OTTAWA — Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland drew a direct link between Canada’s economic and national security on Thursday, as she defended her government’s decision to declare a public order emergency to end the “Freedom Convoy” protests.
The assertion came in testimony to the Public Order Emergency Commission, where cabinet ministers have faced questions about the legal basis upon which they invoked the Emergencies Act in February to clear protesters from Ottawa and at several U.S. border crossings.
“I really do believe our security as a country is built on our economic security,” Freeland said. “And if our economic security is threatened, all of our security is threatened. And I think that’s true for us as a country. And it’s true for individuals.”
Yet while Freeland said the Liberal government’s decision to use the Emergencies Act was correct, she repeatedly refused to detail whether the purported economic harm being done by the protests formed the basis of the government’s decision — and if so, whether it was legal.
“I’m not a lawyer,” said Freeland, who also serves as Canada’s deputy prime minister. “I rely on the judgment of officials who advised us and on expert legal advice.”
That analysis remains the key missing piece as the commission enters the final days of public hearings exploring the government’s decision to invoke the act for the first time since it became law in 1988.
The Emergencies Act specifies that a public order emergency is one arising from a threat to Canada’s security, as defined in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act.
That definition includes espionage or sabotage of Canada’s interests, foreign influence, acts of serious violence against people or property with political, religious or ideological objectives, or the violent overthrow of the Canadian government.
But while the clerk of the Privy Council testified last week that the government took a wider interpretation, including threats to Canada’s economic security, the federal Liberals have refused to release the legal advice that formed the basis of their decision.
Freeland testified the protests coincided with a period of fragility for the Canadian economy, with supply chain challenges, American plans to exclude Canada from electric-vehicle incentives and the looming Russian invasion of Ukraine all causing uncertainty.
Freeland said initially, she didn’t involve herself in dealing with the protests, which started on Jan. 29 when thousands of people and hundreds of trucks gathered in downtown Ottawa to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions.
But when protesters blocked the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont., the busiest trade route between Canada and the U.S., she said: “From a finance, economic perspective, that escalated things exponentially. That’s what made it a hugely significant economic action.”
The White House was also concerned about the bridge blockade and the director of U.S. President Joe Biden’s national economic council, Brian Deese, made it clear to Freeland that the U.S. wanted Canada to get the situation under control.
The commission was shown an email exchange between Freeland, her chief of staff and deputy minister following a Feb. 10 call from Deese, where Freeland wrote: “They are very, very, very worried.”
She added: “If this is not sorted out in the next 12 hours, all of their northeastern car plants will shut down.”
Freeland had spent a lot of time trying to convince Deese in 2021 that the U.S. needed to create an exemption for electric-vehicle incentives that initially excluded Canada, the inquiry heard.
Part of her persuasion was making the point that Canada was a reliable trading partner — a reputation that Freeland testified was challenged once protesters began blockading bridge access.
“The longer it went on, the greater threat that the U.S. would lose faith in us and our trading relationship would be irreparably damaged,” she testified. “The longer it went on, the greater the threat that foreign investors would write off Canada.”
Freeland repeatedly raised the spectre of U.S. protectionists using the convoy blockades to advance their own interests, which she said would have a profound impact on Canadians and the economy.
“They’re the people in a steel mill in Hamilton who would lose their job as that relationship fell apart, the people in an aluminum smelter in Quebec,” she said.
“For each of those people, having this all fall apart and the country’s economy profoundly undermined, that would undermine their security, and it would undermine our security as a country.”
But Freeland sidestepped questions about the lack of reference to economic harms in the Emergencies Act, saying only that she had received “assurances” about the legality of using the emergency order.
Freeland rejected suggestions Ottawa used the act to appease the White House or assuage American concerns.
The inquiry also heard that by Feb. 13, Freeland was hearing concerns from some of Canada’s banking CEOs.
A readout from a call that day shows some CEOs suggested the government list some of those involved in the protests as terrorists, which could allow banks more quickly choke their funds.
Cabinet met to discuss using the Emergencies Act the same day as the call with bankers. The special measures announced on Feb. 14 included orders giving financial institutions the ability to freeze the accounts of convoy participants.
Freeland defended the decision to freeze roughly 280 accounts totalling about $8 million, saying it was a way to end the protests without violence, by encouraging protesters to go home.
“I would have preferred not to have had to do this. But in my mind, I weigh that against what I really believe is the tens, hundreds of thousands of Canadian jobs and families that we protected.”
She also testified that as the blockades dragged on, she feared there might be violence between fed-up Canadians and protesters, and the government needed to step in.
“I felt that Canada was sort of a powder keg.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2022.
Stephanie Taylor and Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
FOIA Doc Shows BioNTech Founders Postdated Start of C19 Vax Project
From the Brownstone Institute
As noted in my last article on BioNTech’s “brazen” avoidance of safety testing of its Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech founders Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci claim in their book The Vaccine that the company’s Covid-19 vaccine project got underway on January 27, 2020. But documentary evidence released in response to a FOIA request (and included in the so-called “Pfizer documents”) shows that this is not true and that the company had in fact already begun preclinical, i.e. animal, testing nearly two weeks earlier, on January 14.
BioNTech R&D STUDY REPORT No. R-20-0072 is available here. The report is also referenced and discussed in an FDA submission on the preclinical study program that is available here. The below screenshot shows the study dates from p. 8 of the report.
In the book, Sahin claims furthermore that he only even became interested in the outbreak in Wuhan on January 24, after reading an article in the German weekly Der Spiegel (p. 4) and/or a submission to The Lancet (p. 6). But look again at the study dates above. BioNTech had already completed the first preclinical study for its Covid-19 vaccine the day before!
January 24, 2020 was a Friday. On Sahin’s account, he took the decision to launch his Covid-19 vaccine project over the weekend and unveiled his plans to his collaborators at BioNTech’s headquarters in Mainz, Germany on the following Monday: January 27 (ch. 2 passim and p. 42; see screencap below).
Sahin claims (p. 33) that it was at this January 27 meeting that he asked BioNTech’s animal testing team to prepare the preclinical program that was in fact already underway!
It should be noted that January 14, 2020, the start-date of the first preclinical study, was just two weeks after the first report of Covid-19 cases in Wuhan and just a day after the release of the full SARS-CoV-2 genome (drafts had been released previously).
BioNTech’s first preclinical study was evidently prepared before publication of the genome and in anticipation of it. As explained in the summary of the study (p. 6), its purpose was to test BioNTech mRNA formulated in lipid nanoparticles produced by the Canadian firm Acuitas. But the mRNA was here encoding a proxy antigen (luciferase), not the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 that would later serve as the target antigen.
The study looked at both biodistribution and immune system activation. As the FDA submission on the preclinical program puts it, “Platform properties that support BNT162b2 were initially demonstrated with non-SARS-CoV-2 antigens” (2.4 NONCLINICAL OVERVIEW, p. 7).
In The Vaccine, which was written with the journalist Joe Miller, Sahin and Türeci talk about the need to obtain the Acuitas lipids, which, they say, were more suitable for intramuscular injection than BioNTech’s own in-house lipids. But, again, they postdate the matter. Thus, on p. 52, we read: “The missing piece was still Acuitas, who had not yet consented to the use of their lipids. Then, on the morning of Monday 3 February, [Acuitas CEO] Tom Madden offered his help.” But BioNTech was already running tests using the Acuitas lipids three weeks earlier!
Furthermore, BioNTech was not able to formulate its mRNA into the lipids itself, but depended on the Austrian company Polymun to do this for it. As noted in The Vaccine (p.51), Polymun’s facilities are an 8-hour drive from BioNTech’s headquarters in Mainz. In the book, Sahin and Türeci describe the first batch of mRNA for the vaccine tests proper being packed up and driven by car to Polymun outside Vienna: “A couple of days later, a small Styrofoam box containing frozen vials full of vaccine would be driven back over the border to BioNTech” (pp. 116-117).
But presumably this same back-and-forth had to have occurred with the mRNA encoding the luciferase. This means that as a practical matter “Project Lightspeed” must have gotten underway even earlier: at least several days before the January 14 start date of the study.
Why did Sahin and Türeci postdate the launch of their Covid-19 vaccine project in their book? Well, undoubtedly because the actual start date – and we do not know when exactly the actual start date was – would have seemed far too soon. Based on the above considerations, it must have been at the latest just days after the first December 31, 2019 report of Covid-19 cases in Wuhan.
Preston Manning picked to chair review of Alberta’s COVID response
Premier Danielle Smith has struck a committee to investigate how the Alberta government responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and has appointed former Reform Party leader Preston Manning to chair it.
Smith, in a statement, says Manning and the panel will take feedback virtually from experts and the public, then issue a final report and recommendations by Nov. 15.
Manning is to pick the other panel members subject to approval by Smith.
The budget is $2 million, and Manning is to be paid $253,000.
Manning and Smith have been critical of government-imposed health restrictions such as masking, gathering rules and vaccine mandates during the pandemic.
Smith has questioned the efficacy of the methods and their long-term effects on household incomes, the economy and mental health.
She has criticized both Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the former chief medical officer of health, and the Alberta Health Services board for failing to provide good advice and help prepare for the pandemic, which she says forced the government to impose health restrictions and vaccine mandates.
Smith replaced Hinshaw and the board shortly after taking office in October.
The premier said Alberta needs to be ready for future health emergencies.
“There are valuable lessons we learned from the Alberta government’s response to the COVID-19 public health emergency,” Smith said in the statement Thursday.
“It’s important that we apply those lessons to strengthen our management of future public health crises, and the panel’s recommendations will be key in doing so.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2022.
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