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Federal cabinet minister Randy Boissonnault linked to PPE company embroiled in lawsuits

A federal cabinet minister remained listed as director of a medical supply company for more than a year while it was competing for provincial and municipal contracts, according to business registry documents obtained by Global News.

Global Health Imports Corporation (GHI), a company that Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault co-founded after he lost the 2019 election, outbid multinational companies on pandemic contracts for items such as disinfectant wipes and isolation gowns.

When Boissonnault won back his Edmonton Centre seat and was appointed to cabinet in the fall of 2021, he remained listed as director of GHI in provincial and federal business registries. The company went on to win at least $8.2 million in contracts.

Federal conflict of interest laws prohibit cabinet ministers from serving as directors of companies.

In a statement to Global News, Boissonnault, who is currently minister of employment, said he has had no role in GHI since he was elected and receives no income from it.

At a time of feverish competition, a startup with then-tourism minister Randy Boissonnault’s name attached to it in public registry documents was likely to have an advantage, industry experts said.

To date, documents indicate Boissonnault has retained his 50 per cent stake in GHI. MPs are allowed to own a company as long as they do not manage the business directly, and the company doesn’t obtain federal contracts. GHI did not obtain federal contracts.

Tracing GHI’s business activities during the pandemic, Global News uncovered a trail of lawsuits against the company over claims of unpaid bills and unfulfilled deliveries.

Global Health Imports has lost six lawsuits by default because the company did not put up a defence. In one of the cases, a California-based company accused GHI and Boissonnault’s co-founder Stephen Anderson of committing fraud and wire fraud. Alberta courts have ordered GHI to pay more than $7.8 million to its suppliers and buyers.


Boissonnault is not named in any of the lawsuits.

Even at a time of skyrocketing demand, established businesses in the tight-knit personal protective equipment (PPE) sector said they were left wondering how the small enterprise was able to secure contracts — and whether Boissonnault’s connection to the company played a role.

Credit: (Left) Instagram/Stephen Anderson, (Right) The Canadian Press/Justin Tang

Documents show it wasn’t until March 2023 — more than 16 months after he was appointed minister — that Boissonnault’s lawyer filed the paperwork to remove him as GHI’s director in the business registries.

The federal registry reflects this change, but as of April 24, 2024, Boissonnault remains listed as director in Alberta’s registry despite it indicating a change of director has been filed.

The Conflict of Interest Act also holds members of Parliament responsible for ensuring they arrange their private affairs so that they do not face conflicts of interest while in office.

Ian Stedman, an assistant professor of public law and governance at York University, said by not ensuring the registries were updated, Boissonnault may have opened himself up to a conflict of interest.

“You don’t want to have a federal minister in a position where another government thinks they might be able to curry favour by giving them a contract or giving a contract to their close friend,” he said.

Fraser Johnson, a supply-chain management professor at Western University, said that with Boissonnault’s name still in place in public records, government officials at municipal or provincial levels might believe that it could be to their advantage to award GHI a contract.

If he were a procurement worker, Johnson said he “would have immediately disqualified his company” from bidding.

In response to Global News’ findings, Stedman and Johnson called for the ethics commissioner to investigate Boissonnault under the Conflict of Interest Act.

Randy Boissonnault is sworn in as the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance during a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall, Tuesday, October 26, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Boissonnault’s office said the minister informed Anderson after his election in September 2021 that he was resigning, believing that Anderson would update the business registries, which didn’t happen.

“After lengthy inaction by the current sole director, (Boissonnault) initiated the process himself through his lawyer,” explained Alice Hansen, Boissonnault’s director of communications.

The paperwork was submitted on March 17, 2023, less than a week after a supplier said it contacted Boissonnault’s office inquiring about GHI’s outstanding bills. The filings were backdated to April 2022, documents show.

Boissonnault did not respond to questions about Global Health Imports’ business practices “because he had no part in those operations” after he was elected, Hansen wrote, adding that the provincial registry is “simply out of date.”

Owners of Alberta-based businesses say Global Health Imports’ unpaid bills have hurt their bottom lines.

Matt Veres, president of Vereburn Medical Supply, a medical supply distributor based in Calgary that won a default judgment against GHI for $79,600 in July 2023, said Boissonnault’s association with GHI, however distant, left “a sour taste in the mouth.”

“To take advantage of a pandemic and an opportunity for some quick income and the lasting effects, it’s quite concerning,” Veres said.

Matt Veres, president of Vereburn Medical Supply, in his company’s Calgary warehouse where an additional $40,000 worth of stock sits that he’s struggling to sell. He says he brought it in for GHI based on what the company said it needed in the future. Global News

On Tuesday, Global News published a story on Boissonnault’s business ties to a lobbyist who helped raise $110 million in federal grants for Edmonton International Airport.


Luxury trips and paperwork errors

Global Health Imports’ business practices raised questions almost from the start.

Rather than buying products from manufacturers, GHI bought its stock from more established medical supply companies then resold it. The company began purchasing PPE as early as March 2020.

Its website showcased an array of products — from ultrasound gel to neurological tuning forks —  at unusually low prices. It appeared to list prices that product manufacturers charge suppliers rather than the marked-up prices suppliers typically offer customers. Some pages for products and services were never finished, left blank except for the words “coming soon.”

Anderson, a former hockey coach who took the lead as GHI’s COO, documented a dramatic lifestyle change on his Instagram.

His posts about hockey training exercises switched to a stream of flights, highlights from vacations abroad, luxury items like Dior hightops and occasional references to cosmetic procedures.

Global Health Imports’ website as it appeared in October 2021. The website is now offline.

Boissonnault, by contrast, did not appear to discuss his 18-month involvement in the startup publicly, and his ties to Global Health Imports were not easy to locate.

After he was elected, as part of his legally mandated public disclosures, Boissonnault told the federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner about the small businesses he owns. When the ethics commissioner posted his public disclosures, it listed the incorrect name for a numbered holding company that held shares in Global Health Imports. The commissioner did not mention GHI at all.

When Global News asked the ethics commissioner’s office about these errors and omissions, a spokesperson said it was their office’s mistake, not Boissonnault’s, and that they would update his public disclosure.

Boissonnault’s office said the minister informed the ethics commissioner that he “stepped down as a director of Global Health Imports in fall of 2021.”

In September 2022, Stephen Anderson posted a photo of his new Dior high tops. Credit: Stephen Anderson/Instragram

When asked if the ethics commissioner was aware that Boissonnault remained listed in business registries as director of a company after joining cabinet, the office’s spokesperson said, due to confidentiality requirements, it “cannot discuss any disclosures a public office holder or member may have made.”

The same month that Boissonnault was sworn in as tourism minister and associate minister of finance, GHI’s legal troubles began. Supplier Patterson Dental sued the company for $384,000 in October 2021, court documents show.

GHI wins Quebec contract

Over the next year, Global Health Imports continued to buy and sell products. In September 2022, the company secured an $8.2-million deal with the Quebec government to supply sanitary wipes.

Provincial procurement workers selected GHI alongside two giants, Clorox and Diversey, an unusual win for an Alberta-based startup. The rest of its competitors on the short list were all established national companies and Quebec-based enterprises.

Barry Hunt, president of the Canadian Association of PPE Manufacturers, told Global News it is “virtually impossible” for a startup medical supply company to compete against established multi-billion-dollar, multinational companies.

“The idea that a two-person startup could even be pre-qualified to bid on a government tender for the supply of disinfection wipes makes no sense to me. That’s certainly out of character for any normal procurement practice,” Hunt said.

Global News investigations into the ArriveCan app scandal, Switch Health’s $1 billion in contracts for testing and laboratory services and BTNX’s $2 billion in contracts for rapid tests have found that at the federal level, politically connected enterprises were apparently more likely to receive lucrative pandemic contracts.

A spokesperson from Quebec’s government acquisitions centre defended its selection in a statement to Global News.

“Global Health Imports Corporation has met every requirement of the relevant bidding process; the corporation is therefore listed among the providers chosen for certain goods, and is thus entitled to share the amount associated with this particular contract,” the spokesperson wrote.


Buyers in the Quebec government’s network have ordered less than $100,000 in products from GHI as of December 2023, according to data and explanations from the office.

The contract is active until May 2025. Health Canada told Global News that GHI’s licence to sell medical products expired last year, which is needed to fulfil the contract legally.

Legal troubles mount

In late 2022 and 2023, five more companies filed lawsuits against GHI, one after the other. When Global Health Imports failed to put up a defence, default judgments were awarded.

For Veres, the lawsuit was a last resort.

He said that when he contacted GHI about delayed payments for two large orders placed in December 2021 and January 2022, Anderson offered a string of excuses. A funeral had come up or, in another instance, he was recovering from an auto accident, Veres said.

“It was always just something,” he said. “We would say, ‘What’s the story going to be today?’”

When Global News contacted Anderson for an interview for this story, he stated he was at a funeral and later that a loved one was placed in palliative care, delaying his response.

Anderson eventually declined to be interviewed and did not respond to emailed questions.

Global Health Imports, which sometimes goes by Global Healthcare Solutions, continues to bid on contracts.

Despite winning their case, Veres said he has not recouped the money his company is owed. Sitting in his Calgary office, he strained to keep a smile on his face as he described his three-year-long ordeal with GHI. At this point, he said, he only wants two things.

“Ideally, we would be reimbursed with what is owed to Vereburn and Randy would face the consequences of his participation with Global Health Imports.”

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