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Bob Mackin

An expert report suggests there may have been twice as many deaths in Canada from coronavirus than governments have reported. 

The Royal Society of Canada’s June 29-published task force report, Excess All-Cause Mortality During the COVID-19 Epidemic in Canada, recommends mandating weekly reporting of death statistics due to all causes in all provinces and territories and to test for COVID-19 among all people who die in any setting.

Cover of June 29-published Royal Society of Canada report

The task force, led by Tara Moriarty, chair of dentistry and medicine at the University of Toronto, said without timely case and fatality data, Canada will not have a clear understanding of what happened, or continues to happen, with the COVID-19 pandemic until at least 2022.

“The pandemic has exposed many uncomfortable truths about Canadian society, among them, the limits of our healthcare system, tragic flaws in long-term care, our systemic racism, and our inability to protect the most at risk when an infectious threat arrives in our midst,” the report said.

The research estimated that from February to November 2020, the deaths from COVID-19 of 6,000 people in Canada, aged 45 and up, went undetected, unreported or unattributed to COVID-19.

As of June 28, Public Health Agency of Canada counted more than 1.41 million cases and 26,238 deaths.

“This suggests that if Canada has continued to miss these fatalities at the same rate since last November, the pandemic mortality burden may be two times higher than reported.”

The report also recommended establishing a national COVID-19 mortality task force to investigate why so many cases and deaths in Canada have been under-reported, and to immediately adopt the U.S. Centers for Disease Control standard for estimating excess mortality.

“We find that most of Canada’s cases prior to November 28, 2020 were not reported until after excess deaths began rising rapidly, a trend that continued until the third wave. This disturbing pattern demonstrates that through much of 2020, the growing number of COVID-19 fatalities—not reported cases—was the earliest indicator of the epidemic’s trajectory.”

The report suggested public focus on the tragedy in nursing homes made it difficult to see the high number of frail older adults dying in their own homes, A quarter of likely missed deaths also occurred in people aged 45-64, who were likely frontline and essential workers. recent immigrants and people living in multigenerational households.

Dr. Tara Moriarty (U of T)

“The failure to recognize the heightened COVID-19 risk faced by community-dwelling elders and economically precarious, racialized workers likely delayed the implementation of public health interventions that may well have saved lives.”

Without adequate situational awareness or surveillance testing, Canadian public health officials and policy makers may not have recognized the prevalence of COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the community, prior to and between the pandemic’s major waves.

The study also found that approximately 80% of excess deaths unattributed to COVID-19 occurred four to six weeks before and between each of the documented spikes in fatalities. British Columbia was among the provinces that either do not report probable causes of death or and one of the provinces where cause of death data is only complete as of February 2020 — before Dr. Bonnie Henry declared the coronavirus public health emergency.

Adrian Dix (right) and Dr. Bonnie Henry (BC Gov)

“It is possible that the gap we have uncovered between reported and missed COVID-19 fatalities in the community may be narrower than we currently estimate. But given the extreme delays in Canada’s cause-of-death reporting, a system which remains largely paper-based and lags far behind other high-income countries, there is not enough data beyond June 27, 2020 to reach a concrete conclusion as to the full tally of missed deaths.”

Henry has reported several errors and glitches verbally in her media briefings with Health Minister Adrian Dix since last year. But a central log of B.C. case and death reporting errors and corrections has not been published, even after theBreaker.news asked under the freedom of information laws. 

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Bob Mackin An expert report suggests there

For the week of June 27, 2021:

Can you hear it? The drumbeat for a snap federal election. Sources tell theBreaker.news that the campaign could officially begin as soon as Aug. 16.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sept. 25, 2020 (Flickr/PMO)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are eager to convert their minority government into a majority, before the public can find out more about how the federal government mishandled Canadian preparation and response for the coronavirus pandemic.

An election would’ve happened in the spring, but for the coronavirus vaccine supply shortages.

Hear highlights of the last two weeks, inside and outside the House of Commons, as the Trudeau Liberals have become an even bigger magnet for controversy.

Charges of corruption, coverup and scandal were flying fast and furious, as leaders of the big three national parties previewed their messages for the next campaign.

Hear what Trudeau says when Conservative leader Erin O’Toole asks if he will commit to following the law.

Plus Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines.

CLICK BELOW to listen or go to TuneIn or Apple Podcasts.

Now on Google Podcasts!

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theBreaker.news Podcast: Countdown to snap federal election accelerates amid controversy
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For the week of June 27, 2021: Can

Bob Mackin

The lawyer for a Vancouver man called her client’s bid to extort a wealthy person an ill-hatched scheme that was doomed to fail from the start.

Lu Ping Ricky Jiang, 50, received a 78-day conditional sentence on June 16 plus two years probation.  He pleaded guilty in late January in Vancouver Provincial Court to making death threats and unsafely storing a pistol.

Vancouver Provincial Court (courthouses.co)

Judge James Bahen heard that between April 29, 2020 and Aug. 27, 2020, Jiang sent 14 letters in Chinese to his victim. Some of the envelopes contained bullets. Jiang also smashed bottles full of red paint on the exterior of the victim’s house.

Jiang had separated from his wife in 2019 and lost a produce delivery job in early 2020 due to the pandemic restaurant closures. He began to spend too much time on the Internet where he researched his target.

“He eventually was led into the dark web where he received the inspiration or the ideas behind an extortion attempt involving the use of bitcoin for payment, this is the basis for the plan,” Bahen said in his sentencing remarks.

Jiang sent three demand letters to his victim in late April 2020, that claimed he was a gangster who would provide “protection” in exchange for $800,000 worth of bitcoin. One of those letters came with a live 9 mm ammunition round and a threat to shoot the victim and the victim’s family if police were called or the payment wasn’t made. The letters said he could be contacted via an email address on Proton, the Swiss encrypted email service. He also threatened to defame the victim’s employer.

theBreaker.news cannot reveal the name of the victim because of a publication ban.

“If he had been successful, money would’ve been split three ways,” Bahen said. “One-third for himself and his family; one-third for the Children’s Hospital where one of his children were born and one-third would go to a foundation for the benefit of the two Canadian citizens held in China [Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor].”

In mid-July 2020, detectives sent a phishing email to Jiang’s Proton address, including a QR code. Jiang opened the email and fell for the hack, but it took until mid-August for police to identify Jiang’s IP address.

Police traced one of the threatening letters to a Shoppers Drug Mart postal outlet on Kingsway where they obtained surveillance footage of Jiang buying envelopes, mailing a letter and leaving in a 2005 Chevrolet vehicle. The court also heard that Jiang sent handwritten threats to his victim in Chinese on hell money, which is burned in traditional Chinese ceremonies as an offering to the dead, and recycled an ICBC envelope for one of the letters he sent.

Vancouver Police eventually arrested Jiang on Aug. 27, 2020 where he lives with his elderly parents in East Vancouver. Officers seized five registered handguns and ammunition. One of them was an unloaded 9 mm Glock, semiautomatic pistol that was not secured. Court heard that Jiang obtained a firearms licence in 2016 and was a member of a Port Coquitlam shooting range.

“This was not something that was a momentary lapse of good judgment,” said Crown counsel Dan Mulligan. “Mr. Jiang had many opportunities to consider what he was doing and to change his course, yet he continued doing this until he was ultimately arrested.”

After his arrest, Jiang spent 28 days in jail. Court heard he had no prior criminal record, had fulfilled his bail conditions and had no history of addiction or mental illness.

The Jiang case featured a Glock pistol and Chinese hell money

Bahen also noted that the acts were not impulsive and they took place over a lengthy period of time.

“Mr. Jiang was sober when he made these letters and enclosed the ammunition, he was aware of the cultural significance of the hell money or death money and the red paint episode, and there was some personal effort to direct these paint bottles in a manner that would damage property and create a very vivid impact on anyone residing in those residences,” Bahen said.

Jiang’s lawyer Shelley Sugarman called him “one of the most-guileless persons I have represented.”  She told the court that Jiang was attending university when he became involved in the student protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Two of his friends, aged 19 and 20, were killed in the Communist regime’s bloody crackdown on the peaceful pro-democracy protests.

He came to Canada 10 years later to join his sister and sponsored his parents to follow. His downward spiral began after losing a job in 2016. He lost his savings over the next two years at casinos. Since last summer’s arrest, he has joined a church and offered himself as a volunteer.

“Strange things have happened under the COVID sun, and this case is certainly one of them,” Sugarman said.

Jiang expressed his apologies to the victim in a statement he read in court. “It was a serious lack of judgment and I now express both remorse and a strong desire to address the personal issues at the heart of this matter,” he said.

Mulligan said the victim, through a lawyer, declined the opportunity to provide a victim impact statement.

Mulligan sought a six-month conditional sentence, two to three years probation and destruction of Jiang’s guns. Sugarman sought a suspended sentence.

Bahen gave Jiang 42 days credit for time served. He will serve the sentence at home for 78 days on the condition that he keeps the peace and behaves, including staying away from the victim’s two properties. He will be on probation for two years.

Bahen said the impact on the victim was “significant” and “there has to be a sentence that conveys the court’s concerns about the fear that would be generated by this.”

“I don’t have a doubt that Mr. Jiang is a person who will not, in the future, pose a risk to the community,” Bahen said.

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Bob Mackin The lawyer for a Vancouver man

Bob Mackin

A man on a mobility scooter suffered electric shock and facial injuries when he fell into the tracks at Rupert SkyTrain station last December.

He was lucky there was no oncoming train when the incident happened Dec. 5, 2020 at 11:14 p.m. Unlike newer systems elsewhere in the world, none of SkyTrain’s stations have platform barriers.

Images from Dec. 5, 2020 at Rupert SkyTrain station (SkyTrain)

theBreaker.news obtained two incident reports from TransLink via freedom of information. Both said the man was found bleeding heavily from the nose by the edge of the platform and his scooter in the guideway.

Attendant Colton Hamilton’s report said that he began first aid on the man.

The injured man “informed me he was electrocuted from touching the power rail when he fell in. I bandaged [his] wounds and did my best to calm him down and tell him to breathe,” Hamilton wrote.

A firefighter helped lift the scooter out of the guideway and paramedics rushed the man to Vancouver General Hospital. The firefighter remained to help disinfect the platform with BeeClean.

Another SkyTrain worker, Chris Robertson, wrote that the injured man’s “scooter and belongings that were left behind are stored in room 107 to be picked up for the lost property.”

Robertson’s report said staff on-scene were offered critical incident stress counselling, but declined.

Service at the station resumed after midnight.

In a 2015 feature in the Georgia Straight, this reporter cited Coroner Liana Wright’s inquiry into a May 2001 death of a male at Royal Oak Station. Wright wrote that SkyTrain estimated in 1994 that it would cost $1.7 million to $2.2 million per station for barriers—as much as $50 million systemwide. Wright’s  report said that adding safety features to all stations “may not be fiscally attainable,” but said investments could be made at stations with high traffic or an increased risk due to “surrounding demographics.”

She emphasized that limiting platform access until a train’s full stop “would virtually eliminate the possibility for individuals to jump or fall in front of oncoming trains.”

Both Hamilton and Robertson’s reports indicated the incident was recorded on multiple surveillance cameras. TransLink refused to release the platform video, claiming it was protecting the identity of the injured man and others on the platform. theBreaker.news persisted, demanding that TransLink obscure the faces of the persons on the platform and, at minimum, disclose still images, because the public has a right to know about safety problems on SkyTrain platforms.

TransLink forced theBreaker.news to wait six months. It claimed the late 2020 ransomware attack against the agency had crippled its computer systems and was unable to process the video in February. Records clerk Sabina Kunkel said that the “majority of requests for paper and video footage are on hold at this time as records reside within systems that remain inaccessible. Many applicants have not received anything from us in over two months, while new applicants are being advised of significant delays still ahead.”

On June 7, Kunkel said a new system needed to process the request had finally been installed that day and the technician needed one or two weeks to finish the file.

The three photographs from surveillance video, with the persons obscured, were finally extracted from the footage and released June 15 to theBreaker.news.

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Bob Mackin A man on a mobility scooter

Bob Mackin

June 21 is the first National Indigenous Peoples Day since the chief of the Tk’emlups first nation shocked Canada.

On May 27, Rosanne Casimir announced by news release that ground-penetrating radar had found remains of 215 children near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Kamloops Indian Residential School (UBC IRSHDC)

What does the evidence look like and who did the work?

The Tk’emlups have not answered those questions. Casimir said the findings would be released later this month. Meanwhile, the RCMP and B.C. Coroners Service said they await the Tk’emlups direction on next steps.

In that May 27 announcement, Casimir said the band was thankful for the Pathway to Healing grant to undertake the work.

The Department of Canadian Heritage told theBreaker.news that the 2020 grant was worth $40,000 and awarded under the title Paths to Healing. It was one of 200 projects funded in a $7 million, 2019-announced program to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools.

The Tk’emlups application to Canadian Heritage said Paths to Healing would “recognize and remember those who passed away, endured, or suffered the intergenerational impacts of attending” Kamloops Indian Residential School, which the Roman Catholic Church operated from 1893 to 1978.

The project envisioned a permanent memorial site, park benches, indigenous plants and paths within the Secwépemc Museum and Heritage Park, in addition to a cairn-building ceremony and orange shirt day activities.

Who were the children and why did they never get home?

The excavation of the site, analysis and identification of the remains and repatriation will cost millions of dollars and take several years.

That is based on the investigation of unmarked graves at a Florida panhandle school for juvenile delinquents  that operated from 1900 to 2011.

University of South Florida Prof. Erin Kimmerle is the forensic anthropologist who led the investigation of more than 50 graves at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Fla. Kimmerle spoke to theBreaker.news Podcast for the June 6 edition from Tampa, Fla. 

theBreaker.news Podcast: Florida boys school probe a roadmap for Tk’emlups

The four-year investigation found deaths were caused by a dormitory fire, two flu epidemics, abuse, neglect and escapes. The remains of eight were positively identified. The identities of another 14 were presumed.

Kimmerle said her group took ground-penetrating radar one step further, before the major site excavation. They did what she called “ground truthing.” They dug trenches below the surface, but above where remains were believed to be, so they could first analyze the dirt for clues of human interference. 

“We don’t want to disturb burials that are there, but what that does is allows you to do is look at the soil and the soil tells the story about whether something was ever dug there and if that something is consistent with a grave,” Kimmerle said.  “And then you can look at the pattern, and the shape and size of the whole site and put together that picture.”

Prof. Erin Kimmerle of the University of South Florida

Ground-truthing was an important step to help persuade any skeptical politicians and law enforcement officials before the big dig.

What became a hybrid of a modern crime scene and an archaeological project included paid and volunteer archaeologists, anthropologists, missing persons detectives, DNA analysts and historians. The documents that did exist about the school, students and staff were often incomplete or conflicting.

“Whether the schools kept records, the church kept records that were separate, there would’ve been reports back to the federal government… death certificates, other types of mortality statistics if they’re kept locally,” Kimmerle said. “You have to dig through sometimes even coroner reports or courthouse records, if there was a case of something that happened that was investigated, there would be records for that.”

The investigation found that during segregation, Dozier School officials left black children unattended for days, without food, medicine and electricity. “The state physician came back and found them and said the dead were piling up,” Kimmerle said.

A final report was published in 2016 on the investigation. Kimmerle and some of the group returned in 2019 after the site was turned back to the City of Marianna, which pondered development proposals.

Ground-penetrating radar at the former Dozier School for Boys in 2012 (USFChannel/YouTube)

A cultural resource management firm’s ground-penetrating radar appeared to find another 21 graves, but no additional remains were found.

“None of those turned out to be burials, they misinterpreted their data basically,” Kimmerle said. “So we searched that site, we searched additionally to make sure we didn’t find any other burials there.”

Asked for advice to Tk’emlups, Kimmerle said all involved in the investigation must focus on the families, who have a right for the work to be done.

“They must also understand justice comes in many forms. Just as in the Dozier case, criminal prosecution may not be possible, because those responsible may be deceased or there is a statute of limitations. Or what was a crime now was not so long ago, it was national policy,” Kimmerle said.

“There’s lots of reasons that our modern sense of what is justice will let us down. But, sometimes, truth itself is justice and that that is enough, and should be enough, to go forward and then just to check everything.”

The Indian Residential Schools crisis line is available any time at 1-866-925-4119 for survivors and family needing someone to talk to.

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Bob Mackin June 21 is the first National

For the week of June 20, 2021: 

Burnaby voters go to the polls June 26 for a rare by-election to fill seats left by two late councillors, Nick Volkow and Paul McDonnell.

Burnaby city council by-election candidate Mike Volkow (Facebook)

The son of the eight times-elected Nick Volkow is one of the 14 candidates on the ballot. Like his father, Mike Volkow is running for public office for the first time at age 37.

Burnaby city council by-election candidate Martin Kendell (MartinKendell.com)

Also in his first election is Martin Kendell, who is refusing donations to his campaign.

Hear from both independent candidates about the issues facing Burnaby, B.C.’s third-largest city. 

Plus Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines.

CLICK BELOW to listen or go to TuneIn or Apple Podcasts.

Now on Google Podcasts!

Have you missed an edition of theBreaker.news Podcast? Go to the archive.

Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

 

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theBreaker.news Podcast: Burnaby goes to a by-election
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For the week of June 20, 2021:  Burnaby

Bob Mackin

Surrey RCMP officers are going down the rabbit hole

A couple of pastors asked the Mounties to hop to it, because they claim their pet bunny was stolen from their East Clayton home on May 21.

Beans the rabbit on the loose in Surrey’s East Clayton neighbourhood.

But a volunteer with a Surrey rabbit rescue organization says that is not true.

Warren Brundage of the Suzaku Sanctuary Society says he is having a “hare-raising” experience dealing with the RCMP and the couple accusing him of theft. Brundage says he was simply doing his civic duty to save the rascally rabbit that was on-the-loose in public, before it could become roadkill or dinner for a coyote.

Brundage said the original call in early May was about two rabbits seen together, at large, in a neighbourhood where there had also been coyote sightings.

His first attempt to catch the rabbit, which is named “Beans,” was May 7. He successfully rescued the rabbit two weeks later on May 21 and says it meets the definition of abandoned under applicable B.C. wildlife laws.

Brundage said he reported the rescue the next day to the Surrey Animal Resource Centre. He said the RCMP officer involved, Const. Benjamin Boateng, is intent on brokering a return of the rabbit to the Westbys, who Brundage says have put Beans in jeopardy after failing to securely house the rabbit.

“It’s a huge problem, people abandon hundreds of them, as fast we can pick them up,” Brundage said. “The fact people would abandon their rabbit, an act of abject cruelty, and the police decide to come after me? I’m angry, frustrated and really disappointed in the RCMP because I expected better of them.”

Beans the rabbit (Brundage)

Brundage, whose society is allied with the Vancouver Rabbit Rescue and Advocacy and Rabbitats Rescue Society, points out that abandonment of an animal is illegal and defined by the B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act as leaving an animal in a situation where the animal must fend for herself/himself.

But the rabbit’s owners, Sonrise Church pastors Chris and Sherri Westby, disagree.

Surrey RCMP Cpl. Elenore Sturko said the case remains under investigation.

theBreaker.news sought comment from the couple. Chris Westby did not respond. Sherri Westby declined comment.

SPCA spokeswoman Lorie Chortyk said SARC asked for an SPCA officer for accompaniment to one of the initial visits to the location. She said there is a file open on a second rabbit at the property. SPCA has issued orders regarding cleanliness and size of shelter.

“We will be following up to ensure the changes have been made,” Chortyk said. “The case with the rabbit that was found loose and is not being returned is with the RCMP because, under the law, animals are considered ‘property’ so it would fall under property theft.”

The B.C. SPCA website says that free-living populations of domestic rabbits exist in urban areas, but often they are abandoned pets or their offspring. They are legally designated feral rabbits under the B.C. Wildlife Act, but B.C. SPCA still considers them domesticated.

Warren Brundage (Mackin)

Kim Marosevich, Surrey’s Acting Manager of Bylaw Services would not comment on the open animal control investigation, but she did offer advice.

She said the difference between wild and domestic rabbits is that wild rabbits never have floppy ears and will usually have light brown fur. “Non-domesticated rabbits will be afraid of humans as they are prey animals and will never approach us. Domestic rabbits come in a variety of colours, and will be less likely to run away when you approach,” Marosevich said.

If a citizen finds a domestic rabbit in the community that looks sick, injured or lost/stray, they can contain the rabbit in a container with access to air, call SARC to set up a time to drop the rabbit off at the shelter or call Animal Services to pick up the contained rabbit.

Marosevich also said there are concerns about the contagious Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus or RHDV, spread among both wild and domestic rabbits in North America.

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Bob Mackin Surrey RCMP officers are going down

Bob Mackin

More than two years since the NDP Government House Leader promised long overdue transparency and accountability measures at the Legislative Assembly, nothing has happened.

Premier John Horgan, April 19 (BC Gov)

In a Feb. 4, 2019 joint letter to the Legislative Assembly Management Committee, the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Merit Commissioner and Ombudsperson urged the government to add the Legislature to the freedom of information law, give its workers whistleblower protection and mandate hiring by merit and firing by just cause.

There is no policy reason to exempt [the Legislative Assembly] from accountability and transparency rules that apply to other public institutions,” said the joint letter in the wake of Speaker Darryl Plecas unearthing corruption in the offices of Clerk Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz.

The very next day, Mike Farnworth, the Solicitor General and Government House Leader, was blunt, but vague, when he spoke to reporters in Victoria.

“Let me be really clear: Those three recommendations are going to be implemented,” Farnworth said.

Nothing happened in either the spring or fall sessions in 2019. The pandemic took precedence above all in early 2020, until Premier John Horgan decided to call a snap election in fall 2020.

On Jan. 14, 2021, the three watchdogs wrote Horgan, reminding him that Farnworth “unequivocally and publicly indicated that our suggested changes would be made.” 

Their letter notes that those changes still have not been made. 

theBreaker.news wanted to know whether Horgan responded to the three watchdogs or had any plans whatsoever to enact the common sense reforms. But nobody replied from the Office of the Premier. Neither did Farnworth.

Green house leader Sonia Furstenau (left), NDP’s Mike Farnworth and BC Liberals’ Mary Polak (Mackin)

If the NDP had followed through on its promise to add the Legislature to the public records law, British Columbians would be closer to knowing the truth about the cybersecurity incident that happened last November, after the snap election. It crippled computer networks at the Parliament Buildings, affecting each of the 87 constituency offices across the province.

Clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd said a report on the incident was discussed behind closed doors at the May 27 LAMC meeting, but she refused to release a copy of that report for security reasons.

“The report will not be made public nor am I able to share it with you,” Ryan-Lloyd said.

None of the members of the committee responded to theBreaker.news request to see even a redacted version of the report.

Before Horgan became B.C.’s 36th premier in July 2017, he ran on a platform that included a promise to enact a duty to document law. He sold voters on the accountability plan to require the government to record decision-making and punish unauthorized destruction of records, with fines up to $50,000. Those promises have also fallen by the wayside.

The B.C. Legislature is scheduled to be in recess from June 17 to Oct. 4.

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20210114_Horgan, J by Bob Mackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin More than two years since the

Bob Mackin

A disgraced former casino executive and his wife avoided jail time on June 16, but will pay $2,300 in fines to the Yukon Territory court for being coronavirus vaccine tourists in an indigenous community.

Rod Baker, 55, and his 32-year-old Fatman and Chick Fight starlet wife Ekaterina pleaded guilty under the Civil Emergency Measures Act for failing to adhere to their Jan. 19 entry declaration and failing to quarantine for 14 days.

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker (Facebook)

The couple was caught jumping the coronavirus vaccine queue when they got Moderna shots on Jan. 21 in Beaver Creek, a remote Yukon community mainly populated by members of the White River First Nation. Baker resigned in disgrace as CEO of Great Canadian Gaming on Jan. 24, the same day the charges became public.

Neither Baker expressed any remorse to the court when Judge Michael Cozens gave them a chance to speak. Their lawyer, Jennie Cunningham, declined the opportunity on their behalf.

Cunningham had earlier told the court the Bakers had made $5,000 donations each to COVAX, the Unicef coronavirus vaccine pool for third world countries, and had sent results of their negative coronavirus tests to Beaver Creek after their case became a worldwide media sensation. The judge agreed those were mitigating factors. 

The start of the hearing was briefly delayed because Cozens wanted the Bakers to appear by video link, instead of phone.

The joint submission from Cunningham and Crown prosecutor Kelly McGill said the Bakers arrived in Whitehorse on Jan. 19 from Vancouver and signed forms agreeing to quarantine for two weeks at the Edgewater Hotel in Whitehorse. But they instead left the hotel on Jan. 21 and flew by charter to Beaver Creek where they had already booked an appointment at the community vaccine clinic online.

Rod Baker had arranged the charter flight on Jan. 16, when fewer than 88,000 people in B.C. had been vaccinated.

Locals had reported the couple claimed to be area hotel workers, but their cover was blown when they asked a cabbie to drive them to the airport for their charter back to the Yukon capital.

Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory (Yukon Government)

The Bakers were later ticketed by police at the Whitehorse airport before they boarded a commercial flight to Vancouver, where they live in a $2.6 million condo at the Shangri-la tower.

A community impact statement read in court described the suffering caused by the Bakers.

“After the incident occurred, community members felt very unsafe and worried about their well-being,” said Janet Vander Meer of the White River First Nation. “Locals feared that the next vaccination clinic wouldn’t be safe and began to reconsider their second dose, which is not acceptable. We acted as fast as possible and increased onsite security to help ease the feelings of inaccessibility for community members. However, still to this day, we continue to suffer with insecurities and lack of trust.”

Said Cozens to the Bakers: “I’d like you to think about what was said and you have the option yourselves to think about whether there is anything you wish to voluntarily do as far as interacting with the community.”

Under the law, they could have been jailed up to six months. But Cozens said prior court decisions meant he was unable to interfere with a joint submission by Crown and defence lawyers, unless it was blatantly unfit.

“This was a very premeditated, planned, deliberate action that, as I said, was somewhat cavalier and careless in its approach, it put the community at risk,” Cozens said. “The Bakers, by getting negative tests quickly, at least alleviated some of the harm that resulted in the sense of potential physical harm, but there had already been some damage done psychologically and trust within the community.”

The judge said there was no physical harm because nobody was infected. He compared it to the case of Vancouver’s Mohammed Movassaghi, who turned his Telus Garden condo into an illegal booze can in repeated violation of public health orders. The judge in that case sentenced Movassaghi to a day in jail after already serving 10 days after his arrest and likened Movassaghi’s actions to that of a fentanyl dealer, in that he voluntarily assumed the risk of manslaughter if a partygoer had become infected and died.

“While jail sentences are available and I appreciate that, certainly, that some people may feel that a jail sentence should be imposed. I certainly cannot say the sentence being put forward for the maximum fine is unfit,” Cozens said.

The sign at the entry of the casino’s vaccine clinic (Mackin)

Cozens made no mention of Rod Baker’s wealth.

Late last year, Great Canadian Gaming announced its takeover by Apollo Global Management. A judge in Vancouver approved the $45-a-share transaction on the last day of 2020 — the value of 52 shares would cover the Bakers’ court fine.

Insider trading reports show that Rod Baker netted $11 million after selling 500,000 Great Canadian stock options at the end of 2020.

Ironically, the show theatre in Great Canadian’s flagship River Rock casino in Richmond is a temporary mass-vaccination clinic operated by Vancouver Coastal Health and staffed by Vancouver International Airport workers. The casino, which is at the centre of B.C.’s money laundering scandal, is expected to reopen from its pandemic closure beginning in July.

The June 16 hearing happened with the backdrop of new concerns over the spread of the virus in Yukon. On June 14, officials said cases increased from 18 to 21 due to a variant of the disease. More than 75% of Yukon adults are fully vaccinated.

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R v Baker and Baker 16JUNE by Bob Mackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin A disgraced former casino executive and

Bob Mackin

The author of the blueprint for the new Surrey Police Service has scored a no-bid contract to work on focus groups to help form the RCMP replacement.

Curt Griffiths, a Simon Fraser University criminology professor, wrote the May 2019 Surrey Policing Transition Plan. SPS spokesman Ian MacDonald told theBreaker.news that Griffiths’ contract is worth $59,700.

SFU criminology professor Curt Griffiths (SFU)

SPS announced June 15 that it hired Insights West Market Research to conduct a survey. Macdonald told theBreaker.news that the Insights West survey was developed by University Canada West professor Eli Sopow, and the two were paid $25,000.

Sopow is a former BCTV Legislature reporter who became an aide to Premier Bill Vander Zalm and later a civilian analyst and strategist with the RCMP.

SPS said letters were being sent beginning June 15 to community stakeholders for interview sessions conducted by independent researchers and senior SPS staff. They want feedback about the role of police and the community, and identification of policing priorities and accountability.

MacDonald said the contractors were selected by staff who researched quotes from three suppliers. The contracts were below the $75,000 threshold for a public tendering process.

Surrey Police not testing veterans for fitness, honesty

Will the Surrey Police Service rely on existing RCMP officers “patching over” or is it setting the bar low for its campaign to recruit 800 officers?

SPS is vetting bids from companies involved in polygraph testing, psychological evaluation and physical ability testing. Under each of the three contracts, SPS will only need testing for approximately 60 to 100 candidates per year.

May 2019 photo of Patton (left), Coun. Linda Annis, McCallum, Guerra, Nagra and Elford. (Annis is a member of Surrey First)

“The numbers that you see in the RFPs for these services are only estimates so we can ensure the suppliers have the capacity to scale up if required,” SPS spokeswoman Lisa Eason told theBreaker.news. “That being said, we do anticipate the majority of our hires to be experienced police officers, which would exempt them from the requirements to attend a police academy, and the need to undergo a medical evaluation, psychological assessment, and polygraph.”

Eason said experienced officers would be subject to background and reference checks, interviews and an integrity and lifestyle questionnaire. She said the new force would ensure none of its experienced applicants have outstanding disciplinary matters in any jurisdiction.

Lie detectors are standard for all job candidates at other police agencies, including the RCMP. Surrey’s lack of lie detectors puts it in the same league as the Independent Investigations Office, Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and B.C. Prosecution Service. 

Big bucks for Surrey ethics commish

It has been less than a year since Surrey city council hired an ethics commissioner, but he is on track to being paid as much as the federal ethics commissioner.

Results of a freedom of information request show that Reece Harding of the Young Anderson law firm has been paid $273,198.50 since July 2020. He has fully investigated only two of 15 formal ethics complaints.

Surrey ethics commissioner Reece Harding (Young Anderson)

Harding was appointed to a two-year term, beginning July 13, 2020, as the independent officer to oversee the conduct of council members. The federal ethics commissioner, Mario Dion, is paid $314,100 a year, which is on par with a Federal Court judge.

In Harding’s first investigation report, published Feb. 3, he found Mayor Doug McCallum was not responsible for a Safe Surrey Coalition Tweet that called the RCMP “untrained murderers.” Harding recommended all council members review their person and organizational social media be responsibly administered.

On March 4, Harding found McCallum broke the council procedure bylaw when he failed to announce the names of councillors who voted against five items at an Oct. 5, 2020 council meeting.

McCallum did not respond to a request for comment about Harding’s hefty pay. But Harding told theBreaker.news by email that there is more than meets the eye about his work.

Wrote Harding: “This would including dealing with the backlog from the interim commissioner; setting up the intake for the office; multiple policy developments for interface with the code; processing of complaints; interface with public; Council member advice; educational advice; work on code improvements and of course investigations.”

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Bob Mackin The author of the blueprint