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Aphria review of acquisitions at centre of short seller allegations finds price paid was on the high end





Cannabis company Aphria Inc. says a review of recent transactions that a short seller cast doubt on has found the company paid a high price for the assets in question, and certain company directors had “conflicting interests” in the deals that weren’t disclosed at the time. 

The Leamington, Ont.-based company revealed the results on Friday of a special committee of independent directors tasked with looking into a slew of deals the company made last year.

The controversy began in December after two New York short-selling firms — Quintessential Capital Management and Hindenburg Research — accused the company of paying hundreds of millions of dollars for assets in the Caribbean and South America that the short sellers alleged were basically worthless.

The short sellers also said insiders at Aphria personally profited from the deals because they had financial stakes in some of the companies that were taken over.

Aphria’s shares plunged in the days that followed, even as the company disputed the claims and promised to get to the bottom of the matter by way of an independent review.

That review found the company paid on the high side of what the assets in questions are worth — albeit within a range that would be considered a fair price.

“The consideration paid for the assets purchased in the acquisition was determined to be within an acceptable range as compared to similar acquisitions by competitors, be it near the top of the range of observable valuation metrics,” Aphria said of the so-called LATAM deals, which together cost the company roughly $700 million.

The company also revealed Friday that “it appears that certain of the non-independent directors of the company had conflicting interests … that were not fully disclosed to the board,” but didn’t specify which directors.

Friday’s news is Aphria’s most significant statements on the issue since the story broke last year. During its last earnings release, the company declined to say much on the matter until the review was done.

In late December, Aphria named Irwin D. Simon to be the independent chair of the company’s board of directors, and then in January announced that CEO and founder Vic Neufeld and co-founder Cole Cacciavillani would be leaving their roles at the company, something which will formally happen on March 1.

On Friday, Aphria announced that John Cervini would also leave his position on the board as of that date, although he will stay on in a “non-executive operational capacity.”

Cacciavillani and Neufeld will remain as “special advisers” while having no formal role at the company.

“Though I was not part of Aphria at the time of the LATAM acquisition, the special committee’s findings give me and the board full confidence that it was executed at an acceptable value and is consistent with the company’s international growth strategy,” said Simon, who will become the company’s CEO on an interim basis until a permanent replacement can be found.

“With this behind us, we are committed to fully focus on our bright future and creating value for all Aphria shareholders. I’m optimistic that the special committee’s further recommendations for improving our corporate governance will serve us well in the future.”

One of the author’s of the original short selling report, Hindenburg Research, told CBC News in a statement Friday that the Aphria’s report vindicates their original argument.

“We applaud the independent committee for taking this matter seriously and for making significant changes to the company’s board and governance policies,” founder Nathan Anderson said. “The review largely corroborated our findings that acquisition prices were high and that multiple insiders had undisclosed conflicts of interest. We hope the company can turn a new leaf going forward.”

Investors seemed to welcome the news Friday, as Aphria’s shares gained half a dollar to $12.59 on the TSX. In the days immediately following the short report, the company’s stock bottomed out at $5 a share.


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John Summers: Bell Baker Lawyer Ridicules Motherhood and Society





Action has always been known to speak louder than words. The actions of John Summers, an Ottawa based lawyer has left a lot of well-meaning citizens dumbfounded and shocked. This is a lawyer who claims to really value human decency and family values with his words but does the complete apparent opposite with his actions.

Fabricating lies about another person in the court of law is an offence that law practitioners tend to frown upon. However, John Summers did not only fabricate lies to keep Raymond from seeing his mother, Dezrin Carby-Samuels but also went ahead to blatantly pursue a negative agenda against an elderly woman. Dezrin is a woman who has had her fair share of abuse from both her husband, Horace and daughter, Marcella. She and her son Raymond saw the law courts as their last resort in their quest for justice to prevail. However, the complete opposite is what they obtained thanks to John Summers’ apparent campaign of manipulation of court procedure and deception

The era where lawyers were deemed as honest and truthful is long gone as is being shown being John Summers. For a lawyer to be able to produce a non-truthful and deceitful affidavit claiming that Raymond  suffers from “mental illness” when that is not the case shows the lengths that lawyers of John Summers’ calibre are willing to go in order to try twist court procedure to their advantage at the possible expense of human life or the perpetuation of human suffering.

John Summers also claimed that his client, Horace Carby-Samuels was ignorant of the procedures adopted by courts which is the reason why his client could not file any defence. However, Horace Carby-Samuels happens to be the same person who had enough belief in his legal capabilities that he decided to do away with the services of his lawyer in order to represent himself during a legal battle against both the Government of Canada and his union during the 1990’s.

There are certain values and ethics that keep society together and differentiate humans from other living things in the world and respect for the elderly happens to be among such things. However, if for the love of money a lawyer who has sworn to always ensure that justice prevails is able to trample on the fundamental human rights of a sick mother and her son, then something definitely is wrong somewhere. The basic things like empathy and love for humanity that makes us human are now being thrown away just for the love of money.

Where did humanity really go wrong? How can the life of an elderly woman be exchanged for a few bucks? Since when did humans become so cruel to one another? These are questions that beg to be answered but can’t and the behavioural patterns of people like John Summers also makes it even more difficult to understand. If a lawyer can lie under oath against an elderly woman just to please his client, then the world is really about to come to an end.

With Dezrin being unable to walk, speak or even write, the fraudulent activities being perpetuated by John Summers will only help in negatively impact her health. The behaviour of John Summers is bad for society and humanity and should be condemned in no uncertain terms.  

One report from a reliable source alleges that Dezrin died four months ago as a result of evil actions of John Summers.

Mr. Summers had no business practicing law anywhere in Canada for the torture he has put this elderly black woman since 2016.

John Summers can be regarded as little more than a handsome demon.

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Record one million job losses in March: StatCan





OTTAWA — More than one million Canadians lost their jobs in the month of March, Statistics Canada is reporting. The unemployment rate has also climbed to 7.8 per cent, up from 2.2 percentage points since February.

Canada’s national statistics agency released its monthly Labour Force Survey on Thursday, using March 15 to 21 as the sample week – a time when the government began enforcing strict guidelines around social gatherings and called on non-essential businesses to close up shop.

The first snapshot of job loss since COVID-19 began taking a toll on the Canadian economy shows 1.1 million out of work since the prior sample period and a consequent decrease in the employment rate – the lowest since April 1997. The most job losses occurred in the private sector and among people aged 15-24.

The number of people who were unemployed increased by 413,000, resulting in the largest one-month increase in Canada’s unemployment rate on record and takes the economy back to a state last seen in October, 2010.

“Almost all of the increase in unemployment was due to temporary layoffs, meaning that workers expected to return to their job within six months,” reads the findings.

The agency included three new indicators, on top of the usual criteria, to better reflect the impact of COVID-19 on employment across the country.

The survey, for example, excludes the more commonly observed reasons for absent workers — such as vacation, weather, parental leave or a strike or lockout — to better isolate the pandemic’s effect.

They looked at: people who are employed but were out of a job during the reference week, people who are employed but worked less than half their usual hours, and people who are unemployed but would like a job.

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Employee at Ottawa’s Amazon Fulfillment Centre tests positive for COVID-19





OTTAWA — An employee who works at Amazon’s fulfillment centre on Boundary Road in Ottawa’s east-end has tested positive for COVID-19.

Amazon says it learned on April 3 that an associate tested positive for novel coronavirus and is currently in isolation. The employee last worked at the fulfillment centre on March 19.

Two employees told CTV News Ottawa that management informed all employees about the positive test in a text message over the weekend.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Amazon spokesperson Jen Crowcroft wrote “we are supporting the individual who is recovering. We are following guidelines from health officials and medical experts, and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site.”

The statement also says that Amazon has taken steps to further protect their employees.

“We have also implemented proactive measures at our facilities to protect employees including increased cleaning at all facilities, maintaining social distance in the FC.”

CTV News Ottawa asked Amazon about the timeline between when the company found out about the positive COVID-19 case and when employees were notified.

In a separate email to CTV News Ottawa, Crowcroft said “all associates of our Boundary Road fulfillment centre in Ottawa were notified within 24 hours of learning of the positive COVID-19 case.”

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