Moderna hasn’t breached its vaccine contract despite repeated delivery concerns: Anand


Moderna has not violated its contractual obligations with Canada, Procurement Minister Anita Anand says, despite continued setbacks over promised COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to this country.

“There has not been a breach of contract at this stage, and indeed, strong relationships with our suppliers [have] been fundamental to ensuring that we’ve accelerated 22 million doses already from one quarter to the next,” Anand said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live.

The minister’s comments come as a shipment of 1.2 million Moderna doses bound for Canada this month has been scaled back and delayed.

The shots, which were set to arrive this week, have been slashed to 650,000 doses and will now arrive later in April or by early May. A further 12.3 million doses expected to arrive by the end of June will also shrink by one to two million shots and are now scheduled to show up between July and September.

The Massachusetts-based company is struggling to meet ramped-up global demand at its European facilities, partly due to labour shortages.

“Moderna continues to make substantial capital investments to support production increases … and explore other potential collaboration opportunities,” the company said in a statement on Friday.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Moderna hasn’t contravened its COVID-19 vaccine contract with Canada, even though deliveries of the company’s mRNA vaccine continue to experience delays. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Flexible contracts allow for accelerated deliveries

Both Moderna and Pfizer wrestled with production holdups earlier this year as the companies scaled up their capacity to handle increased demand — but Pfizer has maintained a consistent delivery schedule since then.

“Pfizer has been an incredibly stable partner in the bringing in of vaccines to this country,” Anand told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton.

“We continue to ask them for earlier and earlier doses, and they continue to ensure that we are able to do that.”

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada signed an agreement with the pharmaceutical giant for eight million more doses of its mRNA vaccine.

FedEx workers in Toronto offload a plane carrying Moderna vaccine doses originating from Europe in March 2021. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

The country is not paying a premium for the accelerated deliveries, Anand said.

“We are paying fair market value for these doses, and they are obliging our requests. We exercised options for those eight million doses, and we had built that flexibility into our contracts.”

The minister said the nature of Canada’s agreements with its suppliers means delivery schedules are not necessarily set in stone.

“The ability for Canada to bring in increasing numbers of doses goes back to the diversified portfolio of vaccines that we put in place back last August, and [we] made sure that we have flexibility here so that we can draw down on our contractual arrangements.”

Accessing U.S. supply

When asked at what point the United States might be able to open up access to its vaccine stocks, Anand said she’s not focused on that country’s supply chain.

“I’m not focused on the U.S. timeline as much as I am on ensuring we’re having those discussions right now, and that’s why we have been engaged with the U.S. administration since January,” she said.

So far, Canada has received 1.5 million AstraZeneca-Oxford doses on loan from its southern neighbour that will be returned later this year.

“We are in constant discussion with the United States and will continue to do that through our ambassador, Kirsten Hillman, and with her excellent help in order to have Canada as being well placed to continue to draw doses from multiple countries, not just the U.S.,” Anand said.

You can watch full episodes of Rosemary Barton Live on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service.

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Patrick Marleau ties Gordie Howe’s NHL record for games played


San Jose forward Patrick Marleau tied Gordie Howe’s NHL record for career games played, appearing in his 1,767th on Saturday as the Sharks faced the Minnesota Wild.

Marleau hopped over the boards for his first shift 40 seconds into the game. He could break Howe’s record Monday night in Las Vegas.

Marleau is in his 23rd NHL season; he made his debut on Oct. 1, 1997, at 18 years and 16 days old. The 41-year-old Marleau has 566 goals, 1,196 points, three All-Star appearances and two Olympic gold medals for Canada in 2010 and 2014.

Howe also played in 419 games in the World Hockey Association that are not included in his career total.

WATCH | 9 facts about Patrick Marleau … in 90 seconds:

With Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s all-time games played record, Rob Pizzo looks at 9 things you may not know about his memorable career. 2:08

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‘This is just bad public health policy’: New Ontario measures to curb COVID-19 draw fire


Sweeping new provincial measures designed to stem the spread of COVID-19 — including allowing police and bylaw enforcement officers to stop and question people in their cars and on the street — were met with widespread criticism on Friday.

“Blanket powers for police to stop vehicles like this bends our constitutional freedoms too far, and will cause a rash of racial profiling,” said Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

The new provincial measures, which included closing parks and playgrounds, were announced Friday afternoon by Ontario Premier Doug Ford as COVID-19 infections soared to new highs in Toronto and provincially.

The one-day total of new COVID-19 cases reported in Toronto on Friday was 1,527, a record. Provincially, the number of new cases was 4,812, also a record.

The number of weekly cases in Toronto is now 302 per 100,000 people — also a record high, according to the Star’s Ed Tubb, who has been tracking transmission data since the pandemic began more than a year ago.

The number of daily new cases in Ontario could hit 30,000 by the end of May unless drastic steps are taken, the province’s COVID-19 advisory panel of medical and scientific experts said Friday. It is currently approaching 5,000 a day, forcing local hospitals to set up tents to treat patients.

Ford said that beginning Saturday, police and bylaw officers will have the authority to stop people and ask them for their address and ask them why they’re not complying with the provincial stay-at-home order. Those who refuse to comply could face a $750 ticket.

People may still leave home to shop for groceries, to go the pharmacy or access health care.

“I am very concerned about arbitrary stops of people by police at any time and I will be reviewing the regulations extremely carefully and discussing them with the Medical Officer of Health and the Toronto Police Chief,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory in a statement.

Both the provincial declaration of emergency and stay-at-home order have been extended for two more weeks.

“We are in the midst of an absolutely brutal third wave,” said Coun. Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina Fort-York), who heads the city’s Board of Health, in a statement. “The coming weeks will test us like never before.”

Existing lockdown measures have not yet slowed the spread of COVID-19, driven now by the more contagious U.K. variant, B.1.1.7.

Hospitalization rates in Toronto are the highest on record and are expected to increase, according to a press release from the city. Without strengthened public health measures, projections indicate it will take until late this summer to reduce new case counts.

Ford blamed the current problems on lack of vaccine supply from the federal government.

But epidemiologist Dr. Andrew Morris, who has been critical of the province’s handling of the crisis, said Friday that Ford and his government are to blame for the current crisis.

“We are not much further behind than other countries vis-a-vis vaccine supply,” said Morris, medical director of the Sinai Health System-University Health Network’s antimicrobial stewardship program.

“Challenges with vaccine supply should have been expected. Only Israel, the U.K., the U.S. and a few small countries have had enough. This is just bad public health policy.”

Morris said the province also needs to provide workers with paid sick leave to encourage them to stay home if they feel ill, so they don’t transmit COVID-19 to colleagues. He said the province should also focus on getting essential workers vaccinated, restricting regional travel and keeping the outdoors open for recreation. He believes non-essential businesses and places of worship should also be closed.

He said police shouldn’t be involved except for egregious flouting of public health measures, and that allowing police and bylaw officers to stop people will target the most vulnerable.

“Have them police indoor parties. Or non-essential workplaces,” said Morris.

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Dr. Martha Fulford, infectious disease specialist and associate professor at McMaster University, said the province should be taking a more targeted approach, legislating paid sick leave and ensuring essential workers and people working in factories and plants are vaccinated.

She said the last thing the province should be closing is playgrounds, especially in light of the lack of evidence to support the idea that COVID can be spread outdoors.

“It feels to me extraordinary that a year into this, we’re incapable of having targeted interventions to try to decrease the risk of COVID and not cause even more harm to the fabric of our society, because of course COVID isn’t the only thing we’re dealing with anymore — we’re dealing with mental health, we’re dealing with despair, we’re dealing with broken lives, we’re dealing with overdoses, we’re dealing with domestic abuse, we’re dealing with child abuse,” said Fulford, who has been critical of school closures because of the damage they do to children.



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Earth Month: Tips for going green this April – Peterborough


April 22 is Earth Day, but the entire month of April is now recognized as Earth Month.

“I think it really is a chance to connect with Mother Earth, to bring awareness to environmental issues and to think about the choices we make that affect the planet,” said Jessica Correa, CEO and founder of environmental advocacy organization Random Acts of Green.

Correa said to give people some green ideas, they’ve launched a program coined Mother Earth’s Emoji Challenge.

“The main question is if Mother Earth were to react to us with an emoji, like if she were to laugh or cry or be angry, which one would she choose,” said Correa. “The whole purpose of the challenge is to make Mother Earth feel loved.”

Examples of the activities include: rethink your purchases, leave the leaves, repair an item, swap two wasteful products, try four vegan meals and learn about two animals.

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Read more:
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She said you can join online, take the challenge pledge and when you complete a task, upload the photo and tag Random Acts of Green.

“People think it has to be all or nothing, but you can do little things that seem small but when we put them all together it creates that ripple effect,” she said.

Correa said that with people spending more time at home due to the pandemic, it can be a good chance to add sustainable practices into your day. She said some ideas could be to install a rain barrel or composter, plant a vegetable garden or put up a clothesline.

“Because we are at home things like air drying your laundry have become a lot easier,” she said.

“It can actually be therapeutic to hang your clothes as well,” said Correa. “It makes you take breaks and get outside while you hang your clothes there.”

Read more:
How to live a zero-waste lifestyle — Small steps toward a greener future

At Peterborough GreenUP, a non-profit environmental organization, there are a number of sustainable products that can be used as alternatives to wasteful items.

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“One I really like are the unpaper towels,” said program and resource co-ordinator Kristen LaRocque.

“They are locally made and machine washable so you can use them over and over,” she said. “They replace your single-use paper towels.”

She said a good way to make some easy changes is to think about items you often replace and explore reusable or refillable options instead.

“We have this soap made my Simply Natural Canada,” said LaRocque. “It is made with natural ingredients and you can refill the container instead of buying another item.”

Read more:
Drop the chemicals — Green cleaning products you have around the house

 

Correa said if you’re spring cleaning, ask yourself if you can repair an item before you toss it and donate what you can.

She also said it is important to spend time outdoors.

“We have all been getting a lot of screen time lately, be sure to get back outside and connect with nature.”




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



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Coronavirus: Canada sets new single-day record with 9,561 COVID-19 infections


TORONTO —
Canada reported 9,561 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, setting a new record for daily cases since the start of the pandemic.

The previous daily record was set less than a week ago on April 9, when the country logged a total of 9,244 new cases, according to data collected by CTVNews.ca.

The new record marks a grim milestone as hospitalizations increase across the country, and vaccine rollouts stall.

Ontario set its own record for daily infections on Thursday, reporting 4,736 new cases. The province currently has 1,932 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 659 in intensive care — record highs as well.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate medical officer of health, said during a press briefing that the situation in the province is “dire.”

“At some of the previous press conferences I have referred to the situation as worrisome, and even scary. What is truly scary is that when I used those words before, our rates and our trends were nowhere near where we find ourselves today,” Yaffe said.

The situation is also growing more concerning in Quebec where health officials reported 1,513 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 15 additional deaths due to the pandemic.

New projections released by the province’s public health institute suggest that hospitals in some regions outside the Montreal area could reach their designated capacity of COVID-19 patients within three weeks if current trends don’t change.

Alberta, which has Canada’s highest seven-day rate of cases, recorded 1,646 new infections on Thursday, including 1,020 variants of concern.

B.C. reached a new record for hospitalizations at 409 and had 1,205 new cases while Manitoba confirmed its first case of the P.1 variant first found in Brazil.

The increasing numbers come a few weeks into what the federal government has billed as the ramp-up phase of Canada’s mass vaccination effort.

However, the rollout is still being plagued by delays in Moderna shipments and lingering uncertainty about when and how many doses of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson’s shots will land.

The supply concerns have caused some vaccinations sites to pause bookings and even cancel appointments in certain regions.

Despite the delays, the federal government expects to have received more than 44 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by June, enough that every eligible person should be able to receive their first shot by Canada Day.

According to CTVNews.ca’s vaccine tracker, Canada has administered a total of 9,200,859 doses as of Thursday evening, with nearly 22 per cent of the population having received at least one dose.

With files from CTVNews.ca’s Rachel Aiello and The Canadian Press



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Average price of Canadian home rising at fastest annual pace ever, now up to $716,828


Canada’s red hot housing market continues to defy expectations, with sales in March up 70 per cent compared to a year ago and average prices up by more than 30 per cent.

The Canadian Real Estate Association said Thursday that more than 70,000 homes were sold last month, obliterating the previous record for the month by 22,000 transactions. The figure was 76 per cent higher than the same month a year ago, which saw sales slow because it was the first month of restrictions related to COVID-19.

Those restrictions put a temporary chill on the market, but things started heating up in May 2020 and haven’t cooled down since.

On the price side, the average selling price for a home sold on CREA’s MLS system was $716,828. That’s up by 31.6 per cent in a year, and the biggest annual pace of gain on record.

While sellers and owners are doubtless ecstatic with record selling prices, the torrid pace is causing anxiety among economists and policy-makers who worry that first-time buyers are being locked out of the market unless they take on massive mortgages that they may not be able to afford if interest rates rise.

Last week, Canada’s top banking regulator proposed to raise the stress test level on mortgages to make sure that borrowers can afford higher rates. That move would reduce the purchasing power of buyers by about five per cent.

CREA chair Cliff Stevenson said the biggest factor pushing prices higher has been an imbalance between supply and demand, and he said the market is showing signs of finding an equilibirum.

“The shortages in supply we have across so much of Canada, a lot of that demand has been pressuring prices. So the big rebound in new supply to start the spring market is the relief valve we need the most to get that demand playing out more on the sales side of things and less on the price side,” he said. 

“That said, it will take a lot more than one month of record new listings, but it looks like we may finally be rounding the corner on these extremely unbalanced housing market conditions.”

Mortgage rate decline

While supply and demand imbalances may be playing a role, there has also been a precipitous decline in mortgage rates, which makes it easier to borrow more and more money. Mortgage rates plunged to all-time lows during the pandemic, and while they are starting to creep higher, they are still a long way from becoming a contributing factor to any slowdown.

Economist Rishi Sondhi with TD Bank says the numbers for April and May should be interesting to watch because the move to raise the stress test doesn’t come into effect until June, which means it could have the unintended consequence of making the market even hotter in the short term as people rush to borrow and buy before the new rules are in place.

“It’s déjà vu all over again [and] with markets remaining historically tight, more near-term gains are in the cards,” he said. “This frothy price backdrop could prompt a response from policy-makers in coming months.”

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Biden making a ‘mistake’ pulling out of Afghanistan, retired general says


U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to pull all remaining U.S. troops out of Afghanistan is a “mistake” that could lead to a grim future for the Afghan people, says retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie.

“I respect his authority. He’s a compassionate man, but I think he’s made a mistake,” Leslie said Wednesday in an interview with CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.

“My daughter fought in Afghanistan. I fought in Afghanistan. If you pull out too soon, until the conditions for an eventual sharing of power between the various warring elements are established, there’s a danger that my grandkids could go to Afghanistan,” Leslie told host Vassy Kapelos.

Biden announced Wednesday that all American troops will be pulled from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that prompted America’s invasion.

NATO also announced Wednesday it would start withdrawing troops from the country by May 1.

“War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multi-generational undertaking. We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda is degraded … in Afghanistan. And it’s time to end the forever war,” said Biden.

The U.S. president pushed back at critics calling for a conditions-based agreement, telling Americans he has heard no good answers on just what conditions would be necessary to allow for troop withdrawal.

Biden delivers remarks on his plan to withdraw troops at the White House on Thursday. (Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters)

“So when will it be the right moment to leave? One more year, two more years, 10 more years? Ten-, 20-, 30-billion dollars more above the trillion we’ve already spent?” asked Biden.

The two-decade war has killed more than 2,400 U.S. troops, wounded more than 20,000 and cost as much as $1 trillion US.

“I’m not trying to second guess the president … but the danger is that resurgence of the Taliban and even more vicious elements is more likely with the Americans and the NATO troops departing then ever before,” said Leslie, who served as deputy commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan.

“The departure of the Americans will probably result in a relatively grim future for the Afghan people,” he added.

Canada joined the Americans in the war in Afghanistan in 2001, but wrapped up its combat role in 2011 before pulling its final troops from the country in 2014. 

In total, 158 Canadian troops died in the war and an estimated 100,000 Afghan civilians have been injured or killed.

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How police may have missed a chance to catch serial killer Bruce McArthur in 2013


Toronto police didn’t check Bruce McArthur’s criminal record in 2013 before or after interviewing him — despite possessing evidence connecting the now-convicted serial killer to three missing men whose disappearances officers were then investigating.

That’s just one of many serious investigative flaws former judge Gloria Epstein identifies in her independent review of Toronto police’s handling of missing-persons cases — including the victims of McArthur — released Tuesday. 

Epstein argues proper preparation for the McArthur interview, an understanding of his 2003 assault conviction, and his connection to the three missing men should have resulted in greater police scrutiny of his conduct as early as November 2013. He was eventually arrested and charged with murder in January 2018. 

“Someone with a connection with all three missing persons who had attacked another member of the LGBTQ2S+ communities and been banned from the Village for a period should have undoubtedly have qualified as a person of interest,” Epstein wrote, referring to the gay community’s downtown neighbourhood. 

The 1,100-page report marks the first time some of these details — of what police did and knew when — have come to light. The service has previously refused to “dissect the investigation” despite questions about how police handled the investigations into missing men who turned out to be McArthur’s victims. 

Retired judge Gloria Epstein released her final report on Toronto police service’s handling of missing-persons cases, including McArthur’s victims, on Tuesday. (Submitted by Shelley Colenbrander)

“I cannot say that McArthur would necessarily have been apprehended earlier if these investigative steps had been taken,” Epstein wrote. “But the Toronto police did lose important opportunities to identify him as the killer.”

McArthur went on to kill five more men after police first interviewed him as part of Project Houston.

In a news conference, acting Toronto police chief James Ramer told reporters Tuesday “the shortcomings [Esptein] identified are inexcusable” and that the service is going to implement her recommendations “as quickly as possible.”

The 16-minute interview

The Project Houston task force was launched in November 2012 to probe the disappearances of Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Majeed Kayhan — all of whom were connected to Toronto’s Gay Village.

Almost a year into that investigation, police discovered McArthur was connected to Navaratnam and Faizi through his online username “silverfoxx51.” A detective on the project scheduled an interview in November 2013. 

But Det.-Const. Joshua McKenzie did not prepare questions, look into McArthur’s background or do a Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database search on him before the interview, according to Epstein’s report. 

If he had, McKenzie would have found McArthur’s 2003 assault conviction, which Epstein argues could have then been used to obtain the synopsis of the serial killer’s unprovoked pipe attack on a gay man in the Village in 2001. 

Project Houston, a police task force, was created to probe the disappearances of Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Majeed Kayhan.

Instead, the interview with McArthur lasted only 16 minutes and McKenzie didn’t ask McArthur about his known connection to Faizi after McArthur denied knowing the missing man. McArthur also admitted to having had a sexual relationship with Kayhan — who police had yet to connect to McArthur — but McKenzie didn’t ask follow-up questions about the relationship.

‘Important fact went unnoticed’

After the interview, police had a connection between McArthur and all three missing men.

“However, this important fact went unnoticed,” wrote Epstein. “McKenzie’s summary of the interview failed to include it.” 

In the report, Epstein references and agrees with a summary of the implication of those connections from an unnamed police investigator provided to the review.

“[McArthur] would have been the one and only person who was linked to all three disappearances at that point from all the information we had,” the investigator said. 

WATCH | Report ‘hard to read,’ interim chief says:

Interim Police Chief James Ramer said there have been mistakes and missteps in the way Toronto police handled missing persons cases, especially when it came to the city’s LGBTQ community. 0:51

“He would be on the top of the list of finding out what more is he capable of and what he does. The prime suspect, if you will.” 

Instead, it looks like no supervisor reviewed McKenzie’s interview or instructed any follow-up action because of it, according to the report. Epstein said McKenzie was a relatively junior officer at the time and told the review that he did what he was told. 

Neither the video of the McArthur interview nor the summary McKenzie wrote were added to Toronto police’s records system, Versadex, or the major case management system, PowerCase. 

In her report, Epstein outlines how those omissions had ramifications on how police investigated McArthur when he was arrested, but not charged, for an assault in June 2016.

CBC News has previously reported on the attempted choking of a man, in the back of McArthur’s van, who was able to escape and called 911. 

Afterward, McArthur went to the police and said the incident was consensual. He was let go, as police believed his story was credible.

Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty to killing these eight men. Top row, from left to right: Skandaraj Navaratnam, Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen and Abdulbasir Faizi. Bottom row, from left to right: Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi and Majeed Kayhan. (John Fraser/CBC)

The investigator, Sgt. Paul Gauthier, is facing police disciplinary charges in connection with the case. He told the independent review that had he known McArthur had been identified as someone in contact with three missing persons in Project Houston, Gauthier would have contacted officers from the task force before making his decision not to charge McArthur. 

“[Gauthier] saw this situation as a counterproductive siloing of relevant information. I agree with him,” Epstein wrote.

However, the report also notes that Gauthier’s 2016 investigation failed to turn up McArthur’s 2003 assault conviction. 

By that time, McArthur had received a record suspension from the Parole Board of Canada in connection with that conviction, but that didn’t mean police couldn’t find a record of the assault. 

‘Easily discoverable’

“We do know this information, which turned out to be relevant, was easily discoverable during Project Prism,” Epstein wrote in relation to the task force that looked into the disappearances of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen and eventually led to the arrest of McArthur.

Without the information on McArthur’s pipe assault, Epstein said that investigators in Project Houston and the 2016 choking investigation saw McArthur “as a 64-year-old man with no prior violent history.”

“What became obvious to me during this Review is that officers have varying (and sometimes inaccurate) understandings of what is available to them on their own databases.”

McArthur murdered five men — Soroush Mahmudi, Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Dean Lisowick, Esen and Kinsman — after he was interviewed as part of Project Houston in 2013. 

Esen and Kinsman were killed after the 2016 attempted choking investigation. 

McArthur is currently serving a life sentence for the first-degree murder of all eight men. He will be 91 by the time he can apply for parole.

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Officers’ ‘stereotypical ideas’ about gay victims clouded Toronto police investigation into Bruce McArthur serial killings, landmark report says


An independent review launched in the wake of the arrest of serial killer Bruce McArthur has identified “serious flaws” in how missing person cases have been handled by Toronto police.

The disappearance of McArthur’s murder victims “were often given less attention or priority than the cases deserved,” and some officers had “misconceptions or stereotypical ideas” about the LGBTQ communities — “at times, their perceptions impeded the work.”

The report, released Tuesday and prepared by retired Ontario Court of Appeal judge Gloria Epstein, uncovered serious investigative, communication and data management problems with the Toronto police investigation into McArthur’s victims, including Project Houston, a probe into the three men now known to be McArthur’s first victims.

McArthur was brought in for questioning as part of that investigation — an interview Epstein called “deeply flawed, inadequately prepared for and poorly conducted.”

“I cannot say that McArthur would necessarily have been apprehended earlier if the investigative steps outlined in this report had been taken. He was a true psychopath. He disarmed others, including his interviewer, with his calm and ostensibly helpful approach to the interview,” she noted.

“But the Toronto police did lose important opportunities to identify him as the killer.”

Epstein noted that the friends and loved ones, of McArthur’s last victim, Andrew Kinsman, “mobilized in a highly public way” to ensure police gave his sudden disappearance attention.

“Proper missing person investigations, however, should not depend on whose voices are the loudest in sounding the alarm. This observation represents yet another systemic issue identified in this report,” Epstein wrote.

The review provides the most detailed accounting of police actions during McArthur’s seven year killing spree. Epstein notes that, in some instances, this means exposing “serious investigative flaws or a lack of attention that made these cases more difficult to solve. In other instances, an accurate account corrects a narrative that is unfair to investigators.”

“The public is entitled to know the truth; indeed, it must know the truth. So are the loved ones and friends of those who went missing,” Epstein wrote in the report.

The report makes a series of recommendations on how to improve missing persons investigations, noting “we are past the time for conversation only.”

“The public is entitled to insist on transformative change with measurable, sustainable outcomes, timelines for completion, and accountability.”

More to come.

McArthur, 69, was convicted of eight counts of first-degree murder in 2019, after pleading guilty to killing eight men between 2010 and 2017. He was sentenced to life in prison by Ontario Superior Court Justice John McMahon, who called McArthur a sexual predator whose crimes were “pure evil.”

McArthur admitted to killing Andrew Kinsman, 49; Selim Esen, 44; Majeed Kayhan, 58; Soroush Mahmudi, 50; Dean Lisowick, 47; Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam, 40, Abdulbasir Faizi, 42, and Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, 37.

Most of McArthur’s victims were of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent, and some were homeless, had a precarious immigration status in Canada or struggled with substance abuse.

McArthur’s arrest — and the revelation the killer had twice before been interviewed by police — prompted anger and distrust of police, and concerns their investigations had been tainted by systemic bias or discrimination.

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McArthur, a once-married man who came out as gay later in life, was 58 when he began his killing spree in 2010, an anomaly among serial killers, who are usually much younger. A landscaper, he stored his equipment at a Leaside home where police later located the dismembered bodies of McArthur’s victims, some buried within large planters on the property.

The report is the product of more than two years of work, which included access to internal Toronto police documents, interviews with dozens of police officers and broad community consultation.

McArthur was arrested after “Project Prism,” an exhaustive Toronto police probe into the 2017 disappearances of Esen and Kinsman. Detectives ultimately charged McArthur in eight deaths, including of two men who had never been reported missing.

But during the years men were going missing from the Village, McArthur had twice come onto their radar.

McArthur was first questioned during “Project Houston,” a special 2012-2014 probe into the disappearances of Navaratnam, Faizi and Kayhan, three men now known to be McArthur’s first victims. McArthur was brought in for a voluntary videotaped interview on Nov. 11, 2013, where McArthur offered up information that ultimately linked him to all three missing men.

It’s not clear what further investigation was done after the interview. Project Houston ended up homing in for months on the wrong man, Peterborough’s James Alex Brunton, after police recieved a tip that potentially linked him to Navaratnam.

After his 2013 interview and the closure of Project Houston, McArthur went on to kill five more men.

McArthur was also interviewed in 2016, after a man accused him of strangling him during a sexual encounter in the killer’s van. After the man says he escaped and dialed 911, McArthur turned himself in, where he told police he thought the man wanted it rough.

Police ruled there were no grounds to lay charges against McArthur and he was released unconditionally. Sgt. Paul Gauthier, the officer who conducted the investigation, faces professional misconduct charges in connection to the incident. McArthur went on to kill two more men, Kinsman and Esen.

Epstein’s review is also examining other cases of missing persons connected to the Gay Village, including the death of Alloura Wells, a 27-year-old transgender woman, and the murder of Tess Richey, 22.

Richey was reported missing in November 2017 and her body was later found in a Toronto stairwell by her mother, Christine Hermeston, who has sued Toronto police for their handling of her daughter’s disappearance. Kalen Schlatter was found guilty of first-degree murder by a jury last year for strangling and sexually assaulting Richey in a Church Street alley in 2017.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing for the Star. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis



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Amid calls to spend more time outdoors, some say running is seeing a pandemic boom – BC


When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March, Forerunners owner Peter Butler thought business at his running store would slow to a crawl.

In reality, it turned out to be the exact opposite.










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“Starting about this time last year, we saw a sudden surge which is continuing to today,” Butler said of business at his store on Vancouver’s west side.

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Butler said the pandemic has inspired many people to take up running.

“It feels a bit like it was in the 1990s when the marathon boom was on and the triathlons and marathons all took off,” he said. “It’s a bit déjà vu, you might say.”


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Butler said some of the people who may have stopped running after the 90s boom may have taken it up again as health officials urged the public to spend more time outdoors during the pandemic.

Steve Mattina of the Running Room also said he’s seen a rise in business.

“People are doing the right thing,” he said. “They’re heading outside for their exercise and there are a lot of people coming back to a sport they hadn’t been with for years.”

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Shane Park is an airline pilot in his 50s who was a big runner in his youth but fell out of the habit as his life got busier. Now he’s back.

“It’s simple,” he said. “If you have a spare half an hour or 40 minutes, you can just put on your shoes and you can just go for a run as a sport.”

So what advice does Butler have for new runners or people looking to get back into it?

Butler says it’s often best, as the old saying goes, to walk before you can run.

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“I would suggest a program where you start with fast walking and then eventually put in 30-second bursts of running and then over a 12- to 16-week period, you get up to about half an hour or 40 minutes of running non-stop,” he said.

Butler recommends running three to four days a week to get enough stimulus while also allowing time to recover.

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As for Park, he says running is one of the best antidotes for the stress that comes with life during a pandemic.

“It doesn’t have to be a huge run, whatever suits you,” he said. “But after you’re finished, it’s hard to feel worked up.”

— With files from Paul Johnson




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



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