Ex-Gaming Executive Pleads Guilty in Yukon Vaccine Trial

At the beginning of this year, Rod Baker who is now the former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, and his wife Ekaterina Baker attempted to get the vaccine ahead of time by traveling to the small town of Beaver Creek. The pair faced charges in court to which they have officially pleaded guilty this week.

In January the couple flew on a chartered plane to the small town of Beaver Creek in Yukon, where they presented themselves as local essential workers to get the vaccine early. This has led to major outrage as the small town consists mostly of elderly residents, who are much more in need of the vaccine instead of the millionaire couple.

Guilty

This week the Baker’s appeared before Justice Michael Cozens, Chief Judge of Yukon Territorial Court via video call connection, and have pleaded guilty to breaking the region’s Civil Emergency Measures Act. The couple who has made a CA$10,000 donation COVAX vaccine program has faced two charges each, one for breaking self-isolation rules and one for failure to follow declaration.

The fines will amount to around CA$2,300 and locals are still furious as fines will be “pocket money” for the couple as they have plenty of finances and the private jest has cost more than the fines. According to some aviation experts the Baker’s must have paid around CA$5,000 to charter the Piper PA31 Navajo plane from Whitehorse to the Yukon town.

Janet Vander Meer read a community impact statement during Wednesday’s court session, which claimed that the punishment was extremely inadequate. Ms. Vander Meer stated that the verdict is insulting for the 40 residents of the town who members of the White River First Nation and that this was another layer of trauma considering some of the residents are survivors of residential schools.

Mr. and Ms. Defense lawyer Jennifer Cunningham stated that the pair is remorseful of what happened and that they apologize for their actions. The judge agreed to the locals’ concerns and position on the matter and acknowledged that the couple has put the residents at risk. Judge Cozens stated that their actions were deliberate but the court had a limited authority to depart from the recommended sentence.

Immediate Resignation

Shortly after what happened in the Yukon town of Beaver Creek, Mr. Baker who was then employed by the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation as CEO has handed his resignation letter. His resignation was with immediate effect, but the gaming company refused to comment on his departure claiming that the corporation does not intervene with its staff members’ personal lives.

Recent Wrongdoings

Most recently the gaming conglomerate was involved in yet another set of controversies. Former staff members of the company’s Nanaimo Casino have directed serious allegations against the company and have even filed individual class-action lawsuits against it. The employees claim is that they were unfairly treated by the company and that they were wrongfully dismissed during the temporal layoffs and lockdown restrictions.

Source: Rubin, Josh “‘A slap in the face’: Millionaire casino exec and wife plead guilty to crashing Yukon COVID clinic — fined less than cost of chartered flight”, Toronto Star, June 16, 2021

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