Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Tuesday April 14, 2020. Scheer says he has serious concerns about the accuracy of the World Health Organization’s data and its relationship with China. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Tuesday April 14, 2020. Scheer says he has serious concerns about the accuracy of the World Health Organization’s data and its relationship with China. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Scheer, Conservatives raise concerns about WHO data, relationship with China

Conservatives say Taiwan’s efforts to control COVID-19 are being completely disregarded by the WHO

The Conservative opposition raised broad concerns Tuesday about Canadian government’s reliance on the World Health Organization, questioning the accuracy of its data and its relationship with China during the COVID-19 crisis.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he had “serious concerns” about the WHO during a press conference on Parliament Hill after returning from his Saskatchewan riding.

Scheer expressed disappointment that Bruce Aylward, a Canadian epidemiologist who headed a WHO mission in China earlier this year, was dropped from the witness list for a House of Commons health committee meeting on Tuesday.

The concern was echoed by Conservative committee member Matt Jeneroux, an Edmonton MP, who unleashed a blistering criticism of Aylward during the committee’s videoconference meeting, saying his no-show was disappointing and unacceptable.

Liberal MP Marcus Powlowski said he shared Jeneroux’s concerns during the two-hour-plus video meeting, which featured the testimony of federal officials from several government departments.

READ MORE: Canadians must still wait weeks to see if COVID-19 rules can be loosened

The officials from the departments of agriculture, industry, immigration and employment and social development were answering questions about Monday’s federal announcement that it would provide $50 million to subsidize the mandatory 14-day quarantine of temporary agricultural workers from Mexico, Guatemala and Jamaica.

While there were tough questions for the government officials, there was no shortage of ire directed at Aylward, whose name appeared Monday on the committee’s witness list— until it disappeared.

“I’m disappointed that World Health Organization officials have declined the invitation from the House of Commons health committee to testify,” Scheer said before the meeting.

“We have very serious concerns. Many concerns have been raised about the accuracy of the World Health Organization’s data, the influence that China has on the World Health Organization.”

Scheer said the government is basing its decisions on fighting the COVID-19 outbreak on information from the WHO, so it needs to hear how those decisions are being made.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer, defended Canada’s relationship with the WHO at a daily briefing.

Freeland said Canada must co-operate with multilateral institutions to combat a global pandemic and that the WHO is the “international body” that does that.

“We also collaborate closely with other allies in other fora,” Freeland said.

That includes Hajdu’s recent meetings last week with G7 health ministers, she noted. “That’s an important forum for us, and so is partnership with our allies around the world,” said Freeland.

China is not a member of the G7, which is composed of the world’s largest economies that are democracies.

Hajdu said Tam and other health officials have testified at length before the Commons health committee and will continue to do so in the future.

“This is an actual health crisis for Canada, and we work very hard to make sure that the opposition has an ability to ask those questions … has the information at their fingertips when they ask for it,” said Hajdu.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Jeneroux noted that Tam has indeed shown up at the committee to testify.

“I want to highlight how disappointing it is that Bruce Aylward, a key adviser to the WHO, has at the last minute decided not to appear and did not offer to be rescheduled at a later date,” he said.

“This is unacceptable.”

Jeneroux noted several “facts” that he wanted to ask Aylward about and that he has “decided not to come and hide from any accountability.” In Aylward’s absence, he read from a statement:

“There is simply no doubt that the WHO has been slow to recommend concrete measures that has negatively affected Canada’s response to the virus.

“In fact, the WHO has gone above and beyond to congratulate and thank China for their response which has been to mislead the world on the gravity of the virus.”

Jeneroux said Taiwan has managed to “flatten the curve” of the virus but the WHO won’t acknowledge its accomplishments because it doesn’t want to anger China, which views Taiwan as a breakaway province that belongs to it.

READ MORE: WHO issues guidelines for lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Is Canada ready?

Canada maintains a “one China” policy that means it has no direct political relationship with Taiwan. But Canada does have a trade and cultural relationship with Taiwan.

Taiwan’s efforts to control COVID-19 are being completely disregarded by the WHO, said Jeneroux, “and by Mr. Aylward particularly.”

Jeneroux said the WHO needs to answer at the committee for questionable past statements, including saying months ago that there was no evidence of “human to human” transfer of the novel coronavirus.

“In fact, Dr. Tam used Canada’s legal obligation to the WHO as an excuse to not implement travel bans,” said Jeneroux, adding that Tam said Canada did not want to be “called out” by the WHO for doing so.

“Our government was more fearful of being called out by the WHO than protecting Canadians,” said Jeneroux.

He said that remark needs to be clarified at the committee by both the WHO and Tam.

“As the WHO continues to praise China’s approach after announcing over 8,000 deaths, Taiwan is producing four million masks a day, providing them with front-line workers and consumers for their safety,” he said.

“Why was China being listened to, and Taiwan being ignored?”

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Andrew ScheerChinaCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two vehicle incidents eastbound on the Trans Canada Highway have been reported in Langley. (Google photo)
TRAFFIC: Two separate vehicle crashes on Highway 1 in Langley, one person taken to hospital

University Drive is closed between 216th Street and Glover Road

Langley Township Civic Facility. (Langley Advance Times files)
Housing, RCMP, Fort roads all discussed at Langley Township budget meeting

A Monday meeting touched on priorities for this year and beyond

East Maple Ridge resident Maureen Jeknavorian capture a few pictures of life along the Fraser River, while walking through Derby Reach Regional Park recently, including a tug hauling a load down west along the river. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
SHARE: Shoreline view shows action on the water

Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, and it could be featured in a future edition

Table for sale took a bit more work than first thought. (Mariana Aramburu/Special to The Star)
Ryan’s Regards: Clearing the clutter

Most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by this point in the year

Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or in writing.
LETTER: Cloverdale man said public pressure only convinces church goers they are right

Engageing churches in discussions on how to reduce transmission would be more effective than bans

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

An empty Peel and Sainte-Catherine street is shown in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Realtor.ca)
Rent dropped to 2019 rates across parts of Metro Vancouver in December: Rentals.ca report

Rent costs have declined since May, a trend expected to continue due in part to the COVID pandemic

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Most Read