The Trudeau government continues to be an extreme outlier in the Western world on Covid policies. 

In recent remarks, Trudeau made a thinly veiled threat that his beleaguered populace may face fresh restrictions and mandates later this autumn or winter, unless 80 – 90%of people are “up-to-date” with their vaccinations. Canadian health officials define being “up-to-date” as having had the last dose within the last three months. In other words, Canadians are being threatened with being on an endless carousel of boosters into the indefinite future. 

You might think the Trudeau government might know something that no one else does on the efficacy of vaccines and other restrictive rules around Covid. For example, the new UK Prime Minister Liz Truss has already expressed regret at lockdowns and mandates, and it’s unlikely that the British public will face similar tough rules going forward.

The dissonance between the Canadian government’s public messaging on vaccination and what their internal risk assessments reveal is highlighted by documents now in the public domain, thanks to the civil litigation against the federal government’s vaccine mandate for travel, initiated by two businessmen, both British immigrants to Canada, Karl Harrison and Shaun Rickard, and argued by their attorney, Sam Presvelos. Readers will recall that I broke the story last month for Bari Weiss’s Common Sense that the federal government’s vaccine mandate for travel lacked a solid scientific rationale.

The new documents include risk assessment reports from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the federal government’s official health department, dealing with Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5. Remarkably, PHAC only began to produce such reports as late as May 2022, a full year after the UK began producing such reports to assess, among other things, the effectiveness of vaccinations. 

For a government that has stridently extolled the virtues of vaccination, it’s more than a bit puzzling that risk assessment reporting began as late as it did for apparently trivial and logistical reasons that are difficult to reconcile with the government’s stated commitment to vaccination as a key tool to fighting the pandemic.

In the Harrison and Rickard case, under cross-examination from Presvelos, Elenis Galanis, the Director General of Integrated Risk Assessment, a unit within PHAC that reports to the chief medical officer of health Dr. Theresa Tam stated that she only started into this position within what was a new unit as late as December 2021 and only began producing risk assessments as late as May 2022 because, as Galanis told Presvelos, “I did not have any team members until then, until later on.”

For a G7 country that purports to be at the cutting edge of science and public health, from a government that claims that all of its policy decisions are based on science and evidence, this is an extraordinary statement. 

It’s not a reflection on Galanis or her team, but on a government that waited until late in the pandemic to create a unit to produce risk assessments and apparently took several months to staff it, while the federal mandates had already been in force since the fall of 2021, shortly after Trudeau’s less than thundering re-election. 

The risk assessments themselves make for interesting reading. 

The latest assessment contained in the recently released documents dates from June 16, 2022. In one of the tables in that document, for risk assessment, for the indicator, “Vaccine Effectiveness”, the risk is assessed as “Cannot be assessed”. The rationale given is that: “At present, there are no data available on vaccine effectiveness against BA.4 and BA.5 for any clinical endpoints.” 

In other words, there simply isn’t enough data to assess the effectiveness of the existing vaccines against these new subvariants.

When asked under cross-examination by Presvelos to explain the rationale behind the travel vaccine mandate and who exactly took the decision, Jennifer Little, the director general of COVID Recovery, the focal agency within Transport Canada responsible for the mandate, cited “cabinet confidence”. 

Responding to an undertaking to submit relevant documents to the Federal Court, we find that, in the public record, much of the material presented to Cabinet has been redacted — pages and pages, indeed, of blacked out text. If there was a solid scientific rationale for the mandate, why is this information withheld from the public under the fig leaf of Cabinet confidentiality?

This certainly doesn’t inspire confidence in the Trudeau government’s claim that its Covid policies are based on science and the evidence. If and when his government reimposes mandates later this fall or winter, though, you can be sure that science and evidence will be trotted out as the rationale. 

We may need yet another court case to look at the underlying scientific documents the government’s experts have seen and what they or do not say.

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