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Price of liberty: Manitoba cabinet minister loses post for refusing to reveal vaccination status

Ron Schuler, Manitoba’s minister of infrastructure and emergency measures, was replaced by Reg Helwer for keeping mum about his Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination status. Helwer is also the minister for central services.

“Liberty has its price, today I paid for mine,” Schuler tweeted on December 30, 2021.

Premier Heather Stefanson, who announced the changes earlier that day, said she replaced Schuler for his comments on COVID-19 vaccines and his refusal to discuss his vaccination status. She added that all her caucus members had met the requirement to be fully vaccinated by December 15.

A day after the deadline, Schuler had said he was not against vaccines as they had “amazing benefits.” But he did not join the government in urging everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Instead, he told the people to “listen to their doctors and the decision comes down to their individual rights.”

For months, Schuler deflected questions about his vaccination status by describing it as private health information that is protected by Canada’s federal law: the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). Specific to personal health information, there is also the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA).

In a news briefing, he said he fundamentally believes in the protection of civil liberties and the right to make own health choices.

“This is a fundamental liberty. It is our right to make our own healthcare choices and it is also our right to choose to keep our healthcare choices private. No one should ever be coerced to make a healthcare choice or publicly divulge their choice, or for that matter feel that they have to publicly defend their choices. I believe those are liberties,” Schuler said.


In her first public comment about the matter, Stefanson said Schuler’s messaging on vaccines was not consistent with the government’s vaccination efforts “to get Manitobans fully vaccinated.”

She added: “We are the ones that form a public policy in the cabinet and so certainly, we do expect that cabinet ministers would follow through with those commitments that we’re making and the policies that we’re putting in place. Requiring every member of the caucus to be fully vaccinated is the right thing to do.”

Christopher Adams, an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Manitoba, pointed out that Schuler was not discouraging people from getting vaccinated, which showed he wasn’t standing in the way of the province’s efforts.

Canadian officials removed from office for veering off COVID narrative

Meanwhile, Premier Douglas Robert Ford removed Chatham-Kent-Leamington member of provincial parliament (MPP) Rick Nicholls from the Ontario PC Party caucus after “failing to provide a legitimate reason for exemption from COVID-19 vaccination.” Nicholls will also not be permitted to seek reelection as a PC candidate.

Ford said that political leaders interact daily with the public, including those most vulnerable to COVID-19. According to Ford, he expected every PC caucus member and candidate to be vaccinated to protect themselves and the people in their community, besides showing support to the roles vaccines play in the fight against COVID-19.

Responding to local media about Nicholls’ health status, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said that Nicholls was free to make his own decisions and would make sure he gets vaccinated if he decides to.

Scarborough Center MPP Christina Mitas is also unvaccinated. However, CTV News Toronto had learned that she was provided with a medical exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine. The premier’s office had not elaborated on the grounds the exemption was granted.

Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios announced on Twitter that she had tested positive for COVID-19 in early December 2021.

Speaker of the House Ted Arnot ejected her from the PC caucus after she voted against the controversial pandemic emergency powers bill that grants the government powers to extend some or amend some emergency orders a month at a time for up to two years amid the coronavirus pandemic. She called Bill 195 an “unnecessary overreach” on parliamentary democracy after the vole.

“At its core, Bill 195 takes away the legislature’s ability to vote on the use of extraordinary emergency powers on Ontarians for the next year,” Karahalios said in a statement. “The bill essentially silences every single Ontario MPP on the most important issue facing our legislature today by transferring away the ability for Ontario MPPs to consider, debate and vote on how emergency powers are used on Ontarians.”

York Centre Progressive Conservative MPP Roman Baber was booted from the PC caucus in January last year when he criticized the province’s lockdown measures, calling them “deadlier than COVID” in a two-page open letter he posted on Twitter that month.

Barber’s letter claimed that locking parts of the province’s economy, shutting down schools and requiring residents to stay at home had caused a multitude of problems, including an increase in deaths due to drug overdoses, a backlog in the treatment of cancer, an increase in suicidal ideation and eating disorders.

In a statement reported in the Toronto Star, Ontario Premier Ford said Baber undermined the “tireless efforts of our frontline health workers at this critical time and he’s putting people at risk. I will not jeopardize a single Ontarian’s life by ignoring public health advice.” (Related: WOW: Canadian provincial leader actually admits officials “got it wrong” with widespread COVID lockdowns in tearful apology.)

Watch the video below about what’s happening in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

This video is from the Amor De Cosmos II channel on

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