A Progressive Conservative party leadership hopeful isn't denouncing two MLAs who have accused their own government of infringing on Manitobans' rights by mandating vaccinations for COVID-19.

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This article was published 31/8/2021 (261 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Progressive Conservative party leadership hopeful isn't denouncing two MLAs who have accused their own government of infringing on Manitobans' rights by mandating vaccinations for COVID-19.

"Certainly people represent their constituencies and they have the right to their own opinion," Heather Stefanson said Tuesday of backbench MLAs James Teitsma (Radisson) and Josh Guenter (Borderland), both of whom support her bid for leadership.

The province announced last week that all designated public service workers who have contact with vulnerable populations will have to be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing. Any non-essential activities and services will only be available to fully vaccinated Manitobans 12 and older starting Sept. 3.

Teitsma seemingly compared the incoming vaccination mandate to residential schools and the forced sterilization of Indigenous people.

"Forcing Indigenous children to attend residential schools, sterilizing intellectually disabled and Indigenous women without consent (including the creation of eugenics boards), and sending Ukrainian- and Japanese-Canadians to interment (sic) camps, come to mind as some of the worst stains in our country’s brief history," Teitsma wrote on social media.

"One thing these human rights violations have in common: they were popular and favoured by the public."

Guenter also posted a letter saying his own government is "using a sledgehammer" that will send Mennonites "to the breadline," as they will quit front-line jobs that will soon be limited to vaccinated people.

"The more the government thrashes about trying to get people to take the vaccine, the less inclined my constituents are to listen," wrote Guenter, whose constituency has some of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in Canada.

Both Teitsma and Guenter have said they've been vaccinated.

When asked if she still welcomed their endorsement, Stefanson didn't reject it.

"I think they represent their constituents and what we've been saying since Day 1 is we need to be listening to our constituents," the former health minister said.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

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.