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MPs suspend ArriveCAN hearings following review of CBSA report

'I’m not a lawyer, okay, but what I read, it’s scary,' Liberal MP Majid Jowhari said

A report relating to the ArriveCAN app led a federal committee to suspend future hearings over concerns it could impact investigations from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and RCMP.

Both The Globe and Mail and Global News note the secret report investigates allegations from Botler, a Montreal-based software company. The organization previously raised concerns about friendly ties between bureaucrats and contractors. While Botler didn’t work on ArriveCAN, its allegations involve those who did.

Michel Lafleur, the executive director of professional integrity at the CBSA, produced the report. It is not available to the public but was viewed by The House of Commons government operations committee.

“We’re doing a disservice to justice,” Liberal MP Majid Jowhari, the committee’s vice-chair said. “And I’m being very, very serious about this. Very serious. I’m not a lawyer, okay, but what I read, it’s scary.”

Lafleur was present at the meeting on Wednesday to answer questions about the report. Jowhari said asking any questions about the report, even just about the process, “could lead a conversation in such a way that would force Mr. Lafleur to make statements [of] a certain conclusion that [could be] very risky,”

The committee has been investigating the ArriveCan app and why it cost $54 million.

The Liberals received support from NDP and Bloc Québécois committee members. But Conservative MPs voted against the measure, accusing the Liberals of covering up the matter.

“These are horrendous, horrendous allegations against the government of Canada. So I can see, Mr. Chair, why the Liberals will do everything in their power to shut this down,” Conservative MP Larry Brock said. “That’s why we’re here, Mr. Chair, is to get to the bottom of this scam.”

In the end, the motion carried 7-3.

Lafleur’s findings are part of a series of reports on the matter. Last month, the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman (OPO) released its own report on the matter. It found many of the subcontractors involved in ArriveCan did no work.

The Auditor General of Canada will release its audit on the app on February 12th.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Source: Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates Via: The Globe, Global News

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