Moe apologizes for '2 classes of citizen' comments, clarifies remarks

Premier Scott Moe was asked twice this week to apologize for comments he made last month about vaccine requirements creating "two classes of citizens," once on Tuesday by NDP MLA Betty Nippi-Albright on and then again on Wednesday by Opposition Leader Ryan Meili.

Moe said last month that vaccine requirements 'effectively created 2 classes of citizens' in Sask.

Saskatchewan Opposition NDP Leader Ryan Meili and Premier Scott Moe in the legislative assembly. (CBC)

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe apologized Thursday for comments he made last month saying vaccine requirements had "effectively created two classes of citizens" in the province. 

"[It's] my sincere hope that I would have offended no one with that comment," Moe said during a media scrum. 

"That comment was directed specifically to health-care policy that we have implemented as a government.

"If people were most certainly offended, listen, I am sorry."

Watch Moe's original statement from Feb. 8 here: 

Sask. Premier Scott Moe's '2 classes of citizen' statement on vaccine requirements

1 year ago
Duration 0:41
On Feb. 8, Sask. Premier Scott Moe said vaccination requirements created two classes of citizen in the province.

Moe was asked twice this week in the Legislature to apologize for the comments, once on Tuesday by NDP MLA Betty Nippi-Albright and then again on Wednesday by Opposition Leader Ryan Meili.

When Albright, a residential school survivor, first asked for an apology during question period Tuesday, Premier Moe did not address the question, with Health Minister Paul Merriman standing instead. 

"The question was for the premier, not the Minister of Health," Albright said during question period.

"For many Indigenous residents of Saskatchewan, the trauma of residential schools and colonization still lives on. For the premier to evoke language to justify his political choices was wrong. Will the premier apologize for those comments he made a month ago?"

Betty Nippi-Albright, NDP MLA for Saskatoon Centre, said Moe's comments were wrong because, 'Saskatchewan has a long, trauma-filled history where one class of citizens were taken from their families, forced to be assimilated, and faced abuse,' referring to Indigenous peoples. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Merriman replied, saying, "there have been divisions in our province, and this government has recognized that. But, Mr. Speaker, what we're doing is we're continuing to work with all of our Indigenous partners to be able to reconcile that."

On Wednesday, Meili said Moe's comments were incorrect and insulting to Indigenous people and women who were denied the right to vote for years.

"Aside from being an inflammatory description of sensible public health measures — public health measures he introduced, admittedly much later than he should have — this comment was deeply ignorant of history, ignoring multiple past examples of real discrimination, such as the long-delayed right for women and Indigenous people to vote," Meili said.

Moe didn't apologize during Wednesday's session, but he clarified his remarks.

"With respect to the comments that I had made, they were very much in reference to a health-care policy that we were putting in place in this province and other provinces were putting in place across the nation," he said in the Legislature. 

"Health-care policy that was being brought in place through the Delta wave to make every attempt to make our communities and our families safer."

LISTEN | Saskatoon Morning host Heather Morrison asked Moe about his "two classes of citizens" remarks during an interview in mid-February: 
Vaccine passports are a thing of the past in the province, with masks soon to follow. Guest host Heather Morrison speaks with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe about the status of the province as we enter the next phase of the pandemic.

With files from Adam Hunter