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IHIT deployed to West Vancouver

THE Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) has been deployed to West Vancouver.

IHIT tweeted: “Scene secured. More info when it becomes available.”

British Columbians will get better highway cell coverage

Lisa Beare

THE Province is supporting new cellular projects that will enable better safety for travellers along key transportation routes across British Columbia.

“Access to cellular coverage is important when on the road, especially when travelling through remote and rural areas,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Citizens’ Services, on Tuesday. “With the Province’s investment in new cellular infrastructure, we’re making it possible for more people to stay connected to their loved ones while travelling and have access to emergency 911 and other services via mobile connectivity.”

The Government of British Columbia is investing $75 million through the Connecting British Columbia program, administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust, to help fund projects that will expand cellular to at least another 550 kilometres of highway by 2027.

“Our government is investing in highway cell connectivity projects so people can stay connected,” said Michele Babchuk, MLA for North Island, the Premier’s liaison for connectivity. “Today’s announcement to improve access to cellular services means that people travelling on our highways will have more confidence knowing they can access maps, search for roadside services along their route, or call for help in case of an emergency.”

The funding builds on a $15-million investment made by the Province for highway cellular expansion in 2020, which is supporting 532 km of additional highway cellular coverage. Projects underway include 252 km and two rest areas to complete continuous coverage along the stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, known as the Highway of Tears.

The Province’s investment is part of the StrongerBC, B.C.’s Economic Plan to build back a strong economy with a focus on inclusive growth for all communities.

The Province supports the expansion of highway cellular in B.C. by contributing to the overall cost of the projects led by service providers. More information regarding the program and funding eligibility will be available later in 2023.


Cost-of-living adjustment confirmed under Shared Recovery Mandate

B.C. public-sector employees with ratified collective agreements will get the maximum cost-of-living adjustment for their year 2 wage increase, the Ministry of Finance announced on Tuesday.

BC Stats has released the Consumer Price Index Highlights report for February 2023, which confirms that the general wage increase for the second year of the Shared Recovery Mandate will be 6.75%. This is comprised of the 5.5% guaranteed general wage increase and the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that is capped at 1.25%.

The COLA is based on the annualized average of the B.C. Consumer Price Index (CPI) during the previous 12-month period of March to February. For the year 2 wage increase, the 12-month B.C. CPI average must exceed the guaranteed 5.5% general wage increase to trigger the additional cost-of-living adjustment. The amount of the additional increase is the difference between the 12-month average and the guaranteed general wage increase up to the maximum of 1.25%. The 12-month B.C. CPI average from March 2022 to February 2023 reported today is 7.1%.

While it is not used for the purposes of determining the cost-of-living adjustments under the mandate, the current year-over-year B.C. inflation rate is 6.2%. This rate has decreased significantly since November 2022.

The same COLA calculation will be used for the third year of ratified agreements, which includes a 2% guaranteed general wage increase plus a potential COLA capped at 1%.

Government committed to capped cost-of-living adjustments under the Shared Recovery Mandate to ensure that increases are affordable now and in the future.

Negotiations under the Shared Recovery Mandate focus on providing a fair and reasonable offer to public-sector workers that includes inflation protection, while ensuring government has the resources to continue to invest in building a stronger province for everyone.

Key priorities of the 2022 mandate include:

* protecting the services that people in British Columbia depend on;

* improving health care and preparing for future needs and challenges; and

* supporting a strong economic recovery that includes everyone in B.C.

More than 295,000 or 75% of provincial public-sector employees are covered by tentative or ratified agreements reached under B.C.’s Shared Recovery Mandate, including teachers and support staff in kindergarten to Grade 12 public education, nearly all health-sector employees and workers in community social services, as well as some major Crown corporations and research universities.

Total compensation to support the vital public services that British Columbians rely on costs approximately $38.6 billion annually, roughly half of the Province’s budget.

Canadian politicians receive threats from social media accounts in India

Jagmeet Singh Official photo

FOLLOWING Punjab Police’s attempt to arrest Amritpal Singh, head of Waris Punjab De (Heirs of Punjab) organization, and the arrest of a large number of his supporters last weekend, federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh posted the following on his Instagram profile:
“I am deeply concerned by reports that India has suspended civil liberties and imposed an internet blackout throughout the state of Punjab.

“These draconian measures are unsettling for many given their historical use to execute extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances during the 1984 Sikh Genocide.

“I am calling on [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government to immediately contact their Indian counterparts to express concern regarding the suspension of civil liberties and the safety of Canadians abroad.”

Several Canadian politicians from different parties also expressed their concern on this matter, resulting in threats from social media accounts in India.

On Tuesday, Jagmeet Singh posted a message to his Instagram profile calling for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government to boycott G20 events in Chandigarh and Kashmir, ban BJP officials that have made threats against minorities and elected officials from Canada and ensure the safety of Canadians abroad.

WSO President Tejinder Singh Sidhu on Tuesday in a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly wrote:

“We are also gravely concerned by threats made by BJP officials against Canadian MPs.

“Over the past several days, Canadian MPs from all across the political spectrum have expressed concerns about the Indian government’s crackdown in Punjab and expressed concerns for Canadians visiting the region. These MPs have universally been flooded with abusive messages from Indian accounts, including from individuals affiliated with the ruling BJP party.

“Raman Malik, a BJP spokesperson from the Indian state of Haryana wrote in reply to Deputy Conservative leader Tim Uppal’s message, “we will not spare you. We will hunt you and make you understand the true sikhi [sic.]”

“In response to NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s tweet, Tajinder pal Singh Bagga, a BJP spokesperson from Delhi and a past candidate of the party, tweeted “You should come to Punjab now and become next head of Virus Punjab De.”

“This is a thinly veiled threat inferring that Mr. Singh would suffer the same fate as Amritpal Singh and his associates.

“Liberal MPs such as Randeep Sarai, Sonia Sidhu and Iqwinder Gaheer have also been repeatedly threatened by Indian accounts.”



Vancouver Police arrest suspect in glass-smashing spree

AN alleged vandal has been arrested and charged with mischief after more than 20 panes of glass were intentionally shattered at bus shelters on Granville Street overnight.

Vancouver Police officers responded to Granville and Georgia streets around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday following reports that a man with a hammer was walking down the street and smashing glass at bus stops.

Witnesses called 9-1-1 and briefly detained the man until VPD officers arrived and took custody.

Sergey Kurmanaev, 47, was taken to jail and has been charged with one count of mischief over $5,000.

Sukhmann Sidhu, 18, of Abbotsford charged with assaulting a police officer and obstruction

Photo: Abbotsford Police

ON Monday, March 20 at 11:16 p.m., Abbotsford Police patrol officers were conducting routine patrols along South Fraser Way at Clearbrook Road when they observed a black Honda CRV travelling at 90 km/h in a 50 km/h zone.
Over the next couple of minutes, officers further observed that the vehicle failed to stop at a controlled intersection, failed to signal, tailgated another car and passed another vehicle over a double solid line. During this time, the vehicle’s speed increased to 105 km/h in a posted 50 km/h zone.
When police conducted a a traffic stop, the driver failed to comply with police directions to identify himself when asked for his driver’s licence. Police cautioned this driver that failing to comply with this lawful police direction would result in him being arrested for obstruction.
After several further attempts to have the driver comply voluntarily, the driver spat in the face of the two arresting officers.
Eighteen-year-old Sukhmann Sidhu of Abbotsford has been charged with assaulting a police officer and obstruction. He was issued a violation ticket for excessive speed and numerous other MVA offences totalling $816 in fines, and his parents’ vehicle was impounded for seven days.
“AbbyPD is committed to road safety within Abbotsford and will continue to ensure that those drivers posing a risk to other motorists are held accountable for their actions,” said Sgt. Paul Walker.

Kelowna RCMP engage BC Hate Crimes Team as they investigate brutal, racist attack on Sikh international student

Gagandeep Singh laying in bed surrounded by friends. Photo: GoFundMe

“We condemn this incident and take all acts of violence in our community very seriously” – RCMP Inspector Rob Pikola


THE Kelowna RCMP on Tuesday said in a statement that they have augmented resources into their investigation in connection with the assault on a Sikh international student from India at a bus stop at about 10:30 p.m. on Friday, March 17 near Highway 97 and McCurdy Road.

The student, Gagandeep Singh, suffered injuries to his chest, mouth, arms and legs after he was attacked by a group of people after leaving the bus, according to a GoFundMe account that was set up to help the victim. One media report said that his turban was knocked off and he was dragged by his hair.

According to Kelowna media reports, a group that was teasing the victim struck him from behind and assaulted him when he got off a bus. He was treated by BC Ambulance and transported to hospital.

Members of the Kelowna RCMP General Investigation Services Team have taken conduct of the file. Investigators are currently conducting extensive video canvassing and continue to ask the public to provide any dash camera video from the area on March 17 between 10:15 p.m. and 10:45 p.m.

Kelowna RCMP said that investigators continue to remain in contact with the victim and have offered the support of Kelowna RCMP Victim Services. Partnering agencies in this investigation including BC Transit are cooperating with police in providing necessary evidence.

The statement said: “Kelowna RCMP said they have identified a suspect group, however, no arrests have been made. While the motivation for the assault, and the details surrounding it, are still being investigated by police, the BC Hate Crimes Team has been engaged to ensure that any hate elements, if any, are properly identified and investigated.”

Acting Officer in Charge of the Kelowna Regional RCMP Inspector Rob Pikola said: “It is imperative that we conduct our investigations methodically and thoroughly to obtain all available evidence. We condemn this incident and take all acts of violence in our community very seriously,” adds Pikola.


A GoFundMe GoFundMe set up by a community member, Adam Wilson, and a student, Aman Hundal, raised more than $22,000 by Tuesday and had stopped accepting any more donations.

Gagandeep Singh said in a message on the GoFundMe page:

“The last few days have been very difficult for me. I am at home resting and recovering from the attack.

“I really appreciate the support across Canada from everyone. The comments in the GoFundMe page and the outpouring of support has reminded me of why I came to Canada.

“Thank you for your donations over the last two days, they are above and beyond what I ever imagined.

“With gratitude.”

Kelowna City Councillor Mohini Singh condemned the racist attack and demanded that it be investigated as a hate crime.

The GoFundMe had noted: “As an international student who has only been in Kelowna for a year, he needs the community’s help. Even with a strong support system, he won’t be able to work, and as an international student will have medical bills, rent, tuition and more.”

It added: “Kelowna is a welcoming and diverse community, filled with residents who are full of love and compassion. Together we can show that there’s no place for hate and violence in our community.

“With your support, we can help ensure that during Gagandeep’s road to recovery, he doesn’t need to worry about where the money will come from to pay for physio, food, rent or even to have his parents fly to Kelowna from India to see him.”

On Monday, Conservative MP Dan Albas (Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola) condemned “this cowardly race based attack” in Parliament. He tweeted: “Racism, hate and violence have no place in our communities.”



Fundraiser for Indian international student following violent racist attack. What are Kelowna RCMP doing?

IIO BC clears police of any responsibility in death of Surrey Police Service officer

THE Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC on Monday announced that police actions didn’t contribute to the death of an off-duty Surrey Police Service officer in Langley.

At about 12:35 p.m. on February 8, 2023, police located the officer, who they believed to be in distress at a business in the 9900-block of 201 Street. Video footage and a civilian witness confirm that before officers could approach, the man sustained a self-inflicted injury, the IIO BC said.

The man was pronounced deceased shortly thereafter. There is no evidence that the man knew police were in the building prior to his death.

The Chief Civilian Director has reviewed the evidence – including video footage, a statement from a civilian witness, and police records – and determined that neither police actions nor inactions were responsible for the man’s death, the IIO BC said.


Disbanding Surrey Police Service will be a blatant attack on multiculturalism

Photo: SPS

LAST week, The Indo-Canadian VOICE carried a column by Surrey Police Service (SPS) Chief Constable Norm Lipinski titled “Modern policing for a modern city,” in which he pointed out that currently, 50 per cent of SPS officers identify as a visible minority, including 22 per cent who identify as South Asian.

Lipinski also noted that there are 52 Punjabi-speaking officers and 31 who speak Hindi.

It would be sheer lunacy for the NDP government to disband such a novel police force that is already being admired across North America as a role model in diversity.

The NDP would be shamelessly hypocritical if it ignored the above-mentioned facts as well as the reality that 67.1 per cent of people in Surrey identified as a person of colour in 2021, according to Statistics Canada.

(In comparison, only 54.5 per cent of people in Vancouver identified as a person of colour in 2021.)

In fact, getting rid of the SPS at this crucial stage would harm the NDP for sure — and what is worse, it would definitely adversely affect the law and order situation in a city that is the ONLY large city in Canada that does NOT have its own police force.


VOICE Opinion Column

Prime Minister Trudeau, other leaders on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Justin Trudeau Photo: Twitter

PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday issued the following statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination:

“Building a world free of racism requires deliberate, continuous efforts to change perceptions and systems that have been in place for many years. Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we come together to renew our commitment to building a more inclusive country and world, where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.

“On this day in 1960, police officers in apartheid South Africa opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in a Black township held to protest apartheid laws. The international response led the United Nations (UN) to declare March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled, but this day invites us to continue to stand up against racism and inequities that persist in our societies today, including against Indigenous, Black, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, and other racialized and religious minority communities.

“Here at home, despite significant progress, hate and discrimination – including anti-Indigenous, anti-Black, anti-Asian, antisemitic, and Islamophobic – continue to be a lived reality for many people in our communities. With the support of the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat, we continue to take action to combat racial discrimination and tackle its effects on people and communities across the country, including in the health care system. This includes initiatives like the Promoting Health Equity: Mental Health of Black Canadians Fund, which supports community-based projects that promote mental health for Black communities, as well as the new Addressing Racism and Discrimination in Canada’s Health Systems Program, which provides funding for projects that address systemic racism in our health systems. This is in addition to the recently announced Indigenous Health Equity Fund, which demonstrates Canada’s commitment to the implementation of Joyce’s Principle. This principle aims to inform Indigenous health legislation, address the systemic inequities Indigenous Peoples face, and give them access to quality and culturally safe health care services, free from racism and discrimination.

“Internationally, Canada has long been a champion for diversity and inclusion. Guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we continue to respond to the call to build a more peaceful world where human rights and fundamental freedoms are universally respected. Earlier this year, as part of our international efforts, we were proud to sign the Declaration on the North American Partnership for Equity and Racial Justice, which provides a framework for collaboration with the United States and Mexico to combat systemic racism and discrimination. This Partnership will help us create a North America where everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve their full potential and equal participation in social, cultural, economic, and political life.

“Today, and every day, I encourage all Canadians to confront racism, discrimination, and xenophobia in all their forms. Whether in person or online, in our communities, in our schools, or at work, everyone has the right to live a life free of hate and discrimination. Together, we can build a brighter future where everyone is valued, celebrated, and respected in their diversity.”

David Eby
Photo: BC Government

PREMIER David Eby and Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, said in a statement:

“The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recognizes that the injustices and prejudices fuelled by racial discrimination take place every day. The day is observed annually in memory of the 69 people who were killed in 1960 during a peaceful demonstration against apartheid, a racist policy that governed relations between white people and racialized people in South Africa. Although the legislation was repealed by the early 1990s, the social and economic repercussions of the discriminatory policy continue to this day.

“Similarly, Indigenous, Black and racialized people in B.C. and Canada continue to be harmed by the intergenerational impacts of residential schools, internment camps, slavery and other forms of cultural genocide. Despite the ways in which the diversity of people, cultures, ethnicities and religions enhance and improve our province, systemic racism, discrimination and hate still affect people in our communities every day.

“Our government is committed to addressing these issues. We’re working to dismantle systemic racism in government programs and services through the Anti-Racism Data Act. To improve equity throughout the public school system, we recently introduced a K-12 Anti-Racism Action Plan, and we’re supporting community-led efforts to address hate and support anti-racism initiatives through the Resilience BC Anti-Racism Network.

“We know there’s more work ahead. We are fortunate to have dedicated people and organizations who are championing multiculturalism and diversity in their communities.

“Today, we’ll be recognizing some of these anti-racism heroes at the Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Awards. We hope the inspiring stories of this year’s award winners will encourage more people to promote and protect diversity and work together to build a more inclusive and welcoming province for everyone. ”

MP Heather McPherson

FEDERAL NDP critic for foreign affairs and international development, MP Heather McPherson (Edmonton Strathcona), made the following statement:

“Today, New Democrats mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In our country, Indigenous, Black and racialized people, refugees and immigrants still face harassment, harm, and are denied services based on how they look or where they’re from. This type of discrimination must never be normalized or tolerated. Everyone has a responsibility to speak out against hate in all forms.

“But we still have a long way to go. During the pandemic there was a stark rise in hate crimes against Asian Canadians. Indigenous people continue to be disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, and unacceptable instances of anti-Black racism within the government’s own departments remain unaddressed. Racialized women, particularly Muslim women, continue to face systemic barriers and targeted hate.

“The policies governments implement and enforce have meaningful consequences for Indigenous, Black and racialized people, refugees and migrants. It is not enough to denounce discrimination and hatred, concrete action is required to root out systemic racism from our institutions.

“None of us can thrive until all of us can thrive; it is only by doing the work to reform departments and institutions that we ensure a safe and equal future for all.

“The NDP will continue to fight against racism, xenophobia, religious discrimination and hate wherever we encounter it. We believe reconciliation with Indigenous peoples needs real action from this government and that eliminating systemic discrimination means creating inclusive workplaces, communities, policies and laws.”

Teresa Wat

RICHMOND North Centre MLA Teresa Wat, BC Liberal Critic for Multiculturalism, Anti-Racism Initiatives, Arts and Culture, said in a statement:
“On behalf of the Official Opposition, I reaffirm our commitment to eliminating all forms of racial discrimination and hate today on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
“We have made significant progress as a society and province in the battle against racial injustice, yet, ongoing societal issues still show that elements of racial discrimination are present to this day. Three years after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Metro Vancouver continues to face some of the highest rates of anti-Asian hate crimes in North America, and racially-driven hate crimes from across the province showcase that there’s a lot more work that needs to be done.
“We all have a role to play in building a society of inclusion and tolerance, where respect for each other is a fundamental and expected element of humanity. British Columbia has long embraced everyone, regardless of ethnic or racial makeup, and we must continue to act in a way that sets an example for all to follow.
“Today, we remember all those that have been victims of racially-driven hatred and discrimination on this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Everyone, no matter where they are from, has the right to feel safe, accepted, and respected.”