Texts from ‘Randy’ raise questions about minister’s role at company while in office, Boissonnault denies

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages Randy Boissonnault speaks at a news conference on the selection process for the EI Board of Appeal, at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa, on Thursday, May 9, 2024.
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Ethics committee questions Boissonnault over texts
WATCH: Ethics Commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein is looking into the business dealings of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages Minister Randy Boissonnault. Krista Hessey reports – Jun 4, 2024

Text messages obtained by Global News raise questions about whether Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault engaged with his former business partner on deals a year after he joined the federal cabinet, but Boissonnault denies that he’s the “Randy” referenced in the exchange.

The text exchange, which occurred in September 2022, was between Stephen Anderson, who co-founded Global Health Imports with Boissonnault in early 2020, and Malvina Ghaoui, the principal of The Ghaoui Group, LLC, a California-based personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement company.

In conversation with Ghaoui, Anderson wrote “Randy” told him to “be available in 15 for a partner call.”

Anderson and Ghaoui were discussing a deposit of approximately $500,000 that Ghaoui Group was to send to GHI to secure a large shipment of nitrile gloves. Anderson was asking Ghaoui why the deposit had not been sent yet and apparently forwarded her a message directly from Boissonnault.

“Anderson, it’s 13:14 MST and 15:14 EST it literally takes 10 seconds to complete a (wire) transfer,” the person referred to only as “Randy” allegedly wrote to Anderson. “I am telling you we are NOT ALLOCATING like this, please reach out and see what the reason is now, you assured me this morning this was done first thing…Be available in 15 for a partner call.”

In another text to Ghaoui sent 30 minutes later, Anderson said he had consulted with “Randy” and GHI employees over the phone regarding the deposit, “I have spoken to Shawna, Felix and Randy again … We are following up again at 1440 on allocations and will determine what we need to do as an organization.”

When asked if he worked with another Randy, Anderson stated that he did, but would not disclose the employee’s full name. He said the other Randy was ‘head of logistics.’


Global News was unable to verify any details related to a second employee named Randy.

In interviews with GHI’s former suppliers, Edward Anderson, Stephen’s father, was identified as the company’s logistics lead. His email signature had the title ‘Logistics/Supply Chain’ at GHI in 2021, according to emails viewed by Global News between GHI and suppliers. Edward declined to comment.

Felix Papineau, Anderson’s right-hand man in Quebec, and Shawna Parker, Anderson’s sister, did not respond to questions.

It was Ghaoui’s understanding that Anderson was referring to Boissonnault, whom Anderson had told her was a partner in GHI and a public official, a representative of Ghaoui Group wrote in a statement.

“We have had no direct communication with Mr. Boissonnault at any point in our dealings with Stephen and the companies,” the representative wrote.

Boissonnault declined an interview with Global News but in an emailed statement his office said that he “had no communication with Mr. Anderson regarding the Ghaoui Group in September of 2022.”

“Minister Boissonnault ceased active involvement with GHI during the 2021 campaign, and formally resigned from his role with GHI after being elected in 2021,” wrote Alice Hansen, Boissonnault’s director of communications.

Anderson did not respond to questions regarding the texts.

The texts between Ghaoui and Anderson call into question whether Boissonnault stepped away from GHI’s operations as he was required to do under federal law and if he was involved with a business deal that is now at the centre of a recent fraud lawsuit.

Boissonnault is not named in the lawsuit.

He has retained his 50 per cent stake in GHI, according to corporate records. Conflict of interest laws allow elected officials to own a business, but they are prohibited from operating or managing it.

A previous Global News investigation found GHI was embroiled in lawsuits and Boissonnault remained listed as a director of the company in business registries for more than a year after his re-election while it competed for provincial and municipal contracts. Industry experts told Global News that could have given the company an advantage.

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

Boissonnault says he informed Anderson of his resignation in September 2021 and asked him to update the federal and provincial business registries, which didn’t happen.

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

Boissonnault’s office would not provide Global News with his resignation letter. Under federal law, cabinet ministers cannot serve as directors of companies and their resignations must be in writing.

Global News’ investigation, as well as another that revealed his links to a lobbying firm, prompted MPs to call Boissonnault to testify before the federal ethics committee. Boissonnault is scheduled to appear Tuesday, June 4 at 11am EST.

Boissonnault maintains he has followed conflict of interest and lobbying rules. In response to a letter from Conservative MP Michael Barrett, the ethics commissioner has declined to investigate.

Ghaoui Group did end up sending the nearly half a million dollar deposit, at Anderson’s and someone named Randy’s urging. But the company says it never got the gloves it was contractually promised, and all that money was stolen.

GHI and Anderson deny the claims.

Just 16 days after the Ghaoui Group wired the deposit, a fire that police say was deliberately set after a break and enter, burned up GHI’s Edmonton warehouse unit.

It had all, quite literally, gone up in smoke.

In charge for 18 months

In early 2020, having lost his Edmonton Centre seat a six months prior, Boissonnault teamed up with Anderson, a hockey coach, to form GHI, a medical supply company that bought and sold personal protective equipment as well as dental products.


Why a former politician and a hockey coach launched a PPE business in the industry’s most tumultuous time remains a mystery. However, court documents and interviews with suppliers and buyers who did business with GHI reveal the inner workings of a startup fraught with problems from the start.

In lawsuits against GHI dating back to 2021, suppliers claimed the company did not pay for products they delivered. On May 3, Boissonnault told Global News, “When I was running the company, all of the bills were paid.”

Court documents dispute that statement. A lawsuit, filed by supplier Patterson Dental against GHI about two weeks after Boissonnault’s re-election, claims the company did not pay 15 invoices between November 2020 and January 2021 totalling $384,250.

Global Health Imports’ contact page on Nov. 30, 2021, captured by the Wayback Machine, a site that archives webpages.

While Anderson ran the day-to-day business, communicating with suppliers, submitting purchase orders, and receiving invoices, Boissonnault was kept in the loop, too. He was cc’d on exchanges with other suppliers about orders and billing, emails Global News obtained from 2020 show. At the time, Boissonnault was out of office and held the title of “partner” at GHI, according to its now-defunct website.

In the end, GHI and Patterson Dental settled. In January 2023, GHI agreed to pay the dental supply company $159,250, exactly $225,000 less than its initial claim. Patterson Dental declined to comment on Boissonnault’s statement or its lawsuit against GHI.

Boissonnault did not answer Global News’ questions about Patterson Dental’s claims of unpaid bills while he was in charge of GHI.

“(The minister) has had no role in the operations of the company since that time, has no insights into any business dealings or issues with the company or its current employees, and has received no income or dividends from the company since being elected,” Hansen wrote.

Allegations of fraud

The deal would have made GHI and Ghaoui Group millions.

In the fall of 2022, GHI agreed to sell Ghaoui Group 50,000 cases of Nitrile Cranberry Evolve 300 Gloves for nearly $17 million. Had that transaction been successful, Ghaoui Group would have bought another 50,000 cases for $15 million.

In order to secure the goods, it was to send a deposit of about $500,000 to GHI, according to the deposit agreement signed by both Ghaoui and Anderson. After prodding from Anderson, that included texts referencing discussions with his employees and “Randy,” Ghaoui’s escrow agent wired the money to an account held by a company called Global Healthcare Solutions, not Global Health Imports, transaction receipts show.

Anderson formed GHS in October 2020, according to corporate records, while he and Boissonnault were running GHI. Anderson would not say what the company’s purpose is or how it relates to GHI. Neither GHI nor GHS currently hold the licence needed to sell medical devices, Health Canada told Global News.

Anderson claims in court documents that GHI’s medical device establishment licence (MDEL) was suspended due to a September 2022 fire at its Edmonton warehouse.

GHI and GHS share the same address in business registries: an office building in downtown Edmonton that houses a bank, law firms, and an insurance company. However, unlike GHI, there is no past website for GHS or other traces of the company online.

When asked if Boissonnault knew money for GHI was being rerouted to GHS, Hansen did not answer the question but said the minister “has no ownership stake nor has he ever had a role with Global Healthcare Solutions.”

Anderson did not respond to questions about why the deposit was sent to GHS rather than GHI.

After Ghaoui Group’s deposit landed in GHS’ account, the business relationship went awry. What happened next is disputed, but what’s known is that Ghaoui Group did not receive the gloves and Anderson kept almost all of the deposit. (He returned USD $10,000 in November 2022, according to court documents, after Ghaoui Group demanded he send back the deposit.)


In Ghaoui Group’s subsequent lawsuit alleging Anderson and two other GHI employees committed fraud, the company claims GHI never owned the 50,000 cases of gloves in the first place, nor did it have the means to acquire them. It also claims that Anderson and his employees went into the contract knowing they could not deliver and made off with her nearly half-a-million-dollar deposit.

Anderson and his two employees, Papineau and Parker, have filed statements of defence denying Ghaoui’s allegations.

In court documents, Anderson alleges that Ghaoui ordered the wrong type of gloves on behalf of her buyer and then pulled out of the deal when she realized the mistake. Because Ghaoui Group didn’t hold up their end of the transaction, Anderson argues in a sworn affidavit, GHI was entitled to keep the deposit.

Both Ghaoui Group and Anderson’s allegations remain unproven and untested in court. Anderson declined to comment on the ongoing proceedings.

“There was never any mistake or confusion concerning the product which was deposited for and meant to be purchased by my company,” Ghaoui wrote in a statement to Global News.

“There was no time during my dealings with Anderson, GHI/GHS that my company was ever in breach of any of our agreements,” she said.

Anderson declined to comment on the ongoing proceedings.

The warehouse fire

On Sept. 25, 2022, GHI’s Edmonton storage unit on 28th Avenue was broken into and set ablaze, according to Edmonton police.

“Upon arrival, officers and Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) encountered a fire in the warehouse,” the police spokesperson said in a statement. “Detectives, working alongside EFRS investigators, later determined that the fire had been deliberately set following a break and enter to the premises.”

The fire “rendered all products in the distribution facility unusable in the medical industry and GHI suffered a total loss of its inventory,” Anderson states in court documents.

Edmonton police launched an investigation, but in February 2024 it was suspended. To date, no suspects have been identified and no arrests have been made, the police spokesperson said.

In the months before the fire, several of GHI’s suppliers say they had begun demanding the company pay them for products they had delivered. After the fire, they say Anderson began telling them payments would be further delayed as the company dealt with the fallout from the blaze.

According to several sources with direct knowledge of the conversations, Anderson told at least two suppliers that GHI’s bills would be paid as soon as he received insurance money from the fire. Anderson also told Ghaoui that he would return her deposit in full when the big payout came, according to his statement of defence in Ghaoui Group’s fraud suit.

GHI’s suppliers grew impatient and eventually took legal action. Over the course of a week in April 2023, GHI was sued three times over alleged unpaid bills. Ghaoui Group’s other $7.3-million lawsuit for losses and damages came the following month.

In total, GHI lost five lawsuits by default because it didn’t file defences. Alberta courts have ordered it to pay nearly $8 million to its suppliers and buyers.

None of the lawsuits named Boissonnault.

When asked if the Edmonton police were aware that Anderson and GHI are facing millions in debts and fraud allegations, the spokesperson said the police were “not aware of any connection between the break-and-enter/fire incident and civil proceedings.”

— With files from Patti Sonntag