Good Sunday Morning – January 21

Good Sunday Morning!

I have spent the week island hopping for my non-partisan MP community meetings. As you can imagine with the deep freeze followed by deep snow, all did not go off without a hitch. As one of my favourite Maritime expressions would have it, we were “storm-stayed” and had to reschedule Mayne Island. I will get back to Saanich Gulf Islands from Parliament for the Mayne gathering on February 2.

Meanwhile one of the topics I referenced only peripherally last week came up in the meetings on Salt Spring and in Sidney.

The peripheral reference is by way of the petition sponsored by Conservative MP and top Poilievre lieutenant Leslin Lewis. While I referenced the Globe and Mail editorial about her petition for Canada to withdraw from the United Nations, I decided not to jump down the rabbit hole of the petition’s multiple references to the World Health Organization as a key target in the petition’s preamble.  It also targets the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to which Canada is a signatory – for such goals as eradicating poverty, improving literacy for women and girls, ending human slavery, working for an end to armed conflict, as well as protecting the climate and nature. I almost always wear the little rainbow circle from the UN representing the 17 SDG goals. On social media I see it circled with arrows from trolls who describe it is an emblem of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Not the case. But the conspiracy theories have grabbed a lot of Canadians pulling them into their vortex. By the way, the e-petition now has over 84,000 signatures.

I am deeply concerned by the impact of the Covid pandemic on our social fabric. It is critical that people in public life not speak disrespectfully of our fellow citizens who argued against vaccinations. We need to think clearly about the evidence and the science, but not engage in the kind of “basket of deplorables” language that so damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign, nor the way Justin Trudeau committed a grave error in the 2021 campaign by conflating vaccine hesitancy with racism and misogyny and asking “how can we tolerate these people?” The Liberals’ decision to launch the 2021 campaign trying to create a wedge issue around whether the Conservative candidates were all vaccinated did serious damage to our society. It is one of my personal goals to help Canada heal – to recover from these painful divisions and pull together before the October 2025 federal election. Meanwhile others in politics hope to elect more MPs by doing the opposite, by pouring salt in those wounds. The Trump style rhetoric of “rage farming” is toxic to democracy,

Healing divisions requires a process whereby we learn from our mistakes. That is why I am supporting C293, a private members bill from Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine Smith Titled the Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness Act. Its purpose is “to prevent the risk of and prepare for future pandemics and to promote transparency and accountability in relation to the Government of Canada’s efforts to do so.” I tried to amend it to include hearings that would allow a science-based review of competing claims about treatments, whether ivermectin or what have you. Without listening to each other and developing what lawyers trying a case would develop, “an agreed statement of facts,” we will slide further into the Trump-world of “alternative facts.” In any case, my amendments did not survive the clause by clause review, but there is enough in C293 for me to see its passage and the process it sets in motion as critical. When we get back to work in Parliament, this bill has to get through Report Stage and Third Reading and then all stages in the Senate.

I remember the mistakes of the early response to the Covid pandemic. Some stem from our short memories. We came through the SARS pandemic with a number of reports on lessons learned and actions required of governments – such as having usable supplies of personal protective equipment at hand. Forgotten. Another critical error of Health Canada was cutting the budget – and hence the antennae of Canada’s Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN). I would love open hearings to ask how such a penny wise pound foolish decision was made.

We need to be able to examine our mistakes. We need to acknowledge that Public Health Officers made mistakes and so did the WHO. Then we can learn from those mistakes and better prepare for the next pandemic, without jumping to the erroneous conclusion that there is a vast conspiracy to destroy humanity (as the Globe editorial confirmed the drafter of Dr. Lewis’ petition believes.)

So back to the rabbit hole of claims that the WHO is drafting a treaty to eviscerate Canadian sovereignty and personal rights in an authoritarian central global control over pandemic response.

I get emails from constituents who think the WHO is – like the conspiracy theories about the WEF – all-powerful and run by billionaire elites. And I reply without suggesting people are wrong to be concerned. If those fears were in any way justified I would be alarmed. Then I point to what the WHO is actually doing. Essentially the goals of C293 – to learn from mistakes and be better prepared for the next pandemic – are the same goals as the WHO process to develop better pandemic preparedness and effective response globally.

In the community meeting on Salt Spring Island a participant was really alarmed and told all of us that the language of the draft treaty had moved from being advisory to being “legally binding proclamations.” I had not seen that claim before and pushed back gently to ask whether he really thought any country would surrender sovereignty to allow an external agency of any kind to dictate domestic decisions. I pointed out I could not imagine Canada agreeing, and could anyone imagine the USA agreeing to such a treaty or Russia- or any country really??

Afterwards he gave me a print out from a website, of something called the “World Council for Health.” I like getting to the bottom of things so went to that site in case it had any draft text from the WHO to substantiate such a claim. The site has good graphics and exaggerated claims. Trying to find out what the organization is and who funds it took me to this Wikipedia entry: “The World Council for Health is a pseudo-medical organisation dedicated to spreading misinformation to discourage COVID-19 vaccination, and promoting fake COVID-19 treatments.”

I dropped that bit of inquiry and went to the WHO website instead to verify if any language exists in any draft that could be honestly misconstrued as creating legally binding proclamations. I am totally satisfied that the WHO work is no threat to Canada or our sovereignty. But it is a lot of work to keep up with the creation of credible-looking but misinformation-spreading website and social media posts.

There is a process that started a few years ago whereby the WHO is trying to learn from mistakes, whoever made them.

The background to this process includes this statement, “In recognition of the catastrophic failure of the international community in showing solidarity and equity in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.” The notion of a convention or agreement being negotiated has moved from concept to what is called the “zero draft.” It focuses on the need to ensure that the poorer nations have access to those strategies available to richer nations. The principle of equity is fundamental. The draft text identifies the need to act on wild animal markets, to ensure better hygiene and controls in inter-species contact. It is currently headed for further discussion and review at a meeting of the WHO set for May of this year. The language specifically respects national sovereignty: “states shall carry out their obligations under the WHO CA+ in a manner consistent with the principles of the sovereign equality and the territorial integrity of States and that of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other States.”

Fortunately I had done all this additional research before the question came up at the Sidney meeting. And we have a few more this week if you want to join me!

Jan 23 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm Gordon Head Community Meeting

Jan 24 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm Galiano Island Community Meeting

Jan 25 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm Central Saanich Community Meeting

In the meantime, please sign these petitions in support of my private members bill to create a legislative mandate for Via Rail!

https://www.ourcommons.ca/petitions/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-4717

https://www.ourcommons.ca/petitions/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-4754

Thanks!!

And have a great week. Be well, be kind, and pray for peace,

Love and thanks,

Elizabeth

Saanich-Gulf Islands Greenshttps://www.sgigreenparty.ca/