Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday May 7, 2021
The Political Blame Game
For months now, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has blamed everyone for Canada’s trickle of COVID-19 vaccines but himself.
Trudeau and his ministers have gone so far as to blame former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney — who was prime minister from 1984 to 1993 — for the privatization, or “the selling off“, of Connaught Laboratories. What he fails to mention is that Connaught Labs didn’t go anywhere. It’s now part of Sanofi Pasteur, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines. The Connaught Campus in Toronto accounts for one-fifth of the company’s global vaccine sales.
Experts in Canada’s innovative pharmaceutical industry — as opposed to the generic pharmaceutical industry — say Trudeau’s attempt to pin the blame on Mulroney or a more recent Conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, is ironic, because were it not for Mulroney, the innovative industry likely wouldn’t exist here at all.
Paul Lucas, who was president and CEO of GlaxoSmithKline Canada from 1994 to 2012, started speaking out and wrote an opinion piece in the Financial Post after he heard federal Liberal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc being interviewed on CTV’s Power Play with Evan Solomon, saying that GlaxoSmithKline had closed its manufacturing facility for vaccines during Harper’s Conservative government, which is false.
“This facility didn’t close, it’s still producing most of the flu vaccine for Canada on an annual basis,” Lucas said during a recent telephone interview.
“I’ve been very concerned and frankly upset about the lies that are coming from the federal government about this whole (COVID vaccine) file,” says Lucas, who was integral to the production and distribution of the Canadian vaccine for the H1N1 pandemic in 2009. All of the vaccine for that outbreak was produced in the GSK factory in Quebec City.
“Trudeau has badly botched Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine procurement,” states Lucas.
“First, he blamed Harper for his own failings. Then he blamed Mulroney and then he blamed the provinces. Then he actually turned on his own vaccine task force. He blamed them for about a day or two. Then he blamed the companies — Pfizer for delaying the delivery of its vaccines in January,” explains Lucas. (Calgary Herald)
Meanwhile, Ontario Minister of Long-term Care Merrilee Fullerton faced a call from the Opposition to resign her cabinet post on Tuesday, in the wake of two reports that reviewed her ministry’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In recent days, Fullerton has been pressed to explicitly acknowledge whether she feels she shares any responsibility for the more than 3,700 deaths of long-term care residents with COVID-19 in Ontario.
During question period Tuesday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath asked when Fullerton was made aware that some residents had died of dehydration or basic neglect, which led a tense exchange between the two.
“The premise of your question is bordering on obscene,” Fullerton said. “And the reason why is because all of the ministry, public health, medical officers of health, thousands of people have been working to shore up these homes and they were no match for COVID-19.”
Fullerton said that some long-term care homes became “warzones” within days of the first confirmed cases among residents and staff.
“What we were doing 24 hours a day was trying to get support to those homes, with an unknown virus that wasn’t fully understood and a shortage of supplies globally,” she added.
Fullerton then said the NDP had failed to pressure the previous Liberal government into fixing Ontario’s beleaguered long-term care sector.
“Look at your failure. I was left to pick up the pieces from a devastating 15 years of neglect,” she said. “I will not be spoken to that way by the leader of the opposition that neglected this sector.”
Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk and the Ontario Long-term Care COVID-19 Commission both released their respective reports last week. While the probes examined different aspects of COVID-19’s impact on the long-term care sector, they reached similar conclusions: the ministry was not prepared for a pandemic, in part due to years of inaction to prevent a crisis. (CBC)