Search for missing Merritt cowboy suspended after 7 days amid frigid conditions

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After seven days of combing the Merritt, B.C., backcountry for a missing cowboy amid frigid conditions, officials have suspended their search.

Sixteen search and rescue teams from across B.C., along with three dog teams and two aircraft, were active Sunday, looking for Nicola Ranch manager Ben Tyner before the search was called off.

Tyner was last seen on Saturday, Jan. 26. His horse was found saddled but riderless two days later, sparking the search.


READ MORE:
Merritt search continues with some questioning if cowboy’s disappearance is suspicious

“We are into day seven, we’ve covered a lot of terrain, we’re quite confident that most of the terrain that we’ve covered is our highest probability,” said Merritt RCMP spokesperson Const. Tracy Dunsmore.

“Without any further evidence to look anywhere else, with the weather … it’s very icy, we have a skiff of snow, so its becoming dangerous for the searchers and they’ve been out for seven days so fatigue starting to set in.

“We call it a suspension, so our file is ongoing, the RCMP will continue to investigate. If we find another area that we need to search or find other evidence that we need to search we can cal the search back on and look in those areas.”

Search-and-rescue incident commander Paul Berry said crews had turned their attention towards drainages and rivers downhill from where Tyner’s horse was found.

WATCH: Search continues for missing cowboy near Merritt






“Downhill travel is very common for people who are lost or injured, or it’s a place to get out of the weather,” said Berry. “Each of those drainages is being searched by teams of three.

“Teams were dropped by helicopter up in the higher elevations earlier this morning. They were working at temperatures of -24 C at elevation and winds and snow, so difficult search conditions today.”

READ MORE: Mystery of missing Merritt cowboy deepens as search continues amid plunging temperatures

There has been some speculation that Tyner’s horse was transported to the area by trailer, though police have downplayed any suspicions of foul play.

Berry said it’s still unclear how the horse ended up in the location where it was found by hunter Kim Robinson on Monday.

WATCH: Search underway near Merritt for missing cowboy






“Part of the work we’ve been trying to do is piece together a timeline and piece together information about how Ben was transported — was he transported by a trailer — and we don’t have any confirmation of that at all,” he said.

“Nothing has been identified at this point to indicate Ben or any of his footprints or any sign of Ben in relation to the horse.”

Berry said that as the search has continued, the Merritt community has been doing its best to support Tyner’s family, who travelled to the area from Wyoming on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Ben Tyner’s family joins desperate search for missing Merritt, B.C. cowboy

“We’ve had a great opportunity to meet with the family on a daily basis. Clearly, this is a family that is deeply worried about their son,” said Berry.

“They are fully aware of the weather conditions that we’re operating in and that a search can only go on so long, but they are a wonderful family and are being very supported by people here in the Nicola Valley.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Hazardous conditions expected overnight as weather continues to wreak havoc in Toronto

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The GTA weathered a heavy storm Monday, enduring more than 20 cm of snow with strong winds and hazardous travel conditions that are expected to continue into Tuesday morning.

Environment Canada issued a winter storm warning for the City of Toronto around 5:30 p.m., replacing the snowfall warning from earlier in the day.

The weather had a significant impact on the Monday evening commute, with blowing snow reducing visibility almost to zero at times.
The weather had a significant impact on the Monday evening commute, with blowing snow reducing visibility almost to zero at times.  (Rene Johnston / Toronto Star)

Inclement weather had a significant impact on road conditions throughout the day Monday and through the evening commute, with visibility reduced almost to zero at times. The weather forecaster has said blowing should slowly taper off overnight but road conditions are expected to be treacherous.

Shortly after 11 p.m. the weather agency issued an update advising people to “avoid travel tonight and Tuesday morning if possible.”

Air travel was heavily affected throughout the day on Monday. Hundreds of flights — over 30 per cent of all arrivals and departures — were cancelled at Pearson Airport throughout the day. According to GTAA spokesperson Robin Smith, the airport and various airlines “agreed on a reduced rate of departure,” meaning flights were staggered for “safety’s sake.”

Dozens of flights at Billy Bishop Airport were delayed or cancelled throughout the day as well.

Police reported trouble with stuck cars on the Don Valley Parkway northbound near the Don Mills exit around 9:30 p.m. Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson tweeted that there were “many cars” stalled or unable to manage in the snow. Officers requested the assistance of any available tow trucks to help free the cars.

According to Metrolinx, buses experienced up to 30-minute delays in the afternoon, increasing to delays of up to 80 minutes through the evening. As of around 8 p.m. Monday evening, all train lines were operating with 10- to 15-minute delays.

Metrolinx media relations spokesperson Fannie Sunshine said Metrolinx’s TTC GO protocol was in effect through Monday evening and night to alleviate some of the snow-induced chaos. The protocol allows commuters to use GO transit within the City of Toronto on a TTC fare, and vice versa.

The TTC shut down Line 3 around 4 p.m., replacing service with 17 shuttle buses between Kennedy and Scarborough Town Centre stations. TTC media relations spokesperson Stuart Green cited operator visibility challenges and significant snow buildup as the reasons for the closure.

“Better safe than sorry,” he tweeted.

The TTC also experienced a closure unrelated to the weather around 8 p.m. when police received reports of a man with a gun approaching people at Dundas station. Line 1 was closed between Bloor and Union stations for several minutes while police investigated.

The man was eventually arrested.

Toronto Transportation Services began salting main roads around noon and continued through the evening rush hour.

Plowing operations for the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway began around 5 p.m., with plowing for main roads beginning at 6 p.m. and continuing through the evening.

Sidewalk plowing on high-volume routes took place from 6 p.m. to around 2 a.m., and then resumed around 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Schools across the GTA remained open Monday despite the weather.

Toronto District School Board spokesperson Ryan Bird said no classes were cancelled, but warned parents to expect afternoon school bus delays.

Both the Peel District School Board and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board cancelled all buses to schools in Mississauga and Brampton, though schools remained open. The latter board also shuffled high school exam schedules as a result of the storm.

Commuters were hit with heavy snow Monday as they tried to leave the city and head home. (Toronto Star)

The Halton District School Board cancelled all after-school activities, and the Peel District School Board cancelled continuing education courses, night school, adult ESL programs and adult credit classes for the day.

Post-secondary institutions across the city closed their doors as well. George Brown College closed at 3 p.m., the University of Toronto Mississauga and Sheridan College UTM campuses at 4 p.m., and U of T’s Scarborough campus at 5 p.m.

Ryerson and OCAD Universities cancelled all classes after 6 p.m. Ryerson campus remained open, while OCAD closed all school buildings. All Humber College campuses and the University of Guelph-Humber also closed at 6 p.m..

U of T’s downtown campus cancelled classes and course-related activities at 6 p.m., although campus remained open.

Environment Canada predict snowfall accumulations of up to 25 cm by Tuesday morning. The highest amounts were predicted closer to Lake Ontario due to extra moisture from the lake. The snowfall was the result of an Alberta Clipper that crossed the region.

Winter storm warnings are issued when multiple types of severe weather are expected to occur together.

With files from Mississauga News.

Ilya Bañares is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @ilyaoverseasRhianna Jackson-Kelso is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @RhiannaJK

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Video from Toronto shelters shows ‘inhumane’ conditions, indicates shelter system is broken, advocate says

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Inside one of Toronto’s warming centres, dozens of small beds are placed alongside the walls, with homeless people covering themselves in Red Cross-issued blankets.

At a 24-hour respite centre that’s supposed to host 100 people, many rows of small beds are lined up in a dimly lit hallway. Some people are curled up in their beds, others are milling around. There’s indistinctive noise from all around, and at some point someone somewhere seems to be banging on the door.

A video taken from inside the city’s respite centres and shelters shows conditions in which homeless people are living on a particularly cold evening in January 2019. This clip has been shortened from the original 6-minute version.

“Someone in there?” a voice asks later, as a note indicates one of four washroom stalls is out of order.

That’s part of what is contained in a six-minute video secretly filmed this past weekend offering a glimpse inside various drop-in centres and respite and warming locations as the city grapples with housing the homeless population amid extreme cold weather.

Street nurse and longtime homeless advocate Cathy Crowe said the “inhumane” conditions observed at the sites indicate how the shelter system is broken.

“We are now in a position where we are housing people in places that are not shelters,” she said of the city’s overnight drop-in, respite and warming centres, where more than 1,000 people — young and old, male and female — are currently being housed.

“That’s the only place they can go, and they are going to be there for weeks and months on end.”

In addition to existing shelters, the city has opened a number of 24-hour respite sites and drop-in centres to help homeless people who need shelter during the extreme cold weather period.

Crowe described the “shame” of living in a “dismal-looking” and crowded hallway with not enough space for people to securely store their belongings. Bathrooms and showers are scarce, and a number of them are out of order.

Some of the occupants are in wheelchairs, use walkers or have others medical issues, making it difficult for them and the rest of occupants to feel properly cared for, she said.

A secretly filmed video shows conditions inside various Toronto drop-in, respite centres.
A secretly filmed video shows conditions inside various Toronto drop-in, respite centres.  (YouTube)

“There’s a lot of coughing, a lot of tension,” said Crowe, noting the city’s response to the homeless issue has created “a second-tier of shelter that’s not really proper shelter.”

She said it is important for the public to see videos and images from inside the centres to understand the magnitude of the issue.

“I think they’re used to seeing pictures like that after a catastrophic thing like hurricane Katrina or in other countries a tsunami or a mass of fire or power outage,” she said.

Cathy Crowe stands beside a homeless memorial at The Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto on January 12, 2016. Crowe, a street nurse and longtime homeless advocate, says the “inhumane” conditions observed at the city's  drop-in centres indicate that the shelter system is broken.
Cathy Crowe stands beside a homeless memorial at The Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto on January 12, 2016. Crowe, a street nurse and longtime homeless advocate, says the “inhumane” conditions observed at the city’s drop-in centres indicate that the shelter system is broken.  (Randy Risling/Toronto Star)

Crowe and other advocates will join some city councillors on Tuesday to lobby for the ongoing homelessness issue to be declared an emergency, and seek for more help from all levels of government and other organizations. Four homeless people have died on the streets so far this year, including Hang Von, 58, who was struck by a garbage truck driver last week.

Mayor John Tory has been reluctant to officially declare an emergency situation over the homeless issue, something Crowe called “upsetting.”

“He used the word ‘urgent’ but refuses to use ‘emergency’ or ‘crisis’ or ‘disaster,’” she said. “I think he is extremely out of touch with the overall situation and continues to stigmatize the issue by blaming it on either mental health issues or refugees, and it’s just so wrong.”

Tory’s spokesperson Don Peat said the city’s own report on street needs assessment last year showed 32 per cent of respondents had a mental health issue and 27 per cent had an addiction issue, while 40 per cent were refugees or asylum claimants.

“The Mayor is being honest with the public about the underlying issues putting additional pressure on our shelter system and his commitment to working with city council, city staff, community organizations, and the other governments to tackle homelessness and the issues that contribute to homelessness,” he wrote in a statement.

Gilbert Ngabo is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @dugilbo

Read more:

Opinion | Rosie DiManno: It’s tough to be homeless in Toronto — and it’s getting tougher

Under the Gardiner: ‘We check in on each other, that’s kind of the reason to be here’

Edmonton winter warming bus helps city’s homeless chart a route to survival

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Poor conditions hamper efforts to fight fire on ship headed for N.S.

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A firefighting tugboat arrived Friday evening to help extinguish a fire burning aboard a container ship that’s about 1,500 kilometres southeast of Halifax, but weather conditions remain too poor for the crew to carry out its work.

The international shipping company Hapag-Lloyd said the 320-metre Yantian Express was en route to Halifax on Thursday when a fire started inside a container on the ship’s forward deck and then spread to several other containers.

« The weather and sea conditions are still difficult and further extinguishing work requires an improvement of these conditions, » said company spokesperson Tim Seifert in an email.

None of the Yantian Express’s eight officers and 15 seafarers are injured.

The ship was on its way from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Halifax via the Suez Canal.

Seifert said it’s not clear when the vessel will arrive in Halifax.

A cargo ship from the Netherlands, the MV Happy Ranger, was offering assistance to the Yantian Express, but has since been relieved by the firefighting tugboat.

Seifert said it’s too soon to know how much damage the cargo or ship suffered.

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Most of Newfoundland digs out from overnight storm, more blizzard conditions coming

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Winds blew strong and snow fell hard overnight for most of eastern and central Newfoundland, with some places still under a blizzard warning on Wednesday morning.

At St. John’s International Airport, most flights are cancelled or delayed, after 22 cm of snow fell overnight. Gander reported 24 cm overnight as high winds caused heavy drifting.

On the Avalon Peninsula, police are warning drivers to stay off the Trans-Canada Highway, saying visibility is near zero.

All government offices in St John’s and Mount Pearl are closed for the morning, with a further update coming at 11 a.m.

There will be a break in the inclement weather for a period on Wednesday morning, before a second storm system sweeps through bringing more snow with it.

In central, the second storm is expected to bring an additional 15-35 cm of snow as winds gust to 130 km/hr.

For St. John’s and vicinity, another 10 cm is expected to fall before Thursday morning, with winds gusting to 110 km/hr.

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Omar Khadr’s request for eased bail conditions denied by judge

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An Edmonton judge has denied former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr’s request to have his bail conditions eased.

There’s no evidence of hardship or that the conditions are needlessly onerous, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice June Ross said Friday.

She said nothing has really changed since the last time Khadr asked for changes to his bail conditions and the restrictions he faces are « reasonable » and « standard. »

Ross said her decision is not etched in stone and conditions could change in the future.

« Based on all of the evidence I have seen, Mr. Khadr is not a flight risk or a risk to public safety, » Ross said. « Nonetheless, it seems to me it’s reasonable to make sure the courts are kept up to date on his whereabouts and activities.

« The public would expect we have up-to-date information about his whereabouts, » Ross added. « They would expect reasonable travel restrictions. »

Khadr, 32, has been on bail since May 2015 pending an appeal of his conviction by a U.S. military commission on alleged war crimes. The appeal has stalled, so Khadr has no idea how long he will be on bail.

Khadr didn’t speak to reporters after Friday’s ruling.

« We’re going to review the decision and consider our next steps, » his lawyer, Nathan Whitling, said outside court.

Whitling said it’s not fair that Khadr’s life remains restricted by a stalled U.S. court process with no end in sight.

« His case is different because of the extraordinarily long time that he’s been on bail … because of the extraordinary delays that have occurred with his foreign appeal, » Whitling said in an interview.

Wanted to make pilgrimage to Mecca

Khadr wanted to be able to travel to Toronto without the approval of his bail supervisor to visit his family more easily and to make court appearances related to a civil lawsuit filed by the family of an American soldier killed in the Afghanistan firefight in which Khadr was captured in 2002.

He also wanted unsupervised conversations with his sister and a Canadian passport so that he could make the hajj to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The Islamic religious pilgrimage is considered obligatory for practising Muslims.

Currently, he must contact his bail supervisor if he wants to leave Alberta. He can only talk under supervision to his sister Zaynab, who has spoken in favour of al-Qaeda and was investigated in Canada more than a decade ago for helping the terrorist network.

Khadr said his sister now lives in the country of Georgia.

Whitling said his client has lived quietly for years, is happily married, follows bail conditions to the letter and poses no threat. Khadr’s affidavit says he has been to Toronto eight times without issue since the conditions were imposed.

‘Depressive symptoms’

In support of the application to ease bail conditions, Whitling submitted a letter from Brooklyn, N.Y., psychologist Katherine Porterfield. She has been in regular contact with Khadr since his detention as a teenager at Guantanamo Bay.

Porterfield believes Khadr’s mental health is suffering due to the ongoing nature of his bail conditions.

« He has recently experienced some depressive symptoms, as well as an increase in his symptoms of PTSD, » Porterfield wrote. « Specifically, [he] is manifesting a foreshortened sense of future and a return of symptoms of hyperarousal and re-experiencing of memories of prison. »

The psychologist’s opinion is that Khadr’s « legal limbo » is triggering memories of the time he spent as a teenager in Guantanamo Bay.

Ross called Khadr’s feelings « understandable, » but said they don’t change the fact that he has not served his sentence for crimes to which he pleaded guilty.

« Bail cannot provide an alternative way to serve his sentence, » Ross said.

This is Khadr’s latest of several attempts for relaxed bail conditions. In 2017, a judge denied most of his requests.

Khadr was sent to the notorious U.S. military holding facility at Guantanamo Bay in 2002 after he was captured and accused of throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in 2002.

When Khadr was captured, he was 15. He says he can’t remember killing a soldier. He says he only confessed to the crime to get out of Guantanamo and into the Canadian justice system.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that his rights were violated while he was in captivity in the U.S. and that the Canadian government had contributed to that. Khadr settled a lawsuit against Ottawa in 2017 with a $10.5-million payout.

2nd application also dismissed

Khadr’s lawyer hopes to replace his client’s indefinite bail situation with parole, since parole could include a definite end date. The parole board has refused to grant Khadr a hearing because he is not in custody.

Whitling asked Ross to sign an order that would revoke his bail at the start of a parole board hearing, and reinstate it if the parole board deferred or denied the request for parole.

Ross refused.

« Such decisions should not be made based on future hypothetical circumstances that may or may not occur, » Ross said, adding that if a parole hearing is scheduled, Whitling can bring forward the application again.

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En finir avec les déplorables conditions de travail des services d’aide à domicile

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La ministre de la Santé et des Services sociaux Danielle McCann a annoncé le 5 décembre que les établissements publics obtiendront le financement nécessaire pour répondre à l’ensemble des besoins de services à domicile de la population. Les résultats des recherches que nous menons nous incitent à dire qu’une réponse adéquate à ces besoins nécessitera que le gouvernement s’attaque aux déplorables conditions de travail du personnel qui dispense ces services. C’est là que prend principalement racine la pénurie de main-d’oeuvre pointée par les directions des établissements publics et des sous-traitants.

Il faut mettre fin une fois pour toutes à la dévalorisation du travail d’assistance à domicile qui persiste dans ce secteur d’emploi majoritairement occupé par des femmes, dont une proportion importante est issue de l’immigration récente. Ce travail exige des compétences de plus en plus diversifiées, bien qu’elles soient paradoxalement de moins en moins reconnues, car les besoins se complexifient sans cesse avec l’augmentation de la longévité.

Faut-il rappeler que le prédécesseur de la ministre McCann, le ministre libéral Gaétan Barrette, prétendait aussi vouloir répondre aux besoins en faisant croître le nombre d’usagers desservis? Sa réforme de 2015 a reposé sur une gouvernance centralisée et autoritaire du réseau jumelée aux déshumanisantes méthodes de gestion toyotistes. Les effets sur les conditions de travail et d’emploi, de même que sur la santé du personnel, devraient être pris en compte par la ministre pour que les changements ne soient pas cosmétiques.

Dans les établissements publics, le personnel dispensant les services d’aide à domicile, les auxiliaires aux services de santé et sociaux (ASSS), a subi une importante intensification de son travail. L’augmentation du nombre de domiciles desservis est allée de pair avec la réduction du temps alloué pour les services, à commencer par leur intrinsèque dimension relationnelle.

Privatisation des services

La réforme Barrette a aussi accentué la privatisation des services d’aide à domicile. Pour atteindre les cibles fixées malgré des budgets insuffisants, les directions de centres intégrés de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) et de centres intégrés universitaires de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) ont lancé des appels d’offres auprès des prestataires privés, tant des agences privées de location de personnel que des entreprises d’économie sociale en aide à domicile (EESAD).

En vertu de la Loi sur les contrats des organismes publics adoptée en 2006, les organismes publics doivent adjuger le contrat au prestataire qui a soumis le prix le plus bas, ou encore à une série de prestataires ordonnés selon leurs prix. Le journaliste de Radio-Canada Davide Gentile a montré, dans son reportage du 30 novembre, que la part des heures de services dispensée par les agences privées a substantiellement augmenté en 2017-2018 dans les CIUSSS de Montréal.

Dans les régions où ces agences privées n’ont pas encore consolidé leurs activités, les EESAD se concurrencent entre elles pour se conformer à la norme du plus bas soumissionnaire. (…)

La rémunération du personnel des agences (le salaire minimum, ou à peine plus) et des EESAD est très faible comparativement à celle des ASSS du secteur public, même si leur salaire réel a diminué dans la décennie 2000. Dans le privé, les horaires de travail sont fréquemment à temps partiel, variables et fragmentés sur la journée et la semaine. Les exigeantes obligations de disponibilités de ce travail sur appel entraînent des difficultés d’articulation travail-famille. Les contrats « à exécution sur demande » avec les agences prévoient de courts délais (de 10 minutes à deux heures) avant que le 2e plus bas soumissionnaire ne soit sollicité.

La qualification professionnelle exigée varie d’un prestataire privé à l’autre, mais est de façon générale largement moindre que celle des ASSS, détenant le diplôme professionnel de 975 heures en assistance à domicile. Pourtant, les services achetés que décrivent les appels d’offres comportent de l’aide à domicile — soins d’hygiène, aide à l’alimentation, déplacements, etc. —, et souvent de l’assistance aux personnes en fin de vie et des soins invasifs réservés au personnel infirmier jusqu’en 2004 (administration de médicaments, injection d’insuline, alimentation par gastrotomie).

La qualification professionnelle du personnel est indispensable, de même que son intégration dans les équipes multidisciplinaires des établissements publics, comme c’était le cas auparavant. Le personnel du secteur privé souhaitant intégrer les postes créés dans le secteur public pourrait être incité financièrement à suivre la formation professionnelle d’ASSS. Pour répondre adéquatement aux besoins de services et viser la qualité de ceux-ci, non seulement faut-il plus de personnel, mais aussi faut-il que celui-ci ne soit ni précaire ni rendu malade à cause de la charge de travail, et qu’il puisse négocier collectivement ses conditions de travail pour contrer la traditionnelle dévalorisation sexuée et racisée de ce travail.

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Ottawa police officer charged with sexual assault granted bail with conditions – Ottawa

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A suspended Ottawa police officer accused of 32 criminal offences, including sexual assault and forcible confinement, will be released from prison on Thursday with strict bail conditions.

Const. Eric Post, 47, was arrested two weeks ago. He appeared in court in Ottawa on Wednesday for his bail hearing wearing a grey, hooded sweater with an orange shirt underneath.


READ MORE:
11 new charges against Ottawa police officer accused of sex assault, uttering threats

The proceedings and the judge’s deliberation took up most of the day. A publication ban in this case prevents media from reporting on evidence presented during the proceedings and the reasons provided by the judge.

Post has been charged with assault, sexual assault, criminal harassment, intimidation, uttering threats, pointing a firearm and breach of trust by an official in connection with complaints reported to police by seven different women.

Under his bail conditions, Post must wear an electronic ankle bracelet that tracks his movements and remain essentially under house arrest, residing full-time at his home in Ottawa with his mother, who will serve as his surety.

With the exception of medical emergencies, he can only leave his house in the company of his mother for very select reasons, including medical appointments, meetings with his lawyers, court appearances and his children’s school and extracurricular activities.

He will also have to report daily to the Ottawa police station on Huntmar Drive and surrender any police firearms, ammunition, equipment and uniforms to the force. He cannot possess any weapons.

His internet use has been restricted and he can only use his mother’s cellphone under her supervision. The monthly bills for that phone have to be submitted to the Ottawa police.


READ MORE:
Ottawa police officer facing charges of sexual assault, forcible confinement

Post’s bail conditions also prohibit him from contacting any of the alleged victims. He is also not allowed to be within 500 metres of the complainants’ residences, workplaces or any other place he thinks they might frequent.

Another ban prohibits the publication of the seven complainants’ names and any information that may identify them.

Post will have to pay $50,000 if he breaks his bail conditions. He is next scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 18.

Police first laid 21 charges against the suspended constable on Sept. 19 and an additional 11 charges last Thursday.

Police say Post has been suspended from duty since June 13. He has been held at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre since his arrest.

None of the charges against him has been tested in court.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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