NEWS: Week ending January 28, 2017






Karanpartap Waraich shot dead in Monday night’s targeted incident in Surrey was known to police


(PHOTO: Karanpartap Waraich)


(PHOTOS FOR INSIDE: Makeshift memorial for murder victim Karanpartap Waraich.  Photos by Vinnie Combow)



THE Integrated Homicide Investigation Team was called in after 22-year-old Karanpartap Waraich was shot dead in an apparently targeted incident in Surrey.

On Monday (January 23), just before 9:15 p.m., Surrey RCMP received several reports of gunshots from the 12900-block of 96th Avenue. Police found an adult victim suffering from gunshot wounds in a vehicle that had crashed into the Golden Arches sign at the McDonald’s restaurant. The BC Ambulance Service (BCAS) was call to assist and, despite all efforts to revive the male, he was pronounced deceased at the scene.

IHIT was called in and have been working with Surrey RCMP in order to continue to work through the evidence gathering phase.  Neighbourhood canvassing continued throughout the day on Tuesday and the Integrated Forensic identification Service completed their scene processing.

A witness told the media that he heard three shots and saw a dead male.

On Tuesday, IHIT identified the victim and Staff-Sgt. Jennifer Pound said: “Mr. Waraich is known to police and evidence to this point suggests this was a targeted homicide. There are many more investigative avenues that IHIT needs to concentrate on and we are looking to speak with any witnesses who may not have already come forward to police.  Thankfully, there were no other victims as a result of this brazen shooting.”

Waraich was facing charges of assault, obstruction and uttering threats, according to court services records.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the IHIT Information Line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448), or by email at Should you wish to remain anonymous, please contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).


THERE were three other targeted shootings in Surrey: one on January 20 and two others on January 26, one of them fatal.

On January 20, at about 10:10 p.m., Surrey RCMP responded to a report of a shots fired in the 8000-block of 120th Street. Officers located shell casings in the area.
The initial investigation revealed that shots were fired at an unoccupied vehicle in the area but no one was injured in the incident .Officers conducted neighbourhood canvassing and spoke with several witnesses to obtain further information.
ON January 26, there was a targeted shooting in the 12300-block of 91A Avenue. At approximately 9 p.m. on January 26, police responded to a report of shots being fired in the area and located evidence of a shooting.

Witnesses reported seeing multiple shots being fired from a white pickup truck at a white Mercedes sedan. The white Mercedes, which was located, was struck multiple times. The occupant of the vehicle has been located unharmed. The white pickup truck fled from the area in an unknown direction.

Officers conducted neighbourhood canvassing and spoke with witnesses to obtain further information.






Feisty Harry Lali refuses to step aside for NDP Leader John Horgan’s choice for Fraser-Nicola riding


(PHOTO: Harry Lali   Photo by Chandra Bodalia)


TRUST Harry Lali to fight back!

And NDP Leader John Horgan learned that the hard way when he tried to persuade – or was it ‘bully’ or ‘bribe’ or something else?! – Lali to let Chief of the Lower Nicola Indian Band Aaron Sam be the party’s candidate for Fraser-Nicola riding.

Lali, 61, who’s been a cabinet minister, basically told Horgan to stuff it.

Horgan told the Kamloops radio station CHNL: “”Harry and I met some time ago. I told him there was a candidate that had come forward and asked for some time to organize a campaign. I said this was a new candidate. An exciting young candidate. I talked to Harry about it, I asked if he would get behind him and he said, let me think about it. He came back and said he had more to offer and I agree.”

He told the radio station that there are no bad feelings between him and Lali. The NDP candidate will be selected on March 18.

Lali told Vancouver Sun’s Vaughn Palmer that if he had felt that someone other than himself could beat the Liberals, he would have stepped aside. Lali’s won four times from that region and been MLA from 1991 to 2001, and then from 2005 to 2013.

Palmer pointed out that Lali had now changed his position on the construction of pipelines. Lali told a CHNL reporter that “at the end of the day, you go with the majority position in the caucus” and that he would “go with the party line.”

As everyone knows in the South Asian community (and something that Palmer, too, noted), Lali can be a bit too outspoken for comfort.

After all, he told the CBC in the first week of December: “Anybody who wants to be MLA in Fraser-Nicola, they’re going to have to beat me, whether they are Green, NDP or Liberal.”





Hershan “Shawn” Bains, 36, of Maple Ridge shot dead in targeted shooting on Thursday in Surrey’s Sinclair Crescent

THE Integrated homicide Investigation Team on Friday announced that Hershan “Shawn” Bains, 36, of Maple Ridge was shot dead in a targeted shooting on Thursday night in Newton (Surrey).
Just after after 8 p.m. on January 26, Surrey RCMP were requested to check the well-being of a male found unresponsive in his vehicle in the 7400-block of Sinclair Crescent. When police arrived, the unresponsive male was located dead from injuries that appeared to be gunshot wounds. The investigation was deemed a homicide and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team took conduct.
IHIT is working closely with the Surrey RCMP, the BC Coroner’s service, and IFIS to gather and process evidence. The area surrounding the crime scene has been cleared by police, but neighbourhood canvassing will continue throughout Friday.
IHIT said that though it was early in the investigation, this shooting appeared to be a targeted act. It is unknown if this homicide is linked to other recent shootings, or the murder of Karanpartap Waraich on Monday (January 23).
IHIT Cpl. Meghan Foster said: “This homicide is believed to be a targeted act, and there are people who have information about what occurred. It’s imperative that they step forward and contact police so that those responsible are held accountable.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the IHIT Information Line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448), or by email at Should you wish to remain anonymous, please contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).







Lesly Emmanuel, Nadarajah Mahendran and Thampeernayagam Rajaratnam, who were accused of illegally bringing almost 500 Sri Lankan Tamils on the MV Sun Sea from Thailand to Canada in 2010, were found not guilty by a jury in B.C. Supreme Court. Their lawyers had argued they had acted on humanitarian grounds or had been misidentified. Justice William Ehrcke declared a mistrial for a fourth person, Kunarobinson Christhurajah, after a jury failed to reach a verdict.




Gursimar Bedi, who was found guilty of being accessory after the fact in 2011 Maple Batalia killing, gets 18 months in prison




Maple Batalia (center) with her parents.

Candlelight vigil for Maple Batalia in 2011.



GURSIMAR (Gary) Singh Bedi, who was convicted of being an accessory to murder after the fact in the 2011 killing of SFU student and model Maple Batalia, 19, last May, was on Friday sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Batalia’s parents were upset at the sentence. Her mother, Sarbjit Batalia, said the family was not happy and added that the justice system needed to be changed.

Her father, Harkirat Batalia, said they were going to appeal the sentence. “ I think there should be better justice for these kinds of people,” he added.

“We are left with nothing. We lost our angel and she’s not going to come back,” he lamented. (added to website)

Last October, the Crown had suggested a six-year jail term with Crown counsel Wendy Stephen noting that Bedi assisted Batalia’s killer Gurjinder “Gary” Singh Dhaliwal for three days before the murder and then after the crime. Bedi had rented the vehicle that was used in the incident. He had also gone to the SFU campus to observe Batalia for Dhaliwal.  Stephen said Dhaliwal could have killed Batalia at some other place and time, but that he was able to do so then was directly contributed to by Bedi’s role. He had firsthand knowledge of the murder and he went on to assist Dhaliwal after the crime, offering him an alibi and giving information about the investigation.

The defence suggested a conditional sentence of two years less a day. Lawyer Hovan Patey that his client unwittingly played a role in the murder and deeply regretted his role. He didn’t intend this and he didn’t anticipate what happened.


LAST May, Bedi, who had been charged with manslaughter using a firearm and accessory after the fact, was only convicted of being an accessory to murder after the fact as B.C. Supreme Court Justice Terence Schultes acquitted him on the manslaughter charge.

Back in March the Crown had asked the judge to acquit Bedi on the manslaughter charge because it believed that it could not prove that though the accused could have foreseen that a confrontation would take place, it did not have evidence to prove that he knew there would be bodily harm.

The judge said that the Crown’s case was based on inferences to be drawn from circumstantial evidence, based on some of which he found the accused guilty of being an accessory to the murder after the fact.

Batalia was shot multiple times on September 28, 2011, at 1:10 a.m. on the third level of the SFU Campus / Central City parkade at 13450 102 Avenue in Surrey. She was rushed to hospital but died soon after. Dhaliwal and Bedi were charged in December 2012 in the case.

On March 7, Dhaliwal, 24, was sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 21 years for Maple’s murder. He had been charged with first-degree murder in her death, but suddenly pled guilty to second-degree murder on March 3. Schultes said that immaturity, access to weapons and jealousy led to Batalia’s death.

At Bedi’s trial, Crown had pointed out the several ways in which Bedi assisted Dhaliwal – from taking the rental vehicle used in the crime through a car wash to destroy any potential forensic evidence to suggesting to Dhaliwal they discuss an alibi and passing on information to him about the investigation that he picked up from other people who police had contacted. The Crown also said that Bedi served as Dhaliwal’s “eyes and ears” at the school.



Famous Punjabi journalist Sukhminder Singh Cheema passes away




FAMOUS Punjabi journalist Sukhminder Singh Cheema, who had been an editor of several Punjabi newspapers (including the Indo-Canadian Awaaz, Chardi Kala and Punjabi Tribune) as well as a talk show host for a number of radio stations in the Lower Mainland, has passed away.

Cheema also wrote for newspapers in Punjab.

Cheema leaves behind his wife, Gurdeep Kaur Cheema, son Sahibjot Singh Cheema and daughter Hamrin Geet Cheema.

Cheema was known for his fearlessness and his news sources all around the world.

He had not been keeping good health recently, but his death has come as a shock to the Indo-Canadian community in the Lower Mainland.

Cheema’s funeral service will take place on Sunday, February 5 at 11 a.m. at Five Rivers Funeral Home at 7410 Hopcott Road, Delta.

Bhog will follow at Surrey’s Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib (15255 68th Avenue) at about 1 p.m.




Jaswant Singh Gill confessed to two murders 12 years apart, says Crown


(PHOTO: Gurpreet Gill  Photo: Vancouver Police)


A “Mr. Big” operation yielded two confessions from Jaswant Singh Gill: that he had shot Thomas Eldon Ackerman dead on December 23, 1994, and 12 years later, had strangled and stabbed his wife, Gurpreet Gill, 33, on Valentine’s Day in 2006, Crown told a B.C. Supreme Court jury this week.

Gill has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder of  his wife and not guilty to the first-degree murder of Ackerman.

Gill was arrested following an undercover investigation by police. Police launched a “Mr. Big” operation in 2012 targeting Gill after having pursued his wife’s disappearance as a missing person’s case. Crown alleged that Gill confessed to the undercover officers that he had killed his wife who he had met in India. The couple had a “stormy relationship” and separated in 2005.

Crown said that Gill told the officers that he had strangled his wife and then stabbed her in the neck. He then put her body in a black plastic garbage bag and placed it in a fridge for a couple of weeks. He later disposed of her body on the Department of Defence lands in Richmond. He even showed the officers that area. Human remains had been recovered from there in June 2006. DNA from those remains was compared to DNA from the victim’s family to confirm her identity.

During the course of the “Mr. Big” operation, Gill told the undercover officers that he killed Ackerman because of greed and resented being treated like a slave by him, the court heard. Crown told the jury that Gill was to sell several kilograms of cocaine to Ackerman who was carrying a lot of money. Ackerman was found inside a vehicle in the parking lot of Bonsor Recreation Centre. He had been shot several times in the head and upper body. There was a large amount of money lying next to his body.

Gill’s lawyer told the jury that his client has a serious mental illness that leads to delusions and hallucinations. He asked the jury to look at the reliability of Gill’s statements during the trial.

The trial continues.





British Columbia Securities Commission alleges former registrant Prabhjot Singh Bakshi and company sold securities illegally


THE Executive Director of the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) has issued a notice of hearing alleging that Prabhjot Singh Bakshi, a B.C. resident, and SBC Financial Group Inc. traded securities without being registered and illegally distributed securities.

The notice alleges that between August 2010 and September 2014, Bakshi and SBC sold $3 million of securities of SBC without being registered. Prospectus exemptions were not available for $2.3 million of these sales.

SBC is a B.C. company that has never filed a prospectus respecting its securities. Bakshi was SBC’s sole director and officer.

Bakshi controlled SBC and its bank account, prepared and signed SBC documents provided to investors, and raised money from investors for SBC directly and through two finders, to whom he paid commissions.  Although he was registered under the Act from 2000 to 2009, Bakshi was not registered at the relevant time.

These allegations have not been proven. Counsel for the Executive Director will apply to set dates for a hearing into the allegations before a panel of commissioners on March 21 at 9 a.m.

You may view the notice of hearing on the website,, by typing Prabhjot Singh Bakshi, SBC Financial Group Inc. or 2017 BCSECCOM 16 in the search box. Information about disciplinary proceedings can be found in the Enforcement section of the BCSC website.





Indians, Pakistanis in Toronto pay tributes to Om Puri


(PHOTO: Om Puri  Photo: IANS)


Toronto (IANS): A large number of theatre artists and writers from India and Pakistan paid rich tributes to actor Om Puri here.
They recalled his deep association with Toronto as some of Om Puri’s English movies such as “Such a Long Journey” and “West is West” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Rajinder Saini, who founded the Punjabi International Film Academy Awards in 2012 and who was a personal friend of the actor, recalled how Om Puri offered him support for the start of the festival in Toronto.
“Om Puri was a true friend indeed as he went out of his way to make the first Punjabi film festival a success. He always stayed with our family whenever he was in Toronto,” said Saini.
He recalled his last long chat with Om Puri on the phone after the actor’s TV remarks on Indian soldiers created a major controversy.
“In a friendly (way), I scolded him for creating unnecessary controversies. He was gracious enough to admit his mistake and he went to give Rs 10 lakh [Ra.1 million] to the widow of the soldier,” recalled Saini.
Saini also criticised the Pakistani media for spreading rumours about the cause of the death of the actor.
Pakistani writer Tahir Gora paid his tributes to Om Puri, describing him as an artist who transcended boundaries.
Some of the speakers, who knew Om Puri since his days as a struggling theatre artist in Patiala, said he was the first ever Indian actor to make it to Hollywood from theatre.
“He had a booming voice and his earthy Punjabi touched us,” said one of the speakers.
Om Puri’s first wife Seema Kapoor also sent a video message to the gathering.




Field Hockey: Many South Asians in Men’s National Team and Senior Development Squad named for 2017


(PHOTO: Canada’s Men’s National Team during a match against Ireland at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 11, 2016. Photo by Yan Huckendubler.)



FIELD Hockey Canada’s Men’s National Program has named the Senior Men’s National Team and Development Squad rosters for the 2017 year.

Thirty-six athletes have been named to the two squads, with the National Team consisting of 24 players who have an average of 88 senior international games played.

The National Team features 14 of the 16 players who represented Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The remaining two – Benjamin Martin and Jagdish Gill – have since retired from international competition.

New additions to the Men’s National Team include a handful of athletes who make the jump from the junior level and recently competed at the 2016 Junior World Cup in India: Balraj Panesar, Brandon Pereira, and Harbir Sidhu. Oliver Scholfield joins the three in making the jump from last year’s Senior Development Squad, up to the National Team.

Floris van Son also joins the National Team after having been a part of the squad that prepared for the Olympic Games.

The Senior Development Squad also features young blood, many of whom competed at this year’s Junior World Cup including Amrit Sidhu, Fin Boothroyd, Iqwinder Gill, Jamie Wallace, Rohan Chopra, and Thomson Harris.

Midfielder Paul Wharton bring his 60 games of senior international experience to the roster which is largely filled with players who will be looking to earn their first senior caps.

The Men’s National Team is now centralized in Vancouver preparing for World League Round 2 in Bangladesh this March.


2017 Men’s National Team


Name / Position / Hometown  / Current or Last Club


* Adam Froese: Defender / Abbotsford, BC / India Club FHC

* Antoni Kindler: Goalkeeper            / Vancouver, BC / West Vancouver FHC

* Balraj Panesar / Midfielder / Surrey, BC / United Brothers FHC

* Brandon Pereira / Defender / Surrey, BC / United Brothers FHC

* Brenden Bissett / Midfielder / New Westminster, BC / UVIC

* David Carter            / Goalkeeper / Vancouver, BC / United Brothers FHC

* Devohn Noronha-Teixeira / Forward / Mississauga, ON / Toronto Lions

* Floris Van Son / Forward / Apeldoorn, Netherlands / HIC (Netherlands)

* Gabriel Ho-Garcia / Forward / Burnaby, BC / Burnaby Lakers

* Gordon Johnston / Defender / Vancouver, BC / University of British Columbia

* Habir Sidhu / Midfielder / Vancouver, BC / India Club FHC

* Hudson Stewart / Midfielder / Vancouver, BC / Vancouver Hawks

* Iain Smythe / Forward / Vancouver, BC / Vancouver Hawks

* James Kirkpatrick / Forward / Victoria, BC / Racing Club of Paris

* John Smythe / Midfielder / Vancouver, BC / Vancouver Hawks

* Keegan Pereira / Forward / Ajax, ON / HTC Uhlenhorst Mülheim

* Mark Pearson / Midfielder / Tsawwassen, BC / West Vancouver FHC

* Matthew Guest / Forward / Calgary, BC / Altona Hockey Club

* Matthew Sarmento / Forward / Vancouver, BC / University of British Columbia

* Oliver Scholfield / Forward / Vancouver, BC / Vancouver Hawks

* Richard Hildreth / Midfielder / Vancouver, BC / Vancouver Hawks

* Scott Tupper / Defender / Vancouver, BC / Schaerweijde (Netherlands)

* Sukhi Panesar / Midfielder / Surrey, BC / United Brothers FHC

* Taylor Curran / Midfielder / North Vancouver, BC / West Vancouver FHC



2016 Senior Development Squad


Name / Position / Hometown


* Adrien d’Andrade / Defender / Coquitlam, BC

* Amrit Sidhu / Forward / Abbotsford, BC

* Arif Virjee / Midfielder / Vancouver, BC

* Campbell Munsie / Goalkeeper / Vancouver, BC

* Fin Boothroyd / Forward / Vancouver, BC

* Iqwinder Gill / Goalkeeper / Surrey, BC

* Jamie Wallace / Midfielder / Vancouver, BC

* Pardeep Koonar / Goalkeeper / Ottawa, ON

* Paul Wharton / Midfielder / Vancouver, BC

* Rohan Chopra / Forward / Ottawa, ON

* Thomson Harris / Forward / Vancouver, BC

* Vikram Sandhu / Forward / Vancouver, BC





SAF Canada recognizes young girl’s efforts to improve life in her village in India




HARPREET Kaur Malkat, a 14-year-old girl from Haryana, has recently become a local celebrity in her village. She is constantly approached by village elders and politicians who wish to thank her for her efforts to improve their village.

All of this began in December 2015 when Harpreet wrote a letter to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to change her village’s name, Ganda, which is located under Ratia block in Haryana’s Fatehabad district.

Ganda, which means “dirty,” was a source of shame and embarrassment for the villagers, including Harpreet, who was tired of being teased and insulted. The village’s panchayat had been attempting to change the name for 27 years, but the issue failed to garner any serious attention and previous proposals for a name change had been ignored by the Haryana state government.

Harpreet decided to take the matter into her own hands and appeal to the Prime Minister directly by writing a letter. The Prime Minister’s office responded to her letter and urged the Haryana government to look into the possibility of a name change.

Earlier this month, they approved the renaming and forwarded the proposal to the federal home ministry for finalization. The entire village is very thankful to Harpreet.

Ganda village will soon be renamed Ajit Nagar, after the eldest son of Guru Gobind Singh.
Aside from the name change, Harpreet also brought other significant issues to the attention of the Prime Minister, including the lack of security for the government girls’ school and the need for a veterinary hospital in her village. She plans on continuing her fight and doing everything she can to help address the problems affecting her village.

After hearing about her efforts, SAF Canada, a Canadian charity based in Surrey, decided to present Harpreet with an award recognizing her bravery, confidence, and passion towards improving the lives of the members of her community.

SAF Canada has been working in India since 2014. They provide aid to children, families, and individuals in need across the subcontinent through various initiatives such as monthly aid programs for single mothers and elderly couples, funding for children’s education, as well as rebuilding and repairing houses. Over the past three years, SAF Canada has managed to provide 10 families with decent housing conditions through this program, which often requires installing proper sanitation facilities, repairing unsafe infrastructure, and building the family a basic kitchen.

Harpreet also lives in house that is in desperate need of repair. She lives with her parents and three siblings in a tiny, cramped, and dilapidated single room house. When SAF Canada met Harpreet and saw her family’s living conditions, they decided to rebuild and repair Harpreet’s home as well. The project has been approved and SAF Canada will soon begin construction. They will be repairing the floors and walls, installing a functioning toilet, and building a kitchen with a connection to gas.

“It is important to support young girls like Harpreet and encourage them to uplift their communities,” said Shamandeep Singh, Founder of SAF Canada. “We want girls in India and around the world to know that their efforts to change their lives do matter and we are here to support them. We wanted to give Harpreet a safe and decent place to live and hope she will continue working towards the betterment of her village.”

If you are interested in learning more about SAF Canada and their work, visit or Facebook page





Tamils demonstrate in Vancouver to support “Jallikattu”




A large number of Tamils in Vancouver held a demonstration at Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver on Sunday demanding that the ban on Jallikattu – the popular bull-taming sport of the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu – be revoked.

Massive protests have been taking place across Tamil Nadu and on January 21, a day after the federal government in India, bowing to pressure, gave its nod, the Tamil Nadu government cleared an ordinance to allow Jallikattu in the state.

The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has opposed the revocation of the ban and has had to face the public’s anger.

The Tamils in Vancouver went ahead with their demonstration in spite of the rain.

“There were a good number of general public who were interested in the cause and took time to sit with us and understand why we are staging this protest,” an organizer told The VOICE.


According to Wikipedia:

“Jallikattu (or Sallikkattu), also known as eru thazhuvuthal and manju virattu, is a traditional sport in which a Bos indicus bull, commonly of the Kangayam breed, is released into a crowd of people. Multiple human participants attempt to grab the large hump of the bull with both arms and hang on to it while the bull attempts to escape. Participants hold the hump for as long as possible, attempting to bring the bull to a stop. In some cases, participants must ride long enough to remove flags on the bull’s horns.

“Jallikattu is typically practiced in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day.”

Regarding its history, Wikipedia states: “Jallikattu has been known to be practiced during the Tamil classical period (400-100 BC). It was common among the ancient people Aayars who lived in the ‘Mullai’ geographical division of the ancient Tamil country. Later, it became a platform for display of bravery and prize money was introduced for participation encouragement. A seal from the Indus Valley Civilization depicting the practice is preserved in the National Museum, New Delhi. A cave painting in white kaolin discovered near Madurai depicting a lone man trying to control a bull is estimated to be about 2,500 years old.”







BC’s first female South Asian Commissioned Officer is Inspector Nav Hothi




NAV Hothi recently became BC’s first South Asian female Commissioned Officer, as an Inspector. Nav is a Regional Duty Officer for the Lower Mainland District, where she monitors all RCMP operations in the Lower Mainland. She is also responsible for coordinating any major cross-jurisdictional incidents working with RCMP teams and other emergency response agencies.

Growing up, Nav wasn’t sure of where her career aspirations would lead her. She applied to the RCMP after meeting with a career counsellor. Her skills and personality tests showed she had strong aptitude for law enforcement. Shortly after meeting with her career counsellor, Nav attended an RCMP recruiting session and started her application. Her career has taken her all around the world, starting in Surrey, taking her to Thailand and Italy and now back again to the Lower Mainland.

After completing her basic training at Depot, the RCMP Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan, Nav was posted to Surrey Detachment. She says, “I knew from my first day in Surrey this was the career for me.” Coming from a South Asian background provided her with a distinct advantage serving a large immigrant community. She was able to use her Canadian values combined with her Indian heritage to engage and build relationships in the community. This also allowed her to break down some of the stereotypes and misconceptions citizens had about dealing with police.

Nav’s parents were both originally from Punjab and had been living in the UK when she was born. They moved to Canada when she was just a baby. Being raised in an Indian family, Nav and her three sisters were encouraged to be independent; to carve their own path. Her family didn’t bat an eye at her decision to become a member of the RCMP.

Nav worked as a Forensic Identification Specialist for 10 years. She specialized in crime scene analysis, evidence search, recovery and examination. She was one of ten RCMP specialists who travelled to Thailand in response to the Boxing Day Tsunamis of 2004. She worked as a part of the Canadian disaster victim identification team, which allowed victims to be identified and returned to their loved ones and home countries.

One of the highlights of her career to date has been performing Red Serge duties during the Turino 2006 Winter Olympics. Nav spent several days working in the BC Pavilion, talking to visitors and taking pictures wearing her Red Serge. Nav was thrilled to have the opportunity to carry and raise the Canadian flag during the closing ceremony of the games.

As she settles into her new role as a Regional Duty Officer, Nav looks forward to the new opportunities where she will get to work with the many diverse communities in the region. “Helping the community has been so fulfilling,” says Nav. “I believe in public service, this was meant to be the career for me.”


(Courtesy: RCMP website)






Well-known human and civil rights lawyer Aman Singh is the NDP candidate for Richmond-Queensborough riding



(PHOTOS: Aman Singh (right) with John Horgan. / (L-R) John Horgan, Jack Trovato, Gian Sihota, Aman Singh and Judy Darcy.

Photos by Rakesh Gupta)


AMAN (Amandeep) Singh, a human and civil rights lawyer in B.C. with deep roots in the community, will be taking on Liberal candidate Jas Johal, former TV journalist, in the new riding of Richmond-Queensborough in the provincial election.

The riding combines Queensborough with the Hamilton neighbourhood of Richmond, most of East Richmond and a small part of the South Arm community and has a substantial number of South Asian residents.

NDP Leader John Horgan, who introduced Aman to the media on Wednesday, was accompanied by NDPers Jack Trovato and Gian Sihota who had also been in contention for the nomination, and New Westminster MLA Judy Darcy.

“[Premier] Christy Clark isn’t working for people,” said Aman. “Every day people are paying more and getting less. I am proud to put myself forward to help defeat Christy Clark and form a government that works for everyone.”

“Aman Singh has what it takes to build a better BC,” said Horgan.  “He has the leadership experience and community connections needed to stand up to Christy Clark.  We’re excited he wants to be a part of the BC NDP team in Richmond.”

Trovato, a local teacher and former federal NDP candidate who is supporting Singh’s bid, said: “Aman will be a strong voice for Richmond in a BC NDP government.  I’m proud to be standing with him.”

Aman has lived in B.C since 1988, and says he is a committed and passionate resident of Canada’s beautiful West Coast. Like many proud Canadians, Aman calls himself a true citizen of the world. Raised in Hong Kong, he moved with his family to East Richmond. He studied anthropology and physics at the University of California Berkeley, and obtained his Law degree from the University of Victoria.

Aman comes to the practice of law from an immersive background in human and civil rights activism from a young age. He approaches the practice of law from the perspective and knowledge of its critical role in our society and our political issues. As such, Aman focuses his practice in the areas of civil and human rights law as it intersects with criminal and international law. Aman is a member of the Law Society of British Columbia and the Canadian Bar Association, a member and director of the Prof Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation, a member and director of the Friends of the Sikh Cadets Society, and has been a director for the People’s Legal Education Society.

He has had the unique opportunity to be the legal representative in many high profile cases of international repute and has made appearances at the British Columbia Provincial and Supreme Courts as well as the British Columbia Court of Appeal, and has made applications for Leave to Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada as well as represented clients seeking political asylum at Canadian tribunals.

Aman has made it a priority to donate his time to people and organizations close to his heart, working closely with Indigenous groups, and national and international non-governmental organizations.

Aman is a socially conscious small business owner. He understands that there is a balance that must be met in a society for economic prosperity to be genuine, sustainable, and socially responsible. His work involves helping businesses large and small succeed in today’s dynamic global economy. He draws on working relationships in China, South Asia and Vietnam to help these businesses succeed.

One of Aman’s missions is to bring more attention to the problem of addiction and the possibility of recovery. Aman is himself a recovered alcoholic, who has been sober for the better part of a decade. He plays an active role in the recovery community of Richmond and the Greater Vancouver area. As someone who has faced the adversity of addiction, and overcome the many challenges attached to it, he has a deep and experiential understanding of the challenges faced by the many people in our society (and their loved ones) that are currently struggling with addiction and mental illness. Aman believes that recovery is possible, and that a community that fosters care and respect for all of its members is the key. Aman is dedicated to bringing more attention to and demanding accountability for BC mental health services. He believes that the current government is failing people living with addiction and their families.

“Aman brings with him vast experience, great knowledge and unfathomable compassion, and is deeply honoured to be part of the BC NDP. He’s ready to work hard for what is best for all British Columbians and indigenous communities, and honour his responsibility to the people of Richmond-Queensborough – a place he called home for over 20 years,” he said in a statement.



Allergy rates among new immigrants increase the longer they live in Canada



(PHOTO: Hind Sbihi / Jiayun Yao)



RESEARCHERS Jiayun Yao and Hind Sbihi were intrigued by a population health concern they were hearing about anecdotally: that immigrants had fewer allergies upon arriving in Canada, but that their allergy rates increased over time in Canada.

Using data from the Canadian Community Health Survey, UBC school of population and public health researchers Yao and Sbihi, looked at the role that genetics and environmental factors play in the development of allergies.

In this Q&A, Yao and Sbihi discuss their findings, which were recently published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health.


You studied how rates of non-food allergies vary between recent immigrants, long-time immigrants and non-immigrants in Canada. What did you find?


Hind Sbihi: By analyzing data collected in the Canadian Community Health Survey, we found a distinctly lower prevalence of non-food allergies among immigrants compared with non-immigrants.

Among immigrants who had lived in Canada for less than 10 years, only 14.3 per cent had non-food allergies, while the rates for immigrants in Canada for more than 10 years were 23.9 per cent compared with 29.6 per cent among non-immigrants.


What prompted you to study non-food allergies?


HS: We know that there is an epidemic increase in allergies worldwide, although the increase varies geographically.

We knew from previous research that the risk of developing allergies increases in those emigrating from low-income countries to Western countries. With Canada having some of the highest allergy rates in the world, we wanted to know if that was also true here.

Also, in the past decade, there has been a lot of focus on food allergies from the media, public and researchers, but less on non-food allergies. It’s also critical to raise awareness for allergies that are a result of other routes of exposure such as inhalation and contact with skin.


Which non-food allergies are on the rise and how do they impact health?


Jiayun Yao: Allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever, is a good example of non-food allergy. One out of every five Canadians is affected by this condition, which not only affects the quality of life of Canadians but also incurs health-care costs to manage and control the symptoms. Often, people with this condition may also develop co-existing allergic conditions such as asthma, respiratory infections and breathing difficulties during sleep.


What do your results tell us about the link between genetic and environmental factors in the development of allergies in Canada?


JY: Our study highlighted the unique opportunity to investigate allergies in migrant populations, who are going through a natural experiment, in which the environment around them changed dramatically in a relatively short period of time.

By using this data, we saw that immigrants’ rates of non-food allergies increased the longer they were in Canada.

This tells us that environmental factors are carrying more weight in the development of allergic conditions in Canada. These factors could be things like air pollution, levels of sanitization and dietary choices, but we would need to do more research to pinpoint what those factors are.














Overcoming your fears to reach your goals


“I can’t do it,” “it’s too hard,” “I’m not good enough,” … sound familiar? When it comes to conquering our fears, we’re definitely our biggest critics and our own worst enemies. This fear often keeps us stuck and gets in the way of reaching our goals.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This is one of the most famous quotes ever. It was spoken by former American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And it’s absolutely true. In most cases it’s the fear around something that stops someone from doing something – rather than the thing itself. You can remind yourself of this quote whenever you encounter a situation which creates fear within you. And by separating the fear from what it is you want to do, you can have a much clearer and less anxiety-filled picture of your goal.

“The enemy is my inner me,” is another great quote about what fear truly may be. It’s the comments like “I can’t” or “I’m not good enough” – the self-talk that constantly goes on in our heads that often stops us from reaching our goals. Any time you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk, imagine a Stop Sign as a way to stop such self-defeating thinking. At the same time, try working on changing the inner self-talk by replacing it with more positive self-talk like “I can,” “this is possible” and “I am good enough.”

So you’ve replaced negative self-talk with positive self-talk and separated the fear from the actual goal – now it’s time to take a closer look at the fear itself. Sure, in some cases fear is absolutely real. If something is unsafe, of course we should be afraid to do it – but in many cases where safety is not an issue, the fear is really all about how we perceive it. In that case, consider the word “fear” more carefully.

Try to define “F.E.A.R.” as “False Evidence Appearing Real.” What this means is that what we think is real may, in fact, be false or misleading (the so-called “evidence” may, upon closer inspection, be “false evidence”). For example, some people have a fear of flying, though time and time again it’s been proven that flying is one of the safest ways to travel.  Ultimately, the more you can understand your fear, the better prepared you are to overcome it. So next time you experience fear, think about whether it truly merits being fearful, or whether that fear if really false evidence appearing real.

So, next time you’re afraid, remind yourself of the following:

* “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”

* “The enemy is the inner me”, and

* Is the FEAR actually false evidence appearing real?

By doing so, the path to achieving your goals will be much clearer. All it takes is the courage to do it. Good luck!


Gary Thandi, MSW RSW, Doctor of Education candidate, is a Special Columnist with The VOICE. He writes about emotional wellness and social justice issues as they relate to South Asian communities. He is also head of Moving Forward Family Services that provides counselling and support services to anyone who wants it – without any waits. No one, regardless of their financial circumstances, will be turned away. Services are offered in English, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, Cantonese, Farsi, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian and Vietnamese. To access services, call or text 778-321-3054 or email him at:





Premier Christy Clark’s statement on Republic Day of India





PREMIER Christy Clark on Thursday issued the following statement to celebrate the 68th Republic Day of India:

“Today marks the 68th anniversary of the enactment of the Constitution of India and the founding of the Republic of India – a pivotal moment in history after independence was achieved, which led to founding the world’s largest democracy.”

“British Columbia and India have much in common, from shared values of democracy, diversity, and economic development, to a flourishing and increasingly important relationship. India is B.C.’s fifth largest trading partner, the B.C. government is pleased to have been the first foreign government to issue a “Masala” bond in the Indian Rupee (INR) offshore market. Because of our strong cultural and ancestral links, those ties will continue to grow.”

“On behalf of all British Columbians, I extend warm wishes to everyone celebrating India’s Republic Day in India, around the world, and here at home.”





 (Dis) Enfranchisement 1907-1947: The Forty-Year Struggle for the Vote




AS Canadians across the country commemorate the 150th year of Canadian Confederation, the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies (CICS) at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford offers a different perspective in uncovering Canada’s historical past.

The Sikh Heritage Museum and CICS acknowledge that the site and the exhibit are situated on Sto:lo Nation territory while recognizing and pledging solidarity to understand the complex and unique circumstances of nationhood within Canada of Indigenous communities.

With funding awarded from the Canadian Government (Canada 150 Grant), the CICS has curated an exhibit in the National Historic Site, Gur Sikh Temple’s Sikh Heritage Museum in Abbotsford. The site’s significance and power, according to CICS Director, Satwinder Kaur Bains, is “because it challenges ethnocentric narratives by highlighting Sikh community history as part of BC heritage.”

The exhibit, entitled “(Dis) Enfranchisement 1907-1947: The Forty-Year Struggle for the Vote,” investigates and presents the arduous struggle for the South Asian franchise and the right for equal recognition and citizenship with other Canadians. In addition to the story of the South Asian franchise, the exhibit also pays homage to the stories of franchise for Chinese-Canadians, Japanese-Canadians and women of European descent.

Abbotsford MP for Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, Jati Sidhu, speaks to the exhibit and its significance: “As a Canadian, I am proud of the freedoms we all enjoy in this great nation. As a Sikh, I am proud of those who came before me and who fought for their right to enjoy those freedoms. I have no doubt this exhibition will strike a powerful chord to all who have struggled for equality or stood up for the rights of others.”

The exhibit launch and reception will be held at the Sikh Heritage Museum located at 33089 South Fraser Way in Abbotsford on Sunday, February 19, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

All are welcome to attend and the exhibit will be available for viewing throughout this important year.





Oscar nomination overwhelming for Dev Patel


(PHOTO: Actor Dev Patel poses for photos before the world premiere of the film “Lion” at Princess of Wales Theatre during the 41st Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on September 10, 2016. Photo: Xinhua / Zou Zheng)



Los Angeles (IANS): Indian-origin British actor Dev Patel is feeling an “overwhelming sense of gratitude” for receiving Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar nomination for “Lion”.

He is up against actors like Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) and Jeff Bridges (“Hell or High Water”) for the trophy, which will be given away at the 89th Academy Awards ceremony here on February 26.

The nominees were announced on Tuesday by actor Terrence Howard.

Dev said in a statement: “The news hasn’t made its way into my brain yet, but I’m looking at these beautiful smiling faces around me… faces of the ones I love. And I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.”

“Lion”, based on Saroo Brierley’s best-selling autobiography “A Long Way Home”, is a true story about an Indian boy who falls asleep on a train only to wake up and realise he is miles away from home in a strange land where he does not speak the language. He experiences many challenges before getting adopted by a couple in Australia. Years later, he sets out to find his lost family.

What makes the moment so much more “poignant” is that he has just wrapped up shooting another film in India.

“This enthralling country holds such a deep place in my heart, and it is where Saroo’s journey was born,” said Dev.

He said “Lion” would be nothing without its director Garth Davis.

“Without his love, commitment and vision ‘Lion’ wouldn’t have been able to roar. To that extent I want to share this incredible feeling with Luke, Grieg, Jenny Kent, Lain, Angie, Emile, Sunny, Nicole, David, Rooney, Divian, Priyanka, the Brierley family as well as the Weinstein Co team,” said the actor.

“‘Lion’ reaffirms the message that love is not dictated by the colour of your skin, not by race, gender, sexuality, social status or origin. It is a message I am proud to be spreading during these uncertain times.”

“This will forever be one of the most memorable experiences of my life,” he added.

The drama, which also stars Nicole Kidman, will release in India on February 24.




Kulwant (Ken) Singh Sandhu of California convicted of making harassing phone calls to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission employees


Sandhu placed over 3,000 harassing phone calls to SEC employees in 2005



SACRAMENTO, California: After a three-day trial, a federal jury found Kulwant (Ken) Singh Sandhu, 56, of Tracy, guilty last week of two counts of making harassing interstate telephone calls, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. The trial was held before U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr.

“This conviction demonstrates the Office of Inspector General’s commitment to investigate individuals who harass SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] officials in carrying out their mission of protecting investors, maintaining fair and orderly functioning of securities markets, and facilitating capital formation. I would like to express my appreciation to the team from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the SEC OIG who worked diligently to bring this matter to justice.”

According to evidence presented at trial, since at least 2012, Sandhu has been making harassing phone calls to personnel at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in Washington, D.C., and other private individuals. During 2015, Sandhu placed over 3,000 harassing phone calls to SEC employees, leaving at least 350 lengthy voicemails and also made hundreds of phone calls to another nongovernmental person. According to the evidence at trial, many of Sandhu’s phone calls to employees and his voicemails were profanity-filled tirades that repeatedly called for SEC personnel and others to be, among other things, rounded up, publicly hanged, water-boarded, burned alive, shot, and blown up with rockets and tanks. His comments were often sexually graphic and targeted individuals.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Security and Exchange Commission’s Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Nirav Desai and James Conolly are prosecuting the case.

Sandhu is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Burrell on April 7. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of two years in prison on each count and a $250,000 fine.




Indian American Aziz Ansari skewers Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live





ACTOR and comedian Aziz Ansari, 33, who made Saturday Night Live history on Saturday (January 21) as he became the first South Asian to host the  show, skewered U.S. President Donald Trump in his eight-minute monologue and noted: “Pretty cool to know he’s at home right now, watching a brown guy make fun of him, right?”

Ansari urged people not to judge those who voted for Trump. He pointed out: “Some people have different political priorities. Some people voted for him with reservations. I’m sure a lot of people voted for Trump the same way a lot of people listen to Chris Brown, where it’s like, hey, man, I’m just here for the tunes, I don’t know about that other stuff.”

Ansari said everything would be fine if Americans “treat each other with respect and remember that ultimately we are all Americans.”

He spoke about Islamophobia and told Trump to make “a real speech denouncing the lowercase kkk,” that Ansari called the “casual white supremacy.”

Ansari ended with words of comfort and hope as he referred to the resounding success of Women’s March: “Change doesn’t come from presidents. Change comes from large groups of angry people. And if Day One is any indication, you are part of the largest group of angry people I’ve ever seen.”



US President Donald Trump pleased Nikki Haley is first Indian-American cabinet official


(PHOTO: Nikki Haley, who was sworn in on Wednesday, is seen here flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, who administered the oath of office, and Donald Trump.


Washington (IANS): US President Donald Trump is pleased that Nikki Haley, sworn in as the US ambassador to the UN, “is our nation’s first Indian-American cabinet level officer”, his spokesperson Sean Spicer told the media.

According to Spicer, Trump “had the honour to greet new ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, in his office” when she visited the White House after being sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday.

“It is a big deal for Indian-Americans throughout this country (US) and now she is able to get to work representing as our nation’s top diplomat,” Spicer said.

Haley has received support from both Republican and Democrat leaders and her appointment was on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved by the Senate with a vote of 96 to four.

Her position is one of the offices for which the Senate has to approve.

During her confirmation hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, senators emphasised her achievements as a consensus builder as Governor of the conservative state of South Carolina.

This was presented as an asset that would make up for her lack of diplomatic or foreign policy experience.

Spicer echoed those sentiments.

“As one of the most respected governors in the county, Haley has a proven track record bringing people together regardless of their background or differences to create opportunity in her state and now the nation,” he said.

Because of the persistent criticism of Trump and himself for making incorrect statements, Spicer hedged the new President’s description of Haley as the first Indian-American cabinet level official by adding the caveat “to the best of my knowledge at least”.

Haley indeed is the first Indian-American cabinet rank official in the US and has achieved that in the administration of Trump, who is described by his detractors as a “misogynist” and “anti-immigrant racist”.

The Republican Party has produced two Indian-American governors, Haley and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, which the Democratic Party has not matched.

Indian-Americans like Rajiv Shah, the head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) under Democratic President Barack Obama, have held senior positions but not at the cabinet level.

Trump has so far appointed two other Indian-Americans to senior positions below cabinet level.

Ajit Pai was named the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, the powerful regulatory agency for wireless spectrum, telephones, internet, cable, radio and television, and Seema Verma as the head of government health insurance programmes.

Haley had opposed the Republican President during the election campaign because of his statements about immigrants.

But finally, before the election day, Haley said she would vote for Trump. The then President-elect reached out to her to offer the ambassadorship.

Haley during her confirmation hearings said she would not hesitate to challenge Trump in the cabinet.

She also took a strong stand against Russia, which diverges from Trump’s policy of improving ties with the country.





US President Donald Trump to host Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this year


(PHOTO: Donald Trump  White House photo)


U.S. President Donald Trump in a call to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he is looking forward to his visit to the U.S. later this year.

The White House in a statement on Tuesday said that during the call Trump “emphasized that the United States considers India a true friend and partner in addressing challenges around the world”

It added: “The two discussed opportunities to strengthen the partnership between the United States and India in broad areas such as the economy and defense. They also discussed security in the region of South and Central Asia. President Trump and Prime Minister Modi resolved that the United States and India stand shoulder to shoulder in the global fight against terrorism.”






Vigilant Coquitlam retailer stops high-tech shimmers




A simple, new security procedure has stopped a high-tech fraud in Coquitlam.

A major Coquitlam business now includes daily testing of its computerized point-of-sale terminals as part of its security routine. On January 11, one of those routine daily checks found that a test card was sticking inside the terminals. When the terminals were opened, they contained four very slim, plastic card ‘shimmers’ that contained microchips meant to illegally capture the banking data on your credit or debit cards. If the data had been successfully stolen it could have been used to create fake credit or debit cards.

The Coquitlam RCMP Economic Crime Unit (ECU) says these new, tiny card shimmers make the once-bulky, overlay systems called ‘skimmers’ virtually obsolete. “You can’t see a shimmer from the outside like the old ‘skimmer’ versions, says Constable Alex Bojic. “Businesses and consumers should immediately report anything abnormal about the way their card is acting. That’s especially true if the card is sticking inside the machine.”

The Coquitlam RCMP ECU strongly urges all businesses to call police immediately whenever they find a shimming device. Like all victims, the privacy of each business will be protected. Sometimes multiple frauds can be linked over time; the evidence that comes from calling police about every point-of-sale fraud can be crucial.

No suspects have yet been arrested in Coquitlam but the investigation is active. The Coquitlam RCMP ECU has contacted investigators outside of their jurisdiction and has learned that the tiny card shimmers are starting to pop up everywhere.

A good way for everyone to protect themselves from shimming is to use the tap feature on your credit or debit cards. “It’s actually very secure,” says Bojic. “Each tap transfers very limited banking information which can’t be used to clone your card.”

If you or your business ever finds a shimmer in Anmore, Belcarra, Coquitlam, or Port Coquitlam, call Coquitlam RCMP right away at 604-945-1550 or 911 if the crime is in progress.





Richmond RCMP warning: “It is illegal to sell or distribute marihuana / marihuana-based products”




RICHMOND RCMP officers from the Organized Crime Unit (OCU) executed a search warrant on January 24 at the WeeMedical Wellness Center located at 8050 Anderson Road. The storefront had been allegedly selling marihuana and marihuana-based products openly to the public and was operating without a business licence.

“When Richmond RCMP officers arrived, the element of surprise proved unnecessary – the storefront staff appeared preoccupied and our presence was scarcely noticed,” says Cpl. Dennis Hwang.

Recovered in the operation were:

* Around 180 small bags believed to contain marihuana
* Quantities of baked goods, confectioneries, and other edible products believed to contain marihuana

Hwang said: “We would like to draw attention to some of the unconventional forms that marihuana has taken. These are professionally packaged products. What might seem like an ordinary gummy worm, jelly cola bottle, chocolate bar, or potato chips can be made or infused with marihuana. We are concerned that a child, teen, or adult may unknowingly consume one of these products believing that they were the genuine article.

“During the course of our investigation, officers learned that the storefront was the recipient of more than eight business licence related infractions dating back to November 2016. As the law currently stands, it is illegal to operate a business without a licence and it is illegal to sell or distribute marihuana / marihuana-based products. Full stop. Until such time as the law changes, you can most certainly expect that a visit from us.”











Surrey RCMP warn public about maroon-coloured van and male driver involved in suspicious incidents


(PHOTO: Cpl. Scotty Schumann  Photo by Jay Sharma of Mahi Photo Studio)


SURREY RCMP is asking the public to be on the lookout for a maroon-coloured van and a male driver which were involved in two suspicious incidents in the Guildford and Fleetwood areas.

On January 24, in the 16400-block of 80th Avenue at 5 p.m., a woman was jogging and noticed a van circling the area.  The van stopped and the driver got out, continuing to watch the woman. The driver tried to engage the woman in conversation and followed her on foot until she left in her vehicle.

On January 25, in the 14900-block of 96th Avenue at 3:30 p.m., a girl walking her dog noticed a van following her.  The van sped up and slowed down to match her pace.  The girl hid and the van eventually drove away.

Surrey RCMP’s Special Victims Unit is leading this investigation. Several other units, including a forensic artist and the BC RCMP Real Time Intelligence Centre (RTICBC), are assisting. Officers will be canvassing for witnesses and looking at CCTV in the areas.

In both incidents the vehicle is described as an older maroon coloured van. A witness also describes it as having a boxy shape, sliding doors, and tinted windows. Investigators are speaking to witnesses and gathering information to determine whether it is the same maroon-coloured van in both instances.

The driver is described as an adult male in his 40’s, with dark circles under his eyes, and salt and pepper hair. He was last seen wearing dark coloured sweat pants and a black hoodie.

“This investigation is a priority for our Special Victims Unit,” says Cpl. Scotty Schumann. “If anyone sees a van matching this description please call police right away and record the license plate number if you can. In both of these incidents the females were aware of their surroundings and were able to avoid a situation that did not feel safe.  If you are confronted by a person jeopardizing your safety, do what you can to draw attention to yourself, remove yourself from the situation, and call police as soon as possible.”

Anyone with more information is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 or Crime Stoppers, if they wish to remain anonymous, at 1-800-222-TIPS or







Traffic stop in Surrey results in arrest of two people and seizure of illegal firearm and drug paraphernalia




CHARGES have been approved against Austin Anthony Lopez, 23, and Candice Marie Nelson, 28, after a traffic stop in Surrey by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia’s Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET) resulted in seizure of an illegal firearm and drug paraphernalia.

On the afternoon of January 12, officers from the CFSEU-BC were doing a routine check of vehicles in Surrey when they noticed a grey Mazda 6 attempting to evade police.  A license plate check of the vehicle revealed that the registered owner did not hold a valid driver’s license and was prohibited from driving.

Police caught up to the vehicle in a driveway in the 15000-block of 88th Avenue, in Surrey. The male driver and female passenger were both directed to exit the vehicle. As the occupants exited the vehicle, officers observed drug paraphernalia, as well as a strong odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle.

Officers also located a brown mesh gun case in the back seat of the vehicle. The gun case produced an unloaded, single shot shotgun with a sawed-off barrel.

A further search of the vehicle yielded:

* One box of “Federal” shotgun slugs

* Marijuana-related drug paraphernalia

Police arrested the two occupants of the vehicle.

Lopez has been charged with: one count of possession of a weapon, one count of unauthorized possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm, one count of possession of a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized, one count of possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition, and one count of possession of a prohibited firearm while he was prohibited.

Nelson has been charged with: one count of possession of a weapon, one count of unauthorized possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm, one count of possession of a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized, and one count of possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition.

Their next court date is scheduled for January 30 at 9:30 a.m. in Surrey Provincial Court.







Surrey RCMP now accepting volunteer applications to support community programs


(PHOTO: Cpl. Scotty Schumann  Photo by Jay Sharma of Mahi Photo Studio)


WANT to make a difference in your community and contribute to public safety? The Surrey RCMP is now accepting applications for those interested in volunteering with them. Registration is now available online until February 20.

Volunteers will assist Surrey RCMP officers and staff with various crime prevention programs and initiatives including, Speed WatchLock Out Auto CrimeStolen Auto Recovery Program, as well as community events.

“Our volunteers provide a valuable service to the community,” says Surrey RCMP Cpl. Scotty Schumann. “Their special talents, skills and abilities are integral to the success of our community policing and crime prevention programming.”

Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements:

* 19 years of age or older

* Canadian Citizen (or permanent resident for a minimum of five years)

* Reliable and have integrity

* Available to attend all training sessions

* Available to volunteer a minimum of 16 hours per month for one year

* Pass a suitability interview

* Successfully pass a security background check

* Complete a six-month probationary period

There are many reasons to get involved as a Surrey RCMP volunteer, including:

* Contributing to public safety in your community.

* Learning about crime prevention programs.

* Making a difference

Visit the Surrey RCMP website to learn more about volunteer opportunities with them.







Toronto murder victim identified as 24-year-old Dylan Gill




TORONTO Police on Tuesday identified the man killed on Monday as Dylan Gill, 24, of Toronto.

On Monday, at 12:50 a.m., officers responded to a call of gunshots in the Islington Avenue and Milady Road area. Police arrived at the scene and located a man in medical distress. He was rushed to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Gill was shot while sitting in a parked car.  Police are looking for two suspects who fled in a vehicle.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7400, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at, or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637).




Ottawa Police appeals to public to help in unsolved gang-related murder investigations


THE Ottawa Police Service Major Crime Section is investigating several unsolved gang-related murders and a task force made up of officers from Major Crime, Guns and Gangs and Street Crime is asking for the public’s help in solving the following cases.

“We know there are connections between these cases and we know there are people in our community who have information our investigators need,” said Staff-Sgt. Bruce Pirt. “We are asking them to contact us and help us solve these homicides.”


Leslie Mwakio Homicide 

Occurred December 6, 2016, at about 10:40 p.m. at Bayswater Avenue and Laurel Street. Officers found shooting victim Leslie Mwakio in the driver’s seat of a silver Jeep Patriot. Witnesses observed a dark coloured vehicle leaving the area following the shooting.


Abdi Jama Homicide 

Occurred September 25, 2016, at an after-hours nightclub on Shillington Avenue. Multiple rounds were fired during an altercation between two suspected gangs. Abdi Jama died as a result of gunshot injuries. Witnesses left prior to police arrival.


Eric Vongviset Homicide 

Occurred on November 13, 2011, on Charleston Street, Ottawa West. Eric Vongviset was shot multiple times as he left his home in what is believed to be a targeted shooting.


Mohamed “Casper” Ali Homicide

Occurred on May 7, 2009, at Bar 56. Multiple gunshots were fired inside the busy nightclub. Two victims were shot. Mohamed “Casper” Ali succumbed to his injuries in hospital. Police believe that following an altercation between possibly two feuding gangs, shots were fired into the crowded bar. Suspects fled toward York Street and boarded a taxi. They are believed to have attended bars on York Street prior to murdering Ali.


Wanted for Murder 

There is a Canada-wide warrant for the murder of Omar Rashid-Ghader. Wanted is Mustafa “Heff” Ahmed who shot and killed Rashid-Ghader inside a downtown nightclub on August 14, 2016. Ahmed is believed to have fled to Toronto and is considered to be armed and dangerous.






Peel Regional Police issue warning after two vehicles stolen by South Asian males after listing on buy and sell online websites



PEEL Regional Police are reminding everyone to be vigilant when using online buy and sell sites following two incidents resulting in two separate vehicles being stolen in the City of Mississauga.

On January 22, at approximately 6:20 p.m., a suspect went to a victim’s residence in the area of Truscott Road in the City of Mississauga to view a motor vehicle that the victim had posted for sale online. While the victim was distracted, the suspect got in to the vehicle and drove off.  The vehicle is described as a 2003 green Honda Accord.

On the same day, at approximately 9:50 p.m., two suspects attended the area of Colonial Drive in the City of Mississauga to view another motor vehicle that was posted for sale online.  During the visit, the suspect brandished a knife and ordered the victim out of the car.  The suspect then fled the scene with the victim’s vehicle.  The victim did not suffer any injuries during the incident.  The vehicle is described as a 2003 black Infiniti G35.

The description of the suspect from both incidents is a South Asian male, approximately 20-30 years of age, approximately 5’9” tall, short hair, clean shaven, wearing black jeans and a grey jacket.  In the second incident a second culprit is described as a South Asian male, 20-30 years of age, heavy build with a pony tail.

Both vehicles are still missing.



In November 2016, Peel Regional Police initiated a Buy and Sell Exchange Zone as a crime prevention initiative aimed at reducing violent crime when using online buy and sell sites.  Members of the public are reminded to consider their safety when conducting online transactions. Peel Regional Police urge citizens to use our signed Buy and Sell Exchange Zone located in the parking lot of 22 Division, 7750 Hurontario Street in the City of Brampton.

The Buy and Sell Exchange Zone includes two dedicated signed parking spaces that are monitored by surveillance cameras. Peel Regional Police are the first police organization in the Greater Toronto Area to have a fully signed zone of this kind.

Based upon positive feedback and the request for additional locations from our community, Peel Regional Police have expanded the Buy and Sell Exchange designated zone to the parking lot of 12 Division located at 4600 Dixie Road in the City of Mississauga.




No parole eligibility for 18 years for three men in homicide of Nicholas Hannon


(PHOTO: Nicholas Hannon)


NICHOLAS Hannon, 19, was last seen on February 26, 2014, by his younger brother. The next day, his abandoned vehicle was recovered in Langley from the 10400-block of McKinnon Crescent and a missing person’s investigation was launched by the Langley RCMP.

From the onset of this investigation there were key factors that raised concerns for investigators and as such the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team was engaged early on to offer assistance and liaise with the Langley investigative team throughout.

In mid-April of 2014 there was enough evidence to support the theory that Hannon had met with foul play and IHIT assumed conduct of the investigation. By September 2014 the investigation transitioned to IHIT’s Cold Case Team that pursued the case diligently.

Investigators were able to retrieve Hannon’s body.  His remains were located in a heavily wooded area in Morris Valley located in the Mission area.
In September 2015, Brad Flaherty, then 20, Connor Campbell, then 21, and Keith Tankard, then 20, were charged with first-degree murder.

At the time, IHIT Staff-Sgt. Jennifer Pound  said: “We know that Nicholas was at one point acquaintances, if not friends, with the accused men. While we cannot get into the specifics surrounding evidence or motive, it is believed that this homicide was as a result of a conflict which turned violent and deadly.”


ON Monday (January 23), all three accused attended Supreme Court in Vancouver and entered their guilty pleas to second-degree murder. A joint submission was made and parole eligibility was set for 18 years.
“There is no way to describe how the act of homicide changes the lives of those involved and, while the family of Nicholas are thankful for today’s sentence, they recognize that it won’t bring him back. When it comes to holding those accountable for these devastating crimes, IHIT will continue to use extreme persistence when following and retrieving the necessary evidence,” said Pound.

One of the three accused, Campbell, is the son of an RCMP officer. His mother, too, was an RCMP officer.

CBC reported that the court heard how the four friends had started using and selling drugs together. When the three accused began to feel threatened and afraid of Hannon, they planned and carried out his murder.

They prepared a grave in a remote part of Mission before luring him to a house where he was tasered, bound and choked to death.  The court heard how Campbell shot the deceased in the head before the body was burned and buried.



Abducted child back in B.C., mother in custody in U.S. (update)


(PHOTO: Wilma Estrada)



ON January 23, the New Westminster Police Department asked for the assistance of the public to locate a nine-year-old who had allegedly been abducted by her mother. The child was visiting with her mother Wilma Estrada, who does not currently have custody. During the visit, the mother left with the child violating a court order issued in November 2016, and then entered the USA.

Shortly thereafter, an amber alert was issued in the state of Washington while the New Westminster Police Major Crime Unit worked closely with US authorities.

Officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection located Estrada’s vehicle at a local hotel and, with the assistance of the Bellingham Police Department, were able to locate both her and the child. The child was safely removed and transported to the border where New Westminster Police detectives along with workers from the Ministry of Child and Family Development coordinated her safe return.

“We’re extremely thankful that the child was located safely and returned without incident,” stated Media Relations Officer Acting Sgt. Jeff Scott. “We want to thank the U.S. Authorities, specifically U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Bellingham Police Department, who were instrumental in safely locating Ms. Estrada and her daughter.”

Estrada remains in the custody of U.S. authorities and the NWPD Major Crime Unit continues to investigate.






Nearly one in two Canadians could be an immigrant or the child of an immigrant by 2036: Statistics Canada




IF current immigration levels continue in the coming years, the proportion of immigrants in Canada’s population could reach between 24.5% and 30.0% in 2036, compared with 20.7% in 2011, according to the Statistics Canada report “Immigration and Diversity: Population Projections for Canada and its Regions, 2011 to 2036.”

The projected increase in the proportion of immigrants up to 2036 could affect the future proportion of the second-generation population, that is, the population with at least one parent born abroad. In all scenarios, nearly one in five people (19.7%) would be second generation in 2036, up from 17.5% in 2011.

Immigrants and second-generation individuals combined, who represented 38.2% of Canada’s population in 2011, could account for nearly one in two people (between 44.2% and 49.7%) in 2036.

Immigrant population would remain concentrated in census metropolitan areas

According to the results of these projections, the geographic distribution of immigrants in 2036 would be similar to the 2011 estimate. For example, in 2011, 9 in 10 immigrants lived in a census metropolitan area (CMA), a proportion that could be between 91.7% and 93.4% in 2036.

At the end of the projection period, as in 2011, Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver would remain the three main places of residence of immigrants. In 2036, 33.6% to 39.1% of all immigrants in Canada would live in Toronto; 13.9% to 14.6% in Montréal; and 12.4% to 13.1% in Vancouver.

The projection results show that from 2011 to 2036, the proportion of immigrants in the population would increase in almost all regions of the country, although regional differences would remain. The proportion of immigrants in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec (except Montréal) and in non-CMAs would remain below the Canadian average at the end of the projection period.

In 2036, the five CMAs with the highest proportions of immigrants in their populations would be Toronto (between 46.0% and 52.8%), Vancouver (between 42.1% and 48.5%), Calgary (between 32.7% and 40.8%), Montréal (between 28.4% and 34.2%) and Winnipeg (between 29.2% and 40.5%).

The proportion that the immigrant and second-generation populations together would represent in the total Canadian population would also continue to be very different from one region to the next at the end of the projection period. In 2036, these proportions could be between 77% and 81.4% in Toronto and between 69.4% and 74% in Vancouver, compared with between 3.8% and 4.7% in the non-CMA parts of Newfoundland and Labrador and between 5.0% and 6.4% in Saguenay.

More than half of immigrants would be of Asian origin


If recent trends in the composition of immigration remain the same throughout the projection, in 2036 between 55.7% and 57.9% of Canada’s immigrant population would be Asian-born, up from 44.8% in 2011. Conversely, the proportion of European immigrants would decrease from 31.6% in 2011 to between 15.4% and 17.8% in 2036. Therefore, the arrival of many individuals born abroad affects not only population growth, but also the ethnocultural and language composition of the immigrant population.

Over one-third of working-age population would belong to a visible minority group


In 2036, among the population aged 15 to 64, often referred to as the working-age population, between 34.7% and 39.9% would belong to a visible minority group, up from 19.6% in 2011. The proportion of the 15-to-64 population who are members of a visible minority would increase in all areas of the country between now and 2036. South Asian would still be the group with the most people in 2036, as was the case in 2011.

Proportion of people with a non-Christian religion would increase

The number of people with a non-Christian religion could almost double by 2036, accounting for between 13% and 16% of Canada’s population, compared with 9% in 2011. Within this group, the Muslim (between 5.6% and 7.2% of the total population in 2036), Hindu (between 2.5% and 2.9%) and Sikh (between 2.3% and 2.7%) faiths would see the number of their followers grow more quickly because of their representation among immigrants, although they would still represent a small proportion of the total Canadian population.

The number of unaffiliated people would continue to increase and could represent between 28.2% and 34.6% of all Canadians in 2036.


More than one-quarter would have a mother tongue other than English or French


According to the second Statistics Canada report entitled “Language Projections for Canada, 2011 to 2036,” the continuation of immigration trends would contribute to the growth of the population whose mother tongue and language most often spoken at home is neither English nor French.

In 2011, the population whose mother tongue was neither English nor French totalled 6.9 million and accounted for 20.0% of the Canadian population. In 2036, this population could reach between 10.7 million and 13.8 million people, or between 26.1% and 30.6% of the Canadian population. In 2011, this population had speakers of nearly 200 different languages.

Immigration and its composition would have other effects on the diversification of official-language communities and the Canadian language portrait up to 2036.

Decline in proportion of English- and French-mother-tongue populations


The proportion of Canada’s English-mother-tongue population could decline from 58.7% in 2011 to between 52% and 56% in 2036, while the proportion of the French-mother-tongue population could decrease from 21.3% in 2011 to 17% or 18% in 2036.

French would by far remain the most prevalent mother tongue after English, with between 7.5 million and 7.8 million speakers in 2036.

In comparison, in 2011, none of the other mother tongues had a population of 500,000 persons.

The proportion of the French-mother-tongue population could decline in both Quebec (from 79% in 2011 to between 69% and 72% in 2036 in the three main projection scenarios) and in the rest of Canada (from 3.8% in 2011 to between 2.7% and 2.8% in 2036).

Other scenarios with different internal migration patterns show that the decrease in the proportion of the French-mother-tongue population in Canada outside Quebec could be more modest.

Meanwhile, the share of the English-mother-tongue population could either grow or decline in Quebec (from 8.2% in 2011 to between 7.9% and 8.8% in 2036), mainly due to immigration, but decrease in the rest of Canada (from 74% in 2011 to between 64% and 69% in 2036).

Strong majority would continue to speak English or French most often at home


By 2036, between 45% and 48% of the other-mother-tongue population would have adopted English or French as their home language. As a result, the English-home-language population could represent 64% to 67% of the total Canadian population (68% in 2011), while French as the language spoken most often at home could fall from 21% in 2011 to approximately 18% in 2036.

In total, in 2036, 82% to 85% of the Canadian population would speak one of the two official languages most often at home.

Outside Quebec, this proportion would be between 81% and 85% (with French accounting for 1.8% to 1.9%) and in Quebec, the proportion would be between 87% and 89% (with English accounting for close to 13%).

As the first official language spoken, English to increase, French to decrease

Regarding the country’s two official languages, the projections indicate that the population whose first official language spoken (FOLS) is English could rise from 75.4% in 2011 to approximately 78% in 2036. This would correspond to between 31.9 million and 35.3 million people by 2036, versus 25.9 million in 2011.

In 2036, the French FOLS population could be between 8.6 million and 9.2 million (7.8 million in 2011), falling from 23% of the Canadian population in 2011 to less than 21%.

In Canada excluding Quebec, English would be the FOLS of 95% of the population, while in Quebec, the English-language population defined by this criterion would increase from 13.6% in 2011 to between 16.7% and 17.5% in 2036. This increase in English in Quebec would be the result of both international migration and the adoption of English as the language spoken most often at home by part of the other-mother-tongue population living in Quebec.

Moreover, Quebec’s French FOLS population could fall from 85.4% in 2011 to approximately 82% in 2036. In Canada excluding Quebec, this population could decrease from 3.9% in 2011 to between 3.0% and 3.6% in 2036, regardless of the scenario, due to population aging, language transfers toward English (French-mother-tongue people speaking English most often at home), and the incomplete transmission of French to children.

More diverse official-language populations


As in 2011, the English FOLS (first official language spoken) population could be more ethnoculturally diverse than the French FOLS population in 2036. However, the growth of the population with an immigration background would be higher in the French FOLS population.

Between 48% and 53% of Canada’s English FOLS population could have an immigration background in 2036, compared with 44% in 2011. Furthermore, between 26% and 31% of the French FOLS population would have an immigration background in 2036, up from 15% in 2011.

Percentage of population able to speak French could decrease

The percentage of the Canadian population able to speak French could decrease from 29.8% in 2011 to between 27.6% and 28.4% in 2036. However, the total number of French speakers could rise from 10.2 million people in 2011 to between 11.7 million and 12.5 million people in 2036.

One in two French-mother-tongue individuals would be bilingual


Depending on the immigration scenario and recent trends in acquiring the second official language, the country’s English–French bilingualism rate could be roughly 18.5% in 2036, compared with 17.5% in 2011. However, additional scenarios analyzed in the language projection report show that this bilingualism rate could be higher if more people were to learn and maintain their second language, especially in Canada excluding Quebec.

Quebec’s French-mother-tongue population could have the strongest growth in English–French bilingualism in Canada. This rate could be close to 49% in 2036, up from just under 39% in 2011.




Province commits $217 million to speed up construction of up to 5,200 new student seats in Surrey



THE B.C. government is targeting the construction of up to 5,200 new student seats in Surrey, thanks to today’s commitment of $217 million for capital projects over the next three years to be planned and led by a new joint executive project board with the Surrey School District.

“Young families are moving to Surrey because it’s a great place to call home in British Columbia’s strong economy. We owe it to those families and their kids to make sure we are working together to build new school spaces for them as quickly as possible,” said Education Minister Mike Bernier. “I expect this new project team to dig in hard and develop plans to use the $217-million investment to get shovels in the ground for up to 5,200 new student spaces as soon as possible.”

Bernier announced the additional funding and new project board today at the Surrey Board of Education office, alongside Surrey School Board chairperson Shawn Wilson. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the terms of reference for the Surrey Executive Project Board.

“Our board has been working very hard with the Ministry of Education to address the unique needs in the Surrey School District driven by our incredible growth,” said Surrey School District Board Chairperson Shawn Wilson. “Trustees want to break the pattern of perpetual pursuit of classroom spaces, and we’re proud to now have this significant capital funding and the dedicated, partnership project office that will help get us there.”

Job 1 for the project team will be to identify new schools or school expansions as quickly as possible so the proposals can be brought forward for provincial approval. That planning will involve defining the size of projects, as well as timing new school development to align with residential development.

“With this new project office, the City of Surrey is looking forward in continuing our partnership with the school board to deliver more schools for students in Surrey,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner. “Today’s provincial funding commitment will help address the critical need of new schools for our rapidly growing community.”

Staff from the Surrey School District, Partnerships BC, and the Ministry of Education will make up the executive project board. The project team will include a project director, financial manager, city liaison, project managers and project technicians. The board may also consult engineering, planning, environmental and architectural experts as needed.

The new funding that will be part of Budget 2017 is on top of the $100 million announced last year to build a new secondary and elementary school, expand three elementary schools and purchase land for a future elementary school in Surrey, creating up to 2,700 new seats.

All of the funding along with the new project team will help reduce the number of portables in Surrey.


Quick Facts:


* Since 2013-14 about 6,700 new student spaces have been opened or approved in Surrey.

* Since 2001, the Surrey School District student population has seen about a 20% increase in student enrolment, from 58,648 students to an estimated 71,115 in 2016-17.

* In addition to today’s announcement, government has committed almost $529 million for 70 capital and seismic projects and 14 site acquisitions in Surrey since 2001.




After 16 years of putting rich friends ahead of Surrey students, Clark can’t be trusted on last-minute election promises: NDP


(PHOTO: Jinny Sims   Photo: Facebook)


SURREY-PANORAMA NDP candidate and former educator Jinny Sims says that after 16 years of overcrowded classrooms and declining learning conditions, the BC Liberals can’t be trusted when they promise to change just before an election.

“For the better part of two decades, [Premier] Christy Clark has increased class sizes and ignored Surrey’s rapidly growing population,” says Sims. “And now just before an election, she promises to change. How can Surrey parents possibly believe her now?”

Sims points out that Clark’s record is one of illegally violating limits on class size and putting tax breaks for the rich ahead of new schools for Surrey kids.

“As Education Minister in the early 2000s and now as Premier, Christy Clark has consistently put herself and her rich friends ahead of Surrey students,” says Sims. “Instead of building new schools and hiring more teachers, she has been giving billion dollar tax breaks to her millionaire friends.”

Sims believes that a change of government is needed to improve conditions for Surrey students.

“As Premier, John Horgan will work for regular British Columbians, and that starts with investing in education and ensuring our kids get the opportunities they deserve.”




TransLink reports record ridership in 2016




TRANSLINK’S ridership numbers surged to an all-time high in 2016, just one performance highlight featured in the transportation authority’s new Accountability Centre, which launched on Thursday.

Transit ridership in Metro Vancouver hit 384.83 million boardings in 2016, a 4.5 per cent increase from 362.92 million boardings in 2015 – which itself was also a record year. These boardings include SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express and Coast Mountain Bus Company services.

The significant ridership boost is driven partly by the growth of economic activity in Metro Vancouver, which was Canada’s fastest-growing metropolitan economy in 2016, and is experiencing its lowest unemployment rates since the 2007-2008 economic downturn.

“Ridership is one way we measure our success as a transit agency, and increasing the number of people on our system is something we’ve set as a core priority,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “The 2016 numbers show us there is strong demand for public transportation options. They also underscore the need for the kind of boost in transit service we are beginning to see this year as we roll out Phase One of the Mayors’ 10-Year Vision for improving transportation in the Lower Mainland.”

Ridership numbers are one of 30 performance measures now being reported on TransLink’s new easy-to-navigate online Accountability Centre. The Accountability Centre includes TransLink’s performance on customer satisfaction, on-time performance of buses and SkyTrain, safety, environmental and fiscal management, and more.

Most of these measures have been routinely reported on the TransLink website and in its annual and statutory reports, but the Accountability Centre makes it possible to see TransLink’s priorities at a glance and how well TransLink is doing on each measure.

“We’re proud of the work we do here at TransLink, but we are always striving to improve and ensure we keep our focus on what’s important to our customers,” said Desmond. “The Accountability Centre ensures the public has an opportunity to see how well TransLink is operating and where it needs to make improvements.”





Premier Christy Clark kills B.C. jobs with her raw log export free-for-all: NDP Leader John Horgan


(PHOTO: John Horgan (2nd from left) with MLA Harry Bains (far left).)


B.C. raw log exports hit the second-highest monthly level in recorded history in November, with nearly three-quarters of a million cubic metres being shipped elsewhere for manufacturing, said B.C. New Democrat Leader John Horgan on Thursday, blasting the Christy Clark government for failing to defend jobs for B.C. forest workers and their communities.

“We need to stop Christy Clark’s raw log export free-for-all now,” said Horgan. “B.C. is not just shipping record numbers of our logs offshore – the Christy Clark government is shipping away good, family-supporting jobs along with those raw logs. That’s just wrong.

“We’ve lost 30,000 forest jobs in this province since the B.C. Liberals took power. The only logs that leave B.C. should be the logs that we can’t use in B.C. communities, in B.C. mills and B.C. wood-product manufacturing.”

Horgan said that government data shows raw log exports are up more than 120 per cent since 2001, and about 500 per cent over yearly export averages in the 1990s. He said that B.C. Liberal forest ministers have routinely overruled recommendations by the province’s Timber Export Advisory Committee, and approved exports.

“Christy Clark’s government has a history of sending more and more jobs and logs offshore every year. Some of the companies doing this have been among her largest political donors over the years, and that raises questions about why Christy Clark has sat back and watched thousands of people lose their jobs and hundreds of mills close in communities across the province,” said Horgan.

“We’ll stop the pattern of political interference when it comes to raw log export levels. And when a minister does step in with a political decision to allow exports, those reasons will have to be explained in the legislature, so that the public has full information about those decisions.

“Forest workers and their families are seeing their jobs and their future being shipped out of their communities because Christy Clark is letting big corporations export local logs without any processing here in B.C.

“We have to act now. Christy Clark let those jobs go. I want to stop the job losses and focus on new opportunities for forest workers, their families and their communities.”

Horgan said putting a stop to the B.C. Liberal government’s raw log export policy is part of his plan to create more jobs from B.C. forests.

“Getting the most value out of our resources now and in the future is how we’re going to create more good jobs — and jobs that last — in communities throughout B.C,” said Horgan.






Although gap narrows between Liberals and Conservatives, Liberals would maintain majority if election were held today: Forum Poll


‘There is no doubt Trudeau’s Liberals are a loyal force’


(PHOTO: Justin Trudeau)


THE gap between the Liberals and Conservatives, measured at eight points last month, has shrunk to just six points from eight points last month, according to the Forum Poll that took a random sampling of public opinion among 1,332 Canadian voters.

Amongst decided and leaning voters, Liberal support has remained steady at (42%), but Conservative support has increased to (36%), up two percentage points since last month (December 8: 34%).

The increase in Conservative support comes at the expense of the Greens (5%) and Bloc Quebecois (4%) – each is down a point since December (December 8: Greens 6%, Bloc Quebecois 5%). NDP support remains unchanged (12%).

In British Columbia, the Liberals (37%) are no longer tied with the Conservatives (32%) and have extended a notable lead in the province.

In the Atlantic region, the Liberals are steady at (66%) while the Conservatives are down slightly (21%).

In Quebec, the Liberals have lost support (42%) since December (Deember 8 – 45%), and the Conservatives have seen their support rise to (21%). The Bloc Quebecois see a slight dip in January to (17%), down from December (December 10: 19%). Support for the NDP is at (13%).

Ontario sees modest increases for both the Liberals (44%) and the Conservatives (42%), and a decrease for the NDP (10%).

In the prairies, support for the Conservatives is still very strong (45%) and they’ve increased their lead over the Liberals (34%) from six to 11 points since December. (December 8: Conservatives 43%, Liberals 37%). The NDP has their strongest base of support here, and saw an increase in their support (18%).

Voter support in Alberta still belongs to the Conservatives (61%), who saw their lead extend twelve points (37%) over the Liberals (24%) in January. The NDP saw its total rise to 10%.


IF these results are projected up to seats in the House of Commons, the Liberals would see a 187-seat majority, according to the Forum Poll.

The Conservatives would win 131 seats, the NDP would secure 15, the Bloc 4, and the Green Party 1.

Since December, this represents a gain of 7 seats for the Liberals, a loss of 4 seats by the Conservatives, and a loss of 3 seats by the NDP. (December 8: Liberals 180, Conservatives 135, and the NDP 18)


THE favourables of all three party leaders have decreased in January. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has the strongest approval of any party leader (48%), this is down three points since December (December 8: 51%). His net favourable score (approve minus disapprove) has been cut in half since December, it now sits at +6. His approval is strongest among the youngest (55%), females (54%), and in Atlantic Canada (73%). He has the approval of virtually all Liberals (85%) and one half of New Democrats (48%).

Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose does not reach the approval level of Justin Trudeau, hers rests at (33%). Her net favourable score now sits only one point behind the Prime Minister at +5.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has seen his disapproval rating (34%) exceed his approval rating (31%), which makes his net favourable score the worst of the three, at -3, down four points since December (December 8: +1)


JUST under 40 percent (38%) see Justin Trudeau as the best choice for Prime Minister. The second choice, for the second month in a row, is “none of these,” which garnered (22%).

“None of these” is up five percentage points since December (December 8: 17%), corresponding with the net favourable loss suffered by all three leaders in January.

“While Justin Trudeau’s popularity has taken a significant hit over the past months, there is no doubt his Liberals are a loyal force. Their support is holding steady, and despite an increase in Conservative fortunes, the Liberals would see their hold on the House of Commons grow if an election were held today,” said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.




Surrey Liberal MPs react to Dianne Watts’ attack on government for job cuts at Surrey Tax Centre


(PHOTO: John Aldag)


SURREY Liberal MPs John Aldag (Cloverdale-Langley City), Sukh Dhaliwal (Surrey-Newton), Randeep Sarai (Surrey-Centre) and Ken Hardie (Fleetwood-Port Kells) finally reacted on Monday to South Surrey-White Rock MP Dianne Watts’s statement last week that she had confirmed that the federal Liberal government was leaving 75 employees without jobs, and their families without options, and is forcing an additional 330 workers to either move across Canada, or take a demotion.
The MPs said that the following statement was “to clarify some of the misinformation circulated to the media this past week”:

“Our government is committed to making the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) deliver the highest level of service to Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

“Canadians are increasingly turning to the Internet to file their taxes. In 2016, approximately 16% of Canadians filed their tax returns on paper – about a 66% drop in just over ten years. That has resulted in a steady decline in the amount of paper-based transactions.

“The CRA needs to adapt to this reality in order to continue offering world-class services that are readily accessible to all Canadians.

“As a processing centre, the paper-based workload at Surrey has steadily decreased. As part of the Service Renewal Initiative, the Surrey Tax Centre will transition from a processing centre to a National Verification and Collections Centre (NVCC).

“The NVCC in Surrey will experience an overall growth. Employees will see their work transition from processing paper tax returns and benefit activities now, to providing services in a verification and collections environment to help resolve outstanding debts and promote taxpayer compliance.

“The CRA is committing its long-term presence in Surrey by establishing a NVCC. This means that rather than seeing a continued decline of the Surrey workforce, the Agency is establishing additional permanent positions at the higher-paying levels and providing a more robust career path for employees.

“Over the period of implementation of the Service Renewal Initiative the CRA projects an estimated additional 50 Full-Time Equivalents to be added to the new Surrey NVCC. 391 employees involved in processing were given relocation letters. These individuals can choose to relocate to other processing centres across the country or the vast majority can accept a new position in an office within 40 km.

“The CRA has an excellent track record in supporting its employees through periods of transition. The CRA will make every attempt to offer affected employees alternative employment through the careful management of vacancies, departures, and attrition. All the changes are expected to be seamless to taxpayers.”

The statement defined Full-Time Equivalents (FTE) as “Active employees of departments and agencies. An FTE of 1.0 means that the person is equivalent to a full-time worker while, an FTE of 0.5 signals that the worker is only half-time.”

Aldag said: “Service Renewal will simplify the way Canadians engage with the Agency and ensure that they receive world-class service when dealing with their tax and benefit affairs. This move shows the CRA’s long-term commitment to Surrey and results in an overall growth in the Surrey Office.”

Dhaliwal said: “Modernizing the Canada Revenue Agency is necessary to respond to the fact that most Canadians are now filing their returns online. This is a move that will increase both the number of jobs and the long-term integration of the CRA in the City of Surrey”




Liberals ignore national security agencies in rush to embrace China: Conservatives


(PHOTO: Tony Clement)


ORDERING a “fresh review” of the Chinese takeover of a Canadian electronics company in the face of national security warnings demonstrates the Liberal government’s desire to please China at any cost, said Official Opposition Public Safety critic Tony Clement.

National security agencies warned Ottawa that allowing a Chinese firm, O-Net Communications, to take over a Montreal high-tech company would undermine a technological advantage that Western militaries have over China.

“This is further proof that the Prime Minister is willing to place China’s interests ahead of Canada’s. He disregarded advice from our security establishment, and dismissed the threat to Canada’s national security in his reckless courtship of Chinese investment,” said Clement. “This does not bode well for Canada’s interests, especially in a Canada/China trade deal. How much more is Trudeau willing to give away?”

The former Conservative government halted the takeover by the Chinese firm, O-Net, in 2015 due to the national security concerns, but the Liberals have now quashed that order and want to re-look at the deal. The decision is being made knowing the Chinese government has been behind cyberattacks in Canada, including hacking the National Research Council in 2014.

The Montreal-based company at the centre of the transaction, ITF Technologies, specializes in high-level solutions for specialized photonic applications such as underwater transmission, military manufacturing and manufacturing systems.

The Conservative caucus is demanding the Liberal government come clean on why this deal is back on the table, and explain to Canadians why their security is being jeopardized by the government`s imprudent rush to embrace China.


Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson: Intense frequency of overdose response is unsustainable


(PHOTO: Gregor Robertson   Photo by Chandra Bodalia)


VANCOUVER Mayor Gregor Robertson said on Tuesday that the intense frequency of overdose response in the city is unsustainable, overwhelming first responders, front line workers and community volunteers.

He said that it has never been more urgent to act.

He noted: “Today Council heard the latest update from City staff and Vancouver Coastal Health on how the fentanyl opioid crisis is affecting all corners of Vancouver. We had the highest number (215) and highest rate of deaths of all BC cities last year – first responders at Firehall #2 alone responded to nearly 3,000 overdose calls, nearly triple the number than in 2015.”

Robertson added: “The City is doing more than its share to combat the fentanyl crisis but we’re at a breaking point: better access to addictions treatment, substitution therapy and detox is crucial to save lives and reduce the intense burden on everyone working to keep people alive and help them recover.

“This week Council is considering up to $3.5 million in practical and immediate measures to fight the fentanyl opioid crisis on the front lines and save lives: continued support for the mobile medic unit at Firehall #2, more naloxone training for community service workers to prevent overdose deaths, and a new, volunteer-driven Community Policing Centre in Strathcona to support community safety and enhance quality of life.

“The City’s investments in our first responders and community policing volunteers are tangible actions the City can take within our control to support our front line workers and are the right thing to do to prevent overdose deaths that have reached horrific and heartbreaking levels. I hope every Council member will support these new measures.”

Robertson said: “Last week I spoke with Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau about the critical urgency of the fentanyl opioid crisis and the need for strong leadership from the federal government to ensure the resources, data and international best practices are coordinated across Canada. Vancouver will continue to support efforts to save lives, but we need the BC and federal governments to treat the fentanyl opioid crisis like the public health emergency it is, with immediate investments in more treatment, education, supportive housing and drug policy reform.”




New modern liquor laws come into effect




AN updated Liquor Control and Licencing Act and regulation that came into force on Monday create new opportunities for businesses, increase convenience for consumers and enhance the Province’s commitment to social responsibility.


Legislative changes

The Liquor Policy Review made 73 recommendations to update antiquated laws for British Columbians and reduce red tape. Several of the recommendations required new laws or regulations to be implemented. The new act and regulation increase flexibility for businesses and spur economic growth by allowing:

* all types of businesses, like barbershops, salons, book stores and art galleries, to apply for a liquor licence, giving them opportunities to generate new revenue;

* businesses to apply for a Special Event Permit, formerly a Special Occasion Licence, to reduce red tape involved in organizing events and festivals;

* hotels and resorts that own a bar on the premises to offer guests a complimentary alcoholic beverage upon check-in and permit guests to carry their drinks from licenced areas directly to their rooms;

* restaurants and bars to create unique cocktails through liquor infusions and barrel-aging, keeping up with a strong ‘cocktail culture’ that has emerged in Europe, the United States and across Canada;

* applicants to receive more timely decisions on their licence applications due to local governments and the Province being able to review liquor licence applications at the same time;

* theatres to permit customers to consume liquor purchased on-site in both the lobby and licensed seating areas when minors are present, similar to arenas and stadiums;

* restaurants to apply to operate as a bar or nightclub after a certain hour;

* bars to apply for a restaurant licence to operate as a restaurant during certain hours;

* licensed facilities to use space for non-alcohol-related purposes while liquor is not being served;

* golf course patrons to take a drink from one service area to another;

* private liquor stores to sell different keg sizes;

* caterers to store liquor off-site similar to other licensees and advertise liquor;

* non-licensees to mention liquor in advertising, as long as they aren’t promoting it, permitting the development of promotional materials, such as maps, apps and brochures to promote B.C.’s wineries, distilleries and breweries;

* manufacturers to offer patrons liquor other than what is produced on-site and offer a guided tour of their establishment without having to apply for permission to do so; and

* licensees to request that government reconsider an enforcement decision under certain circumstances to avoid a costly court hearing and choose between a monetary penalty or licence suspension for a first contravention.

With the new legislation and regulations coming into effect, nearly 90% of the Liquor Policy Review recommendations have now been implemented.


Enhanced flexibility for B.C. businesses

The new act and regulations support the Province’s ongoing work with liquor manufacturers, industry associations and businesses to reduce red tape, increase flexibility and provide new opportunities by:

* creating a new graduated mark-up scale and new provisions to increase cash flow for craft brewers;

* creating a new interprovincial trade agreement so vintners can list their wine with distributors in Quebec and Ontario;

* allowing manufacturers to sell liquor at artisan and farmers’ markets;

* allowing event organizers to apply online for a single Special Event Permit,  that covers multiple events over several days;

* permitting full-service liquor stores to relocate throughout the province, provided they are not within one kilometre of an existing full-service liquor store;

* allowing retailers to charge for liquor samples to recoup cost of sampling higher-end product;

* implementing a new online application process to significantly simplify the process for licensing for special events;

* permitting two manufactures or agents to provide samples in a liquor store at the same time;

* allowing eateries to operate a licensed patio even if the establishment has no interior licensed areas; and

* permitting licensees to store liquor in secure, off-site locations and transfer small amounts of liquor between different establishments.


Increased convenience and choice for consumers

The modernized legislation builds on additional changes made to increase choice and convenience for British Columbians including:

* purchasing 100% B.C. wine on grocery store shelves in 14 locations and growing;

* allowing ‘happy hours’ by letting pubs and restaurants offer drink specials;

* permitting patrons to carry liquor between adjoining licensed establishments;

* allowing hotels and resorts to offer a cocktail through hotel room service 24/7;

* eliminating ‘beer gardens’ by allowing the entire special event site to be licensed;

* allowing the sale of mixed-spirit drinks at public licensed special events;

* allowing hosts to serve UBrew/UVin or homemade beer at licensed family special events;

* permitting arenas, theatres and stadiums to offer mixed-spirit drinks in all licensed spaces, not only in boxes or premium seats;

* allowing restaurant customers to order a drink without requiring food to be purchased;

* permitting minors in participating pubs when accompanied by a parent or guardian;

* tasting a broader range of liquor products, including high-end products, before deciding whether to purchase, thanks to larger sample amounts per customer at tastings;

* permitting the purchase of liquor at festivals or competitions; and

* allowing home brewers and vintners to showcase their creations through hobby brewer and hobby vintner competitions.


Social Responsibility

The Province says it is committed to ensuring that liquor products are consumed responsibly and has implemented several new policies to promote health and safety related to alcohol. In fact, over one-quarter of the recommendations contained in the Liquor Policy Review focus on health, safety, and social responsibility:

* all 10,200 licensees in B.C are required by law to display social responsibility materials in a prominent location;

* everyone serving or selling liquor in B.C. is required to hold Serving It Right or Special Event Server certification to ensure they understand their legal responsibilities; and

* minimum price regulations are in place for all licensed establishments and liquor retailers.

Additionally, every establishment in B.C. licensed to sell or serve alcohol is subject to full inspections from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch to ensure they are in compliance with all public health and safety regulations. The Minors as Agents Program helps ensure people under 19 years old are not sold or served alcohol.


Province invests $10 million in public geoscience, extends tax incentives to promote more mining exploration


(PHOTO: Premier Christy Clark)


PREMIER Christy Clark announced at Roundup 2017 on Monday that the B.C. government will provide Geoscience BC with $10 million in funding over two years to further support its work in encouraging mineral, coal, and oil and gas exploration investment in the province, and is also extending and enhancing tax incentives to increase mineral exploration throughout the province.

“Public geoscience is integral to the long-term success of the mining industry in B.C. and every single dollar invested is returned five times over to British Columbians,” said Premier Clark. “We’re also providing tax incentives to make sure that mineral exploration companies choose B.C. as the place to do business – that translates to more family-supporting jobs and grows our economy.”

The Province is extending the B.C. mining flow-through share tax credit to Dec. 31, 2017. The previous tax credit, which makes the province more attractive to the exploration sector, expired Dec. 31, 2016. B.C. is also amending the provincial Income Tax Act to make environmental studies and community consultations eligible for B.C.’s mining exploration tax credit, which mirrors a similar incentive now provided by the federal government. The tax changes are subject to the approval of the Legislative Assembly.

“Today we have more than 30,000 people working in mineral exploration, mining and related sectors, and that’s double the number employed in 2001,” said Energy and Mines  Minister Bill Bennett. “Mineral exploration investment is by its nature risky. These tax incentives and the geoscience funding will encourage investment in early-stage exploration that ultimately leads to major mine investments and new jobs.”

Every $1 invested in new mining-related public geoscience data attracts $5 in exploration investment, and substantially more with new discoveries. Geoscience information acts as knowledge infrastructure to reduce risk to companies and influences them to choose B.C. over other jurisdictions as a destination for their investment. These investments lead to identifying new mineral resources and ultimately to developing new mines.

An example of the type of return that come from publicly-available geoscience includes the Brucejack gold mine currently under construction near Stewart. It is a $900 million project that is employing 900 workers during construction and, when completed, will provide decades of wealth generation for 300 permanent workers, governments and the company.

“Thank you to Premier Clark and Minister Bennett for providing Geoscience BC with this two-year funding,” said Robin Archdekin, President and CEO, Geoscience BC. “This funding certainty will ensure that the Geoscience BC continues to undertake independent earth-science research that supports government objectives, as well providing investor and public confidence in the mineral and oil and gas sectors.”

More than $4.4 billion has been invested in mineral exploration in B.C. since 2001, an average of around $280 million per year. Mineral exploration is a high-risk investment and tax incentives encourage companies to take on this risk, which leads to on-the-ground exploration activies.

“Having the B.C. government extend the mining flow-through share tax credit and make environmental studies and community consultations eligible for the mining exploration tax credit is great news,” said Gavin C. Dirom, President and CEO, Association for Mineral Exploration. “These tax credits will help B.C. continue to be one of the most attractive places in Canada for our members to invest in mineral exploration activities.”

Development of mineral and oil and gas resources leads to new infrastructure – such as roads and electrical infrastructure – which are catalysts for broader regional economic development and increased government revenues. Geoscience research is a critical component to this development.

Geoscience BC was established in 2005 through an initial $25-million investment from the B.C. government. Since that time, and including the funding announced today, the Province has provided it with $71.7 million in funding to help further mineral and energy geoscience initiatives. Geoscience BC has also secured more than $23 million in additional funding from the resource sector, academia and other government sources. B.C. is the only province in Canada that utilizes an organization such as Geoscience BC to assist in the delivery of public geoscience.






British Columbia receives top marks for reducing red tape




FOR the sixth year in a row British Columbia is leading the pack when it comes to cutting red tape to make government programs and services easier to use.

British Columbia is one of only a few provinces to ever receive the top mark in the CFIB’s (Canadian Federation of Independent Business) Red Tape Report Card. B.C. has done so for six consecutive years. As part of CFIB’s Red Tape Awareness Week campaign, Executive Vice President Laura Jones presented the report card to Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction Coralee Oakes in Vancouver on Tuesday. B.C.’s ‘A’ grade recognizes the Province’s ongoing commitment to reducing frustrating and unnecessary regulations that get in the way of British Columbians and small businesses accessing government resources each and every day.

CFIB has awarded B.C. with an ‘A’ grade based on the following criteria: political leadership – having a minister championing red tape reduction; public measurement –having a credible measurement in place towards reducing the regulatory burden, in British Columbia this is the regulatory count ; and constraints on regulators – having targets in place to maintain or reduce the level of burden, in B.C.’s case this is the net-zero commitment.

B.C.’s efforts to reduce red tape are unwavering. The provincial government says it is continuing the conversation with British Columbians and listening to their ideas, which have helped to:

* create the Help Cut Red Tape submission button on the Province’s homepage so anyone can submit their idea to cut red tape 24/7, 365 days a year – B.C. is the only province with an ongoing mechanism in place to gather ideas directly from citizens and businesses;

* launch an online adoption portal to help find forever homes for more foster children by eliminating burdensome paperwork and bringing all aspects of the adoption process online;

* streamlined the Fish and Seafood Act and the Food and Agricultural Products Classification Act to simplify the legislation governing the fish, seafood and general food industries in British Columbia. The update removed 680 regulations from the books and will help the B.C. agrifood sector continue to thrive;

* update the Regulatory Reform Policy to require any changes to provincial legislation, regulations, policies and forms to consider the impact on small businesses;

* launch onRouteBC, an innovative online permit resource for the commercial trucking industry – the first of its kind in Canada; and

* reconfirm British Columbia’s commitment to its net-zero policy until 2019—when one regulation is created, one regulation is removed.

To date, the Province has received over 500 ideas with suggestions to cut red tape from the initial public engagement and the Help Cut Red Tape button, and the Province has already taken action on over 190 of these ideas.

To keep this momentum going, British Columbians are encouraged to submit ideas to make government services better, faster, and more efficient. Submitting an idea is as easy as visiting and clicking on the Help Cut Red Tape button.

Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, said: “Making it easier for British Columbians to access government, such as obtaining a criminal record check, becoming an organ donor or applying for business permits, is at the core of our commitment to cut red tape. We are honoured to be recognized by CFIB with a sixth straight ‘A’ grade for reducing the time and frustration that prevents people from accessing the programs and services they use every day, and remain committed to delivering services that are faster, easier to access and simpler to use.”

Laura Jones, Executive Vice President of Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said: “B.C. continues to receive ‘A’ grades for red tape reduction because the provincial government has not lost their focus. The B.C. model of red tape reduction serves and an impressive template which other jurisdictions should consider emulating. This is B.C.’s sixth consecutive ‘A’ from CFIB.”


Quick Facts:


* CFIB’s Red Tape Report Cards report out on each provinces red-tape reduction efforts and grades them with a letter grade.

* The B.C. government is a recognized leader in reducing red tape. British Columbia is the only province to receive an ‘A’ grade, and the province has now received six ‘A’ grades from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

* Since 2001, the Province has reduced the regulatory burden for citizens and small businesses by 47% and completed hundreds of streamlining initiatives to reduce red tape.

* British Columbia has received international recognition for cutting red tape and B.C. is seeing other jurisdictions from around the world, including Kentucky and Illinois in the United States, as well as Japan modelling their initiatives based on what B.C. has achieved.

* In 2015, the Province extended its cap on regulatory requirements until 2019.

* The second Red Tape Reduction Day will be on March 1, 2017.

* B.C.’s online red tape reduction website allows anyone to see how many ideas have been submitted and how the input is being actioned.



B.C. continues Moody’s Aaa credit rating record


(PHOTO: Mike de Jong)



MOODY’S Investors Service has confirmed British Columbia’s Aaa credit rating for the 12th year in a row, as well as a stable outlook, thanks in part to the Province’s track record of prudent fiscal planning and diversified economy leading to economic growth, Finance Minister Mike de Jong announced on Monday.

“We have maintained a focus on prudent controlled spending while attracting investment, and diversifying our industries and export partners,” said de Jong. “The external economic situation remains uncertain, which means we must be vigilant and continue to put B.C. on solid economic footing to weather any downturns. The upcoming budget will continue on this path to bring opportunities that create jobs and continued economic growth that pays for health, education and social programs for British Columbians.”

In affirming the Aaa-stable rating — the highest possible — Moody’s writes: “The Aaa issuer and debt ratings assigned to British Columbia reflect the diverse and relatively strong provincial economy, track record of prudent fiscal management and a high degree of flexibility to accommodate revenue and expenditure pressures. These positive elements helped the province return to balanced budgets in 2013-14 following the 2009 recession faster than most other Canadian provinces, and the province has posted a plan of continued balanced budgets across its rating horizon.”

Moody’s also says: “The economy of British Columbia, along with a level of taxation that is at the lower end of Canadian provinces, represents an important credit positive for the Aaa rating. The large and diverse economy provides the province with a large base on which to apply a productive tax base, ensuring that provincial revenues are not strongly impacted by a decline in one particular sector.”

It adds: “While Canada typically sees over three-quarters of exports flow to the U.S., this market accounts for about half of British Columbia exports. Other key markets for the province include China (17%), Japan (10%) and other Asian countries (9%). This wide diversification of sectors and markets reduces the vulnerability of the provincial economy from sector-specific or trading partner-specific shocks.”

Moody’s also writes: “British Columbia is rated at the higher end of Canadian provinces, which span a range of Aaa to Aa3. British Columbia has demonstrated strong fiscal management and performance in recent years, as evidenced by the quick return and maintenance of balanced budgets following the 2009 recession and limited increase of its debt burden during the years it produced deficits. The province’s diverse economy, in both industrial mix and external trade partners, has also helped British Columbia avoid the economic difficulties impacting several other Canadian provinces presently.”

Since November 2004, the Province has received seven credit rating upgrades and is now the only province rated triple-A by each of the international rating agencies. Standard & Poor’s most recently affirmed its AAA rating in April 2016, following Budget 2016. The Dominion Bond Rating Service affirmed B.C.’s AA (high) credit rating in April 2016, and Fitch affirmed the Province’s AAA rating in April 2016.



Canada responsible for ballooning greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel exports, says new study



THE amount of fossil fuel removed from Canadian soil that ends up in the atmosphere as harmful carbon dioxide has risen dramatically, almost exclusively because of our country’s growing fossil fuel exports, finds a new Corporate Mapping Project study published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Parkland Institute.

Extracted carbon from Canada (fossil fuels extracted and used domestically or exported and combusted elsewhere) increased 26 per cent from 2000 to 2014. In 2015, Canada’s extracted carbon equalled almost 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

“If all producer countries act like Canada by continuing to expand the extraction and export of fossil fuels, we can give up on limiting global warming to 1.5 to 2°C as envisioned in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change,” said CCPA-BC senior economist Marc Lee, author of Extracted Carbon: Re-examining Canada’s contribution to climate change through fossil fuel exports.

“If we look at what we dig not just what we burn domestically, there has been a relentless rise in carbon emissions from Canada,” he added.

A major loophole in the Paris Agreement, which especially benefits Canada, means fossil fuels exported to other countries are not counted in our emissions inventory – only those extracted and burned inside our borders.

Therefore, countries like Canada have a powerful incentive to extract fossil fuels now before their value evaporates.

“This ‘green paradox’ is bad news for the climate,” said Lee. “The Paris Agreement is a ‘good deal’ for Canada because only half of the fossil fuels we extract get counted in our greenhouse gas inventory.”

To truly champion climate action, Lee says we must consider the emissions from all of the fossil fuels extracted from Canadian soil annually. He added that plans to increase Canada’s exports of fossil fuels, confirmed by recent federal approval of new pipelines and liquefied natural gas projects, contradict the spirit and intentions of the Paris Agreement.

Recommendations in the report include that Canadian climate policy must consider supply-side measures such as rejecting new fossil fuel infrastructure and new leases for exploration and drilling, increasing royalties, and eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.

“There is still time for Canada to live up to its Paris Agreement commitments. Our exports of fossil fuels do not need to drop to zero immediately, but nor does it make sense to pursue policies that further increase extracted carbon,” Lee said.







British Columbia Securities Commission study confirms investors need to learn more about fees


As new fee reports begin arriving, many investors remain unware of how and how much they pay their investment advisors


JUST in time for RRSP season, many investors will receive new information about the fees they pay for investment products and advice, and the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) wants to ensure that investors are ready to “Take a Look” at that information.

The BCSC launched its Take a Look campaign in October 2016 to encourage investors to pay attention to the fees they pay for investment products and advice. And according to a recent study conducted by the BCSC, B.C. investors still have some significant gaps in fee knowledge. Of investors surveyed, 28 per cent do not know how their advisor is paid and 36 per cent are not familiar with the types of fees they pay for the investment products they own. Only 44 per cent of investors agree that paying one per cent more or less in fees will make a difference to their returns.

“Some of the study results concern us,” said Pamela McDonald, Director, Communications and Education, BCSC. “New securities regulations will be putting more information in the hands of investors to help them clearly see the fees they paid in the last year. We’re conducting this research to show us how ready investors are to use this information and what else they still need to understand.”

Beginning in January and February, investors will start receiving charges and compensation reports from their advisors as part of securities regulations called the Client Relationship Model, Phase 2 (CRM2). The BCSC is conducting a three-part longitudinal study to measure how well B.C. investors understand the fees they pay and how the new charges and compensation reports will affect investor knowledge and behaviour.

According to the BCSC’s study, while 83 per cent of investors said they know whether the value of their portfolio went up or down over the last year, only half (51 per cent) know the total of amount of direct fees they paid in the past 12 months. And only a small group of investors, 34 per cent, know the impact of the indirect fees they pay from their investments.

“Fees impact your returns over time. Fees are a fact of investing and we want to empower investors to discuss them with their advisors,” said McDonald. “This is why we created a number of new online tools like our fee calculator, to help make this important information more accessible.”

The BCSC released new tools as part of the Take a Look campaign, including a fee quizfee guide, and investment fee calculator. Available on the BCSC’s investor education website, the fee calculator allows users to directly compare different fees and see their impact on investment returns.

The BCSC’s Investor Readiness for Better Investing study was conducted by Innovative Research Group Inc. in November and December 2016. For more information on the research findings, visit BCSC InvestRight.




Premier Clark announces job training tax credits for timber harvesting contractors


PREMIER Christy Clark last week announced the development of job training tax credits for on-the-ground training specifically for BC’s timber harvesting contractors at the Truck Logger Association’s 74th Annual Convention and Trade Show.
“The average age of a tree faller is 57,” Clark told the audience. “You’ve got a 50 per cent retirement rate that you’re looking down the barrel at over the next five years.” With that in mind, Clark outlined her plan: Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, will work with Mike de Jong, Minister of Finance, and the TLA to put in place job training tax credits for on-the-ground training aimed at timber harvesting contractors in British Columbia.
“This idea for job training tax credits shows Premier Clark’s recognizes the unique challenges timber harvesting contractors face in training new employees and I thank her for that,” said David Elstone, TLA Executive Director. “You can’t send someone to school for logging. So much of the work has to be learned on the ground from people who’ve worked in the industry a long time. It’s really an apprentice-type situation.”
The announcement also ties back to contractor sustainability. “These tax credits will help pass on the unwritten and essential knowledge timber harvesting contractors close to retirement have learned over their multi-decade careers,” explained Elstone. “This will not only help contractors but the industry as a whole in ensuring the supply chain continues to deliver logs efficiently.”
“Hopefully, the tax credits will allow timber harvesting contractors to invest in training of new employees before we lose all the know-how,” said Elstone. “This work will support independent timber harvesting contractors who can’t afford the added cost of training new employees but know our older workforce can’t keep going forever.”





Federal government invests $500,000 in improvements to Penzer Park in partnership with City of Langley


PENZER Park will receive a significant renovation in time for Canada’s 150th Anniversary, with the Government of Canada’s CIP 150 investment of $500,000 in partnership with the City of Langley’s contribution of $800,000.

John Aldag, MP for Cloverdale-Langley City, on behalf of Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, made the announcement on Monday at Penzer Park in Langley.

The Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program is part of Canada 150 Celebrates, the Government of Canada’s celebration of the country’s 150th anniversary of Confederation. The 2016 federal budget provides an additional $150 million over two years to Canada’s Regional Development Agencies to deliver further community funding across the country, starting in 2016-17. Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is responsible for administering the program in Western Canada.

Through investments in community infrastructure, the Government of Canada will invest in projects that seek to renovate, expand and improve existing community infrastructure, with a focus on recreational facilities, projects that advance a clean growth economy, and projects with a positive impact on Indigenous communities.

Aldag said: “Parks are valued in an established community as they provide opportunity for friends and family to gather and enjoy the best of what the community has to offer and physical activities. The upgrades of Penzer Park will improve the park for citizens and make it even more enjoyable.”

Ted Schaffer, Mayor of the City of Langley, said: “The City of Langley is committed to significant park upgrades by investing $800,000 into Penzer Park, and is excited to partner with the federal government to improve these featured amentities in our community. We appreciate the hard work that our federal representative, MP John Aldag, has done to secure federal funding Penzer Park renewal project. It will be a time and place to remember on Canada’s 150th birthday.”




NISM and Moody’s Analytics launch advanced certification in derivatives strategies in Mumbai



(PHOTO: L-R: Director, National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM), Sandip Ghose; IIROC President and CEO, Andrew J. Kriegler; Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Upendra Kumar Sinha; and President, Moody’s Analytics, Mark E. Almeida.)


THE National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM) and Moody’s Analytics have announced the launch of the NISM-Moody’s Certificate in Derivatives Market Strategies (CDMS), the first of a series of advanced certifications designed to elevate proficiency standards in India’s financial services industry, in Mumbai.

The certificate was introduced by U.K. Sinha, Chairman, SEBI, chief guest at the International Conference on Certification and Capacity Building in Financial Markets, held at NISM’s Patalganga campus near Mumbai from January 20-21.
Speaking on this occasion, Sinha said that NISM with its 21 certificates in the market space is globally the biggest player in this area. “The introduction of advanced professional certifications represents an important step in supporting the growth of India’s securities markets,” he said. “A more robust level of proficiency helps build confidence in the system. We encourage broad participation from all market participants.”
The NISM-Moody’s CDMS is an internationally recognized certification that validates the knowledge and skills required for a variety of roles that employ financial derivatives. With the NISM-Moody’s CDMS in hand, individuals will be recognized for their specialized knowledge and qualifications in the advanced concepts of both exchange-traded and over-the-counter (OTC) derivative investments.
“The launch of this certification reinforces the commitment of Moody’s Analytics to developing sound proficiency standards, which support and promote efficiency and transparency in capital markets,” said Mark Almeida, President, Moody’s Analytics. “We greatly value our partnership with NISM and are committed to helping advance the growth and success of India’s securities market.”
Sandip Ghose, Director, NISM, noted that the CDMS certification is only the first step towards a foundation of advanced proficiency in India’s capital markets. “Through our partnership with Moody’s Analytics, we are leveraging international best practices for our next generation of specialized certifications, starting with the CDMS. The CDMS goes above and beyond NISM’s foundational courses by providing a deeper level of expertise in derivatives. Professionals holding a CDMS will have mastered the intricacies of complex financial products and their application in risk management, product structuring and investment advice.” Successful completion of one of the three NISM Derivatives Certification Examinations (Currency Derivatives, Equity Derivatives, or Common Derivatives) is a prerequisite for enrolling in the CDMS course.
The conference’s co-keynote speaker was Andrew J. Kriegler, President and CEO, Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). Kriegler discussed the importance of international collaboration in promoting market quality: “Our experience shows that embedding advanced proficiency standards builds confidence in our financial professionals and helps ensure that our capital markets operate efficiently and effectively and in the public interest. IIROC is pleased that NISM is looking at the content and expertise of programs that have been successfully deployed in Canada and other jurisdictions.”
The two-day conference focused on important aspects of certification and capacity building, including professional risk management skills required to navigate the complex financial landscape and advisory skills to build customer trust, with special emphasis on perspectives from developed and emerging markets.




Fraser Health Hackathon delivers solutions to address overdose crisis, clinical decision making




DAILY challenges in the Fraser Health region are being approached with new, technology-driven solutions after more than 80 local developers put their minds together during the Fraser Health Hackathon last weekend. Following two days of intensive work and deliberation, three teams were recognized for their efforts in creating solutions focused on the overdose crisis, clinical decision making, and supplementing a person’s health record with information that could be of value to care providers.

Hosted in partnership with Simon Fraser University, the City of Surrey and Innovation Boulevard, with support from the Health Tech Innovation Foundation, OpenDataBC, and Telus, the 16 teams were provided with access to publicly-available data as well as additional aggregate data that was carefully de-identified to safeguard against privacy concerns. In addition, Fraser Health mentors were on-hand to provide health care-focused guidance to participants as needed.

For their unique approach to clinical decision making in hospital Emergency Departments, Team Spurious Correlations was presented with the Innovation Boulevard: Health Tech Innovation Foundation prize package. The group created a web-based solution that accurately depicts in real time the volume of patients in Emergency Departments and doctors’ offices throughout the region. The solution allows hospitals and doctors’ offices to staff and prepare accordingly based on patient volumes and allows a person to choose the most appropriate site to obtain health care services for their needs. For their efforts, the group was awarded a $700 cash prize, two tickets to the upcoming BC Tech Summit and a professional business and financial plan review.

For their efforts in addressing the overdose crisis with an opioid overdose alert system, Team First Responders was awarded the Telus prize package. Based on the data provided, the team created a solution that locates areas with high overdose rates in an effort to accelerate first response, increasing a person’s chances of survival. The prize package includes a $1,500 cash prize from Telus Health, a high-definition television, an opportunity to spend a full day with Telus’ Chief Dreamer and up to two sessions with Telus Venture thought leaders to further develop their ideas.

Using an out-of-the-box approach to creating a digital personal health record, Team Care Crew was awarded the X-Factor prize featuring an opportunity to meet and dine with Fraser Health President and CEO Michael Marchbank. Care Crew is a cloud-based system that supplements a person’s health information, including medications, dietary restrictions, reported health concerns, and other health information in a format that can be utilized and shared by Home Health care providers, general practitioners, hospital staff, and other health professionals a person may interact with on a daily basis.

In addition to the three award-winning teams, several other Fraser Health Hackathon teams are under consideration for a coveted opportunity to collaborate for 16 to 20 weeks with Fraser Health and the Innovation Boulevard Health Tech Innovation Foundation. During these sessions, the winning team will be able to engage with clinical and operational leadership to refine their solution before presenting it to Fraser Health’s executive team.








BC Care Providers Association launches ‘Care Can Be There’ Campaign



PHOTO: (L-R) Daniel Fontaine, CEO BC Care Providers Association, Karen Baillie, CEO Menno Place, Anita Dickson, President, LPNABC, Natasha Aruliah, Lynn Squance and Darin Froese, CEO New Vista Society.




Seniors care association proposes over $300 million in new annual investments



ARE you feeling anxious about whether adequate care will be there for you or your aging family members today or in the future?

A new province-wide campaign launched by the BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) on Tuesday is aimed at B.C. families who need more access to supportive seniors care. Dubbed the “Care Can Be There” campaign, the BC Care Providers Association is inviting the public to join the conversation on how to enhance and innovate care for B.C. seniors.

“After consulting hundreds of British Columbians over the past year through direct meetings, online surveys, a public poll, and an industry collaborative, we are tabling 30 recommendations to enhance and innovate seniors care as outlined in a new report,” says BC Care Providers CEO Daniel Fontaine. “We have grouped them under four pillars — Investing in People, Investing in Infrastructure, Investing in Innovation, and Investing in Quality of Life. Our proposals will ensure that the care can be there for B.C. seniors, and forestall a potential crisis brought on by our aging population.”

The BCCPA report titled Strengthening Seniors Care: A Made-in-BC Roadmap is available online at The plan is fully costed out over five years, and will require over $300 million in new annual investments from the Province of British Columbia.


Highlights of the Plan


Investing in People

– Set as a minimum 3.36 direct care hours per day, per senior in publicly funded care homes

– Increase the minimum home care visit from the current 15 minutes to 30 minutes

– Invest up to $5 million per year over the next 5 years to recruit, train and retain the necessary workers to support a rapidly ageing population

– Allocate up to $20 million to re-purpose underutilized/unused care beds in order to meet the BC government’s commitment to further expand end-of-life care by 2021


Investing in Infrastructure

– Target up to $100 million in new infrastructure funding to support the replacement and refurbishment of older care homes. This funding could be used to reduce workplace injuries by installing new ceiling lifts as well as helping to move toward the goal of ensuring 100% of BC care homes have automated sprinkler systems.


Investing in Innovation

– Dedicate up to $2 million to pilot a new Care Credit program which would increase choice and access for seniors requiring home care and support services across B.C. Incorporate a feasibility study regarding expanding the Care Credit program into long-term care.

– Support the establishment of continuing care hubs – with a focus on rural BC – which aims to better allow people to age in place.


Investing in Quality of Life

– Dedicate up to $100 per month for every senior in publicly funded residential care in order to dramatically increase nutritional choice & life enhancing therapies.


In addition, BCCPA is recommending the Ministry of Health set as a target that by 2021 no more than 5% of all acute care beds be occupied by a senior awaiting care in the community. Currently about 13% of hospital beds, which can cost up to $1,800 per day, are filled with patients who are ready to be discharged into another level of care.

“The care can be there only if both federal and provincial leaders sign on to support new investments in care,” adds Fontaine. “In addition to our discussions with the Province, we are strongly urging federal Health Minister Jane Philpott to get back to the negotiating table and sign a new National Health Accord with the B.C. government.”

BCCPA’s recently released Sandwich Generation poll conducted by Insights West indicated three-in-five British Columbians struggling to meet their care needs say new investments will affect their vote in the upcoming provincial election.