NEWS: Week ending January 21, 2017

 

 TOP STORIES

 

 

When will the big gangs take over from the two lower level gangs of South Asians in Abbotsford?

 

 

BY RATTAN MALL

 

YES, indeed, when will the big gangs take over from the two lower level gangs of South Asians that have been relentlessly battling it out over drug turf in Abbotsford for almost three years now?

About four months ago, I wrote that Abbotsford Police Constable Ian MacDonald told me that police had counted 38 incidents – significant acts of either violence or conflict between the groups since it started in 2014 – and had made 35 arrests. About 95 per cent of the members of both groups are South Asians.

Since then there have been other incidents. “They are still very much in conflict. … We’ve been talking about this for almost three years and there’s no end in sight,” MacDonald told me on Thursday.

You go back a decade and police were referring to the UN Gang and the Red Scorpions.

Six years ago, in October 2010, Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich announced to the media that the Duhre brothers and their associates had taken over the drug trade in the Fraser Valley from the Bacon brothers. He said the Duhres, who had worked for Bindy Johal, were operating gangs in the Valley.

“And now we are talking about things that have blown up into conflicts in Langley, in Surrey, in Abbotsford, in Vancouver … The unfortunate reality is there are people that are going to be inclined to be involved in gangs and then the drug trade,” MacDonald noted as we discussed the current situation.

“Do these two groups have any connection to the bigger gangs?” I asked MacDonald.

He pointed out that when you are talking about the drug trade, you are talking about connections that will inevitably lead to organized crime.

“From the standpoint of prosecution, that remains a work in progress. But from the standpoint of common sense, we know that they are connected,” he said.

“Pick your large organized crime gang of choice … Can you imagine that organization being aware of let’s say the ongoing battle between the factions in Townline Hill and either (a) not having an interest or (b) not having a care? There is no way that an established crime agency would allow it to go on,” he added.

MacDonald bluntly noted: “The drugs and the gangs continue – it’s just the players that change. Sometimes people are arrested, sometimes they are killed, sometimes the participants actually get out. But it’s only the participants that change, it’s not mechanism. People still want to exploit others.”

 

GOING WHERE THE MONEY IS

 

IN recent months, The VOICE has reported incidents of low-level gangsters from the Lower Mainland being arrested or killed in neighbouring Alberta. Navdeep Sidhu, 24 and Harman Mangat, 22, were shot dead in Edmonton on January 11 (as we reported in this paper and on our website last week).

Last November, Karman Singh Grewal, 24, of Langley and Ronjot Singh Dhami, 23, were among the seven arrested after three firearms and more than $40,000 in drugs and cash were seized from four homes in Alberta’s Grande Prairie. And Grewal had been arrested in October also and charged with two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, possession of drugs, and possession of proceeds of crime.

So were the South Asian lower level drug dealers moving elsewhere?

MacDonald noted: “There’s some truth to that. I think there’s always the chance of displacement. … The reality is there’s some people that have left town and have remained in the drug trade, they remain connected to their gangs. There’s also been some people who have moved out of Abbotsford and actually got out of the drug trade. It’s not a huge number, but there are some people and some families who have taken the warnings and the situation seriously and have moved their loved ones out of the city, tried to get them a fresh start somewhere else.”

He added: “The reality of gangs and the realty of the drug trade is it’s not like they are just attached to one jurisdiction or one city; they are going to go where the money is. Like any other business model, they are going to chase money, they are going to chase opportunities wherever those opportunities are, whether it’s in Alberta or whether it’s in the Interior of B.C. … that’s where they are going to go.”

 

INVOLVING THE WHOLE FAMILY

 

“ARE the gangs still recruiting from schools?” I asked MacDonald.

“The recruitment is always ongoing and it’s disappointing. I mean how do you safeguard everyone from everything?” he responded.

He noted that this was like smoking. In spite of all the information out there about the health dangers of smoking, there are still people today that will go and buy a pack of cigarettes for the first time.

“So there are choices. … We just try to guide and encourage people to make good choices,” he added.

Unfortunately, those who were getting recruited are also getting their whole family involved. He referred to the shooting last Tuesday (January 17) involving a young South Asian male who was fired upon at a residence in the 2500-block of Janzen Street. The 22-year-old man had exited the home from the garage and was confronted by suspects who advanced up the driveway and began shooting. The man retreated back into the home and was fortunate to have suffered only minor injuries. The suspects fled in a waiting dark-coloured SUV, possibly a Nissan Pathfinder.

MacDonald told The VOICE that the South Asian man has had “some prior police contact but does not have any criminal convictions.” He could not say at this stage whether this incident was connected to the ongoing Townline Hill conflict between two groups of South Asians.

But he pointed out: “You have people inside that home. You’ve got a 22-year-old who … was lucky to escape with his life. But think about the people inside the house. They were sitting there watching TV and all of a sudden bullets start coming through the open garage door and into the interior walls of the house. So when you involve yourself into a gang, it’s not just you – you are not just making a choice about you – like you’ve pretty much brought your whole family along.”

MacDonald noted: “At the end of the day our objective is public safety, so over the last almost three years we’ve been trying anything and everything – and when you consider the fact that this conflict has been going on for that amount of time, there absolutely has been issues of public safety. But people have to remember that we have always made a concerted effort in suppressing the violence and keeping the people in check.”

 

 

 

Shots fired in South Vancouver. Is the South Slope heading for more trouble once again?

 

BY RATTAN MALL

 

(PHOTO: Photo by Chandra Bodalia)

 

JUST after 3 a.m. on Thursday (January 19), Vancouver Police attended a residence in the area of Knight Street and East 54th Avenue after receiving several 9-1-1 calls reporting shots fired.

Officers located a residence with multiple bullet holes. No one was injured, and the occupants of the home are not cooperating with police.

Police said that no arrests have been made. “It appears this was a targeted shooting, and investigators do not believe the general public are at risk. The police investigation continues,” they added.

 

IN August 2015, in a piece titled, “Security cameras installed in Vancouver’s 1400-block of East 54 after two South Asian groups clash again,” I wrote: “Vancouver Police have installed special security cameras in the 1400-block of East 54th Avenue to keep a check on some members of one of the two groups of young South Asians involved in the ongoing conflict in the South Slope area. …

“Things had quietened down quite a bit in the past months, until some three weeks ago when members of one group were partying at a southeast Vancouver banquet hall and members of the other group showed up to confront them. There was a free-for-all in the parking lot with stabbings.

“A week ago, members of the group that had been attacked found out that members of the other group were at the same banquet hall and they landed up there. There was another fight with knives in the parking lot and a couple of people got stabbed.”

Later in the month, I did another piece titled, “Vancouver Police now targeting rival South Asian group involved in ongoing South Slope conflict.”

I wrote: “The special security cameras that Vancouver Police had installed in the 1400-block of East 54 to keep a check on the main players of one of the two South Asian groups that have been going at one another for the past few years in the South Slope area of Vancouver were this week moved to the 2700-block of East 22 to monitor their rival group.

““We are just letting everyone know that we have this tool, we have the capability of monitoring,” a source told me.”

 

JUST last July, I wrote a piece titled “Almost all quiet in Vancouver’s South Slope area – for now,” I wrote:

 

TWO years after I wrote about Vancouver’s South Slope crime situation being out of control [February 2014: “Is South Slope of Vancouver headed back to notorious days of Bindy Johal versus Dosanjh brothers type of rivalry?] as two South Asian groups of youths clashed violently with each other, things seemed to have quietened down.

Vancouver Police sources told me recently: “We are not seeing a lot of violence – you get the random odd drive-by shooting here and there, but compared to the rest of the Lower Mainland, that’s pretty ok for us.”

They added: “We are seeing the next generation (of South Asian youths), we are seeing proactive policing, we are seeing a good group of officers and community members trying to get these kids on the right track.”

One officer noted: “I wouldn’t say we don’t have problems. We just don’t have any significantly large problem.”

For the past two years, Vancouver Police have had to deal with a very tense situation in the South Slope as two groups went at each other in the Bindy Johal versus the Dosanjh brothers type of violent conflict. (See details below)

One officer told me that there are “no significant groups emerging from the younger generation because they [the main members of the rival groups] have all moved out of Vancouver to Surrey and other parts outside of Vancouver.”

The sources said: “We are trying to talk those kids early, identify them in the schools working together with the families, but we haven’t had a lot to do. Like we had a very bad situation a couple of years ago and now it seems to have calmed down.”

The officers feel that the trial of Amritpal Dhillon and Amritpaul Rakhra, who were found guilty of manslaughter last November by a B.C. Supreme Court jury in the horrific January 23, 2013 slaying case of Manraj Akalirai, 19, of Vancouver, and their sentencing to almost seven years and four and a half years, respectively, in prison had a sobering effect on the youths.

They realized that things can go horribly wrong – Akalirai’s head was almost completely cut off by a samurai sword.

An officer noted: “I think a lot of kids in that age group know what happened to that kid who died but they also know what happens to the people who did it – they are going to jail. So a lot of people understand the seriousness of that.”

Vancouver Police have invested a lot of resources to deal with this situation.

“The gang crime unit, the youth squad, the school liaison officers – there’s a lot of people invested in these kids,” noted an officer.

There is also the gang unit – although the youth groups are not considered to be gangs. But because of the gang unit members’ image and how they try to get through to the youth and talk to them about the consequences of joining gangs and also talk to their parents, they too play a part in all of this.

The officers also work with the Youth Probation and other people who work in the community to identify these kids and help them.

 

HOPEFULLY, Vancouver Police will be able to handle the latest development swiftly and keep the warring groups in check.

 

 

 

 

 

Joint SFU-IIT Bombay program targets international student exchanges

 

SIMON Fraser University and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) furthered their long partnership by signing a Student Mobility Agreement on Wednesday in Mumbai. The signing builds on an Memorandum of Understanding between SFU’s Faculty of Applied Sciences and IIT Bombay and sets the framework to exchange undergraduate and graduate students on study, research and co-op placements.

“We are pleased to have signed this agreement with IIT Bombay, a premier institute for technology in India, and are excited about the opportunities it presents to further SFU’s vision to engage the world,” says Joy Johnson, SFU’s Vice-President, Research and International.

SFU will commit two graduate student assistantships per year of $18,000 each to be assigned to two IIT Bombay PhD students who complete a one-year exchange at SFU under this agreement.

“This important partnership builds on previous collaborations between our two institutions and will facilitate exchanges that allow IIT-B students to visit SFU and SFU students to visit IIT Bombay for extended visits to pursue their studies and research,” says Faisal Beg, Associate Dean of Applied Sciences and an undergraduate alumnus of the IIT system.

The agreement follows numerous collaborations between SFU and IIT Bombay. The two institutions co-organized the first-ever research workshop between Canada and India in clean energy technology in 2013. Furthermore, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed the following year with the intent to explore areas of potential collaboration related to advancing research and development activities in clean energy, material science and engineering, computing sciences, nanotechnology, biomedical engineering and health technology and climate change.

 

 

 

AAP condemns Sukhbir Badal for branding Non Resident Indians as terrorists

 

(PHOTO: Sukhbir Singh Badal)

 

Chandigarh (IANS): The AAP on Thursday condemned Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal for what a party leader said were “remarks branding the whole Punjabi community settled abroad as terrorists and accusing the AAP of getting funds from radicals.”
Addressing the Non-Resident Indians who arrived in Punjab from Canada to campaign for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), party General Secretary Sanjay Singh said Sukhbir Badal’s utterances against NRI supporters of the AAP are “unwarranted and a great insult to Punjabis settled abroad”.
“NRIs in Canada had extended moral and financial support to AAP to see a prosperous Punjab while Sukhbir Badal is accusing the AAP of getting funds from terrorists,” Singh said.
The Deputy Chief Minister had said that pro-Khalistan and radical elements based in other countries were supporting the AAP.
As the first batch of Punjabi NRIs based in Canada arrived on Thursday, they were welcomed by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and AAP Overseas Convener Kumar Vishwas in Delhi.
The second batch of NRIs from the United Kingdom will land on January 24.
Punjab has strong links with its diaspora settled in Canada, Britain, the United States and other countries.
Surinder Mavi, Convener of ‘Chalo Punjab’ campaign in Toronto, who led the first batch, said they had come to Punjab to ensure the defeat of Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance and the Congress.
“The Congress is not an alternative but a substitute of the present corrupt regime of the Badal family. We must save Punjab from mafia rule. AAP is the only and last hope for the people of Punjab,” Mavi said.
Sanjay Singh said the AAP will win over 100 of the 117 seats in Punjab.
Jagtar Singh Sanghera, head of the NRI Cell of the AAP, also flayed Sukhbir Badal for what he said was labelling of NRIs as terrorists and radicals.
“NRIs had supported the SAD in 2007 and also funded its election campaigns with the hope that the Akalis will provide good governance,” Sanghera said.

 

 

 

B.C. man helped Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav win majority in 2012 with down-to-earth, positive campaign

 

 

(PHOTOS: Akhilesh Yadav Photo: IANS

Arjun Sablok (right) with Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan (left) and the late Bollywood director and producer Yash Chopra (centre). Photo: submitted

 

 

BY RATTAN MALL

 

INDIA’S Election Commission on Monday allotted the “cycle” symbol to the Samajwadi Party (SP) faction led by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav after recognizing it as the official party.

Indeed, back in 2012, Akhilesh, the son of then-SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav, a former chief minister of the state, was only 38 years old when he became the chief minister of India’s most populous state (2011 population: 199.58 million; 16.16 per cent of India’s total population).

The SP won 224 of the 403 seats for the state assembly, while the BSP got 80 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 47 seats and the Congress and its allies got just 37 seats.

 

AKHILESH was first elected to India’s House of Commons (Lok Sabha) in a by-election in 2000 and was re-elected in 2004 and 2009.

He studied at the Sainik [Military] School in Dhaulpur, Rajasthan, and went on to earn his Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Engineering degrees in Civil Environment Engineering at the University of Mysore in Karnataka. He also earned a Masters in environmental engineering from the University of Sydney in Australia.

Indeed, his credentials were impeccable.

 

BUT behind that spectacular victory in 2012 was a positive ad campaign that received much publicity in that country’s media, especially because it was connected to Bollywood.

And that ad campaign was the brainchild of British Columbia’s Arjun Sablok, then 45, a Bollywood director who is the elder son of noted notary public Tarlok Sablok of Vancouver.

Arjun and Akhilesh had been friends for some years and Akhilesh approached Arjun to design his party’s “Ummeed Ki Cycle” (Cycle of Hope) campaign.

Arjun had directed Bollywood movie “Neel and Nikki,” which was shot in B.C. in 2005. Before that he had directed “Na Tum Jaano Na Hum” with Hrithik Roshan, Esha Deol and Saif Ali Khan.

Arjun, who was Bollywood director and producer Yash Chopra’s assistant for years, directed legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar’s music video “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon.” And he also produced the famous Indian company Dabur’s commercials with another Bollywood legend, Amitabh Bachchan.

 

ARJUN decided to avoid the negative campaigning style of other political parties at the time and focus on “positives and avoid mudslinging.”

Arjun, the creative head of Arkash Entertainment, told the Indian media: “We wanted to say something without saying anything,” referring to an ad that showed a cycle racing past an elephant.

Arjun told India’s Economic Times newspaper: “Voters have seen growth recently as a general positive economic environment reverberates in the nation. When one has a positive mindset in general, positive campaigning linked to higher growth will tend to prove more beneficial than dragging voters into the past.”

Arjun travelled across Uttar Pradesh to find out the ground realties for himself and then put all of those into his ads. In one of them, rickshaw puller Raju talks about how he has to work every day to pay back his loan, and this is followed by a voiceover that says the Samajwadi Party will introduce an insurance program for rickshaw pullers.

There were other characters such as Buddhiram the farmer who complains about the lack of electricity and housewife Neetu whose husband works in another state because there aren’t enough jobs in Uttar Pradesh.

This simple yet smart and direct campaign was a winner for Akhilesh.

No wonder then that both he and his father, who heads the other faction, went all out to claim the “cycle” symbol.

 

IN October 2014, Premier Christy Clark announced during the B.C. India Trade Mission that she had appointed Arjun Sablok as Special Envoy for Film to India to help promote British Columbia to one of the largest film-producing countries in the world. Arjun, who has lived in Mumbai for more than two decades, took on the unpaid role of ambassador for the B.C. film industry, Clark. Arjun had directed the 2013 TOIFA (Times of India Film Awards) opening video. TOIFA was held in Vancouver in April 2013.

 

UTTAR Pradesh will go to the polls in seven phases: February 11, 15, 19, 23 and 27 and March 4 and 8.

Elections in four other Indian states – Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur – will be held between February 4 and March 8.

The results from all five states will be announced on March 11.

 

 

 

 

 

New All Star Wrestling Heavyweight Champion: Mister India

 

(PHOTOS)

 

RISH “Mister India” Koya, a professional wrestler living in New Westminster, became the new All Star Wrestling Heavyweight Champion at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds last Friday.

He is the very first Indo-Canadian Heavyweight Champion in the long of history of All Star Wrestling here in B.C.

He told The VOICE: “I want to share this achievement with the Indian community and especially the kids and to help inspire the youth of our community. I am a very proud Indian and equally proud Canadian.”

 

(Photos by SASHA PURTON)

 

 

 

Surindar Singh Jabal elected President of Canadian Ramgarhia Society (Gurdwara Sahib Brookside, Surrey)

 

(PHOTO: Surindar Singh Jabal)

 

THE election of the Executive Committee of Canadian Ramgarhia Society that manages the affairs of Gurdwara Sahib Brookside, Surrey, took place on Sunday January 8. The members voted to give another term to the previous executive with some new faces.

The following members were elected to run the society and Gurdwara Sahib Brookside for a two-year term (2017 and 2018):

President: Surindar Singh Jabal

Senior Vice President: Dharam Singh Panesar

Vice President: Vijay Kumar Dhiman

Secretary: Manjit Singh Vahra

Senior Vice Secretary: Charanjit Singh Marwaha

Vice Secretary: Harjit Singh Sehra

Treasurer: Tarsem Singh Virdee

Senior Vice Treasurer: Davinder Singh Jabal

Vice Treasurer: Jaswant Singh Jandoo

Public Relation Secretary: Satnam Singh Reehal

Members: Robinder Singh Burgess, Taranjit Singh Chana, Nirmal Singh Kalsi, Mohinder Singh Faloure, Sukhwinder Singh Bharaj

Trustees: Hardev Singh Bassan, Deep Singh Kalsi, Manjit Singh Mudhar, Gurnam Singh Kalsi, Kirpal Singh Dhinjal

 

 

Ranjit Gill of Abbotsford wins $500,000 playing the Extra, plans to do charitable work in India

 

(PHOTO)

 

RANJIT Gill is relaxing after winning $500,000 playing the Extra in the January 6 Lotto Max draw.

“I always stress about taking time off work even for appointments,” said Gill. “Life just feels more relaxed, better and easier now.”

Gill says he will set aside some money to help his children with their education. He also plans to do charitable work in India.

“I want to go to India and help out there,” Gill said. “I love sports so I think I will build a playground there.”

The winning ticket was purchased at the Townline Superstop Petro Canada in Abbotsford.

 

 

 

Ontario’s Peel Regional Police arrest Darshan Dhaliwal in spiritual scam, looking for other victims

 

(PHOTO)

 

INVESTIGATORS from the Peel Regional Police Fraud Bureau have arrested and charged a 40-year-old Brampton man for defrauding a resident of the City of Brampton.

In July 2016, the accused, Darshan Dhaliwal, met with the victim and advised her that he had won a lottery and that he had a lot of good luck as he was very close to God.

Dhaliwal obtained a large quantity of money from the victim and told her that he would bury the money in the ground and pray to remove the evil spirits and would return her money after the ceremony.

Over a period of time the victim provided Dhaliwal with a large quantity of money and later was advised the evil spirits were in her jewelry and he would need that to remove the evil spirits. The victim provided a large quantity of jewelry to Dhaliwal and after not receiving her money or jewelry back, contacted the Peel Regional Police.

Dhaliwal was arrested and charged on Wednesday, January 18 for fraud over $5000 and breach of recognizance. He defrauded the victim of approximately $61,000 in cash and jewelry.

Investigators believe there may be further victims who have not come forward and are requesting they contact police.

Anyone with information in relation to this incident is asked to contact fraud investigators at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3353.  Information can also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting their website at www.peelcrimestoppers.ca, or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word “Peel” and then your tip.

 

 

 

 

Donations under $100 account for less than 3.7 per cent of B.C. Liberal Party’s party’s haul – and 14 donors nearly 20 per cent

 

(PHOTO)

 

BY DERMOD TRAVIS

Executive Director

IntegrityBC

 

MERE hours before the New York Times went to press with its look at the B.C. Liberal party’s ethical scorecard, the party chose to get its 2016 fundraising results out ahead of the storm.

One last chance at political counter-spin and what a marvel of spin it was. U.S. Republican party strategist Karl Rove would have been proud.

In a statement released on Friday, the Liberal party reported that individual donors had outnumbered its corporate donors by a four-to-one margin in 2016, with 9,324 individuals and 1,876 corporations making donations.

The party may want to check the auto-correct function on its computers, because it seems to have arbitrarily replaced donations with donors.

It would have been quite the year-to-year jump.

Just the year before, the Liberals reported 2,084 individual and 1,124 corporate donors giving in excess of $250.

The 2016 report posted to the party’s website on Friday has 15,941 donations, but not from 15,941 unique donors.

There are 7,582 donations for $100 or less in the 2016 report and 8,359 donations from $100.36 to $200,000.

Party donations over $100 accounted for $11.7 million of the party’s $12.15 million total. Among the donors, the six-figure crowd.

The party reported 15 six-figure cheques from 11 unique donors totalling $1.7 million, including Dennis – better known as Chip – Wilson, luxury car dealer MCL Motors, Arizona-based RPMG Holdings (ONNI Construction) and Teck Resources.

Their generosity wasn’t limited to the 15 cheques either. Ten of the 11 kicked-in another $200,000 in smaller donations.

Three others – including the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. and the Independent Contractors & Businesses Association – gave a total of $341,550.

Effectively, 14 donors gave close to 20 per cent of the party’s total haul.

The donations for $100 or less would normally pass by unnoticed, except for the big deal the party made of them just hours before that New York Times article.

In its statement last week, the party boasted that “Since Christy Clark became party leader, we’ve made a focused effort to grow our base of grassroots donors, including individuals and small businesses.”

The 2016 report includes 7,582 donations – from $5 to $100 – totalling $449,384 (for context, Wall Financial gave $403,250 through four companies).

But what a grassroots crowd it is.

Canadian Forest Products Ltd. cut a cheque for $84.73. Their total donations came in at $63,285.

London Drugs made a $98 contribution. The company donated $16,098 to the Liberals.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers gave $50, as part of its $11,225 total.

Mercedes-Benz Canada was in for $20 and that was it. Perhaps they made a larger contribution to the B.C. NDP?

Gateway Casinos and Entertainment made three donations for less than $100 towards their $84,118 contribution.

Gibsons / Sechelt Coin Laundry gave $100, possibly in loonies and quarters.

Vancouver lawyer Larry Lien Kuan Yen gave $20 on one occasion and $10,000 on another. Since 2013, Yen has donated $100,802.

Cabinet ministers and backbench MLAs are also among the “grassroots donors” making contributions of less than $100 towards their annual total, including Rich Coleman and Ralph Sultan.

One MLA not on the 2016 list? Premier Christy Clark, who hasn’t donated to the party since 2012, even though the party has generously donated to her.

Staff in the premier’s office, caucus and party offices gave $15,500.

The Secwepemc Reconciliation Framework Agreement donated $4,000.

The Big 5 Canadian banks donated $47,505, B.C. credit unions ($45,085), HSBC Bank Canada ($5,050) and South Korea’s Keb Hana Bank ($300).

To its credit, the Liberal party posted donors under $250 as well, which it’s not required to do under the legislation.

Among them were the Britannia Mine Museum, the Boundary Family and Individual Services Society and the Port Theatre Society, all registered charities.

Recipients of government funding also appear on the list, including Playhouse Child Developments Centre ($210), the Steveston Harbour Authority ($150) and the University of B.C.’s Centre for Drug Research and Development ($250).

Elections B.C. isn’t permitted to review donations under $250 to ensure that they’re compliant with B.C. rules.

The grassroots spin to the party’s statement may have seemed the way to go in light of the New York Times article, but when donations under $100 account for less than 3.7 per cent of the party’s haul and 14 donors nearly 20 per cent, you’re not really left with a warm and fuzzy grassroots feeling.

 

 

B.C. announces first major commercial wood demonstration project in India

 

(PHOTOS)

 

PREMIER Christy Clark on Thursday announced that the largest shipment of mass timber from British Columbia to India is en route.

The shipment also includes lumber and will be used in the first major commercial wood demonstration project to showcase B.C. forest products in India.

As India’s economy grows, traditional wood supply cannot meet increasing demand. As a leading supplier of sustainable forest products, British Columbia is seen as an attractive long-term supplier. Support for the project is being provided by the Government of B.C.’s market development agency for forest products, Forestry Innovation Investment (FII), through its India office.

The wood products will be used to construct a facility housing several design workshops at India’s Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) University located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat state, and will serve as a showcase to help grow awareness and demand in India for B.C. wood products.

Incorporating wood, concrete and steel, the project will not only inspire the school’s students who work and design with wood, but will also be a model of sustainable architecture and environmental responsibility for the Indian design community. By introducing Canadian wood species through special projects and course curriculum, the university sees the project as providing a long-term opportunity for collaboration with British Columbia and Canada.

In addition to the glue-laminated arches for the roof assembly supplied by Penticton-based Structurlam, other B.C. wood products, including those made of hemlock, Douglas fir and yellow cedar, are being used extensively throughout the project in a range of interior and exterior applications. These products are being supplied by Surrey’s Coast Clear Wood and through a donation of lumber from the Coast Forest Products Association.

During an October 2016 trade mission to India, Finance Minister Mike de Jong visited the CEPT University campus to support a partnership between the Province and the university. In November, FII India entered into an agreement to support the extensive use of B.C. forest products in the project.

Under the agreement, the Province will invest approximately $100,000 to share the costs, with CEPT, of the B.C. wood used in the project and to cover import duties for B.C. products not currently available in India. Industry will donate an additional $11,000 worth of B.C. lumber already in India.

This demonstration project is a direct result of the Province’s accelerated market development efforts in India. In addition to pursuing product trials and other high-profile commercialization projects, the strategy for growing demand for B.C. wood products in India includes collaboratively promoting the Canadian wood brand with Natural Resources Canada and industry through Canada Wood.

Clark said: “Today’s announcement marks a significant advancement for B.C.’s market development strategy for wood products in India, one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Partnerships that help build demand in India will ensure that forestry – the province’s largest manufacturing industry and number one exporter – continues to play a key role in our economy, now and in the future.”

Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism, added: “The Province and the forest industry continue to diversify markets for B.C. forest products, with a particular focus on fast-growing markets in Asia. Supporting the adoption of B.C. wood products and species is part of our long-term strategy in India that will lead to new opportunities for B.C. businesses.”

De Jong said: “India is an economy that is growing quickly and represents an important opportunity for many of British Columbia’s export industries, including forestry. Finding new markets for our exports is crucial to maintaining B.C.’s strong and growing economy.”

Tom Sundher, President of Coast Clear Wood, noted: “The Sundher Group has been selling lumber into the India market for over 15 years; however it’s only been in the last three years that we’ve seen tremendous progress as a result of the Government of B.C.’s market development activities. We see this first shipment of glue laminated beams as a sign of growth opportunities for B.C. forest products into the India market.”

Bill Downing, President of Structurlam, said: “Structurlam’s highly skilled team is dedicated to changing the way we build in North America and around the world. Entering the Indian market is an exciting milestone. As demand continues to grow for our innovative products, we’re pleased that we’ve been able to expand our team and in turn create new jobs for British Columbians. Our products are being selected for a growing number of projects around the globe and as such we are looking forward to creating even more opportunities for British Columbians in the mass timber industry.”

 

Quick Facts: CEPT Workshops Facility

 

* The 900 square-metre facility was designed by architect Gurpreet Singh of Aakar Design Consultants.

* The facility will be dedicated to instruction and learning in architectural design, furniture design, woodworking, metal work and modelling.

* The hybrid structure (which will be built with wood, concrete and steel) will include three pavilions incorporating different workshops.

* Thirty-three exposed glulam arches will extend from one end of each pavilion to the other.

* Other B.C. wood species will be used in various applications including hemlock for exposed ceiling battens, yellow cedar for door frames, and Douglas fir for roof purlins, gable ends, fascias, doors and partitions.

* The shipment includes 32 square metres of glue-laminated timber and solid wood from B.C.

* The project is currently under construction and is scheduled for completion later this year.

* The total cost of the project is $800,000.

 

 

CRIME

 

 

South Asian man suffers minor injuries in targeted attack in Abbotsford

 

(PHOTO: Constable Ian MacDonald)

 

ON Tuesday (January 17), at 10:30 p.m., Abbotsford Police received reports of shots fired at a residence in the 2500-block of Janzen Street. A 22-year-old man had exited the home from the garage and was confronted by suspects who advanced up the driveway and began shooting. The intended victim retreated back into the home and was fortunate to have suffered only minor injuries. The suspects fled in a waiting dark-coloured SUV, possibly a Nissan Pathfinder.

Constable Ian MacDonald told The VOICE that the South Asian man has had “some prior police contact but does not have any criminal convictions.” He could not say at this stage whether this incident was connected to the ongoing Townline Hill conflict between two groups of South Asians.

This is considered to be a targeted incident and is being investigated by the Major Crime Unit of the Abbotsford Police Department.

Anyone with information should contact the APD at 604-859-5225, text them at 222973 (abbypd) or call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

 

 

 

 

South Asian charged with child pornography offences

 

ON Wednesday (January 18), Ottawa Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) notified the Ottawa Police Service Internet Child Exploitation Unit (ICE) of an investigation by Customs Border Protection (CBP) at the Ottawa International Airport.

During a secondary search by CBP a resident of Ottawa attempting to travel to Chicago was denied entry to the United States based on suspected videos of child pornography observed on the subject’s cell phone.

Subsequent investigation conducted by ICE confirmed the videos to meet the Criminal Code of Canada definition of child pornography.

A search warrant is being prepared by the ICE Unit to forensically examine all digital devices seized from the Ottawa International Airport.

Abdul Rahim, 41, is charged with possession child pornography, and distribution (attempt to export) child pornography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peel Regional Police’s Fraud Bureau warns of popular Instagram scam, youth most vulnerable

 

PEEL Regional Police’s Fraud Bureau is warning the public of an ongoing fraud that is a form of an advanced fee scam using the popular social media medium Instagram.  Based on reported incidents, it would appear that youth in particular are vulnerable to this scam.

Police have received reports from citizens who have allowed an Instagram user to access their own personal Instagram account to advertise the sale of electronics such as cell phones.  Other users of Instagram seeing these posts on their friends’ accounts assume the source must be legitimate and are falling victim to a fraudulent sale, paying for goods that will never be received.

How to protect yourself:

* Never allow a stranger to access your personal social media accounts.

* Choose strong passwords for all online accounts.

* Maintain the strongest privacy settings available.

* Do not make online purchases from unverified and unknown sources.

* Always ask yourself: Is this too good to be true?

* Do not click on any links from unverified sources.

To learn more about this type of scam and other fraud scams currently affecting Canadians, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website at www.antifraudcentre.ca

 

 

 

 

 

Peel Regional Police say 15-year-old Alyssa Langille was not abducted

 

 

(PHOTO: Suspect vehicle Photo:Twitter)

 

 

PEEL Regional Police on Wednesday announced that evidence has indicated that Alyssa Langille, 15, was not the victim of abduction.

On January 15, at 1:25 p.m., police received information that a female was seen being forced into a vehicle on Santa Barbara Boulevard and Comiskey Crescent in the City Of Mississauga.  The vehicle was described as an older model silver Honda Odyssey.  It was last seen travelling southbound on Santa Barbara Boulevard towards Derry Road.

Later in the evening, a 15-year-old female was reported missing from the Mississauga area. At that time information received identified the female who was forced into the van as Langille.  Due to the exigent circumstances surrounding the incident, an Amber Alert was initiated.

With assistance from the female’s family and the Toronto Police Service, the girl was located on Monday (January 16) in the east end of Toronto in good health.

Police said the investigation is continuing.

Earlier, Peel Regional Police tweeted: “Female has been located by Toronto Police in good health. investigation is ongoing by Peel Police.” Investigators were still looking for a vehicle described as silver old model Honda Odyssey with tinted rear windows.

Among Twitter responses:

“Question is: WHY does this #Child keep running away? she needs help. Interested 2 hear 2 males and van #abduction details.”
“Last time she showed up on an escort website. But details thereafter were never released.”

The Toronto Star reports that the girl’s father told the media that last week he decided to take her phone away to get her off social media. But he said, she is still “hooked up with the wrong people,” some of who are “older” and live around the Mississauga area.

The suspects who reportedly abducted her were described as:

* Suspect #1 – South Asian male, about 24 years old, tall with a thin build, orange coloured turban, grey sweater with cut off sleeves, green shirt underneath

* Suspect #2 – South Asian male with black hair

On Monday (January 16) an Amber Alert was issued for Langille.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact investigators with the 12 Division Criminal Investigation Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 1233. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word “PEEL” and then your tip.

 

 

 

Serious and fatal collisions were avoidable, say Delta Police

 

 

(PHOTO)

 

DURING the past several months of 2016 there were a spate of serious and fatal collisions that occurred in Delta, predominately on Ladner Trunk Road but with three also occurring on Nordel Way.

In the interest of public safety, Delta Police conducted a review of the collisions to determine if there were any causal linkages or factors that could be identified and subsequently addressed to promote safer roadways.

The Delta Police Review captured incidents from 2014 to November 2016 and focused on the stretch of road on Ladner Trunk Road between 96th Street through to 120th Street in which the majority of collisions occurred. During this three-year period there were a total of 44 collisions: 19 in 2014, 11 in 2015 and 14 in 2016. Of the 44 incidents, four were fatal collisions that claimed six lives.

From the review, there were a wide range of contributing factors identified but the following is the most common of the contributing factors:

* Traffic rear-enders

* Alcohol / Impaired

* Distracted drivers

* Unsuccessful merging

* Unsuccessful u-turns

* Falling asleep at the wheel

The Nordel Way stretch of road was not specifically captured in the review analysis, however, it is important to note that in two of the three fatal collisions that occurred in 2016 on Nordel Way, speed was a significant and primary contributing factor.

In addition to the noted factors, it appears that the highest crash time identified was 3 p.m., with the highest percentage occurring on weekdays (Monday-Thursday).

Additionally, these collisions involved drivers in their 30’s followed by drivers in their 20’s. Further, the gender analysis showed more male drivers than female drivers were involved in these serious and / or fatal collisions.

The sad and unfortunate reality is that these collisions were avoidable and all have carried devastating consequences to those directly involved and their families and friends.

Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord stressed: “The Delta Police remain committed to doing all we can through enforcement and education to make our roads safe. What we cannot control is driver behavior. Please take these stats and contributing factors seriously. Lapses in judgment or inattention have life-altering outcomes.  It truly is the responsibility of all drivers to make our roads safer.”

 

 

 

Ontario’s Peel Regional Police welcome equity audit

 

(PHOTO: Chief Jennifer Evans)

 

PEEL Regional Police (PRP) on Thursday said that they are a progressive police organization and are always looking to improve as they welcomed an equity audit.

The Regional Municipality of Peel Police Services Board on Wednesday released a Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking a vendor to conduct an employment equity and diversity professional review and / or audit.

The PRP said they have met and exceeded standards set by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) and Excellence Canada which are quality and excellence based programs. They welcomed the equity audit and said they were confident it will only further complement existing processes and procedures.

“One of the goals we set in our 2014-2016 Strategic Plan was to attract and retain a professional and skilled workplace that is reflective of our diverse community and addresses community growth. I am proud of the progress we have made over the past five years and welcome any recommendations that may help us further our goal,” said Chief Jennifer Evans.

The PRP has a number of initiatives underway to help shape recruiting efforts within the community.  Advisory boards within the Muslim, Black, Chinese, Sikh and LGBTQ communities help encourage dialogue with our residents. Community Mobilization Teams, School Resource Officers, recruiting forums and outreach programs are other examples of how they collaborate with their community partners, according to a press statement.

“Together with our partners, I am confident we will achieve our goal and continue to build upon the 93% community satisfaction revealed to us in our 2016 Community and Stakeholder Survey,” said Evans.

The Region of Peel consists of the municipalities of Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. Peel Region is located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)

South Asians comprise 57.8 per cent of Brampton residents, 40.5 per cent of Mississauga residents and 35 per cent of Caledon residents, according to an official source.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abbotsford Police investigate racist KKK literature distribution

 

(PHOTOS)

 

ON Sunday, January 15, at 7:45 a.m., the Abbotsford Police Department received a complaint from a resident in the 35200-block of Marshall Road that a plastic bag containing racist KKK literature had been thrown on his driveway.  APD Patrol Division officers located over 70 bags on several East Abbotsford streets.

Security video from the area indicates that the suspect vehicle appears to be a dark-coloured pickup truck, possibly a Dodge Ram (see photos).

The pamphlet makes disparaging comments about Martin Luther King Jr. which is believed to coincide with the recognition of his birthday and the observance of the federal holiday in the United States.

Additional security video is being analyzed by the APD’s Forensic Identification Unit and several of the plastic bags are undergoing fingerprint analysis. The Abbotsford Police Department will be consulting with the BC Hate Crime Team with regard to this investigation.

This is the second time in the last three months that KKK literature has been distributed in this manner.

Constable Ian MacDonald said: “We appreciate the citizens who reported these incidents and expressed their disgust for the material on both occasions.”

Anyone with information about this ongoing investigation should contact the APD at 604-859-5225, text us at 222973 (abbypd) or call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

 

 

 

Richmond homicide ‘not a random act,’ one male in custody

 

ON Monday (January 16), just before 6:30 a.m., Richmond RCMP received a report of a homicide in the area of Viking Way and Cambie Road. When police attended the area, a male was located inside a business and appeared to have succumbed to injuries consistent with homicide. The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) was contacted to take over the investigation.

Shortly after the homicide occurred, a male suspect was identified and apprehended by police. The male suspect remains in custody, and IHIT is liaising with Crown Counsel to determine if he will face any homicide related charges.

IHIT is working closely with the Richmond RCMP, the Integrated Forensic Identification Section, and the BC Coroners Service to gather and process evidence. The investigation is in its infancy, but police believe that the homicide was not a random event. The male victim’s identity will not be released as it does not currently further the police investigation.

IHIT Cpl. Meghan Foster said: “It remains early in the investigation, but it appears that the homicide occurred between parties known to each other, and was not a random act. Anyone who may have information about this homicide is asked to contact IHIT.”

You can contact the IHIT Information Line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448), or by email at ihitinfo@rcmp-grc.gc.ca. Should you wish to remain anonymous, contact CrimeStoppers by phone at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

 

 

 

 

17 bricks of suspected cocaine seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing

 

(PHOTO)

 

THE Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on Monday announced the seizure of 16.85 kilograms of suspected cocaine at the Pacific Highway (Traffic Operations) port of entry (POE).

On October 23, 2016, an individual entering Canada was referred for a secondary examination. Border services officers (BSOs) examined the traveller’s vehicle and discovered two bricks of suspected cocaine. The traveller was immediately arrested and afforded her rights. The examination of the vehicle continued and an additional 15 bricks were discovered and seized.

A total of 17 bricks weighing 16.85 kilograms were turned over to the Surrey RCMP along with the traveller.

In 2015, there were 301 narcotic seizures at the Pacific Highway (Traffic Operations) POE. In 2016, there were 574 narcotic seizures.

Anyone with information about suspicious cross-border activity is encouraged to call the CBSA Border Watch Toll-free Line at 1-888-502-9060.

(NOTE: Sometimes the information can only be released later because of the ongoing investigation.)

 

 

 

Stealing computers is no game, warn Vancouver Police

 

ONE man has been arrested and is facing 10 charges related to alleged break-ins at four Vancouver businesses.

The Vancouver Police Department’s Property Crime Unit is investigating a string of break and enters that began on December 22 last year, when someone broke into a video game development studio and stole over $100,000 in property. Investigators looked into other crimes in the area, and based on the information collected, they believed one person was responsible for several break-ins.

On January 12, someone broke into the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund office and stole laptops and a safe. Investigators seized surveillance video and immediately recognized the suspect from previous break-ins. The video also showed a stolen Mercedes SUV leaving the area, just after the thief left the office.

Two days later, officers located the suspect driving the Mercedes, and with the assistance of a VPD Canine Unit, were able to arrest him when he parked it in Richmond. Various pieces of the stolen property were recovered.

Thirty-five-year-old Vancouver resident Matthew Robert Barber has been has been charged with four counts of break and enter, three counts of possession of property obtained by crime, possession of property obtained by crime – vehicle, possession of break-in instruments and

mischief.

Detectives continue to look at potential links between these offences, and other thefts in the city.

 

 

 

 

Two arrested after bait car activation

 

A man and a woman from Surrey appeared in Surrey Provincial Court after making the mistake of choosing a bait car as their transportation on last Saturday (January 14).

Police officers in Langley were notified of a bait car activation in South Langley shortly before midnight and as the vehicle went mobile, they were given information on its location and direction of travel.  The bait car was disabled on 16th Avenue near 224th Street just after midnight and officers approached the vehicle.

The male driver of the bait car exited the vehicle and hopped into a vehicle driven by the female. The getaway car fled west on 16th Avenue and Air One was able to locate and follow the vehicle.  The vehicle entered Surrey and wound through the streets until it came to a stop on Lilac Drive near 160th Street.  The male and female exited the vehicle and were met by Surrey RCMP officers and Lower Mainland Police Dog Services.

The 39-year-old male and 18-year-old female were taken into custody without further incident.

Inspector Brian MacDonald, Officer in Charge of IMPACT, said: “The bait car program continues to be active throughout the province.  IMPACT has the ability to target thieves no matter what the type of vehicle, including trucks, cars, construction equipment, snow mobiles or watercraft.  IMPACT will continue to target prolific offenders and remind the public to remove valuables from their vehicles and to ‘treat their keys like cash.’  Up to 20 percent of vehicles stolen in the Lower Mainland are stolen using the keys.”

IMPACT is the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team. The team is comprised of RCMP and municipal police agencies working together to target prolific thieves and areas of high auto crime through the use of bait cars and other enforcement.

 

 

OTHER STORIES

 

 

Canada tops Americans’ list of allies

 

(GRAPH)

 

IN the Donald Trump era, which countries should the United States consider friends, and which should it regard with caution?

A new public opinion poll of more than 1,500 Americans conducted by the Angus Reid Institute finds Canada atop the list of countries Americans want their new government to approach in a friendly way, followed by traditional U.S. allies in Europe and the English-speaking world.

Canada is viewed much more positively than America’s other partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexico. While most Americans see trade with Canada as mutually beneficial, they’re more inclined to see trade with Mexico as disproportionately benefitting their southern neighbour.

 

Key Findings: 

 

* Eight-in-ten Americans (80%) say the Trump administration should approach Canada “as a valued partner and ally” (57%) or “on friendly terms” (23%), and they give similar – though not as high – marks to other traditional allies

* Americans are considerably more skeptical about their southern neighbour, however. Fewer than one-in-five (17%) say the new U.S. government should view Mexico as a valued partner, though only one-in-ten (12%) say Mexico should be considered either an enemy or a potential threat

* Partisan divides drive perceptions of NAFTA, with more than six-in-ten of those who supported Trump in the recent U.S. election saying America should reduce its commitment to NAFTA, or get out of the deal entirely

 

 

 

Canadian delegation attending events in Washington to mark Trump’s inauguration

(PHOTO: Chrystia Freeland)

 

 

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, National Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr and Andrew Leslie, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, are in Washington, D.C., to attend events at the Embassy of Canada and around Washington to mark the inauguration Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States on Friday, January 20.

Freeland said: “The United States has no closer friend, partner and ally than Canada, and we look forward to working closely with the new U.S. administration and with the U.S. Congress. Our two countries enjoy a historic, time-tested and close friendship, whether on trade or security cooperation. Our integrated economies will continue to provide the basis for shared prosperity, driving middle class growth on both sides of the border.”

 

Quick Facts:

* Canadians and Americans benefit from a trade and investment relationship valued at more than $1.4 trillion.
* Nearly 9 million U.S. jobs depend on trade and investment from Canada.
* Canada is the number one customer for 35 U.S. states. No other country buys more goods made in the U.S. than Canada.
* The U.S. is Canada’s most important security and defence partner. For over 50 years, Canada and the U.S. have worked side by side in NORAD.
* Canada and the U.S. share the longest secure border in the world. Some 400,000 people and over $2 billion in goods and services cross the border every day.
* Canada is currently the leading and most secure supplier of energy products to the U.S., including crude oil, refined petroleum, natural gas, electricity and uranium.

 

 

 

 

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulates Donald Trump

 

 

PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday congratulated Donald J. Trump on his inauguration as 45th President of the United States of America.

Trudeau said: “Canada and the United States have built one of the closest relationships between any two countries in the world. This enduring partnership is essential to our shared prosperity and security.

“Together, we benefit from robust trade and investment ties, and integrated economies, that support millions of Canadian and American jobs. We both want to build economies where the middle class, and those working hard to join it, have a fair shot at success.

“Canada and the United States have unparalleled cooperation on matters of national security, and have always worked side by side to protect our citizens and ensure our shared border is secure.

“We look forward to working with President Trump, the U.S. Administration, the 115th Congress, and officials at the state and local levels to restore prosperity to the middle class on both sides of the border, and to create a safer and more peaceful world.”

 

 

 

 

Trudeau appoints Andrew Leslie as Parliamentary Secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister to help establish ties with new U.S. administration

 

(PHOTO)

 

PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday announced the appointment of Andrew Leslie to the position of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Leslie will assume special responsibilities for the Canada-U.S. relationship and play a critical role in building ties with the new U.S. administration.

Trudeau said: “I thank Andy for his outstanding service as Chief Government Whip, and I am delighted he has agreed to take on the role of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs with special responsibilities for the Canada-U.S. relationship. As a retired Lieutenant-General with years of experience working with the U.S., I know he has the necessary relationships and experience to help establish a constructive dialogue with the new U.S. administration.”

Leslie was first elected in Ontario’s Orléans riding in 2015. As a retired Lieutenant-General, he has a strong background in public service. His dedicated service has been recognized both domestically and internationally on numerous occasions during his 35-year career with the Canadian Armed Forces.

Leslie, currently the Chief Government Whip, will take up his responsibilities as Parliamentary Secretary on January 30.

The new Chief Government Whip will be Pablo Rodriguez, MP for Honoré-Mercier. He was named Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities in December 2015.

 

ACCORDING to his bio, Leslie was born into a multi-generational military family and enjoyed a decorated 35-year career with the Canadian Armed Forces. His career has included a variety of command and staff positions in numerous overseas postings with the UN and NATO. In addition to his extensive military experience in Canada, involving disaster relief in floods and the 1998 Quebec ice storm, he has served on international missions, including leading troops in Germany, Cyprus, the former Yugoslavia, and, most recently, Afghanistan.

In 2006, he became Chief of the Land Staff / Army Commander, a position he held until 2010, during which time he was responsible for 57,000 military and public service personnel, their equipment, military training and infrastructure. In 2011, he was appointed the Chief of Transformation until his retirement.

Leslie’s service has been recognized on numerous occasions. Among his Canadian distinctions, he was appointed Commander of the Order of Military Merit in 2005 and was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross. Internationally, he was appointed a Commander of the U.S. Legion of Merit in 2007 and was awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in 2010.

After a successful career in the Canadian military, Leslie retired in 2011 and worked as a senior vice president of CGI Group Inc., a Canadian information technology corporation. In 2013, he founded his own consulting firm specializing in leadership and strategy. His professional experience is complemented by several academic degrees and courses focusing on economics, history, leadership, strategy, tactics, equipment acquisition and management. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics at the University of Ottawa and a Masters at the Royal Military College, in addition to undertaking professional development in management at the Harvard Business School.

After leaving the military, Leslie continued to be an active member of his local and Canadian military communities. He was a member of the advisory committee of the Prince of Wales Charities in Canada, the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Royal Canadian Artillery Association, and a board member of Opera Lyra Ottawa.

Leslie was elected as MP for Orléans in October 2015. In November 2015, he was appointed as Chief Government Whip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. President Donald Trump’s inaugural address

 

(PHOTO)

 

(As prepared for delivery)

 

CHIEF Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: Thank you.

We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.

Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.

We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another — but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.

For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered — but the jobs left, and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes — starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.

It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.

What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.

Everyone is listening to you now.

You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before. At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.

Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public.

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

We are one nation — and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.

The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.

We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.

The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.

But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future. We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power.

From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.

From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.

I will fight for you with every breath in my body — and I will never, ever let you down.

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.

We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.

We will get our people off of welfare and back to work — rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.

We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.

We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world — but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.

We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.

We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones — and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.

When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.

When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.

There should be no fear — we are protected, and we will always be protected.

We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger.

In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.

We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action — constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.

The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.

Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.

We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.

A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.

It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.

And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.

So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:

You will never be ignored again.

Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together, We will make America strong again.

We will make wealthy again.

We will make America proud again.

We will make America safe again.

And yes, together, we will make America great again. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.

 

 

 

New lane on Alex Fraser Bridge to reduce traffic congestion

 

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THE federal and B.C. governments on Thursday announced joint funding of just over $70 million to construct an additional lane on the Alex Fraser Bridge.

A seventh lane will be added to the bridge by slightly narrowing the six existing lanes and removing the shoulders. A moveable barrier will be added to allow four lanes of traffic northbound during the morning rush hour. It would then be repositioned to allow four lanes southbound for the afternoon rush hour where it will remain for the rest of the day.

This project also includes adding 13 electronic signs placed at key decision points on highways throughout the Lower Mainland. These signs will give commuters real-time information about crossing delays for four Fraser River crossings, including the Alex Fraser Bridge, to allow drivers to make timely decisions about which route to travel.

Once completed in spring 2018, commuters and other highway users can expect to save about 12 to 16 minutes during the afternoon rush hour and about six minutes during the morning rush hour. More than 130 jobs are expected to be created over the life of the project.

Carla Qualtrough, federal Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, on behalf of Amarjeet Sohi, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, said: “The Government of Canada recognizes that modern and efficient transportation infrastructure is key to growing the middle class, getting Canadians to and from their destinations and helping businesses move their products to market. We are proud to partner with the Government of British Columbia on this project to ease traffic congestion on the Alex Fraser Bridge. This vital investment means less time on the roads and more time for families to spend together.”

Todd Stone, B.C.’s Transportation and Infrastructure Minister, said: “This project will help cut congestion on the Alex Fraser Bridge, which is important for commuters, for local businesses and for our trucking industry. Projects like this create high-paying, family-supporting jobs, and through these strategic investments in our transportation infrastructure, we’re building a brighter future for B.C. – together.”

 

 

 

Horgan to Clark: “Enough is enough. It’s time to ban big money”; Green Party slams both NDP and Liberals

 

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IN the wake of embarrassing international media attention and renewed calls from across the province, John Horgan is challenging Christy Clark to finally end B.C.’s disgraceful system of unlimited political donations.

“I’m extremely proud to be a British Columbian, but I’m embarrassed by our premier,” Horgan said. “A tiny number of millionaires have our premier in their pocket, and it has to end.”

Analysis of B.C. Liberal 2016 fundraising data indicates that just 1.5% of B.C. Liberal donors account for half of the more than $12 million raised by the B.C. Liberals last year. These top 185 donors ponied-up an average of $37,000 each to fill Christy Clark’s campaign coffers.

“You don’t have to look too hard to see what $37,000 buys,” says Horgan. “Millionaires gave big to Christy Clark, and she promptly turned around and gave those same millionaires a billion dollar tax break, paid for by hiking ICBC and Hydro costs for regular British Columbians.”

Horgan will be introducing a bill to ban corporate and union donations at the beginning of the spring session of the legislature. A ban could be in place well before the election – all that’s missing is a “yes” from Christy Clark.

“Unlike Christy Clark’s friends, regular British Columbians don’t have $37,000 laying around to buy a government that works for them,” says Horgan. “Enough is enough. It’s time to ban big money from politics.”

 

MEANWHILE, B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver released the following statement in response to B.C. Liberal and B.C. NDP positions on corporate and union political donations:

“Leaders lead. They walk the talk, even when it’s difficult. Sadly once again both the B.C. Liberals and the B.C. NDP have shown us this week that they aren’t willing to take action now, which is what British Columbians want. The B.C. Liberals are just laughing it off, while the B.C. NDP will only do something about it if they win the election. In the meantime, both of them will accept the same potentially corrupting money that is making B.C. the wild west of politics, even by American standards.”

 

 

 

B.C.’s reaction to U.S. challenge of B.C. wine sales in grocery stores

 

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SHIRLEY Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, issued the following statement on Wednesday in response to the launch of a WTO trade challenge by the U.S. against B.C. wine in grocery stores policy:

“We are proud of the world-class products that B.C. wineries produce, the jobs that they create,  the positive contributions they make to B.C.’s economy.

“Our framework for liquor sales in grocery stores lays the foundation for a flexible and unique model that will continue to protect health and public safety, enhance convenience and choice for consumers.

“We talked to thousands of British Columbians about what they wanted to see regarding liquor sales. We listened and we delivered.

“We support the growth of the industry, and we will defend it against this challenge. The B.C. government is confident that we are complying with B.C.’s and Canada’s international trade obligations.

“We will continue to work closely with Global Affairs Canada (GAC) to ensure that B.C.’s liquor policies fall within these trade obligations, and we will continue to work with GAC through the upcoming consultation process.

“In B.C., the number of liquor stores selling imported alcohol has increased significantly since 1987 from 344 to approximately 1,100 today (1,106 for all imports plus 11 stores selling imported wine) 100% B.C. wine sales represent approximately 17% of all provincial wine sales .

“Trade agreements such as NAFTA allow for a number of private wine outlets that sell only B.C. wine, and we are confident in the approach we have taken.”

 

 

 

MP Dianne Watts slams Liberals as 405 jobs are cut at Surrey Tax Centre

 

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SOUTH Surrey-White Rock MP Dianne Watts says she has confirmed that the federal Liberal government’s is 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.

In November 2016, the Liberal government announced that the Surrey Tax Centre would stop being a processing centre and become a verification and collections centre, with no mention of job losses. In the process, Watts has learned that more than 400 relocation letters have been sent to employees whose jobs have been cut from the Tax Centre.

“The Liberals are cutting 405 jobs from the Surrey Tax Centre, which is over half the processing jobs at the facility,” said Watts. “Some are outright losing their jobs with no other opportunities provided to them. The only options for the remaining employees are to move their families across the country, or be demoted somewhere outside of Surrey in the Lower Mainland.”

The Liberals announced that only four processing centres will remain in Canada: Summerside, Prince Edward Island; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Sudbury, Ontario; and Jonquière, Quebec.

“The Liberals are telling employees that the Surrey Tax Centre will grow in size and add over 70 full time equivalent positions,” adds Watts. “But what they are not telling them is that these positions will be lower level, lower paid, non-complex jobs. Some employees will have the option of keeping their current position, but only if they move their families across the country to Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec or Prince Edward Island. This will have a negative impact not only on affected employees, but on their spouses’ jobs, Surrey businesses, our school systems, and our community at large.”

Watts added that the Liberals have also recently announced the closure of the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Case Processing Centre in Vegreville, Alberta, in favour of opening one in Edmonton instead. That announcement meant that 280 workers will lose their jobs, when the town of Vegreville has a total population of only 6,000, a loss that would be equivalent to 113,000 jobs being cut in Vancouver.

On November 29, local area MP Shannon Stubbs (Lakeland) spoke in the House of Commons on the devastation this is causing in her riding.

“The minister says that all current employees will be given the opportunity to relocate to Edmonton, but that is not true. The closure could cause about 200 homes to go on the market in a town where 100 homes are already for sale,” said Stubbs.

“The people of my riding are writing to the minister saying that they cannot afford to sell their homes in Vegreville for next to nothing…The minister is listening to officials who do not get what they are doing to families and to the whole area.”

“At a time when cost of living is going up, job creation and sustainability are important for the economic viability of a community. Instead of creating jobs, these jobs are being taken out of Surrey,” added Watts. “I find it outrageous that these employees are expected to relocate across the country when they have jobs here, close to home. If employees want to continue to pursue opportunities for growth, they will first have to take a pay cut and demotion plus have to commute to downtown Vancouver from as far as Abbotsford or Chilliwack in some cases.”

 

 

Poll shows majority of BC’s “sandwich generation” challenged by juggling care for kids and parents

 

A new province-wide poll conducted by Insights West reveals 9-in-10 British Columbians who form part of the “sandwich generation” report they are experiencing a range of challenges in providing care.

The “sandwich generation” is defined as someone juggling both the needs of their children and aging parents at the same time.

More than half of respondents say they have difficulty in finding time to visit their aging parents due to work / busy schedules (64%). Majorities also report challenges in keeping informed about the health status of a parent (60%) and affording the costs associated with caring (56%).

Almost half of British Columbians who do not identify as part of the ‘sandwich generation’ (48%) indicate they know someone in their personal network who is part of that cohort. According to Statistics Canada, an average of 3-in-10 Canadians are both raising children and responsible for the care of their elderly parents.

“The poll results certainly confirm what most of us have been hearing in our social circles and at community functions for a while now,” says Daniel Fontaine, CEO for the BC Care Providers Association. “As our population rapidly ages, a significant number of British Columbians currently deal with or are facing the prospect of becoming part of the ‘sandwich generation’ at some point soon.”

British Columbians who are not part of the “sandwich generation” but know someone who is, were asked how their friends and acquaintances were managing the situation. A majority (65%) said they were coping “not too well” or “not well at all”.  More than half (56%) of respondents who are not part of the “sandwich generation” also report they are “not too confident” or “not confident at all” that adequate seniors care will be there when they need it.

“Notwithstanding the fact we have an excellent seniors care system in British Columbia, there is clearly the need for us to make targeted investments and implement new innovations,” says Fontaine. “When we invest in providing adequate care for our seniors, there is a direct benefit to their families as well,” says Fontaine.

Additional Polling Questions & Responses

 

  1. Over the course of the next ten years, do you anticipate taking care of both a child (under 19 years of age) and an elderly parent?

 

Three-in-ten respondents (29%) anticipate taking care of both in the next 10 years, with a higher proportion observed among those aged 18-34 (48%) and Metro Vancouverites (35%).

 

  1. As a person who is currently taking care of a child (under 19 years of age) and a parent, are you experiencing any of the challenges described below? Please select all that apply.

 

More than half of respondents say they have difficulty in finding time to visit due to work / busy schedules (64%), keeping informed about the health status of a parent (60%) and affording the costs associated with caring for an aging parent (56%).

Fewer than half of respondents also mention long wait lists to access a care home or for home care (40%), difficulty getting access to a care home located close to where you live (36%) and inadequate access to a care home for seniors (28%).

 

  1. In reference to the upcoming provincial election, will the development of a comprehensive plan to address the aging population impact the way you vote?

 

About three-in-five British Columbians (58%) say this plan will influence the way they vote, including 70% of those aged 55 and over.

Results are based on an online study conducted by Insights West from January 9 to 12, 2016, among 1,205 adult British Columbians, including 441 who are currently providing care for both a child (under 19 years of age) and an elderly parent. The margin of error is +/- 2.8 percentage points for the entire sample.

 

 

 

 

Telus investing $250 million to connect Surrey homes and businesses directly to advanced fibre optic network

 

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TELUS is investing $250 million to connect more than 90 per cent of homes and businesses in Surrey directly to its fibre optic network. Planning is currently underway, and construction work will begin in the coming weeks. Telus anticipates connecting all homes and businesses before the end of 2018.

“Direct fibre connection unleashes infinite possibilities now and into the future,” said Tony Geheran, Telus Executive Vice-President and President of Broadband Networks, on Tuesday. “Surrey is the second largest municipality in the province, and this generational investment will dramatically improve Internet speed and capacity for residents and businesses large and small, as well as health care facilities and schools. Once the build is complete, Surrey will truly have a competitive advantage.”

The gigabit-enabled Telus PureFibre network is among the most advanced communications infrastructure available in the world today, enabling connected residents to immediately take advantage of dramatically faster Internet speeds of up to 150 megabits per second, while interested businesses, schools, healthcare providers, and institutions can access even more speed and capacity. As demand and Internet technologies evolve in the coming years Telus will offer faster speeds and more capacity, sufficient for decades to come. This new fibre optic infrastructure will also be the backbone of Telus’ wireless network, enabling even more wireless capacity and speed. Local healthcare providers, educators and technology companies will be able to draw upon the technology to reimagine how they deliver existing services and develop entirely new solutions.

“A direct fibre connection will allow Surrey residents to access the fastest Internet speeds possible, providing improved opportunities to learn, do business, access services and stay connected,” said Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services and MLA for Surrey-Tynehead. “There is a direct relationship between access to high speed Internet and a strong economy; as the need for speed increases to support new applications and services, this $250 million investment will help Surrey businesses compete globally.”

“In today’s connected world, residents, businesses and institutions rely heavily on quality high-speed Internet access in daily life. Keeping pace with this increasing need is integral to ensuring Surrey’s prosperous economic future,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner. “Today’s announcement supports Surrey’s forthcoming Smart Surrey Broadband Strategy and contributes to our vision of building a city that is at the leading-edge of connectivity and innovation.”

This investment is part of TELUS’ commitment to invest $4.5 billion throughout B.C. between 2016 and 2019, at no cost to taxpayers.

For more information, visit telus.com/surrey.

 

 

 

 

 

Illicit drug deaths – 142 – in December highest ever recorded in single month in B.C.

 

THE number of illicit drug deaths in B.C. continues to increase each month with December numbers the highest ever recorded in a single month in the province, according to the latest statistics from the BC Coroners Service.

Provisional data show that a total of 142 persons died as a result of illicit drug use during the month of December, an average of nine every two days. The December deaths bring the provisional numbers for the full year of 2016 to a total of 914, an increase of almost 80% over the number of deaths in the previous year.

The BC Coroners Service did not release a new report on the proportion of deaths in which fentanyl was detected as it does not yet have available the year-end fentanyl detected data for 2016.   It is anticipated that data will be available sometime in March.

The year-end data show that more than half of all illicit drug deaths involved persons between the ages of 30 and 49. Four out of five who died were male.

Said Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe: “We recognize that those who are suffering from drug dependency are not going to be able to abstain immediately from drug use. Given the increasing risk of contaminated drugs and the growing number of fatalities, though, we urge them to use illicit drugs only in the presence of medical expertise or, at the very least, a sober person with access to, and training in, the use of naloxone.

“For those who are not drug dependent, we strongly advise you to avoid experimentation and the casual use of illicit drugs. The risks are now unmanageable.”

These fatalities are not occurring only among those who use opioid drugs such as heroin. Cocaine and methamphetamines are also being found in a high percentage of fentanyl detected deaths in 2016.

Harm reduction measures need to be followed by anyone using any illicit drugs or accompanying anyone who is using. These include:  never using alone, having medical expertise and / or naloxone and a sober person trained in its use readily available when using, using an overdose-prevention site or supervised-consumption site wherever possible, and knowing the signs of an overdose and calling 911 immediately. It should be noted that no deaths occurred at any supervised-consumption site (InSite or the Dr. Peter Centre) or at any of the drug overdose-prevention sites which began operation in the last months of the year in response to the increasing number of overdoses.

The BC Coroners Service continues to work with the BC government’s Joint Task Force on Overdose Response and with health, community and law enforcement agencies to try to reduce this death toll.

 

The updated report on illicit drug deaths can be found at: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/death-investigation/statistical/illicit-drug.pdf

 

 

 

B.C. tech sector now employing more than 100,000 people

 

 

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BC Stats’ latest figures confirm jobs and wages in B.C’s technology sector have broken a new record as B.C.’s technology industry continues to flourish.

BC Stats’ Profile of the British Columbia Technology Sector: 2016 Edition shows B.C.’s technology sector remains a top provincial performer; employing 101,700 people earning a weekly average salary of $1,590 – 75% higher than the average wage in B.C., and higher than the Canadian technology sector average of $1,480 / week.

B.C. also led the country in terms of job growth. Employment in the tech sector rose 2.9%, surpassing B.C.’s overall employment growth of 2.5% and national tech sector employment growth of 1.1%. The sector now employs approximately 4.9% of B.C.’s workforce and is the third-largest tech workforce in Canada. B.C.’s technology sector employs more people than the mining, oil and gas, and forestry sectors combined.

The gross domestic product (GDP) of British Columbia’s tech sector expanded 2.4% in 2015, contributing $14.1 billion to B.C.’s overall economic output. Tech revenue climbed 5% to approximately $26.3 billion – the highest level ever recorded.

The new numbers, based on data ending December 2015, highlight the importance of B.C.’s technology industry to the overall economy. Technology is essential today to every business across all sectors, and the stronger the technology sector is, the more competitive business becomes.

The Province says that growth in the number of jobs, in wages, and in the number of technology companies is a clear indication of B.C.’s supportive business environment for skilled technology workers, innovators and leaders. This is an important part of the #BCTECH Strategy to grow B.C.’s tech sector, create jobs and attract significant venture capital.

The #BCTECH Strategy is a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to support the growth of British Columbia’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen B.C.’s diverse knowledge-based economy. The multi-year strategy includes a $100-million BC Tech Fund and initiatives to increase talent development and market access for tech companies that will drive innovation and job creation throughout the province.

In partnership with the BC Innovation Council, the province is hosting B.C.’s second #BCTECH Summit, March 14-15, with made-in-B.C. tech innovations, thought-provoking keynotes and outstanding networking opportunities. To register or learn more, go to: http://bctechsummit.ca/

Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, says: “For the fifth year in a row, B.C. has seen significant growth in its diverse technology industry. We have more technology companies than ever, with more technology workers, earning higher wages than the Canadian technology sector average. Our #BCTECH Strategy is further creating the conditions that are helping the sector continue to grow and thrive.”

Dan Rink, COO, ITel, Kamloops, notes: “We’re excited to be part of a progressive industry that develops innovative technology every day. The success of the sector as a whole helps our business attract talent and investment. This has enabled us to create one of Canada’s most expansive networks of phone, Internet, and cloud services for businesses, while continually developing new technologies in our product portfolio to better serve our clients. B.C. is a fast-growing global technology hub and we are proud to show that tech companies can thrive outside of major metropolitan cities.”

 

Quick Facts:

 

* B.C.’s tech sector employment eclipsed 100,000 for the first time in 2015, rising 2.9% to 101,780.

* Wages and salaries in the tech sector also hit a new high for the fifth consecutive year, climbing 4.5% to over $8.4 billion.

* B.C. has seen a 1.9% rise in the number of new technology companies with employees in 2015, growing to over 9,900 businesses. B.C. is home to 14% of Canada’s tech businesses.

* The tech sector produced approximately $26.3 billion in revenue in 2015, a rise of 5%.

* In 2015, the technology sector added $14.1 billion to B.C.’s GDP; contributing more than 11% of Canada’s tech total.

* B.C.’s tech commodity exports increased by 20.4% to just under $1.4 billion, representing 3.8% of the province’s overall exports.

 

 

 

Christy Clark fails to stand up for forest jobs, says NDP Leader Horgan

 

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B.C. New Democrat Leader John Horgan said on Tuesday that Premier Christy Clark has let down forest workers and communities as U.S. softwood lumber penalties loom. He added that forest workers need a government that will defend their jobs and communities.

“Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals have overseen the loss of 30,000 forest jobs. Forest workers, their families, and their communities have been neglected for too long, and I want them to know I’ll have their back,” Horgan said.

“The last softwood lumber agreement didn’t work for the tens of thousands of people who lost their jobs with the closure of about 100 local mills. International courts have ruled that our timber is not subsidized, yet American corporations keep pushing for higher duties that kill B.C. jobs.

“It’s unfair, and it has to stop. B.C. forest communities can’t afford a softwood deal at any cost, and Christy Clark too easily caves to corporate interests.

“We need to fight for the right deal to defend and grow forest jobs and the communities that depend on those jobs. We need to play hard ball.”

Horgan said B.C. workers and their families have paid a terrible price since the last softwood deal.

“We’ve got to get tougher and smarter to take on the big corporations and make sure B.C. workers and communities come first when it comes to our forest resource.

“American and B.C. workers can be together on this. Jobs in housing construction and infrastructure are going to fuel the U.S. economy and they can’t do that without our lumber. B.C. needs to take that leverage to Washington and talk directly to U.S. decision-makers,” Horgan said.

“Where has Christy Clark been? Not working for forest workers and their communities; that’s for sure. We’ve got to flex bigger muscles in this fight for B.C. jobs. The U.S. needs our energy and our resources. We need fair and open access to the U.S. market.

“Christy Clark has been too busy flogging her LNG failure to be bothered with mounting a strong fight to defend our forest jobs. Christy Clark’s Liberals have given up on our forest jobs and that’s just wrong. These are good jobs for future generations, not jobs of the past.”

Horgan said B.C. can’t let any softwood deal punish Canadian lumber and wood products so they can’t compete in the U.S. market, or discourage coastal communities from milling logs here in B.C. rather than shipping them overseas.

Horgan said B.C. needs to fight for a new softwood deal that works for B.C. workers, their families and their communities.

He noted: “Our forests are a quarter-trillion dollar asset owned by the people of British Columbia. Our forests should benefit people, not just corporations.

“The forest companies can move to the U.S. to keep making their profits, but workers can’t. Getting more jobs from our forest resources is a big part of my plan to put more people to work in lasting jobs across B.C.”

 

 

 

Liberals comfortably ahead but show downward trajectory on all measures in Nanos tracking (January 13)

 

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THIS week’s Nanos political tracking shows that the Trudeau Liberals enjoy a 13-point advantage over the Conservatives, but are trending downward.

Ballot support stands at 41.4 per cent for the Liberals, 28.4 per cent for the Conservatives, 16.2 per cent for the NDP, 6.1 per cent for the Greens and 6.1 per cent for the BQ.

* Accessible Voters:  Asked a series of independent questions for each federal party,  56.3 per cent of Canadians would consider voting Liberal (a new 12-month low) while  44.5 per cent would consider voting Conservative, 40.6 per cent would consider voting NDP, and 34.8 per cent would consider voting Green.

* Preferred Prime Minister: Asked their preferences for Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau is the choice of 46.7 per cent (a new 12-month low), Rona Ambrose (Conservative) is the choice of 18.8 per cent, Tom Mulcair (NDP) 11.1 per cent, Elizabeth May (Green) 5.1 per cent and 17.5 per cent of Canadians were unsure.

* Qualities of a Good Political Leader: Almost two of three Canadians (64.8%) believe Trudeau has the qualities of a good political leader (a new 12-month low), while 48.8 per cent thought similarly of Mulcair. More than one in three Canadians (37.6%) think Ambrose has the qualities of a good political leader and 36 per cent think May has the qualities of a good political leader.

* Nanos Party Power Index: The Liberals scored 61.9 out of a possible 100 points on the Nanos Index (a new 12-month low) while the Conservatives scored 47.8 points, the NDP 46.4 points, the Greens 34 points and the Bloc Quebecois 24.5 points (Quebec only).

 

 

 

 

TransLink expands SkyTrain and SeaBus service to launch Phase One of the 10-Year Vision

 

(PHOTOS: Gregor Robertson / Linda Hepner Photos by Chandra Bodalia)

 

TRANSLINK on Tuesday announced the beginning of expanded transit services it will be rolling out in 2017 as part of the 10-Year Vision for Metro Vancouver Transportation. TransLink has added more SkyTrain and SeaBus services, which will begin to reduce wait times and crowding.

“I’m thrilled to kick off transit improvements today with the first phase of the Mayors Council’s 10-Year Vision, turning words into action in launching the most advanced, integrated and sustainable transportation investment plan in Canada. There is huge need and appetite from people and businesses across the Lower Mainland for all levels of government to improve transit and transportation,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Chair of the Mayors’ Council. “Metro Vancouver Mayors are ready to roll up our sleeves in partnership with the B.C. and federal governments to secure long-term funding so we can implement the full 10-Year Vision and keep people moving across our growing region.”

Over the coming weeks and months TransLink will continue rolling out Phase One of the 10-Year Vision with a region-wide expansion of bus services and HandyDART, and working with communities to prioritize improvements to the region’s major roads network to address traffic bottlenecks and congestion.

“With completion of the Evergreen Extension in December, and this week’s launch of the first transit enhancements from the 10-Year Vision, Metro Vancouver is starting to see the long-overdue transportation improvements that will get our region moving again,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “The service improvements we’re launching today make space for 185,000 more people on our transit system each week.”

Later this month, planning for Phase Two kicks off with public consultations on the Broadway extension and Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT projects, and meetings of the joint committee of the Mayors’ Council and TransLink Board of Directors responsible for leading development of the Phase Two investment plan.

“While approval of Phase One is worth celebrating, it is only the first step in delivering the transportation solutions our region needs. Funding commitments from the provincial and federal governments must be secured for Phase Two in order to keep critically important projects like the Surrey-Langley LRT and Broadway extension on track,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, Vice-Chair of the Mayors’ Council. “We need to build on the momentum created with Phase One, and continue the partnership between our regional, provincial, and federal governments that has resulted in the $2-billion investment we are launching today.”

Phase One of the 10-Year Vision is funded through investments from the federal and provincial governments and regional revenues.

“The Government of Canada recognizes how important efficient transit is to growing the middle class and getting Canadians to work and back home to their families at the end of the day,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, MP for North Vancouver on behalf of Amarjeet Sohi, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. “We are committed to supporting improvements to public transit, such as the SeaBus and Canada Line projects, to help deliver fast and reliable transit services to the residents of Metro Vancouver.”

“The Government of British Columbia is pleased to celebrate today the launch of Phase One enhancements to SeaBus and SkyTrain services, which will benefit transit users across the region by making travel more convenient, frequent and comfortable,” said Andrew Wilkinson, MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena, on behalf of Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and Minister Responsible for TransLink. “We look forward to the continued roll out of exciting Phase One projects as part of approximately $2 billion of investments. The Province remains committed to working with all of our partners on Phase Two to continue improving transit across Metro Vancouver.”

The 10-Year Vision has been endorsed by the Better Transit and Transportation Coalition (BTTC), the largest coalition of community, environmental, labour and business stakeholders in B.C.’s history.

“This is a pivotal moment for our region and an opportunity to recognize the partnership between all three levels of government in taking the first steps to help alleviate congestion after years of under-investment in transit and transportation,” said Elizabeth Model, BTTC Chair. “As community leaders, we urge all governments to continue working together to invest in the next phase of the 10-Year Vision – for the sake of our economy, environment and quality of life.”

Investments included in Phase One extend across the entire region. The first improvements in the plan, starting the week of January 16, include:

* An 11 percent increase in passenger capacity during peak periods on the Canada Line

* Extended weekday peak-hour service, and increasing mid-day and early evening service on weekends, on the Expo and Millennium Lines

* Doubled SeaBus service on Sundays and holidays to sailings every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In addition to this initial expansion of services on SeaBus, Expo Line, Millennium Line and Canada Line, TransLink is increasing HandyDART service, and will start expanding bus services across the region this spring, with further rail service increases as new vehicles are delivered starting in late 2018.

 

 

Two Canadians own the same wealth as poorest 30 per cent of Canadians: Oxfam

 

 

EIGHT men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, according to a new report by Oxfam. Here at home, just two people own the same wealth as the poorest 30% of Canadians.

Oxfam’s report, ‘An economy for the 99 percent’, published to mark the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting of political and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland, shows that the gap between rich and poor is far greater than had been feared.

New and better data on the distribution of global wealth – particularly in India and China – indicates that the poorest half of the world also has less wealth than had been previously thought.

It details how big business and the super-rich are fuelling the inequality crisis by driving down wages, using their power to influence politics, and dodging taxes. It calls for a fundamental change in the way we manage our economies so that they work for all people, and not just a fortunate few. It calls for a human economy where women are no longer rewarded with poverty wages, unequal pay, and a disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work, said Oxfam in a press statement.

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads across the country this week, Oxfam is encouraging Canadians to tell the government that they want an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy elite.

Lauren Ravon, Director of Policy and Campaigns for Oxfam Canada, said: “The government has repeatedly voiced its commitment to shared economic prosperity for all Canadians. As Trudeau meets with Canadians in communities across the country over the next week, we urge him to keep issues of gender inequality and poverty top of mind. Women make up a huge proportion of people living in poverty, both here in Canada and around the world. They contribute significantly to the economy but are getting short-changed by economic growth.”

Oxfam’s report shows how our broken economies are funnelling wealth to rich elites at the expense of the poorest in society – the majority of whom are women. The richest are accumulating wealth at such an astonishing rate that the world could see its first trillionaire in just 25 years. To put this figure in perspective – you would need to spend $1 million every day for 2,738 years to spend $1 trillion.

Around the world, women are over represented in low wage sectors, face high levels of discrimination in the work place, and take on a disproportionate amount of unpaid care work – they therefore find themselves at the bottom of the economic pile. At current trends it will take 170 years for women globally to be paid the same as men. In Canada, women are paid less than men in over 90% of jobs tracked by Statistics Canada. There is clear evidence that a new economic model is needed if women are to attain equality.

Oxfam interviewed women working in a garment factory in Vietnam who work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week and still struggle to get by on the $1 an hour they earn producing clothes for some of the world’s biggest fashion brands. The CEOs of these companies are some of the highest paid people in the world.

Ravon added: “The Government of Canada can take a first step to close the inequality gap by making a Federal Budget that works for women in 2017. A feminist federal budget would prioritize progressive taxation, increase the proportion of total government spending on public services and social protection to lift people out of poverty, encourage living wages, close the gender pay gap, and increase the international aid budget to make our global commitments to women’s rights a reality.”

Public anger with inequality has been creating political shockwaves across the globe. Inequality has been cited as a significant factor in the election of Donald Trump in the US, the election of President Rodrigo Duerte in the Philippines, and Brexit in the UK.

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, who will be attending the Forum in Davos, said: “Inequality is trapping hundreds of millions in poverty; their wages are stagnating yet corporate bosses take home million dollar bonuses; their health and education services are cut while corporations and the super-rich dodge their taxes; their voices are ignored as governments sing to the tune of big business and a wealthy elite.”

Seven out of 10 people live in a country that has seen a rise in inequality in the last 30 years.  Between 1988 and 2011 the incomes of the poorest 10 percent increased by just $65, while the incomes of the richest 1 percent grew by $11,800 – 182 times as much. Over the same time period in Canada, the increase in incomes of the poorest 10% accounted for just 3% of the total income growth, while the increase in incomes of the richest 10% accounted for 29%. Oxfam’s blueprint for a more human economy includes the following approaches:

* Governments must help to dismantle the barriers to women’s economic progress such as access to education and the unfair burden of unpaid care work. In Canada, Oxfam is focusing its attention on the Federal Budget 2017, and calling for decisions and investments that make work paid, equal and valued for women.

* Governments should work together to ensure workers are paid a living wage and put an end to the gender wage gap.

* Governments should put a stop to tax dodging and the race to the bottom on corporate tax, and should increase taxes on both wealth and high incomes to ensure a more level playing field and to generate funds needed to invest in public services, education and job creation.

The World Economic Forum has responsive and responsible leadership as its key theme this year. Business leaders can also play their part in building a human economy, starting by committing to pay their fair share of tax and by ensuring their businesses pay a living wage and pay women equally.  Canadians can also join Oxfam’s campaign to demand an economy that works for everyone at www.shortchanged.ca

 

 

 

 

Ethics Commissioner launches investigation into Trudeau’s vacation at Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas

 

(PHOTO: Justin Trudeau)

 

THE Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson has launched an examination into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s holidays at the Aga Khan’s privately owned island in the Bahamas.

In a letter to Conservative MP Blaine Calkins on January 13, Dawson wrote: “In your letter, you refer to a January11, 2017, story in the National Post where it was reported that Mr. Trudeau was joined on the trip by another Member of Parliament, Mr. Seamus O’Regan. Mr. O’Regan acknowledged that that he travelled from Nassau to the Aga Khan’s private island in the Aga Khan’s private helicopter. You wrote that Mr. Trudeau’s office has said that he travelled to Nassau on a Government of Canada Challenger jet but has refused to answer questions as to whether he or his family also travelled from Nassau to the Aga Khan’s private island on the private helicopter. Mr. Trudeau has since confirmed to the public that he and his family used the Aga Khan’s private helicopter. In your view, by doing so the Prime Minister may have contravened section 12 of the Conflict of Interest Act (Act).

“You also raise concerns with respect to Mr. Trudeau’s acceptance of hospitality extended to him and his family by the Aga Khan. You ask that I investigate whether Mr. Trudeau and the Aga Khan are “friends” within the meaning of paragraph 11(2)(b) of the Act in order to determine the acceptability of the gift. You also raise concerns in respect of the application of sections 6 and 21 of the Act in light of the interactions that the Aga Khan and his organization have with the Government of Canada.

“I am of the view that your request satisfies the requirements set out in subsection 44(2) of the Act. I have therefore commenced an examination under subsection 44(3) of the Act to determine whether Mr. Trudeau has contravened sections 11 and 12 of the Act in connection with his recent stay at and travel to the Aga Khan’s privately owned island. I will also examine whether Mr. Trudeau may have contravened his obligations under sections 6 and 21 of the Act.”

 

 

 

B.C. HOME Partnership program open for applications

 

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BRITISH Columbians looking to purchase their first home started applying from Monday to the B.C. Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership program, which helps first-time homebuyers create secure and stable futures for their families through home ownership.

The B.C. HOME Partnership is designed to help first-time homebuyers who can afford the costs of home ownership, but are experiencing challenges with the initial step in entering the market – that is, getting together a down payment.

The goal of the program is to help more British Columbians establish a nest egg and ensure the dream of home ownership remains in reach for families. The program contributes to the amount first-time buyers have already saved for their down payment, providing up to $37,500, or up to 5% of the purchase price, with a 25-year loan that is interest-free and payment-free for the first five years.

Under the B.C. HOME Partnership program, homebuyers must first qualify for an insured high-ratio mortgage, to ensure they can afford payments both today and in the future.

Applications are now being accepted for purchases that close on or after February 15, 2017.

Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing, said: “We are confident that the new BC HOME Partnership will help turn the dream of home ownership into a reality for many British Columbians. This program will help first-time homebuyers build a secure and stable future for themselves and their families.”

Ajay Soni, National President, Canadian Mortgage Brokers Association, said: “The B.C. HOME Partnership program is a fantastic opportunity for first-time homebuyers in British Columbia. The program will help those that are renters leave the rental pool and create more vacancies for those who can’t afford to buy at home at this time.”

 

 

 

 

It took $538,549 for a federal government employee to move within Ontario from Richmond Hill to Belleville

 

THE Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) on Monday released access-to-information documents showing the high cost of federal government employee relocations, with at least 16 relocations costing $100,000 or more.

“The government got into hot water last year over excessive relocation costs for political staff,” said CTF Federal Director Aaron Wudrick. “But the reality is taxpayers are also on the hook for even more generous relocations for many federal bureaucrats.”

The CTF filed numerous access to information requests regarding the cost of relocations to several federal departments, including the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Aboriginal Affairs, Public Works and Government Services, and Employment and Social Development.

Wudrick noted that some costs were for long-distance moves, including those to or from disparate locations in the north. But several relatively short moves were very high in cost, such as the CRA employees who received $538,549 and $113,608 just for moving within Ontario, from Richmond Hill to Belleville, and Mississauga to Ottawa, respectively.

“There is a cost to moving, but it does not mean taxpayers should always be required to cover off every last expense,” said Wudrick. “Few Canadians work in jobs where they could expect a six-figure relocation package from their employer. Taxpayers should not be on the hook for such generous reimbursements for government employees.”

 

 

 

 

Kermode bear, Purcell Mountains and view from Porteau Cove overlooking Howe Sound on new BC Parks commemorative licence plates

 

 

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THE legendary Kermode bear found only in British Columbia, the snow-capped Purcell Mountains and a stunning view from Porteau Cove overlooking Howe Sound – these are the iconic images emblazoned on the new BC Parks commemorative licence plates.

The three licence plate designs were unveiled by Environment Minister Mary Polak and Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone on Wednesday.

The Province introduced this series of specialty licence plates, all depicting scenes from B.C.’s parks and recreation areas, in partnership with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). The public can show their passion and pride for British Columbia by sharing the natural beauty of BC Parks on their licence plates, available for purchase at Autoplan broker offices as of January 29.

The Kermode bear is a rare subspecies of black bear, found only in British Columbia and can be found between the Burke Channel in the south and roughly up to the Nass River in the north.

The Purcell Mountains make up the natural backdrop of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park and Protected Area in southeastern British Columbia.

Porteau Cove Provincial Park is a park open year round and features waterfront campsites overlooking Howe Sound to the mountains beyond.

The new speciality plates are part of the BC Parks Future Strategy, announced by Premier Christy Clark on November 28, 2016. Within the strategy the Province is investing $22.9 million to build 1,900 new campsites, is seeding a new BC Parks Foundation with a $5-million endowment, and will be allocating funding in 2017 for other recreation and conservation initiatives, including hiring more park rangers.

The licence plates allow motorists to show their support, while ensuring BC Parks has additional funds to invest in new programs and improvements. The BC Parks specialty plates will cost $50 for the initial purchase, and $40 for each annual renewal. All net proceeds from the sale and ongoing renewals of BC Parks licence plates will be re-invested back into provincial parks through the Park Enhancement Fund, a transparent account where revenues enhance programs or services in provincial parks beyond the core services provided by government.

Other programs are also being established within the strategy to give individuals the opportunity to preserve and protect British Columbia’s world-renowned provincial parks system. For example, a new online donation portal now allows individuals or businesses to donate to their favourite park, enhancement project or BC Parks’ partner via credit card, and immediately receive an official tax receipt for contributions of $25 or more. To make a donation, visit: www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/donate/

Mary Polak, Minister of Environment said: “I encourage everyone to show their British Columbia pride and purchase a BC Parks licence plate to do their part to help protect these spectacular natural spaces for future generations. All net proceeds go toward preserving and protected our world-renowned parks system.”

Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, added: “Motorists can choose the design that best reflects their passion and pride for British Columbia, and do their part to help protect these unique natural spaces. Thanks to ICBC for all of their hard work to help the public acquire their very own specialty BC Parks licence plate.”

Ric Careless, Chair, Campaign for BC Parks, noted: “With these new licence plates, British Columbians can show just how much we love our world-class parks. The sales of the plates will add extra dedicated money to the enhanced funding government is investing in our parks. So now, even when stuck in traffic, looking at the parks licence plate on the car ahead, you will be reminded of the beautiful natural protected places across B.C. that you can visit and escape to.”

Mark Blucher, President and CEO, ICBC, said: “Earlier this year we completed our corporate transformation program, including a new insurance sales system which made it possible for us to introduce the BC Parks licence plates. These BC Parks plates represent the first new specialty plates available for the general public since the popular Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games plates.”

 

Quick Facts:

 

* B.C.’s provincial parks receive more than 23 million visits each year.

* Parking is free in all provincial parks, making them more accessible to families.

* BC Parks manages the third-largest parks system in North America behind the United States’ National Park Service and Parks Canada.

* British Columbia has the highest percentage of its land base dedicated to protected areas of all provincial Canadian jurisdictions.

* B.C. offers a range of camping experiences in provincial parks as well as recreation sites.

* There are approximately 10,700 vehicle accessible campsites in 270 BC Parks front-country campgrounds and approximately 2,000 backcountry campsites.

* Over the past five years, the Province has invested approximately $60 million in park facilities, delivering projects directed at attracting young families, offering new recreation opportunities and increasing attendance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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