Greetings Passengers,

Congratulations! You’ve made it to my final Passage Daily. We did it gang! It’s Robert (@robert_hiltz) here one last time. More on why this is my last edition of the newsletter down below. First, we’ve got to news, my babies. So gather round. (Sorry, sorry, trying to delete it.)

So, right, yes. First we’ve got the story of the massive mob investigation York Region Police have completely tanked because of their alleged misconduct. Then it’s a quick trip to Ontario where the vaccination booking system won’t be ready for weeks. Then we’ve got a couple stories about the failures of the mandatory quarantine hotel stays for international travellers. Finally, a story on how Canada is keeping undocumented migrants in horrible conditions. 

One last time, here’s some news:

Ontario Cops Blew A Mob Investigation By Spying On Suspects’ Conversations With Their Lawyers

We spend a lot of time around these parts talking about how shitty cops are, and today is no different.

York Regional Police and the Canada Revenue Agency really blew it this time, after prosecutors had to effectively drop charges against high-level mob suspects because police did the one thing any idiot who’s seen a cop show knows you can’t do: spied on conversations between the accused and their lawyers.

This is much funnier than the typical police abuse of power, because now the cops are going to be forced to hand back all sorts of property they seized as part of their investigation. They made a big show back in the summer of 2019 of all the cars they took from the alleged mobsters — five Ferraris! Nineteen other “luxury” cars! — and the dozens of homes, enough high-end liquor to be worth $120,000, and 38 Rolexes. (The police get to hang onto the illegal gambling machines they seized.)

It’s an incredible self-own, especially because their big-named investigation Operation Sindacato — literally ‘syndicate’ in Italian — cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of $8 million, involved multiple police services both here and in Italy, and took a year-and-a-half to complete. 

They arrested nine people, including Angelo Figliomeni, the man they alleged was the boss of the ring police said was running illegal gambling, trafficking drugs, dabbling in fraud and laundering money through casinos. Cops alleged Figliomeni and his associates were connected to the ‘Ndrangheta — yes, that ‘Ndrangheta, the mafia-mafia — and Italian police rounded up another dozen people on that side of the Atlantic.

The Canadian case now amounts to nothing. All nine people initially charged have had their charges stayed. This theoretically means prosecutors could bring them back at any point in the next year, but after being accused of spying on the accused and their lawyers, that seems … unlikely.

Another stellar day for Canadian cops. You hate to see it!

Ontario Demands More Vaccines, Has No System To Book Vaccinations

  • Ontario’s large-adult general in charge of vaccine distribution says the province will have a vaccine booking system ready hopefully by the middle of next month. 
  • Retired general Rick Hillier — head of the province’s vaccine task force and Canada’s top general for three very successful years of the war in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2008 — says the province is still working on vaccinating front-line health workers and Indigenous adults in Northern communities.
  • Quebec opened up its vaccination bookings today for anyone over the age of 85, and people in Alberta over 75 could begin getting booked for their vaccine as of yesterday. Both systems ran into some hiccups on launch, but they, y’know, exist. Ontario hopes to begin booking people March 15.

International Traveller Mandatory Quarantine Not Going Great

  • Multiple people arriving at Toronto’s Pearson airport are skipping out on their supposedly mandatory three-day stays in quarantine hotels. Police won’t arrest anyone not complying with the rules, but have issued fines. The people trying to skip their hotel stay may also be subject to fines from the federal public health agency.
  • In Montreal, a 29-year-old man has been charged with sexual assault and other offences after allegedly assaulting a woman in a quarantine hotel. The woman told La Presse that the hotel had removed the locks from the doors of her room.

ICYMI: Migrants Being Held In Torture Conditions In Montreal-Area Detention Facility

Canada the good and great country is keeping undocumented migrants in solitary confinement, and denying them medical care when they’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19.

At a migrant jail in Laval, just north of Montreal, one prisoner says he’d been put in solitary confinement, unable to wash his clothes. When he began coughing up blood after a COVID diagnosis, he was given Tylenol. Another said the air quality in his cell is so bad he has to coat his nose in vaseline to keep his lungs from filling with dust as he sleeps.

One man at the Laval Immigration Holding Centre is on hunger strike after testing positive for COVID earlier this week.

He explains why, via Ricochet: “I’ve seen guards cough and sneeze with no mask and without washing their hands,” said Marlon, in a statement released by Solidarity Across Borders on Tuesday. “My fundamental rights are being violated. Among them, my right to health.” 

He says he’ll end his hunger strike when he and the other detainees are released. The Canada Border Services Agency is holding 151 people in detention across the country.

DIG DEEPER: COVID Cases More Than Doubled In Federal Prisons During Second Wave

I’m not sure what else to say about this one really. It’s just one more example of how our self-conception as a nice country is a self-delusion covering for what a brutal and uncaring government we have, as long as the brutality happens just a little bit out of sight.

Kinda sucks.

Well, folks. That’s it for me here. It’s been a real pleasure being invited into your inboxes day in and day out for these past months. I hope I’ve been able to show you some stories you would have otherwise missed, and maybe put a spin on things that gave you a different look at the world and this super great country of ours.

It’s been a lot of fun doing all of this. It’s not often you get the opportunity to just write what you want — even those intros, all of which ran as I wrote them, even when I falsely accused them of censoring me from saying Christmas — and it’s a special thing. I’m grateful to the whole team at Passage for the opportunity.

And I’m grateful to all of you, dear readers. It’s because of your support that we were able to do this for as long as we did. I got paid because of your support, and I can’t say thank you enough. But, well, thank you. For reading, for your attention and for your occasional messages. Feel free to keep in touch, via email or on Twitter.

Taylor, Geoff and Davide will have more news next week sometime about what you can expect will replace Passage Daily.

I’m not sure when the next time is going to be, but until then, I hope to see you all again.

And tomorrow, come back for the very last Passage Daily with the one, the only, the Great Jeremy Appel. (It’s fun, because he can’t say anything nice about me taking the next issue, because there isn’t one. So I get the last word by going second-last.)

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