WINNIPEG — On Friday, the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) announced it was filing a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission against the Manitoba government, Cameron Friesen, who is the minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living, and Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief provincial public health officer.
The complaint alleges discrimination and system discrimination against the Metis people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
David Chartrand, president of the MMF, said the government has been unwilling to work with his organization.
On Monday, the premier, Friesen, and Roussin all responded to the allegations.
Friesen said the government has continued to try and open dialogue with the MMF, similar to work it has done with the Inuit and other First Nation organizations.
“I don’t know why Mr. Chartrand is saying what he is saying, but certainly, the evidence is there. Incident command structure, we asked them to participate with us. We reached out to encourage the development of an information-sharing agreement, we have not heard back,” said Friesen. “That door is open as soon as Mr. Chartrand wants to walk through it.”
Roussin shared a similar sentiment noting he has tried to establish communication since the start of the pandemic.
“Certainly, I am open to meet and to address any issues and collaborate moving forward,” said Roussin.
‘LOOKING TO SUE SOMEBODY’
Premier Brian Pallister also provided comments regarding the situation and did not mince words about how he feels.
“It’s just David Chartrand looking to sue somebody and there’s not many people in Manitoba that he hasn’t chosen to sue,” said Pallister. “David Chartrand likes to sue people and used to getting paid when he does it. What he’s selling, we’re noting buying.”
Pallister said he has plenty of Metis friends and has too much respect for them to try to buy them to be his friends.
He added that Chartrand should return his emails, phone calls, and texts.
“I can only say to President Chartrand, if you really care about representing your people, stop trying to weasel money out of everybody, including Metis people, and start getting to the table and looking after the best interest.”
Chartrand responded to the comments in an interview with CTV News Monday afternoon.
“It’s quite embarrassing in many ways, for the premier to lower himself to that level of schoolyard bully tactics,” said Chartrand.
He added that this is about the COVID-19 health crisis and the health of Manitobans and Metis people.
He said the premier’s comments are trying to villainize him so that Pallister’s faults won’t be seen.
“He lied to the public again today, and it’s unfortunate. It’s like a Trump,” said Chartrand, “he’s lied to the public. He stated clearly that he has called me, he’s got letters to me. I have not one call or one letter from the premier. That is an absolute lie.”
Chartrand added the MMF is only serving three organizations or people right now, and that is the Manitoba government, Manitoba Hydro, and Premier Pallister.
He said he isn’t trying to sue everyone, especially the Metis people, and he only wants to hold the government accountable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chartrand also noted that for the MMF, this is not about money.
“We’re not after money on this deal at all. We have our own COVID money from Canada.”
He added he thinks Pallister’s time is limited as the head of the conservatives. Chartrand believes the PCs will come to the MMF with an apology and try to work with the federation again once Pallister is gone.
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