Members of parliament in the House of Commons are asking to view the billions of dollars worth of contracts between the federal government and novel COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, but only those willing to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are being permitted.
As a result, Conservative MP Kelly McCauley requested the following through an order paper question:
"With regard to non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) signed by government officials related to COVID vaccine contracts: (a) how many officials were required to sign such agreements; (b) what is the breakdown of (a) by job title; and (c) how many of these NDAs are time-limited versus how many are indefinite?"
Interestingly, Health Canada responded said that they couldn’t possibly answer this question.
“The information requested is not systematically tracked in a centralized database. Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canadian Institutes of Health Research concluded that producing and validating a comprehensive response to this question would require a manual collection of information that could lead to the disclosure of incomplete information.”
And yet, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) supplied an attached annex with a detailed response.
It denoted that there were at least 35 government officials required to sign non-disclosure agreements to view the governments COVID-19 vaccine procurement contracts, some of them on a time-limited basis but many being indefinite.
The officials involved are listed only by title. A few of them include the following:
- Chief Science Advisor, Dr. Mona Nemer -- appointed on September 26, 2017. As Canada’s top scientist, Dr. Nemer was “asked to make recommendations to help ensure that government science is fully available and accessible to the public, and that federal scientists remain free to speak about their work.” Nemer signed one time-limited contract and two indefinite NDAs.
- Deputy Minister of ISED, Catherine Blewett, as of June 20, 2022.
- Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Industry Sector of the ISED Eric Costen.
Number four is where things get tricky. It titles the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister at the Office of the Chief Science Advisor (that’s Dr. Nemer from above) but when Rebel News inquired about this position, the office responded that they “do not have a senior assistant deputy minister position.”
The list goes on to detail additional government officials from the ISED before moving into those involved with the arms length government of Canada initiative called the COVID-19 vaccine task force, including the secretary for the COVID-19 vaccine task force, who was tasked with procuring and developing vaccines.
The National Research Council of Canada is detailed next – from the director general to policy analysts – this government of Canada department pivoted quickly to support Canada’s government wide COVID-19 response.
This secrecy leads many to wonder: what was in those contracts?
Facing scrutiny, Liberal MP and parliamentary secretary for public services and procurement, Anthony Housefather, explained that waiving liability was the reason. “They didn’t do the type of testing that normally takes these drugs years to come to market. They did it all in less than a year,” he said.
It might have something to do with Pfizer needing to “move at the speed of science” – whatever that is.