Lately my family spends their days in fear - not due to the spread of the coronavirus, but rather due to the ever-increasing stranglehold of government restrictions on life and liberty. They fear discrimination amongst the general population, the threats on ability to work and earn an income, to utilize health services, and most recently for our child to grow up with access to a 'normal' childhood encompassing sports & recreation. Where does the Province go next in their goal of 'coercing' citizens into vaccination? All children must be vaccinated to have an education? To shop for groceries?
I recognize this to be an extremely divisive and highly emotionally-charged topic for most, the purpose is to establish freedom of choice for Manitobans in making their own health choices whether to pursue a vaccine or not. And the elimination of discrimination based on individual health choices. Those who are more vulnerable, or concerned with being at-risk of greater symptoms should absolutely have the liberty to obtain vaccination and personal protective equipment, as well as choose to limit their exposure to crowded areas should they wish. Subjecting to vaccination however should not be a requirement to simply live in the province of Manitoba.
We could go on to debate the safety and efficacy of the current coronavirus vaccines, and attempt to weigh the potential benefits of vaccination against the potential side effects, or to debate the effectiveness of natural immunity against synthetic, however all this would be off topic and an argument without purpose. There are many Manitobans who have spent extensive amounts of time educating themselves, and have come to their own conclusions either for or against vaccination - the conviction of these people will not be changed until a time of their own choice. What will continue to fester and grow is rising discord amongst the population, and an unhealthy division of Manitobans.
So Mr. Goertzen, as the new interim Premier of Manitoba - what is the answer? You have the opportunity today to repair the extremely damaged sentiment toward the Conservative Party that Brian Pallister has left behind, he has created enemies of the Party everywhere across the province, and left many Manitobans wondering where they may find an alternative. The theme of 2021 has been reconciliation. Hallway medicine and hospitals being at capacity has been a problem in Manitoba for decades, this cannot be leveraged as political capital towards restricting the population's freedom of life, instead this should be a 'look in the mirror' moment for all MLA's in improving care. Seize this opportunity to reconcile the divisions created in Manitoba by your predecessor, and unite the people who live here.
We as Manitobans call upon you as Premier, as a representative of the people, and for your own (and your Party's) self-preservation of political position to swiftly:
-Eliminate all discrimination of Manitobans choosing to not be vaccinated at this time.
-Maintain an open economy. The Province needs to function in order to fund the healthcare system. Commit to no more forced business closures (again the option for closure by choice of individual business remains). You are not our parent, we are not your children, you do not know what is best for us.
-Focus health resources on optimizing treatment for those who require it, this includes ensuring our healthcare workforce is cared for. There are many places around the world that Manitoba can turn to for innovation in treatment options. Invest in capacity of equipment and space.
Mr. Goertzen your window of opportunity is narrow; act quickly, act with conviction, and be different.