NDP grilling of premier too much, cabinet minister insists

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A respected cabinet minister has defended her embattled leader and accused the NDP and media of trying to embarrass Premier Heather Stefanson.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/03/2022 (252 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A respected cabinet minister has defended her embattled leader and accused the NDP and media of trying to embarrass Premier Heather Stefanson.

In a lengthy message on Facebook Tuesday, Eileen Clarke — whose resignation from the Indigenous and northern affairs portfolio last summer led to Brian Pallister to step down as premier — praised Indigenous women who protested outside of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs headquarters Monday for standing up for the alleged victims of suspended grand chief Arlen Dumas.

Clarke, who is the minister for municipal affairs, stood up for her premier. She praised Stefanson for being kind and accused NDP Leader Wab Kinew of trying to “humiliate and tear down” the premier for her response to his question about the death of Indigenous patient Krystal Mousseau in May 2021.

Kinew posed the question in the legislative chamber last week. Stefanson responded by praising her son’s hockey victory. That interaction went viral on social media and was widely seen as callous and inappropriate. She later apologized for the timing of her response but said she’d never apologize for praising her children’s achievements.

On several occasions since then, Kinew has asked the premier about the handling of Mousseau’s case, and to call an inquiry into her death, as well as the province’s pandemic response.

Clarke weighed in on Facebook.

“I have sat in our political chamber for the past two weeks listening to the leader of the official Opposition trying to humiliate and tear down our premier for words she spoke when answering a question in our daily question period,” Clarke wrote.

The media “has had a great time with this and made it public many times over in an effort to discredit her and humiliate her in the public,” she said in her Facebook message — which she gave political staff permission to post on Twitter with the hashtag #mbpoli.

“This is a man that is once again trying to be dominant over a woman that isn’t fighting back because she is sincerely sorry for a mistake she made. It hurts deeply to watch this over and over again.”

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / THE CANADIAN PRESS Eileen Clarke, who is the minister for municipal affairs, said in a Facebook message that the media “has had a great time with this and made it public many times over in an effort to discredit her and humiliate her (Heather Stefanson) in the public.”

Kinew said his questions have been focused on substantive issues: “What happened with Krystal, and how can we address the concern that Manitobans have about this? How can we make patient transfers safe?”

He said he’s been respectful and will continue to press the Tory government for answers. He said he’s not deterred by Clarke’s condemnation, which the premier retweeted on Twitter.

“Brian Pallister used to come after me for asking questions in (question period),” Kinew said.

“I would say to Minister Clarke and to Premier Stefanson the same thing: you can keep coming after me and I will keep asking about issues that matter to Manitobans, which in this case is can we have justice for Krystal Mousseau and how are we going to make patient transportation safe in the future?”

In an interview Thursday, Clarke said “it is important to stand up and speak out.”

“These were a series of events where I personally felt it was very abusive to keep going back there after she had apologized very sincerely and I know how badly she felt,” Clarke said.

She recalled sitting behind the premier in the house, her brows visibly furrowing as she listened to her leader’s poorly timed “proud parent” response that day.

“I knew it was not a good idea,” Clarke recalled. “I’m a lot older than she is and I’ve been through a lot of life experiences,” said the former mayor of Gladstone who has been self-employed since she was 18 and is now also employed as an MLA and member of cabinet.

“I’ve had to make apologies, that’s how we learn.”

She said what the public doesn’t see is the leader of the opposition “smiling a big smile” after he’s asked his questions.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Eileen Clarke, who is the minister for municipal affairs, praised Stefanson for being kind and accused NDP Leader Wab Kinew of trying to “humiliate and tear down” the premier for her response to his question about the death of Indigenous patient Krystal Mousseau in May 2021.
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.

History

Updated on Thursday, March 24, 2022 9:20 PM CDT: Tweaks headline

Updated on Friday, March 25, 2022 8:39 AM CDT: Adds that Clarke is also employed as an MLA and member of cabinet

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