'Canada is at a crossroads': Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offers stern COVID-19 warning in rare television address

'Canada is at a crossroads': Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offers stern COVID-19 warning in rare television address
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Elisabetta Bianchini
·4 min read
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed Canadians Wednesday evening, saying the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is “already underway.”

“Canada is at a crossroads,” Trudeau said. “We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring.”

“It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for thanksgiving but we still have a shot at Christmas. Together, we have the power to get the second wave under control.”

The prime minister highlighted that back on Mar. 13 there were 47 new COVID-19 cases in Canada and on Tuesday alone there were more than 1,000 new cases.

He went on to urge Canadians to limit their contacts, wear masks, get the flu shot this fall and download the COVID Alert app to help tackle the virus across the country.

“There are many days to go before we get to the other side of this but there are also many of us to get us there, so long as we each remember to do our part,” Trudeau said. “I know that we will, we’re Canadians and together there’s nothing we can’t do.”

The prime minister’s address came after Gov. Gen. Julie Payette’s speech from the throne. In his evening address, Trudeau reiterated some promises from the throne speech, particularly the promise to build a national child care program so “no parent, especially no mother, has to put their career on hold.”

He also stressed that the government will be extending the wage subsidy until next summer, autoworkers will build zero emission vehicles and other green initiatives to allow Canada to have “a competitive economy of the future.” The prime minister also reinforced his commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous people and fighting systemic racism in Canada.

“Diversity is not just our strength, it’s our competitive edge,” he said.

“There is a covenant between government and the people government serves,” the prime minister went on to say. “You need to know that you can rely on us, just like you can rely on each other.”

‘Full of liberal buzz words and grand gestures’

The Conservative Party has said it does not support the Liberal government’s throne speech, with MP Candice Bergen saying it was “full of liberal buzz words and grand gestures” and did not tackle national unity, the energy sector and agriculture, and fell short at addressing concerns from small businesses.

In a pre-taped address to Canadians, due to a recent COVID-19 diagnosis, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole stressed that more needs to be done to give Canadians faster access to virus testing.

“The situation facing my family shows that we must remain extremely vigilant in our battle against the spread of COVID-19,” O’Toole said.

The Conservative Leader also called out the Liberals for not rolling out rapid testing in Canada.

“Half a year and half a trillion dollars later, Canadian families are lined up for hours for tests because the prime minister failed to deliver,” he said.

O’Toole went on to claim that Canada is “more divided, less prosperous and less respected on the world stage” after four years of Trudeau as prime minister.

“We must show our fellow Canadians that we value them and respect their contributions to our country,” the Conservative Leader said about “western alienation” in Canada.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said COVID-19 has “exposed a lot of problems” but stressed that a lot of them existed before the pandemic.

“Justin Trudeau has been in power before with a majority government and hasn’t made these things better,” Singh said. “I want you to know, like we’ve done throughout this pandemic, we see you, we hear you and we’re going to keep fighting for you.”

He went on to say that Canada’s healthcare system “wasn’t there for people” and a better social safety net is needed, adding that it’s “not good enough to just say the word” but the actions are required.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said in French that Canada must adapt its actions to tackle this health crisis.

He criticized Trudeau for not outlines enough provisions for immediate support for seniors under the age of 75.

Blanchet also called the federal government’s green recovery plan vague and a reiteration of the promises made in the 2019 throne speech.