Health Minister Patty Hajdu says if China wasn’t honest about the pandemic in the early stages, it should be held accountable, marking a change from her previous comments on Beijing’s handling of the virus outbreak.
“If China wasn’t honest, then they need to be held to account,” Hajdu told CTV Question Period host Evan Solomon in a program airing today.
Hajdu has previously defended China’s handling of the pandemic, including in a Sept. 13 interview with Global News, where she said China acted quickly to alert the world about the virus “which allowed countries to be able to rapidly produce tests to be able to detect it in their own countries.” She made similar comments in February, saying “China has been very open.”
In April, after a Bloomberg report said the White House received intelligence that the Chinese regime had concealed the extent of the outbreak, Hajdu dismissed a question by a reporter on whether China’s numbers can be trusted as fuelling conspiracy theories.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of his cabinet have in recent weeks spoken more strongly on China compared to the past.
In response to Chinese ambassador Cong Peiwu’s warning that Canada shouldn’t grant asylum to Hong Kong refugees if it cares about their “good health and safety,” Trudeau said Ottawa will continue to “stand up loudly and clearly for human rights.”
Trudeau also spoke more assertively during a press conference in mid-October, saying Canada will be working with allies to ensure “China’s approach of coercive diplomacy, its arbitrary detention of two Canadian citizens, alongside other citizens of other countries around the world, is not viewed as a successful tactic by them.”
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan recently called China’s detention of Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor “hostage diplomacy.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is expected to create a new foreign policy approach for dealing with China later this year.
As reported previously by The Epoch Times, a series of leaked documents it obtained show that patients in China with symptoms similar to COVID-19 were hospitalized months before the regime’s official timeline.
At least one patient started experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms in September 2019, according to hospital data obtained by The Epoch Times from a trusted source who has access to government documents. Dozens more were hospitalized over the following month.
Chinese authorities have detained and punished a number of whistleblowers who sounded the alarm about the initial virus outbreak, including Dr. Li Wenliang of Wuhan, who was detained after he shared a report about China’s lab sequencing of the virus on social media on Dec. 27, days before Beijing alerted the World Health Organization about the new disease on Dec. 31.