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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke today addressing a need to ramp-up COVID-19 tests across the nation, as well as the implementation of contact tracing. He emphasized the importance of Canada's UN Security Council bid, and did not condemn Beijing's clampdown on Hong Kong's freedoms.
"We will not let hate divide us," he said regarding incidents and attitudes aimed against Asians in Canada.
When asked about Hong Kong, and the strict measures that Beijing has imposed, eliminating the long-standing one country two nations system, Trudeau was hesitant to condemn Beijing's actions.
He said that Canada has a history of working between Hong Kong and Beijing, and would continue to do so.
When asked if Canada would consider sanctions against communist-led China for these actions, Trudeau said that, "We are concerned with the situation in Hong Kong. We have 300,000 Canadians who live in Hong Kong. That's why we want to ensure that one country - two systems continues."
"We will keep monitoring the situation closely," he said.
Regarding the concerns over the increase spying risks for intellectual property and specifically Chinese interests in illegally obtaining that information, he noted that "we have long been concerned about IP protections in Canada, that's why we have increased the funding for CSE."
"We will continue [to ensure] that they have the tools necessary to keep Canadians and their institutions safe," Trudeau said.
He did not address the concerns about intellectual property theft from China directly. The FBI has noted that the communist nation's interest in theft is a top concern.
Trudeau noted that there is a national strategy in place for contact tracing, and that the federal government has public employees ready to go help provinces conduct that tracing, should the request for aid be made.
Canada's bid for a seat on the UN Security Council is still a top concern. Trudeau said that the most important part of that undertaking is that "we have framed our engagement for the UN Security Council as a means to an end," and that end is multilateralism around the world, and working across borders.
"Canada's voice is one that brings people together on the world stage and we will continue to play a significant role."
He lauded Canada's "capacity to pull people together and to reflect the diversity of the planet."
60,000 tests are able to be conducted per day, but Canada hasn't yet reached that level of testing saturation. Trudeau noted that there are some places in the country that don't need that level of testing because they have things under control. Other areas do need it, and "we continue to ramp it up," he said. This especially as regards preventing and containing a second surge of outbreaks.
While Ontario has made the request for these additional public servants to be employed in that province to conduct testing, Quebec, which has also been hard hit by the coronavirus, has not.
"We have been reaching out," he said, "to all provinces." This to support their efforts in contact tracing in the form of federal employees who can jump in and take the lead on tracing contacts of those who have become infected.
As regards an app to conduct contact tracing digitally, he noted that an announcement on that would be made in the coming days or weeks. The priority is that as provinces reopen, it will "involve Canadians traveling more within their provinces and across the country. This is why we need a national approach that will have comparable data across the country and comparable tools."
A digital tracing app is being developed by Apple and Google, that will be available in early June. Both of those tech companies said that it would be essential that each country that embraces contact tracing use only one app for the entire population.
"Around the world there have been a number of diff apps developed," Trudeau said. "One of the challenges that those apps have encountered is that they have to sit in the foreground of your phone and drain your battery."
"We're working closely with Apple and Google on the update that they are bringing forward," he said. "When the time comes for that to be released we will be able to recommend strongly to Canadians the app" that will make digital contact tracing possible.
Parliament will be returning on Monday, and they will be primarily discussing the pandemic, though Trudeau noted that there will be additional concerns.
While parliamentarians will be "physically present in reduced number," he said that there will be a way for parliamentarians to speak on behalf of their constituents.
"[The pandemic] is the daily reality of most Canadians," he said, noting that they have to adapt and deal with this in Parliament. It is the "priority of all the federal mp's conversations... how we can get parliament started again... we need a well functioning parliament during this crisis."
"There are certainly non-COVID things we can be working on," he said, noting that COVID is the primary concern for now and in the near term. "The priority remains the pandemic."