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Manitoba premier says sorry after unparliamentary language directed at opponent

WINNIPEG — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister apologized Tuesday after using some very unparliamentary language during a committee hearing.

Pallister was appearing before a legislature committee that examines the provincial budget in detail.

While fielding questions from Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew about the COVID-19 pandemic, he accused Kinew of unfairly criticizing health officials.

The committee chairman interrupted Pallister and said his time was up. The premier’s microphone appeared to turn off for a split second, but then it was immediately back on.

“… approach to just being an asshole,” Pallister was heard to say during the hearing, which was livestreamed.

Committee chair Dennis Smook, a backbencher in the Progressive Conservative government, asked Pallister to withdraw his comment.

“I withdraw that comment,” Pallister responded.

Kinew appeared to accept the apology.

“These are trying times. I think we all acknowledge that,” Kinew told the committee before going on to his next question.

“First I want to apologize to (Kinew) for my comment earlier,” Pallister said when his turn came.

The exchange was part of a late afternoon question-and-answer session in which Kinew asked Pallister about Manitoba’s rising demand for intensive care beds. Manitoba has shipped 18 intensive care patients to Ontario to free up bed space.

Kinew said the government failed to expand intensive care unit capacity before the pandemic’s third wave, which arrived in Manitoba later than in other provinces.

“There were no steps taken to prepare for this third wave in a way that would have actually made a difference,” Kinew said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2021

The Canadian Press