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Manager of border and travel health apologizes for taking freebie to Jamaica during pandemic

Baker apologizes, PHAC not saying whether they will refer possible conflict of interest violation to Ethics Commissioner

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A Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) bureaucrat and part-time “beauty, fashion, and travel influencer” says she is sorry for ignoring guidelines and travelling to Jamaica in November.

It was reported Dominique Baker, who is the acting manager of the Office of Border and Travel Health (OBHS), accepted an all-expenses-paid holiday to Jamaica courtesy of Air Canada Vacations in November – despite the fact that PHAC had been advising Canadians since March 2020 to avoid non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baker flew with a friend to the upscale, all-inclusive Royalton Blue Waters resort in Montego Bay in mid-November, reported the Globe and Mail.

Baker, posted a video on social media shortly after arriving, calling the hotel suite with its own infinity pool “mind-blowing – whoa.”

“One of our two butlers is bringing us our pina coladas right now. No, we are not kidding – we have two butlers,” she gushed, “Thank you, Air Canada Vacations. We are beside ourselves.”

Iain Stewart, president of PHAC says it is “unacceptable” that one of the agency’s managers ignored advice and vacationed in Jamaica last fall, and although the trip taken by Baker was not related to her work for the federal agency, its employees are expected to heed public health advice not to travel, reports CBC News.

Baker has now issued an apology on social media.

“I’ve been reflecting on my trip to Jamaica last fall, especially with the current media coverage. While there were comprehensive precautions in place to keep people safe, the timing was not right and I should not have gone. I acknowledge this and urge anyone thinking of getting away this winter to wait until the pandemic is over. Follow the public health advice and do not travel right now,” Baker said.

Baker’s apology follows in the wake of public criticism of numerous politicians apologizing for travelling abroad during the Christmas holiday season.

Baker has two problems – ignoring her agency’s travel guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the possible ethics violation resulting from accepting a benefit from Air Canada while being in a position to make decisions affecting the airline.

Stewart did not say whether PHAC would be asking the Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to investigate Baker.

Ken Grafton is the Western Standards Ottawa Bureau Chief. He can be reached at kgrafton@westernstandardonline.com

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BREAKING: Alberta relaxing some COVID restrictions

Shandro announced Thursday afternoon personal services – like hair salons and barbers – will be allowed to reopen, but by appointment only.

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Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro says the province is loosening some of its COVID-19 regulations as of Monday.

Shandro announced Thursday afternoon personal services – like hair salons and barbers – will be allowed to reopen, but by appointment only.

Restrictions meaning only ten people are allowed at funerals will be relaxed to allow 20. But receptions afterward are still banned.

Outdoor gatherings will now be allowed, but with a maximum of 10 people, and if they follow COVID social distancing requirements. Indoor gatherings are still banned.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw said the province has logged 967 new cases of COVID-19 in the province and 21 more deaths, with a positivity rate of 5.8 per cent.

The numbers are “coming down in a reassuring way,” said Hinshaw, when questioned about the relaxation of the rules.

“Although we’ve seen a decline in transmission, our health-care system is still at risk. We must remain diligent in our efforts to bring our numbers down even further. By easing some measures like outdoor gathering limits, we hope to support Albertans’ mental health, while still following other restrictions that are helping us reduce case numbers,” said Hinshaw.

Premier Jason Kenney said: “This limited easing of restrictions is possible thanks to the efforts of Albertans over the past few weeks. But, we need to be careful that we don’t reduce too early and risk the steady improvements we’ve made since November.”

Hinshaw added there were still openings for health care workers to receive a vaccine this weekend and encouraged them to book an appointment. Shandro said there are 16,000 available vaccination appointments.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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WATCH: Police shown beating 64-year-old man in Ontario

The officer takes a quick look back and when he sees he is being videoed, yells out: “Stop resisting.”

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A police officer in Guelph, Ont., has been videoed beating a man on the front porch of his home.

The video, posted to Twitter Wednesday, shows a police officer straddling the 64-year-old man and landing a heavy punch to his face and another one to his head.

The officer takes a quick look back and when he sees he is being videoed, yells out: “Stop resisting.”

Another officer arrives and the pair drag the man into his doorway as they continue to try and handcuff him.

Video from Guelph

“Look at what the the officer is doing,” exclaims the cameraman, who alleges the officer also kneed the man in the head. That is not shown in the video.

“This is an old, frail man they are doing this to.”

The man screams in agony and yells expletives as the video goes off.

Guelph police issued a statement on the arrest.

“On January 12, 2021, at 1:13pm, members of the Guelph Police Service found an adult male out front of a residence. The male was wanted on a warrant from the Huronia West Division of the Ontario Provincial Police,” said the release.

“As police tried to arrest the male, a struggle ensued as he resisted arrest. Ultimately police were able to gain control and placed him under arrest.

“A 64-year-old Guelph male has been additionally charged with Resist Arrest. He will appear in court on April 30, 2021 to answer to this charge and was subsequently released.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Horgan seeking legal advice on banning other Canadians from entering BC

He has mused about the idea before, but most pundits believe such a move would be unconstitutional.

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BC Premier John Horgan has brought in his lawyers to ask them whether he has the constitutional authority to ban residents from other provinces from entering his province’s borders.

He has mused about the idea before, but most pundits believe such a move would be clearly unconstitutional.

Horgan said Thursday he and other NDP cabinet ministers will discuss the travel ban in a virtual meeting later in the day.

“People have been talking about a ban for months and months, as you know, and I think it’s time we put it to bed finally and say either, ‘We can do it, and this is how we can do it,’ or ‘We can’t,'” Horgan told a press conference.

“We have been trying our best to find a way to meet that objective … in a way that’s consistent with the charter and other fundamental rights here in Canada. So, legal advice is what we’ve sought.”

Horgan wants to put the ban in place to try and stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Section 6. (2) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms states, “

Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right: to move to and take up residence in any province; [and] to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province.”

The premier admitted news across the country of politicians jetting out of the country for sand and surf destinations had “led to a firestorm of frustration and anger.”

“On the surface, a ban would seem an easy thing to do — to just tell people not to come here. That’s not part and parcel of who we are as Canadians,” Horgan said.

In November, Horgan said: “We need a pan-Canadian approach to travel. People in Quebec and Manitoba should stay in Quebec and Manitoba.

“We want to make sure we have an approach to travel not inconsistent with citizenship. Non-essential travel should not be happening in British Columbia,” he said.

So far, BC has had over 59,000 cases of COVID-19 with 1,031 deaths.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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