A doctor has been charged with first-degree murder as police investigate multiple suspicious deaths at the eastern Ontario hospital where he works, CBC News has learned.
Ontario Provincial Police were called to the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital, which is between Ottawa and Montreal, on Thursday evening, police said in a news release.
At a court appearance on Friday, Brian Nadler, 35, who lives in the western Montreal suburb of Dollard-Des-Ormeaux, was charged with one count of first-degree murder.
“Dr. Nadler maintains his innocence and the charges will be rigorously defended,” Ottawa defence lawyer Alan Brass told CBC News.
His next court appearance is scheduled for April 6.
Police didn’t say how long the investigation has been going on or how many deaths are being investigated. Ontario’s Office of the Chief Coroner is involved, it confirmed in an email.
“At this point in time, while we don’t know exactly how big this investigation will be, we are looking at other suspicious deaths that have occurred recently at the Hawkesbury hospital,” said OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson.
“Whether it proves that they are indeed something criminal or not, we will have to wait and see.”
He encouraged anyone with information to contact the local detachment.
“We promise we’ll conduct a complete and thorough investigation that you deserve to make sure that you in the Hawkesbury area and everyone else gets the answers,” Dickson said.
The hospital said in a statement that all patient services are being maintained and all appointments are being kept.
“We want to reassure our patients, their families and the entire community that the hospital campus is a safe place,” it said in its message released in French.
The hospital said it is working with police and is in touch with the families that have been affected. It’s also offering counselling and other services to its staff.
The hospital has also been dealing with two active COVID-19 outbreaks.
Doctor has Saskatchewan ties
Nadler has been licensed in Ontario since Feb. 4, 2020. He graduated from Montreal’s McGill University in 2010.
He was a resident at the University of Saskatchewan’s medical school from July 2014 to September 2018, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan told CBC in an email.
During that time, he faced two unprofessional conduct charges, the college said.
Documents show one charge was for allegedly calling a female colleague a “bitch” after an argument and telling someone else he “felt like slapping” that colleague. Another charge involved patient record-keeping.
The incidents linked to both charges allegedly occurred the same day in August 2014.
The college said he apologized and took a pair of courses about ethics and record-keeping. It did not proceed any further with the charges.
WATCH | Hawkesbury mayor urges calm:
Paula Assaly, mayor of Hawkesbury, says the Hawkesbury and District General Hospital remains open as provincial police investigate several suspicious deaths there. Police have charged a doctor with one count of first-degree murder. 0:30
The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons, which regulates and investigates doctors, said in a statement it will immediately look into “these extraordinarily disturbing allegations.”
Mayor Paula Assaly asked people to remain calm and not be afraid of seeking care at Hawkesbury and District General Hospital.
Toronto FC’s pre-season has ground to a halt after a number of positive COVID-19 tests.
The MLS team said Monday club personnel are currently isolating and training has halted pending contact tracing and follow-up testing. The club did not identify who tested positive, saying only they were members of the “team delegation.”
The club’s north Toronto training centre has been closed. The club had been practising behind closed doors there and at BMO Field, whose playing surface has underground heating.
GM Ali Curtis said it started with one positive test and is now at “a small handful” of positives, The club is now testing everyone daily while working with local health authorities with the goal of getting “back to training in a safe way.”
Citing privacy concerns, Curtis declined to comment on the condition of those who tested positive.
“We feel good about the strength of the medical protocols. We’re trying to be smart about this and trying to use all our resources to ensure that everyone returns to health and returns to play in a really, really safe way,” he said.
“Every team in every different league has been dealing with this. We were really fortunate in that last year we didn’t have one staff or player test positive during the season. Last season was a great season for us in that respect. This year, we’ve got to respond in the right way to make sure that everyone is as safe as possible.”
Toronto finished out the 2020 campaign in East Hartford, Conn., due to pandemic-related border restrictions. The club plans to begin the season in Florida, with “home” games either in Orlando or Tampa to start.
Toronto opened camp Feb. 17, allowed to begin its pre-season early to prepare for the Canadian Championship final against Forge FC of the Canadian Premier League. While no date has been announced yet for the game, March 20 has been floated.
The winner of the Canadian Championship advances to the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, to meet Mexico’s Club Leon in a round-of-16 tie that opens April 7.
The old saying holds that only fools and the dead never change their minds.
Health Minister Christian Dubé is neither of those things. Eighteen days ago, at a news conference about Quebec’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, Dubé insisted his hands were tied by Pfizer’s requirements that second doses of the two-dose protocol be held back to observe the prescribed 21-day interval between shots.
A course correction followed a few days later and this week, he announced second doses would be delayed up to 90 days.
“This is the best strategy,” he said, citing the urgency of the situation.
On Dec. 29, Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda sat next to Dubé at a news conference and alluded to the possibility that Pfizer could reduce its supply to Quebec if the province didn’t follow the recommendations, a prospect since echoed by federal officials.
Dubé this week: “We’re not asking permission.”
The reversal was sudden, it also represents an unusually aggressive move by a government whose response to the pandemic has been typified by cautious decision-making.
Going it largely alone on delaying doses for months suggests, above all else, that the Legault government is pushing its entire stack of chips onto the square marked “vaccines.”
The decision is based on the advice of experts from the province’s vaccine committee, the Comité sur l’immunisation du Québec, which studied clinical evidence. And it runs counter to guidelines from Pfizer and the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations.
A high-stakes gamble
The contrast with other major decisions made since the turn of the year is informative.
In the same week Dubé announced his department was going full bore on vaccination, it also announced an easing of restrictions on rapid testing.
And, last week, the province highlighted the portion of an expert panel’s report on air purifiers and filters in schools that confirmed the devices won’t interrupt the main causes of disease transmission — mainly, proximity of students — rather than the part indicating they help lower the number of viral particles in the air.
Take, as well, the provincial curfew that went into effect a week ago, which in effect relaxes a series of previously existing measures and does little to tackle what provincial statistics indicate are a key venue for transmission: workplaces, particularly in the construction and manufacturing sector.
The rationale has been that shutting down those industries on a large scale could imperil supply of essential goods.
It’s true there are few easy policy choices in the middle of a raging pandemic.
Why the unusual forcefulness and speedy action on vaccines, then? Perhaps because there is no discernible Plan B.
Still more that could be done
Many experts believe the new restrictions that went into place last Saturday won’t be enough — and argue more needs to be done in a number of areas including testing and contact tracing, stronger measures in schools and in the many workplaces that remain open.
The headline grabber of early 2021 is the curfew that requires people to stay home between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Non-essential retailers, as well as non-essential offices, restaurants, bars and gyms, were ordered to remain closed, while manufacturing and construction sectors — both major sources of new outbreaks — were allowed to stay open, unhindered.
“If the manufacturing industry is accounting for ongoing community transmission, which I suspect that it is, then there needs to be more control to ensure public [health] measures there,” said Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious diseases specialist at the McGill University Health Centre who is also a science advisor for the federal COVID-19 therapeutics task force.
Quebec Labour Minister Jean Boulet issued a statement Friday suggesting they may finally crack down. In a follow-up interview with Radio-Canada, he said inspectors will be “vigilant.”
“We won’t hesitate when there are violations of the health guidelines to hand out fines,” he said, though they have only handed out 21 at construction sites in the past week.
Schools, too, have been allowed to reopen. While the benefits of keeping them open are clear, Vinh said the government could still do more to get a handle on transmission, including a clearer stance on ventilation.
“If internally within schools there could be stricter public health measures, I think that would be helpful,” he said.
Premier François Legault has defended the measures by saying the curfew is a way to seize the public’s attention and to limit exposure to older people while they await the vaccine.
He has pointed out, repeatedly, that 80 per cent of those hospitalized are over the age of 65.
But, it remains unclear whether the curfew, and the other measures in place, will be effective on that front.
Then there’s the question of interrupting the contagion in the community.
As Eastern Townships Public Health Director Dr. Alain Poirier said this week, the virus “is everywhere.” Quebec has been reluctant to more widely employ rapid tests as a way to better understand exactly where the virus is spreading.
On Thursday, after 200 Quebec scientists published an open letter calling on the province to make more use of rapid tests, Dubé retreated from comments on Monday that the tests were unnecessary.
Based on a report from a panel of internal experts issued that same day, Quebec will start using rapid tests to bolster its regular testing capacity on a limited basis, in highly specific circumstances.
Is the change of heart enough? Not in the view of Dr. David Juncker, a testing expert who is chair of biomedical engineering at McGill University and a scientific adviser to Rapid Test and Trace Canada, which advocates for a large-scale implementation of the technology.
“It’s a step in the right direction … but it’s a little bit too little, too late,” Juncker told CBC’s Quebec AM. “That’s the real risk, that we’re trapped in cycles of too little, too late here.”
He likened the government’s approach to rapid testing — which it plainly views as unreliable and a major drain on human resources — to the discussion surrounding face masks in early 2020.
Provincial public health officials initially opposed masks, before realizing they could be a key tool in preventing the spread of the virus.
The National Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel, which issued its first report Friday, suggests rapid antigen tests could be exactly another useful tool, given the ability to test frequently and obtain instant results.
In a technical briefing this week, officials with Quebec’s Health Ministry defended their approach to rapid tests, saying the current testing regime is perfectly adequate, and that, in any event, they don’t have enough people to deploy them at scale.
What’s frustrating to experts like the signatories of the open letter is there doesn’t appear to be a plan to develop that capacity any time soon.
‘We need to kickstart now’
Frontline doctors remain concerned about the coming weeks, with intensive care wards in Montreal at risk of being overwhelmed.
As COVID-19 cases surge in Ontario and Quebec, hospitals in both provinces are preparing in case they can’t treat everyone and laying out the criteria for determining who gets prioritized for critical care. 1:47
Even if hospitals are able to hang on until Feb. 8, when the measures are set to lift, the province isn’t expected to begin vaccinating older people outside care until the middle of the month.
Vinh said Quebec’s situation is rendered “tricky” by the fact vaccine procurement and supply are out of its control.
The announcement from Pfizer on Friday that it would temporarily reduce shipments of its vaccine to Canada due to issues with its supply chain underscored the risks involved in the Legault government’s plan.
The pharmaceutical giant is pausing some production lines at its facility in Puurs, Belgium, in order to expand long-term manufacturing capacity.
The move means Quebec will receive 8,775 doses instead of the 46,800 originally scheduled for the week of Jan. 25, and 39,000 of the 82,875 doses expected the following week.
The disruption is far from catastrophic, given the doses will be replaced in later deliveries and Quebec is also receiving tens of thousands of vaccines from Moderna. But it will have an impact.
That was the week the province was supposed to begin vaccinating in private retirement homes.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Dubé said the supply chain hiccup merely reinforces Quebec’s decision.
“The strategy remains the same: we need to kickstart now and vaccinate as many vulnerable people and health-care workers as possible, as quickly as possible,” reads the statement.
Several people were injured when a car drove into a street protest in midtown Manhattan on Friday, the New York City Police Department said.
The protest march was passing through the intersection of 39th Street and Third Avenue at around 4 p.m. when the car went through, said Tom Ella, who was there documenting the demonstration.
“It just starts high-speed, just plowing through people,” he said.
The New York Fire Department said six people were taken by ambulance to local hospitals. Police and fire officials said the injuries didn’t appear to be life-threatening.
Police said the driver, a woman, was stopped near the area. She was taken into custody and was being questioned. It wasn’t clear if she would face charges.
WATCH | Woman detained by NYC police:
New York City police said a driver plowed a vehicle into a crowd of protesters Friday afternoon in Manhattan, causing multiple injuries. 0:28
In a video from Ella showing the car’s movements, a small group of protesters could be seen gathered around the car on 39th Street as it slowly approached the intersection with Third Avenue, with one person seemingly leaning over the front of the vehicle.
The car suddenly accelerated, knocking aside both the people who were blocking it and people who were in the intersection.
“Suddenly you hear the engine roar, you see them accelerate,” Ella said. “Just watching them actually hit people, it’s traumatizing, it’s horrifying.”
A participant in the protest, Sofia Vickerman of Denver, Colo., said that when the car hit the crowd it tossed people and a bicycle in the air.
“I hear people screaming in the front, I look behind me, the woman is plowing through,” she said. “I see bodies flying.”
She said the march started in Times Square and the aim was to draw attention to an ongoing hunger strike by immigration detainees at a jail in New Jersey.
Former Vancouver Whitecaps and Team Canada women’s soccer coach Bob Birarda has been charged with several sex offences against four individuals, according to the B.C. Prosecution Service.
The charges include six counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of sexual assault and one count of child luring.
The offences are alleged to have occurred over a 20-year span between Jan. 1, 1988 and March 25, 2008, at or near North Vancouver, Burnaby and West Vancouver.
None of the allegations has been proven in court and the names of the complainants are protected by a publication ban.
Whistleblower and former Whitecaps player Ciara McCormack said she was shocked to hear Birarda had been charged.
“It’s obviously been a very long journey for a lot of us,” she said. “There’s still a part of me that’s very upset about all the cover-ups that went on for years and allowed him to be on the field, and all the lives that were negatively impacted by him.”
McCormack is not a complainant in the case but she did bring the story to light in Feb. 2019 in a blog post titled “A Horrific Canadian Soccer Story,” which alleged abusive behaviour and harassment on the part of Birarda a decade earlier.
WATCH: Ciara McCormack said she was “suprised” but “grateful” to hear Birarda had been charged:
Former Whitecaps player Ciara McCormack said she was “surprised” but “grateful” to learn former women’s soccer coach Bob Birarda was charged with multiple sex offences in December 2020. McCormack was among the first to publicly raise allegations of abuse on the part of Birarda. (She is not a complainant in the criminal case.) 2:25
Soon after, a dozen former Team Canada players published a joint statement alleging Birarda had sent sexualized text messages to players, made sexual comments to players, touched players inappropriately and used his position of power to make sexual advances.
The allegations triggered a public backlash against the Vancouver Whitecaps, with fans staging walkouts during MLS games at BC Place Stadium to protest the club’s inaction in addressing the accusations.
“I’m so incredibly grateful,” said McCormack. “Because if they hadn’t done what they did, our voices wouldn’t have been amplified and I don’t know if these charges would have even happened.”
Birarda was released from his duties as head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps women’s team and the U-20 Canadian women’s team in 2008 with little explanation.
At the time the Canadian Soccer Association called it a mutual parting of ways.
Within months he was back coaching girls at a club team in Tsawwassen, B.C.
He continued coaching girls soccer until February 2019, when he was suspended from Surrey, B.C., club Coastal FC after McCormack’s blog when viral.
‘The system failed us’
McCormack says the Canadian Soccer Association and Whitecaps still have a lot to answer for.
“The individual behaviour of people within both those organizations was disgusting,” she said. “The Canadian Soccer Association has not addressed it and his coaching licence has not been suspended.”
“The system … failed all of us and it’s still failing players because nothing has changed.”
Birarda coached the Whitecaps and U-20 Canadian team in 2007 and 2008. He was also an assistant coach with the Canadian Olympic women’s soccer team in 2008.
In a written statement sent to CBC on Thursday evening, Vancouver Whitecaps CEO and sporting director Axel Schuster called the women who have come forward “brave,” writing “we should have been better, and for that we are sorry.”
“We maintain our commitment to the Safe Sport process we began last year to fulfill our responsibilities and do everything possible, so this never happens again,” the statement read in part.
CBC News has also reached out to the Canadian Soccer Association.
Birarda made his first appearance in North Vancouver Provincial Court on Wednesday. His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 28, 2021.
In 2018, scientists working on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express project reported Mars may have a liquid water reservoir under its barren surface. The evidence was interesting but not completely convincing. Now, Mars Express has confirmed the detection of that original underground lake and discovered three more. Naturally, this has scientists excited about the possibility for life.
Mars Express reached the red planet way back in 2003. After entering a stable orbit, Mars Express deployed the Beagle 2 lander, which sadly did not survive to reach the surface. It was rediscovered in 2015, though. Mars Express has gone on to make up for that early failure by reliably studying the planet in the intervening 17 years. The possible discovery of liquid water hiding under the southern polar ice cap is just the capstone for an already stellar mission.
Scientists made this detection using radar data from the orbiting spacecraft’s Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS). This instrument allows researchers on Earth to peer into the layers of material under the frigid surface. The way the signal bounces back denotes what kind of material reflected it. The team detected several areas of very high reflectivity that likely point to lakes more than a kilometer below the polar ice sheet.
The three bodies of water identified so far are spread over about 46,600 square miles (75,000 square kilometers), just a little smaller than the state of New York. The largest of the three lakes is in the middle, measuring roughly 18.6 miles (30 kilometers) across. The other three bodies of water surround that lake, but each is just a few miles wide. The team is confident its conclusions will be more convincing this time around — it incorporates data from 134 observations between 2012 and 2019. The previous announcement only used data from 29 radar passes. It’s up to other teams to verify these observations, but that could take time. A 2021 Chinese mission called Tianwen-1 might be able to confirm or refute the discovery.
We can only guess at the nature of these lakes right now, but the team says it’s likely the water is an extremely salty brine. That would explain how it has remained liquid even at the low temperatures on (and inside) Mars. Liquid water is believed to be necessary for the development of life as we know it, so these lakes will probably be a target of intense research in the future. Determining the salt content of the lakes will be vital in assessing their ability to support life. A high salt environment will kill most plants and animals on Earth, but there are some extremophile organisms that can thrive in up to 30 percent salt content. Maybe Mars is home to alien creatures that evolved to tolerate those salty conditions.
An ex-police officer accused of being the Golden State Killer, a serial predator who terrorized much of California with a string of slayings, rapes and break-ins over 10 years, pleaded guilty on Monday to multiple murder and kidnapping charges.
Joseph James DeAngelo, 74, entered the plea as part of a broader agreement with prosecutors from 11 California counties to admit to all allegations against him, charged and uncharged, in a crime wave dating back to the mid-1970s, prosecutors said at a hearing.
Under the terms of the plea deal, as outlined by prosecutors and a judge at the hearing, DeAngelo will face a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
While sparing the defendant from a potential death sentence, the deal also saves a dwindling number of aging survivors, victims’ families, witnesses and law enforcement officers involved in the case from prolonged legal proceedings, prosecutors said.
The plea hearing was held in a ballroom at Sacramento State University, rather than a courthouse, to allow for more distanced seating space amid the coronavirus pandemic.
DeAngelo, dressed in orange jail garb and slumped in a wheelchair with his mouth agape, answered “guilty” in a raspy voice when the judge asked his plea to the first of 13 counts of first-degree murder and kidnapping charges he faced, most of which also encompassed rape allegations.
WATCH | ‘Golden State Killer’ Joseph DeAngelo admits guilt in court:
Forty years after terrorizing parts of California, 74-year-old Joseph DeAngelo plead guilty to the first of several charges of murder and sexual assault. 1:00
He went on to plead guilty and admit to additional charges and allegations as prosecutors from 11 California counties took turns presenting “factual basis” statements graphically detailing every rape, murder and home invasion of which DeAngelo was accused.
The hearing wore on for more than three hours before the judge recessed the proceedings for a lunch break.
DeAngelo’s arrest in 2018 capped more than 40 years of investigation in a case that authorities said was finally solved by comparing crime-scene DNA evidence to information on genealogy websites that track ancestry.
In addition to 13 murders and kidnappings, prosecutors said DeAngelo was known to have committed nearly 50 rapes in all and more than 120 burglaries in and around Sacramento, the eastern San Francisco Bay area and Southern California.
The crimes spanned an 11-year period — from 1975 to 1986 — and began while DeAngelo was a police officer, authorities said. He served on two small-town departments during the 1970s.
The breakthrough came about two months after the case gained renewed national attention in the bestselling book I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara, which was published posthumously two years after the author’s death and has recently been made into an HBO documentary series.
The San Francisco 49ers acquired one Pro Bowl left tackle and said goodbye to another.
The defending NFC champion 49ers acquired seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams from the Washington Redskins on Saturday for a pair of draft picks and later announced that six-time Pro Bowler Joe Staley is retiring.
The Niners sent a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft and a 2021 third-rounder to acquire Williams, who still must pass a physical for the trade to be finalized.
The 49ers had a big need at left tackle because Staley informed them he planned to retire. He announced it later Saturday, saying a deteriorating neck injury led to his decision to retire after 13 seasons.
Eagles acquire WR Goodwin
The Philadelphia Eagles have acquired wide receiver Marquise Goodwin from the San Francisco 49ers.
The teams flipped sixth-round picks with Philadelphia getting No. 210 and San Francisco receiving No. 190.
Goodwin spent his first four seasons with Buffalo and past three in San Francisco. He has 140 receptions for 2,323 yards and 13 TDs in his career.
Goodwin has been plagued by injuries and played 16 games only once in 2017 when he had career highs in receptions (56) and yards (962).
The Eagles selected TCU wideout Jalen Reagor with the 21st overall pick. The 29-year-old Goodwin joins veterans DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Reagor, 2019 second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward, among others.
Dolphins add a RB
The San Francisco 49ers traded running back Matt Breida to the Miami Dolphins for a fifth-round draft pick on Saturday.
Breida, 25, rushed for 623 yards and one touchdown and caught 19 passes for 120 yards and one score in 13 games for the NFC champion 49ers last season.
Undrafted out of Georgia Southern in 2017, the speedy Breida rushed for 1,902 yards and six TDs and added 67 receptions for 561 yards and four touchdowns in 43 games with San Francisco from 2017-19.
The 49ers received the 153rd overall pick in return and selected West Virginia tackle Colton McKivitz.
Jets acquire CB Quincy Wilson
The Indianapolis Colts dealt cornerback Quincy Wilson to the New York Jets on Saturday for a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Indianapolis used the pick (No. 211 overall) to tab Massachusetts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers.
Wilson was a second-round draft pick in 2017 (46th overall) but failed to make an impact in three seasons with the Colts. He had 61 tackles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery in 29 games (10 starts).
The 23-year-old Wilson played in nine games in 2019 and had 11 tackles.
Rodgers had 11 interceptions in four seasons at UMass and returned three for touchdowns. He had four interceptions (including one for a score) in 2019.