A timeline, which sets the record straight on Canada’s failure to effectively respond to the pandemic before it turned to crisis, was compiled by columnist David Staples, and published in the Edmonton Journal. The timeline, which has been updated and split into three parts, documents the handling of this pandemic using actual comments from Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, and other Canadian public officials. Canada’s action and response is compared to what information was knowable at the time.
For two months, from the end of January to the sudden change regarding border controls at the end of March, Tam insisted that borders were not capable of stopping something like a virus and that the risk to Canadians remained “low.”
On January 29, 2020 Tam is quoted telling parliament that no actions should be taken to stigmatize the Chinese population saying “They will be asked to take measures beyond what is currently the public health evidence. It is a matter of balance when you’re restricting someone’s freedom, essentially, to move about in the community after return. I think that is not something that we would take lightly.”
Of course, now, everyone’s freedom is being restricted.
On Jan 31, 2020 parliament was told we were very lucky that Tam was “an expert adviser to this very committee” when talking about following the World Health Organization recommendations. Those recommendations turned out to have been deeply flawed.
In part 2 of the article series, the Edmonton Journal documents how Canada, under Tam’s advice, was more concerned with fueling racism than protecting against the virus crossing Canadian borders.
On February 1, 2020, Trudeau attended a Lunar New Year celebration saying “There is no place in our country for discrimination driven by fear or misinformation.”
In part 3, on March 5, 2020, Trudeau denounces calls to restrict borders saying “There is a lot of misinformation out there, there is a lot of knee-jerk reaction that isn’t keeping people safe.” This resistance to reacting dramatically to the threat did a sudden about-face at the end of March with Theresa Tam calling for Canadians to help “plank the curve” of the viral spread.
The problem is that, according to our government, there was no “curve” to worry about until it was too late. At a point where the problem became undeniable, Tam went from telling us not to be racists to telling us that it was up to sick Canadians to now change the fate of our country.
While no public official can be expected to act without error in the face of a new disease, it will be important to the future of Canadian society to keep an accurate public record so that we can learn from our mistakes.