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Death-row dog loses fight for life as Supreme Court of Canada rejects owner's bid to appeal –



The owner of a Vancouver dog stuck on death row for half its life has lost a bid to appeal the canine’s case in Canada’s highest court, meaning the dog will soon be euthanized. 

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed Susan Santics’s application for leave to appeal Punky the dog’s euthanization on Thursday. As usual, the top court did not provide a reason for its decision.

“I’m absolutely gutted. I had hoped we would be able to move forward with this case and bring animal law to the highest court in Canada,” animal rights lawyer Victoria Shroff said Thursday.

“This is very, very sad news indeed because it’s the end of the road for Punky … He will be executed.”

Punky was ordered destroyed after the dog bit a woman in an off-leash park in Vancouver in 2017. The four-year-old Australian cattle dog has been locked up since, while Santics battled through the courts in an effort to save her pet.

Susan Santics says she is devastated by the incarceration of her Australian cattle dog, Punky. (Yvette Brend/CBC News)

Three British Columbia courts had already ruled Punky was dangerous, agreeing with a decision from an animal control bylaw officer with the City of Vancouver.

“Given Punky’s past behaviour, temperament and lack of rehabilitation prospects … the dog poses an unacceptable risk to the public and ought to be destroyed,” appeal court Justice Patrice Abrioux wrote last year.

In the wake of the top court’s decision Thursday, Santics has no legal avenues left to fight the case.

Appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada are not automatic. The court only agrees to hear cases involving significant legal issues of national importance.

Punky was seven weeks old when Susan Santics became his owner. (Susan Santics/Facebook)

Shroff previously told B.C.’s appeal court that Punky’s case fit the criteria.

“We are in a transformed legal environment where animals matter,” Shroff argued.

“Even if you think an animal is not a family member, before you take somebody’s property away — especially sentient property — you’d better be 100 per cent sure that this animal has no prospects of rehabilitation,” she said.

On Thursday, Shroff asked the city prosecutor in Vancouver to grant Punky some extra time so Santics could have time to say goodbye. The prosecutor “was understanding,” Shroff said, and agreed to give Punky a reprieve until at least next Wednesday.

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American man not allowed into Canada to visit dying mother because he isn't considered 'immediate family' – CTV Toronto



A group of about 5,000 strangers, divided by borders but united in their shared grief and frustration over rigid travel restrictions, are calling for changes that would allow loved ones to enter Canada while still adhering to safety measures put in place at the height of the pandemic.

But for Mary House Goldman, a 60-year-old Toronto resident, the regulatory changes may not come in time.

Goldman has been trying to help her 62-year-old brother cross the U.S.-Canada border so that he can say goodbye to their mother, who is currently in palliative care.

She told CTV News Toronto that last weekend, her 85-year-old mother had difficulty swallowing and was brought to the hospital. After a number of tests were conducted, it was determined that she has a “large mass” on the left side of her brain.

The family was told she had months, maybe weeks to live.

“Now it’s even more urgent that my brother comes here now,” Goldman said. “He would very much like to see my mom before she passes.”

Goldman said that her brother is an American citizen and has been living in relative self-isolation for months after undergoing a spinal cord surgery in February. She has been trying to contact officials at the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) as well as her local MP in order to get a travel exemption.

“It’s been tough for him, emotionally and psychologically, because he’s had to heal from a traumatic surgery without his family around him,” Goldman said. “Then he’s had to deal with the idea that my mom might pass and he may not get to see her before she passes. And he may not be able to grieve with us either.”

Under the current exemptions, which were put in place by the federal government in June, immediate family members of citizens or permanent residents can enter Canada. Those eligible under the exemption include spouses, common-law partners, dependent children and their children, parents, as well as legal guardians or “tutors.”

Committed partners who may not apply for common-law status, as well as adult children and siblings, are not included under the exemption.

Goldman is one of thousands who are asking the federal government to change those rules. She is part of “Advocacy for Family Reunification at the Canadian Border,” a group that has released a policy proposal and family reunification quarantine plan they hope will convince officials to make slight tweaks to the rules so that family members are able to see each other.

‘We are not asking for open borders’

Advocacy for Family Reunification at the Canadian Border” was co-founded by 34-year-old Dr. David Edward-Ooi Poon after his partner arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport only to be sent back home to Dublin, Ireland.

Poon was living in Dublin when the pandemic was declared. The couple had contacted numerous embassies in order to ensure they would be considered as common-law partners and had the right documentation to travel. Poon said they were told there shouldn’t be any problems and that they would be exempt from the travel restrictions put in place.

In March, Poon travelled back to Canada with the expectation that his partner, Alexandria Aquino, who is a nurse, would follow in April.

That was the last time Poon saw her.

Aquino managed to get to Toronto Pearson Airport with her documentation–including a negative COVID-19 test, proof the couple had lived together and a specialized document saying she was exempt from the travel restrictions–but when she arrived, a border agent said that she didn’t meet their criteria for a common-law relationship.

She was told to get back on a plane that same day.

Dr. David Edward-Ooi Poon and Alexandria Aquino

“That broke my heart,” Poon said on the phone, his voice shaking as he added that there are people so much worse off.

“She and I are lucky. I don’t, knock on wood, I don’t have cancer. She’s not a breastfeeding mother. But so many people are. And that’s why she and I co-founded ‘Advocacy for Family Reunification at the Canadian Border,’ because this is wrong.”

He mentioned the case of Sarah Campbell, who lives in Stratford, Ont. and was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Her fiancé is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Poon said he has been denied an exemption to go see her.

Campbell, who as a Canadian citizen, could travel to the U.K. under federal rules but is stuck in Canada while she undergoes treatment. She had surgery last week.

Poon made it clear that the advocacy group does not want to open up borders to non-essential or “discretionary” travel. They just want to change the exemptions, with added public health measures in place, to ensure safe reunification of families.

“Our motto is: ‘We are not asking for open borders, we are just asking to come together,’” Poon said.

The group’s policy proposal, entitled “Love is not Tourism,” hinges on four specific changes that would allow foreign nationals to reunite with their families in a way that is both safe and accessible. Following the expansion of the definition of immediate family member, they propose the following:

  • The Canadian family member must sign a legally-binding affidavit attesting to the familial relationship and taking legal and financial responsibility for the actions of the foreign national coming into the country. The group argues that this can be enforced by fines and/or incarceration if necessary,
  • Foreign nationals must provide proof of health coverage or travel insurance to cross the border or the Canadian party will have to agree to be financially responsible for any health-related costs, such as taking a COVID-19 tests, they may incur.
  • If feasible, the foreign national would take a COVID-19 test and if it comes up positive, they shall voluntarily and without question withdraw their application to enter Canada.
  • The Order in Council mandating that foreign nationals need to come to Canada for a minimum of 15 days to allow for 14 days of self-isolation should be changed to allow for shorter visits, as long as the visitor remains in self-isolation for the entirety of their trip. However, the Canadian family member in contact with the foreign national would continue to quarantine for the full 14 days as a precaution.

The policy proposal argues that the current exemptions are discriminatory based on marital status and that the mandated 14-day quarantine period may not be feasible for many due to their economic situations or familial responsibilities.

Poon said he has heard very little from the federal government about his proposal, despite the fact that they have an official petition signed by 5,338 Canadian citizens or permanent residents expected to be presented to the House of Commons this week.

Is the plan safe?

The policy proposal was created in consultation with Toronto epidemiologist and assistant professor at University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information Colin Furness.

Furness said the proposal put forward by Poon “is very sound,” adding that there is always going to be an element of risk when crossing a border amid the pandemic.

“I think it’s a big blind spot,” he said of the government’s limited family exemptions. “I don’t think anyone made a conscious decision that non-common law spouses … can’t reunite, I really think they fell through the cracks.”

“I’m not going to say travel is safe,” he added. “But it’s not for me to say that family shouldn’t be reunited.”

The idea of having the Canadian family member sign a legally-binding document attesting to their relationship and taking responsibility that the visitor will follow quarantine rules is a game changer, Furness argued, and should encourage legitimate travel. He also added that the changes to the quarantine rules—allowing a foreign national to leave the country earlier than 15 days while the Canadian family remains in self-isolation—doesn’t seem like “a dilution” of the current policy and “maintains the spirit of what the 14 days is supposed to do.”

The ban on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States was first introduced in March and has been continuously extended every month. The previous extension expires on Aug. 21.

Furness said that because the Canadian government is deciding to keep borders closed on a month-to-month basis, they may not be looking at the long-term ramifications of keeping the border closed.

“If you’re thinking that way, you don’t need to make provisions for separated families because it’s only going to be a month or more,” he said. “ But the reality, the unspoken reality, is that this is going to be a year or more. And when you have that kind of timeline, you need to start thinking about hardship, hardship from separation.”

Decisions made ‘at the discretion of the border services officer’

According to a CBSA spokesperson, the final decision of whether or not someone’s reason for crossing the border is “non-discretionary” or whether a relationship is considered common-law, is “made by a border services officer at the port of entry with the information presented upon time of entry to Canada.

“We recognize that these are difficult situations for some, however these are unprecedented times, and the measures imposed were done so in light of potential public health risks and to help reduce and manage the number of foreign travel-related cases of COVID-19,” Rebecca Purdy said.

Ontario U.S. border

Examples of non-discretionary travel provided by Purdy include economic services and supply chains, critical infrastructure and health supports, safety and security, the safety of an individual or family, and “other activities at the discretion of the border services officer.”

For those claiming they are in a common-law relationship, the onus is on the traveller to provide proof such as a joint lease, shared utility bills or other official documents with the same place of residence listed.

“There’s no consistent method of screening,” Poon said.

The inconsistency and lack of clarity in terms of the family exemptions is why Goldman’s brother hasn’t simply shown up at the border in an attempt to come into Canada—although it’s not something they are ruling out.

“Basically, they say, ‘well it’s up to the border agent,’” Goldman said. “If you get a compassionate one, you get through. If you get a, you know, a hard-ass one, you’re not.”

“We’re about to put together the whole package for him because he has to come to the border with all the documentation proving his family.”

Poon said that not everyone can afford to try their hand at crossing the border, especially those who have to take a plane to get into the country.

“If flying in from anywhere else in the world you’re spending $1,000 to gamble at the border and that is completely inappropriate and is completely inequitable to those who do not have the financial resources.”

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Passengers with COVID-19 keep arriving in Canada on international flights – CTV Toronto



Eighteen flights arriving in Canada from international destinations since the start of August have had people on board with COVID-19.

According to the federal government, the flights landed in Canada between Aug. 1 and Aug. 4. They all had passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Canada. 

Eight of the flights arrived in Toronto, while seven landed in Montreal, one in Vancouver and one in Calgary. 

The government is still advising Canadians against non-essential international travel but for those who do, it is mandatory to self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of whether or not they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. 

Passengers are not notified directly by federal public health authorities to get tested, though the government acknowledges those onboard affected flights “may have been exposed to COVID-19.”

Speaking to last month, Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said that anyone concerned they may have been exposed to the disease should contact their doctor. 

“However, it is important to understand the incidence of individuals contracting a communicable disease inflight is very low. As evidence, consider what are called ‘cluster outbreaks,’ where a group of people contract a disease at the same time and location. These are rarely if ever tied to modes of travel, whereas you often see reports of outbreaks arising from funerals, bars or other gatherings,” Fitzpatrick said. 

An Air Canada fact sheet says, “the reasons for the apparently low rate of in-flight transmission are not fully determined but are thought to include a combination of the lack of face-to-face contact, and the physical barriers provided by seat backs, along with the characteristics of cabin air flow.”

Pre-flight screening, temperature monitoring and mandatory face coverings are “also seen to be effective.”

Both WestJet and Air Canada, two of the biggest airlines in North America, began selling their middle seats again on July 1 after months where the option was removed to aid in physical distancing.

The international flights since Aug. 1 with COVID-19 cases include:

  • Air Transat flight TS831 from Punta Cana to Toronto on Aug. 1
  • United Airlines flight UA375 from San Francisco to Vancouver on Aug. 1 
  • Air Transat flight TS893 from Cancun to Montreal on Aug. 1
  • Air France flight AF034 from Paris to Montreal on Aug. 1 
  • Air Canada flight AC1297 from Punta Cana to Montreal on Aug. 1
  • Air Canada flight AC1241 from Cancun to Montreal on Aug. 1
  • Pakistan International Airlines flight PK797 from Lahore to Toronto on Aug. 2
  • Etihad Airways flight EY141 from Abu Dhabi to Toronto on Aug. 2
  • Air Canada flight AC992 from Mexico City to Toronto on Aug. 2
  • United Airlines flight UA3488 from Newark to Toronto on Aug. 3
  • Qatar Airlines flight QR763 from Doha to Montreal on Aug. 3
  • Air Canada flight AC7682 from Chicago to Toronto on Aug. 4
  • Air Canada flight AC849 from London to Toronto on Aug. 4
  • Air Canada flight AC879 from Switzerland to Toronto on Aug. 4
  • Tap Air Portugal flight TP253 from Lisbon to Montreal on Aug 4.
  • Delta Airlines flight DL7203 from Atlanta to Calgary on Aug 4.
  • Air Canada flight AC870 from Montreal to Paris on Aug 4. 
  • AeroMexico flight AM680 from Mexico City to Montreal on Aug 4. 

The information posted to the government’s website is provided by provincial and territorial health authorities, international health authorities and public website.

The data on the government’s website is updated once a day.

With files from writer Meredith MacLeod.

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Boarding a flight in Canada amid COVID-19? Medical proof now needed in order to refuse wearing a mask – CTV News



Canadians boarding a flight without a mask will now be forced to provide medical proof that they can’t wear one, a revised federal travel order states.

Non-medical masks have been mandatory on flights since April 20. But until last week passengers could say they have “breathing difficulties unrelated to COVID-19” as a reason for not wearing a mask. 

That’s no longer the case, under an updated Transport Canada order issued on Friday that states a medical certificate will need to be shown that shows the traveller is unable to wear a mask for a medical reason.

There remain exceptions for infants, as well as people who are unable to remove their face mask without assistance.

Under the order, a mask is defined as: “Any non-medical mask or face covering that is made of at least two layers of tightly woven material such as cotton or linen, is large enough to completely cover a person’s nose and mouth without gaping and can be secured to a person’s head with ties or ear loops.”

Other than going through security, wearing a mask is required when travelling through an airport as well as when on board an airplane.

The federal order mandating this has been updated and amended several times over the course of the pandemic. It’s under the same order that mandatory temperature checks were implemented. 

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