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Edmonton woman recalls COVID travel nightmare getting home

Fredette Kopola was unable to re-enter Canada.




An Edmonton woman had to pay hundreds of dollars for COVID-19 tests after suffering a travel nightmare trying to get back into the country from a trip to the US.

Fredette Kopola decided she didn’t want to spend Christmas alone at home so she booked a flight to visit a friend in Pennsylvania, on December 16, 2020 returning on January 7, 2021.

During the last week of her stay, Kopola said she became aware of looming regulations about having a required COVID-19 test before reentering the country but said nothing seemed set in stone to her.

“On the Monday before my flight I started to look to get a COVID test before I flew out so I would be on the safe side. I couldn’t find one near to where I was and I didn’t have my own transportation but I found a testing centre at the airport,” she recalled.

“I went online and was able to easily book a test for that evening and the airport was nearby to where I was. I quickly went to the airport, but found out I couldn’t take the test, because it was on the other side of security.”

With her flight home leaving Thursday, Kopola booked another test then, when she would be able to get through the security gate for a connecting flight to Detroit.

“I got to the airport early and went to the COVID test location, but their satellite location was having computer issues and they didn’t know when it would be fixed. The worker apologized to me and said they didn’t have ready access to IT help,” she said.

“My flight was scheduled to leave in another 45 minutes, so I didn’t know what to do other than continue on and hope that I could either get a Rapid test & PCR test in Detroit or Toronto airport, or they would understand that my attempt to get one in Pennsylvania didn’t work, through no fault of my own and I had paperwork showing it.”

After arriving for a quick layover in Detroit, Kopola made her way to the Delta gate to get a connection to Toronto, then on to Edmonton. She was told there were no testing facilities at the airport and to ask Google for a facility nearby and go in a taxi.

“I was in complete disbelief and dejected that this is how Canada would handle this situation. They could do more to allow their own citizens back home, but instead left them out stranded wherever they happened to be. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t allowed back into my own country. I started to cry and ended up crying the entire time I was in the taxi going to the clinic and cried again later on when I returned to the airport.

Kopola said she had to wait 30 minutes at the facility she was taken before she was even let in the building, time she had to sit in the cab with the meter running.

Once inside she had to cough up $130US for the first test and $110US for a Rapid Test, to be topped off with a $146US bill for the cab ride and wait.

“Thank God for credit cards,” she said.

“When I went back to the Delta counter and tried to re-book a flight, the customer service person wouldn’t let me re-book until the results were returned. I tried to explain that the worker at the gate said I could re-book with a Rapid Test. They were actually rude and abrupt. I broke down crying again and then she said I should talk to her supervisor. That ended up being the only light on the trip, because the supervisor got me a paid hotel room for the night until the results came in and I could take a shuttle bus to the hotel.”

At the airport the next afternoon, Lopola encountered another traveller heading for Toronto, who didn’t speak much English, and had trouble understanding all the regulations.

“He became confused, so I tried to help him and explain that he would need the test results before Canada would let him into the country. I told him the same thing happened to me the day before and I tried to explain what clinic I went to for the test and how much it cost. He said he didn’t have enough money. He kept waiting to see if he would get onto the plane in the end, but he never did.  As I was on the plane I could see him sitting in the waiting area, alone, just like I was the day before.”

Lopola was eventually allowed into the country at Toronto and was able to catch a flight home.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard


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.


Federal bureaucrats very pleased with themselves at start of pandemic

In self-congratulatory internal emails, the department said it was “very proud” of doing a great job on pandemic management, “a great story for us.”




“We’re good! We’re very very good!”

At least that’s what the staff at the federal Public Works department felt about themselves as COVID-19 deaths in Canada were approaching 9,000, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

In self-congratulatory internal emails, the department said it was “very proud” of doing a great job on pandemic management, “a great story for us.”

“I know how difficult it has been,” wrote James Fitz-Morris, director of communications.

Fitz-Morris told staff “we should be very proud of what we put out.

“It’s a really great page that tells a great story for us,” he said July 31 as COVID deaths that day numbered 8,961.

The economy at the time had shrunk 11 percent, and unemployed totaled 2,182,600 Canadians.

A handout for reporters said: “The Government of Canada is dedicating approximately $6 billion to buying personal protective equipment, medical equipment and supplies to keep Canadians safe.”

Staff in a May 29 email exchange cautioned scriptwriters not to refer to “our government” in statements to the public. “You can say ‘our government’ but we can’t!” wrote Elizabeth Lindsay, director general of communications.

“We’re everybody’s government!” replied Fitz-Morris. “You sure are!!!!” replied Lindsay.

Cabinet in the first weeks of the pandemic heaped praise on federal managers for their pandemic response. At one press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland described public health officers as national celebrities.

“I have observed as a former journalist that chief public health officers across the whole country have become this generation’s rock stars,” Freeland said April 14.

“Thanks to public servants who have been working around the clock,” Prosperity Minister Mona Fortier told the Commons finance committee May 28.

“Our amazing world class civil servants, they are doing an amazing job,” Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen told the Commons June 17.

“Many public servants are working hard to develop and deliver support to Canadians,” Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos testified at a May 8 hearing of the Commons government operations committee.

“Federal employees are continuing to be productive in their efforts to provide Canadians with the government services they depend on every day, and to provide critical services and the many new measures quickly developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

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O’Toole hires former Huawei executive

O’Toole has already said if elected prime minister there is no way he would allow the Chinese-backed Huawei onto’s Canada’s 5G networks.




Tory party leader Erin O’Toole has hired a former top executive of the controversial Chinese firm Huawei.

O’Toole brought on board Jake Enwright, who was Huawei Canada Vice President & Director of Corporate Affairs. He will handle research and issues management for the Conservatives.

O’Toole has already said if elected prime minister there is no way he would allow the Chinese-backed Huawei onto’s Canada’s 5G networks.

Enwright worked for former Tory leader Andrew Scheer, leaving his office in 2018.

Many countries around the world have banned Huawei claiming it would allow the Chinese to use the 5G system to spy on their countries.

Canada and its Five Eyes allies — the U.K., New Zealand and Australia — are under pressure from fellow member, the U.S., to ban Huawei on security grounds.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau still hasn’t made a decision on whether to allow it in Canada.

“Unlike Justin Trudeau, I don’t take entities of the Chinese regime at their word. If I’m PM Huawei will be banned from 5G,” tweeted Tory leader O’Toole on September 17.

It cames on the day, the Globe and Mail reported Huawei had communicated to Ottawa that it promised not to spy on Canada.

“Huawei Canada has put together a legal agreement between the company and the federal government that outlines a ‘no back-door, no-spying’ pledge,” the Globe reported from their sources.

Ottawa has spent almost two years studying whether to allow Huawei into 5G networks.

Bell Canada and Telus Corp have announced they will not partner with Huawei in their 5G network and instead go with Ericsson and Nokia.

Both companies use Huawei in their 4G networks.

Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on on December 1, 2018, following an extradition request from U.S. officials who alleged she violated sanctions on doing business with Iran.

Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained in China days later and were later charged with espionage.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

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Hamilton police drop COVID mask caper

Police said they have no leads and no suspects, in the theft of the masks that had just been flown in from China by the Department of Public Works.




Hamilton police have dropped the case into the theft of millions of COVID-19 masks from the hamilton airport, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Police said they have no leads and no suspects, in the theft of the masks that had just been flown in from China by the Department of Public Works.

“A report on their investigation was completed in October which found there were no additional investigative leads to pursue,” said Stéfanie Hamel, spokesperson for the department.

“The products were not recovered.”

Two million surgical masks, part of a shipment of 34 tonnes of pandemic supplies, were pilfered from a CargoJet warehouse at Hamilton last July. The department concealed the robbery at the time.

Hamel said the masks were “stolen between Saturday, July 4 and Monday, July 6” when the heist was reported to police. Authorities did not estimate the value of the loss but charter aircraft costs alone ranged from $500,000 to $800,000.

Hamilton’s airport authority Thursday said it only learned of the robbery when alerted by Blacklock’s.

“We comply with aviation regulations to ensure the airfield is safe and secure,” managers at John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport said in a statement.

“Services related to the storage or movement of goods by ground transportation from the airport are controlled by the respective cargo carriers.”

The robbery was disclosed in an internal Department of Public Works email.

Staff said they only learned of the heist when a shipment by Purolator truck from Hamilton to a federal warehouse in Vaudreuil, Que. failed to appear.

“A shipment of approximately two million surgical masks was picked up at the CargoJet warehouse,” wrote staff. “Canada has been advised by Purolator that the masks were not picked up by one of their subcontractors as scheduled.”

The robbery occurred after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Hamilton airport publicly announced the shipment.

CargoJet has declined comment on the robbery. Purolator also refused to respond to questions.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

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