Brian Pallister refused to criticize Wayne McWhirter the Tory appointed chair of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority who we learned had escaped Manitoba to go to Arizona. McWhirter has been a Conservative donor. That helps one to get appointed to a board. Clearly, he was one of the entitled people.
Premier Pallister did say he was disappointed in the chair but asked us to “give him a break” because he was “basically a volunteer.” This was contrary to Manitoba Health Guidelines that people do not travel except for necessities. It was not contrary to any Manitoba health order however.
First, it is not true that he is a volunteer. As a member of a Manitoba board, he is paid a salary though likely not a princely one. He also gets paid more than ordinary board members as board Chair.
Secondly, and much more importantly, during a health pandemic public trust that people are being treated fairly is crucial to encouraging people to “buy in” to volunteer restraints such as avoiding travel because the province can’t possibly police such conduct. When elites give themselves license to avoid such restrictions, as many have now done, it naturally leads to resentment by the minions who think the elites impose rules on them and then don’t follow those rules. This can seriously undermine Manitoba’s efforts to get people on board voluntarily and do the right thing. When people like McWhirter ignore the pleas from health authorities to stay home, many Manitobans will want to do the same thing. What McWhirter did was to erode public health and safety. As the chair of one of Manitoba’s most important Health bodies it showed very poor judgement on McWhirter’s part.
Personally, I think McWhirter should be dismissed from the board to show Manitobans that we do take such actions seriously, even if McWhirter does not.