A Manitoba reeve is in hot water with his council after speaking at a controversial anti-mask rally in Steinbach on the weekend.
La Broquerie reeve Lewis Weiss was a high-profile speaker at the event, which has been widely condemned by other Manitoba leaders, including Premier Brian Pallister.
As a result of his participation in the rally, the municipality’s council has filed a formal complaint with the province and is waiting to hear what advice the province will give on how to deal with Weiss.
Deputy reeve Ivan Normandeau told 680 CJOB one council member even asked Weiss to resign at a Wednesday meeting, a request the reeve declined.
“It was disappointing that he attended the rally,” said Normandeau.
“The other thing was we had received a letter on the Friday night before the rally from (Municipal Relations) Minister (Rochelle) Squires stating that he should re-think going up at this rally… and that if he does go ahead and do this, council might have the option of sending a formal complaint to the province.
“I was more disappointed you had a letter before, got warning before, and you still went ahead and did it.”
The letter from Squires strongly urged the reeve to reconsider his participation in the rally, threatening fines and letting him know he could face a code of conduct complaint, which has potentially serious ramifications.
“I strongly recommend that you review the information on the Manitoba COVID-19 response website,” said Squires in the letter.
“Carefully consider how your words and actions may impact the safety of your community.”
Normandeau said Weiss should be allowed to hold his own opinions on the COVID-19 pandemic and other topics, but that he needs to balance his personal views with the needs of the community he represents.
“Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, I don’t disagree with that,” he said.
“The issue is once you become an elected official, you’re representing your ratepayers and your taxpayers. Yes, you can have your opinions, but sometimes your opinions could be kept at the dining room table and not out in the public eye.”
At the rally, Weiss — who was handed a ticket by enforcement officials for his participation — made it clear he was not there on behalf of his council and that he appreciates health-care workers.
“Let’s question things, there’s many things, we need to educate ourselves,” he said after suggesting attendees watch a video that has been debunked by The Associated Press, among other media outlets.
Despite the awkward situation, Normandeau said La Broquerie is a small community, and its government has to work together for the benefit of residents, and that Weiss has worked with council on other issues since the Steinbach rally with no problems.
“It’s a matter of forgetting the differences and work for the better being of the taxpayers,” he said.