An official from Ontario denies that political lobbying led to the decision A Canadian government official visiting Hong Kong yesterday denied that political lobbying had led to the WHO travel advisory against his country being lifted. He said the global health body had imposed similar conditions on Hong Kong and Canada over the lifting of the restrictions. Canada's travel advisory was imposed on April 23 but lifted on April 29 after some telephone lobbying by Prime Minister Jean Chretien and several cabinet members. But James Young, the Commissioner of Public Security for Ontario, who is visiting Hong Kong, said it was not the phone calls but scientific arguments that did the trick. 'The lifting of it, I believe, was on a scientific basis, not on a political basis,' said Mr Young. 'We did raise political issues or had politicians raise issues with world leaders. We did that intentionally because what we wanted to do was to get the ... scientific community to pay attention to our science.' The Canadian public, Mr Young said, did not panic but was angered by the travel advisory. Since the public believed there was no community outbreak in Canada, it was difficult to see people wearing masks on the streets, he added. After the advisory was lifted, people's lives returned to normal within a few weeks and business groups had also tried to give society a boost by, for example, offering cheap tickets to baseball games, cinemas and theatres in Toronto, Mr Young said. The commissioner is leading a Canadian medical delegation to Hong Kong and met officials from the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority on Monday to share information and knowledge about Sars. The group left for Taiwan yesterday and will visit Beijing tomorrow. Having met Hong Kong health officials, Mr Young said he had received a lot of answers about the city's Sars outbreak and said the situation here was at a similar stage as the one in Toronto a few weeks ago. Even though the scale of outbreak was larger in Hong Kong, Mr Young said he was optimistic about the situation. He was also impressed by the measures taken. A senior official from Singapore said in a video conference in Hong Kong that the city state's handling of the outbreak had already brought it some benefits. 'We have not tried to hide the facts,' Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education, Tharman Shanmugaratnam said. 'Transparency gives us credibility and some financial institutions are reassessing their locations. Singapore will be one of the beneficiaries.' But he also said the outbreak there had interrupted the country's economic recovery and the short-term outlook was not positive. Singapore estimated its GDP growth this year to be between 0.5 to 2 per cent.