Transcript: Should Canada Adopt Vaccine Diplomacy? | Feb 17, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and brown tie.

A caption on screen reads "Should Canada adopt vaccine diplomacy? @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says FOR MIDDLE POWERS SUCH AS CANADA, DIPLOMACY IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE FOREIGN POLICY TOOL KIT. AND THAT'S CERTAINLY BEEN TRUE AS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS WORKED TO TRY TO KEEP COVID VACCINE SHIPMENTS FLOWING OUT OF THE EUROPEAN UNION. SO ONCE CANADIANS HAVE SUFFICIENT SUPPLY, SHOULD OTTAWA LEVERAGE WHAT'S EXPECTED TO BE A ROBUST SURPLUS TO ADVANCE OTHER, NON-PANDEMIC-RELATED INTERNATIONAL OBJECTIVES? WITH US TO CONSIDER THAT: IN WATERLOO, ONTARIO: BESSMA MOMANI, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO AND A SENIOR FELLOW AT CIGI, THE CENTRE FOR INTERNATIONAL GOVERNANCE INNOVATION...

Bessma is in her forties, with long wavy blond hair. She's wearing a blue jacket.

Steve continues AND IN WOODBRIDGE, ONTARIO: ERICA Di RUGGIERO, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF GLOBAL HEALTH, AND DIRECTOR OF THE CENTRE FOR GLOBAL HEALTH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO'S DALLA LANA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH.

Erica is in her forties, with long brown hair. She's wearing a purple sweater.

Steve continues IT'S GOOD TO HAVE YOU TWO BACK WITH US HERE ON TVO TONIGHT. LET'S JUST START, IF WE CAN, BESSMA, WITH THE BASICS. WHAT IS VACCINE DIPLOMACY?

The caption changes to "Bessma Momani. University of Waterloo."

Bessma says WELL, VACCINE DIPLOMACY IS AS IT SOUNDS, REALLY, IT'S COUNTRIES USING VACCINES EITHER AS MANUFACTURERS OR PERHAPS EVEN AS DONORS TO GIVE TO COUNTRIES THAT THEY WANT TO INFLUENCE, COUNTRIES THAT THEY WANT TO HAVE BETTER RELATIONS WITH AND IT'S REALLY SEEN AS A SOFT POWER TOOL THAT COUNTRIES CAN USE TO OPEN NEW MARKETS PERHAPS OR JUST REINFORCE GOOD RELATIONS.

Steve says SO, ERICA, THE SUGGESTION HERE SEEMS TO BE THAT YOU WOULD SHARE VACCINE FOR MORE THAN JUST ALTRUISTIC REASONS. THERE'S A BIT OF AN UNDERLYING FOREIGN POLICY MOTIVE HERE; FAIR TO SAY?

The caption changes to "Erica Di Ruggerio. University of Toronto."

Erica says I THINK IT'S FAIR TO SAY. VACCINES ARE AN EQUITY ISSUE, A GLOBAL SOLIDARITY ISSUE, BUT THERE ARE POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ONES AND THESE ARE SOME OF THE ISSUES WE NEED TO DEBATE WHEN WE TALK ABOUT DIPLOMACY.

Steve says FOLLOWING UP, ERICA, I ASSUME THE PEOPLE IN OTTAWA ARE DEBATING SIGNIFICANTLY RIGHT NOW WHETHER CANADA WANTS TO ADOPT THIS, AND IF SO, HOW DEEPLY THEY WANT TO ADOPT THIS. WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON THAT?

The caption changes to "Erica Di Ruggerio. Centre for Global Health."
Then, it changes again to "A time to reap."

Erica says I WOULD ARGUE THEY'VE ALREADY ADOPTED IT AND THEY'RE ALREADY EXERCISING WHAT I WOULD CONSIDER VACCINE DIPLOMACY. THEY WERE ACTUALLY AN EARLY AND VOCAL CHAMPION OF VACCINE DIPLOMACY. THEY WERE ONE OF THE FIRST TO CONTRIBUTE TO SOMETHING CALLED COVAX, WHICH IS A PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN GOVERNMENTS AND MANUFACTURERS OF VACCINES AND THE AIM WAS TO SUPPORT THE DEVELOPMENT AND MANUFACTURING OF THOSE VACCINES FOR ALL COUNTRIES. IT HAS A NUMBER OF BENEFITS, INCLUDING THE ABILITY TO EXCHANGE AND TRANSFER VACCINES THAT CAN BE PUT TO BETTER USE ELSEWHERE AND THIS IS PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT AS COVID VARIANTS ARE EMERGING.

Steve says BESSMA, WHAT'S YOUR VIEW AS TO WHETHER OR NOT WE'RE ALREADY NECK DEEP IN IT?

The caption changes to "Bessma Momani. Centre for International Governance Innovation."

Bessma says I THINK WE ARE. YOU KNOW, THERE HAVE BEEN SOME STUMBLES ALONG THE WAY WHICH I'M SURE WE'LL TALK ABOUT IN TERMS OF THE OPTICS OF HOW WE'VE DONE IT. BUT I THINK ALL COUNTRIES THAT HAVE CAPACITY, HERE AS PRODUCERS OR AS JUST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES THAT HAVE THE FINANCIAL MEANS, ARE ENGAGING IN THIS IN THEIR OWN WAY. THE BIG PLAYERS I WOULD SAY OF COURSE ARE CHINA AND INDIA. THEY ARE THE ONES REALLY STARTING TO GET A LOT OF ATTENTION FOR THEIR VACCINE DIPLOMACY, AND CERTAINLY IN SOME CASES THEY'RE COMPETING AGAINST EACH OTHER FOR THE SAME COUNTRIES, TO REALLY KIND OF GAIN INFLUENCE IN THEM. SO IT'S A VERY INTERESTING INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS ISSUE AS WELL AS OBVIOUSLY A GLOBAL HEALTH ONE.

Steve says FOLLOW UP, IF YOU WOULD, BESSMA. WHICH COUNTRIES DO YOU OR REGIONS OF THE WORLD DO YOU THINK WE ARE PARTICULARLY TRYING TO INFLUENCE WITH OUR VACCINE DIPLOMACY?

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Bessma says WELL, I THINK QUITE SIMPLY YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT WHERE OUR FOREIGN AID HAS GONE BEFORE. IT REALLY IS A GREAT PREDICTOR OF WHERE WE WANT TO INFLUENCE. I DO HAVE TO POINT OUT THAT MOST OF OUR KIND OF CONTRIBUTION IS THROUGH THIS COVAX MECHANISM, AS MY COLLEAGUE NOTED, BECAUSE THIS IS WHERE WE'LL DO THE MOST GOOD. WE'VE PUT IT THROUGH INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS LIKE THE W.H.O. AND THE COVAX MECHANISM, WHICH IS REALLY THE RIGHT WAY TO DO IT. BUT I THINK YOU JUST HAVE TO FOLLOW WHERE THE MONEY IS, WHERE ARE WE SORT OF CONTRIBUTING OUR FOREIGN AID DOLLARS, IT'S IN MANY DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, OF COURSE, LATIN AMERICA IS AN IMPORTANT MARKET FOR US, YOU KNOW, ECONOMICALLY, SO WE'RE GOING TO DONATE THERE, AND CERTAINLY PARTS OF EAST ASIA AND AFRICA AS WELL.

Steve says ERICA, YOU MENTIONED THE WORD "EQUITY" EARLIER AND I WANT TO FOLLOW UP ON THAT. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT CANADA EITHER CAN OR SHOULD USE VACCINE DIPLOMACY TO, FOR EXAMPLE, PROMOTE GENDER EQUITY IN COUNTRIES THAT DON'T FOLLOW IT AS PERHAPS AS MUCH AS WE'D LIKE THEM TO.

The caption changes to "Erica Di Ruggiero, @ed4socialchange."

Erica says I THINK THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION. THE PRIME MINISTER MADE IT A KEY PART OF HIS POLITICAL PLATFORM BACK IN 2015, PART OF THE FEMINIST AGENDA. BUT I WOULD ARGUE THAT GENDER IS MUCH BROADER THAN JUST VACCINE DIPLOMACY. BUT THE IMPLICATIONS OF VACCINES FOR WOMEN ARE PARTICULARLY. WOMEN HERE AND GLOBALLY ARE MORE VULNERABLE DURING PERIODS OF CRISIS AND THIS IS PARTICULARLY TRUE DURING COVID-19. ONE OF THE REASONS IS THAT WOMEN MAKE UP MORE THAN 70 percent OF THE HEALTH WORKFORCE AND THEREFORE ARE AT GREATER RISK. THE SECOND REASON IS THE KIND OF ROLES THAT WOMEN PLAY. THEY OFTEN ARE ESSENTIAL WORKERS. THEY ARE PSWS. AND AS WE HEARD BACK IN MARCH LAST YEAR, IF WE CAN DIAL THE CLOCK BACK THAT FAR, FEMALE-DOMINATED TOURIST SECTOR JOBS WERE AMONG THE FIRST TO BE AFFECTED IN THE FIRST PHASE OF THE PANDEMIC. SO MANY OF THESE JOBS ARE PRECARIOUS BECAUSE THEY'RE PART TIME, THEY LACK BENEFITS SUCH AS PAID SICK LEAVE, WHICH IS A HOTLY DEBATED ISSUE RIGHT NOW IN ONTARIO, AND SOME JOB SECURITY. SO OF COURSE ACCESS TO VACCINES FOR WOMEN IS A PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT ISSUE HERE AT HOME BUT ALSO GLOBALLY.

Steve says BESSMA, CAN I HEAR YOU ON THAT TOO?

The caption changes to "Bessma Momani, @b_momani."

Bessma says YEAH, OF COURSE, I COMPLETELY AGREE. AND I THINK THE OTHER ASPECT OF THIS IS OF COURSE WOMEN'S ORGANIZATIONS ARE REALLY GRASS ROOTS ORGANIZATIONS, AND WHAT THEY CAN DO IS OBVIOUSLY RAISE PUBLIC AWARENESS. YOU KNOW, I THINK WE HAVE TO POINT OUT, THERE IS STILL A LOT OF VACCINE SKEPTICISM. IT'S NOT JUST A DEVELOPING COUNTRY PROBLEM. I HEARD A UGA POLL THAT NOTED IN FRANCE 48 percent OF PEOPLE ARE STILL VERY SKEPTICAL ABOUT EVEN TAKING THE VACCINE. WE HAVE TO RAISE PUBLIC AWARENESS, PUBLIC EDUCATION, AND WOMEN'S ORGANIZATIONS, BEING GRASS ROOTS ORGANIZATIONS, KNOWING THEIR COMMUNITIES, KNOWING THEIR FAMILIES, ARE REALLY IMPORTANT. THEY HELP IN COUNTERING DISINFORMATION. SO THE MORE WE CAN GET THESE TYPES OF GRASS ROOTS ORGANIZATIONS THROUGH A BOTTOM-UP EFFORT, THE BETTER WE'LL BE IN TERMS OF GETTING THAT KIND OF VACCINE DISTRIBUTION THAT'S NEEDED TO REALLY STAMP OUT THIS VIRUS.

Steve says ERICA, CAN I PURSUE THIS JUST ONE MORE TIME, AND THAT IS... I WANT TO MAKE SURE I'VE GOT A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THIS. I DON'T THINK THERE'S ANYBODY IN CANADA WHO WOULD SAY, FOR EXAMPLE, MEN OUGHT TO GET A SHOT BEFORE WOMEN AND WHO CARES ABOUT EQUITY, YOU KNOW, MEN ARE MORE IMPORTANT TO SOCIETY AND THEREFORE DOT, DOT, DOT. NO ONE WOULD TAKE THAT VIEW IN CANADA. BUT THERE MAY BE PLACES IN THIS WORLD WHERE THAT IS THE VIEW. DO YOU THINK THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA OUGHT TO USE VACCINE DIPLOMACY TO TRY TO STAMP THAT OUT?

Erica says YEAH. I THINK WE HAVE TO BE REALLY CAREFUL THAT WE DON'T PREACH TO THE DEVELOPING WORLD WHAT MAY BE ALSO ISSUES HERE AT HOME. AS MY COLLEAGUE EXPRESSED, WHILE WE WOULDN'T SUGGEST THAT, WE HAVE ALREADY SEEN ATTEMPTS BY MEN TO JUMP THE QUEUE AND GET VACCINES IN THE NORTHERN PART OF CANADA, AS ONE EXAMPLE, AND SO I THINK THAT THE ISSUE IS HERE AT HOME AS WELL. I GUESS THE OTHER ISSUE HAS TO DO WITH INSTITUTIONS AS MY COLLEAGUE ALLUDED TO. SO IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO BUILD CAPACITY FOR ADOPTION OF VACCINES BECAUSE WE CAN'T REST ON OUR LAURELS. VACCINE HESITANCY IS HERE AND PART OF THE REASON IS TRUST IN INSTITUTIONS THAT ARE TO DELIVER THEM.

Steve says BESSMA, ADMITTEDLY I'M DOING A BIT OF SPITBALLING HERE SO HELP ME IF I'M REALLY OFF-BASE HERE. FOR EXAMPLE, COULD CANADA USE VACCINE DIPLOMACY IF IT WANTED TO MEDIATE IN A LONGSTANDING DISPUTE, FOR EXAMPLE, IN THE MIDDLE EAST? I'M NOT SURE HOW, BUT DO YOU SEE A ROLE FOR IT IN THAT CIRCUMSTANCE?

Bessma says YOU HAVE TO BE REALLY CAREFUL WITH THAT, FRANKLY. YOU DON'T WANT TO WEAPONIZE THE VACCINE, SO TO SPEAK. YOU DON'T WANT TO MAKE IT AN OVERLY POLITICAL TOOL, EVEN THOUGH FRANKLY IT IS IN MANY WAYS. I DON'T THINK REALLY... I DON'T SEE A CANADIAN EXAMPLE REALLY EFFECTIVELY TO BE USED IN THE MIDDLE EAST, FOR EXAMPLE. BUT THINK ABOUT COUNTRIES LIKE NEPAL OR SRI LANKA WHERE YOU HAVE CHINA AND INDIA VERY MUCH COMPETING FOR INFLUENCE IN THOSE TWO COUNTRIES. THEY'RE DOING EXACTLY THAT. FRANKLY, THE LEADERS OF BOTH SRI LANKA AND NEPAL ARE SMART ENOUGH TO ACTUALLY USE CHINA AND INDIA AGAINST EACH OTHER TO GET MORE AND MORE VACCINE. SO THERE IS AN OPPORTUNITY I THINK FOR COUNTRIES WHO ARE IN THAT SORT OF GEOSTRATEGIC LOCATION AND HAVE THESE POTENTIAL SUPERPOWERS WHO WANT THEIR INTEREST. THERE'S ABSOLUTELY AN OPPORTUNITY TO USE THAT AGAINST THEM.

Steve says WELL, OKAY. LET ME TRY A MORE REALISTIC EXAMPLE WITH YOU AND THAT IS, JOE BIDEN'S ADMINISTRATION IS IN. THEY'VE BEEN IN FOR LESS THAN A MONTH. YOU CAN SEE WHERE THEY TRY TO GET MIDDLE EAST PEACE TALKS BACK ON THE RAILS WHERE THEY QUIETLY SAY TO THE PALESTINIAN DELEGATION, LOOK, IF YOU BEND A LITTLE BIT ON THIS, WE'LL MAKE SURE YOUR PEOPLE GET X NUMBER OF VACCINATIONS, ET CETERA. DOES THAT HAPPEN?

Bessma says IT SURE COULD. LOTS OF THINGS HAPPEN BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. LET'S NOT SUGARCOAT THIS. I'M SURE THERE IS THAT KIND OF INTERVENTION. I THINK IN THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, ABSOLUTELY. THIS IS A REAL, I THINK... IT'S GOTTEN A LOT OF COVERAGE. ISRAEL IS OBVIOUSLY PUT ON A PEDESTAL FOR HAVING SUCH GREAT DISTRIBUTION OF A VACCINE, BUT THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES HAVE ALMOST GOTTEN NOTHING AND IN FACT THERE ARE EVEN REPORTS SUGGESTING THAT THE ISRAELIS HAVE FOUGHT CERTAIN VACCINES FROM COMING IN, PARTICULARLY THE RUSSIAN ONE. I THINK THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION IS USING BACK ROOM DIPLOMACY TO DO THAT. WE'RE DIVERTING A LITTLE BIT IN SUBJECT BUT I DON'T THINK THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION REALLY CARES TOO MUCH THE ISRAEL-PALESTINE CONFLICT. THEY WANT TO MOVE ON AND TALK ABOUT A WHOLE BUNCH OF OTHER THINGS.

The caption changes to "Understanding the controversy."

Steve says AS WE WILL DO AS WELL, LEST WE GET HIJACKED INTO ANOTHER DISCUSSION AT THIS TIME. LET'S COME HOME. WE WANT TO PLAY A LITTLE CLIP HERE. THIS IS JAGMEET SINGH, THE LEADER OF THE FEDERAL NEW DEMOCRATS, ON THE ISSUE OF COVAX, WHICH WE'VE TALKED ABOUT HERE, THIS INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT ON HOW AND WHERE TO SHARE THE VACCINE STOCKPILE. MR. SINGH'S VIEW THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S APPROACH TO THIS MAY NOT BE AS TICKETY-BOO AS HE WOULD LIKE. SHELDON, THE CLIP, IF YOU WOULD?

A clip plays on screen with the caption "February 4, 2021."

In the clip, Jagmeet Singh gives a statement. He's in his forties, with a prominent beard.

He says CANADA IS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE G-7 THAT IS GOING TO ACCESS COVAX, WHICH IS VACCINE SUPPLY MEANT FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. HOW DID THE LIBERAL GOVERNMENT LET THINGS GET SO BAD?

In another clip, Chrystia Freeland gives a statement.

A caption reads "Chrystia Freeland. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance."

She says OUR GOVERNMENT WILL NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR DOING EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER TO GET CANADIANS VACCINATED AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. COVAX HAS ALWAYS BEEN PART OF CANADA'S PROCUREMENT STRATEGY, AND THE COVAX MECHANISM IS WORKING PRECISELY AS DESIGNED. WE'VE BEEN CLEAR FROM THE START. NO ONE WILL BE SAFE UNTIL EVERYONE IS. WE'RE FOCUSED ON GETTING CANADIANS VACCINATED WHILE MAKING SURE THAT THE REST OF THE WORLD IS VACCINATED TOO.

The clips ned.

Steve says ERICA FIRST, CAN YOU WEIGH IN ON THIS AND HOW YOU THINK WE'VE HANDLED THE WHOLE COVAX FOOFERAW?

Erica says WELL, I THINK IT TOOK A LOT OF PEOPLE BY SURPRISE THAT THEY DECIDED TO DIP INTO THE STOCKPILE. BUT TECHNICALLY, THEY COULD ACCESS IT. MEMBERSHIP HAS ITS ADVANTAGES. BUT I THINK THIS REALLY WAS POLITICAL AND IT WAS SEEN BY THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY AS REALLY A BLOW TO EFFORTS TO PROMOTE VACCINE EQUITY. THE RECENT STATEMENT THAT WAS MADE BY THE W.H.O. DIRECTOR-GENERAL, DR. TEDROS, REINFORCES VACCINE EQUITY. I THINK WE HAVE TO GO BACK TO WHAT COVAX WAS INTENDED TO DO. IT WAS INTENDED TO ESTABLISH ACCESS TO VACCINES FOR ESSENTIAL HEALTH WORKERS IN THE POOREST COUNTRIES AND ALSO UP TO APPROXIMATELY 20 percent OF THE GENERAL POPULATION FOR EACH COUNTRY. HOWEVER, 20 percent IS A BIT OF A LOW BAR AND A LOW AMBITION, AND SO IT'S NOT GOING TO GET US VERY FAR. AND I THINK IT SPEAKS TO A BIT OF [indiscernible] THAT TENDS TO PLAY THESE KINDS OF AGREEMENTS, BUT WE REALLY NEED TO DO A BETTER JOB AT ENSURING THE LOW INCOME COUNTRIES WHO ARE ELIGIBLE TO BE SUPPORTED BY COVAX DO GET THEIR ACCESS. IF WE SEE ECONOMIC POWERPLAYS LIKE THE ONE WE'VE JUST SEEN, LOW INCOME COUNTRIES RUN THE RISK OF BEING LEFT BEHIND IN ACCESSING COVID VACCINES. I WOULD ARGUE THEY'RE ONLY AS STRONG AS OUR WEAKEST LINK, SO WE HAVE TO DO BETTER.

Steve says HAVING SAID THAT, BESSMA, I BELIEVE THE FINANCE MINISTER WAS BEING ACCURATE IN OUR COMMENTS WHEN SHE SAID, AS ONE OF THE PARTICIPATING FOUNDING MEMBERS OF COVAX, WE ARE ALLOWED TO DIP INTO THAT FOR OUR OWN PERSONAL NEEDS. NOW, CANADA TOOK IT ON THE CHIN AROUND THE WORLD A BIT FOR HER SAYING THAT OUT LOUD. BUT IT'S TRUE, ISN'T IT?

Bessma says IT IS TRUE. ABSOLUTELY. THAT IS OUR RIGHT. BUT I THINK, YOU KNOW, THIS IS REALLY ALMOST AN ETHICAL QUESTION AND AN OPTICS QUESTION, RIGHT? YOU KNOW, WE ALREADY HAVE SEEN SUGGESTIONS THAT WE HAVE PURCHASED THREE TO FOUR TIMES OUR POPULATION. SO THE OPTICS OF THIS LOOKS LIKE WE'RE HOARDING, RIGHT? AND THERE'S A LIMITED SUPPLY. THERE'S LIMITED PRODUCTION OF THESE REALLY SOUGHT-AFTER VACCINES. SO IT'S A BIT KIND OF AWKWARD FOR CANADA WHICH REALLY SORT OF TRIES TO PORTRAY THIS VERY PROGRESSIVE INTERNATIONAL ROLE. OF COURSE, YES, WE HAVE A RIGHT TO USE IT AND COUNTRIES LIKE NEW ZEALAND AND SINGAPORE, WHICH ARE ALSO DEVELOPED COUNTRIES ARE USING IT AS WELL AND THEY'RE DIPPING INTO COVAX. BUT THE OPTICS HERE IS THE REAL ISSUE. EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE THE RIGHT, I THINK THAT IT JUST KIND OF... IT LOOKED A LITTLE AWKWARD FOR US, AGAIN, BECAUSE WE STAND ON THIS SO-CALLED PEDESTAL AND AT THE SAME TIME, AGAIN, WE'VE ALREADY PURCHASED OR ALREADY ORDERED THREE TO FOUR TIMES OF OUR OWN POPULATION.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says CAN YOU TELL WHETHER OR NOT THIS HAS DAMAGED OUR STANDING IN THE INTERNATIONAL ORDER?

Bessma says WELL, I THINK, YOU KNOW, IT DEPENDS ON HOW MANY PEOPLE KNOW THE NEWS, SO TO SPEAK, AND FOLLOWING CANADIAN POLITICS. I DON'T THINK SO. BUT I THINK CERTAINLY IN THE HALLS OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS LIKE THE W.H.O., GABI WHICH RUNS COVAX, I'M SURE IT DOESN'T LOOK GOOD. AND I'M SURE THERE ARE SOME RUMBLINGS OF, HEY, THIS IS NOT RIGHT, THIS IS NOT CANADIAN CANADIAN-ESQUE IN TERMS OF OUR IMAGE.

Steve says ERICA, THE TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT IS TAKING IT ON THE CHIN AT HOME FOR BENDING OVER BACKWARDS TOO FAR TO ENSURE OTHERS GOT SUPPLY AT THE RISK OF PEOPLE HERE AT HOME NOT GETTING THEIRS, AND YET THE FACT IS THEY'VE STEPPED INTO COVAX AND TAKEN WHAT LEGITIMATELY THEY'RE ENTITLED TO TAKE WHICH MAY MAKE THEM LOOK ROUGH ON THE WORLD STAGE BUT MAY INGRATIATE THEM TO THE FOLKS AT HOME. THERE'S A BIT OF YOU CAN'T WIN IN THIS SITUATION, ISN'T THERE?

Erica says ABSOLUTELY. THEY'RE CAUGHT BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. BUT I THINK THAT'S THE CHALLENGE REALLY THAT GOVERNMENTS ARE FACED WITH. BUT AS MY COLLEAGUE SAID, CANADA ACTUALLY HAS SECURED THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF DOSES PER CAPITA THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY. THEY STILL CONTINUE WITH THE RHETORIC TO BE PUBLICLY COMMITTED TO COVAX. BUT THE REALITY IS THERE ARE MANY COUNTRIES THAT STILL HAVE NOT ADMINISTERED A SINGLE DOSE. WE CAN'T REALLY WAIT UNTIL ALL CANADIANS ARE VACCINATED WITHOUT CONTINUALLY PROGRESSIVELY GIVING ACCESS TO OUR RESERVES OF VACCINE. WE REALLY NEED TO SHARE OUR VACCINE ALLOCATION. THIS MAY BE MEDIUM SHORT-TERM GAIN INSIDE THE COUNTRY BUT WE MAY SUFFER LONG TERM INTERNATIONALLY BECAUSE THE PANDEMIC IS HERE TO STAY FOR A LITTLE LONGER.

Steve says UNFORTUNATELY I THINK YOU'RE RIGHT. LET ME READ THIS TO SEE IF THIS RELIES SHELDON, CAN WE GET THIS GRAPHIC UP, PLEASE?

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Overreliance on globalization?" The quote reads "Canada was criticized at the end of last year for buying up five times the supply it needs to cover its population, but it seems it wasn't positioned for priority delivery. That's partly because the country decided to invest in vaccines from European factories, afraid that the U.S. under Donald Trump would issue export bans. It turned out to be a bad bet. European factories are struggling with supply and recently it has been the E.U., not the U.S., that has been threatening export bans."
Quoted from Stephanie Hegarty, BBC. February 11, 2021.

Steve says SO REPORTED THE BBC EARLIER THIS MONTH. BESSMA, WE ARE REPORTEDLY THE ONLY G-7 COUNTRY THAT DOES NOT HAVE AT-HOME MANUFACTURING CAPABILITIES FOR THESE VACCINES. DO YOU HAVE ANY INSIGHT... AND I GATHER IT WAS NOT FOR LACK OF TRYING BY MEMBERS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, BUT THEY APPARENTLY WERE UNABLE TO CONVINCE ANY BIG PHARMA COMPANIES TO ESTABLISH ANY DOMESTIC MANUFACTURING HERE IN CANADA. WHAT'S THE STORY THERE?

Bessma says YEAH. I'M NOT SURE THAT LATTER PART IS VERY ACCURATE, BUT I DO THINK IT'S GOING TO BE THE HEADLINE THAT COMES OUT OF THIS IS REALLY OUR OVERDEPENDENCE ON OTHER COUNTRIES. YOU KNOW, WE SAW THIS IN THE RACE FOR MASKS, RIGHT, FOR PPE. I THINK WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN VERY MUCH AWARE A YEAR AGO THAT WE WILL BE NEEDING VACCINE SUPPLY. AND OF COURSE WE WOULDN'T KNOW THAT, FOR EXAMPLE, IT WOULD COME FROM THIS REALLY SOPHISTICATED AND NEW TECHNOLOGY MRNA WHICH I THINK IS A REAL KIND OF SPECIALIZED WAY OF PRODUCING VACCINES THAT WE DON'T NECESSARILY HAVE. BUT THE U.K. FOR EXAMPLE IN TEN MONTHS RETROFITTED THEIR OWN PRODUCTION FACILITIES TO PRODUCE THOSE VACCINES. SO I JUST DON'T THINK THAT IT'S ACCURATE TO SAY WE COULDN'T DO IT. I THINK WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A REALLY IMPORTANT CONVERSATION IN THIS COUNTRY ABOUT SORT OF UNFETTERED GLOBALIZATION AND OUR VIEW THAT WE SHOULD BE DEPENDENT ON OTHER COUNTRIES. WE DON'T DEPEND ON OTHER COUNTRIES FOR THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS THAT ARE GEOSTRATEGIC AND OF NATIONAL SECURITY, AND I THINK WE NEED TO HAVE AN HONEST CONVERSATION. WE DID SO WITH DRUGS, WHICH WE'VE DONE BEFORE IN THE PAST, AND WE'LL DO THE SAME THING I THINK FOR VACCINES IN THE FUTURE.

Steve says ERICA, CAN I GET YOU ON THAT. HOW BIZARRE IS IT THAT CANADA IS THE ONLY G-7 THAT CAN'T AT HOME MANUFACTURE VACCINES THAT WE NEED TO PROTECT OUR POPULATION?

Erica says YEAH. I WASN'T SURPRISED, ON THE ONE HAND. BUT I WOULD SAY THAT MY COLLEAGUE HAS MENTIONED THE EXAMPLE FROM THE U.K. WE CAN ACTUALLY LEARN SOME REALLY IMPORTANT LESSONS ABOUT HOW THEY DID THIS IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID. BUT I GUESS THERE ARE NEW OPPORTUNITIES, YOU KNOW, AS WE BUILD BACK BETTER FROM THIS PANDEMIC, AND THAT IS, FOR EXAMPLE, WE HAVE A NEW LEADER OF THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION, THE FIRST EVER WOMAN FROM NIGERIA. AND SO CANADA IN ADDITION TO BUILDING ITS AT-HOME CAPACITY COULD ALSO INFLUENCE TRADE RULES AND BRING IN CONSIDERATIONS OF HEALTH, LABOUR, GENDER AND ENVIRONMENT. AND SO WE COULD BE AN INFLUENCER IN THAT RESPECT AS WELL.

Steve says ALL RIGHT. IN WHICH CASE IN OUR LAST FEW MINUTES HERE, LET'S JUST SEE IF WE CAN FIGURE OUT WHAT THE KEY CONSIDERATIONS ARE AS WE TRY TO BALANCE ALL OF THE DIFFERENT THINGS THAT WE HAVE TALKED ABOUT SO FAR. ERICA, WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE KEY THINGS THAT NEED TO BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT?

The caption changes to "A fine balance."

Erica says WELL, I MEAN, I THINK AS WE'VE ALREADY DISCUSSED, COUNTRIES LIKE CANADA HAVE TO REALLY BALANCE THEIR GLOBAL COMMITMENTS WITH THEIR DOMESTIC INTERESTS. ON THE ONE HAND, THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT, IT'S IN THEIR BEST INTERESTS, TO TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN CITIZENS, AND I WOULD ARGUE IF THERE WAS ONE KEY THING IS THAT WHEN WE CONTINUE TO DO OUR VACCINE ROLLOUT, WE NEED TO BE THINKING ABOUT THE MOST VULNERABLE. WE'VE ALREADY SEEN SOME STARTS IN VACCINATING SENIORS IN LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES BUT ALSO ESSENTIAL WORKERS AND RACIALIZED COMMUNITIES NEED TO BE TAKING PRIORITY. SO FOR ME THAT WOULD BE ONE KEY THING THAT WE HAVE TO BEAR IN MIND.

Steve says BESSMA, HOW DO WE FIND THE TRICKY BALANCING POINT BETWEEN VACCINE NATIONALISM, WE DO KIND OF WANT TO BE IN THE FOREFRONT OF HAVING OUR PEOPLE INOCULATED AND MAYBE EVEN MANUFACTURING IT HERE AT HOME, A BALANCE BETWEEN VACCINE NATIONALISM AND VACCINE DIPLOMACY.

Bessma says IT'S A GREAT QUESTION. IN SO MANY WAYS IT'S AN ETHICAL ONE. AS A TAXPAYER, I WANT EVERY CANADIAN VACCINATED BEFORE I GIVE A SINGLE DOSE TO ANY THIRD WORLD COUNTRY. WHY SHOULD A HEALTHY 20-YEAR-OLD GET VACCINATED BEFORE AN 80-YEAR-OLD IN A DEVELOPING COUNTRY OR FRONT LINE CARE WORKER. THAT'S THE ETHICAL DEBATE WE'LL BE SORT OF PONDERING. I THINK IT'S GOING TO BE AN IMPORTANT ISSUE. THERE'S GOING TO BE LOTS OF VERY INTERESTING CONVERSATIONS COMING FROM THIS, INCLUDING THE POWER OF BIG PHARMA, IP RIGHTS. YOU KNOW, THERE'S GOING TO BE I THINK A PUSH EVENTUALLY. I THINK INDIA AND SOUTH AFRICA ARE DOING THIS, FOR EXAMPLE, THE WTO ABOUT ALLOWING GENERICS TO PRODUCE THIS VACCINE. THERE'S GOING TO BE A HOST OF REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTIONS AND AS ERICA POINTED OUT A BUILD BACK BETTER MANTRA WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT RULES IN THE GLOBAL CONVERSATION.

Steve says BESSMA ASKED A GREAT QUESTION. WHY SHOULD A 20-YEAR-OLD CANADIAN WHOSE CHANCES OF SUFFERING ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS FROM THIS THING ARE LOW ON THE HIERARCHY, WHY SHOULD THEY GET A SHOT AHEAD OF A HEALTH CARE WORKER IN A DEVELOPING COUNTRY WHO REALLY DESPERATELY NEEDS IT IN ORDER TO PROMOTE HEALTH IN THAT COUNTRY HALFWAY AROUND THE WORLD? WHO GETS TO MAKE THAT CALL IN CANADA? THAT'S A HARD ONE.

Erica says YEAH, THAT'S A REALLY TOUGH QUESTION. I DON'T KNOW IF WE HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO ANSWER THAT. BUT I WOULD SAY IT IS AND I WOULD JUST REITERATE WHAT MY COLLEAGUE SAID. THIS IS AN ETHICAL ISSUE THAT HAS TO BE DEBATED AT GLOBAL FORUMS THROUGH BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL AGREEMENTS. AGAIN, WE KNOW HOW THE PANDEMIC STARTED AND WE'VE BEEN HEARING THAT WE ARE ENTERING AN AGE OF PANDEMICS. SO WE NEED TO FIGURE THIS OUT FAST, AND IT CAN'T JUST BE A SINGLE COUNTRY APPROACH TO THIS.

Steve says BESSMA, I GUESS... YOU KNOW, ON THE ONE HAND, THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA IS OBLIGATED TO ITS OWN CITIZENS FIRST. BUT ON THE OTHER HAND IT DOES WANT TO PROJECT A... LEST I STEAL A PHRASE FROM FIVE OR SIX WAYS AGO... IT DOES WANT TO PROJECT SUNNY WAYS ON THE WORLD AND SHOW WE CAN BE A LEADER IN OTHER WAYS AS WELL. IF YOU HAD TO MAKE THE CALL, WHO GETS THE SHOT, THE 20-YEAR-OLD FROM DON MILLS OR A HEALTH CARE WORKER IN NIGERIA?

Bessma says YOU KNOW, I THINK THE LOGICAL ANSWER, FRANKLY, EVEN THOUGH, AS I SAID, AS A TAXPAYER, I WANT EVERY CANADIAN CITIZEN VACCINATED FIRST, IS STILL TO LOOK AT THE MOST VULNERABLE INTERNATIONALLY. AND PART OF THAT IS FRANKLY IF WE'RE GOING TO STAMP OUT THIS VIRUS, AND I'M TALKING VERY RATIONALLY HERE, AND SEEING NEW VARIANTS COMING EVERY DAY FROM THE U.K. AND SOUTH AFRICA, THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS WE NEED TO STAMP THIS OUT FAST. THESE VARIANTS ARE VERY, VERY DANGEROUS AND THE VARIANTS ARE HAPPENING BECAUSE IT'S MUTATING, LIKE ALL VIRUSES WILL. SO WE NEED TO STAMP THIS OUT. THE WAY TO STAMP IT OUT IS TAKING CARE OF THE MOST VULNERABLE, PEOPLE WHO ARE MOST EXPOSED AND I THINK THAT REALLY DOES MEAN WE HAVE TO HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL FOCUS. THE VIRUS KNOWS NO BORDERS. THAT'S THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER.

Steve says ERICA, LAST QUESTION TO YOU: HOW DO WE GO ABOUT BUILDING CANADA'S CAPACITY IN GLOBAL HEALTH DIPLOMACY?

Erica says WELL, I THINK THIS IS AN AREA THAT OUR SCHOOL IS TRYING TO TAKE ON. WE ARGUED A FEW MONTHS AGO THAT CANADA'S CAPACITY COULD BE STRENGTHENED IN GLOBAL HEALTH DIPLOMACY. IN ORDER TO ENSURE IT'S A RELEVANT PLAYER AT THOSE GLOBAL FORUMS. AND SO WE LAUNCHED THE FIRST-EVER EXECUTIVE COURSE, WE ARE AN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION, AND WE HAVE OUR FIRST COHORT STARTED SO IT'S THE BEGINNING OF TRYING TO BUILD BACK CAPACITY.

The caption changes to "Producer: Preeti Bhuyan, @PreetiBhuyan."

Steve says WONDERFUL. MY THANKS TO BOTH OF YOU FOR COMING ON TO TVO TONIGHT AND SHARING YOUR VIEWS ABOUT THIS, ERICA De RUGGERIO DALLA LANA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH AT UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO; BESSMA MOMANI, UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO AND THE CENTRE FOR INTERNATIONAL GOVERNANCE INNOVATION. BESSMA, WE CAN LET THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG. WE'RE GOING TO SEE YOU TOMORROW NIGHT AS WELL AS YOU'RE GOING TO BE PARTICIPATING IN OUR DEMOCRACY AGENDA SHOW WITH THE TORONTO STAR. WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU THEN AS WELL.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Bessma says THANK YOU.

Erica says THANK YOU.

Watch: Should Canada Adopt Vaccine Diplomacy?