Trudeau staffers worried “about the optics” of praising a South Korean donation of 35,000 N-95 masks to veterans in May of last year because the gift — in commemoration of Canada's participation in the Korean War — was made at a time that N-95 masks were only encouraged in medical settings.
According to Blacklock's Reporter,
South Korea’s Ministry of Patriots in 2020 donated a million high-grade masks to foreign veterans worldwide in commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. A total 35,000 were donated to Canadian veterans “as an expression of deep gratitude for their collective service and sacrifice,” said the Korean Embassy in Ottawa.
A May 2020 report from Korean JoongAng Daily stated that South Korea had already begun sending one million face masks to the 22 countries that participated in the 1950-1953 Korean War, with a recommendation that the masks be given to the veterans — average age 88 — of the conflict.
Choi Jeong-sik, a spokesman of the Veterans Ministry, said in a briefing Thursday that the mask donation is to “convey Korea’s gratitude for the sacrifices and contribution made by the UN Command veterans marking the 70th anniversary of the Korean War.”
...The 16 countries that supported South Korea with combat forces during the war are: the United States, Britain, Australia, Thailand, Canada, Turkey, the Philippines, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Greece, France, Colombia, Belgium, South Africa, Netherlands and Luxembourg. Denmark, India, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Germany provided humanitarian and medical assistance to the South.
Approximately half of the masks were donated to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA Secretary Robert L. Wilkie said the gift of masks:
“...is a sign that the deep and ongoing respect our two nations have for each other that we cemented nearly 70 years ago in a time of war and great crisis...”
But Trudeau's Liberal agencies had a much different approach, according to the records obtained by Blacklock's:
“Appreciate if we can avoid referring to the quality or grade of masks to the extent possible, but given that it’s a donation I suppose we can’t redirect them to where they are sorely needed (hospitals),” wrote Travis Gordon, a senior policy advisor in the health minister’s office. “We will try to avoid this spinning into a story about how some vets in some long term care homes will get N95s while doctors in hospitals are limited to one per day.”
Staffer Kathleen Davis suggested that Canada didn't “want to have unnecessary controversy,” and the then-communications director for Justin Trudeau added that she worried “about the optics” when N-95 masks were not recommended for non-medical settings.