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Free Caribbean vacation for senior Health Canada bureaucrat – during pandemic lockdown

Dominique Waters dove into free Air Canada vacation in Jamaica at top resort

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A senior public servant at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) accepted an all-expenses-paid holiday to Jamaica courtesy of Air Canada Vacations in November, despite the fact PHAC had been advising Canadians since March to avoid non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dominique Baker, the acting manager at the agency’s Office of Border and Travel Health (OBHS), flew with a friend to the upscale, all-inclusive Royalton Blue Waters resort in Montego Bay in mid-November, reported the Globe and Mail.

Baker, posted a video on social media shortly after arriving, calling the hotel suite with its own infinity pool “mind-blowing – whoa.”

Royalton Blue Waters

“One of our two butlers is bringing us our pina coladas right now. No, we are not kidding – we have two butlers,” she gushed, “Thank you, Air Canada Vacations. We are beside ourselves.”

Baker’s husband, Ryan, is also a senior civil servant. He is the director of strategic communications at the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and previously served as director of infectious disease, risk and emergency communications at Health Canada.

Baker advertises herself as a social, fashion and travel influencer during her personal time.

Royalton Blue Waters

In a Nov. 24 blog on her site, Style Domination, Ms. Baker gushed about the trip and posted pictures of herself on the beach and at poolside, horseback riding and eating at fancy restaurants. Both the video and the blog post have since been removed from the site.

“Our trip was booked with Air Canada Vacations, which included our flights aboard Air Canada Rouge, our stay at the lovely Royalton Blue Waters, a private transfer to and from the hotel in Jamaica, and a free checked bag for each of us,” she wrote.

Her website states: “My name is Dominique and I’m a fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger. A public servant by day, my blog… serves as a creative outlet highlighting my deep interest in fashion and beauty with a focus on humour. After all, you need a sense of humour to spend $2000 on a handbag. Style Domination is simply a play on my name. My blog highlights how I “Dom-ify” my clothing, so really, it’s more of a focus on “Style Domification” of current trends and classic pieces alike. Promise – I don’t pretend to dominate anything!”

Royalton Blue Waters

Air Canada’s manager of corporate communications, Peter Fitzpatrick, said the airline did not provide the paid junket to Ms. Baker because of her government connections but because of her activities as a social-media influencer, reported the Globe.

“This individual was engaged on the basis of her influencer profile, the demographic of her followers and because of her established track record as an influencer,” he said. “Her influencer profile did not mention her employment with the government.”

Royalton Blue Waters

He noted that the Jamaica holiday package involved an “exchange for content, including an emphasis on our onboard CleanCare+ program and health and safety measures at the property she visited.

Ken Grafton is the Western Standards Ottawa Bureau Chief. He can be reached at kgrafton@westernstandardonline.com

News

BoC spokesman: ‘I deny I said what I said’

Management disclosed the blacklist last Friday moments before the start of a routine videoconference for news media.

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They may have said it on a Zoom call, but Bank of Canada managers are now denying they have a media enemies list, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Bank Governor Tiff Macklem’s director of communications Paul Badertscher in an email denied blacklisting Blacklock’s despite telling a deputy governor in an audio tape: “I do not want to be in a situation where we are allowing Blacklock’s to be asking us. So, yes, that’s where we’re at.”

“The Bank of Canada welcomes all accredited media outlets to its briefing sessions and ensures equal opportunity to ask questions as time permits,” Badertscher wrote in his Monday e-mail.

A deputy bank governor who attended the Zoom call did not comment.

“We have nothing further to add,” said Jeremy Harrison, managing director of communications for Canada’s central bank.

Management disclosed the blacklist last Friday moments before the start of a routine videoconference for news media. Blacklock’s dialed into the Zoom call and began recording the session for notetaking purposes.

Badertscher was overheard explaining to a deputy bank governor that media were given different treatment depending on who they were.

“I know who’s who,” said Badertscher.

“There’s a couple here who I absolutely — I’ll check the list to make sure he’s not listening — absolutely not keen to give questions to. I do not want to be in a situation where we are allowing Blacklock’s to be asking us. So, yes, that’s where we’re at”:

  • Unidentified man: “Paul, I think we have a journalist on the line with us right now.”
  • Badertscher: “We do. I have got to get you to drop. I’ll call you at 10:30, okay?”
  • Unidentified man: “Sure, thanks.”
  • Badertscher: “Thanks man. And I’d ask people, don’t let any, don’t admit people please. Let me do all the admitting, okay? Because I know who’s who.”

Badertscher would not name other outlets blacklisted from questioning Bank of Canada officials.

The blacklist follows repeated statements from cabinet commemorating World Press Freedom Day.

“We recognize how important it is to support our strong, independent media and to encourage journalists to continue to hold those in power, here and all around the world, to account,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Commons in 2018.

“Independent, fact-based reporting is vital,” Trudeau said in 2019.

“Media play an essential role in defending and advancing the truth,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in her 2018 World Press Freedom Day observance.

“We remind ourselves that without a free and independent press we all lose.”

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Madu out as justice minister

“I have spoken with Minister Madu about the March 10 incident reported in the media today. I conveyed to him my profound disappointment in his decision to contact the Edmonton Police Chief after receiving a ticket for a traffic violation.”

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has removed Justice Minister Kaycee Madu from his job after he called Edmonton’s police chief about a distracted parking ticket he received.

Madu was fined $300 on March 10, 2021 after an Edmonton police officer caught him talking on his cellphone while driving through a playground zone.

Madu soon phoned Dale McFee, the city’s chief of police, and discussed the ticket with him. 

“Minister Madu did contact me via the telephone concerned about a ticket. But just to be very, very clear, he never asked to get out of the ticket,” McFee told CBC News in December, adding he didn’t know exactly what was on the ticket.

“Everybody has to wear their decisions.”

McFee did say during their discussion, Madu brought up the issue of racial profiling by police to stop drivers. Madu is black.

“The officer indicated that he had observed me driving while distracted, alleging that I was on my phone. I disagreed, stating that I was not on my phone, as it was in an inside pocket” said Madu.

“Later, I spoke to Chief Dale McFee. Due to the timing of the incident, I wanted to ensure that I was not being unlawfully surveilled following the controversy surrounding the Lethbridge Police Service. I also raised concerns around profiling of racial minorities that was in the media at the time.

“Chief McFee assured me that that was most definitely not the case, and I accepted him at his word.”

But that wasn’t good enough for Kenney who, after CBC broke the story, removed him from his post because it is “essential the independent administration of justice is maintained.

“I have spoken with Minister Madu about the March 10 incident reported in the media today. I conveyed to him my profound disappointment in his decision to contact the Edmonton Police Chief after receiving a ticket for a traffic violation,” Kenney tweeted.

“Minister Madu told me that he did not ask to have the ticket rescinded, nor was it his intention to interfere in the case, and that he promptly paid the ticket. I understand that Chief McFee has confirmed that at no time did the Minister seek to have the ticket rescinded.

“Nevertheless, it’s essential the independent administration of justice is maintained. That’s why I will appoint a respected independent investigator to review the relevant facts and to determine whether there was interference in the administration of justice in this case.”

Energy Minister Sonya Savage will take on the duties of Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

The scandal will be a blow for Kenney as Madu was one of his biggest supporters in an often fractured caucus.

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News

Home buyers and sellers can now use bitcoin

“This is yet another step towards a bitcoin standard society as we continue to propel bitcoinʼs usability. Our ability to process tens of millions of dollars with ease will allow customers looking to use bitcoin in real estate transactions to transact with confidence.”

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Canadians will soon be able to buy and sell their homes with bitcoin.

Edmonton-based Bitcoin Well announced Tuesday they have signed a deal with Greater Property Group (GPG) where customers use bitcoin and other digital currencies to buy and sell residential and commercial real estate.

The signed letter of intent will see both companies promote the other through their respective websites and real estate transactions involving bitcoin will be conducted through the joint venture.

Bitcoin Well will provide digital currency services and licensing, compliance strategy and required Know Your Customer processes. GPG will provide real estate services, licensing and strategy.

“I canʼt wait to begin working with GPG,” said Adam OʼBrien, founder and CEO of Bitcoin Well.

“This is yet another step towards a bitcoin standard society as we continue to propel bitcoinʼs usability. Our ability to process tens of millions of dollars with ease will allow customers looking to use bitcoin in real estate transactions to transact with confidence.

“Working with GPG is an exciting look at how the bitcoin infrastructure we’ve built can scale. We have the pieces in place to help set the stage to help global industries adopt bitcoin. It’s exciting to see real estate being one of the first.”

Officials with GPG say they welcome the agreement.

“As a brokerage that facilitates buying and selling houses with cryptocurrency, we couldnʼt be happier to be partnering with Bitcoin Well on this venture.” said Nathan Singh, managing partner of Greater Property Group.

“The applications for cryptocurrency in real estate are limitless, and we look forward to bringing that investment power and flexibility to more and more transactions and agents from coast to coast.”

The completion of the joint venture agreement is expected in the first quarter of 2022.

Bitcoin Well is the first publicly traded Bitcoin ATM company in the world and is traded on the TSX.V under the ticker BTCW.V

Publisher’s Note: Bitcoin Well is an advertising client of Western Standard New Media Corp.

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We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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No Media Bailouts

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