Vaccines Finish the Pandemic’s Political Concord

After the pandemic in Canada wasn’t a partisan problem for several months, the prospect of effective vaccines has finally politicized it. While the political dissent in no way resembles the polarization surrounding the pandemic in the United States, Erin O’Toole has made the government’s vaccination plans the subject of his first major attack as a Conservative leader on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

With Mr. O’Toole some of the prime ministers were. Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford, who only said in August, “I absolutely love Chrystia Freeland,” grumbles Deputy Prime Minister von Trudeau about being denied information by the Liberal government.

Although no vaccine is currently approved for use in Canada, the US, or Europe, Mr O’Toole tabled a motion in Parliament Thursday to require the government, among other things, to publish certain dates for when Canadians begin receiving each of the various vaccines it has ordered; provide details on how the vaccines are shipped and stored; and indicate who the government will recommend to be vaccinated first by the provincial health systems.

“Canadians deserve to know when to expect each type of vaccine to be available in Canada and how many vaccines will be available each month,” said O’Toole. “In the midst of a historic health crisis, this government shouldn’t be operating behind closed doors.”

The motion followed earlier allegations by Mr. O’Toole that the government had overly focused its efforts on a joint vaccine business between CanSino, a Chinese vaccine maker, the National Research Council and Dalhousie University, which ultimately fell apart due to China’s lack of cooperation. He also said Canada was at the bottom of the list of the millions of vaccine doses it has ordered.

The government rejects Mr. Toole’s allegations that they somehow dropped the vaccine and will keep Canadians waiting for the shooting.

When Anita Anand, the minister responsible for purchases, confirmed this week that the first doses will arrive in early 2021, she stressed that everything now depends on Health Canada to determine if the vaccines are both safe and effective.

“While there is pressure to move at the speed of politics, we will not rush science,” she told a press conference. “It is not possible to circle a single date on the calendar, but I can assure you that our delivery process will begin as soon as it is approved by Health Canada.”

However, this begs the question of why the UK is now adopting the vaccine from Pfizer, the American company that will also be Canada’s first supplier. Benjamin Mueller, my London-based colleague, recently stated that, unlike Canada and the US, the UK regulator is more willing to rely on reports from drug companies that their vaccines are safe and work as promised than analyze the raw data .

[Read: Why the U.K. Approved a Coronavirus Vaccine First]

Not everyone accepts the wisdom of the UK’s accelerated approach.

Scott Matthews, a professor of political science at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, told me that it was inevitable that political harmony in Canada around the pandemic would wane.

“The prime minister benefited from the absence of criticism,” he said.

However, he said there was no danger that the current focus on vaccine delivery would undermine the overall message of the importance of following public health guidelines to reduce infection.

“The Conservatives’ approach does not put people’s lives at risk and it is natural that they criticize the government – that is exactly what the opposition is doing,” he said. But Professor Matthews wondered what would be gained by setting certain dates. “Is the movement you’re talking about really that important?” he asked.

  • On November 7, before British Columbia imposed new pandemic restrictions and after the end of the pro hockey season, several NHL players and Patrick Chan, an Olympic gold medalist in figure skating, stepped aboard two helicopters. Their goal was a makeshift ice rink about 100 kilometers north of Vancouver at a mountain top height of 1,800 meters. Gerald Narciso tells the story of that day, captured in breathtaking photos by Devin Olsen and Zachary Moxley.

  • In his statement, Nicholas Kristof, examining the damage done by Pornhub and its Montreal-based parent company Mindgeek, asked, “Why is Canada home to a company that causes rape videos to the world?” (A note of caution, his detailed report includes descriptions sexual assault.)

  • Suzanne Simard of the University of British Columbia is one of the scientists who changed our understanding of forests. It has shown that it is not a collection of individual trees fighting each other for resources, but huge and complex societies that exchange carbon, water and nutrients via underground mushroom networks. Take some time to read Ferris Jabr’s article for New York Times Magazine, beautifully illustrated by Brendan George Ko, a Toronto-based photographer.

  • Elliot Page, the Halifax-born and raised actor and Oscar-nominated star of Juno, announced on Tuesday that he is transgender.

  • A group of tiny eggs arrived at the Montreal Insectarium in 2018. You would solve a centuries-old riddle about an elusive leaf insect.

  • Several indigenous podcasters made their recommendations for podcasts about their people and communities.

  • As it wrote off $ 20 billion in natural gas investments. Exxon Mobil said it would remove gas projects in Canada, the US and Argentina from its plans.

  • Police said two American women tampered with train signals in Washington state, an action that could potentially derail. The manipulation that led to allegations of terrorism appears to have been an act of solidarity with indigenous Canadians who opposed the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline between Alberta and British Columbia.

Ian Austen is from Windsor, Ontario. He trained in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has been reporting on Canada for the New York Times for 16 years. Follow him on Twitter @ianrausten.

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