THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
OTTAWA – Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole on Sunday accused the Liberal government of placing too much emphasis on its partnership with a Chinese company for a COVID-19 vaccine, which ultimately failed.
Mr O’Toole said the Trudeau government started pre-ordering dozens of doses of the vaccine from companies such as Pfizer and Moderna only in August, when its collaboration between the National Research Council and Chinese vaccine maker CanSino s ‘finally collapsed after months of delays.
The Council had issued a permit to CanSino to use a Canadian biologic in a vaccine against COVID-19. CanSino was supposed to provide samples of the vaccine for clinical trials to the Canadian Center for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University, but the Chinese government has blocked shipments.
“I wouldn’t have put all of our eggs in the China basket,” O’Toole said at a morning press conference.
“If you look at the timeline, that’s when Canada started to get serious with Pfizer, Moderna, the other options,” he added.
The government announced its major vaccine purchases in August after confirming that the CanSino partnership had failed. At the time, he said his decision came after extensive consultations with his expert working group on vaccines.
The CanSino partnership with Dalhousie predated the deep freeze in Canada-China relations, which came after the People’s Republic jailed two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, apparently in retaliation for the arrest by Chinese giant Huawei leader Meng Wanzhou’s RCMP under a US extradition warrant.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caused a storm on Tuesday when he said Canadians would have to wait a little longer to have access to COVID-19 vaccines because the first doses produced will be used in countries where they are made.
In the face of growing questions about the CanSino deal, Trudeau continued to defend his government’s vaccine procurement policy, which he said guaranteed several options for the country.
Prime Minister Trudeau has also appointed a Canadian Armed Forces General to lead the logistics of a possible vaccine deployment with the Public Health Agency of Canada.
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