OTTAWA — Members of Parliament have issued a mandatory summons to Canadian World Health Organization expert Bruce Aylward, after he turned down repeated invitations to testify to a House of Commons committee.
Aylward is the renowned epidemiologist who led a team of WHO experts to China to study the COVID-19 outbreak in February.
He and the WHO have come under criticism by some in Canada for his report on China’s ability to curb the spread of the viral disease, which has since become a worldwide pandemic.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in particular has raised concerns about the accuracy of the WHO’s data on COVID-19, and China’s influence on the international organization.
“This committee was tasked unanimously with studying Canada’s response to COVID-19,” Conservative health critic Matt Jeneroux said of the Commons health committee’s mission.
“The WHO has played a key role in that response. The government has been relying on data from the WHO and has been implementing measures here in Canada based on the WHO’s recommendations.”
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The committee has invited Aylward to testify by video conference from Geneva, Switzerland, twice in the last month.
He turned them down and the WHO instead offered to answer written questions.
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NDP health critic Don Davies said while written answers would be helpful, the chance for MPs to ask questions would be far better.
“I would note for the record that Dr. Aylward has done interviews … with media outlets,” Davies said Thursday. “The WHO has been willing to make Dr. Aylward available to answer questions to the media, so I don’t see any principled reason why they would not make Dr. Aylward available to this committee to answer similar questions.