Whitehorse Daily Star

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Judge Mike Cozens

Couple fined for Beaver Creek vaccine caper

The two B.C. residents who failed to self-isolate after arriving in Whitehorse but instead travelled to Beaver Creek to get vaccinated pleaded guilty to two counts each of breaching public safety measures.

By Whitehorse Star on June 16, 2021

The two B.C. residents who failed to self-isolate after arriving in Whitehorse but instead travelled to Beaver Creek to get vaccinated pleaded guilty to two counts each of breaching public safety measures.

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker were both fined $500 on each count this morning in Whitehorse, amounting to total fines of $1,150 each when the $75 court surcharge is added on.

They pleaded guilty to failing to self-isolate and breaching the declaration they made upon arriving in Whitehorse by air that they would self-isolate in a local hotel room.

The couple appeared in court by video.

Their actions have been called disrespectful and potentially dangerous for residents of Beaver Creek.

Rod Baker resigned as president of Great Canadian Gaming, and surrendered his seat on the company’s board of directors as a result of the incident.

The court heard today that after arriving in Whitehorse last January, the wealthy couple charted a plane to take them to Beaver Creek instead of self-isolating as they said they would. They attended the COVID-19 vaccination clinic in the western Yukon community, then returned to Whitehorse on the charter the same day.

Community members became suspicions of the Bakers and contacted CEMA officials but they’d already departed the community.

Officials caught up with the couple at the Whitehorse airport, where they were waiting for a return flight home.

This morning, territorial court Judge Mike Cozens described the Bakers’ actions as deliberate, cavalier and reckless.

The incident, he said, caused great concern and fear among members of the Beaver Creek community.

“This is a community that immediately suffered the impact of somewhat cavalier behaviour,” Cozens said.

He invited the Bakers to make a personal apology to the comnunity.

The judge said working in the Bakers’ favour were their early guilty plea, their obvious remorse and voluntary $5,000 donations from each of them to COVAX.

COVAX is the international body that ensures access to the COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Bakers also reported their negative COVID-19 test results to the community when they became available, he said.

Defence lawyer Jennifer Cunningham said the Bakers have also faced the public embarrassment from all the national and international media coverage.

“The Bakers apologize unreservedly for their actions and for the impact on the community,” she said.

Janet Van Der Meer, a representative of the White River First Nation, read out a community impact statement at this morning’s sentencing hearing.

She said the reaction in the community to the incident went from shock to outrage.

“Many community members said they developed anxiety and had many sleepless nights after the incident,” she said.

Van Der Meer pointed out there were many people sitting with the Bakers at the community vaccination clinic, including many elders, the most vulnerable members of the community.

She cited several individual words community members have used to describe the incident and the Bakers – trauma, selfish, lack of trust, sneaky, liars, lack of respect, outrage, disgust, premeditated.

Those words, Van Der Meer said, she heard at community meetings.

Beaver Creek is a remote community with no doctors, and if anyone needs to see a doctor they have to make the 457-kilometre drive to Whitehorse, she noted.

Van Der Meer said the community was already dealing with a local economy that has been hit hard by the pandemic, particularly with its reliance on tourism.

In fact, she said, there are those who think Beaver Creek is less desirable for people to visit now.

After the incident, many felt unsafe, Van Deer Meer said.

“Our humble veneer has been scared by the actions of the two accused.”

Comments (16)

Up 0 Down 0

Robinhood on Jun 20, 2021 at 9:59 am

Dear John - Summary and Indictable offences are both criminal matters. They essentially set time constraints on the prosecution for offences and place limits on the maximum jail sentences etc.

There are hybrid offences which can be prosecuted as either or. The Crown elects to either proceed by way of summary or indictable processes. This is based on their analysis of the case strength, public interest, facts of the matter, and case law etc.

Perhaps you meant “administratively” rather than criminally?

Up 5 Down 16

John on Jun 18, 2021 at 8:02 am

Offences such as this should not be “summary offences”, meaning that you receive a ticket much the same as a parking ticket.
The stress and anxiety caused in this small community is unacceptable. If it was considered a criminal offence it would carry higher penalties and possibly jail time.
If I lived in Beaver Creek I would launch a class action lawsuit against them and make them pay (big) for their callous and reckless actions toward the town people.

Up 22 Down 3

marylaker on Jun 17, 2021 at 2:34 pm

Yes, they acted entitled and selfish, but I think we can drop the drama at this point. They did not spread any disease to anyone, they paid their debt to society, they donated $10,000 above and beyond to provide vaccines to those in need, he lost his 5 million dollar a year job, they have been the subject of international ridicule.

I hope that is enough for everyone out for blood.
I am still curious about why they did it. I guess there was no reason other than the obvious: that they wanted to jump the cue and get their own vaccines right away, and they figured they had the money to make that happen.

Up 15 Down 4

Resident on Jun 17, 2021 at 11:36 am

Proportional fining. Otherwise, you're just setting a price.

Up 14 Down 5

John on Jun 17, 2021 at 9:34 am

I think I would rather have read that they had the book thrown at them.

Up 20 Down 17

Ginger Johnson on Jun 17, 2021 at 9:07 am

YAWN - Time to MOVE ON local media.

Also time to start fining people who refuse to get vaccinated.

Up 15 Down 4

Hur dur on Jun 17, 2021 at 8:28 am

That will teach those pesky rich folk!

Mike cousins, that was a soft response.

Up 8 Down 2

martin on Jun 16, 2021 at 11:42 pm

@JSM: I guess one need to go to Law School, pass the Bar, practice as a lawyer for a couple of decades, become a Judge and then be bound by the estatue; sad, eh?

Up 9 Down 1

Al on Jun 16, 2021 at 10:19 pm

I agree Pat - let's move to more substantive issues. "Shylock has gotten his pound of flesh..."

Up 13 Down 10

Yukoner on Jun 16, 2021 at 8:40 pm

What a waste of everyone's time. Surely we didn't need to go through all the theatrics and they could have just paid the max fine. It's not like the residents of Beaver Creek are following all the rules, just their own special rule set.

Up 13 Down 6

Wowzers on Jun 16, 2021 at 4:57 pm

Limited fines like this allow the rich to treat the law as a minor nuisance while everyone else has to take them seriously or face real consequences.

Up 13 Down 6

Thomas Brewer on Jun 16, 2021 at 4:53 pm

Very disappointing result. The Bakers are worth tens of millions, a fine is just the cost of doing business.

Up 17 Down 3

Bud McGee on Jun 16, 2021 at 4:44 pm

This guy spends more on a pair of shoes. The fine is laughable.

Up 53 Down 8

Nathan Living on Jun 16, 2021 at 4:13 pm

Great, we can all move on.

Up 33 Down 34

JSM on Jun 16, 2021 at 3:24 pm

Not enough! Sad! I can not believe that this is all it came too for their act of self righteousness and selfishness. They should be locked up! A fine this small means nothing to people that rich, how ridiculous.

Up 42 Down 19

Matthew on Jun 16, 2021 at 3:14 pm

Chump change.. mockery really.

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