OTTAWA — An attempt from the Prime Minister’s Office to send a warning message about COVID-19 misinformation backfired Friday after a readout of a call with Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole was sent to media before their scheduled meeting.
A source in the Prime Minister’s Office said the premature release of the readout — an official statement summarizing topics covered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his official calls — was a “mistake by staff,” sent to reporters early. HuffPost is not disclosing the name of the official because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The mistake was pointed out by O’Toole’s director of communications.
— Melanie Paradis (@Melanie_Paradis) November 27, 2020
Early release of the readout, sent approximately 45 minutes before the two leaders’ scheduled call at 5:15 p.m. EST, gave O’Toole’s team a glimpse at the prime minister’s agenda for the planned meeting.
It covered topics including U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration, climate change, NATO, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, American protectionism and the Keystone XL pipeline.
The last line was more critical, taking opposition MPs to task on peddling misinformation — a point neutralized by the early release of a readout for a call that had not yet happened.
“The prime minister also raised concerns around COVID-19 misinformation being promoted by Conservative members of Parliament, given Conservative MPs recently downplayed the deaths of Canadians in Alberta due to COVID-19 and compared COVID-19 to the flu.”
A new readout was released by the Prime Minister’s Office after the two leaders spoke to each other. It did not include any mention of misinformation.