Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed Monday that Canada “had a better pandemic” than other developed countries.
According to Blacklock's Reporter, Trudeau selectively quoted statistics when attributing a strong pandemic response to his government without identifying any source to substantiate his claim.
“We had a better pandemic than many of our peer countries: fewer deaths, lower levels of economic disruption and greater social cohesion than many other places,” he said.
A Mortality Analyses report by John Hopkins, the University of Medicine, ranked Canada's COVID death rate higher than many industrialized countries, including Norway (95 per 100,000) at 134 per 100,000 population.
Conversely, the report showed Canada's death rate did not exceed the United States (339 per 100,000 population), the United Kingdom (323), or France (254), among others in Europe.
Trudeau declared his government is “grounded in science and data” and attributed Ottawa's COVID management to following the advice of public health offices, which encouraged widespread vaccination “through every means we could.”
However, the prime minister reluctantly admitted Friday that he wished he had used different words in criticizing Canadians opposed to vaccine mandates, including participants of last year's Freedom Convoy.
“Do you regret calling Ottawa protestors a fringe minority?” asked a reporter.
Trudeau replied: “Yes. I wished I had said that differently.”
Trudeau has repeatedly espoused divisive rhetoric against Canadians regarding vaccination status against COVID.
On January 26, 2022, Trudeau called the Freedom Convoy “the small fringe minority of people who are on their way to Ottawa holding unacceptable views.”
He also referred to mandate critics as “anti-vaxxer mobs” and “people who wave swastikas.”
On August 31, 2021, Trudeau called them “unfit parents” because “they are putting their kids and our kids at risk as well.”
“What about my choice to keep my kids safe?” he claimed.
Weeks later, the prime minister called his opponents “extremists who don't believe in science.”
“They are often misogynists, also often racists. It's a small group of people that muscles in, and we have to make a choice,” he said, adding: “Do we tolerate these people?”
Trudeau's former finance minister, Bill Morneau, condemned him for making vaccine mandates a political wedge in the 2021 federal election.
He accosted Trudeau for his “polarizing” leadership that pit Canadians against each other.
“When you react to social media quickly to the 24/7 news cycle, you find yourself making decisions, saying things that exacerbate the strongly held opinions of the people putting out those points of view,” said Morneau in a January interview.
During Friday's press conference, Trudeau did not retract his remarks following the release of the long-awaited Public Order Emergency Commission report by Commissioner Paul Rouleau. However, he clarified that “a very small number of people in this country deliberately spread misinformation and disinformation that led to Canadians' deaths.”
He accused them of causing undue hardship in people who believed them.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre responded to Trudeau's remarks Friday, calling him a “divisive” leader.
“The prime minister seeks to divide and distract,” claimed Poilievre. “He thinks if you are afraid of your neighbour, you'll forget you can't pay your rent.”
“If you're afraid of a trucker, you might forget that you're hungry and take your eye off the guy who caused the problem in the first place,” he continued.
Poilievre referenced Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland calling COVID a “political opportunity” and her predecessor Bill Morneau denouncing Trudeau for making vaccinations a wedge issue as causes for concern.
He ultimately condemned Ottawa for undermining the trust of Canadians in their public institutions.
However, Trudeau maintains that he is still “very firm against those [protesters],” though he pivoted from his previous remarks, calling them “a small subset of people [who] were hurting and [wanted] to be heard.”
“As much as I tried to emphasize throughout the time that, of course, we're always going to stand up for freedom of speech and protest peacefully, I wish I hadn't said something that could be spread larger,” said Trudeau. “If I had chosen my words [carefully] and been more specific, I think things might have been a bit easier.”
He adds that his government will continue to listen to all voices across “this wonderfully diverse country" but claims that "listening to each other goes both [ways].”
“We hear their skepticism around science. They also need to hear our belief in science.”
“These are conversations we need to have — not to say, of course, that everyone who chose not to get vaccinated doesn't believe in science,” said Trudeau. “Of course not. Individuals make decisions for themselves. We will always respect that.”
“But those individuals who deliberately chose to amplify falsehoods and put their fellow citizens at risk were things a government needed to firmly [oppose]. Our job is to keep Canadians safe. That's what we did.”