Manitoba

Premier compares pandemic-denying rural Manitoba reeve to flat earther

Premier Brian Pallister called out a southeastern Manitoba reeve for denying the existence of a pandemic that has killed 10 people and sickened hundreds of others in the health district that encompasses his municipality.

Pallister urges La Broquerie reeve to recognize his own constituents are sick and dying

La Broquerie Reeve Lewis Weiss, left, gets written a fine for nearly $1,300 for disregarding a public health order at a Steinbach rally against COVID-19 government restrictions on Nov 14, 2020. Weiss claims there is no pandemic. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Premier Brian Pallister called out a southeastern Manitoba reeve for denying the existence of a pandemic that has killed 10 people and sickened hundreds of others in the health district that encompasses his municipality.

Lewis Weiss, the reeve of the RM of La Broquerie, has provoked criticism from some constituents and council colleagues for attending a protest against COVID-19 health restrictions near Steinbach on Nov. 14. 

Early Wednesday, he spoke out against his critics during a La Broquerie council meeting which also saw him deny the existence of the disease, mistake the novel coronavirus for influenza and question the efficacy of vaccines, the Steinbach Carillon reported.

"The science I'm hearing from around the world is that this is not a pandemic," Weiss said at the morning meeting.

"This is a normal influenza that has been blown out of proportion to dupe the people into taking a vaccine that has not been tested on animals like every other vaccine since the early 2000s, and then it's rejected because it doesn't work."

Hours later, Manitoba's premier responded to Weiss's comments.

"We had 18 deaths today. There's been 1.5 million-plus deaths worldwide. And so to the reeve of La Broquerie, I have to say, sir, we live in the Red River Valley. It is flat between you and I, but the world is not flat. You need to understand there is a real epidemic out there. It's a pandemic and people in your area are getting COVID, too," the premier said at the end of a Wednesday public-health briefing.

"So please, sir, it's not a myth. It's a reality. Let's let's work together and make sure that we lessen the impacts on Manitoba families wherever they live as much as we possibly can going forward."

Weiss could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. He's facing a code-of-conduct complaint launched by five out of his six council colleagues.

If the complaint is substantiated, a provincial investigator will recommend penalties that range from a suspension to a $1,000 fine.

Weiss has already been fined $1,296 for attending the Steinbach-area rally.

As of Wednesday, 273 people have contracted COVID-19 in the Ste. Anne-La Broquerie health district, according to Manitoba Public Health. Ten of those patients died.

At the La Broquerie council meeting, Weiss suggested COVID deaths are influenza deaths in care homes, the Carillon reported.

"Of course people are dying. People have always died. People will die. Traffic accidents kill way more people. Smoking and alcohol-related things kill way more people," he said.

"Are people out there boycotting stores that sell tobacco and alcohol? Of course not."

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