Almost two million faulty COVID-19 test kits that claimed it could diagnose the virus in under an hour were ordered by the Canadian government before they even knew if they would work.
Health Minister Patricia Hajdu approved orders for 1,920,000 COVID-19 test kits from Spartan Bioscience of Ottawa in April 2020, without performing any due diligence to determine whether the kits would actually work, it was reported.
No metrics were provided to demonstrate clinical trial performance.
Following an initial delivery of 5,500 kits to the Public Health Agency Canada (PHAC), it was discovered that the devices failed clinical trials on May 1, reported the Toronto Sun.
At that point, PHAC had ordered 120,000 kits for delivery by June 1, and a further 200,000 test kits per month from July through until March 2021.
PHAC has yet to explain why it didn’t first test the kits, or request supportive clinical trial data, before spending almost $150-million of the taxpayer’s money on defective equipment.
“The Government of Canada has a procurement contract with Spartan to secure supply of these devices,” said a May 5 briefing note reported in the Sun.
“The contract is conditional on the Spartan test kit being Health Canada authorized for sale.”
Unfortunately, the sale was authorized by PHAC without any of the normal due diligence which would normally precede a supply agreement of this size and import. This suggests that standard government procurement procedures were not followed.
Clouding the damaging COVID-optics still further, it was also reported Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised Spartan Bioscience just days into the pandemic – and the company received a $273,928 National Research Council (NRC) grant.
Somehow, by whatever means, without providing any supportive data, Spartan was awarded a conditional license leading to the whopping $149-million contract.
“If successful, its diagnostic platform and COVID-19 test could be used in airports and clinics,” Industry Minister Navdeep Bains said of Spartan’s technology in March 2020.
“The device could read the test results within thirty minutes. We’re working with Spartan to ensure Canadian supply of this equipment.”
Spartan names its Test kit “The Spartan Cube”.
“It is a DNA analyzer the size of a coffee cup. Samples are collected with a non-invasive swab and inserted into a single-use DNA test cartridge. Inside the analyzer, the cartridge extracts the DNA and makes millions of DNA copies based on Nobel Prize-winning chemistry called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). An optical system detects the increased fluorescence and algorithms automatically generate a test result,” the corporate website describes.
Spartan has now reapplied for its licence.
Ken Grafton is the Western Standards Ottawa Bureau Chief. He can be reached at email@example.com
Home prices soaring from coast to coast
Figures showed “the average family must spend two-thirds of their gross income on monthly payments for the average home in Toronto or Vancouver,” he said
Shhhh! Don’t tell the Liberals, they may want to tax it.
Six cities across the country saw house price gains averaging at or near six figures last year, Canadian Real Estate Association data showed on Monday.
Blacklock’s Reporter said members of the Commons finance committee reviewed the figures with Canada’s chief statistician.
“Housing inflation is homegrown,” said Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre (Carleton, Ont.).
Figures showed “the average family must spend two-thirds of their gross income on monthly payments for the average home in Toronto or Vancouver,” he said.
Association data indicated a total 666,995 homes nationwide were sold last year.
“This was a new record by a large margin, surpassing the previous annual record set in 2020 by a little more than 20% and standing 30% above the average of the last 10 years,” said a realtors’ report.
The year-over-year Canadian average home price increased 18% to $713,542 last month.
“There are currently fewer properties listed for sale in Canada than at any point on record,” Shaun Cathcart, senior economist for the Real Estate Association, said in a statement.
“Unfortunately the housing affordability problem facing the country is likely to get worse before it gets better,” said Cathcart.
Figures showed average price gains averaged at or near $100,000 or more in Victoria, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal and Halifax. Prices were:
- up 31% or $286,600 to $1,208,000 in Greater Toronto;
- up 26% or $51,700 to $252,200 in Fredericton;
- up 24% or $172,400 to $902,700 in Victoria;
- up 22 % or $89,162 to $490,127 in Halifax;
- up 21% or $90,900 to $517,800 in Montréal;
- up 17% or $181,600 to $1,230,200 in Greater Vancouver;
- up 16% or $91,800 to $661,500 in Ottawa;
- up 15% or $44,230 to $347,920 in Charlottetown
- up 12% or $33,600 to $319,600 in Winnipeg;
- up 12% or $31,700 to $301,800 in Québec City;
- up 10 percent or $39,800 to $451,200 in Calgary;
- up 9% or $24,900 to $292,000 in St. John’s;
- up 6% or $19,800 to $329,000 in Saskatoon;
- up 6% or $14,500 to $260,500 in Regina;
- up 4% percent or $13,200 to $336,600 in Edmonton.
“Could you just speak to what the primary causes are right now, this year, to the increase in the price of housing?” Liberal MP Yvan Baker (Etobicoke Centre, Ont.) asked.
“First and foremost is demand,” replied Anil Arora, chief statistician with Statistics Canada.
“We are seeing because of COVID a desire of people to have more open space,” said Arora, adding: “The second is what we see are the interest rates. The mortgage rates are at historic lows.”
Earlier this month, a report done for the CMHC is now recommending the federal government tax home equity.
The report says bringing in a home equity tax would raise $5.83 billion for federal coffers.
It’s something the governing Liberals, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, vowed they would never do.
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.
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 e-mail 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 note-taking 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.”
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.”
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney removed Justice Minister Kaycee Madu from his job after the minister 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 Madu 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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Petition: No Media Bailouts
We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.
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