Ford apologizes to MPP Sol Mamakwa after accusing him of COVID-19 vaccine queue jumping
Ford's apology should go to Indigenous people across Ontario, Kiiwetinoong MPP says
Ontario Premier Doug Ford's office says he has phoned Indigenous MPP Sol Mamakwa Friday to apologize for publicly accusing him of jumping the line to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
"Earlier today, Premier Ford called New Democratic Party MPP Mamakwa for a private conversation to apologize for his comments during Question Period yesterday," a spokesperson for the premier's office said in an email.
Mamakwa confirmed he received the call just before 3 p.m. He said the call lasted for a minute and half. During the call the MPP said Ford apologized "for attacking me personally yesterday during the question period."
Mamakwa added that he appreciated the call, but did not say if he accepted the apology.
"As an Indigenous person, yes, it was a personal attack on me saying that I jumped the line. But I think when you are trying to save lives, literally, in Indigenous communities, that wasn't a fair comment," he told reporters on Friday.
"It's the Indigenous people across Ontario that need a public apology from him," he said.
Mamakwa, who represents the northwest Ontario riding of Kiiwetinoong, was invited by Muskrat Dam First Nation Chief Gordon Beardy to receive his first dose of the vaccine in February.
Demands for the apology grew from the opposition after Ford's comment in question period on Thursday.
"The member flew in [to] get his vaccine, so thank you for doing that and kind of jumping the line," Ford said at the time. "I talked to a few chiefs that were pretty upset about that for flying into the community that he doesn't belong to, but that's here nor there."
Mamakwa said Ford told him he felt the MPP was "going after him" on Thursday by asking about the vaccine plan for urban Indigenous adults, which is what prompted the comment.
He said Ford invited him to come meet him in his office but Mamakwa said he would rather see him in the fly-in community in Northern Ontario where there is a water, housing and mental health crisis, instead of going to his office "and having a cup of tea."