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Family asks OIPRD to investigate officer recorded making racist statements after arrest

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An Ontario police watchdog has been asked to look into a Peel police officer who accidentally recorded himself making racist statements to a Mississauga, Ont., man in his cruiser.

The family of Masood Masad filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) after they say he was the victim of a needless arrest.

The incident stems from a mid-November verbal altercation in a restaurant where Masad claims it was 20 minutes late with an order he was delivering for DoorDash.

Soon after the incident, Peel police Const. Bernard Trlaja called his house. Masad’s mother, who was skeptical of the call and thought it was from a scammer, told the officer to come to the house.

“That is what started the whole thing in a sense of his anger,” Masad said. “He was very upset that she would in his mind not co-operate with him on the phone. But he has to understand that had she known that he was a police officer 100 per cent, she would have answered all his questions.”

When Trlaja showed up in person, things soon escalated.​ Masad told the officer he was recording the interaction on his phone, and shortly after he was arrested.

Bashar Masad, left, and his son Masood Masad, right, are asking Ontario’s police watchdog to look into a Peel police officer who accidentally recorded himself making racist comments. (CBC)

Recording accidentally restarted

The officer placed the phone beside him in the front seat of the police car, unaware he was recording a video.

In it, Trlaja claimed Masad’s mother was “arrogant” and began to make racist comments. 

“This kid obviously doesn’t understand the rule or nature or culture of Canada,” he said. 

“OK, he wants to be violent and bring that violence with him, then he’s going to have to learn the way.” 

Masad’s father, Bashar, said he was shocked when he listened to the recording and added that his son has lived most of his life in Canada.

“My son came to Canada when he was six years old. He’s 25 now. He’s spent 19 years of his life in this country,” he said.

Masad says security camera footage shows the officer accidentally starting the recording. (Submitted by Masad family)

“He went to school, to college, to work in this country. So if you’re talking about any culture, he’s a Canadian.”

The family is demanding that the 18-year police veteran get extra training and deliver an apology.

Masad said when he listened to the recording, it seemed like the officer was trying to get a reaction out of him.

“When I heard it, even I’m surprised I managed to keep my cool because this guy’s going off. He’s being so disrespectful to my mother for no reason,” he said.

“Maybe because it was my first time being actually arrested, taken down, I was thinking to myself, ‘OK, stay calm. Don’t talk back.'”

All the charges against Masad have been dropped. And while his family has filed a complaint with the OIPRD, Peel police are also conducting their own internal investigation through professional standards. The family was told the investigation may take up to six months. 

Peel police say they have no update on the internal review other than to say during the investigation, Trlaja is suspended with pay. 

CBC News has seen a copy of the Masad family’s complaint to the OIPRD​, but the watchdog said it doesn’t comment about filed complaints.

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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