OTTAWA — The federal government is deploying celebrities in new ads meant to amplify the plea of public health experts for Canadians to stay home to curb the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
The ads, one in French, one in English, are to begin broadcasting nationally tonight during the “One World: Together at Home” concert.
The English advertisement features astronaut Chris Hadfield and women’s hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser, alongside Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.
The trio exhorts Canadians to stay home and save lives.
Hadfield says Canadians have always overcome challenges by looking out for each other and doing their part.
Wickenheiser, noting that even people without symptoms can spread the disease, reminds Canadians that their actions can make the difference between life and death.
The French ad conveys similar messages, using astronaut David Saint-Jacques and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the Canadian football star who helped the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl in February. They appear alongside Dr. Mona Nemer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief science adviser.
The exhortations to stay home come as federal political parties are to continue negotiating today about when and how Parliament should reconvene in the middle of the pandemic.
The House of Commons is to resume business as usual Monday — with all 338 MPs, along with their staff, clerks, interpreters, security and cleaners —unless an agreement is reached before then on scaled-back sittings.
Trudeau’s Liberals are proposing one in-person sitting each week, with a small number of MPs and extended time for longer questions and more thorough answers than would normally be allowed during the daily question period. More sittings would be added as soon as the technical and logistical requirements for virtual meetings can be worked out.
All opposition parties appear satisfied with that proposal, except for the Conservatives.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is demanding up to four in-person sittings each week, with fewer than 50 MPs in the chamber, to hold the government to account for its response to the health crisis and the resulting economic disaster.
Except for two single-day sittings to pass emergency aid bills, Parliament has been adjourned since mid-March.
On Friday, Senate Speaker George Furey announced that the upper house, which was to resume Tuesday, will not return until June 2 at the earliest.