Manitoba cabinet minister who refused to discuss vaccine status dropped from cabinet

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WINNIPEG — A Manitoba cabinet minister who refused to discuss his COVID-19 vaccination status has been dropped from cabinet.

Ron Schuler is being replaced in the infrastructure and emergency measures portfolios by Reg Helwer, who is also minister for central services.

The announcement from Premier Heather Stefanson offered no reason for the change.

A message on Ron Schuler's Twitter account said liberty has its price and he is paying for his.

Schuler was the only member of the Progressive Conservative caucus to refuse to disclose his vaccination status.

Stefanson ordered all her caucus members to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 15, and said one day before the deadline that everyone had complied.

Schuler also held a press conference in the legislature the day after a requirement took effect to be vaccinated to enter the building. He said his personal health information was private.

Schuler's departure from cabinet comes before a shuffle that Stefanson has promised for January.

"The premier thanks Ron Schuler ... for over five years of service as a cabinet minister in various portfolios," a press release from Stefanson's office read. A cabinet shuffle is still expected in the new year, the release added.

Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew said Stefanson should go further.

"Will (Stefanson) now remove him from caucus as well?," Kinew posted on Twitter.

Schuler has been a legislature member since 1999. He ran for the Tory leadership in 2006 and finished a distant second.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 30, 2021

The Canadian Press

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