During a press conference Thursday morning, Premier Brian Pallister acknowledged the anger, fury, and disappointment that have been thrown his way ever since he began making decisions and imposing restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a shaky voice, and often holding back tears, he delivered the following address.
“A reporter asked me at the last scrum why I like to be hated so much. I believe that was the question…
Look, if you don’t care for me, I understand, I totally do. I’m the guy who has told you you cannot shop. I am the person who has come forward here in front of you 75 times and has asked you to do things you have never done before and has asked you to do that every day. I am the person who has told you you can’t go to work. I am the premier who has said you can’t run your business because we have the toughest restrictions in Canada and it affects people who put their lives into their businesses.
I am the person who has come before you and has said you can’t go to church, you can’t see your friends, you can’t travel… I’m that guy. I totally get that you don’t like that, I don’t like saying it, but it’s got to be said. I am the one that took on this job to say it."
He continues. "When I was fourteen years old I lived with my grandparents and I was late for school one day and the principal, an ex-military guy named Bill Taylor, met me at the door and he looked up at me, because I was a pretty gangly kid, and he said something I will always remember.
"He gave me heck, and then he looked at me and said: ‘you don’t like me right now son, and that’s okay, I want you to respect me in 10 years.'
"And that was good, it stayed with me, and I do respect him. I respect him for what he did. He did the right thing, though it wasn’t the easy thing.
"Know this about me: I did not get into politics for the adulation, I got into politics to do the right thing. To try to save my town, to try to help people, I do what I believe is right, I do what I believe is necessary, this is who you need right now, I am that person. I will do what I believe is right and right now we need to save lives.
"If you don’t think that Covid is real right now you are an idiot. You need to understand that we are all in this together, you cannot fail to understand this.
"So I am the guy who has to tell you to stay apart at Christmas and in the Holiday season that you celebrate normally with friends and with family, where you share memories and build memories, I am that guy. And I will say that because it will keep you safe.
"I’m the guy who’s stealing Christmas to keep you safe because you need to do this now. You need to do the right thing because next year we will have lots to celebrate and we will celebrate this year, if we do the right thing this year.
"You don’t need to like me, but I hope in the years to come you might respect me for having the guts to tell you the right thing. And here is the right thing: stay safe, protect each other, love each other, care for each other, you got so many ways to show that, but don’t get together this Christmas.