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Shields cranks up the heat on federal scandals

Posted on March 28, 2024 by Vauxhall Advance

By Cal Braid
Vauxhall Advance
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

In his February newsletter, Martin Shields, MP for Bow River, delivered an incendiary assessment of the varying states of decay in Canada under the current leadership. He went after the prime minister, the environment minster and an NDP “radical” who wants to criminalize advertising in the energy sector.

He started respectfully, with a statement about the passing of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney: “I wish to reserve a moment to pay my respects. It’s with profound sadness that we learned of the passing of the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney. His visionary leadership led to winning the most seats in Canadian history and the negotiation of NAFTA. My condolences go out to his family and those close to him.”

From there, Shields caught fire and went all-out with scathing criticisms of Liberal “scandals and corruption.” Conservatives have increasingly resorted to catchy slogans (Axe the tax), mock nicknames (ArriveScam), wordplay (WTF-Where’s the funds?), and all kinds of hyperbole for dramatic and comedic effect. In keeping with the spirit of bluster and provocation, Shields laid out some of the more cringeworthy blunders made by the Liberal-NDP coalition.

“Scandals are to Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government like wine is to cheese, or peanut butter to jam,” Shields stated. “The number of scandals and corruption cases have become so numerous that Canadians have become largely numb to it – but maybe we have finally hit the tipping point.”

“When Canadians hear that billions of dollars are being thrown away in some investment bank or another so-called environmental program, it doesn’t really resonate  just how much money that is,” he continued. “It’s difficult to even picture what a billion dollars looks like. But when a scandal about a government-funded mobile phone application that was supposed to cost $80,000, and ended up costing over $60 million with no receipts to prove where that money went, Canadians are right to be in utter disbelief.”

In the latter part of the statement, Shields was referring to ArriveCAN, or ‘ArriveSCAM,’ as he called it. It’s a COVID-era phone app that was meant to track border restrictions and vaccination status, and it wound up costing Canadian taxpayers $60 million instead of the $80,000 it should have been. “That’s according to the Auditor General who completed her report after Conservatives passed a motion in the House of Commons to investigate this fiasco,” Shields said.

“At the centre of the AG’s report is the poor record keeping – so much so that the precise cost of the app is impossible to determine. So that begs the question: who got rich and where’s the receipts? Were they purposely destroyed?” he asked.

He claimed ArriveCAN sent over 10,000 Canadians into wrongful quarantine during COVID restrictions and the app was also cloned as a joke by two college students on a weekend. “That’s how simple it could have – and should have – been,” he said. Whether that last part is true has not been verified.

He said that Conservatives are pressing to investigate the mismanagement with  Parliamentary committees including Public Accounts and Government Operations. Additionally, “A Conservative motion in the House of Commons calling on the government to table all documents and costs associated with ArriveCAN passed. I was proud to vote in favour of this motion so Canadians can get answers,” he said.

Shields offered a link to the Auditor General’s report, and upon reading excerpts it’s clear that the MP wasn’t simply throwing hyperbolic spaghetti at the wall to see if would stick. The report is every bit as withering as the MP made it out to be, but without the dramatic effect.  

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