The politics of a potential pandemic: opposition slams ‘secretive’ response

The politics of a potential pandemic: opposition slams 'secretive' response

OTTAWA — Opposition critics say they have been left in the dark about the federal government’s preparations for a potential outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Canada.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam have given public briefings almost daily as the viral outbreak develops abroad, but political critics say they have stopped providing briefings to other parties.

They say the government’s treatment of its opponents stands in contrast to the Harper minority government’s handling of the H1N1 flu outbreak in 2009.

Regan Watts, the director of parliamentary affairs for Conservative health minister Leona Aglukkaq at the time, says the government held daily briefings for the opposition parties’ health critics.

He says that not only kept other parties informed but made them feel that the government’s success was their success.

On the new coronavirus, the Conservative and NDP health critics say they have been left to publicly question the government’s plan for a potential pandemic and have received very few answers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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