Roundup: Boycott ends but mistrust of shooting inquiry festers, Pictou driver charged with murder, COVID spread continues, fundraising continues for man with muscular dystrophy

Last week, commissioners at the mass shooting inquiry allowed RCMP sergeant Andy O'Brien, who was off duty and at home on the night of the attacks, to testify remotely without cross examination.

Plus: Newcomer Zachary Fernandez is enjoying a breakout soccer season in Halifax

The victims’ families and their lawyers have ended their boycott, but the Mass Casualty Commission’s delicate treatment of senior Mounties continues to breed mistrust.

“Most people who watched the sergeant and staff sergeant who testified … by pre-taped Zoom video, with the extraordinary condition of not having to face cross examination, would conclude that the accommodations did not seem necessary,” says Adam Rodgers, a Guysborough lawyer who’s been doing daily commentary on the hearings. “One of the benefits to the RCMP was that many fewer people likely watched the taped testimony as compared to the livestream, and so any evidence that shows the police in a negative light is doing so to a smaller audience.”

Janet Whitman has the story for the Reporter.

Driver charged with murder
A 40-year-old Pictou man faces second degree murder charges after a driver hit and killed a 56-year-old man in a crosswalk on June 3. Police initially described the collision as suspicious, and RCMP spokesman Chris Marshall now says the driver knew the victim.

Vernon Edward Gallant remains in custody and is scheduled to appear in court on July 14.

The Pictou Advocate has more.

Zachary Fernandez. Photo: Submitted

Eye on the ball
Hfx Wanderers FC got their first look at young Quebecer Zachary Fernandez last season, when they hosted a team from Blainville in Canadian Championship soccer action. Halifax won, but the young fullback made a big impression.

Not long after, he got an invitation to join the Wanderers, and has quickly emerged as a key player and a fan favourite.

“From day one with Zack, he never showed any trepidation,” says broadcaster Adam Jenkins. “He came right in, excited for the opportunity. He wasn’t going 100-per-cent right from the first game; he was still learning the team … That is good for a player with his experience and age to see what it can mean to play for a group of supporters that love the side as much as they do.” 

See Ameeta Vohra’s new Unravel Halifax feature.

COVID spread continues
Premier Tim Houston’s government continues withholding daily data, making it difficult to get an accurate picture of COVID-19’s spread in the province, but World Health Organization officials caution it’s still rampant, tallying 204,539 new cases globally in the last 24 hours. 

So far, COVID is known to have has killed 6,299,364 people, including 41,284 in Canada and 400 Nova Scotians

Infectious diseases expert Dr. Tara Moriarty, who tweets regular COVID updates, says the true death toll is even higher than that. Her latest research indicates that about 70 per cent of COVID deaths in the province are now unreported, with the Omicron variant alone killing more than 500 Nova Scotians.

Fundraising continues for man with muscular dystrophy
Burt Wathen, an artistic director with the Academy of Music Performance in Lunenburg, is helping to raise money for beloved local piano tuner and technician Ian Gillis, whose Muscular Dystrophy (MD) has advanced to a point he needs to buy a specialized, wheelchair accessible vehicle.

“He’s an institution on the South Shore,” Wathen says. “You’ve never met a nicer fellow. We have great conversations when he’s here; he’s great company. He’s got the wheelchair but he’s got no money to buy a van. We want to get him back to work and we just want to get him to get a life back.”

Keith Corcoran reports for LighthouseNow.

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