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Trudeau gave $237-million contract benefiting Liberal buddy’s company

The $237 million was given to FTI Professional Grade, a company that was only established seven days before. It’s website said the company had two employees.

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The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is demanding answers after it was revealed the Justin Trudeau government gave a $237-million no-competition contract to a firm that had been created just seven days before and overpaid by nearly $100 million.

The details were revealed Thursday in the Journal de Montréal.

The report showed during the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the $237 million was given to FTI Professional Grade, a company that was only established seven days before. It’s website said the company had two employees.

The contract was for the manufacturing of 10,000 ventilators. 

After getting the money, FTI hired the firm Baylis to handle the manufacturing of the ventilators, said the paper.

Baylis belongs to Michael Baylis, an ex-liberal MP and an active member of the party since the 1980s. He is also a close friend of Trudeau.

According to the Journal de Montréal, the Trudeau government overpaid by nearly $100 million. 

“The company Medtronic is one of the main ventilator manufacturers. Medtronic sells its unit for approximately $10,000 US, or $13,700 CAD. The ventilators manufactured by Baylis were based on the Medtronic model, but Baylis charged the Canadian government $23,700 per unit,” said the paper’s report.

“This definitely needs to be looked into by a parliamentary committee. It’s possible that there are special circumstances given the urgency, but there’s no reason now, after the fact, not to go back and examine what those might be. If there is any evidence of inappropriate favouritism, it needs to be answered for. This is taxpayer money and it needs to be used prudently, not used to line the pockets of politically-connected individuals,” Aaron Wudrick, Federal Director at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation told Westphalian Times.

The Tories are also demanding answers.

“The awarding of the contract to FTI Professional Grade raises huge questions, because of the ties and proximity of Frank Baylis, who was a Liberal MP until 2019,” said Conservative MP Pierre Paul in an interview with the Journal.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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AUPE files hundreds of complaints over AHS testing policy for unvaxxed workers

AHS staff and healthcare workers who remain unvaccinated are required to pay for off-site testing from AHS-approved testing facilities.  

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The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) filed hundreds of grievances over Alberta Health Services’ COVID-19 testing program, as hundreds of unvaccinated staff return to work.

According to AHS, 500 of the 1,400 unvaccinated staff and physicians have opted into the temporary COVID-19 frequent testing program and are returning to work. AHS staff and healthcare workers who remain unvaccinated are required to pay for off-site testing from AHS-approved testing facilities.  

AUPE said the lack of available tests and costs associated with testing for many of the staff and medical workers are creating “barriers” for their return to work and has filed hundreds of grievances against AHS and other healthcare providers.

AUPE Vice-President Bonnie Gostola told the CBC its members want to return to work, “but they don’t have the choice because they can’t afford it or they can’t find tests.”

“It has to be realistic. It has to be universal, said Gostola, adding AHS flip-flopped and the policy now “applies to some, but not to others.” 

“Those that weren’t vaccinated, that have chosen to go back to work are doing it at their own expense — which we have filed policy grievances against — because we believe our employers here should be paying that cost.

“It’s not fair. And that’s what we’re advocating for is if you’re going to put a policy in place that it has to be fair across the board.”

The Western Standard contacted AHS to inquire about the 900 employees who have yet to return to work, but did not receive a response in time for publishing.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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MANITOBA TRAGEDY: Four bodies, including baby, found frozen to death while crossing border

“These victims faced not only the cold weather but endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness.”

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Four bodies, including an infant and a teenager, were discovered in a field on the Manitoba side of the Canada-U.S. border Wednesday.

RCMP believe they all died of exposure while attempting to cross into the U.S. in -35C temperatures.

The bodies were discovered about 12 metres from the border near Emerson.

“What I am about to share is going to be difficult for many people to hear,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy told a news conference Thursday.

“It is an absolute and heartbreaking tragedy.”

MacLatchy said at 9:20 a.m. Wednesday morning U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers apprehended a group of people who crossed into the U.S. from Canada.

One of the individuals had items for an infant, but there was no infant in the group.

They alerted RCMP and a search was immediately launched on both sides of the border.

After an extensive search of the area, at about 1:30 p.m., RCMP officers found the bodies of an adult man, an adult woman, and the baby. A male, believed to be in his mid-teens, was found a few metres away. 

The process of identifying them is underway and autopsies have been scheduled to confirm the cause of death.

Environment Canada recently issued an extremely cold weather warnings for Southern Manitoba with 10-25 centimetres of snow and wind gusts of up to 70 km/h.

“At this very early stage of the investigation, it appears that they all died due to exposure to the cold weather,” said MacLatchy.

Officials believe the victims were connected to the group that was apprehended on the U.S. side of the border.

“We’re very concerned that this attempted crossing may have been facilitated in some way and that these individuals, including an infant, were left on their own in the middle of a blizzard when the weather hovered around –35C [with the wind chill],” she said.

“These victims faced not only the cold weather but endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness.”

“I can assure you that the search for any possible survivors or additional victims continued throughout the evening and our officers continued to patrol the area today,” said MacLatchy.

RCMP officers must navigate the difficult terrain and deep snowdrifts in all-terrain vehicles.

No other victims have been found.

RCMP continue to work closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“I also have a message to anyone who’s thinking of crossing the border in Manitoba, either heading south or north: just don’t do it,” said MacLatchy.

“Do not listen to anyone who tells you they can get you to your destination safely. They cannot. Even with proper clothing it is not a journey that is possible.

“I do understand that, for some, there may be a great need to get to another country, but this is not the way. You will be risking your life and the lives of the people you care about if you try it. We simply cannot have another tragedy of this magnitude in Manitoba or in Canada.” 

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Liberals on spending spree — $500 billion so far, and there’s no end in sight

Budget Officer Yves Giroux warned of cabinet overspending dating from 2020 testimony at the Senate national finance committee.

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The Liberals have spent more than $500 billion since the start of the pandemic, including billions for non-COVID-19 items, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

And the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) said there was little sign of restraint.

“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic the government has spent, or planned to spend, $541.8 billion in new measures,” said a PBO report.

Liberal Party election promises would cost another $48.5 billion, it warned: “There is an upside risk to the deficit.”

Non-pandemic spending totaled $69.2 billion last year, including money related to ‘building a better economy’ post-COVID ($49.9 billion), compensation to First Nations children and their families ($24.2 billion) and other policy measures ($33.3 billion),” said the report.

“The government’s previously identified fiscal guard rails and their benchmarking would suggest ‘stimulus’ spending should be wound down by the end of the 2022 fiscal year” on March 31, wrote PBO analysts.

“Thus it appears the policy rationale for additional spending over 2022 to 2024 that was initially set aside as stimulus spending has changed.”

Budget Officer Yves Giroux warned of cabinet overspending dating from 2020 testimony at the Senate national finance committee.

“We have to have targets,” testified Giroux.

“The absence of a fiscal anchor can be equated with uncertainty. There is no clear path forward for the government’s finances. That’s a big question mark.”

Giroux said targets “provide a sense of direction, a sense of cohesion” so taxpayers could anticipate future federal policies.

“I’m not advocating for one specific type of fiscal anchor,” said Giroux.

“Regardless of whether it be a balanced budget come hell or high water as we had in the late 1990s or a declining debt to GDP ratio or a certain level of growth in expenditures, but something that can anchor expectations.

“What is the priority? Where is the government headed in a very general sense? Are we headed for very tight fiscal discipline, or are we headed for mild discipline, or are we headed for no discipline at all?”

Parliament has not balanced a budget since 2007.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday told reporters that “we’re continuing to have Canadians’ backs as we promised from the very beginning of the pandemic.”

“Are you concerned this new spending might actually hurt the recovery?” asked a reporter.

“We are continuing to work to support Canadians through this challenge,” replied Trudeau.

Parliament last year raised the federal debt ceiling 56% from $1.68 trillion to $1.831 trillion under the Borrowing Authority Act.

Trudeau at the time said Parliament “took on debt so Canadians don’t have to.”

“What does that even mean?” Senator Yonah Martin (B.C.), deputy leader of the Opposition in the Senate, earlier told legislators.

“Does the prime minister not understand public debt must be repaid by public money which comes from taxes?”

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