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COVID contract just a text away

Internal e-mails show the PMO arranged a flurry of meetings between Tesla executives and managers in the Department of Industry.

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In yet another clearly bad-optics move, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) offered a sole-sourced pandemic contract to a U.S. vendor by text, according to records obtained by Blacklock’s Reporter.

Aides in the Prime Minister’s Office sent the message to a Liberal Party contact at Tesla Motors Canada.

“We will pay of course,” texted Sarah Goodman, the prime minister’s senior advisor on climate action. Goodman’s March 25, 2020 message followed a March 23 announcement by California’s governor that Tesla billionaire Elon Musk had made a “heroic” offer of 1,255 free ventilators.

“We see Elon Musk was able to acquire some ventilators from China for California,” texted Goodman. “As you know, we are working all our pathways to get more supply here in Canada. If you have access or avenues to get ventilators, that would be most appreciated. We will pay of course.”

Ultimately no China-made ventilators were delivered by Tesla, according to the California governor’s office.

The texted offer went to Iain Myrans, national senior manager for public policy at Tesla Motors Canada. Myrans was a former Liberal policy director for then-Ontario Environment Minister Glen Murray prior to joining Tesla in 2017.

Internal e-mails show the PMO arranged a flurry of meetings between Tesla executives and managers in the Department of Industry.

One political aide questioned the usefulness of the meetings.

“Tesla has no plants in Canada,” wrote the staffer. “Tesla bought, did NOT make 1,255 ventilators from China to donate to California.”

Tesla Motors already benefited from more than $125 million in federal subsidies in two years, including Department of Transport rebates for Tesla customers and $5,896,959 in grants to install electric charging stations in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Sarah Hussaini, director of policy in the industry minister’s office, e-mailed colleagues they could “claim this win” if Tesla accepted a Covid contract.

“We will be looking for partners that we can send their way,” wrote Hussaini.

“Makes sense to see if they’d temporarily contract out manufacturing to other Canadian producers and get a cut,” wrote Hussaini.

“The call with Tesla focused on understanding their ability and willingness to step up and offer their services whether it be for manufacturing of hand sanitizers or assembly of testing kits, as well as building mask-making machines,” wrote Hussaini. “The company emphasized their many years of experience.”

Tesla’s Myrans replied to aides: “If the Department of Industry knows of companies making ventilators in Canada that require machined parts, please connect them with us.”

“Hi Iain, thank you for your offer,” replied the department’s Hussaini. “We would like to discuss areas of priority need in Canada that could benefit from a parts arrangement with Tesla. Do you have time to connect by phone this afternoon?”

Accounts do not indicate whether Tesla was a subcontractor on any federal orders for pandemic supplies.

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Flights from Vancouver to Kamloops priced more than $1,200 over Christmas

BC flight prices have skyrocketed over the Christmas season following flood damage to highways.

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Following substantial flooding in November, which led to savaged highways and infrastructure, many of those planning to visit family out of town for Christmas are forced to fly — and some will be paying exorbitant prices for it.

For example, a WestJet round trip — listed on Expedia — from Vancouver to Kamloops, BC on December 22, with a return flight on December 27 is listed at $1,264 as of Wednesday morning.

The normally 30-minute flight includes a nearly four-hour layover in Calgary.

On TripAdvisor, the same round trip is priced similarly.

Those planning a round trip from Vancouver to Kelowna, BC on the same dates will save a few hundred bucks in comparison to those headed for Kamloops. For example, one round trip with WestJet from Vancouver to Kelowna — December 22-27 — is listed at $741 on Wednesday, although it includes a six-hour layover in Edmonton.

Normal flight times between the locales are 55 minutes.

Prices on WestJet’s website are comparable. On Air Canada’s site, all are currently sold out for the aforementioned dates and locations.

However, those travelling between Vancouver and Kelowna can find cheaper trips on Swoop if they fly out of Abbotsford, BC. On Wednesday morning, a non-stop round trip from Abbotsford to Kelowna, departing on December 22 and returning on December 29, is priced under $300.

Reid Small is a BC-based reporter for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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Top Ontario doc says separating vaxxed and unvaxxed best way to get COVID under control

Ontario has had more than 626,000 cases of COVID-19 which has left more than 10,000 people dead.

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One of the ways to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control is to stop “the mixing of unvaccinated and vaccinated,” says Ontario’s chief medical officer.

“Basic means of protecting individuals is stopping the mixing of unvaccinated and vaccinated,” said Dr. Kieran Moore at a Tuesday press conference.

“And if our cases continue through and after the holidays we would make recommendations of government to continue the certification process in play. But we’ll continue to review the data. We do have a very robust testing strategy in Ontario for the winter months as we’ve released previously. We’ve purchased … 11 million rapid antigen test for all students in Ontario.”

Moore was asked whether COVID-19 is “something we’re just going to have to learn to live with” and whether it would ever go away.

“We have a long ways to go with the World Health Organization and other international organizations to try to decrease the number of individuals in which this virus can mutate and/or spread,” he said.

“But I do see a time when we’ll have low, endemic rates and it will turn out to be like influenza or other winter respiratory viruses where there’s a seasonality to it, where it does have an intermittent impact on our health-care system and like influenza, you need an annual vaccine to protect against it.”

Ontario has had more than 626,000 cases of COVID-19 which has left more than 10,000 people dead.

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Trudeau’s beach denier demoted

Trudeau was photographed twice on a beach in Tofino after deciding to skip the first day of a holiday he created — the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.

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The Justin Trudeau spokesman who told reporters the prime minister “wasn’t on a beach” when he was, has been demoted, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Trudeau was photographed twice on a beach in Tofino after deciding to skip the first day of a holiday he created — the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30.

Trudeau had promised to “set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government.”

Alex Wellstead will be “taking on new challenges” as press secretary to the industry minister, the Prime Minister’s Office said yesterday.  

Wellstead. Courtesy Twitter

Wellstead in a statement called it “a very difficult decision to make.” He had worked as Trudeau’s official spokesman for 20 months.

Wellstead on September 30 issued misleading statements to conceal the fact Trudeau spent the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at a beach resort in Tofino, B.C.

“He wasn’t on a beach,” Wellstead told The Canadian Press at the time. Global News and the weekly Chilliwack Progress photographed Trudeau strolling on the beach and enjoying a glass of beer on a beachfront patio.

The Prime Minister’s Office claimed Trudeau was in private meetings in Ottawa. Staff flew an Indian Residential School “survivors’ flag” and issued a solemn statement in Trudeau’s name.

“We remember the children who never made it home,” it said.

Wellstead did not explain his conduct.

“You as a communicator need to understand everything,” Wellstead said in a March 30 interview with public relations students at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont.

The prime minister in 2015 Ministerial Mandate letters said officials must be truthful and transparent.

“Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, are professionals who by asking necessary questions contribute in an important way to the democratic process,” wrote Trudeau.

“Your professionalism and engagement with them is essential.

“We have committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government. It is time to shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it serves.

“Government and its information should be open by default. If we want Canadians to trust their government, we need a government that trusts Canadians.

“It is important that we acknowledge mistakes when we make them. Canadians do not expect us to be perfect. They expect us to be honest, open and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.”

Trudeau on October 6 apologized for the Tofino holiday.

“Traveling on September 30 was a mistake and I regret it,” the prime minister told reporters.

“What made you decide to take a personal trip on a day your government set aside to honour the victims and survivors of residential schools?” asked a reporter.

“Like I said, it was a mistake,” replied Trudeau.

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