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Federal transport minister must step in to keep airline passengers safe: Federal NDP

Niki Ashton Photo: Twitter

AS of July 1, Air Canada and West Jet will resume selling all of the seats on their flights despite ongoing concerns about COVID-19 and the federal NDP is calling on the federal minister of transport to ensure health guidelines, including physical distancing, are enforced to keep passengers safe.

“In committee, the Liberals promised Canadians that their health was the top priority but now they are giving airlines a free pass to put their bottom line ahead of public health,” said NDP Transport Critic Niki Ashton. “Airlines refused to refund passengers for cancelled flights and now they’re completely ignoring public health advice by sitting people right next to each other without even a seat between them for safety. Why is the minister putting the commercial interests of airlines ahead of the health and wellbeing of passengers in Canada?”

Transport Canada claims that thermal screening and masks are enough to protect passengers, but this directly contradicts Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, who has been clear that masks are no substitute for physical distancing. Dr. Tam has also called thermal screening “not effective at all,” and has noted that during the SARS outbreak, Canada scanned 6.3 million people but failed to detect a single case.

“The government claims they’ve taken an evidence-based approach during the pandemic but that’s clearly not what’s happening here,” said NDP Health Critic Don Davies. “Canadians have made a lot of sacrifices to keep each other safe and stop the virus from spreading. Now is not the time to jeopardize the progress we’ve made by allowing airlines to fly into COVID-19 hotspots like California, Florida, and Nevada without any physical distancing requirements. The government needs to step in.”

13 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.; no new deaths

HEALTH Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on FRiday announced 13 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 2,947 cases in British Columbia. Six cases previously reported have been removed from the total, as they were identified as residents of another province and will be reported in their home province. This change is consistent with regular protocol.

There have been no new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 177 deaths in British Columbia.

There are 162 active cases of COVID-19 in the province and 2,608 people who tested positive have recovered.

Of the total COVID-19 cases, 19 individuals are hospitalized, two of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 995 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,553 in the Fraser Health region, 132 in the Island Health region, 202 in the Interior Health region and 65 in the Northern Health region.

There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks and the outbreak at Langley Lodge has been declared over. In total, three long-term care or assisted-living facilities and one acute-care facility have active outbreaks.

While cases continue to occur in B.C., there are no active community outbreaks.

Dix and Henry added: “We encourage British Columbians to show compassion and care to those around us. This is our opportunity to demonstrate how we can all stay safe this summer.

“Following our rules for safe social interactions by keeping a safe physical distance from others, wearing a mask when maintaining distance is a challenge, keeping on top of hand hygiene and always staying home if you are sick will help protect all of us.

“Whether you live in B.C., are a visitor from another province or are in Canada for essential travel, we all have to do our part to protect our communities, our Elders and our loved ones.

“Anyone in British Columbia who develops symptoms of COVID-19, whether a resident or not, needs to isolate immediately and call 811 to arrange to get tested.

“We remind anyone coming to British Columbia from outside of Canada that federal quarantine orders require you to complete a self-isolation plan and self-isolate for 14 days prior to interacting with others.

“Remember that we don’t know everyone’s story and we are all working hard to stay safe. Be gracious, be respectful and kind. Together, our actions have flattened the curve and together we can get through this by staying 100% committed to our efforts.”

COVID-19 : Additional temporary service reductions at select Canadian ports of entry

Canada-U.S. border at Pacific Highway / Blaine. Photo: Rattan

FURTHER to announcements made on April 15 and May 12, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is temporarily reducing service hours at additional land, air, and marine ports of entry (POE) in addition to deferring seasonal opening hours at select POEs. These COVID-19 related measures are temporary and in effect as of July 3 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. They will remain in effect until further notice.

The Government of Canada says it remains committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians and reducing the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. The temporary restriction on discretionary travel at the Canada-United States border remains in place.

The CBSA will proceed with the following temporary measures:

* reducing the hours of operation at 12 land POEs;

* reducing the hours of operation at eight air POEs;

*  deferring the seasonal opening of one marine POE; and

* deferring the shift to seasonal hours of operation at one land POE.

Economic supply chains and trade will remain open and the CBSA continues to work to ensure that access to goods and services is not interrupted. As such, these changes should not affect commercial traffic.

The CBSA says it remains committed to ensuring that Indigenous people continue to be able to move within and between their communities, and are able to provide and access essential goods and services.

·       Fact sheet: COVID-19 – Additional temporary service reductions at select Canadian ports of entry

Quick Facts

* This temporary reduction of service hours and deferral of opening select seasonal POEs will be reviewed on an ongoing basis as the public health situation evolves.

* The temporary restriction on discretionary travel at the Canada-United States border put in place on March 21 at 12:01 a.m. EDT continues. This restriction is in place until at least July 21.

* All persons entering Canada – no matter their country of origin or mode of entry – must isolate themselves for 14 days if they have symptoms of or confirmed COVID-19 or quarantine themselves for 14 days if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19.

* As of March 31, 2020, anyone arriving in Canada in any mode (air, land or marine) must provide their contact information to a border services officer when seeking entry. This information is collected on behalf of Public Health Agency of Canada to support their compliance and enforcement of the 14-day quarantine or isolation requirement outlined in Order in Council 2020-0524. Travellers are encouraged to download the mobile ArriveCAN App prior to arrival to reduce wait times and limit contact at the border. The App is available on the Apple App and Google Play stores.

* For the latest on cross-border programs and services, travellers can call the CBSA’s Border Information Service at 1-800-461-9999.

Lightning strikes twice for Burnaby Lotto 6/49 player; wants to travel to India

David O’Brien Photo submitted

WINNING a major lottery prize once in a lifetime is a dream most people have. But for Burnaby’s David O’Brien that dream just became a reality — twice.

O’Brien, who took home the June 20, 2020 Lotto 6/49 $1 million Guaranteed Prize, says winning feels “mind boggling.” That’s in no small part because the Burnaby man won $5 million playing Lotto 6/49 on May 4, 2016, when he matched all six numbers to win the jackpot more than four years ago.

O’Brien, who purchased his latest winning ticket at a 7-Eleven Store on Kingsway Street in Burnaby, has played Lotto 6/49 for as long as he can remember. He said his wife didn’t believe him when he broke the good news.

“She thought I was joking when I told her,” he recalled after claiming his prize using BCLC’s alternate prize-claim process. They celebrated over cake and coffee the night he learned he’d won.

Of his plans for his second big win? Since he’s retired, travel is on the top of his list. “I’ve always loved travelling and I’ve always wanted to travel to India,” O’Brien said.

And will he continue playing the lottery? “Yes – I really like playing,” he said.

Special report on Sant Teja Singh Day

THE first Ambassador of Sikhism to the Western Hemisphere and founder of the first Sikh gurdwaras in Canada, the US and UK was a charismatic personality. His seven years sojourn in the West spanned from 1906 to 1913. Historians’ account of his contribution is sketchy and skewed. In his twenties, his academic achievements were stupendous. A man of his ability, intelligence, and erudition at a tender age could have risen to legendary eminence during his time. Very few would get opportunities that he had at the start of his career as administrative head, civil servant, and the educational leader of one of the best institutions of his time. Similarly, he had many prospects to excel in the West. But he was a class apart. He had no ambition for his personal success after he was touched profoundly by a seer who had considerable following in Punjab. His submission to his spiritual guide was complete and unselfish. His master gave him a mission that ranged from organizing the community to enshrining freedom, peace and spiritual poise in their lives. He transferred community wisdom to them that gave them the rare courage to face unique challenges in their social and political life. Sant Teja Singh’s name is associated with first Sikh gurdwaras in England, Canada and United States. Sant Attar Singh, a renowned saint of Mastuana, sent him to the western world with a message that there was nothing in the occult and ridhi sidhis.

Sant Teja Singh gave a different message to the world that nothing was higher than hard work, honest living and devotion to the creator. It is very important to know the multidimensional life of such a unique personality. The life of Sant Teja Singh Ji is a model of transformation of a highly educated, immaculate rationalist into a pious spiritually enlightened ideal man – a Perfect Gur Sikh (God-conscious person, Gurmukh)’.  He was blessed with this remarkable change by following the path of Prema Bhagti (losing oneself in the Eternal Divine by meditation on His Name) of Guru Nanak Dev Ji under the spiritual guidance of Sant Attar Singh Ji, Gur Sagar Sahib Mustuana in District Sangrur of Punjab, India. His life would continue to serve as beacon of light to all those interested in uplift and service of humanity without any distinction of caste, creed, race or color.

Sant Teja Singh with given name Niranjan Singh was born to mother Sada Kaur and father medical doctor Ralla Singh at Bolowali in Gujranwala District, Punjab, on May 14, 1877. The village is located in the vicinity of Eminabad (Saidpur Pathana), where Guru Nanak Dev Ji blessed a carpenter Bhai Lalo, shook the pride of the headman of the area Malik Bhago, and guided him to give up oppressing the poor so that the Divine Name finds a place in his heart; and where the Guru, seeing the world ablaze in the fire of jealousy, greed, and selfishness, performed austerities determined to pray for them and try somehow to find a cure for their ills.

Education in India:

– Graduated Government College Lahore, 1898

– Passed LL.B. Examination from Law College, Lahore, 1900

– Took MA Degree in English, 1901

Early Career:

– Did not practice Law, worked as Head Master of a High School, Bhera, 1901

– Assistant Superintendent, Northern India Salt Department, 1902-4; production of salt was a government-controlled enterprise and poor people were debarred from producing salt to make their both ends meet. This frustrated Sant Teja Singh and he thought of adopting the career of a teacher.

– Vice Principal, Officiating Principal, Khalsa College, Amritsar, 1904-6

Turning Point:

– In the company of Sant Attar Singh Ji, Gur Sagar Sahib Mustuana, Sangrur, Punjab, 1906

– Took Amrit (Khalsa Baptism) and name changed from Nirajan Singh to Teja Singh, 1906

– Dedicated his life at Gur Sagar Sahib Mustuana 1906

In England:

– Studied in University College London and Cambridge University 1906-8

– Was the First Sikh student to study with turban and hair in tact. Finished five terms successfully and decided to complete the degree by taking sixth term later.

– Established Khalsa Jatha of British Isles, 1908

In USA:

– Joined Teachers College Columbia University, New York Summer School with scholarship from the University 1908;

– Joined the Harvard University, USA and took the Master Degree in English Literature in 1911.

– Joined The University of California, Berkeley for Ph D in English; had to quit after some months to serve the Sikh and other Indian Communities in Canada in a struggle to bring their families from India.

– Sant Ji was invited to visit Vancouver and give lectures on Guru Nanak Dev Ji to the Sangat at Gurdwara Sahib, Vancouver. It was the first short trip of two weeks. 1908

Soon a divinely happening brought Sant Ji to Canada for the second time at a very crucial time when the Sikh and other Indian communities were facing serious problems in their residency status in Canada. Sant Ji had to leave his studies at Columbia University to serve the Sikhs and other Indian communities 1908-10.

After the settlement of Sikhs and other Indians in British Columbia in Canada, Sant Teja Singh Ji came to England to set up a Gurdwara and attend an International Congress in Berlin, Germany.

Propagation of Sikh Tenets in the West

– Opened the Sikh Dharamsala London, UK, Europe 1910

– Opened Sikh Temple at Stockton, California 1912

– Built Sikh Gurdwara Victoria B.C. Canada 1912-13

– Organized Societies to manage these Gurdwaras

– Amrit Sanchar in B C Canada and Pacific Coast USA; first Amrit Sanchar and first Sikh marriage according to Sikh Maryada were performed at Vancouver

– First Sikh Procession was taken out in Victoria B C at the time of opening the Gurdwara Sahib. Sant Teja Singh delivered lectures on the Sikh Faith throughout the route of the procession. At the end there were as many white people in the procession as Sikhs and other Indian communities.

(Contributed)

Vancouver Police say they’re working to address public safety concerns downtown

VANCOUVER Police announced on Friday that they are implementing new, additional public safety measures in specific parts of downtown Vancouver in response to citizen concerns.

“Over the past several weeks, the VPD has received a significant number of messages and emails from residents in Yaletown, and the surrounding area, voicing concern about feeling unsafe in the neighbourhood,” said Constable Tania Visintin. “To address these concerns, the VPD is implementing several proactive measures to increase safety for all residents.”

Specifically, the VPD will:

* Deploy more police officers on bicycles in the area. These officers will have more flexibility to patrol lane ways and parking lots and be more accessible to all residents,

* Increase patrols in the area by officers already in regular rotation downtown,

* Liaise regularly with staff at new social housing shelters nearby to ensure staff and residents are connected with the public safety resources they need, and

* Continue liaising with mental health outreach teams to ensure proper follow up with high risk individuals.

“We want to ensure all residents downtown feel safe. This requires the proper support from public safety officials, local government and the provincial government,” said Visintin.

The VPD says it continues to engage with BC Housing, the City of Vancouver and the management companies running new temporary supportive housing in the area to bring forward concerns expressed to police by residents and to advise all partners of new or emerging public safety issues.

Delta School District teacher Elazar Reshef charged with child pornography-related offences

THE Surrey RCMP Internet Child Exploitation Unit (ICE) announced an investigation om Friday which resulted in 52-year-old Surrey resident Elazar Reshef being charged with three counts of child pornography-related offences.

The investigation began in March 2019 as a result of a notification received from an electronic service provider, which alleged that an account user had child pornography in their possession. Surrey RCMP ICE immediately launched an investigation. Following an extensive review and forensic analysis of the evidence, charges were approved by the BC Prosection Services and an information sworn against Reshef on July 2.

Reshef has been in direct contact with children during his work as a teacher in the Delta School District. As a result, the Surrey RCMP are releasing this information in the interest of public safety and to further the police investigation.

Investigators have reviewed all available evidence and, at this point, no Lower Mainland children have been identified as potential victims. However, anyone who may have information that could assist in this investigation is asked to contact Surrey RCMP ICE investigators at 604-599-0502.

Surrey RCMP is the first detachment in British Columbia with its own RCMP Internet Child Exploitation Unit. This team of trained investigators is dedicated to protecting children from harm and vigorously pursuing those who access, distribute, or create child pornography.

British Columbians urged to take caution as water levels rise in province

Mike Farnworth

THE Province is urging caution and encouraging the public to prepare for localized flooding as water levels are expected to rise in several regions of the province due to heavy rainfall.

Areas currently under a flood warning:

* the Upper Fraser River, including its tributaries and around Prince George; and

* the Quesnel River.

Areas currently under a flood watch:

* the Peace region;

* northeastern B.C.;

* the Cariboo region, including tributaries and areas around Williams Lake and 100 Mile House;

* the Chilcotin River and its tributaries, including Big Creek and the Chilko River;

* the Fraser River from Prince George to Boston Bar; and

* the North Thompson River, South Thompson River and Thompson River at Kamloops.

As well, there are high lake level conditions and high streamflow throughout much of B.C., including: all areas along the Fraser River and its tributaries, the Quesnel River, the Thompson River and tributaries, and in the Peace and Chilcotin regions.

“Water levels rising in these areas are high and very fast moving, so people need to take extra caution right now and be prepared,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “I want to stress that any sort of recreation on these waters is highly dangerous right now, so let’s make sure we’re not taking any unnecessary risks.”

Below are some tips to help British Columbians prepare for potential flooding:

* Keep clear of eroded banks, as they may result in unstable ground. Most importantly, keep children and pets away from stream banks.

* With higher water levels, boaters and water users can expect increased debris.

* Boaters should be aware of the effect their wake can have on shorelines and reduce speed accordingly. Wave action can cause erosion or flooding.

* Never drive or walk through flooded streets. Water can be deeper than it appears, and levels can rise very quickly.

* Stay alert for changing conditions, particularly if you live in low-lying areas or near waterways.

* Listen to local officials and follow their instructions if asked to evacuate.

With the potential for high water in many areas of the province, there is a potential for evacuation alerts and evacuation orders. Emergency Support Services (ESS) has launched a new digital registration system, the Evacuee Registration Assistance (ERA) tool, that allows evacuees to register online rather than in person at an evacuation centre. This means that people who are evacuated during an emergency will have a virtual way to access support while maintaining the physical distancing required to protect evacuees and ESS volunteers from COVID-19.

If placed on evacuation alert, you are encouraged to reach out to your local government to learn more about how you can be supported should you be evacuated. This will look differently in each community, including instructions on when to self-register using the ERA tool.

If placed under evacuation alert, you should immediately:

* Get prepared to leave your home on short notice.

* Get grab-and-go bags ready. (They should include several days of clothing, toiletries and medications, your emergency plan, copies of important documents and mementos.)

* Listen to local emergency officials for further information on the situation.

If you are placed under evacuation order, you must:

* Leave the area immediately.

* Follow the directions of local emergency officials and evacuate using the route(s) they have identified.

* Do not return home until you have been advised that the evacuation order has been rescinded.

Emergency Management BC’s role is to co-ordinate provincial support to local and First Nations governments and collaborate with a number of different agencies, including:

* Environment and Climate Change Canada,

* the River Forecast Centre,

* emergency managers from:
– the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure;

– the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy;

– the Ministry of Agriculture and the Water Management Branch;

– the Ministry of Health; and

– other partners, such as the First Nations Health Authority, Indigenous Services Canada and a number of non-governmental organizations.

British Columbians can find more details in the new Flood Preparedness Guide released by PreparedBC. The guide contains useful information that will help British Columbians better protect themselves and their homes and understand what to do if their home or community is at risk of flooding.

Quick Facts:

* A high streamflow advisory means river levels are rising or expected to rise rapidly, but no major flooding is expected. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible.

* A flood watch means river levels are rising and will approach or may exceed bankfull. Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur.

* A flood warning means river levels have exceeded bankfull or will exceed bankfull imminently, and flooding of areas adjacent to the rivers affected will result.

Burnaby RCMP investigating July 1 shooting

BURNABY RCMP’s Investigative Support Team (IST) is investigating a shots fired incident that took place in the City early Wednesday morning.

On July 1, just after 2:30 a.m., Burnaby RCMP responded to multiple reports of shots fired in the 4000-block of Hastings Street.

According to witnesses, a fight between a number of people occurred outside a business. Witnesses stated that multiple shots were fired at a vehicle in the area. Everyone involved then fled the area. No injuries have been reported in relation to this incident at this time.

The business at the location where this incident took place has been the subject of a number of calls for service for police in the last year, including seven in June alone.

Later, at 3 a.m., Port Moody police conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle that is believed to have been the vehicle that was shot at. The driver of this vehicle is currently not cooperating with police and investigators are still working to determine his role in this incident.

Police are continuing to speak to witnesses in order to get a firm description of those involved in the fight and the shooting incident. At this time, anyone who witnessed this incident is asked to contact Burnaby RCMP at 604-646-9999 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Police are also asking anyone who was in the area of Hastings Street and Gilmore Avenue at around 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning and may have dashcam video to come forward.

Bad driving and roadside nap not cool if cops are hot on your trail

JUST after noon on June 24, Langley RCMP received a report of an erratic driver traveling eastbound in a Mazda on Highway 1 and the male was now sleeping in a Mazda Protégé in the 19800-block of 86th Avenue. Police determined the license plates on the vehicle were stolen from Surrey and the vehicle was possibly associated to a Vancouver investigation where the occupant of the vehicle as seen with a handgun.

A plan was devised to safely arrest the suspect that included Langley Strike Force, General Duty, Fraser Valley IRSU, Air 1, Lower Mainland Police Dog Services and members of CFSEU Uniform Gang Enforcement Team. Police vehicles were strategically parked to block the driver from fleeing and distraction devices were deployed by CFSEU but were ineffective in waking the driver. Police broke the passenger side window and deployed a Taser. The suspect was eventually compliant and taken into custody.

A search of the vehicle revealed a black CO2 powered handgun capable of shooting rubber rounds, a long hunting knife, a substance believed to be cocaine, a stun gun and credit card information belonging to various people.

Langley Strike Force has retained conduct of the investigation. Andy Emre Gencoglu, 19, of Vancouver has been charged with possession of a prohibited weapon, one count of possession of an imitation weapon dangerous to the public peace and possession of identity documents relating to another person. He has been remanded in custody and is appearing in Surrey Provincial Court on July 3.

Through the co-ordinated efforts of all the teams involved, this matter ensured a potentially violent situation concluded in a safe and successful manner, said Cpl. Holly Largy.