NDP calls for independent inquiry into Canada’s COVID-19 response « Canada’s NDP
OTTAWA – When the COVID-19 pandemic struck Canada, all levels of government had to respond to keep all Canadians safe. People deserve to know why certain decisions were taken, what mistakes were made and if their government acted appropriately. In order to ensure accountability and transparency for Canadians, today NDP Health Critic Don Davies called on the federal government to launch an independent public inquiry into Canada’s COVID-19 preparedness and response under the federal Inquiries Act.
“Throughout the pandemic New Democrats identified the eventual need for a fully independent, comprehensive and penetrating review of Canada’s COVID-19 preparedness and response,” said Davies. “With the emergency pandemic conditions behind us, now is the time to act to ensure transparency and accountability from government and to make sure lessons are learned for any future pandemics.”
To date, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has deferred questions about a COVID-19 inquiry, saying there will be time for a “lessons learned” exercise some day in the future. Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos has noted that a government decision could come “soon” on what kind of review should be held. However, when asked if it should be independent, he would only say a “strong” review is necessary.
“It’s unacceptable that the Liberals won’t commit to an independent review of Canada’s response to the most severe pandemic in a century,” added Davies. “We can’t put politics above public health. Instead of papering over the federal government’s inadequacies and failures, we must leave no stone unturned to learn from past mistakes and prepare for future threats.”
Many prominent public health and security experts, including Dr. David Naylor, former chair of the federal review of the 2003 SARS epidemic, have called for the federal government to launch an expert-led, independent inquiry into Canada’s COVID-19 response. Under the Inquires Act, Commissions of Inquiry are established by the federal Cabinet to impartially investigate issues of national importance and provide findings and recommendations. Commissions of Inquiry have the power to subpoena witnesses, take evidence under oath, order production of documents, and retain the services of technical advisors and experts. Hearings are also held in public.
“The Liberals want to provide the illusion of oversight and accountability with inadequate, internal reviews,” said Davies. “The Conservatives want to play political games with a partisan pandemic panel led by Preston Manning. New Democrats want a full, fair and public COVID-19 inquiry led by independent experts. Canadians deserve no less.”