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Media consortium seeking search warrants from Nova Scotia mass shooting

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The Canadian Press

 

HALIFAX — A provincial court judge says she’ll push to hold hearings as quickly as possible on the public release of search warrants from the investigation into the recent mass shooting in Nova Scotia.

Judge Laurel Halfpenny MacQuarrie says she’s concerned courts will become very busy in early summer after pandemic restrictions are relaxed, and the justice system currently has more time to deal with the media application.

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In a conference call Monday morning, MacQuarrie told Crown prosecutors and a lawyer representing a media consortium that she’s expecting the parties to provide their positions on the release of the search warrants by next Monday morning.

She granted a one-week delay in proceedings after federal Crowns representing the Canada Border Services Agency said they hadn’t had time to review the warrants.

Lawyer David Coles, representing journalists from a variety of news organizations including The Canadian Press, says he’s hoping the provincial and federal Crowns can provide unredacted portions of the search warrants by next week.

However, provincial Crown Mark Heerema says prosecutors are unlikely to provide any portions of the documents by next week, and he will be seeking dates for further court hearings.

As of Monday, four warrants have been executed and resulted in materials being seized after a gunman went on a rampage through five Nova Scotia communities on April 18 and 19, killing 22 people.

The gunman was shot and killed by police in Enfield, N.S., but investigators are still looking into how he obtained his weapons and whether he had any assistance in creating a replica RCMP vehicle or acquiring a police uniform.

Two production orders have been executed but police haven’t yet indicated if evidence was seized.

There is one more warrant open for execution until midnight Monday.

Heerema noted the investigation is in its early stages, and more warrants may be issued in the future.

However, the judge noted she wasn’t prepared at this stage to include any future warrants in her decision.

Halfpenny MacQuarrie also said she would shift the next hearings from Truro to Port Hawkesbury, N.S., where larger facilities allow for physical distancing if lawyers and others attend.

The key legal principles on when search warrants are released were formed 28 years ago in Canada with a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision, in a case launched by investigative reporter Linden MacIntyre in 1982.

The highest court ruled that once a search warrant is carried out, the warrant and supporting documents must be made public, but that an exception could be made to protect innocent parties if the search didn’t yield evidence.

It was based largely on the principle that the business of the courts should be made public, with few exceptions.

In his ruling, Justice Brian Dickson wrote, “the rule should be one of public accessibility and concomitant judicial accountability,” and public access should only be restricted “to protect social values,” including the right of innocent parties not to become caught up in police inquiries.

In a later 2005 decision, Supreme Court of Canada Justice Morris Fish further commented on search warrants, stating the administration of justice “thrives on exposure to light and withers under a cloud of secrecy.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2020

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Be cautious of financial advice on social media: Expert – BNN Bloomberg

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Be cautious of financial advice on social media: Expert  BNN Bloomberg

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Vancouver woman wins identity fraud fight with Bell Mobility after posting on social media

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It’s been four blissfully quiet days since Erica Phillips last heard from the collection agencies ringing her two or three times daily for months, demanding payment of hundreds of dollars owed on a Bell Mobility account with her name on it that she never opened.

“It’s a huge sense of relief,” she said. “It’s so nice knowing that this won’t continue being a daily reminder of something that shouldn’t have been my problem to begin with.”

The Vancouver woman says she has been fighting the company for more than two years with little response, submitting documents supporting that the account was fraudulently opened using her name while at the same time filing reports with police, credit agencies and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

She says relief from the collection calls only came after she contacted news outlets and posted about her frustrations on social media.

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“I took all of the correct avenues,” she said. “I didn’t want to make myself public but I felt like I was forced to,” she said.

Phillips’ ordeal started in 2020 when she received notices mailed to an old address from both Rogers and Bell Mobility that said she owed money. She says she had never been a client of either company, so she thought they were a phishing scam. Further investigation found that identity fraudsters had used her personal information to open the accounts in her name.

She says Rogers took quick action to cancel the account when she contacted them, but Bell Mobility did not.

“That’s what seemed so insane to me at the beginning, that it was so easily taken care of with one of the companies and then not at all with the other,” said Phillips.

In an emailed statement, Bell Mobility told CBC:

“We have conducted an investigation and have determined that this account was fraudulent. We are attempting to contact the client and have advised our affiliated credit agencies of the billing error.”

The Consumer Protection B.C. website has information on how to prevent identity theft. It also has forms and advice for individuals who are being pursued by a company or collection agency for a debt that is not theirs.

Identity fraud and identity theft are criminal offences, but have become lucrative thanks to the growth of technology, according to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

In 2021, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre issued an alert after a spike in identity fraud reporting.

“Fraudsters are using personal information about Canadians to apply for government benefits, credit cards, bank accounts, cellphone accounts or even take over social media and email accounts,” it said.

Phillips says in just one night her social media post received more than 100,000 views. She’s been surprised by the number of people who have reached out to her to say they too have been victims of identity fraud.

“It’s unbelievable the comments that I’m getting on all of the various stories now of people in similar situations,” she said. “It’s crazy.”

She says Bell Mobility has not apologized.

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Lawler pays tribute to Edmonton on social media, says goodbye to Elks ahead of CFL free agency – Global News

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Lawler pays tribute to Edmonton on social media, says goodbye to Elks ahead of CFL free agency  Global News

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