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Missing B.C. professor Ramazan Gencay found dead in Colombia

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Family and colleagues of a professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., who went missing in Colombia say he has been found dead.

In a statement to faculty and staff on Wednesday, university president Andrew Petter said Colombian police recovered the body of Ramazan (Ramo) Gencay outside of Medellin. 

Petter told CBC News in a statement that the economics professor will be sorely missed. Petter said he sends heartfelt condolences to Gencay’s family, friends, students and colleagues.

“Everyone at Simon Fraser University will be saddened by the tragic news of Professor Gencay’s death,” Petter said. “He was an outstanding contributor to the university community.”

Gencay’s wife, Carole Gencay, posted a short statement on Facebook on Thursday confirming her husband died this month.

“You may already know that he suffered an untimely death in Medellin, Colombia. I will be in touch with celebration of life details,” she wrote.

Gencay was in Colombia to attend seminars. His wife has said he was last seen at a salsa night club on Dec. 6.

His friends and family turned to social media earlier this month to spread the word that he was missing.

Global Affairs Canada said a Canadian citizen has died in Colombia and consular services are being provided to the person’s family.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of a Canadian citizen who died in Colombia,” spokesperson Philip Hannan said in a statement.

“Canadian consular officials are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information.”

Arthur Robson, a colleague of Gencay’s in the economics department, recalled him fondly. 

“Ramo was a gentle scholarly man, a prolific researcher, who deserved a better fate,” Robson said in an email. 

Petter’s statement to university employees says there are numerous support services available for students, faculty and staff.

“I know how distressing this news is for the SFU community, and I wish to reassure everyone that we will continue to do everything we can to support Ramo’s family at this sad and difficult time,” he said.

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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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