Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has allowed an U.S. billionaire who questioned the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic to skip the mandatory two-week quarantine period after entering Canada.
According to the CBC, the president of shipping company Uline, 75-year-old Liz Uihlein, and two other company executives flew to Toronto from Chicago on a private jet on August 25. The three went to their office and warehouse in Milton, a town 45 kilometres outside of Toronto, did their business, and then flew back to the U.S. 36 hours later.
A spokesperson told the CBC that the Canadian government had granted the three executives special entry exemption, something typically only handed out to essential workers like truckers or health care professionals.
VICE reached out to Uline for comment but did not hear back before publication.
Uihlein, who is worth about $4 billion, is a Trump mega-donor who, alongside her husband, was declared by the New York Times "the most powerful conservative couple you've never heard of." Over the years, the billionaire has given over $100 million to GOP candidates.
Like other influential U.S.American conservatives, Uihlein has downplayed the pandemic and pushed back on COVID-19 regulations. Uihlein told the Guardian in April she believed the pandemic “overhyped.” In an email with the subject line “the media is overblowing COVID-19” that Uihlein sent to legislators in Wisconsin (where the company is based), she called the regulations “a big disruption.”
“While you may think the government enforced closing of events, schools, etc. is helping prevent the spread of this infection, you are impacting local, state and national economies and adding unnecessary panic and fear in the American people,” she wrote.
The two-week mandatory quarantine for all those entering the country has been in place since March, in an effort to to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The United States has had over 6.6 million people infected and almost 200,000 die from COVID-19.
The CBC reports that none of the offices permitted to grant special entry exemptions said they gave them to the Uline executives. So far the Ministry of Public Safety said it had issued three exemptions, the Minister of Health only once (for employees of a company that makes ventilators), and the chief public health officer for five health care professionals. The Ministry of Immigration facilitated the NHL bubble, so it handed out hundreds.
Meanwhile, Global Affairs handed out 53 special exemptions for “business mobility.” VICE News reached out to the Global Affairs office for comment but did not hear back.
A study published Thursday by the nonprofit Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that “billionaire wealth has bounced back” during the pandemic, with Canada’s top 20 billionaires becoming $37 billion richer since the start of COVID-19.
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