Manitoba Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen is calling on Manitobans and the federal government to “lower the temperature” when it comes to the reaction to anti-mandate protests across the province and the country.
“This needs to be resolved with a federal government that is willing to engage with people to try to come to a resolution,” Goertzen said. “We’re not always going to agree, but we have to understand where others are coming from.”
Goertzen told media Thursday he’s heard words recently from Justin Trudeau that are “unnecessarily divisive” and wants Manitobans to put themselves in the shoes of others before reacting.
“I think all of us have to bring the temperature down a bit before we get to a better place of understanding,” Goertzen said.
As Goertzen spoke inside the Manitoba Legislative Building Thursday, a protest against COVID-19 mandates continued on outside for a seventh day in a row.
The justice minister says the protest will have to end eventually.
“I’m encouraged by some of the discussions I’ve heard happen between the Winnipeg Police Service and those who are involved in the protest, but it can’t go on forever,” he said.
“Their point has been made, their point has been heard, and there is going to come a time where we have to move on from this.”
Goertzen respects the peaceful right to protest, but it can’t come at the cost of potentially harming others. RCMP shared a story on social media Wednesday of a Highway 3 convoy which blocked people from accessing the only hospital in the area.
“Be very mindful of where you are in terms of hospitals, in terms of other emergency vehicles, in terms of others who are signalling they need to move through because they might have some sort of emergency,” Goertzen said.
“We don’t want to see those consequences as a result of the right to protest, we have to be mindful of others as well.”
NDP Leader Wab Kinew says Goertzen’s press conference was full of excuses and calls it an “abdication of leadership” to blame Justin Trudeau.
“The PCs are not responding to this situation the way Manitobans want them to,” Kinew said. “The premier should have come out today and said clearly, it’s time for the convoy to go home.”
Even though Winnipeg Police are in charge of operations, Goertzen confirms the province is looking at other options that it may be able to utilize to solve the situation.
He says Manitoba premier Heather Stefanson and Dr. Brent Roussin will hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Friday to discuss an update on public health orders and the further loosening of restrictions.