A Casino owner and his actress wife who were arrested for flying to the Yukon to receive Covid jabs meant for vulnerable indigenous people could now face fail.
Rodney Baker, 55, and 32-year-old Ekaterina Baker flew 1,700 miles from Vancouver to Beaver Creek, a community of 90 people in Canada’s far northwest, on January 21.
They posed as visiting hotel workers to receive shots of the Moderna vaccine from a mobile clinic but were rumbled before they could fly home.
The Bakers were fined C$2,300 (US$1,800) for breaching Covid rules but community elders are demanding a tougher penalty be handed down.
On Wednesday, they were ordered to appear in court and have had their tickets home put on hold. If convicted they face a maximum of six months in jail.
Baker resigned as CEO of Great Canadian Gaming on Sunday but financial records show he’s raked in C$45.9m on the stock exchange in the last year.
Rodney Baker and his wife Ekaterina were arrested and fined for their January 21 trip
Ekaterina Baker and her husband Rodney were fined $900 each for their actions
Marc Miller, Canada’s federal Indigenous services minister, said this week he was ‘disgusted’ by their actions.
‘That is maybe the dumbest thing I’ve seen in a long while,’ Miller said. ‘I don’t know what went through those people’s minds.
‘There is extreme scarcity of the doses and for some reason people tried to game the system. It’s unfair. It’s wrong. They need personal reflection.’
Yukon’s community services minister, John Streicker, said that he was outraged and that members of White River First Nation in Beaver Creek felt violated.
The community was given priority to receive vaccine because of its remoteness, an elderly population and limited access to health care, White River Chief Angela Demit said.
‘There is nothing more un-Canadian than going to another jurisdiction to jump the line because you have the means to do so,’ British Columbia Premier John Horgan said.
The solicitor general for BC, Mike Farnworth, also criticized the Bakers. ‘It shows a complete lack of any sort of ethical or moral compass,’ he said.
The Bakers are charged with failing to self-isolate for 14 days and failing to act in a manner consistent with their declarations. They are due in a Whitehouse court on May 4.
The pair, who married in 2017, had first landed in Whitehorse on January 19.
Instead of respecting the mandatory 14-day quarantine, they then chartered a private jet to Beaver Creek, 1,700 miles north of their home in Vancouver.
Once in the rural community they claimed to work at a local motel.
Individuals living and working in the province don’t need Yukon ID to be vaccinated.
The government had previously announced that health cards from other jurisdictions would be accepted if the individuals were residents of the territory, and Baker and his wife gave ID from British Columbia and Ontario – the couple reportedly split their time between Vancouver and Toronto.
After being vaccinated, they left.
Locals were suspicious, however, and rang the motel, which confirmed the pair did not work there.
Rodney and Ekaterina Baker claimed they were working at a motel near Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek is home to around 100 people living near the Alaskan border in the far northwest
Beaver Creek airfield, where the couple landed on January 21, were vaccinated, then left
Officials working to enforce the Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) went to Whitehorse airport, with the aim of meeting their plane as it landed from Beaver Creek.
The pair had already disembarked, so the officials went to the place the two had listed as a quarantine location in their self-declaration, but found they were not there.
Upon returning to the airport officials found the couple preparing to leave Whitehorse and issued two charges each.
The maximum penalty under CEMA is a CA $500 ($390) fine plus CA $75 surcharge, six months in jail, or both.
Both individuals received two fines: one for failing to self-isolate and a second for failing to follow their signed declaration, adding up to CA $1,150 ($900) each.
Rodney Baker was the CEO of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC), a major owner of casinos and race tracks across Canada, until he resigned on Sunday, after his actions caused outrage in Canada.
His total annual compensation in 2019, according to the company’s public financial documents, was CA $10.6 million ($8.3m).
Rodney Baker was the CEO of Great Canadian Gaming Corporation from 2011 until Sunday
Ekaterina Baker used her Instagram to urge her followers to respect COVID-19 lockdowns
One of the Bakers’ charging sheets, filled in by a CEMA representative on January 21
The second charging sheet for the Bakers. They were fined a total of CA $1,150 ($900)
Russian-born Ekaterina Baker is an actress who recently had roles in the 2020 Christmas film Fatman and the 2020 comedy Chick Fight.
On her now-deleted Instagram account she urged her followers to respect COVID restrictions, Yukon News reported.
In a March 23 post she recorded herself with a notepad explaining reasons why she was staying home in quarantine.
‘During this unique and tender time I stay home for: all the kids so they don’t have to say goodbye to their parents and grandparents too soon,’ she wrote.
‘I stay home to be part of the solution. Everyone, stay home. It’s the right thing to do,’ she continued, adding that her father has diabetes and is vulnerable to the virus.