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The Canadian Press

Police instigated actions of Toronto-area cop charged in corruption probe: lawyers

TORONTO — A Toronto-area constable charged in a corruption investigation didn’t intend to act dishonestly and simply lacked training on certain police procedures, his lawyers argued Friday. In closing submissions, defence lawyers for Richard Senior also argued that none of the incidents that led to his charges would have occurred without the “instigation” of police, who were secretly investigating him in the lead-up to his arrest. “As a result, there is a clear lack of intent with respect to Mr. Senior,” lawyer John Struthers told a virtual court. Senior, a longtime officer with York Regional Police, has pleaded not guilty to 14 charges, including breach of trust and trafficking cocaine and steroids. He was arrested as part of a broader corruption probe in October 2018 and initially charged with 30 offences, but the remaining 16 charges were withdrawn as the trial began last month. The Crown alleges, among other things, that Senior, 46, filed an intelligence report about his former mistress and falsely claimed the information came from an informant, when in fact he had his friend sign the report under an alias. Prosecutors also allege the constable planned to rob a fictitious drug warehouse after hearing about it from an undercover officer who was posing as an informant. They further allege Senior offered to sell the drugs from that warehouse to two men he knew, and sold steroids to another undercover officer; that he stole money he was given to pay informants; and that he inappropriately accessed a police database and disclosed confidential information. Struthers said Friday that many of his client’s actions, particularly in regards to his interactions with the undercover officer posing as an informant, were due to his lack of experience and training with such matters. Senior was “untrained sent off into the field” and made decisions to assist someone he thought was a great informant and who had provided useful information on drugs and guns, the defence lawyer said. The officer particularly didn’t know what to do if an informant refused or “abandoned” the payment, as happened in one instance where the undercover officer posing as an informant returned a $1,000 payment shortly after receiving it, the lawyer said. “So we put him into this position, with this money he didn’t ask for, didn’t request and didn’t want, we give him documents he hasn’t used before with instructions he hasn’t been given,” Struthers said. “We send him off to do this, and then if he fails to do this administratively properly in some way, he’s a criminal.” As for the report on his former mistress, Senior mistakenly believed he could himself act as a confidential informant and provide that information without revealing his identity, the defence lawyer said. There is also no evidence of what happened to the $300 Senior was given to pay that source, the lawyer said. When it comes to the warehouse robbery, the plan had not progressed beyond preparation at the time of Senior’s arrest, Struthers argued. What’s more, Senior could not have made serious offers to “offload” cocaine from the warehouse because he wasn’t sure what he would find there, the lawyer said. As for the steroids, Senior merely assisted two officers — one of them an undercover officer — in purchasing the drugs, but wasn’t trying to facilitate the sale, Struthers argued. In his closing submissions Friday, prosecutor Peter Scrutton said there is “overwhelming” evidence that Senior intended to act dishonestly, pointing to recordings of conversations the officer had with an undercover officer about some of the incidents. In one instance, Senior can be heard saying he will return a payment to York police if the undercover officer doesn’t accept it, which suggests he knew the money belonged to the force and should be returned if it wasn’t paid out, Scrutton said. On a second occasion, Senior put the money in the cupholder of a car but didn’t even offer it to the fake informant, the prosecutor said. He nonetheless submitted a receipt signed by the undercover officer, Scrutton said. “Not stealing, not lying, not doing crime… with a confidential informant is not the stuff you need specialized training to know that you’re not permitted to do,” he said. Even if there was “virtue testing” at the hands of police, “Mr. Senior failed every single test,” Scrutton said. The planned warehouse robbery was “well past preparatory,” given that on the day Senior believes the drugs to be arriving, “he steals a shotgun to rob the warehouse,” the prosecutor said. The officer is also heard on recordings offering a friend a half-kilo of cocaine for helping with the robbery, which fits the definition of trafficking, Scrutton said. Senior also trafficked in steroids because, were it not for him, “the sale would not, could not, have occurred,” the Crown lawyer said. “He has not just put the buyer and the seller together…he’s coming in between them and he’s actually arranging the deal” between two parties that didn’t previously know each other, he said. A verdict in the case is expected April 21. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 19, 2021. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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As more COVID-19 vaccines arrive, provinces look to revise vaccination timeline – Global News

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Armed with four approved COVID-19 vaccines and possible dosing gaps, Canadian provinces are now aiming to review their vaccination timelines and get more people immunized earlier than projected.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the newest to be approved by Health Canada, which unlike the others, requires just a single dose.

Canada has pre-purchased 10 million doses, and has options to buy another 28 million doses. Additionally, the country is expected to receive 12.8 million doses between April to June, from Pfizer alone.

Read more:
Extended gap between COVID-19 vaccine shots could fast-track vaccination: feds

From a logistical standpoint, this could imply faster vaccination across all provinces.

The Manitoba government has already announced that it’s possible everyone in the province 18 and older who wants to get a COVID-19 vaccination may have the chance to do so by May 18.

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The numbers for Manitoba, released in a technical briefing to the media Friday, say if vaccine supplies are steady, it will move up first-dose vaccinations by months.

Some 18,000 doses of the newly-approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in the province next week, and will immediately be distributed to eligible clinics and pharmacies, Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province’s vaccine task force, said Friday.


Click to play video 'Manitoba moves to delay second dose of coronavirus vaccine'



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Manitoba moves to delay second dose of coronavirus vaccine


Manitoba moves to delay second dose of coronavirus vaccine

“We’re very confident in the data that we’ve seen so far regarding the effectiveness in the real world of the first dose,” Reimer said.

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Federal authorities said Friday that the four vaccines that have been approved in Canada may have different efficacy rates, but data shows they all are safe and can prevent severe illness and impact hospitalization from COVID-19.

Read more:
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

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The Ontario government too has declared that it is now looking to have all eligible residents who wish to get a vaccine, have their first shot completed by June 20.

“We’ve had a seismic shift in our vaccination opportunities and the program to roll it out,” said retired general Rick Hillier, the head of the province’s vaccine task force.


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Coronavirus: Canada approves single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine


Coronavirus: Canada approves single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The recent approval of the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and the extended gap between first and second doses will allow the province to “crush those timelines really tightly.”

Read more:
Ford government aims to have all eligible Ontarians receive 1st COVID-19 vaccine shot by June 20

“Our aim would be to allow the province of Ontario to have a first needle in the arm of every eligible person who wants it by the first day of summer,” Hillier said. “Please be patient a little while longer.”

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The province is currently nearing the end of Phase 1, in which those living in long-term care homes, retirement homes, as well as staff and front-line workers were targeted.

More than 820,000 doses have been administered and at least 269,000 Ontarians have been fully immunized with two shots.

Earlier this week, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that provinces and territories extend the interval between first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses up to four months.

“Extending the dose interval to four months allows NACI to create opportunities for protection of the entire adult population within a short timeframe,” the committee said.


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Coronavirus: Health officials urge people to take whichever vaccine available regardless of efficacy rate


Coronavirus: Health officials urge people to take whichever vaccine available regardless of efficacy rate

Following the advisory, Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin announced that everyone in the province could get their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June.

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British Columbia too, is expecting all adults in the province to have the option to receive their first dose before the end of July.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Monday that the gap between the first and second doses of the vaccine will be extended to 112 days.

Read more:
Canada getting 1.5M additional Pfizer vaccine doses in March

Efficacy studies of the vaccine have shown that receiving a first shot of the vaccine is more than 90 per cent effective for at least a few months, Henry said.

“That is why I am so confident that the decision we made, over this weekend, to extend that interval is the best one based on all of the science and the data that we have to maximize the benefit to everybody in our community here in B.C.,” Henry added.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe also said Thursday that the prairie province would also follow suit and extend the gap between doses. Other provinces, such as Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador have suggested they plan to do the same.

— With files from The Canadian Press and Global News

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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32 new COVID cases reported in Lethbridge Saturday, 341 province-wide – Lethbridge News Now

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In total, 1,834,591 people have been tested in Alberta. The 8,142 tests completed on Friday saw a positivity rate of 4.1 per cent.

247 people are in hospital, with 42 in intensive care (ICU).

As of Friday, 282,674 doses of COVID vaccine have been administered in the province, with 90,824 Albertans fully immunized (two doses). More details on the province’s vaccine program and distribution can be found here.

Below is a breakdown of cases per regional health zone in Alberta:

  • Edmonton Zone – 54,266 cases, 1,154 active
    • 70 in hospital, 13 in ICU
    • 976 deaths (one new)
  • Calgary Zone – 51,842 cases, 1,659 active
    • 81 in hospital, 14 in ICU
    • 591 deaths
  • North Zone – 12,280 cases, 958 active
    • 32 in hospital, one in ICU
    • 140 deaths
  • Central Zone – 10,365 cases, 511 active
    • 34 in hospital, eight in ICU
    • 115 deaths
  • South Zone – 6,677 cases, 353 active
    • 30 in hospital, six in ICU
    • 92 deaths

There are also 107 cases (14 active) in zones that are unknown.

Below is a graph illustrating how COVID-19 cases have trended since the start of the pandemic. More details can be found here.

The province reported 36 cases of COVID variants, bringing the total of variant cases in Alberta to 599. None of those cases are currently in the South Zone.

Below is a breakdown of cases in the South Health Zone:

  • Brooks – 1,363 cases (one new), one active, 14 deaths
  • Lethbridge – 2,252 cases (32 new), 258 active, 20 deaths
    • South Lethbridge – 755 cases, 72 active, 16 deaths
    • West Lethbridge – 750 cases, 66 active, two deaths
    • North Lethbridge – 746 cases, 120 active, two deaths
  • Cardston County – 626 cases (five new), 50 active, 12 deaths
  • Medicine Hat – 559 cases (one new), 13 active, 17 deaths
  • Lethbridge County – 549 cases, 16 active, seven deaths
  • M.D. of Taber – 340 cases, four active, six deaths
  • M.D. of Pincher Creek – 218 cases, three active, five deaths
  • County of Warner – 162 cases (one new), zero active, three deaths
  • County of Newell – 160 cases, one active, two deaths
  • Cypress County – 145 cases, one active, zero deaths
  • County of Forty Mile – 117 cases, zero active, two deaths
  • Fort Macleod – 102 cases (one new), five active, four deaths
  • Crowsnest Pass – 24 cases, zero active, zero deaths

The next live update from the province will be on Monday, March 8.

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3 deaths, 163 new coronavirus cases reported in Sask. – CTV News

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REGINA —
Three COVID-19 deaths were reported in Saskatchewan on Saturday, along with 163 new cases and 52 recoveries.

The province said the deaths include one person in their 50s, one person in their 70s and one person in the 80-plus age group. All three people were from the Saskatoon zone.

There are currently 1,613 cases considered active. The seven-day average for new cases is 155, or 12.7 per 100,000 population.

The 163 new cases were reported in the Far North West (four), Far North East (14), North West (10), North Central (20), North East (three), Saskatoon (34), Central West (one), Central East (12), Regina (58), South West (one) and South East (four) zones.

Twelve cases pending residence information were assigned. Two out-of-province cases were removed from the counts.

There are 142 people in hospital related to COVID-19 in Saskatchewan, including 22 in intensive care.

The province said 2,744 COVID-19 tests were processed in Saskatchewan on Friday.

A total of 3,577 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were newly administered, bringing total distribution to 90,456 doses.

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