Pension plan chief’s resignation renews debate over vaccine queue jumping


One veteran corporate director said he doesn’t think ‘shaming people’ for getting vaccinated reflects well on Canada or its politicians

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The abrupt resignation of the head of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board after it was revealed the 54-year-old was vaccinated against COVID-19 in Dubai has sparked a new round of debate over vaccine queue jumping and non-essential travel by business leaders and government officials during the pandemic.

Mark Machin, who piloted the nearly $476-billion CPP pension fund to an annualized five-year return of 9.7 per cent since taking over the fund in 2016 — most recently through the thick of the pandemic — tendered his resignation, which was accepted by the CPPIB’s board of directors, late Thursday.

“We are very disappointed by this troubling situation and we support the swift action taken by the board,” Katherine Cuplinskas, a spokeswoman for Finance minister Chrystia Freeland, said in an emailed statement.

CPPIB operates at arms-length from government, but its board is appointed by the federal finance minister. Freeland spoke to the pension board’s chair, Heather Munroe-Blum, on Friday and “made clear that Canadians place their trust in CPPIB and expect it to be held to a higher standard,” Cuplinskas said.

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A doctor by training and investment banker by career, Machin told staff in a memo Thursday night that the trip was deeply personal, and that he was still in the UAE with his partner, according to The Canadian Press.

A former pension official said Machin has two daughters, who remained in Asia when the London-born executive’s duties pulled him to CPPIB’s headquarters in Toronto.

Machin’s memo to staff suggests there may have been an unspoken justification for his actions, said two veteran corporate directors, who spoke on condition that they would not be identified.

One director said it could be as simple as not being a full-time Canadian resident, adding that he doesn’t think “shaming people” for getting vaccinated reflects well on Canada or its politicians. This is particularly the case, he said, when there are thousands of Canadians spending the winter in the United States “including a number of CEOs and most have been vaccinated.”

The other longtime director, who has served on the board of both public and private organizations, said he didn’t think Machin’s behaviour was a firing offence, and praised his performance at CPPIB after taking over as CEO on relatively short notice when Mark Wiseman left in 2016.

But Richard Leblanc, professor of governance, law and ethics at York University, said he could not think of a reason that would justify the decision to “jump the line” in Canada where there is no private market and the vaccine is being delivered as a “public good.”

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”If there were exceptional circumstances for a particular CEO, then there should be permission from stakeholders, including any regulator or governmental entity for a Crown or quasi-Crown company,” Leblanc said.

“This issue is largely moral leadership, and leading by example.”

A senior government official said the finance minister was not aware of Machin’s trip ahead of time and would not expect to be apprised because of the arms-length relationship.

Canada is just beginning to vaccinate the public at large, beginning with those over 80. The country’s inoculation program began in long-term care and retirement homes, and hospitals.

This issue is largely moral leadership, and leading by example

A handful of government and corporate officials have been censured for either jumping the queue to get a COVID-19 vaccine, or for engaging in non-essential travel, which has been discouraged by the federal government during the pandemic.

Rod Baker, the 55-year-old chief executive of Great Canadian Gaming, resigned last month after to was revealed that he had chartered a private plane to a remote Yukon community to get vaccinated along with his wife.

Ontario’s then-finance minister Rod Phillips, meanwhile, lost his cabinet seat after it was revealed that he had travelled to St. Barts in the Caribbean in December.

And Dr. Tom Stewart, CEO of St. Joseph’s Health System and Niagara Health, resigned from Ontario’s COVID-19 advisory board after leaving the country over the Christmas holidays for a trip to the Dominican Republic.

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Leblanc said a business leader or politician leader might argue that the travel is for personal reasons, not on behalf of the company or the country, but an organization’s brand is always associated with its CEO.

“The CPPIB board did the right thing. It acted decisively,” he said, adding that the pension organization’s decision to name a new CEO right away would “mitigate reputation risk, and (avoid) disruption and a CEO search.”

John Graham was named Friday as Machin’s successor, becoming the third CEO at the investment arm of Canada’s largest pension in less than nine years.

Machin had emerged as a bit of a surprise to observers when he got the job in 2016, having only joined the pension manager four years earlier as president of CPPIB’s operations in Asia, based in Hong Kong.

He quickly rose through the ranks to lead all CPPIB’s international investment activities, and his appointment as CEO made him the first non-Canadian to run the investment organization responsible for the retirement savings of Canadians.

Before joining CPPIB, he worked at Goldman Sachs for more than 20 years, helping establish a capital markets office in Hong Kong office and rising to the position of vice-chairman for Asia (outside Japan), based in Beijing.

Accepting his offer of resignation this week, the CPPIB board issued a statement that lauded Machin’s performance, international perspective, and “outstanding leadership” as CEO.

In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post.

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Mitch Marner and Jack Campbell step up for Maple Leafs with Auston Matthews down in Edmonton


Mitch Marner was just fine on his own Saturday night.

Playing without injured Auston Matthews, Marner stepped up with a power-play assist and then an even-strength goal in the first period, sparking the Maple Leafs’ 4-0 win over the Oilers in the opener of a pivotal three-game series in Edmonton.

Marner and Matthews have created arguably the NHL’s most deadly duo so far this season. But the good news for the Leafs — who continue to list Matthews as day-to-day with a suspected wrist injury — is that Marner is also pretty productive on his own.

While Matthews has mixed his tremendous shot and goal scoring ability with some tenacious defence, Marner continues to have an innate ability to make everyone he plays with better.

That was the case when he set up William Nylander on the power play for the game’s first goal. Marner then scored 73 seconds later, his 10th of the season. It was also his 10th multi-point game of the season, vaulting him into third place in NHL scoring behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Jason Spezza scored on a snap shot after a fake shot in the second period. In the third, Zach Hyman outduelled Darnell Nurse in a corner puck battle before scoring his fifth goal of the season.

This series was billed as a clash with first place in the North Division on the line. The Leafs, now six points up on Edmonton, guaranteed they’ll still be on top after the final two games of this series.

Goalie Jack Campbell, back after missing 13 games with a leg injury, worked well behind a solid defensive effort, stopping all 30 shots he faced for the Leafs’ first shutout of the season and the third of his career.

The Leafs are now 22-11-2 all-time without Matthews in the lineup.

  • Nylander’s hot: Nylander’s goal was the third in a row for the Leafs over two games. He now has eight on the season, three on the power play. He also has four goals and 14 points in 22 games when Matthews is not in the lineup. Nylander’s goal also snapped an 0-for-12 slump on the power play for the Leafs.
  • Johnny on the spot: John Tavares was assigned to the top line between Marner and Joe Thornton with Matthews out. Tavares assisted on both first-period goals and now has 167 points in 167 games as a Leaf.
  • Subtle moves: Two subtle plays created those first-period goals. On the power play, Thornton lightly cross-checked an Edmonton defender into the right post, not enough to draw a penalty, but enough to create confusion in the crease and a narrow hole for Nylander to fire in his goal. The second was a stretch pass from Justin Holl that sprung Tavares on an odd-man rush with Marner. A quick, backhand pass from Tavares set up Marner for the finish.
  • Piling up points: Spezza’s goal was the 952nd point of his career.

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  • Silent stars: Solid team defence kept McDavid and Draisaitl off the scoresheet: McDavid managing one shot on goal and two shot attempts through two periods. He was a minus-3 and has been held pointless in four games now this season. Edmonton entered the game 11-2-0 in the previous 13 games after starting the season 3-6-0. They had scored an NHL-leading 29 first-period goals.

  • Matthews update: Matthews skated on his own Saturday. Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said he continues to be day to day. Toronto plays Edmonton again Monday night. Matthews had missed one other game this season – a Jan. 22 tilt against Edmonton in Toronto, which the Leafs won 4-2.

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Winning ticket for $70 million Lotto Max draw purchased in Sudbury region


TORONTO — A ticket holder in Ontario won Friday night’s whopping $70 million Lotto Max jackpot.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation said the ticket was sold in the Sudbury region. It marks the fourth time the maximum jackpot was won in Ontario and the sixth time in Canada since the cap was increased in 2019.

Nine of the draw’s Maxmillions prizes of $1 million each were also won, with one of those prizes being split between two lottery players.

Winning Maxmillion tickets were sold in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and the Prairies.

The jackpot for the next Lotto Max draw on Mar. 2 will be approximately $24 million.

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— With files from Ryan Rocca










Hamilton woman the first $500K winner in OLG’s Plinko


Hamilton woman the first $500K winner in OLG’s Plinko – Feb 5, 2021




© 2021 The Canadian Press



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New initiative will rate social media platforms based on how safe they are for LGBTQ2S+ users


TORONTO —
A new initiative by the LGBTQ2S+ advocacy organization, GLAAD, plans to rate social media platforms based on how well they protect people from abuse.

The organization announced Friday that it will release an index with the ratings, along with recommendations for policy changes and product updates to better address misinformation, hate speech, privacy, and other issues that queer people uniquely face.

“Social media is a lifeline for LGBTQ people, but too often we face real harm that goes unchecked by the platforms,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “LGBTQ policies and product updates have long been low on priority lists, even as the tech industry is finally waking up to the issues that marginalized communities face on their platforms.”

Ellis added, “our Social Media Safety Index will hold social media platforms accountable and provide a roadmap for creating safer and more inclusive online spaces.”

While there is little research on the incidence and experience of online hate against LGBTQ2S+ individuals, a 2019 report by researchers at the London School of Economics and Politics in the U.K. found that online abuse can have a severe impact on victims.

“Online hate crimes can have various effects, including impacting upon a person’s emotional state and psychological wellbeing, causing or worsening mental illness, disruption of daily behaviours and routines, and causing financial/economic losses,” the report notes.

Experts suggest that queer people of colour, and transgender individuals in particular, experience a greater rate of online abuse compared to white cisgender people.

A 2019 report by the anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label and consumer intelligence company Brandwatch analyzed 10 million social media posts in the U.S. and U.K. over a period of three and a half years. The group says during that time they uncovered more than 1.5 million transphobic comments and posts.

“This report does not make for light reading as it uncovers the shocking and inhumane ways in which transgender people are targeted, harassed, and abused on digital platforms,” Ditch The Label CEO Liam Hackett notes.

With the creation of a social media safety index, GLAAD says it hopes to hold social media platforms accountable for years of unchecked abuse and provide a roadmap to improve the user experience for queer people.

The organization says it plans to launch the index in spring 2021. 



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Prince Harry gets fresh about leaving royal duties, living in California


Prince Harry said he didn’t walk away from his royal duties, in an appearance on The Late, Late Show with James Corden that aired early Friday.

Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, stepped away from full-time royal life in early 2020. Buckingham Palace confirmed last Friday they will not be returning to royal duties, and Harry will give up his honorary military titles.

Harry told Corden he decided to step away from his work as a front-line member of the royal family to protect his wife and son, as well as his own mental health.

“It was stepping back rather than stepping down,” he said. “It was a really difficult environment, which I think a lot of people saw, so I did what any father or husband would do and thought, how do I get my family out of here? But we never walked away, and as far as I’m concerned, whatever decisions are made on that side, I will never walk away.”

WATCH | James Corden tries to convince Prince Harry to buy the Fresh Prince mansion:

Harry and Meghan moved from England to California last year.

The appearance on Corden’s show marked Harry’s first interview since his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, stripped the prince and his wife of their remaining royal duties. Corden’s segment trumped Oprah Winfrey, whose interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is scheduled to air March 7.

During the segment, Harry and Corden tour southern California in an open-top bus, at one point arriving outside the mansion where the 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was filmed.

“If it was good enough for the Fresh Prince, it’s good enough for a real prince,” Corden said.

The two then proceed to sing the show’s iconic theme song.

Views on The Crown

At one point, Corden asks Harry what he thinks of the Netflix series The Crown, which delves into the personal lives and public actions of the Royal Family. At times, the show has been criticized for its depictions of real people.

“Of course it’s not strictly accurate,” Harry said, “but loosely … it gives you a rough idea about what that lifestyle, what the pressures of putting duty and service above family and everyone else, what can come from that.”

But he noted, “I’m way more comfortable with The Crown than I am seeing the [media] stories written about my family or my wife or myself.”

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RCMP should do more to help those intimidated by China, Lucki says


The RCMP should do more to help those who feel threatened or coerced by foreign governments, including China, to come forward, according to Commissioner Brenda Lucki.

Lucki’s comments to the parliamentary committee on Canada-China relations come after pro-Hong Kong activists in British Columbia say they were threatened online and told by police there was little authorities could do.

Lucki noted that, though the RCMP has a 1-800 number for reporting threats to national security, “by the sounds of it, it sounds like we need to do better communication.”  

“If people are getting intimidated, as soon as they’re brought to our attention, there’s full investigations. If people, if they have broken any of the laws in the Criminal Code, we will pursue charges in those cases,” Lucki told the committee Thursday night. 

The issue of foreign governments pressuring their international communities is far from new, but Canada’s spy agency has been publicly sounding the alarm.

Most recently, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) raised concerns with companies in the vaccine supply chain that malicious foreign actors could threaten the rollout by targeting workers.

And last year, one of Canada’s key national security oversight bodies, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, released a report showing how China has been pressing their diaspora and groups based on Canadian campuses as part of “significant and sustained” foreign interference activities in Canada.

The committee said those methods are part of an attempt by foreign actors to sway public opinion, manipulate the media and influence government decision-making. 

Public Safety Minister  Bill Blair, also testifying before the committee on Thursday, said Ottawa will step in if foreign governments cross the line.

“For those Canadians who may be subject to intimidation or inappropriate influence in Canadian society, we want them to know that we’re here for them and that we’re here to support them,” he said.

“If they need our help, we have the ability and the tools to respond appropriately.”

Earlier this month CSIS director David Vigneault outlined how hostile foreign governments, notably China and Russia, are “aggressively” targeting Canadians, seeking a political and economic advantage.

“A number of foreign states engage in hostile actions that routinely threaten and intimidate individuals in Canada to instill fear, silence dissent, and pressure political opponents,” he said during a public speech.

Vigneault stressed that the threat from China comes from its government and not from the Chinese people.

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Ontario sees 1,138 new COVID-19 cases as number of active infections climbs for 1st time in weeks


Ontario reported another 1,138 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as the number of active infections provincewide increased for the first time in more than six weeks.

The upward climb was small — there were just 21 more active cases total yesterday than the day before (10,071 compared to 10,050) — but it could be notable, given that until now infections marked as resolved have outpaced newly confirmed cases every day since Jan. 12.

The new cases in today’s update include 339 in Toronto, 204 in Peel Region and 106 in York Region.

Thunder Bay also saw another 44 cases. The local medical officer of health in the unit told CBC News this morning that residents should prepare to go back into the grey lockdown phase of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions system. Thunder Bay is currently in the red “control” tier.

Other public health units that logged double-digit increases were:

  • Ottawa: 64
  • Waterloo Region: 56
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 44
  • Halton Region: 40
  • Hamilton: 37
  • Windsor-Essex: 33
  • Durham Region: 28
  • Eastern Ontario: 20
  • Brant County: 19
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 18
  • Niagara Region: 12
  • Southwestern: 11

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit on a given day, because local units report figures at different times.)

The seven-day average of new daily cases in Ontario increased for a fifth straight day to 1,099.

According to the province, there has been a total of 449 cases involving the COVID-19 variant of concern first identified in the United Kingdom. That is 54 more than there were in yesterday’s update. There have also been 11 cases of the variant first found in South Africa, and two linked to the variant identified in Brazil.

The Ministry of Education also reported another 83 school-related cases: 70 students, 12 staff members and one person who was not identified. There are currently 18 schools closed due to the illness, or about 0.4 per cent of all schools in the province.

Meanwhile, health officials will release new COVID-19 projections for the province later today.

Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario’s science advisory group, will present the data in an afternoon news conference scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET. 

Two weeks ago, Brown said projections indicated more contagious variants of COVID-19 were spreading.

More to come.

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COVID-weary Canada should brace for ‘worst wave of them all’ in April


Episode 90 of Down to Business podcast

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This week on Down to Business, three experts spoke about the challenges and opportunities of vaccine rollout in Canada, perhaps the single biggest issue right now affecting the economic recovery.

Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist, talked about the stumbling blocks that Canada has hit so far while rolling out the vaccine, as well as the biggest lessons he’s learned one year into the pandemic.

Dr. Atul Kapur, an emergency physician in Ottawa, and the co-chair of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians’s public affairs committee, provided an inside view of the emergency rooms in our hospitals, which were already strained before the pandemic and how this has exacerbated the crisis.

Lastly, Dr. Akwatu Khenti, chair of the Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity, explained how he’s working to clear up misconceptions about vaccines — which will be a key issue as we move forward.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Play, where you can also subscribe to get new episodes every Wednesday morning.

If you have any questions about the show, or if there are topics you want us to tackle, email us: downtobusiness@postmedia.com.

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Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine prevents COVID-19, U.S. regulators say


WASHINGTON – Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine offers strong protection against severe COVID-19, according to an analysis by U.S. regulators Wednesday that sets the stage for a final decision on a new and easier-to-use shot to help tame the pandemic.

The Food and Drug Administration’s scientists confirmed that overall the vaccine is about 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, and about 85% effective against the most serious illness. The agency also said J&J’s shot — one that could help speed vaccinations by requiring just one dose instead of two — is safe to use.

That’s just one step in the FDA’s evaluation of a third vaccine option for the U.S. On Friday, the agency’s independent advisers will debate if the evidence is strong enough to recommend the long-anticipated shot. Armed with that advice, FDA is expected to make a final decision within days.

The vaccination drive has been slower than hoped, hampered by logistical issues and weather delays even as the country mourns more than 500,000 virus-related deaths. So far, about 44.5 million Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine made by Pfizer or Moderna, and nearly 20 million of them have received the second dose required for full protection.

J&J tested its single-dose option in 44,000 adults in the U.S., Latin America and South Africa. Different mutated versions of the virus are circulating in different countries, and the FDA analysis cautioned that it’s not clear how well the vaccine works against each variant. But J&J previously announced the vaccine worked better in the U.S. — 72% effective against moderate to severe COVID-19, compared with 66% in Latin America and 57% in South Africa.

Still, South Africa recently began giving the J&J vaccine to front-line health workers on a test basis after deciding that a vaccine from rival AstraZeneca hadn’t shown strong enough study results.

Across all countries, Wednesday’s analysis showed protection began to emerge about 14 days after vaccination. But by 28 days after vaccination, there were no hospitalizations or deaths in the vaccinated group compared with 16 hospitalizations and 7 deaths in study recipients who received a dummy shot.

The FDA said effectiveness and safety were consistent across racial groups, including Black and Latino participants.

While the overall effectiveness data may suggest the J&J candidate isn’t quite as strong as the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna options, all of the world’s COVID-19 vaccines have been tested differently, making comparisons nearly impossible. It wouldn’t be surprising if one dose turns out to be a little weaker than two doses and policymakers will decide if that’s an acceptable trade-off to get more people vaccinated faster.

Like other COVID-19 vaccines, the main side effects of the J&J shot are pain at the injection site and flu-like fever, fatigue and headache. No study participant experienced the severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, that is a rare risk of some other COVID-19 shots, although one experienced a less serious reaction.

The FDA said there were no serious side effects linked to the vaccine so far, although it recommended further monitoring for blood clots. In the study, those were reported in about 15 vaccine recipients and 10 placebo recipients, not enough of a difference to tell if the vaccine played any role.

J&J was on track to become the world’s first one-dose option until earlier this month, Mexico announced it would use a one-dose version from China’s CanSino. That vaccine is made with similar technology as J&J’s but initially was developed as a two-dose option until beginning a one-dose test in the fall.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines now being used in the U.S. and numerous other countries must be kept frozen, while the J&J shot can last three months in the refrigerator, making it easier to handle. AstraZeneca’s vaccine, widely used in Europe, Britain and Israel, is made similarly and also requires refrigeration but takes two doses.

If the FDA clears the J&J shot for U.S. use, it won’t boost vaccine supplies significantly right away. Only a few million doses are expected to be ready for shipping in the first week. But J&J told Congress this week that it expected to provide 20 million doses by the end of March and 100 million by summer.

European regulators and the World Health Organization also are considering J&J’s vaccine. Worldwide, the company aims to be producing around a billion doses by the end of the year.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.



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Surveillance video shows last moments of Kelowna homicide victim’s life


Court watched surveillance video showing the last moments of Esa Carriere’s life unfold on Canada Day in 2018 during the trial for two men accused of his manslaughter.

Nathan Truant and Noah Vaten, who are both in their 20s, are accused of killing the 23-year-old victim.

Read more:
Four charged with manslaughter in 2018 Kelowna stabbing death

An RCMP officer showed court several different camera angles of surveillance video over Kelowna’s Queensway bus loop and Kasugai Gardens, which are both areas connected to the crime.

The tape shows fireworks exploding all around as the victim appears to get into a dispute near Kasugai Gardens before bolting away.

A grainy video appears to show a group of people swarming and punching the victim.

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Read more:
Kelowna’s Canada Day homicide victim identified

The Crown alleges that two of those people are Nathan Truant and Noah Vaten.

Court also watched silent surveillance video showing Vaten in jail after he was arrested for causing a disturbance in Rutland that same night.

He hadn’t been linked to Carriere’s homicide at that point.

Read more:
Trial begins for two men accused of 2018 Canada Day homicide in Kelowna

The Crown claims that Vaten confessed to his cell mate, who didn’t believe him at the time.

Court heard from Paladin security guard Josh Cail who rushed to the scene when he heard a commotion.

Cail said a group of about four people took off when he yelled “security.” He was not able to identify any of them.

Read more:
Friend of Kelowna homicide victim calls Canada Day stabbing ‘shocking’

He testified that he made a citizen’s arrest on a female who had stayed behind to kick Carriere in the head.

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Cail said he then realized that the victim was still lying in a pool of blood and tried to help him.

The security guard testified that Carriere was still breathing and had a pulse but didn’t say anything.

One of Carriere’s friends, Blake Dolph, also took the stand and testified that the victim had just moved to Kelowna a couple of weeks before his death.

Carriere was staying with Dolph, and the two had plans to meet at the Sails at 10 p.m. because Carriere didn’t have a cellphone or keys the apartment.

However, Carriere didn’t show up, Dolph testified.

Dolph said he called RCMP when he saw that police were looking for help in identifying a body found the night before.

Read more:
Help needed to identify Canada Day homicide victim in Kelowna

Under cross examination, Dolph testified that Carriere was always loud and energetic, and his personality was enhanced when he was drinking.

He said he’d seen Carriere have a couple of beers earlier in the afternoon on Canada Day.

Under cross-examination, Dolph testified he’d had a dispute with Carriere a few days before Canada Day.

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Dolph said he told his friend he needed to tone his behaviour down or he’d have to look for a new place to stay.

The trial is scheduled to take three weeks.




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



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