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‘Freedom Convoy’ did not pose threat to the security of Canada: CSIS director

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By Laura Osman and Jim Bronskill in Ottawa

Liberal cabinet ministers deemed last winter’s “Freedom Convoy” protests a threat to the security of Canada, despite warnings from the federal intelligence agency that threshold was not met, an inquiry into the Emergencies Act learned Monday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on Feb. 14, arguing its temporary and extraordinary powers were needed to end blockades in Ottawa and at border crossings.

The Public Order Emergency Commission, which is holding hearings in Ottawa until Nov. 25, is tasked with determining whether the government was justified in triggering the legislation.

The legislation says a public order emergency is one that comes from a “serious threat to the security of Canada, as defined by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act.”

The definition includes espionage or sabotage of Canada’s interests, foreign-influenced activities, or the violent overthrow of the government.

A document summarizing the evidence from David Vigneault, director of CSIS, shows he believed the protest “at no time” posed a threat to Canada’s security and that there were no signs of foreign interference.

“He felt an obligation to clearly convey the service’s position that there did not exist a threat to the security of Canada as defined by the service’s legal mandate,” said the document released on Monday through the public inquiry.

CSIS was, however, monitoring subjects of intelligence investigations who were taking part in the protests.

Vigneault, who is expected to testify before the commission next week, advised cabinet that invoking the Emergencies Act could further inflame extreme anti-government rhetoric.

Rob Stewart, who was deputy minister of public safety at the time of the protests, told the commission on Monday that the government would have a more broad interpretation of what constitutes a national security threat.

He said that ultimately, the decision was up to cabinet.

“The cabinet is making that decision and their interpretation of the law is what governs here,” Stewart told the commission. “And their decision was evidently that the threshold was met.”

Brendan Miller, a lawyer for the Ottawa “Freedom Convoy” protesters, told the commission no federal agency advised cabinet that the protest posed a national threat, as defined in the legislation.

“You have the RCMP, you have CSIS, you have the entire intelligence apparatus in the federal government and none of them said that this threshold was met, did they?” Miller asked Stewart during cross-examination Monday.

“They weren’t asked,” Stewart said.

In a letter to premiers on Feb. 15, the day after he declared a public order emergency, Trudeau said the federal government believed the situation reached a point “where there is a national emergency arising from threats to Canada’s security.”

“We are facing significant economic disruptions, with the breakdown of supply chains. This is costing Canadians their jobs and undermining our economic and national security, with potentially significant impacts on the health and safety of Canadians. It is affecting Canada’s reputation internationally, hurting trade and commerce, and undermining confidence and trust in our institutions,” he wrote to the premiers.

The testimony Monday provided the commission with its first look behind the curtain at cabinet discussions in the lead up to the invocation of the Emergencies Act. This year was the first time the act had been used since it replaced the War Measures Act in 1988.

As early as Feb. 7, then-president of the Canada Border Services Agency John Ossowski suggested to a call of federal, provincial and territorial officials that the Emergencies Act could be used to compel tow truck drivers to help remove large rigs, documents tabled with the commission shows.

On Feb. 10, the idea of invoking the act was formally discussed by cabinet. A summary of an emergency cabinet committee struck by the prime minister that day says Trudeau raised the notion of two tracks forward: actions that could be undertaken under existing authorities, and the process of invoking the Emergencies Act.

Most of the details from the ensuing discussion have been blacked out.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 14, 2022.

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Brownstone Institute

FOIA Doc Shows BioNTech Founders Postdated Start of C19 Vax Project

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From the Brownstone Institute

BY Robert KogonROBERT KOGON

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.

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  • Robert Kogon

    Robert Kogon is a pen name for a widely-published financial journalist, a translator, and researcher working in Europe. Follow him at Twitter here. He writes at edv1694.substack.com.

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Alberta

Preston Manning picked to chair review of Alberta’s COVID response

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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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