Premier Doug Ford has quietly apologized to Indigenous NDP MPP Sol Mamakwa after he accused him of “jumping the line” to get vaccinated in a Northern Indigenous community.
The Premier’s office has issued a brief statement confirming the apology.
“Earlier today, Premier Ford called MPP Mamakwa for a private conversation to apologize for his comments during Question Period yesterday.”
Ford alleged that the NDP legislator, who represents the riding of Kiiwetinoong, purposely cut the line to get a COVID-19 vaccine in a Northern Indigenous community.
“He has no right in doing that,” said Mamakwa on Friday. “That’s what oppression is…It was a personal attack on me. Saying I jumped the line.”
Mamakwa acknowledged the Premier’s apology, saying he appreciated that it came from Ford himself.
“We have to undo the damage and fix the issues happening in Indigenous communities,” the MPP said. “If he’s apologizing I think I would want to see some action. Action speaks louder than words.”
Mamakwa was invited by community elders to take the shot to help combat vaccine hesitancy among Indigenous residents in Ontario.
Ford said he had been contacted by some Indigenous leaders who were upset that Mamakwa got the shot early, but did not name them.
Health Minister Christine Elliott on Thursday defended the Premier, saying he was expressing frustration because of the “continuing work” of vaccinating First Nations people.
“Everyone needs to wait their turn. I’m not sure whether [Mr. Mamakwa] was in the lineup for a vaccine or not,” she said.
Indigenous people are a priority under the current phase of the province’s vaccine rollout.
Green Party leader Mike Schreiner was in tears speaking to reporters regarding Ford’s accusations towards Mamakwa.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath sent a letter to Premier Ford regarding his comments about Mamakwa’s participation in the campaign to combat vaccine hesitancy in First Nations communities.
“Your decision to attack Sol Mamakwa (MPP for Kiiwetinoong) for being vaccinated amounts to a reckless, and dangerous undermining of multiple interlocking efforts by First Nations, local governments, Ontario, public health authorities, and the Government of Canada to ensure that all Indigenous adults, both on and off-reserve receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” the letter read, in part.