Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Casino boss, wife lose big after jetting in to jump queue for Covid jabs

They flew in a private plane to a remote northern indigenous community specifically to get speedier shots.

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The CEO of a casino company valued at nearly US$2 billion has resigned after he and his wife were charged with lying to officials to get Covid vaccinations.

Rod Baker, 55, of the Great Canadian Gaming Corp, and his wife Ekaterina, 32, had travelled to the remote northern Yukon territory specifically to get speedier shots.

The region, home to many indigenous people, has a faster vaccination rate than in the rest of Canada.

The couple had posed as motel workers but were quickly unmasked by locals.

They were discovered after asking to be taken to the airport, where their private jet was waiting, straight after their vaccinations last week in the small community of Beaver Creek, on the border with the US state of Alaska.

“I am outraged by this selfish behaviour,” said Yukon’s Community Services Minister John Streicker. “We never imagined that someone would go to this sort of length to mislead or deceive.”

In a statement to BBC News, the Great Canadian Gaming Corp said that as of Sunday, Rod “is no longer affiliated in any way with the company”.

According to Canadian media reports, Ekaterina is a Russian-born aspiring actress who has recently appeared in films “Fatman” and “Chick Fight”.

Meanwhile, White River First Nation Chief Angela Demit, leader of the local indigenous nation, told the Washington Post, “It’s clear to me that because we are a predominantly indigenous community, they assumed we were naïve.”

She called the fines of a few thousand dollars the couple are facing “essentially meaningless” given their wealth.

The community is a five-hour drive from the nearest major hospital, putting residents at a higher risk of death if they contract the virus.

Janet Vander Meer, who is leading the White River First Nation’s coronavirus response team, told Canada’s Global News on Monday, “That’s got to be jail time. I can’t see anything less. For what our community has been through the last few days. The exhaustion. It’s just mind-boggling.”

The Bakers were also later fined for failing to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving in Yukon from the city of Vancouver, where they live.

According to the New Hamburg Independent newspaper, the couple had to walk back to Beaver Creek airport after everyone in the town of less than 125 residents refused to give them a ride.

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