MMA referee Jerin Valel got in some trouble when he returned home to Manitoba, Canada after a stint officiating UFC 260 in Las Vegas last month. Valel, a civil servent with the provincial government, had travelled to Vegas despite a travel ban imposed on government employees on February 1 (per CBC).

The ban was instituted after a number of civil servants were caught going on vacation despite the government’s insistence that people only travel for essential trips during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As punishment for his trip to Nevada Valel has been stripped of his interim assistant deputy minister of transformation title, which he assumed in early March. CBC reports that Valel remains as the province’s director of technology transformation for the priorities and planning secretariat, a role he was hired for in February 2020.

Blake Roberts, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister’s director of media relations, told CBC that Valel’s travel to the US “occurred within the recognized public health protocols of a professional sports bubble and did meet cross-border public health rules.” Even so, Roberts said the travel was “contrary to the intent of the province’s travel directive.”

There has been a question over whether or not Valel was given permission by superiors to break the travel ban. However, Roberts stated that the premier “was not aware of the travel”.

Roberts said that Valel moving back to his previous position in government is “an appropriate action” and that Valel has agreed to not travel outside of Manitoba until the travel ban is lifted.

At UFC 260 Valel refereed Marc-Andre Barriault’s TKO win of Abu Azaitar,

A Manitoba public servant has lost an interim appointment after travelling to the United States to referee mixed martial arts fights.

The move, first reported by the CBC, comes after Jerin Valel officiated with the Ultimate Fighting Championship in Las Vegas in late February and March.

Valel has long served as a UFC referee and has also worked as a director of technology transformation for the Manitoba government.

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In February, Valel was named assistant deputy minister of transformation in the Department of Families, to fill in for someone else.

The government says that appointment has been revoked and Valel is back at his former job.

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Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister issued a directive to political staff and other appointees in early February to avoid leisure travel or face possible termination.


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Coronavirus: Manitoba to allow retail stores to sell non-essential goods amid increase in inter-provincial travel – Feb 1, 2021

“This individual’s travel to the United States should not have continued after the directive regarding non-essential travel for Government of Manitoba employees was issued,” Blake Robert, media relations director for the Progressive Conservative cabinet, wrote in an email Wednesday.

Robert did not refer to Valel by name, but said that while the employee had followed health protocols, the trip was “contrary to the intent of the province’s travel directive.”

Read more:
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority chair steps down after reported trip during pandemic

Pallister was not aware of the travel beforehand, Robert added, although he would not say whether the employee had received approval from others in government.

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“As this is a human resources issue and in order to respect employee confidentiality, no further comment may be provided,” Robert wrote.

Attempts by The Canadian Press to reach Valel on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

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WINNIPEG —
A Manitoba civil servant has been demoted for recently travelling to the United States to referee mixed martial arts matches for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The disciplinary measure comes following a provincial directive in early February ordering political appointees not to travel for leisure purposes.

Jerin Valel was the referee in matches for the UFC in Las Vegas in late February and March, after the directive was put in place.

According to a cabinet order, Valel was temporarily promoted to Assistant Deputy Minister of Transformation in the Families Department in late February at an annual salary of $146,690.

In a statement, Blake Robert, the director of media relations for the Pallister Government, says the individual’s travel should not have occurred, following the nonessential travel order.

“Although the travel occurred within the recognized public health protocols of a professional sports bubble and did meet cross-border public health rules, it was contrary to the intent of the province’s travel directive,” writes Robert.

Robert says the appointee has confirmed he will not leave the province again until the directive is lifted, and he has been demoted.

“Appropriate action has been taken with the individual. The individual’s recent move to a senior management role was enacted through an order-in-council, which is being terminated,” Robert said in a statement. “As a result, he will be leaving this senior management role and returning to his previous position in government.”

Valel previously worked as a director of technology transformation for the Manitoba government.

Robert also says Premier Brian Pallister was not aware of the appointee’s travel, but would not say whether the civil servant had been given permission by someone else in government.

“As this is a human resources issue and in order to respect employee confidentiality, no further comment may be provided,”he wrote.

The directive came into place after it was discovered a number of government employees were out of province.

Wayne McWhirter, the chair of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, resigned after travelling to Arizona.

PC MLA James Teitsma was stripped of a committee appointment for travelling out west over the holidays.

Pallister’s former campaign manager and current Clerk of the Executive Council, David McLaughlin, was allowed to work remotely from Ottawa during the last two weeks of December.

CTV News has reached out to Jerin Valel for comment. 

-With files from The Canadian Press

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CBC

Derek Chauvin justified in his use of force against George Floyd, witness tells murder trial

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was justified in using his knees to pin down George Floyd, a use-of-force expert testified on Tuesday, contradicting testimony by former and current city police officers who said Chauvin’s actions violated policy and were excessive. “I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement in his interactions with Mr. Floyd,” Barry Brodd, a former officer in Santa Rosa, Calif., told the Hennepin County District Court in downtown Minneapolis. Brodd, one of a series of witnesses who testified for the defence on Tuesday in the murder trial of Chauvin, also claimed that putting Floyd in the prone position — handcuffed while placed on his stomach, and face first to the pavement — was not a use of force. “It’s a control technique. it doesn’t hurt,” he said. “You’ve put the suspect in a position where it’s safe for you, the officer, safe for them, the suspect, and you’re using minimal effort to keep them on the ground.” Defence lays out case Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, began to lay out the defence’s case on Tuesday after 11 days of testimony from prosecution witnesses. Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed a knee on the back of his neck for about nine minutes as two other officers held him down face first to the pavement, while he was handcuffed. He had been detained outside a convenience store after being suspected of paying with a counterfeit bill. Chauvin is on trial on charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of the 46-year-old Black man. The prosecution says Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck caused his death. But the defence argues it was a combination of Floyd’s underlying medical conditions, drug use and adrenaline flowing through his system that ultimately killed him. Defence lawyer Eric Nelson begins to lay out Chauvin’s case in his murder trial on Tuesday after 11 days of testimony from prosecution witnesses in a Minneapolis courtroom. (Court TV/The Associated Press) Several top Minneapolis police officials, including Chief Medaria Arradondo, have testified for the prosecution that Chauvin used excessive force and violated his training. And medical experts called by prosecutors have said that Floyd died from a lack of oxygen because of the way he was restrained. But the defence claims Chauvin did what his training taught him to do. Brodd said that once Floyd was pinned to the ground, he was still engaged in “active resistance” and struggling against the efforts of the officers. “Officers are trained that any time you get resistance from a suspect or you’re dealing with a high-risk suspect, it’s safer for you, the officer and for the suspect to put him on the ground in a prone position face down for a variety of reasons, some