he was escorted by government house leader Kelvin Goertzen, who talked to Schuler non-stop from the cabinet meeting room to Schuler’s office nearby. Neither minister responded to a Free Press reporter’s questions.

The infrastructure minister’s communications staff wouldn’t say much, either.

When asked what message Schuler is sending to Manitobans and his constituents by refusing to talk about being vaccinated as the fast-spreading omicron variant takes hold of the province, it issued the same statement it has sent on his behalf for months: “My personal health information is a private matter and I do not discuss my personal health information publicly.”

His refusal to vouch for vaccines came on the same day the premier and health minister urged people to get vaccinated or a booster shot as projections suggest the new COVID-19 omicron variant will soon take hold and further strain Manitoba’s hospital capacity.

Health Minister Audrey Gordon invited the news media to witness her receiving a booster shot at the RBC Convention Centre Wednesday and urged others to get their third dose as soon as they can.

Schuler’s office did not respond when asked if he wants to send the message to Manitobans that they should get vaccinated.

At a news conference later in the day Gordon, who considers herself a “vaccine ambassador,” said she couldn’t speak about another cabinet minister’s vaccination status.

“Our government has always been very clear that vaccination is the best defence against COVID-19. I do know as a caucus and a cabinet we’re all very united in the fight against COVID-19.”

Premier Heather Stefanson didn’t appear to be bothered that Schuler still won’t acknowledge he’s been vaccinated, even though everyone who attended Wednesday’s cabinet meeting — and most others entering the legislative building as of Dec. 15 — must prove they’re fully immunized.

“Each individual is responsible for dealing with their individual personal health information,” Stefanson said Wednesday. “We will continue, as Minister Gordon said, to encourage Manitobans to get vaccinated.”

Every minister of the Crown should step up and urge Manitobans to get vaccinated and there’s no excuse for Schuler to shun the issue, NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.

“If you’re someone in public life, you should understand that that comes with certain responsibilities One of the responsibilities during a public health crisis is to be on the side of public health. One of the responsibilities you have as a leader is to convey to the public that you serve that you’re on the same side as them and that you’re willing to embody the same sort of commitment and sacrifice the general public is showing through your own efforts and behviour,” he said.

“We’re all answering questions about our vaccinations when we go to Boston Pizza. You’re telling me someone who has sworn an oath can’t do the same? I don’t accept that.”

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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