Tories attack Liberals over coronavirus response, lack of border crackdowns

All eyes were on the spread of the coronavirus known as COVID-19 in Ottawa on Thursday as Conservatives attacked the government over not imposing border or public gathering restrictions to try to contain the outbreak.

As global cases continue to climb, more and more countries are cracking down on public gatherings like sporting events and the entry or exit of travellers within their territories. But the Canadian government has declined to put any such measures in place, arguing they do not work.

In question period though, the issue of border controls dominated questions from Conservative MPs who demanded to know why the government wasn’t increasing screening at entry points or restricting travel from hot-spot countries, given most cases in Canada are linked to travel from abroad.

“When the final flight out of Italy landed here, passengers were not screened. No temperatures were taken and no one was quarantined. They were given a pamphlet and sent on their way,” said Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in his opening question.

“Is the government convinced that a departmental pamphlet is enough to reduce the spread of this disease?”

Scheers questions came after the Quebec government put in place new measures on Thursday asking anyone arriving from abroad or who has flu-like symptoms to self-isolate for two weeks, and banning indoor events of more than 250 people to try to stop the spread.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canadians are living in an “anxious time” but suggested the federal government isn’t planning any similar measures.

“We need to continue to listen to our medical experts,” she said.

“They are telling us that the situation will get worse before it gets better. They also say that Canada is well-prepared. Our government will do whatever it takes to keep Canadians healthy and safe, and I know that is the commitment of all members of this House.”

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