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Sentencing arguments begin for off-duty cop who assaulted Dafonte Miller

Sentencing arguments begin for off-duty cop who assaulted Dafonte Miller

PAOLA LORIGGIO, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 25th, 2020

Sentencing arguments are expected to begin Friday in the case of an off-duty Toronto police officer convicted of assault in the beating of a young Black man.

Const. Michael Theriault and his brother, Christian Theriault, were charged with aggravated assault and obstruction of justice in connection with the December 2016 incident in Whitby, Ont.

Prosecutors alleged the Theriault brothers chased Dafonte Miller, then 19, and beat him with a metal pipe, leaving him with a ruptured eye and several other injuries.

The defence argued the pair wanted to arrest Miller after catching him and his friends breaking into the Theriault family truck.

They alleged Miller was the one armed with a pipe and the brothers were forced to defend themselves.

In a widely watched virtual hearing in June, Ontario Superior Court Justice Joseph Di Luca said he couldn’t rule out the possibility that self-defence played a role in the early portion of the encounter.

It was during that part of the incident that Miller sustained the eye injury that warranted the aggravated assault charge, Di Luca said.

However, the judge said the self-defence argument fell apart shortly afterwards when Michael Theriault grabbed a roughly metre-long pipe and hit Miller in the head as the young man was trying to flee.

Theriault was thus acquitted of aggravated assault but convicted of the lesser charge of assault.

The officer was also found not guilty on the obstruction of justice charge, and his brother was cleared of all charges.

Michael Theriault’s lawyers had filed an application to vacate the verdict, arguing assault was not listed as an option on the indictment and should not have been available for a guilty verdict.

Di Luca dismissed the application earlier this month and released his reasons for doing so on Wednesday.

In the decision, the judge said the defence’s bid was not based on fresh evidence or a change in law, but rather on a new legal argument that was not raised during closing arguments “despite there having been ample opportunity to do so.”

He noted that the argument that he made an error in law is one that should be left to the Appeal Court.

The judge also took issue with the defence’s interpretation of aggravated assault, which he said would lead to a “fundamental change” in the hierarchy of assault-related offences.

“Ultimately, I see no reason to depart from the settled understanding of the offence of aggravated assault, which situates the offence consistently and cohesively within a scheme of offences against the person,” Di Luca wrote.

The Crown is also challenging the verdict, arguing Di Luca “erred in his analysis and assessment of the defence of self-defence.”

Miller and his family are expected to give victim impact statements during Friday’s hearing in Oshawa. The sentencing decision is expected to come at a later date.

The case has spurred numerous protests against anti-Black racism and police discrimination.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 25

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Sep 25th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 25, 2020:

There are 149,094 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 69,670 confirmed (including 5,810 deaths, 59,943 resolved)

_ Ontario: 48,496 confirmed (including 2,836 deaths, 41,886 resolved)

_ Alberta: 17,190 confirmed (including 261 deaths, 15,467 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 8,543 confirmed (including 229 deaths, 6,917 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,835 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,681 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,711 confirmed (including 19 deaths, 1,243 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,087 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 272 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 267 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 199 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 191 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 58 confirmed (including 57 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 149,094 (0 presumptive, 149,094 confirmed including 9,249 deaths, 128,706 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Is there really life on Venus? How do we find out?

THE BIG STORY | posted Friday, Sep 25th, 2020

In today’s Big Story podcast, last week, an unlikely research project made a startling discovery: Phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus. That’s something that, as far as we know, is created by living organisms. Our efforts to find signs of life on other worlds, and a lot of our space dreaming in general, tend to focus on Mars. But all of a sudden we need to take a closer look at our other planetary neighbour.

So how can we find out if there’s really life right next door? What do we know about Venus and why has it been so hard to figure out so far? What else could possibly cause the presence of Phosphine and what would it mean, to space exploration and everything else, if this is really true?

GUEST: Neel Patel, space reporter, MIT Technology Review

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

COVID-19 hits more schools amid growing fears of pandemic’s second wave

COLIN PERKEL THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 24th, 2020

More than 400 schools in Quebec and another 153 in Ontario are reporting at least one case of coronavirus disease.

The figures from the group COVID Ecoles Quebec and the Ontario government come as authorities across Canada battle a second wave of COVID-19.

Data from Ontario show cases among people in their 20s have risen sharply in recent months.

One expert attributes the increase among younger Canadians in part to the reopening of schools and universities.

Several provinces and universities have warned of stiff fines for violating anti-COVID restrictions.

However, Quebec says it will not allow police to enter homes without a warrant to break up gatherings that violate the measures.

In all, COVID has killed about 9,250 people in Canada, as the cumulative case count edged toward the 150,000 mark.

Quebec, with more than 69,000 cases, has accounted for about 48 per cent of the total cases but 63 per cent of the deaths. Ontario’s more than 48,000 reported cases account for 33 per cent nationally, and 31 per cent of fatalities

On Wednesday, Quebec reported 471 new cases. Another four reported deaths from the novel coronavirus brought the province’s total fatalities to 5,809.

Ontario, which has shown a steady increase in new cases since mid-August after months of declines, reported 335 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and another three deaths. Almost 70 per cent of the new cases were in people under the age of 40, the province’s health minister, Christine Elliott, said.

Concern is also mounting as more long-term care homes in Ontario, brutally hit by the virus earlier in the year, report outbreaks. Almost 70 per cent of fatalities have been among those aged 80 and older and another 27 per cent were 60 to 79 years of age.

While older people and those with underlying health conditions are generally more susceptible to severe illnesses from SARS-CoV-2, younger people can spread the contagious disease _ often before showing any symptoms.

Ontario data indicate the number of new cases among people in their 20s has reached similar levels to those seen among people in their 80s in mid-April. Along with school reopenings, Dr. Brian Ward, a professor of medicine at McGill University, cited bars and parties as key factors, along with a “general sense of invulnerability” among younger people.

“COVID fatigue also clearly plays a role,” Ward said.

The worrisome upward trend in new cases — particularly among younger people — comes as the federal Liberal government gets set to lay out its plan to take on a second wave of COVID-19 as part of its speech from the throne Wednesday. Public health officials have warned a return to strict lockdowns might be required to curb a pandemic resurgence.

Stringent lockdowns implemented in the spring caused unprecedented economic disruption, prompting the federal government to spend tens of billions of dollars on wage and other business supports as unemployment skyrocketed. Some of those spending programs, however, are set to end but the government has promised replacements.

Feds promise help for surging COVID-19 test demand but won’t OK rapid-test tech yet

MIA RABSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 24th, 2020

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising to do more to help provinces respond to soaring demands for COVID-19 testing but there is still no indication of when the government will approve the tests that can deliver results in mere minutes.

The promise of aid for testing comes in the speech from the throne read in Ottawa today.

Canadians across the country are finding it harder to get tested for COVID-19, as demand soars and the capacity to swab people and test those swabs in labs is maxed out.

A Health Canada spokesman says the department is making it a priority to review six proposals for rapid-testing systems but that none has yet been approved.

The government says in the throne speech that as soon as the tests are approved it will do everything it can to deploy them quickly.

But two Ottawa public health experts say the rapid tests can help reduce the burden on the system even if they aren’t as accurate as the government would normally like.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2020.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 24

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Sep 24th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 24, 2020:

There are 147,753 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 69,088 confirmed (including 5,809 deaths, 59,686 resolved)

_ Ontario: 48,087 confirmed (including 2,835 deaths, 41,600 resolved)

_ Alberta: 17,032 confirmed (including 260 deaths, 15,252 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 8,395 confirmed (including 227 deaths, 6,769 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,830 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,673 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,674 confirmed (including 18 deaths, 1,238 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,087 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 272 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 267 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 197 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 191 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 58 confirmed (including 57 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 147,753 (0 presumptive, 147,753 confirmed including 9,243 deaths, 127,787 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Public health officials urge Canadians to limit contacts again as COVID-19 cases rise

MIA RABSON AND JIM BRONSKILL, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 23rd, 2020

here will be a dramatic resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Canada unless people limit contact with others in coming days, the country’s chief public health officer warns.

“We don’t want it to go up a giant ski hill,” Dr. Theresa Tam said Tuesday as she described the potential for a sharp upward curve.

The Public Health Agency of Canada released its latest modelling Tuesday, predicting up to 155,795 cases and up to 9,300 deaths by early October if the current trajectory of the epidemic continues.

The message throughout the presentation was clear: everyone needs to act now to limit their contacts or things will get worse.

“Canada is at a crossroads and individual action to reduce contact rates will decide our path,” said a presentation deck released Tuesday.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu echoed that advice as she urged people to think carefully before accepting invitations to social gatherings.

“All of us have the future in our hands,” she said Tuesday during a media briefing in Ottawa.

She also said, however, that the spread of the novel coronavirus is not the same across the country, or even across single provinces, so determining whether restrictions need tightening demands a “surgical approach.”

Meanwhile, Canada has now committed more than $1 billion to buy doses of COVID-19 vaccines after securing a fifth deal with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Tuesday.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Tuesday that Canada has a deal in place to buy up to 72 million doses of their experimental vaccine candidate, which is just starting the second of three trial phases this month.

In all, Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies, and most of that money will not be refunded even if the vaccines never get approved.

“We need to make a substantial investment in order to ensure that Canada is well positioned to secure access to the successful vaccine or vaccines,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“The way in which we are doing that is to bet on multiple horses at the same time in order to ensure that as one or more of those horses crosses the finish line, we have access to those vaccines.”

Canada has signed deals with Moderna, Pfizer, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and now Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, all of which are among some of the most promising vaccines, but none of which have completed all the required clinical trials, or been approved for use in Canada.

On Sept. 3, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline said their vaccine candidate was going to begin Phase 1/2 trials which will test it on 440 individuals. The hope is the vaccine will be ready for the third and final phase of trials by the end of the year, and approved for use in the first half of 2021.

Moderna has a vaccine in Phase 3 trials, and Pfizer’s is in a combined Phase 2 and 3 trial. Novavax is in a Phase 2 trial, while Johnson & Johnson is in a Phase 1/2 trial.

Most clinical trials have three phases to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine or drug being developed.

Each level of trials adds more volunteers on whom the drug is tested, looking for adverse health effects and whether the vaccine does cause a person to develop antibodies that can protect against COVID-19.

Anand said Canada has also signed an agreement with Gilead Sciences and McKesson Canada to get 150,000 vials of remdesivir, the only antiviral drug that has proven effective at treating patients with COVID-19. Health Canada approved the drug for use on COVID-19 patients at the end of July.

The doses will begin arriving at Canadian hospitals this month.

Canada has also joined the international vaccine co-operative known as the COVAX Facility, which is bringing together wealthy countries with low- and middle-income countries to collectively invest in doses of vaccines.

It has not yet announced how much money it will contribute, a figure that was to have come last week but has been delayed. Anand says Canada remains committed to COVAX and more details will be coming soon.

Canada has chosen to participate in both parts of the COVAX program. The first is for any country to join to get access to vaccines, and the second is a fund for wealthy countries to help low-income countries participate.

The Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research and the Canadian Society for International Health have both criticized Canada for acting to buy doses of vaccine for itself, hindering efforts to ensure vaccines that are successful are distributed fairly around the world.

GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, said Monday that 64 wealthy countries had joined the COVAX Facility, including Canada. The United States has not joined.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 23

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 23rd, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. EDT on Sept. 23, 2020:

There are 146,663 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 68,617 confirmed (including 5,805 deaths, 59,450 resolved)

_ Ontario: 47,752 confirmed (including 2,832 deaths, 41,342 resolved)

_ Alberta: 16,889 confirmed (including 258 deaths, 15,066 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 8,304 confirmed (including 227 deaths, 6,589 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,824 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,654 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,632 confirmed (including 18 deaths, 1,234 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,087 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,021 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 272 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 267 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 196 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 191 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 57 confirmed (including 56 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 146,663 (0 presumptive, 146,663 confirmed including 9,234 deaths, 126,903 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Post-tropical storm Teddy makes landfall in Nova Scotia

MICHAEL MACDONALD, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Sep 23rd, 2020

The centre of post-tropical storm Teddy made landfall in eastern Nova Scotia this morning, delivering another round of punishing winds and heavy rain to a province that has already had plenty of both.

Meteorologists say the storm arrived near Sheet Harbour, about 115 kilometres east of Halifax, around 8 a.m. local time.

The large storm was churning out winds over 100 kilometres per hour as it neared the coastline.

On Hart Island, which is north of Canso at the eastern edge of the mainland, a peak gust of 81 kilometres per hour was recorded at 8 a.m.

Overnight, thousands of homes and businesses across Nova Scotia lost power.

By 9 a.m., about 9,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were still in the dark — a number that doubled in two hours.

Schools were closed, public transit in Halifax was suspended, many flights were cancelled but no major damage was reported _ aside from downed and damaged trees and power lines.

Citizens living in high-risk locations in the Sambro area, Peggy’s Cove and along the eastern shore were asked by Halifax Regional Municipality to make plans immediately to self-evacuate.

The storm was reclassified as a post-tropical storm overnight, but that change doesn’t mean Teddy has become a weakling. The designation refers to the structure of the storm, not its strength.

On Tuesday, the Canadian Hurricane Centre and provincial officials made it clear that the storm surge ahead of Teddy was their main concern, especially with 10-metre waves in the forecast.

Though residents were warned to stay away from the coast, photos on social media and on web cameras showed plenty of gawkers on the rocks at Peggy’s Cove and near the sprawling beaches at Lawrencetown, an area east of Halifax.

“Over the last number of years, we’ve lost a lot of people who have gone to the coast to watch those waves,” said Bob Robichaud, meteorologist with the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Halifax.

Officials in Halifax have suspended the city’s municipal bus and harbour ferry services. Garbage collection was also cancelled for today.

Nova Scotia Power has 300 crews standing by to handle power outages — 170 of them from other Atlantic provinces.

The storm was expected to track over eastern Nova Scotia, the eastern half of Prince Edward Island and southwestern Newfoundland.

Though residents of southwestern Newfoundland have been warned to watch for a storm surge later today, the wind and rain wasn’t expected to pose much of a threat.

Marine Atlantic, the Crown corporation that operates the ferry service linking Nova Scotia with Newfoundland, has cancelled all sailings across the Cabot Strait.

Woman suspected of sending ricin to White House expected in court today

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Sep 22nd, 2020

ST. HUBERT, Que. — A woman suspected of sending envelopes containing the poison ricin, which were addressed to the White House and other places in Texas and may have come from Canada, is expected to appear in federal court in Buffalo, New York, today.

Officials in the U.S. say the letter going to Washington, D.C., had been intercepted earlier this week before it reached the White House.

The Mounties raided the woman’s home in Montreal on Monday and said they didn’t know if she lived there, but added that there was a clear link between her and that residence.

The RCMP’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives team is leading the operation with support from local police and firefighters.

The home is located in a multi-unit building on Vauquelin Blvd. in St-Hubert, Que., bordering a forest and not far from an airport.

Canadian law enforcement was called in to help the FBI investigate after American authorities found evidence the suspicious letter to the White House had originated in Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2020.

— With files from The Associated Press.

The Canadian Press

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