Ontario Premier Doug Ford watches a healthcare worker prepare a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease vaccine at The Michener Institute, in Toronto, Canada on January 4. (Reuters file)
Ontario Premier Doug Ford watches a healthcare worker prepare a Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease vaccine at The Michener Institute, in Toronto, Canada on January 4. (Reuters file)

Video of MP asking minister if Canada dialed India for vaccines goes viral

Michelle Rempel Garner, the shadow minister of health for the opposition Conservative Party, pinned the tweet of a video of her questioning minister of public services and procurement Anita Anand, whether she or Canadian Prime Minister had reached out to PM Modi
By Anirudh Bhattacharyya I Edited by Vinod Janardhanan
UPDATED ON FEB 08, 2021 12:38 PM IST

A tweet by an Opposition MP, which shows her quizzing the Canadian Minister in charge to procuring Covid-19 vaccines whether the government had reached out to India for make up for its difficulties in getting enough doses, has gone…err…viral.

Michelle Rempel Garner, the shadow minister of health for the opposition Conservative Party, pinned the tweet of a video of her questioning minister of public services and procurement Anita Anand, whether she or Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had reached out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Garner asked, “Has the minister or prime minister phoned Prime Minister Modi to ask if we could get vaccines from India?” Anand responded, “I am in regular communication with organisations and countries around the world to secure doses of additional vaccines.”

Pressed again, Anand replied, “I personally have not phoned Prime Minister Modi and I cannot speak for anyone else in our government.” To another follow-up whether Trudeau had placed such a call, Anand, an Indo-Canadian, said, “I do not know.”

Rempel Garner tweeted, “The minister said she was ‘scouring the globe to find vaccines.’ I asked if she or Trudeau had called @narendramodi. Nope.”

While Canada’s vaccination programme started early with emergency authorisation of the Pfizer-BionTech vaccine in December, the number of doses received from that company and from Moderna has been far below expectations, leading to problems with delivery across provinces.

Anand told the outlet CBC News in an interview that she has “solid confirmation” that the country will receive the six million doses, as announced by Trudeau earlier, by the end of March. She also predicted a “steep incline” in shipments of vaccines arriving in Canada after the middle of February.

The Trudeau Government has faced criticism from the Opposition as well as the Canadian media over its failure to procure sufficient quantities to inoculate Canadians. But Anand was confident that situation will soon be remedied, as she said, “The temporary delays that we have seen are largely behind us.”

The inoculation shortages come as the winter wave of the Covid-19 pandemic continues in Canada, with infections caused by variants emerging from Brazil and South Africa being reported in its largest city, Toronto. Canada has recorded 804,263 cases so far, including 36,067 fatalities due to the coronavirus crisis.

India has continued its “vaccine diplomacy”, exporting doses to various countries around the world. Ironically, while the Canadian government may not have contacted New Delhi in this regard, a private pharmaceutical firm has started discussions to get doses for export from Canada to Latin American nations.

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