Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says questions from the Conservatives in the House of Commons on Monday about Nova Scotia Power comments suggesting an issue with the ArriveCan app amount to “pushing false info” given the utility company later confirmed the app caused no problems.
The comment from the minister is the latest in a back-and-forth between Nova Scotia Power, the Nova Scotia premier’s office, and the federal government as officials from all levels have scrambled over recent days to respond to the path of devastation wrought by the storm Fiona across Atlantic Canada.
In a tweet on Tuesday afternoon, Mendicino referenced multiple questions from the Conservatives during question period on Monday afternoon, in which the Opposition questioned the government about a statement from Nova Scotia Power on Sunday.
Alexander Cohen, spokesperson for Mendicino, said on Tuesday following the minister’s tweet that it was “alarming and sad that in the wake of a tragedy, Conservatives spent yesterday’s Question Period peddling falsehoods.”
“We’re focused on helping Canadians affected by Hurricane Fiona get the help they need to recover and rebuild, and are pleased to report that crews from Maine heading into Nova Scotia crossed the border yesterday with an average processing time of under a minute.”
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Maine and Nova Scotia have a memorandum of understanding allowing mutual assistance in emergencies or natural disasters.
A spokesperson for the utility company had said over the weekend there had been an “issue related to ArriveCAN” that prompted concerns among U.S. crews that they “may not be able to cross the border” to help Canada amid post-tropical storm Fiona.
Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston had also told reporters on Sunday morning that “there was a situation where some crews from Maine were having an issue at the border,” and Conservative MPs on Monday afternoon raised questions about those comments several times, including Tory leader Pierre Poilievre.
Trudeau had answered on Monday in response that he could “confirm that there were no delays at any border because of ArriveCan or otherwise.”
Federal officials had said on Sunday that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) had “no record of such a situation occurring at any Port of Entry into Canada,” with a spokesperson for Mendicino saying at the time that “this erroneous story likely stems from a misunderstanding.”
Nova Scotia Power has now confirmed as much.
The Canadian Press reported on Monday evening the utility company had issued a statement after question period clarifying there had been confusion about the app, but that there were no problems.
“We now know there were not any issues with ArriveCan,” said a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Power.
“Our contractor crews have made their way over the border and we are grateful to have them as part of our restoration efforts here in Nova Scotia.”
That spokesperson suggested the error was a result of “confusion” after a concern arose Friday — before the storm actually hit — that crews from Maine might not be able to cross the border because of ArriveCan.
The ArriveCan app, which screens COVID-19 vaccination status and symptoms for people arriving in Canada, has been the focus of fierce debate over recent months, but is set to expire on Sept. 30.
– with files from The Canadian Press