Anti-vaxxer joins race for mayor in Winkler ‘He will do nothing for the community,’ longtime leader warns
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A vocal anti-vaxxer has announced he will run for mayor of Winkler this fall, raising concerns the southern Manitoba community divided by the COVID-19 pandemic could face more turmoil.
Karl Krebs submitted his nomination papers for the position last week. He’s an organizer with the group Things That Matter, which has petitioned against allowing vaccine clinics in schools and believes COVID restrictions are an affront to God-given rights. Krebs also attended the so-called “freedom convoy” on Parliament Hill in the winter.
Longtime Winkler Coun. Henry Siemens is also running for mayor.
Krebs’ candidacy is raising alarm bells for at least one longtime leader in Winkler.
Mayor Martin Harder, who announced earlier this year he wasn’t going to run again after 16 years in the job, said he would have rescinded his retirement if there wasn’t a legitimate opponent to take on Krebs.
“The community is too precious to me,” Harder said Monday.
“For (Krebs), it is all about him. It’s nothing about community. He has destroyed people’s lives and he has done nothing for the community and he will do nothing for the community. If there were no other viable candidate I would run again, but there is. I wholeheartedly support Mr. Siemens.”
Krebs announced his candidacy in a video shot inside Monstrosity Burger, a Winnipeg restaurant that is facing up to $1 million in fines for repeatedly breaching pandemic public health orders.
Krebs, who could not be reached for comment, said on the video his main reason for running is to garner publicity for his cause.
“If you put your name on the ballot you get invited to the party. They want to know what you have to say. Then you get a platform,” Krebs said in a speech. “That’s primarily my reason for doing it. Now I’m officially on their radar.”
Krebs said his supporters should follow his example.
“You can run for school board trustee, you can run for town clerk, you can as a reeve — you can make your mark,” he said.
“If more of us stand together and do these things that we are called to do this will be a memorable moment in the history books of Manitoba.”
“If more of us stand together and do these things that we are called to do this will be a memorable moment in the history books of Manitoba.” – Karl Krebs
Last year, Krebs unsuccessfully tried to convince Winkler council to make the community a so-called sanctuary city to avoid following COVID-19 public health mandates.
All seven members of council voted against the motion.
Siemens, who has been deputy mayor for 12 of his 16 years on Winkler’s council, said he hopes the election campaign concerns itself with local issues.
He said Winkler needs to upgrade its sewage treatment facility and tackle water capacity and infrastructure projects.
“Winkler is a rapidly growing city and we have to continue,” he said.
“There’s so much to do to continue to grow. My hope is that’s where our focus is.”
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.