A Quebec scientist was able to continue working in the fight against COVID-19 with the Public Health Agency of Canada while he was in prison for the harassment of his wife. He even received a letter of support from a senior official to be released more quickly.
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While serving a 14-month sentence, Simon Roy maintained telephone contact with the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, where virus sequencing work was being done. He had pleaded guilty to criminal harassment charges against his ex-wife.
Still, one of the lab’s officials, Morag Graham, wrote a letter of reference which he used in an attempt to secure early release. This request was refused and he was not released until two-thirds of his sentence.
Simon Roy was not at his first run-in with the law. He had already been imprisoned in 2017 in a drug trafficking case, before finding himself behind bars in 2020.
In pronouncing his sentence in this last case, the judge had harsh words against him. He did not hesitate to say that Roy had shown “perpetual harassment and [d’une] perpetual moral and psychological violence ”against his ex-wife as well as a considerable lack of empathy for her.
- Listen to Philippe-Vincent Foisy’s interview with Jules Richer, journalist at Journal de Montréal, on QUB radio:
Nice collaboration of his cell
Since the onset of the health crisis, Roy’s company, Civic Bioscience Ltd., has secured orders totaling approximately $ 100,000 from the Winnipeg National Laboratory as part of efforts to fight COVID-19. The company specializes in “biological reagents”.
In an interview, Roy explained that, even in prison, he continued to communicate by phone with federal researchers to help them use the reagents he provided.
“I didn’t have access to a computer. I was printed out the documents and worked on the phone with them, ”he says.
- Listen to Nicole Gibeault’s column at the microphone of Geneviève Pettersen:
” No comments “
Joined in Winnipeg, Mme Graham did not want to discuss his relationship with Roy.
“I won’t comment, because it’s not a public issue. It was a civil matter, ”she said.
- Listen to Félix Séguin’s column on QUB radio:
It was not possible to obtain a copy of the letter of recommendation drafted in an attempt to obtain his parole.
However, in another letter, from July 2020, posted on Roy’s LinkedIn account, Mr.me Graham shows his “immense appreciation” to him, for his assistance in efforts to sequencing difficult-to-analyze samples of the COVID-19 virus.
“It is not even an exaggeration to say that the health of Canadians and our economy have […] need you, ”she adds.
-With the collaboration of Andrea Valeria.
- 4 counts of drug trafficking
- 1 count of possession for the purpose of trafficking
- 1 count of possession of substance
- He pleads guilty and receives six months in prison
- 6 counts of failure to comply with an order
- 2 counts for failure to comply with a promise
- 1 count of obstruction of justice
- 1 count of criminal harassment
- 1 count of harassing communication
- He pleads guilty and receives 14 months in prison
Source: SOQUIJ, criminal plumitif
Radio silence at the Agency
Ottawa declined to comment on the close ties that have developed between Simon Roy’s company and the National Microbiology Laboratory.
“The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is unable to comment on these allegations for privacy reasons,” we are told.
In its reaction, the Agency confines itself to quoting extracts from the code of conduct for federal civil servants, including the following:
« [Le fonctionnaire doit] take all possible steps to recognize, prevent, report and resolve any real, apparent or potential conflict of interest between official responsibilities and personal interests. “
Note that this rule does not mean explicitly that Mme Morag Graham should have avoided intervening on behalf of Simon Roy while he was in prison, but still recalls that officials must avoid conflicts of interest between their responsibilities and their private lives.
The Agency confirms that Civic Bioscience has provided sequencing products for COVID-19 and “technical support” to its genomics team, but refuses to specify the total value.
“PHAC has not awarded any contract over $ 10,000 to the company since 2016-2017,” it says.
Under existing rules, Ottawa is not required to disclose details of contracts under $ 10,000.