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Couple pleads guilty of travelling to Yukon for COVID shot

·2-min read

WHITEHORSE, Yukon (AP) — A husband and wife accused of flying to a remote Indigenous community in Yukon Territory to get vaccinated for the coronavirus in January have each pleaded guilty to two counts of violating of the territory’s Civil Emergency Measures Act.

Rodney Baker, the former chief executive of the Great Canadian Gaming Corp., and his wife Ekaterina Baker appeared remotely in a Whitehorse courtroom on Wednesday to plead guilty to failing to self-isolate for 14 days and failing to act in a manner consistent with their declarations upon arriving in Yukon.

The court heard the couple from Vancouver chartered a plane to Beaver Creek, a small community near the Alaska border, where they were vaccinated at a mobile clinic before flying back to Whitehorse.

Territorial enforcement officers later intercepted the couple as they were in line to fly back to Vancouver and handed them violation tickets.

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission, ordering the Bakers to pay the maximum of $500 Canadian (US$408) for each charge, a total of $1,000 Canadian (US$817) each, plus a victim surcharge.

The court heard the Bakers had each donated $5,000 Canadian (US$4,085) to the global vaccine sharing effort known as COVAX, while the judge encouraged the couple to offer their reparations directly to the Beaver Creek community, which is home to the White River First Nation.

The community was given priority to receive vaccine because of its remoteness, an elderly population and limited access to health care.

Baker resigned as Great Canadian Gaming Corp.’s president and chief executive after a media report of his actions.

An information circular published by Great Canadian Gaming in March said Baker earned a total of about $6.7 million Canadian (US$5.5 million) in compensation from the company in 2019. The company owns and operates more than 20 casinos in British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Baker became president in 2010 and CEO the following year.

Ekaterina Baker is an actress.

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