Mayoral candidate refuses to abide by U of M mask rules

Jenny Motkaluk opts to go maskless at U of M-hosted forum despite mandate

At a mayoral forum held on the U of M Fort Garry campus, mayoral hopeful Jenny Motkaluk chose not to wear a mask despite the campus’ mandatory mask policy.

The forum, centred on the candidates’ environmental platforms, was held on Sept. 26 in the Robert B. Schultz lecture theatre.

Out of the 10 candidates present at the forum, Motkaluk was the only one not wearing a mask.

She commended the federal government’s decision to end the COVID-19 prevention mandates and restrictions in place for those travelling by plane, saying that “at some point, this thing’s got to be over.”

“Quite frankly, I’m done wearing masks,” she said in her opening remarks. “I’m done social distancing. It’s time for us to recover, and I’m really looking forward to doing that.”

The statement was met with boos from the audience.

Motkaluk and her team did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Motkaluk’s campaign platform includes promises to cancel photo radar, to protect the city’s urban forest by planting two trees for every tree lost and to ensure that there are no road construction barriers while active construction work isn’t taking place, with the goal of making Winnipeg a “city of opportunity.”

At the University of Manitoba, the mask mandate is enforced 24/7. U of M spokesperson Myrrhanda Novak said in an email statement to the Manitoban that for students, non-compliance or disruption of academic activities may result in an investigation under the student discipline bylaw, and could lead in disciplinary action.

Instructors can remove their masks when teaching if there is a distance of more than two metres between them and their students, and masking is not required for those alone in closed spaces, outdoors or consuming food or beverages in a designated area.

Novak said that the event’s organizers and all participants were made aware of the mask policy. She said that since the forum was not a university event, it was the role of the organizers to enforce the policy.

“It is very disappointing to see a community leader attend an event on campus and then fail to adhere to the policies that help to keep our community safe,” she said.

“Those who do not wish to follow campus policies should avoid attending events on campus and may be prevented from doing so in the future.”