Vaughn Palmer: NDP government lacking transparency in handling of COVID-19 pandemic, says Andrew Weaver

Table of Contents

“I wish that the government were forthright a few months ago, saying that they were giving up on preventing spread and moving into ‘herd immunity’ mode. The poor communication of public health intentions undermines confidence in our health leaders.” — Andrew Weaver

Article content

VICTORIA — Former Green party leader Andrew Weaver tested positive for COVID-19 this week and, true to form, didn’t hold back how he felt.

Article content

“Testing positive after two years of super vigilant N95 mask-wearing, hand washing, etc., just sucks,” Weaver wrote on his Twitter account Thursday.

The University of Victoria climate scientist then criticized the NDP government that he helped elect in 2020.

“I wish that the government were forthright a few months ago, saying that they were giving up on preventing spread and moving into ‘herd immunity’ mode,” Weaver continued.

“The poor communication of public health intentions undermines confidence in our health leaders.”

Weaver said he understands that the dominant BA.2 variant of the virus is more communicable than its predecessors.

“But transparency and intention-signalling are important.”

Bottom line on his Twitter posting: “If I got COVID with my hyper vigilant approach to avoidance, everyone likely will!”

Article content

When someone wrote Weaver to say that she still hoped to “avoid getting it” by maximizing the use of masks and minimizing contact with others, he replied:

“I wish you the best, but I fear that we will all be exposed imminently. I was pretty much the last person I know to get COVID.”

Weaver’s candour brought some pushback on social media.

Someone asked if he thought that provincial officials should be charged with negligence over the way they handled the pandemic.

“I do not,” replied Weaver. “I just think we need more transparency and information that is forthright.”

Was it getting sick that prompted Weaver to criticize the government for the first time over its mishandling of the pandemic?

“Nope,” he replied.

“I have been quite critical of non transparency since Christmas.”

Article content

A review of Weaver’s tweets supports him on that score.

From last December: “Not sure I understand why gyms are closed while large venues are not. I’m not convinced data supports this.

“This is a question that needs to be answered with evidence. My greatest fear is that politics will trump evidence in B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) decisions.”

From early January: “9,400 folk (50 per cent capacity) can watch Canucks games yet 10 people can’t work out in a gym. To me, this is profoundly troubling as I suspect British Columbians will start ignoring orders when said orders obviously defy logic.

“B.C. has done an exceptional job to date: Please don’t blow it by pivoting to decision-based evidence-making and politics.”

Article content

From late January: “Now let’s accept that schools and post-secondary institutions are major sources of Omicron spread. An elementary school student in my family got COVID from her school and now everyone in her family is getting it.

“The outrageous statements by the BCCDC that classrooms are not spreading sites was directly challenged by the UBC president.

“Yet my institution (UVic), citing BCCDC’s decision-based evidence-making approach to public health policy of late, thinks it is OK for me to teach in a class for which every seat (175) is taken in a poorly ventilated room, built in the 1960s, with no windows.”

Weaver’s sharply critical response was in marked contrast to that of his former partner in power-sharing, Premier John Horgan, when he shook off a case of COVID-19 this week.

Article content

“Fortunately, they were mild symptoms; a bit of a sniffle, I would say,” Horgan told Rob Shaw of CHEK news.

“I wouldn’t call it congestion. It literally was a drippy nose and a bit of a cough. The symptoms lasted for a few days. Then I was on the mend.”

Horgan said “we’re far from finished with COVID. But I think we’re finished with that portion of the pandemic that had us staying outside of our social circles, avoiding people.

“I think we can continue to engage with people, but we need to be smart about it.”

The premier reiterated his confidence in provincial health officials, led by Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“We should continue to listen to our public health officials, take that guidance and get on with our lives,” said Horgan.

“Having gone through cancer treatment, my desire to fully engage is heightened, not diminished. And for those who are worried, be cautious, but don’t be afraid.

Article content

“Get out back in the world and do the best you can to enjoy life.”

New Democrats dismiss criticisms of their handling of the pandemic by saying that B.C.’s response is based on science and their handling of data has been open and transparent.

Weaver challenges both of those lines of defence.

Nor can they dismiss him as another partisan critic, for clearly he is not.

Weaver’s abandonment of the Greens and endorsement of John Horgan helped jump start the NDP’s snap election campaign in 2020.

Since then, the ex-Green has continued to support the government when he sees fit.

On last fall’s release of the NDP climate action plan: “This is what climate leadership looks like — a plan that signals to the world that B.C. is going to lead the way in the transition to a low-carbon future.”

On the recent release of the government’s Stronger B.C. economic plan: “If I were to write my dream plan, I literally would have written this plan.”

New Democrats, including the premier himself, happily recirculated those endorsements from Weaver.

They’ve not done the same with this week’s expression of dismay over the recent handling of the pandemic.

I expect that is because they are hoping nobody notices.

[email protected]


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.