A wealthy Canadian couple who lied, broke laws, and traveled thousands of miles to get a COVID vaccine have avoided jail time. Rod and Ekaterina Baker flew from Vancouver to Whitehorse, Yukon, in January but instead of isolating for 14 days as required, they chartered a plane to the tiny town of Beaver Creek after two days and posed as motel workers to get the vaccine at a local clinic. As a border community with a high proportion of elderly Indigenous residents, the remote town had been made a priority for vaccination. Residents said the couple deserved jail time for putting the community at risk, but they got away with fines totaling $1,800 at a Yukon Territorial Court hearing Wednesday, CBC reports. They could have received a maximum sentence of six months in prison for breaching coronavirus regulations.
"Fortunately, nothing physical happened in this case, no one got COVID as a result," said Judge Michael Cozens. Defense lawyer Jennifer Cunningham said the Bakers "apologize unreservedly" and have already been punished by online shaming. Rod Baker resigned as CEO of a casino company after the case made the news. Janet VanderMeer of the White River First Nation delivered a victim impact statement saying the community had been outraged and disturbed by the Bakers' actions. "Educate yourself on First Nations people and small communities," she told the couple. "Educate yourself.” She tells the Guardian that it is "unfortunate" they didn't receive a heavier sentence. "The judge seemed to be disgusted by their actions, but he also appeared to be limited with what he could do," she says. (Read more Canada stories.)