Coronavirus: Canada missed opportunity for ‘early warning,’ security expert says

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OTTAWA — It was last on a list of eight threat scenarios, but the danger of a global pandemic made the cut when the Liberal government issued a national security policy in 2004.

With the then-recent SARS outbreak in mind, the government said it would integrate its approach to public health emergencies with its national security agenda, including when drafting threat assessments.

The promise wasn’t fulfilled, leaving Canada woefully exposed during the COVID-19 crisis, says security-and-intelligence expert Wesley Wark.

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“Despite the idea that we were going to do this with the national security policy, it just never happened,” said Wark, a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

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Rather, Canada was left to rely on open-source information, including assumptions about timely and accurate reporting from countries like China that stood to suffer from the outbreak,

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