Skip to main content
Welcome to
super saver spring
offer ends april 20
save over $140
save over 85%
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks
Welcome to
super saver spring
$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole speaks at a press conference in Ottawa on Feb. 16, 2021.

David Kawai/The Canadian Press

Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says a Conservative government would call a public inquiry into all aspects of the Liberal government’s response to the pandemic.

As he made the commitment Tuesday, Mr. O’Toole accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority government of having been “unprepared” for the public-health crisis, which has led to the deaths of more than 23,000 Canadians.

“When the pandemic is over, we need answers, we need to know what worked and what didn’t. We need complete transparency and accountability,” Mr. O’Toole said at a news conference in Ottawa.

Story continues below advertisement

A federal election is expected this year.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu responded by saying the government is focused on getting Canada through the pandemic, but will, in due course, be interested in a thorough examination of the response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“I can’t predict the nature of the inquiry, but I can tell you that we would want all Canadians to participate,” she said. “So, I will say that we’re open to an inquiry that is as deep as necessary, including a public inquiry that’s focused on how our country can be better prepared for global health threats in the future.”

Mr. O’Toole said he would look for a “prominent former jurist” or someone above the political fray to lead an inquiry into the government’s actions.

“The government was late at the border, late on securing rapid tests, late now on vaccines, and that’s why we’re having a more severe third wave. Canadians want to know we can restore confidence and self-reliance as a country, and that’s what this public exercise will do.”

The Conservative leader also suggested the appointment of a special monitor from the Office of the Auditor-General to track the pandemic response and ensure lessons are recorded to deal with future pandemics.

Canada has administered more than 6.7 million doses, with about 16 per cent of the population receiving at least one shot. The country was to receive more than three million doses last week, the single-largest week of deliveries. Mr. Trudeau has committed to vaccinating every adult Canadian who wants to be by the end of September and says an earlier finish is possible.

Story continues below advertisement

Ms. Hajdu and Mr. Trudeau have said every country should do a full review of their pandemic response when the crisis is over.

“Clearly every country has a lot to learn, including Canada,” Ms. Hajdu told a news conference in Ottawa. “We have committed to that. From our perspective, there needs to be a foundation so we have a full accounting of lessons learned through this pandemic that can be applied to better preparedness for the next global health crisis.”

But Wesley Wark, a University of Ottawa professor and a senior fellow with the Waterloo, Ont.-based Centre for International Governance Innovation, with expertise in national security and health security, said the federal government is moving too slowly on the issue.

He said he was glad for Mr. O’Toole’s comment “because I don’t see any real sign that the government treats this lessons-learned process as a matter of any urgency at all.”

Prof. Wark said although there have been some “piecemeal” efforts around review, such as initial reports from the auditor-general, there needs to be a “whole-government, comprehensive, lessons-learned exercise. That’s what we have to drive toward.”

He said the options ahead are a royal commission or an expert commission, and that both should be launched because they can run on different timelines.

Story continues below advertisement

The upside of a royal commission is that it is conducted in public and has unrestricted access to people and documents, while expert panels can move more quickly with stature akin to the royal commissions.

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies