THE WEST BLOCK
Episode 39, Season 10
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Host: Mercedes Stephenson
Dr. Peter Juni, Ontario COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Desk
Anita Vandenbeld, Liberal MP, Ottawa-West Nepean
James Bezan, Conservative MP, Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman
Sam Cooper, International Information Investigative Journalist
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Mercedes Stephenson: This week on The West Block: The shot that misfired.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Well being Officer: “I completely acknowledge that that is tough for a lot of. Those that obtained two doses of AstraZeneca, you’ve been supplied with good safety.”
Mercedes Stephenson: Conflicting public well being recommendation has left Canadians confused.
Unidentified speaker: “Mr. Lawrence, Mr. Duncan.”
Unidentified speaker: “I declare the movement carried.”
Mercedes Stephenson: Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan censured by the Home of Commons.
Erin O’Toole, Conservative Chief: “How presumably can the ladies within the Canadian Armed Forces have any religion on this minister to do his job after he failed them so badly?”
Harjit Sajjan, Minister of Nationwide Defence: “I’ll do my darndest and greatest, at all times for the sake of the Canadian Armed Forces till we get an surroundings that’s inclusive.”
Mercedes Stephenson: And the federal authorities declared in contempt of Parliament amid considerations about espionage.
Michael Chong, MP Halton Hills: “The Chinese language navy scientist, Feihu Yan, of the Individuals’s Liberation Military, was granted entry to work within the authorities’s Winnipeg lab.”
Mercedes Stephenson: Why are the Liberals refusing to supply paperwork concerning the firing of two scientists from Canada’s prime infectious illness lab?
It’s Sunday, June 20th. Completely satisfied Father’s Day. I’m Mercedes Stephenson, and that is The West Block.
Politicians throughout this nation instructed Canadians that they need to do their half and get the primary vaccine supplied to them. Many people rolled our sleeves up and Canadians obtained plenty of the AstraZeneca vaccine, assured it was secure, efficient and simply nearly as good as an mRNA vaccine.
However now there’s frustration and confusion, after federal steering on the AstraZeneca shot has modified but once more.
The Nationwide Advisory Committee on Immunization introduced that the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are most popular over AstraZeneca now for the second shot to supply the simplest immunity towards COVID-19.
Becoming a member of me now to speak about this and to assist us type via all of it’s Dr. Peter Juni. He’s the scientific director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Desk and professor of medication on the College of Toronto.
Thanks a lot for becoming a member of us, physician. How are you?
Dr. Peter Juni, Ontario COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Desk: I’m superb, thanks. Thanks for having me.
Mercedes Stephenson: Effectively it’s our pleasure, and we’re actually wanting ahead to getting a few of your skilled perception on this as a result of we’re listening to quite a lot of confusion from people who’ve obtained the AstraZeneca vaccine for a primary shot. They’re now questioning ought to they get it for the second. Is it nearly as good as an mRNA vaccine? What would your recommendation be?
Dr. Peter Juni, Ontario COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Desk: Look, that is all evolving and what has actually modified is that we are actually having the Delta variant in our nation, particularly in our province right here in Ontario. And what we all know is the mRNA vaccines will defend extra successfully towards the Delta variants than the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Mercedes Stephenson: So if folks have a selection, they are going to obtain higher safety in the event that they get a second mRNA vaccine reasonably than a second AstraZeneca?
Mercedes Stephenson: Why do you assume there’s been a lot altering recommendation on this? As a result of we’re heard from people who bought the 2 AstraZeneca’s and now they’re going oh, properly I believed I used to be doing the fitting factor.
Dr. Peter Juni, Ontario COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Desk: Oh, they completely did the fitting factor. You recognize science is rising and what we additionally see is mainly evolution in real-time. We now have the state of affairs the place the Delta variant is about to take over Ontario, for instance, and we simply must react to it. And now we react on new proof rising from the UK and this proof simply clearly signifies it’s sure, two pictures of Pfizer, or then additionally one among AstraZeneca adopted by one shot of Pfizer or Moderna are simply the higher option to get this pandemic below management and hold it below management.
Mercedes Stephenson: For individuals who have obtained two pictures of AstraZeneca, do you assume that there might probably be recommendation to get a 3rd booster shot or to get a 3rd shot that will be mRNA to provide them extra immunity?
Dr. Peter Juni, Ontario COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Desk: Initially, we have to be conscious that it’s extremely probably that all of us want booster pictures ultimately. Issues will evolve, extra proof will come. We don’t know but how lengthy all of us can be protected as soon as now we have had two pictures of no matter we bought. And relying on what’s coming subsequent, the recommendation will then evolve. Proper now, the goal is to get two pictures of no matter is accepted in Canada and if everyone really will get that and we make it to 85 per cent protection within the province right here in Ontario, within the nation, that’s the goal after which because of this we can be protected sufficient.
Mercedes Stephenson: Is there a distinction, as a result of I do know lots of people are asking this, between Pfizer and Moderna? Lots of people now assume Pfizer is the gold commonplace. Is that the case or are these pictures really interchangeable?
Dr. Peter Juni, Ontario COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Desk: These are interchangeable. You recognize that’s actually essential, this is sort of a model of gasoline mainly. These two actually are so shut, the way in which they’re produced, the contents, and so on. We all know it additionally after we have a look at the antibody responses, they’re actually interchangeable and that’s essential to bear in mind. There’s no higher or worse between these two.
Mercedes Stephenson: The federal authorities’s speaking about reopening the borders and that people who find themselves double vaccinated would have the ability to journey. However quite a lot of households are questioning what which means for them as a result of they’ve youngsters below the age of 12, there’s no vaccine accepted for them but. What’s your recommendation on that for households the place you may need mother and father who’re double vaccinated however youngsters with no vaccines desirous about journey?
Dr. Peter Juni, Ontario COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Desk: We have to be very cautious right here. We now really want to make it possible for we don’t introduce extra variants into this nation and we want to consider what’s greatest right here. And it’s clear, in case you are not totally vaccinated, you will want to be very cautious and from my perspective, this is able to imply if we journey with youngsters, the youngsters would want to endure the common quarantine and would want to get examined repetitively, not simply as soon as. And that’s simply how it’s proper now. We don’t have vaccines but which are accepted for teenagers.
Mercedes Stephenson: Do you may have a way of what the timeline is on maybe having vaccines accepted for kids? I imply, I believe all of the mother and father who’re at house with youngsters proper now who usually are not in class are questioning if they might discover themselves in the identical state of affairs within the fall.
Dr. Peter Juni, Ontario COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Desk: We don’t know but for positive. I would definitely hope for September, that September could be the month when these pictures are additionally accepted for youthful youngsters under the age of 12.
Mercedes Stephenson: Are you involved in any respect that the altering recommendation we’ve seen and the altering suggestions between provinces and between the federal authorities in the case of which vaccine to get and when, has undermined public religion in getting these vaccines, or in what public well being officers are saying?
Dr. Peter Juni, Ontario COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Desk: I hope not. You recognize what? The general public wants to know this that we’re working at excessive pace, the scientists, to get this proper and data evolves. And what we’re seeing right here is an try to actually get the optimum answer to everyone at each single second. And each determination made to date with the vaccines, wanting again throughout the previous couple of months had been optimum selections. We want to concentrate on that, given the data we had. And if we proceed like that, we’re heading in the right direction and what the general public wants to know is that science by no means provides you full certainty. I imply that’s like in life, you realize, there aren’t any ensures right here. We attempt to get it nearly as good because it will get and proper now, we’re actually heading in the right direction. So I hope we proceed to try this. We even have an awfully low among the many vaccine hesitancy on this nation and once more, I hope it stays like that. Individuals want to concentrate on the Delta variant we’re speaking about is a very totally different beast than what we had earlier than and the one safety you get towards the factor is being totally vaccinated finally.
Mercedes Stephenson: Dr. Juni, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us and sharing your experience. We admire it, and please keep properly.
Dr. Peter Juni, Ontario COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Desk: You too. Thanks for having me.
Mercedes Stephenson: Up subsequent, the Conservative name for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to resign over what they are saying is his failure to cope with navy sexual misconduct. And we’ll have the Liberal response. That’s up subsequent.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “We all know there’s nonetheless rather more to be completed to guard all of those that select to serve their nation. So it’s unacceptable that Conservative politicians would select to slander Minister Sajjan’s fame as a substitute of working with us to maintain Canadians in uniform secure. I stated it’s unacceptable. I didn’t say it was stunning.”
Canada hits COVID-19 vaccine milestone as 75% obtain one dose, 20% totally vaccinated
Pfizer or Moderna? ‘There’s no higher or worse,’ Ontario’s COVID-19 science chief says
Mercedes Stephenson: That was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defending embattled Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan after he was censured by the Home of Commons.
Becoming a member of us to speak extra about navy sexual misconduct and the federal government’s response is the MP who put that movement ahead to censure Mr. Sajjan, Conservative MP James Bezan, and we’re additionally joined by Liberal MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Nationwide Defence, Anita Vandenbeld.
Thanks each for becoming a member of us. Anita, let’s begin with you. Your authorities is defending the minister’s efficiency. Lately, a report got here out from a former Supreme Courtroom Justice, Justice Morris Fish. He stated there was mainly no distinction between 2015 and 2021 in how dangerous navy sexual misconduct is.
Your authorities’s had six years to do that. The minister has not managed to enhance the state of affairs and as just lately as lower than 10 days in the past, we had two senior generals out enjoying golf with Basic Jonathan Vance, who’s below navy police investigation. It doesn’t seem to be your minister has been capable of make a distinction. Why is your authorities defending his efficiency?
Anita Vandenbeld, Liberal MP, Ottawa-West Nepean: Effectively to begin with, I believe what we noticed on Thursday within the Home of Commons is the Opposition enjoying politics and making this about politicians and never about survivors. And what now we have been targeted on from the start, and lengthy earlier than this disaster is ensuring that we do have an actual tradition shift inside the Canadian Armed Forces. And the Fish report that you just’re speaking about, goes to be very key. You be aware that the minister has accepted all 107 suggestions. We’ve already begun on 36 of them, and also you’ll be aware that when Madam Louise Arbours, after we requested her to go and have a look at the roadmap, the how, Madame Deschamps herself stated that this was welcome. As a result of what we did earlier than, and we understand that this didn’t have the supposed impact, was we left it to the navy to resolve the right way to implement Deschamps report. What we’re doing now, is we’re ensuring it’s outdoors of the chain of command. Madam Arbour can be arising with suggestions…
Mercedes Stephenson: However Anita, in equity, it’s one other report. There have been quite a lot of experiences. The federal government has accepted all of these suggestions. We nonetheless see generals going out and enjoying golf collectively and considerations concerning the outdated boys’ membership. If this was not a Liberal authorities, if this was a Conservative authorities or an NDP authorities and this was the efficiency of their minister, would you discover this acceptable that he’s doing his greatest even when nothing appears to be altering?
Anita Vandenbeld, Liberal MP, Ottawa-West Nepean: Effectively to begin with, I believe that it is vitally essential to acknowledge Minister Sajjan has been combating the outdated boys’ membership since he himself was serving within the Canadian Armed Forces. He was the primary Sikh who was capable of command a regiment. He has been breaking down these boundaries to make issues extra inclusive and he’s been doing that as minister. And concerning the golf sport that you just talked about, I believe that it’s essential to say that we discovered about this on Saturday. On Monday, the vice-chief was not in his position. There are penalties taking place proper now. You see people who find themselves getting investigated, you see people who find themselves dropping their jobs. And that’s what it takes for folks to start out feeling they will come ahead. They’re beginning to see penalties. Now we have ladies and men coming ahead about issues that occurred many years in the past and we’re going to see extra of it. And it’s a really tough factor for the Canadian Armed Forces. It’s a course of that I believe now we have to undergo in order that we are able to establish who’re these perpetrators in order that we are able to really put in actual change makers into these senior management roles within the Canadian Armed Forces.
Mercedes Stephenson: And to search out individuals who really, you realize, how do you get them to pay attention? And I believe that’s a good query, Mr. Bezan. How do you get these senior generals to pay attention? As a result of sure it’s the minister’s job to do that, however when you’re coping with a tradition the place folks thought that this was an appropriate factor to do, they didn’t see the issue. That’s fairly robust for any politician to come back in and alter. How do you repair this?
James Bezan, Conservative MP, Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman: Effectively we stated proper from the start when this primary grew to become the story, if you broke the story about Basic Vance, Mercedes, again in February, that there must be a freeze in all promotions and wage will increase for flag officers and normal officers. We stated that there must be a service-wide unbiased investigation that we have to promote extra ladies and extra below represented Canadians as much as the command desk. And we have to have an unbiased stream to soak up complaints and examine them, particularly one that will contain senior leaders. However you realize, yesterday’s movement on censure was a condemnation on Basic—or on Minister Sajjan for his failure to analyze and do one thing about Basic Vance three years in the past, in 2018. As a substitute of taking the proof and investigating it, he pushed it away after which coated it up for 3 lengthy years. And through that point, sexual misconduct inside the Canadian Armed Forces was allowed to fester below Minister Sajjan’s watch.
Now, he’s instantly chargeable for this and if he gained’t do the honourable factor and resign, then Justin Trudeau has to do the fitting factor and fireplace him. And that was the aim of the movement yesterday. It was to place extra strain on Prime Minister Trudeau to fireplace his inept defence minister, who….
Mercedes Stephenson: Why now, although? As a result of it appeared prefer it took months for the Conservative celebration to get up to now. You had been going after Mr. Trudeau, now you’re going after the minister. What is that this—as a result of some victims have a look at it they usually assume it’s political grandstanding. What does it obtain?
James Bezan, Conservative MP, Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman: Effectively no, the political grandstanding has all come from the Liberals. And when you have a look at the work that we had been making an attempt to do on the defence committee, and we had been hoping to get to some extent the place we going to come back ahead with our suggestions and a closing report, however the Liberals are nonetheless filibustering. For the final month, my movement and together with the final two and a half weeks filibustering their very own modification to my movement and haven’t allowed any of these issues to come back to a vote, which might have expedited the method of how we got here to the ultimate report and the way we debated all of the totally different paragraphs and proposals. They don’t wish to see this report in entrance of Parliament. They don’t need Canadians to see it as a result of once more, they’re placing extra effort into defending Minister Sajjan than in defending the ladies and men who serve in uniform and face sexual harassment and sexual assault as we’ve witnessed for much too lengthy.
Mercedes Stephenson: Okay. We’re nearly out of time, however I simply wish to go to you, Ms. Vandenbeld. Are we going to see a report from the committee earlier than the Home rises, which was ostensibly the rationale why we didn’t hear from any extra witnesses?
Anita Vandenbeld, Liberal MP, Ottawa-West Nepean: And truly, I want to right what Mr. Bezan stated. At any second, the opposition might conform to adjourn the very unreasonable poisoned tablet motions that they hold placing…
James Bezan, Conservative MP, Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman: Transfer the movement to adjourn it…
Mercedes Stephenson: That’s on a regular basis now we have, I’m afraid. I believe there’s politics on either side right here. Surprising from, you realize, I do know, politicians. However we’ll proceed to maintain asking the questions. We admire your time and I do know that there are quite a lot of victims on the market hoping that each one events will put their pursuits first. So thanks each for approaching the present.
Anita Vandenbeld, Liberal MP, Ottawa-West Nepean: Thanks for having us.
Mercedes Stephenson: Up subsequent, what actually occurred when two scientists had been fired from the nation’s prime infectious illness lab amid considerations about nationwide safety and attainable espionage?
Mercedes Stephenson: Welcome again. Questions of nationwide safety at Canada’s prime infectious illness lab, the opposition say the Liberals try to cowl up an incident the place two scientists had been fired. They had been escorted out of Winnipeg’s Nationwide Microbiology Laboratory in 2019 over what the Public Well being Company described as referring to attainable breaches in safety protocols.
Final week, all opposition events joined forces to move a movement declaring the Public Well being Company of Canada in contempt of Parliament for refusing to supply paperwork concerning the firing of the scientists.
Becoming a member of us to speak about this now’s International Information investigative journalist and creator of Wilful Blindness: How a Community of Narcos, Tycoons, and Chinese language Communist Get together Brokers Infiltrated the West. Sam Cooper joins us now.
Sam, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us. I believe this story is catching quite a lot of peoples’ consideration. They’re questioning what it’s all about. What do we all know concerning the allegations of those two scientists who had been dismissed from the lab below mysterious circumstances and have type of disappeared? Have been they spies?
Sam Cooper, International Information Investigative Journalist: We all know that Dr. Qiu has been engaged on harmful pathogens within the Winnipeg lab since about 2006. We all know she’s a extremely adorned scientist. Her husband labored along with her within the lab as properly, and the issue, in response to CSIS, is that college students of hers from China are very related to China’s navy. So we all know that CSIS had warned Canada’s authorities, Dr. Qiu and her college students shouldn’t be working on this excessive safety lab. There are considerations—CSIS robotically is worried about Individuals’s Liberation Military connections to analysis in Canada so these had been flagged and the federal government didn’t reply to that warning. The work continued and as your viewers know, there was harmful pathogens despatched to the Wuhan lab in 2019. Different viral samples had been despatched to China through the years. Dr. Qiu maintained a excessive diploma of connectivity to her Individuals’s Liberation Military colleagues, that is excessive stage scientists we all know from open supply information which are concerned in learning bioweapons in China, had been concerned in co-research with Dr. Qiu. So after we put all this along with the redacted paperwork, they discuss viral samples which were tailored to mice and guinea pigs in Canadian labs being despatched to Wuhan. It raises quite a lot of considerations that there may very well be espionage-like exercise and there may very well be considerations that scientists in China engaged on harmful actions reminiscent of acquire of perform might have been working indirectly with Canadian scientists.
Mercedes Stephenson: Clearly, that’s fairly astounding. It’s fairly regarding. I do know the dialog in the US about the place COVID-19 got here from is evolving and below the Biden presidency, it’s not seen as Trump arising with this bellicose rhetoric about it presumably being a lab accident. President Biden is saying this. It’s a idea that’s being significantly checked out now. What’s the notion in Washington and in our allies? As a result of I do know you discuss to quite a lot of allied intelligence businesses and spies about what occurred in Canada and what occurred in Winnipeg specifically.
Sam Cooper, International Information Investigative Journalist: I’ve had conversations just lately the place there’s a rising stage of curiosity in Washington, particularly with the lab leak speculation. It’s changing into a extra believable idea inside the US intelligence neighborhood. After all, President Biden requested his intelligence brokers to review this idea. And I’ve been having conversations the place sources say that, you realize, if extra proof is introduced out, there may very well be a fee of inquiry in the US into a possible lab accident in Wuhan and so after all, Washington is beginning to be interested by these allegations within the Winnipeg lab. Within the worst case, if Canadian scientists had been engaged on acquire of perform analysis in some methods, co-researching with Chinese language scientists, it simply raises the extent of concern that they might have been concerned, not within the coronavirus in any respect however in harmful analysis that occurred in China.
Mercedes Stephenson: Whenever you talked to your sources, are they involved concerning the launch of those paperwork in Parliament? As a result of on the one hand, you may have parliamentarians saying we have to see this, we have to know what occurred. However we’re additionally listening to from quite a lot of people who work in nationwide safety, okay perhaps one committee with safety clearance must see them, however the mass launch of those paperwork might result in different nationwide safety infractions. What are you listening to about that out of your sources?
Sam Cooper, International Information Investigative Journalist: There are two arguments and also you pointed to 1 that this new nationwide safety committee has actually—it’s had worth in that it’s displaying the Canadian public, or people who wish to learn their experiences, that Canadian intelligence does have some huge considerations round international locations reminiscent of Russia and China and their exercise in Canada. However, what the critics, who would come from the Conservative Get together facet are saying, we want—might this committee be used as a blockade to those essential paperwork? Is the federal government making an attempt to cover one thing? And moreover, even when the committee is doing nice work round learning interference, is the Trudeau authorities doing something about these suggestions to comply with international locations reminiscent of Australia and the US in taking a stronger stand towards interference from potential hostile state exercise?
Mercedes Stephenson: And Sam, how deep is that interference? I do know you simply wrote a e book on it. We’re not simply involved about this one lab the place we don’t know precisely what occurred, however how deep is the Chinese language authorities’s penetration of main Canadian establishments?
Sam Cooper, International Information Investigative Journalist: There’s a priority inside CSIS and RCMP prison intelligence that it’s not simply the Winnipeg lab. There are considerations across the CanSino vaccine collaboration, deep considerations round political affect actions in any respect ranges of Canadian authorities, from municipal metropolis halls to highschool boards, as much as Parliament Hill. So I can confidently say within the 5 Eyes intelligence neighborhood, there’s a rising eye upon Canada and the priority about whether or not Canada is powerful sufficient towards interference.
Mercedes Stephenson: Sam, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us at present. We admire it and I’m positive we’ll be again to speak extra about this quickly.
Sam Cooper, International Information Investigative Journalist: Thanks.
Mercedes Stephenson: And that’s it for this version of The West Block. Thanks for becoming a member of us, and a really blissful Father’s Day to the entire dads on the market, particularly the dads engaged on this present: David de la Harpe; Dave Ellis; Bryan Mullan; and Frank Boldt, who’s a brand new dad once more—congratulations. And naturally, blissful Father’s Day to my dad, too. See you again right here subsequent week.