Manitoba MLA facing criticism for not showing proper vaccine proof at restaurant
One Progressive Conservative MLA in Manitoba is facing criticism for not showing proper proof of vaccination while at a restaurant.
Wendy May, owner of the Oakwood Café, said Seine River MLA Janice Morley-Lecomte came to the restaurant on Friday.
She said when a server asked Morley-Lecomte for proof of vaccination, the MLA provided a printout with no information that could be scanned and no secondary photo ID.
May noted that Morley didn’t provide a vaccination card or QR card on her phone or other device.
“What we’re allowed to accept is the physical plastic card with a scannable code or the QR code, or if you have the pan-Canadian card that has the QR code that we’re able to scan,” May said.
“She didn’t have those. She had a piece of paper, which we think had her proof of vaccination on it, but there was nothing that we were able to scan.”
May noted that when the server said the restaurant required the QR code, Morley-Lecomte said the restaurant was wrong for requesting the information.
“We showed her what we had printed out from Public Health, which was what we’re able to accept,” May explained.
“She then said she was an MLA. Our server asked if she would like to download the app onto her phone, so she could then get the QR code, and she said she wasn’t willing to do that.”
The restaurant informed Morley-Lecomte they could not serve her without the proper vaccination proof, and the MLA left the business.
May added that the MLA was not rude, and recognizes that at one time printouts were considered an acceptable form of vaccine proof.
“It was a very unfortunate situation,” May said.
“I want to stress, she wasn’t rude, she wasn’t belligerent. But the fact that she kept announcing that she was an MLA and worked for the government, made it feel like she expected different treatment.”
May said she believes Morley-Lecomte should know the current public health orders, which require eligible Manitobans to show proper proof of vaccination to dine at a restaurant. She added restaurants face financial repercussions if they break the rules.
“We stand by what the health orders ask us to do,” she said, noting the restaurant does get checked for health order compliance.
“It’s not whether we agree with them or disagree with them. They are what they are and it’s how we operate. We want to keep running. We want people to be safe and comfortable. We want people to know that we do follow the orders.”
May said those who work for the government are there to set the example for the rest of the province.
“It’s nothing personal. We’d be happy to welcome her back any time, providing that she has the correct information that we need to see,” she said.
May wrote a letter to Premier Heather Stefanson about the situation, because she feels it’s important that she knows what MLAs are doing when they are not at work.
“There’s no excuse after this much time to tell us we’re not correct,” May said.
“Hand on heart, if we could be proven wrong. I’m absolutely fine with that, because the information changes quite quickly sometimes.”
In a statement to CTV News, Morley-Lecomte said she is double vaccinated and has since downloaded the QR code on her phone.
“If there was a misunderstanding, I do apologize. I had used the printed record multiple times at restaurants and other locations where proof of vaccination status is required and it was accepted," she said.
Morley-Lecomte posted on Twitter that she showed the server government proof of vaccination.
“She stated she had to scan a QR code and went to ask the owner if the government proof of vax was sufficient,” the tweet said.
“I was told no, had to scan a card. I left the Oakwood restaurant.”
The Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association said it is disheartened by this situation.
“We’re going into a holiday season, we’re supposed to be cheery and smiley we shouldn’t’ have to be dealing with this," said Shaun Jeffrey, executive director and CEO of the association.
"You’ve got an elected official going into a restaurant and obviously not following the guidelines that have been outlined by the government, it just puts extra stress on our operators and they just don’t need it at this point.”
Nahanni Fontaine, NDP house leader, said this incident is an example of the difficulties front-line workers face during the pandemic.
-with files from CTV's Jeff Keele