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Watchdog finds 75% of paid contractors did not work on Canada’s $54 million COVID travel app

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

A firm with two people working at home received millions but did not contribute anything to the project, two Conservative Party MPs pointed out.

An investigation by a government watchdog revealed that three-quarters of the contractors who were paid to work on the federal government’s $54 million controversial COVID-era ArriveCAN travel app did not do anything in building the scandal-plagued app.

The disclosure that most of the contractors did not work on ArriveCAN came in a report titled Procurement Practice Review of ArriveCAN from the government’s procurement ombudsman Alexander Jeglic.

“In roughly 76% of applicable contracts, resources proposed in the winning bid did not perform any work on the contract,” the report concluded.

The once-mandatory ArriveCAN app created by the federal government cost taxpayers over $50 million, no less than $8.9 million of which was given to an obscure GC Strategies company that was operated by a two-man team out of an Ontario home.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (OGGO) is investigating how various companies such as Dalian, Coaradix, and GC Strategies received millions in taxpayer dollars to develop the contentious quarantine-tracking ArriveCAN app.

In specific, Jeglic’s report singles out GC Strategies, saying the two-man company did not prove that its list of subcontractors was qualified to work on the app.

The procurement ombudsman’s report also found “numerous examples” in which GC Strategies “had simply copied and pasted” required work experience that was listed by the government for its contractors.

The report also noted how it was unusual that the government used criteria for the app’s tender that were “overly restrictive and favoured” GC Strategies, which won the contract bid despite the fact no other bids were submitted.

Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) MPs Kelly Block and Pierre Paul-Hus condemned findings from the procurement ombudsman’s report in a joint statement Monday.

Canadians were told ArriveCAN was supposed to have cost only $80,000, but the number quickly ballooned to $54 million.

Block and Paul-Hus pointed out in their joint statement that experts have estimated that ArriveCan “could’ve been built in a weekend for $200,000.”

“But instead, the Trudeau government decided to waste $54 million in taxpayer dollars on this unnecessary and broken app. Unfortunately for Canadians, these recent allegations of abuse are starting to make the extreme $54 million price tag make sense.”

As for the app itself, it was riddled with tech glitches along with privacy concerns from users.

ArriveCAN was introduced in April 2020 by the Trudeau government and made mandatory in November 2020. The app was used by the federal government to track the COVID jab status of those entering the country and enforce quarantines when deemed necessary.

When the app was mandated, all travelers entering Canada had to use it to submit their travel and contact information as well as any COVID vaccination details before crossing the border or boarding a flight.

App’s creation rife with ‘corruption’ from the start

Block and Paul-Hus’s statement noted that since the ArriveCAN scandal became known, “whistleblowers have been silenced and government officials have been suspended without pay for telling the truth at Committee.”

“Now, as the allegation of corruption grows more severe, the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) has decided to investigate the contracts for potential criminality,” the two said.

CPC MP Stephanie Kusie noted to the committee on October 26, 2023, that it should be “evident to everyone in this room as well as Canadians,” that there is “systemic corruption within this government,” when speaking about ArriveCAN. She added that government corruption “should be absolutely evident.”

Last year, LifeSiteNews reported on two tech entrepreneurs testifying before the committee that during the development of the ArriveCAN travel app they saw firsthand how federal managers engaged in “extortion,” “corruption,” and “ghost contracting,” all at the expense of taxpayers.

Canadian Auditor General Karen Hogan announced an investigation of the ArriveCAN app in November 2022 after the House of Commons voted 173-149 for a full audit of the controversial app.

Last year, LifeSiteNews reported that during a parliamentary investigation into the misuse of funds used to create the ArriveCAN travel app, Canada’s chief federal technology officer was threatened with contempt of Parliament charges for refusing to give clear answers to questions from MPs regarding his involvement with the much-maligned app.

In October 2021, Trudeau announced unprecedented COVID-19 jab mandates for all federal workers and those in the transportation sector and said the unjabbed will no longer be able to travel by air, boat, or train, both domestically and internationally.

This policy resulted in thousands losing their jobs or being placed on leave for non-compliance.

Trudeau “suspended” the COVID travel vaccine mandates on June 20, 2022. Last October, the Canadian federal government ended all remaining COVID mandates regarding travel, including masking on planes and trains, COVID testing, and allowing vaccine-free Canadians to no longer be subject to mandatory quarantine.

Over 700 vaccine-free Canadians negatively affected by federal COVID jab dictates have banded together to file a multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit against the federal government.

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COVID-19

Learning loss piles up alongside snow while ‘e-learning’ collects dust

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From the Fraser Institute

By Alex Whalen and Paige MacPherson

During COVID school closures, students in the province missed at least 125 days of school between March 2020 and February 2022, more than any other province (except Ontario), generating a significant learning loss from which students have not caught up.

In a world increasingly connected by technology, and given the Nova Scotia government recently spent tens of millions of dollars enabling at-home learning, one might think that students would seamlessly shift to online learning during the recent snowstorms to avoid losing crucial instructional time. Unfortunately, that’s not happening.

During COVID school closures, the Nova Scotia and federal governments spent at least $31.5 million dollars on “virtual school” and other technological upgrades so students could, according to the provincial government, “succeed, even in an at-home learning environment.”

Unfortunately, the electronic learning infrastructure—which includes Chromebooks, laptops and iPads for students and teachers, and additional support and new teachers for Nova Scotia Virtual School—is collecting dust in a corner while Nova Scotia kids are falling further behind.

This isn’t some blip in an otherwise strong record of instructional time for Nova Scotia students. During COVID school closures, students in the province missed at least 125 days of school between March 2020 and February 2022, more than any other province (except Ontario), generating a significant learning loss from which students have not caught up.

Indeed, according to the latest results (2022) from the Programme for International Assessment (PISA), the gold standard of testing worldwide, Nova Scotia 15-year-olds trail the Canadian average in reading by 18 points and trail the Canadian average in math by 27 points. For context, PISA characterizes a 20-point drop as one year of lost learning.

Moreover, between 2003 and 2022, Nova Scotia student performance in reading dropped by 24 points—more than one year of learning loss—and dropped by 45 points in math. In other words, in math, 15-year-old Nova Scotia students today are more than two years behind where Nova Scotia 15-year-olds were in 2003.

These troubling trends underscore the need to put the existing e-learning infrastructure to work. During a recent two-week period, students in the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education school district missed seven days of school due to snow. And some students missed an additional five days due to weather and power outages. That’s nearly three weeks. While more instructional time is not a silver bullet for student success—and with power outages, e-learning is not a perfect solution—it could still make a big difference.

According to international research, missed classroom time causes learning loss and impacts children for life, reducing their life-long earnings. Nova Scotia education researcher Paul Bennett found that lost classroom time due to inclement weather compounds absenteeism and sets back student achievement and social progress.

The Houston government should ensure that Nova Scotian students have access to teacher-directed e-learning when schools are closed and, like other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States, abandon the practise of simply cancelling school due to inclement weather. It’s simply common sense. The snow may pile up, but there’s no good reason why learning loss must pile up with it. Parents are right to demand access to the e-learning they’ve already paid for through their tax dollars.

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COVID-19

Freedom Convoy organizer sues Trudeau gov’t for freezing his bank account

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

the day the EA was invoked, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland mandated certain bank accounts be frozen under the EA. In total, close to $8 million in funds from 267 people were locked. Additionally, 170 Bitcoin wallets were frozen.

Chris Barber, one of the leaders of the 2022 Freedom Convoy protests against COVID mandates, is suing the federal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for freezing his bank account and hundreds of others involved with the demonstrations after a recent court ruling declared the Emergencies Act (EA) was unconstitutional and unreasonable.

Barber’s lawsuit comes shortly after a Canadian federal court last month ruled that the Trudeau government’s use of the EA to quash the Freedom Convoy in 2022 was unconstitutional. The court ruled that the use of the EA was a direct violation of the Charter and thus “not justified.”

A trucker from Saskatchewan, Barber was heavily involved in the Freedom Convoy, which saw thousands make their way to Ottawa in protest of COVID vaccine mandates and lockdowns. His lawsuit claims that his Charter rights were violated through the dictates of the federal government.

The lawsuit was filed two weeks ago in the Court of King’s Bench in Saskatoon. Among its claims is a section alleging that the federal government abused its power to go after the truckers.

The EA controversially allowed the government to freeze the bank accounts of protesters, conscript tow truck drivers, and arrest people for participating in assemblies the government deemed illegal.

On February 14, 2022, the day the EA was invoked, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland mandated certain bank accounts be frozen under the EA. In total, close to $8 million in funds from 267 people were locked. Additionally, 170 Bitcoin wallets were frozen.

The freezing of bank accounts by Freeland without a court order was an unprecedented action in Canadian history and was only allowed through the Liberal government’s invocation of the never-before-used EA.

As a result of Freeland’s order, Barber’s bank account was frozen. He owns a trucking company, and according to the lawsuit, the frozen bank account resulted in missed payments as well as defaulting on loans, which negatively impacted his credit rating.

“This disruption deprived (Barber and his wife) of the ability to conduct basic financial transactions and live normal lives, leading to severe inconvenience, hardship, embarrassment, exclusion from modern society, and damaged personal and business relationships,” a portion of the lawsuit reads.

 As for the freezing of bank accounts, Barber’s lawsuit alleges that the Trudeau government’s decision to do this was for the “improper purpose of dissuading and punishing” Freedom Convoy protesters who were exercising their Charter rights.

The lawsuit also lists Barber’s wife along with his trucking business as lead plaintiffs.

At this point, no statement of defense has been filed by the Trudeau government, Global News reported.

According to the lawsuit statement, Barber’s bank personal and business bank accounts were frozen only a day after the Trudeau government enacted the EA. He was not able to withdraw or deposit money or use his credit cards, and even his automatic bill payments were stopped.

According to the lawsuit, Barber “suffered and experienced fear and anxiety due to the anticipated loss of income.”

Barber and Freedom Convoy leader Tamara Lich have been involved in a lengthy trial after being charged and taken to court by the government. The trial has been put on hold, with its resumption date uncertain. It is also not yet clear how the recent court ruling will affect the trial.

LifeSiteNews reported just over a week ago that Lich, Barber and a host of others filed a $2 million lawsuit against the government.

Freedom Convoy lawyer Keith Wilson said Section 24 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms “gives Canadians the right to sue their government for damages when Charter rights are violated.”

“Doing so affirms the seriousness of respecting Charter rights and is intended to deter future governments from breaching Canadians’ fundamental rights,” he said.

An investigation into the use of the EA, as per Canadian law, was launched by Trudeau. However, it was headed by Liberal-friendly Judge Paul Rouleau, who led the Public Order Emergency Commission. Unsurprisingly, the commission exonerated Trudeau.

Federal and provincial politicians have come out in support of the truckers. Last week, LifeSiteNews reported that newly elected Conservative Legislative Assembly of Alberta (MLA) member Eric Bouchard praised the Freedom Convoy protesters for doing what “was right” in opposing to COVID mandates.

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