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‘They haven’t even apologized,’ says mother of man killed by police after calling 911

LIAM CASEY, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 16th, 2020

TORONTO — The silence inside the Campbells’ home west of Toronto has grown like a cancer in the weeks since April 6.

That’s when D’Andre Campbell, one of six siblings who live in the Brampton, Ont., home with their parents, called 911 on himself and was later shot dead by police.

Before that night, laughter filled the house, along with the sounds of D’Andre Campbell’s footsteps. He was the only one who wore shoes inside the house, his mother recalls, and the sound telegraphed his movements at all hours of the day.

“I miss those footsteps,” says Yvonne Campbell, as tears fall into her face mask.

D’Andre Campbell’s family still does not know why he called 911 that night. The province’s police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, says officers from Peel Regional Police were dispatched to a “domestic situation,” but the family says the 26-year-old was no threat to anyone that day.

Two officers fired stun guns at Campbell before another officer fired his gun multiple times, according to the SIU, which has taken over the investigation. The SIU says a knife was recovered at the scene.

The Campbells, who are Black,  say several of them witnessed D’Andre’s death in the kitchen of their home, where he used to eat some of his favourite foods: spaghetti, lasagna and ice cream.

“My brother bled out there instantly and he didn’t do anything wrong,” says Campbell’s sister, Michelle.

Three months later, the family says they have yet to hear from both the SIU and Peel police.

“I need justice for my son, I need answers,” Yvonne Campbell says in a recent interview at the office of the family’s lawyers — Jeremy Solomon and Mary DeRose — who are contemplating litigation.

The family did not want to discuss details of D’Andre Campbell’s death due to the possibility of a civil action. But they want the public to know about his life.

Nearly 10 years ago, when D’Andre Campbell was 17, doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia. The family noticed he became quiet and withdrawn.

“He got very paranoid, so I knew something was off,” Yvonne Campbell says.

Doctors prescribed him medication, she says, and he lived the vast majority of his life symptom-free — smiling, laughing and listening to music.

He worked for four years at a company’s shipping and receiving department and was doing well for a time, Yvonne Campbell says, but at some point he “got a little edgy” and was given some time off.

He returned briefly to work, then stopped.

“I didn’t really pressure him to work because I know his situation,” his mother says. “I’d rather he be home.”

The young man became a homebody, only leaving to go to the store, buy lottery tickets or to celebrate his birthday in mid-December at his favourite restaurant, Mandarin.

He felt safe in his home, the family says, and often did not go on vacation with them.

The family says they called 911 on several occasions in the past when D’Andre Campbell hit a “peak,” which usually indicated his medication was no longer working.

“He’d be back and forth, wouldn’t sit down and always thought there was something there,” Michelle Campbell says.

Calling 911 was “the only way we can get him to see a doctor, he willingly won’t want to go, so we have to call police and then he’ll go,” Michelle Campbell says. He’d spend a few days in hospital and then be fine.

The family say they want answers, but the SIU investigation into the young man’s death could take up to a year to conclude.

“The system is screwed up,” Michelle Campbell says. “Three months later and we still don’t know anything. It’s not fair and I don’t have any faith in the investigation.”

The family wants to know the contents of the 911 call along with the name of the officer who killed D’Andre Campbell. They also want that officer to talk to the SIU and provide his notes, which the watchdog agency says he has not done.

The SIU says they’ve interviewed four officers who witnessed the killing, but legally cannot compel the officer who shot D’Andre Campbell to be interviewed or give over his notes due to a regulation in the provincial Police Services Act.

Spokeswoman Monica Hudon says the agency only recently received results from the Centre of Forensic Science for items of evidence and received the post-mortem results last week.

“While the SIU recognizes it is important to resolve cases in a timely manner, the thoroughness of the investigation must take precedence over the length of time it takes to finish an investigation,” Hudon says.

The Campbells also want to see changes to the way police respond to calls involving people who struggle with mental illness.

“They definitely shouldn’t be going with guns,” says Michelle Campbell, adding officers should be wearing body cameras.

Yvonne Campbell wants police to say they’re sorry for her son’s death.

“The police have torn my family apart,” she says. “They haven’t even apologized, or offered condolences.”

Peel police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The youngest Campbell sibling, 10-year-old Claudius Jr., is struggling to cope with the sudden death of his brother, who would often offer him late-night snacks. Now the boy often cries alone in his room.

“Sometimes he doesn’t want to sleep by himself so he comes into my room and I put on the TV till he falls asleep,” says Michelle Campbell, the eldest of the siblings at 29, as she wipes tears from her face.

Dajour Campbell, wearing a shirt with his late brother’s image on it, says time has lost its meaning.

“It’s been the same day on repeat. I don’t feel like getting out of my bed,” the 22-year-old says. “It doesn’t feel like the same house.”

Yvonne Campbell says she tries to fill the silence with music to keep thoughts of what happened to her son at bay.

“It’s very hard,” she says. “Every day we get up looking for answers and there are no answers.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2020.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Thursday, July 16

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jul 16th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on July 16, 2020:

There are 108,829 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 56,859 confirmed (including 5,636 deaths, 26,097 resolved)

_ Ontario: 37,052 confirmed (including 2,732 deaths, 32,920 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,994 confirmed (including 163 deaths, 8,127 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,149 confirmed (including 189 deaths, 2,753 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,067 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,002 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 881 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 791 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 319 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 318 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 262 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 168 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 36 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 2 presumptive

_ Total: 108,829 (13 presumptive, 108,816 confirmed including 8,810 deaths, 72,485 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Gas turned off after leak in Brampton neighbourhood, shelter-in-place lifted

Kyle Mack | posted Wednesday, Jul 15th, 2020

Peel police say a shelter-in-place has been lifted after the gas was turned off following a “significant” natural gas leak.

Officers say a gas line was struck just before 8 p.m. Tuesday night on Bonistel Crescent and Edenbrook Hill Drive, near Sandalwood Parkway and Chinguacousy Road.

Residents were asked stay in their homes and close their windows and doors for several hours, but police say it is no longer required.

Enbridge gas says they have turned off the gas to the affected area and are currently working to repair the damaged pipeline.

Photo of suspects released in Front and John stabbing

Kyle Mack | posted Wednesday, Jul 15th, 2020

Toronto police have released a photo of the suspects wanted in a stabbing at Front and John Streets last month.

Emergency crews were called to the scene outside of a restaurant just before 12:30 a.m. on June 30 for reports of a robbery.

Police said a 19-year-old man was walking in the area when a group of five other males approached him, and then assaulted and robbed him.

Police said he was stabbed several times with a screwdriver. He was rushed to hospital with serious wounds to his upper body.

It is not yet known which of the five males stabbed the 19-year-old.

The five unknown males are described as:

Male #1: Black, under six feet tall with black hair, and wearing a dark long-sleeved shirt, khaki pants, and a white surgical mask
Male #2: White, under six feet tall, wearing a long-sleeved hooded shirt, dark-colored shorts, backwards ball cap, carrying a black Air Jordan satchel across the chest, and wearing white sneakers with black socks
Male #3: White, under six feet tall, wearing a gold chain, black T-shirt, and a black ball cap worn side-ways, carrying a light-colored satchel bag, and wearing dark pants and dark shoes
Male #4: Black, around six feet tall with black hair, wearing a white T-shirt with dark markings on it, blue jeans, and light-colored sneakers
Male #5: White, around six feet tall, blond hair, wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans with a rip on the right knee, dark sneakers, carrying a dark-colored knapsack on his back

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

2 Toronto workers test positive for COVID-19

Kyle Mack | posted Wednesday, Jul 15th, 2020

The City of Toronto says two Parks, Forestry & Recreation workers have tested positive for COVID-19.

They were exposed between July 6 and 10 and both were not exposed to the virus in the workplace.

One of the employees had contact with a part-time worker at the Ellesmere Comunity Centre CampTO program, but the program is not required to close down. The city says the risk of contracting COVID-19 at the Ellesmere camp is very low.

The other employee works in sanitation and did not come into contact with any children or families within any of the camps program.

A contract tracing investigation has found 23 other employees who were in contact with the employees who tested positive and none have had any contact with children or families in any City program.

They have all been advised to get tested and self-isolate for 14 days.

City-run summer camps began on Monday and are running over eight weeks at 130 locations.

The City said CampTO programs have meet health guidelines designed in consultation with Toronto Public Health and in alignment with provincial health guidelines for day camps. The guidelines include smaller groups and lower capacity, physical distancing, mandatory health screening and enhanced facility cleaning.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Tuesday, July 14

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 14th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on July 14, 2020:

There are 108,155 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 56,621 confirmed (including 5,628 deaths, 25,911 resolved)

_ Ontario: 36,839 confirmed (including 2,722 deaths, 32,663 resolved)

_ Alberta: 8,826 confirmed (including 161 deaths, 7,989 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 3,115 confirmed (including 189 deaths, 2,718 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,066 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 1,000 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 871 confirmed (including 15 deaths, 766 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 317 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 262 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 166 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 163 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 35 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 108,155 (11 presumptive, 108,144 confirmed including 8,790 deaths, 71,841 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Health-care workers to announce political action in response to emergency orders

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 14th, 2020

HAMILTON — A union representing Ontario health-care workers says it will announce “political action” this morning in response to the province potentially extending its emergency powers.

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, a division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, will be making the announcement at Hamilton General Hospital.

A spokeswoman for the union confirms that 98 per cent of its membership voted in favour of some form of political action over the weekend.

The Progressive Conservative government introduced a bill last week that would allow it to keep some emergency measures in place in the months ahead.

Health-care workers, including nurses, say the orders suspend their collective bargaining agreement with the province.

Union president Michael Hurley says while that was acceptable in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now a detriment to health-care workers.

Hurley says a suspended agreement means hospital staff may have their shifts changed, be moved from site to site, or have vacation requests denied.

He suggested last week that the union’s action could take many forms, including wearing stickers to work, organizing a rally or even an interruption of work.

“No one wants to turn their attention from providing patient care to having to defend some basic workplace rights,” said Hurley on Friday. “That’s the last thing anyone wants to do, so we’re hoping that the government reconsiders its position.”

Human clinical trials begin for Quebec-made COVID-19 vaccine candidate

CASSANDRA SZKLARSKI, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jul 14th, 2020

Canadian trials have just begun for a prospective COVID-19 vaccine but its Quebec-based manufacturer is already downplaying its potential impact.

Dr. Bruce Clark, president and CEO of the biopharmaceutical company Medicago, cautions observers against holding unrealistic expectations that his product — or any of the numerous vaccines in development globally — will bring the pandemic to a screeching halt.

“Whatever vaccine we get in this first round — unless it’s a miracle — it’s not going to be perfect,” says Clark, whose company began trials for its proposed vaccine Monday in Quebec City.

“It’s going to have to undergo development, it’s going to take probably years to come up with an understanding of the right vaccine, the right approach. It’s not the panacea.

“To assume that we can have, in 18 months, the solution to a pandemic that comes around once in a generation, is naive.”

So much is still unknown about COVID-19, notes Clark, including how it may manifest during the flu season later this year.

He suspects a more likely scenario is that a vaccine will offer only part of the solution, along with new therapeutics and ongoing public health interventions.

Medicago’s first phase of clinical trials will test a plant-based product on 180 healthy men and women, aged 18 to 55.

The randomized, partially blinded study uses technology that does not involve animal products or live viruses like traditional methods.

Clark notes that vaccine developers typically use chicken eggs to propagate a virus, but Medicago uses recombinant technology involving the genetic sequence of a virus, with living plants as the host.

The resulting virus-like particles mimic the shape and dimensions of a virus, which allows the body to recognize them and spark an immune response.

Clark says the plant-based approach is significantly faster and offers more consistent results than egg-based or cell-based methods.

While it takes five to six months to propagate a virus in eggs, the plant-based technique requires just five to six weeks, he says.

“In a pandemic, something like COVID, if you’re able to cut that much time off development, you have a substantial impact on public health.”

Meanwhile, Clark says viruses are prone to mutations as they adapt and grow in an egg, which could result in a vaccine that doesn’t exactly match the circulating virus. In contrast, “a plant is a plant,” and that makes production easily scalable.

“One plant behaves like 100,000 plants,” he says.

The trial will evaluate three different dosages alone, or with one of two adjuvants provided by GlaxoSmithKline and Dynavax. An adjuvant can boost the effectiveness of a vaccine for a better immunological response, thereby reducing the required dose, Clark adds.

He hopes to know the effectiveness of the adjuvants and dosing by October, and then kick off a second, more targeted trial phase involving about 1,000 participants.

Clark says the third phase would involve about 15,000 to 20,000 subjects, and may be a global study, depending on circumstances of the pandemic.

If the vaccine is successful, Clark points to another uncertainty.

Because the company’s commercial plant is across the border in Durham, N.C., he says there’s no guarantee of a Canadian supply.

“‘Guarantee’ is a strong word,” says Clark. “Strange things happen to borders in the context of a pandemic.”

Such border complications were made clear to Canadians in April when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau complained about problems with incomplete or non-existent deliveries of critical COVID-19 supplies. At the time, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered U.S. producers to prioritize the domestic market.

Clark suggested similar hurdles could impact vaccine distribution, putting immediate pressure on Medicago to complete construction of a large-scale manufacturing facility in its home base of Quebec City.

“Certainly, we need a facility in Canada,” Clark says.

“There’s no guarantee on the easy flow of materials back and forth across the border should we have a successful vaccine. We have to keep the focus on completing the Canadian facility so that we have domestic capacity. I think this is what most countries are concerned about.”

By the end of 2023, the Quebec City plant is expected to be able to produce up to one billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine annually.

Until then, Medicago says it expects to be able to make approximately 100 million doses by the end of 2021, assuming its trials are successful.

Clark says countries must temper any nationalist agendas that might emerge with a viable vaccine and acknowledge that the fight against COVID-19 is global.

Meeting that demand would require multiple manufacturers, multiple distribution routes, and lots of co-operation, he says, possibly through the World Health Organization.

“There has to be some ability to share those around and distribute, whether that’s through an entity like the WHO, or something equivalent.”

Northern schools face additional challenges for reopening — and staying closed

NICOLE THOMPSON AND MICHELLE MCQUIGGE, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jul 13th, 2020

Teachers in Ontario’s northern school boards are sounding the alarm about back-to-school plans, saying the region’s vast geography and sparse population present challenges not considered in southern parts of the province.

School boards provincewide are still in the process of developing contingency plans for September, and while the teachers say reopening will be hard for everyone, they note that the general guidelines developed by the Ministry of Education don’t take into account the lack of resources in the Far North.

“We want to be in the schools. We want to be delivering quality education,” said Kim Douglas, president of the local elementary teachers’ union for the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board. “(But) I don’t think they have enough equipment, enough cleaning, enough help to even allay the fears that people are feeling, going back into the school.”

The Dryden, Ont.-based union representative, who spent three decades as a teacher, said schools in her board are few and far between, and have scant staff.

In one school, she said, there’s one full-time teacher, a part-time teacher and an education assistant. There’s no administrator, which raises a new host of problems during a pandemic.

“When there’s no administrator on site, and a kid gets sick, what do you do?” Douglas said. “Who’s gonna be responsible for that child?”

But the barriers to remote learning are also greater up north, she said.

“A lot of us don’t have Wi-Fi abilities at our homes,” Douglas said. “We pay an exorbitant amount of money to get Wi-Fi. And for us to do online learning, it’s been a challenge for many members. I’ve had members who have paid upwards of $700 for their Wi-Fi, just to do the distance learning.”

And while she noted that the risk of contracting COVID-19 in her region is relatively low, many people live along the Trans-Canada Highway and could be coming into contact with truckers and other travellers who have recently been in coronavirus hotspots.

Louis Clausi, a representative for the northeastern unit of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association who was a high school teacher for 20 years, said the geography in his board is also an issue.

“For me to even drive from one end of my board to the other, to go from Kapuskasing to Cobalt, is a six-hour drive,” he said. “It’s hard for the board to organize such a large area and to deal with all these specific issues.”

He listed daycare and busing as two areas of particular concern.

And he said in his region, it’s even more important to come up with a plan quickly — some schools are due to resume in late August because they take a break in October for the hunt.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said boards are expected to prepare plans for three scenarios come September: regular in-class instruction with physical-distancing measures in place, full-time remote learning, and a hybrid model blending both approaches.

Lecce later said he expects all students to start the 2020-21 school year with the blended model, which will see no more than 15 students in class attending on alternating days or weeks.

But more recently, he’s expressed a preference for fully in-class learning and said it’s looking increasingly likely that it will be possible.

“That data’s fluid, but it’s moving in the right direction,” Lecce said late last week. “It gives us promise about our reopening plan to get to where those boards, a lot of parents and every member of our caucus wants to go — which is day-to-day learning. Our kids need it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2020.

Nicole Thompson and Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

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