Not content to just boo from the sidelines, a group that doesn't like the plays called by the "coach" of "Team Manitoba" in this COVID battle has decided to play its own game.
Riffing off Premier Brian Pallister's description of himself as the coach of the province, the group dubs itself the "Real Team Manitoba."
As part of its opposition to the government, the group is selling bumper stickers that mock the Tories' #RestartMB campaign, and using the proceeds to buy gift cards for health-care workers.
So far, more than 1,000 Manitobans have purchased them.
"We’re directly going to be using those funds to purchase gift cards from local restaurants and businesses. We’re then going to be donating them to frontline health-care workers at a number of hospitals throughout the city and Bethesda in Steinbach," said Rebecca Hume, one of the organizers.
"We decided to do something that our provincial government refuses to do, which is spend money on the businesses and support frontline workers."
The group of about 10 Manitobans started making memes about the government’s reopening campaign a few months ago. They have five different bumper stickers and one lawn sign design for sale on their website, (poopeemb.ca). The stickers are $4 each and the lawn sign, which several dozen Manitobans have pre-ordered, costs $8. The site lets shoppers donate to the cause without purchasing a sticker or sign.
The newest blue and green sticker is in response to Premier Brian Pallister’s interview with CBC’s Rosemary Barton on Sunday. The #Rosemary sign draws a quote the premier said to Barton during the interview.
"To be fair, you haven’t come up with a single idea in this interview that would have made this plan work better," says the sticker.
"A lot of what we do is actually just reacting to the wants and needs of what we’re perceiving online," said Hume. "After that interview on CBC on Sunday, I’m sure you’ve seen the memes have just kind of exploded online about Rosemary Barton and the premier. We got a number of messages on our social media platforms saying, ‘You guys need to do a Rosemary sticker.’"
Hume said the campaign is not anti-conservative, but the group believes the provincial government has handled COVID-19 poorly.
"It’s about holding our government to account. If a different party were in office right now in Manitoba and they were this bad at containing COVID, we would be just as critical, and just as engaged and still be doing this project," she said.
Hume said she has been in contact with four Winnipeg hospitals and Bethesda Hospital in Steinbach and hopes to give the first round of gift cards to health-care workers next week. She added the group is looking to support Manitoba educators as well.
People have thanked the group for trying to bring humour to people during a dark time, says Hume.
"We’re really enjoying at least alleviating a little bit of the stress and anxiety everyone is feeling right now and doing that in a really good way by both supporting local businesses and investing in our health-care workers."