, 08.27.2021 10:01 AM

My latest: where’s Tam?

Where’s Theresa Tam?

It’s kind of like that popular Where’s Waldo book series, isn’t it? Someone is supposed to be somewhere, except you can’t find them. They’re hiding.

Theresa Tam, as is very well known, is the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. But where she has gone? That’s not so well known.

Because Tam has been ubiquitous throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hasn’t she? Every single day, just about, she has appeared in the media, providing information.

Often, the information has been dramatically, wildly wrong. A sampling:

  • At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Tam said, “There has been no evidence to date that this illness, whatever it’s caused by, is spread easily from person to person.”
  • Shortly thereafter, Tam said there existed “no reason to be overly concerned” about the spreading virus.
  • In the week Canadians started to get infected, Tam said: “There is no clear evidence that this virus is spread easily from person to person. The risk to Canadians remains low.”
  • Even as the virus was killing Canadians, Tam said masks had “potential negative aspects” and added that “it can sometimes make it worse.”
  • Much later, Tam said that people should wear the aforementioned masks when having sex, and avoid kissing.

Seriously, she said all those things. And, yes, she’s a doctor and all that.

Now, you might wondering — and no one would blame you for doing so — if it’s possibly a good thing that Dr. Theresa Tam has gone Bermuda Triangle on us.

I mean, with the stuff she’s said, it’s probably better to get medical advice from one of the many epidemiological Nobel laureates found on Twitter, all of whom have pictures of kittens instead of their faces.

But, no. Tam has a job to do. It’s even in legislation. And, you know, the pandemic. It’s still going on. (It’s getting worse again, in fact.)

The statute that governs Tam’s shop is unimaginatively called the Public Health Agency of Canada Act. It has a couple interesting parts to it.

Here’s one, from the preamble: “The Government of Canada considers that the creation of a public health agency for Canada and the appointment of a Chief Public Health Officer will contribute to federal efforts to identify and reduce public health risk factors and to support national readiness for public health threats.”

See that? No less than the government itself says that Tam’s job is to “identify and reduce public health risk factors” and ensure there is “national readiness” for things like COVID-19.

There’s more. Section 7 of the Act says Tam is expected to “communicate with the public … for the purpose of providing information about public health issues.”

That’s Tam’s job. That’s what she was hired to do. But since the election began, Dr. Theresa Tam hasn’t really been doing her job, has she?

Oh, sure, she has a Twitter account, almost certainly maintained by a minion, in both official languages. But during the election? Press conference? Answering questions about the surge in infections?

Poof. She’s gone. Vanished.

People have noticed. The Conservative Party has written to the head of Canada’s public service, demanding an investigation — a search party, sort of — into Tam’s whereabouts.

And Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole — who now has a better shot at becoming Tam’s boss than any of us expected — says this: “Has (Justin Trudeau) silenced the public health authority from giving public updates? That’s a question for Mr. Trudeau.”

It sure is. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was much more direct, and said this to another newspaper: “I mean, if we needed another reminder why this was a bad decision of Justin Trudeau to call the election, there’s another example. We’re still dealing with this pandemic, still dealing with a crisis. And we’re not able to get briefings of that nature because we’re in a caretaker mode.”

Actually, we’re in Where’s Waldo mode. So what does Trudeau say?

Typically, nothing. Bureaucrats like Tam, Trudeau insists, “work every single day,” election or no election, blah blah blah.

If all of this reminds you of what Donald Trump did to Dr. Anthony Fauci, silencing America’s Chief Medical Advisor during the early days of the pandemic, you’re not alone. Lots of us have thought the same thing.

Like Trump, Trudeau doesn’t want his sunny days clouded with unhelpful talk about the rampaging Delta variant or Canadians gasping for air in ICUs. So, Tam — like Fauci — disappears. Poof.

With one critical difference. Fauci didn’t want to be silenced. Tam? We’re not so sure.

Here’s the thing, Dr. Tam: You were hired to do one job. You’re paid a quarter of a million dollars, annually, to — as the law says — “communicate with the public.” The law doesn’t give you time off for elections.

So, do your job, Dr. Tam, or quit.

You work for us, not the Liberal Party.

— Warren Kinsella was the chief of staff to a federal Liberal Minister of Health

28 Comments

  1. Warren,

    I’m sort of a glass half full, half empty kind of guy on this one: I cut the PHAC a lot of slack in the early days of the pandemic but far less so as COVID-19 evolved and the science progressed. I also recognize you can still make a major error as a human being at any point during the continuum. That being said, the PHAC should have had some kind of announcement indicating why she would not be speaking during an ongoing pandemic, even in an election scenario. To go to full radio silence is at the very least perplexing. But like you said, probably most of us are thinking it, even though we’re not saying it.

    • Wallace says:

      She is utterly incompetent and a Liberal stooge, willingly or not. She has zero credibility. She should have been fired for cause, but see point one. And to top it off, she is woke. Woke kills.

      Fire Tam.

  2. Robert White says:

    Clearly, the Liberal War Room is defacto Chief Public Health Officer during times of election. And the optics of a Canada wide pandemic is not really synonymous with retail politics from perspective of Liberal planners.

    Sunny ways has turned to rainy days, but the Liberal War Room forgot to save for a rainy day. Now CPC will eat their lunch.

    Go CPC!

    RW

  3. Steve T says:

    I wonder if the Libs realized that people are having Tam Fatigue, and decided she wouldn’t be helpful to their campaign. It shouldn’t work like that (she should be independent), but that’s not how Ottawa works.

    Tam was a reassuring presence for some of the pandemic, but she became a bit too convinced of her own brilliance and power – not the least of which was due to the ongoing fawning by the CBC and other Liberal-friendly organizations. As a result, she sounded increasingly more preachy and condescending. I personally have grown to find her voice and press conferences grating and unnecessary.

    To your original point, though, we do need someone to provide Canadians with information. Perhaps a fresh face, with a bit more humbleness, would do some good.

  4. Sean says:

    She’s following Justin’s lead… and giving up on serious stuff.

  5. Sean says:

    Water cooler area this morning. Blue collar working class types. Talking Afghanistan. Talking Election. Talking pandemic. No one mentioned Justin, O’Toole or Singh. To a person… everyone was saying how much they missed le P’tit Gars.

  6. Douglas W says:

    The Tamster … last seen, putting up Liberal election signs.

  7. Tim says:

    PHAC is far less front and centre than provincial health authorities have been in this and often sends contradictory messaging to these authorities. In certain instances PHAC’s public health guidance may be more substantive and efficacious in mitigating viral spread, but that doesn’t matter if you’re sending mixed signals to Canadians. PHAC and provincial health authorities owe it to us to get on the same page. Otherwise it just makes them all look like fools.

    I recall a Tweet earlier this summer where Theresa said we “may” now visit outdoors and unmasked with small groups. The same thing was ok’d by my provincial government a month earlier who is, frankly, the one’s setting and enforcing the rules.

    I honestly don’t know what her or PHACs role or point is given provinces run their own shows.

  8. Peter Williams says:

    What is it about Justin and his need to surround himself with incompetents?

    Tam should resign.

    • Peter,

      She may or may not have been reined in by this PMO but that doesn’t make her an incompetent. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

      • Peter Williams says:

        Mr Kinsella provided a nice summary. The final straw? The silence in the face of a fourth wave. If Ms Tam was “silenced” by the PMO, she should have spoken out anyway, or resigned in protest b

        • Ronald O'Dowd says:

          Peter,

          Has Tam largely behaved in the same manner as Fauci did when he got sidelined by Trump? I think so. Remember that public health officers are apolitical and are not allowed to speak out on actions that governments of the day may take regarding a health crisis. In short, speaking about political decisions is a no-go and when they are instructed by their political masters, they have no choice but to comply until those same masters have ended up on the ash heap of history. Like I said, Tony is back under Biden and doing a fine job. I expect the same of Tam once O’Toole is prime minister. So sorry, I just don’t buy those arguments.

          • Peter Williams says:

            If Tam is being directed by the PM/PMO then she should resign a la Wilson-Raybould, Philpott, and Caesar-Chavannes did.

          • Ronald O'Dowd says:

            Peter,

            They were politicians. She is a public servant. Huge difference.

          • Peter Williams says:

            Part of Tam’s job is to communicate with the public. If, as you seem to suggest, the PMO interferes with Tam in her roll, she should speak out, or resign. Wilson Raybould did exactly that. It’s called integrity. Surely we expect integrity from politicians and civil servants? Both serve us, the public.

  9. Phil in London says:

    She heard you – briefing next week according to CTV. I wonder if they will advise us to vote liberal

  10. Peter Williams says:

    Today Justin admitted all Liberal candidates are not vaccinated. One rule for us, not for Liberals.

    Today Justin campaigned and violated Ontario’s COVID protocols. One rule for us, but not for Liberals.

    Ethics are for us, but not for Justin and his Liberals.

    Honesty is what we require of each other, but is foreign to Justin.

    Instead of planning an Afghanistan evacuation, Trudeau and his Liberals spent four months traveling the country giving out money and reannouncing old funding.

  11. Robin says:

    Pretty obvious that Trudeau and his war room are desperate for a wedge issue that will provide some traction in the polls. Now they are trying vaccine passports. What will it be tomorrow? I suspect Trudeau’s problem is he has lost credibility with a lot of voters on this or any other issue, and that is a loss of trust.

    • Pedant says:

      “I suspect Trudeau’s problem is he has lost credibility with a lot of voters on this or any other issue, and that is a loss of trust.”

      This right here is the issue and I think it would be an interesting column idea for Warren. When a politician has utterly lost the trust of the voters, I don’t know if there’s much that can be done. Nothing Trudeau says, no promise he makes, will be believed by anyone, especially the young people (not quite so young anymore) who first put him in office. And I think this mistrust carries into his attacks on his opponents, i.e. they simply don’t believe him on any claim he makes about O’Toole or Singh.

  12. Warren,

    Yup. YOU did it. Congratulations!

    May you be as skillful on election night.

  13. Douglas W says:

    Cue Paul Simon: slip slidin’ away.

  14. Gilbert says:

    Well, we are doing so well with this pandemic. Canadians have their benefits and we’re spending. The budget will balance itself. There’s no need to think about monetary policy. Dr. Tam? Oh, let’s not focus on the Delta Variant or anything negative. We’re in the middle of an election campaign. Re-elect me and we’ll get a lot done with our brothers in Afghanistan. Dr. Tam? Uh, you’ll see her again soon.

  15. Vancouverois says:

    Not related to Dr Tam… but I just saw this:

    https://twitter.com/m_bohaichuk/status/1431317777042739204

    What does it mean? Have there been a few ill-advised Tweets that I missed?

  16. Lawrence Barry says:

    Tam? Where the hell has Hajdu been for 99% of this shitshow – from Day 1 – in the space of 24 hrs – ‘nothing to see here folks – to “GO HOARD SHIT AS FAST AS YOU CAN“ ‘ The good people of TBay need to kick her ass out. Embarrassing.

  17. J.Ph. Brunet says:

    Covid briefings suspended for the duration of the election?
    Because all the alarmism was political theatre from the start.
    In other news, Israeli researchers say natural Covid immunity much more effective than vaccinations.
    Because half-arsed unproven vaxxes produced in less than a tenth of the time it took for every other vaccination in history, under massive political pressure, and with the promise of obscene Big Pharma profits in the billions, were political theatre from the start.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      JPB,

      The Israeli supposition is just that. If natural immunity is so powerful then someone please explain to me why 4.5 million people have been certified as having died from COVID-19.

  18. Robin says:

    Eric “slow hands” Clapton’s new song” This Has Gotta Stop”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNt4NIQ7FTA&t=120s
    Lets make this the election theme song to vote Trudeau Liberals out of office on Sept 20th.

  19. PJB says:

    Did you just claim that there have been 4.5 million ISRAELIS killed by COVID?

    No, you probably intended to say something else.

    Please provide a link to the source of your claim that 4.5 million people were killed by Covid.

    Thanks.

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