1. Brian Pallister resigns
2. Queen Victoria statue toppled
3. Wab Kinew interrupts Alan Lagimodiere
It marked a big moment for Manitoba politics when Brian Pallister finally threw in the towel after five years as premier – a turbulent year and a half of which had been during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
By the time of his resignation, polls suggested Pallister no longer had the support of the Manitoba majority. A Probe Research Poll showed that by June 2021, support for the Progressive Conservatives had fallen to a mere 29 per cent of decided voters.
And for good reason. Pallister repeatedly downplayed the pandemic and neglected to anticipate second and third waves of COVID-19 that healthcare experts told him were coming.
According to federal health-department statistics, under the Pallister government, Manitoba had the second-highest per-capita rate of COVID-related deaths in the country, second only to Quebec.
Recently, Pallister was criticized for comments suggesting the colonization of Canada was done with good intentions.
“The people who came to this country before it was a country ... didn’t come to destroy anything,” Pallister said in a speech after the statues of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria were toppled during a Canada Day rally at the Manitoba Legislature, following the discovery of unmarked graves at residential- school sites across Canada.
Pallister was criticized for espousing “racist political propaganda” by Indigenous politicians, activists and allies who called for him to step down.
Though this latest controversy may have triggered Pallister’s decision to finally sign the resignation papers, he had hinted at an early resignation since December.
Many Manitobans are gleefully waving goodbye to a man who wreaked havoc on the provincial healthcare system, turned away from scientists and healthcare professionals during a pandemic and continues to look at Canada’s colonial history with rose-tinted glasses. However, it’s likely that Pallister is equally happy to retreat from the spotlight to his vacation home in Costa Rica.
Published in Volume 76, Number 12 of The Uniter (December 2, 2021)