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Spouse witnessed N.S. gunman torching their cottage, court documents say – CBC.ca

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The man responsible for April’s mass shootings in Nova Scotia took a leisurely drive around a community close to his rural cottage, stopped to chat with a fellow denturist and oversaw work being done on his property in the hours before the massacre began.

The details of a seemingly mundane day leading up to the shootings are contained in sections of court records that a provincial court judge ordered released Monday following a court hearing.

The documents also say that on the evening of April 18, the gunman’s spouse was present inside as he doused the floor of the cottage they shared with gasoline — before grabbing guns and igniting the log building he’d prized. The woman, whose name is redacted from the records, later told police he said, “I’m done, I’m done. It’s too late [redacted], I’m done.”

On April 18 and 19, Gabriel Wortman killed 22 neighbours, acquaintances and strangers in several communities in rural Nova Scotia. He torched his own cottage and garage, and three other homes over a 13-hour period before being shot dead by police at a gas station in Enfield, N.S. after a lengthy search.

The faces of the 22 victims. The rampage that left 22 people dead unfolded over about 13 hours, before police shot and killed the gunman. (CBC)

A judge on Monday approved the release of six more of the approximately 23 judicial authorizations RCMP have obtained since the massacre — to search gunman’s properties in Portapique and Dartmouth, and for his financial records. Redacted copies of seven were previously released. 

Though the new documents are heavily redacted, each is about 90 pages long and includes information about how the gunman procured decommissioned RCMP cruisers and police equipment and about his financial transactions months prior to the attacks. All information related to the type of firearms used remains blacked out. 

Expected to head to Dartmouth

It’s unclear why the gunman “snapped,” as his spouse described it to police. The documents also offer little information about why Wortman targeted his victims, some of whom he knew. His partner told police she did not know their neighbours well. 

She also told police that, that night, she believed he was going to take her to Dartmouth, where they had another home and a clinic, to kill people or burn buildings, according to the documents. The specifics are blacked out. The woman has never spoken publicly about what she saw on April 18. Her lawyer has declined requests for comment from CBC News. 

A search warrant document says police recovered cash on the shooter’s property that he had stashed in an ammunition box. (Andrew Vaughan/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

At some point after Wortman loaded guns and ammunition into his mock cruiser, the woman escaped. She told investigators she initially hid in a truck before spending hours in a wooded area in Portapique. Though she heard someone announcing they were police on a loudspeaker, she said she feared it was her partner. Around dawn she went to the home of a neighbour who called 911.

Large cash withdrawal

RCMP have previously said Wortman liquidated his assets and stockpiled gas and food due to COVID-19 fears. A warrant that the court released in May revealed people told the investigators the gunman was paranoid and had a history of abuse.

According to the new documents, his spouse also told police in the weeks prior to the attacks he was “consumed” by the pandemic, talking about it constantly and saying he “knew he was going to die.”

She also said he feared that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would find a way to control money and that prompted him to withdraw nearly half a million dollars from his own accounts. The RCMP interviewed officials from CIBC and Brinks about a March 30 withdrawal in Dartmouth.

The gunman’s cottage in Portapique was destroyed in a fire he set, but a large deck along the shore was mostly intact. Pictured is the area under the structure. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

Officials from the bank told police that Wortman asked to liquidate investments and then transferred the money to his business accounts. On March 25 at a branch in Dartmouth, he asked the bank’s director that his $475,000 be paid out in $100 bills, according to the court documents. 

The records state the bank worked with Brinks to set up a pick-up on March 30. 

RCMP have not said how much cash police have recovered. The search warrant documents show that on April 22, investigators found cash folded in tinfoil packets inside an ammunition box discovered at the Portapique property. 

Suspicious transactions flagged 

Canada’s money-laundering watchdog, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (Fintrac), reported on Wortman’s personal and professional financial activities after the massacre, according to the newly released documents.

The records say Wortman’s PayPal account was used to buy vehicle accessories labelled as being for police use on eBay. The court documents describe the purchases as “for items utilized in the facilitation of domestic terrorist activities.”

Police searched the Atlantic Denture Clinic in downtown Dartmouth on April 20. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

According to the court documents, the Fintrac review found that PayPal flagged suspicious transactions between March 22 and Dec. 5, 2019 — though it’s not clear from the records if that’s when they were reported as suspicious or if that’s when they occurred.

Those purchases included accessories for police vehicles such as:

  • A centre console for a 2013 Ford Taurus.
  • A ram for the front bumper of a Taurus sedan.
  • Siren lights. 
  • A dashcam.
  • Thin blue line vinyl decal.
  • Hubcaps.
  • A gun rack.

Other transactions listed as suspicious include $15,045 worth of items — including decommissioned cars — purchased with credit cards from GCSurplus in Ottawa. The site is run by Public Services and Procurement Canada.

There’s also reference to cash deposits payable to Wortman from Northumberland Investments, one of his companies. The Fintrac review found three questionable transactions: two cash deposits in 2010 totalling $200,000 and another for $246,000. The transactions happened in Fredericton and Dartmouth, but the documents don’t elaborate on the circumstances.

Border crossings

What is clear is that over the years, people around the gunman knew he had a penchant for acquiring car parts and collecting motorcycles. Some also knew he had guns and one car that he’d outfitted to resemble an actual cruiser.

The documents reference interviews with two people who responded to a Kijiji ad about an off-road vehicle in the weeks prior to April’s attacks. In both cases, Wortman showed off his replica cruiser inside the large garage he had in Portapique.

Using one of his companies, he purchased the 2017 Ford Taurus used in the attacks on July 3, 2019, from the RCMP, according to the search warrant records. 

A friend of Aaron Tuck, who was one of Wortman’s victims, told police that in August 2019, Tuck told him that Wortman’s mock cruiser was indistinguishable from an actual police vehicle and that he kept a holster for a gun in the back of it. Tuck was killed alongside his wife, Jolene Oliver, and his daughter, Emily, at their home in Portapique.

Gabriel Wortman carried out his rampage using a vehicle made to look like an RCMP cruiser in every way, with the exception of the numbers police circled in this photo. (Nova Scotia RCMP)

Peter Griffon, a neighbour who was on parole and who printed the decals for the cruiser, initially lied to police about his involvement but later showed investigators images of the vehicle he kept on his phone. He did odd jobs for Wortman and on April 18 had been splitting wood for him. He last saw him around noon that day, before Wortman headed out for a drive.

Wortman also stopped and talked with a fellow denturist, who is not identified, about work and COVID-19.  

The gunman’s spouse said Wortman was constantly scouring sites for police gear which he bought in both Canada and the U.S.

Records the RCMP obtained from Canada Border Services Agency showed that Wortman crossed the U.S.-Canada border in Woodstock, N.B., 15 times over a two-year period, with his last return to Canada on March 6. He did not have permits to import supplies for his denturist business, but the CBSA said he was personally importing car parts.

Wortman appears to have had a long history of threats and violence. A former neighbour has spoken out about being harassed by Wortman after reporting to RCMP that Wortman abused his spouse. The spouse and another relative relayed to police an account of Wortman’s vicious attack on his father during a trip to the Caribbean. In 2011, someone reported to Truro police that the denturist threatened to “kill a cop.”

The documents released Monday are the second batch of search warrant documents the court has agreed to release. CBC applied in April for access to the records and seven other media outlets joined the application.

David Coles, the lawyer representing the media organizations, has filed a request for a judicial review of decisions Judge Laurel Halfpenny MacQuarrie had made in the case. Halfpenny MacQuarrie will consider that request Oct. 2 in Halifax provincial court.

If you are seeking mental health support during this time, here are resources available to Nova Scotians. 

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Family members of PS752 victims report receiving threats for speaking out against Iranian regime – CBC.ca

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Canadians who lost loved ones when Iran shot down Flight PS752 earlier this year have been reporting an increasing number of threats warning them against criticizing Iran’s response to the disaster.

“These are ugly, insidious crimes, apparently orchestrated at the behest of a foreign power. That is something that would be disturbing to every Canadian,” said former MP Ralph Goodale who is acting as Canada’s special adviser to the government on the incident.

Goodale says two cases of intimidation and harassment were reported to police in the spring. The number of such incidents of which authorities are aware has now increased to 11, he said. RCMP, local police and security organizations are working with Canada’s allies around the world and taking the threats seriously, Goodale added.

Hamed Esmaeilion lost his nine-year-old daughter Reera and wife Parisa when PS752 was shot down by the Iranian military over Tehran on Jan. 8, killing all 176 people aboard. He’s the spokesperson representing an association of victims’ families in Canada seeking justice and he said he has been receiving hateful messages for months.

‘Let’s talk about the last moments of your wife and daughter’

But the situation escalated after a rally he held on Parliament Hill on Oct. 5, he said.

A suspicious vehicle loitered outside his house that night, pulling up in front of his driveway and then backing up, Esmaeilion said. He also reported receiving a suspicious phone call on Oct. 5 from someone who left a message saying, “Let’s talk about the last moments of your wife and daughter.”

Esmailion said he blocked the number but received a threat in Farsi through his Instagram account later the same day: “Your name is on a list of terror, so enjoy your life before you get killed. And you would be a lesson for out of country traitors.”

Esmailion said he met with RCMP on Friday and was told to keep a record of further calls.

“It doesn’t scare me, honestly,” he told CBC. “This is something we have been through since the beginning and especially in the month of May and June … That was, I think, the peak of insulting and hateful messages that I received.”

He said he believes the messages are coming both from Iran and Canada but he has no idea whether they’re from representatives of the Iranian regime or just from its supporters.

Mahmoud Zibaie, who also lost his wife and daughter when PS752 was shot down, told CBC News that he received a call from someone identifying themselves as the chief investigator of the military court in Iran dealing with the lawsuit for compensation launched against the regime.

Mahmoud Zibaie’s wife Shahrzad Hashemi, left and daughter Maya Zibaie, both perished on flight PS752. (Submitted)

Zibaie said the caller told him that he needed to return to Iran to participate in the suit for compensation. He said the compensation is low down on the list of what he wants from Iran.

“In some sense, I can say that I can regard it as a threat because he … kept telling me that, ‘Okay, we have to see each other. You have to get back to Iran. You have to come here and you have to launch a lawsuit,'” he said.

Zibaie said he plans to share the audio of that call with the RCMP.

Javad Soleimani of Edmonton lost his wife on the flight. He said he is not taking the threats seriously because he has no family left in Iran but worries about those with family back home who could be targets for harassment or persecution.

“These threats and families harassment, actually, have been something ongoing from the very beginning,” Soleimani told CBC News. “From hijacking the funeral routine, writing congratulations on your martyrdom on the coffins, and also … detaining some family members in Iran.”

Javad Soleimani and his wife, Elnaz Nabiyi, who was killed when Iran shot down flight PS752. (Submitted photo)

“It’s I think it’s a national threat to Canada,” he said. “I think the only way to deal with these intimidation or threats or concerns for families is that the Canadian government more publicly support families of victims.”

Goodale said the federal government is taking the threat very seriously.

“It is an offence against Canada, It is a crime under the Criminal Code, and foreign interference attacks the very sovereignty and integrity of our country. So it is indeed treated with gravity it deserves,” he said.

The RCMP issued a statement today saying that it is “aware of allegations of intimidation of the grieving families of the PS752 and we take such complaints seriously.”

“While we cannot comment on individual cases, Canadians and all individuals living in Canada, regardless of their nationality, should feel safe and free from criminal activity,” said the statement.

Watch: Families of Flight 752 victims report threats from Iran:

Loved ones of Canadians and permanent residents who died in the crash of Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752, say they’ve received a growing number of threats believed to be from Iran and inside Canada. 2:04

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Canada expecting uptick in excess deaths amid COVID-19: StatCan – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canada is expecting to see an increase in excess deaths as COVID-19 cases are once again trending upwards, according to Statistics Canada.

Between March and June 2020, as COVID-19 spread across the country, Canada saw over 7,000 excess deaths. That figure refers to deaths that exceed the number that would normally be expected during any given period of time.

While these excess deaths skyrocketed in the early months of the pandemic, there was a brief dip in July, when these figures returned to a normal, pre-pandemic range, which according to Statistics Canada falls around 21,000 deaths per month.

Meanwhile, there were over 170 COVID-19 deaths in August and September respectively — but by the time the first 10 days of October were over, Canada had already reported 244 deaths.

That means there were more COVID-19 deaths reported in those 10 days than were reported in the months of August or September.

“Overall, if the similarities between public health surveillance figures and official death data persist through the resurgence of cases, Canada will likely experience an increase in excess deaths in October,” the publication on the Statistics Canada website explains.

Statistics Canada says that these figures can be an important indicator of both the “direct and indirect effects” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While the direct effects include deaths attributable to COVID-19, the indirect effects relate to measures put in place to address the pandemic,” the agency wrote.

“These measures could cause increases or decreases in mortality, such as missed or delayed medical interventions, fewer traffic-related incidents, and other possible changes in behaviour such as increased substance use.”

In its publication, Statistics Canada said it based its findings on “an updated provisional dataset from the Canadian Vital Statistics Death Database” as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada’s COVID-19 Outbreak Update.

It gave the caveat that this data only includes deaths that provinces and territories have reported to Statistics Canada, meaning reporting delays could impact the figures. The data also doesn’t include Yukon. However, Statistics Canada said they adjusted to account for incomplete data “where possible.”

The agency asserted that the figures “provide an important benchmark for understanding the potential impacts of the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities across Canada.”

Excess deaths by province

The charts below plot the number of deaths reported by provinces on a weekly basis from the beginning of January until the end of September. The data is provisional, and because of reporting delays, do not reflect all the deaths that occurred during the reference period. Ontario, for example, shows a steep drop in deaths during the summer months of 2020, but that may be partly due to delays in reporting.

Years before 2019 are represented by faint grey lines behind the chart. Numbers have not been adjusted for populations growing year over year.

 

 

2020

 

 

2019

 

 

past years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ginella Massa to join CBC News Network as primetime host – CBC.ca

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Journalist Ginella Massa will join CBC News Network as the host of a new primetime show, the Crown corporation announced Wednesday as part of programming changes over the next few months.

“She’s just got a spark and curiosity to her that is refreshing at a time when there’s so much to be interested in, and so much that is sort of unchartered in terms of the kind of journalism we do, the kind of stories we tell,” said Michael Gruzuk, CBC’s senior director of programming. 

Massa will also join CBC’s flagship news program The National as a special correspondent, as well as take part in “many of our CBC News specials,” according to an internal CBC memo.

A graduate of Seneca College and York University, Massa is currently a reporter for CityNews in Toronto. In 2019, she was part of the CityNews team that won a Canadian Screen Award for best live special for coverage of an Ontario leaders’ debate.

She has also worked with CTV, NewsTalk 1010 and Rogers TV, moving from behind the scenes as a news writer and producer to in front of the camera as a television journalist. 

Massa, a Seneca College and York University graduate, will work as a special correspondent for The National alongside hosting on News Network. (David Misener/CityNews)

In 2015, she became the first hijab-wearing TV reporter in Canada, and then the next year, the first to anchor a major newscast in the country.

Massa said she hopes to use her new CBC role to focus on stories from different perspectives — be it race, religion or class. 

“For the last decade of my career in journalism, both behind the scenes and on air, I have often been the only one who looks like me in the room,” Massa said. 

“I do try to bring those perspectives to the newsroom … bring the stories that people around me are talking about, which aren’t always the stories that get the most attention.”

Beginning in the new year, Massa’s hour-long show will air weeknights at 8 p.m. ET on CBC News Network.

New programs

Her hiring comes alongside a number of other changes on the cable network. 

On Nov. 1, it will launch Rosemary Barton Live, a two-hour Sunday program focused on federal politics, followed by the premiere of CBC News Live with Vassy Kapelos, a weekday “fast-paced roundup of breaking political and Canadian stories” on Nov. 2, the internal memo said.

Kapelos will continue to host Power and Politics, which moves to a new time slot of 6 p.m.-8 p.m. ET on weekdays.  

CBC journalist Carole MacNeil will host a new weekday afternoon show on News Network, which will be “more programmed” rather than focusing on breaking news that just happened, Gruzuk said.  

The changes come weeks after Barbara Williams, CBC’s executive vice-president of English services, announced 130 job cuts across the country. That included 58 news, current affairs and local positions, with most of them in Toronto.

The company cited higher costs and lower revenues as the reason for the cuts, precipitated by a $21-million budget deficit. That shortfall was, in particular, “due to declines in advertising and subscription revenues linked to our traditional television business,” Williams wrote in a letter to staff.

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