Phone call between Sask. premier, group opposing COVID-19 policies raises questions
Questions were raised at the Saskatchewan Legislative Building on Monday about a phone call between Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and an organization that opposes the province’s COVID-19 health measures.
In an emailed statement, the premier’s office confirmed he spoke on the phone with Nadine Ness, the president of “Unified Grassroots” over the weekend.
“Throughout the pandemic, the Premier, Ministers and government MLAs have spoken with many residents of the province who have concerns and questions about the government’s response and actions,” the statement reads.
“Some think the public health measures have gone too far while other believe they have not gone far enough.”
NDP opposition leader Ryan Meili said the meeting was a “strange thing for the premier to do.”
“When we’ve had patients and healthcare workers coming into this house, he hasn’t met with them, he’s often turned his back on them when we’re asking questions or introducing them,” Meili said Monday.
“Then when you get this radical extremist group, a group that’s been promoting anti-vaccine messages, suddenly he drops everything and has loads of time for them.”
Unified Grassroots describes itself as “an action oriented group that aims to create an open and compassionate space for people to gather and support each other” on its website.
The organization was involved in a court challenge earlier this year that contested the province’s proof of vaccination policy, which failed.
Ness requested a meeting with the premier in a video posted to YouTube on Nov. 27.
“I’ve tried to get a hold of Scott Moe, I’ve called their MLAs several times,” Ness said in the video. “No one seemed to listen to our concerns. They seem to have their own way of doing things and they’re not open to listening and representing the people of Saskatchewan.”
In a second video, posted on Dec. 4, Ness said she received a call from Moe. She said they spoke for “quite a long period of time” and described the call as a “good productive talk.”
The premier’s office said the premier spent the weekend returning calls to residents on “both sides” of the public health measures debate.
“This was one such call,” the statement said. “Many have called on the government to combat misinformation around vaccinations, and significant efforts have been undertaken including public campaigns and individual conversations.”
“This is the problem. This is a premier who has continually pandered to extremists, pandered to those who are against vaccines, against public health measures, and that’s how we wound up with the worst fourth wave in the country,” Meili said.
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