Trudeau Liberals claim Arrivescam contractor is 'too mentally unwell' to testify before Parliament

Arrivescam contractor Kristian Firth claims to suffer from 'acute mental health flare-ups.' He received medical advice not to 'participate in any activity that would call any undue stress.'

Trudeau Liberals claim Arrivescam contractor is 'too mentally unwell' to testify before Parliament
The Canadian Press / Justin Tang
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Liberal MPs refused to ask the architect behind ArriveCan questions on the application after receiving a House summons for being in contempt of Parliament.

Steven MacKinnon, Liberal government House leader, told Parliament that Kristian Firth is “too mentally unwell” to testify about his involvement in the development of ArriveCan, a controversial government-sanctioned pandemic aid that tracked the vaccine status of travellers.

“Mr. Firth informed the House as to whether he consulted with a medical professional prior to his appearance today regarding answering questions from the House,” he told MPs on Wednesday.

Firth claimed to be afflicted by “acute mental health flare-ups,” and received medical advice not to “participate in any activity that would call any undue stress.”

MacKinnon considered it improper to question Firth since he claimed to be under a doctor’s care. Opposition MPs said the contractor made similar medical claims to avoid committee summonses over the past seven months.

However, the Liberal House leader maintains that “what happened with the ArriveCan app was unacceptable,” and “that is why we supported the motion that brought Firth to testify.”

He wanted to “ensure that all unanswered questions receive answers.” 

Firth, the ArriveCan contractor recipient of $19.1 million for the pandemic tool, received 139 questions from opposition MPs on Wednesday. He would pause occasionally to whisper to his counsel. 

No Liberal MPs questioned Firth, reported Blacklock’s Reporter. “You’re a bunch of heartless people,” shouted one Liberal MP. 

MacKinnon blamed the Official Opposition for compelling testimony from Firth. “Forcing someone against medical advice to do something a doctor believes could harm their treatment and recovery is indeed beneath the dignity of this place,” he said.

“Liberal corruption” shouted one Conservative MP.

The contractor denied paying bribes or kickbacks to federal managers in exchange for lucrative contracts. “We don’t give gifts and do bribes to win contracts,” he said.

Records show GC Strategies Inc., a two-man operation working from Firth's home in Woodlawn, Ontario, received 118 separate federal contracts worth $107.7 million. 

According to a census conducted by La Presse, GC Strategies received 140 contracts since 2015, totalling nearly $258 million from several federal departments and agencies. 

“GC Strategies is qualified on these procurement methods to provide fixed-price services and solutions to the Government of Canada,” reads their website. It performed none of the IT work on the application.

The firm subcontracted efforts between 15% and 30% of the value of 46 contracts. The federal government considered these charges to be “fair and reasonable” despite multimillion-dollar cost overruns, reads a memo from the Department of Public Works.

“Does Mr. Firth have a number in mind for the value of gifts in kind or money offered to public servants in exchange for contracts?” asked Bloc Québécois MP Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné. “Yes, that number is zero,” replied Firth.

He later admitted to inviting government employees to lunch and coffee, including Paul Girard, former chief information officer at the Treasury Board, and Philippe Johnston, chief information officer at the National Research Council.

“This is a good example of a contradiction,” said Bloc Québécois MP Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné. “We went from saying the amount was zero to admitting [that] indeed there were dinners, golf games, whiskey tastings with dozens of federal public servants,” he added.

Firth clarified he would meet with public servants to provide updates on the project, “whether that was over lunch or whether that was during coffee.”

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