THE former chief financial officer of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba has launched a leadership campaign website devoted to criticizing government handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Dr. Roussin has failed Manitobans," reads one line that takes up an entire page of Ken Lee’s campaign site, referring to Dr. Brent Roussin, who’s been in charge of the Manitoba’s public health response since the start of the pandemic.
The campaign platform lists several points, including: "no vaccine passports, vaccination not a job requirement, churches and businesses — all essential, added protection for the vulnerable, increase hospital ICU capacity."
The accountant urges his supporters to buy a $20 PC party membership by Wednesday’s 5 p.m. deadline so they can vote to elect him Oct. 30. The next PC leader will be appointed Manitoba’s next premier in the lead-up to the 2023 election.
The party’s leadership election committee, which interviews and approves all candidates, would not say late Tuesday if Lee had made the cut.
"The party is still in the process of reviewing applications and verifying that criteria are met," the committee said in an email. "We will issue a statement on the slate of approved candidates once the nomination deadline has passed and the vetting process is complete.
"The views of any applicant or interested party is their own and not that of the PC party."
Thus far, former health minister and Tuxedo MLA Heather Stefanson, former Conservative MP Shelly Glover and McPhillips MLA Shannon Martin have said they’re vying for the leadership, have passed the vetting process and publicly launched campaigns.
On Tuesday, Lee said in an email to the Free Press he was awaiting approval: "I am not officially a candidate yet."
His campaign website was critical of the Tory pandemic actions, and government response, in general: "The governments have been systematically been taking away our freedoms. The pandemic has allowed governments to justify the erosion of our freedoms and accelerate it to warp speed. They have stomped on the Charter of Rights, the Public Health Act and completely render our passports a useless document."
According to Lee’s bio, he helped the PCs win Seine River constituency back from the NDP.
Seine River is held by Janice Morley-Lecomte, who, along with Springfield-Ritchot MLA Ron Schuler, are the only two members of the PC caucus who have refused to say if they’re vaccinated against COVID-19.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.