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'The lies must be confronted, head on': Regina Watteel on David Fisman, and the politics that dictated science
The author and former federal candidate speaks with Acceptable Views on the need for scientific debate, and her concerns over how future emergencies will be handled.
Even as the rational world has moved all the way on from the COVID response, there are those still trying to solve for the ‘worst case Ontario’ of it all — and the high probability that those across the West haven’t seen the last of a CCP-inspired template for future calamities.
Regina Watteel is one such expert. And she has an even more particular target in mind.
Every nation had their, shall we say, “more hyperbolic” COVID figures. The United States of America had the meek and mewling Eric Feigl-Ding, who spent years perfecting his lockdown grift, before it was revealed he had secretly absconded to Austria so his children could attend school in person.
The United Kingdom’s Professor Neil Ferguson, whose early modelling and catastrophizing helped lay out the Beijing template writ large for the West to follow was a model authoritarian, except when he was breaking his own lockdown for a shag.
In Canada, there was no shortage of intervention-based fanatics and ivory-towered ideologues with little grasp of the broader social determinants of health, hierarchies of needs, and the incapability for millions to just grow fat, sick, broke, and dead from other ailments, because the voice on their television said so.
For many, there is no more emblematic Canadian lockdown figure than a certain professor of epidemiology from the University of Toronto.
During his two years in the spotlight, Fisman became infamous for sky-rocketing models, non-productive cries of “tsunamis of death,” massive conflicts of interest, outrageous conspiracy theories surrounding Conservative “Nazi dog whistles” (which now seem all the more ridiculous with real anti-Semitism in our streets), an abusive manner towards less-draconian colleagues on Twitter, and even a melodramatic falling out with the province’s ‘Science Table,’ an unelected advisory group that helped hoodwink the hyper-hoodwink-able Ontario Premier Doug Ford into multiple lockdowns.
On the heels of the release of Regina Watteel’s book, Fisman’s Fraud: The Rise of Canadian Hate Science, I was lucky enough to chat with the author, who graciously shared her time with the Substack.
Suffice it to say, I’m glad such a tome exists.
Alexander Brown: COVID (and its response) is now in the rearview for so many. What inspired you to write Fisman's Fraud, and to keep shining a light on the Ontario response?
Regina Watteel: The COVID response has paved the way for how future ‘emergencies’ will be handled, so it is important to identify grave errors and make the necessary corrections. I was compelled to write the book because Fisman et al.’s study – designed to promote a political narrative – was the most blatant act of scientific fraud I had ever encountered. The faux science has had a very negative impact on countless Canadians (myself and family included) and it lays the foundation for future abuse.
The book discusses Canada’s response, but is centered in Ontario because that’s where all the major entities involved are located. Fisman was highly influential in Canada’s handling of the pandemic – he interacted with municipal, provincial and federal governments, institutes and associations.
Why David Fisman as a titular character? What was it about these studies that were so wrong?
Fisman’s faux science was used to support vaccine passports, mandates and restrictions. When real-world data showed the catastrophic failure of the COVID-19 vaccines in curtailing transmission, Fisman and his colleagues concocted a fake simulation to overwrite reality and keep the faux narrative alive by scapegoating the unvaccinated. Despite it being a textbook case of scientific fraud, the study was backed by the establishment, waved around in Parliament and broadcasted worldwide. There’s a reason why the institutes refuse to retract the study and set the record straight – a reduction in transmission is crucial in justifying the harsh vaccine measures.
You hold a PhD in statistics, with extensive experience in risk-benefit analysis. Why do you feel your expertise, and the expertise of other dissenting scientific and medical voices were dismissed, but not the loudest and most fearful in the room, like, say, an inexplicable media darling such as self-proclaimed ‘biostatistician’ Ryan Imgrund (who is doing great!), or a professor and modeller like Fisman?
Politics dictated the science. Reasoned voices were either drowned out or censored. Voices of those pushing the political narrative were bolstered to give the appearance of ‘scientific consensus,’ but it actually amounted to nonsensical groupthink that was often at odds with the very basic principles of science.
In the height of Ontario’s lockdown and passport mania in 2021, you ran for federal office in Catherine McKenna’s vacated riding. What did you learn about the political response to COVID while on the campaign trail?
The COVID response was politically motivated; it was both unscientific and unethical. No doubt, it would cause great harm with minimal benefit to society. There was a better way forward. Liberal rhetoric made downtown Ottawa a hostile environment to campaign in, but I had a dedicated team and we got the message out. Sadly, it fell on deaf ears. That same message reverberated months later and was amplified with the arrival of the Freedom Convoy.
I have my own theories (which mainly involve a well-concentrated cesspool of media, academia, politicians and far-left doctors sharing a few-block radius in Downtown Toronto), but why do you feel that Ontario was uniquely predisposed towards such a harsh and imperceptive COVID response?
Sadly, I don’t feel that our response was all that unique. Similar patterns played out in many parts of the world, although our governments clung to the nonsense longer and with more zeal.
Do you have any sense from government and those advising the ‘Science Table’ that lessons were learned? Can trust in public health recover?
No. It will only get worse unless protections are put in place and individuals are held accountable for the harm they caused. Fisman has been chosen to lead a new centre, the Centre for Pandemic Readiness, dedicated to research in the very area he committed the fraud. The reality is: the COVID-19 pandemic has been very successful in advancing many careers at the expense of public health and our economy.
But they did learn something: They learned the paths to taking away people’s rights and how to push the limits of what abuses society will tolerate. Now, with such a precedent set, next time should be easier… unless we oppose it.
It will be very difficult for many individuals to ever trust public health again.
What are you hoping readers take away from Fisman’s Fraud?
An understanding of the high stakes that are at play, along with a sense of validation and empowerment.
But mainly, the lies must be confronted, head-on. The scientific debates that were shut down must happen NOW. Protections must be in place to ensure medical choice going forward.
Fisman’s Fraud: The Rise of Canadian Hate Science is available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Veterans for Freedom. For more from author Regina Watteel, you can follow her on Twitter, or visit her Substack.
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