Winnipeg mayor calls on Manitoba premier to apologize for Canadian history comments

WINNIPEG — Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman wants Premier Brian Pallister to say sorry for comments he made three weeks ago about Canada’s history.

“I think any comments that either deny or attempt to marginalize the purposes or the impact of residential schools it’s just not historically accurate,” said Bowman.

The mayor says in recent meetings with Indigenous leaders, the topic has dominated the conversations and is aggravating efforts at reconciliation.

He believes the premier needs to apologize to move forward.

“I was quite angered by the comments because I along with so many Winnipeggers have put so much effort into building bridges,” said Bowman.

Earlier this month, Pallister announced the two Queen statues toppled during a protest on Canada Day would be rebuilt. The Premier explained our ancestors came here to build and not destroy things, including farms, businesses, and churches.

Indigenous leaders felt the remarks were revisionist and insensitive.

Pallister has stood by his comments saying he was not talking about colonialism and was appealing to all people to work together.

Following the remarks, Indigenous Relations Minister Eileen Clarke resigned and her replacement, Alan Lagimodiere, apologized for controversial statements he made about residential schools minutes after he was sworn in.

There have been small cracks within Pallister’s cabinet and the PC caucus with some distancing themselves from all of the remarks.

Families Minister Rochelle Squires has said she is deeply troubled by recent comments and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard said she can’t support hurtful remarks.

“I’ve been waiting along with a lot of Manitobans for the Premier to apologize,” said Bowman. “If his caucus won’t publicly insist that he apologize, then it falls on community leaders like myself and others.”

Bowman called for the apology on Twitter, less than two hours before a funding announcement with media and all three levels of government represented.

The Pallister Government was asked about the timing and released a statement.

“Premier and cabinet are focused on real reconciliation efforts and advancing equal opportunity for all. Only the mayor can comment on what his personal motivations are for himself,” the statement reads. 

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