The Trudeau Liberals quietly appointed an expert panel to review their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with preliminary details finally emerging in late January.
On January 29, Health Minister Mark Holland confirmed that Sir Walport, the former U.K. chief scientific adviser, had served as the panel chair since August 2023 for a $9,800 fee. Conservative MP Cathay Wagantall requested that information from Ottawa last November.
“The purpose of the review is to support Canada’s preparedness for future pandemics and other health emergencies by taking stock of domestic and international learnings and best practices,” reads a government backgrounder.
In August, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland championed Canada’s COVID response, despite the country boasting a higher death rate than other industrialized nations.
"Our experience during COVID, which was a tragedy where every single COVID death was a tragedy, of course, we could learn lessons about how to do better," she told reporters. "But broadly, Canada did pretty well."
Then Agency President Harpreet Kochhar prepared the briefing note in preparation for a Commons public accounts committee last February 6 on $1 billion worth of vaccine wastage.
A December 2022 Auditor General's report on the Health Canada-led COVID vaccine program revealed mandates for work and other activities, and travel bans for the unvaccinated, did not bolster vaccination rates. Agency staff confirmed 81% of Canadians received at least two COVID jabs.
Sir Walport previously denounced populism and blamed the planet’s “huge population” for causing an “array of demographic challenges.”
“I think it’s fair to say that many researchers are frustrated by what they see in rising populism and political conditions around the world that seem inimical to tackling the health and environmental conditions of people and the planet,” he said.
A Health Canada spokesperson told The Epoch Times they had not released information about the panel before Holland informed Parliament last month. The federal agency published information on the review to its website for the first time on January 29.
Ottawa says Canadians can expect a report on their findings into “pandemic science” in the coming months. Meanwhile, the panel continues to meet with stakeholders, including the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Their work coincides with efforts by the federal government to kibosh a public inquiry into its pandemic response and prevent disclosures of pandemic audits.
Last February 8, the Commons gave a second reading to Liberal-sponsored Bill C-293, An Act Respecting Pandemic Prevention. MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith promised to have cabinet "establish an advisory committee" to review the federal pandemic management.
The Commons health committee later stalled the proposal last April 20 after MPs rejected the internal review. They also rejected a public inquiry in place of a closed-door review last October 23.
"Canada is among the best-prepared countries in the world," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on March 11, 2020. Yet frequent disclosures revealed insufficient stockpiles of medical supplies at the time, including masks.
On March 30, 2020, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) warned in an internal staff email that "we won’t have enough to go around," reported Blacklock’s Reporter.
The Public Health Agency confirmed they had landfilled millions of masks, medical gowns and other supplies intended for safekeeping prior to the pandemic.
In a March 25, 2021, report Pandemic Preparedness, the Auditor General said Health Canada "underestimated the potential impact of the virus" and repeatedly downplayed the risk.
"We were caught flat-footed," Dr. Sandy Buchman, then-president of the Medical Association, testified at a 2020 hearing of the Commons health committee.
An internal audit, Lessons Learned From The Public Health Agency Of Canada’s Covid-19 Response, claimed Health Canada lacked "the needed breadth and expertise to lead complex files" from the get-go.
The Public Health Agency earlier claimed that without lockdowns or health mandates, "20 times more Canadians" would have died in the COVID pandemic than in World War Two.
According to federal data, about 53,000 Canadians died during the COVID pandemic. In contrast, 44,000 Canadians died in WWII, while the 1919 Spanish Flu epidemic killed 50,000.