Thousands crowd legislature grounds to greet royal couple

The Duchess of Cambridge greets a large crowd of admirers during the welcoming ceremony at the B.C. legislature on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016.   Photograph By DARREN STONE, Times Colonist

Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, began their week-long tour of British Columbia and the Yukon in Victoria Saturday with a welcome ceremony that honoured Canadian military service, young people and First Nations in front of a lively crowd of thousands.

“Catherine and I have asked to meet as many people from as many walks of life as we can while we’re here,” he said in a speech at the legislature, where an estimated 25,000 people were in the crowd. “We’re very much looking forward to learning about how Canadians are tackling some of the biggest challenges of the day.”

The prince recalled his visit to B.C. as a teenager in the late 1990s, when he was a heartthrob greeted by screaming girls. “We feel very fortunate to have time to get to really know parts of this country that we did not get to visit in 2011 but of which I have very happy memories as a shy teenager,” he said, pausing and grinning. “A few of you remember it too well, I think.”

At the legislature, the crowd’s biggest screams came at the first sight of the royal couple’s children arriving at 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron at Victoria International airport, shown on a large screen. The Royal Family arrived 10 minutes ahead of schedule on a military plane carrying Prince William’s seal. They were greeted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, Premier Christy Clark and her bowtie-sporting teenage son Hamish, Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife Sharon, and Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon.

The Prince William emerged from the plane holding the hand of three-year-old Prince George, dressed in a light blue sweater and shorts. Kate — wearing a blue maple leaf hat by British design house Lock and Co. and the Queen’s maple leaf brooch — carried 16-month-old Princess Charlotte. Prince George appeared more interested in a Sea King helicopter landing at the base than he did in the official receiving line, while Princess Charlotte waved goodbye to the plane.

This was the first of two public appearances the children will make during the visit. The second will be at their departure from Victoria at the downtown seaplane terminal on Oct. 1.

The family left in a motorcade of two dozen vehicles that stopped at Government House, where they will stay for the week, before heading to the legislature. People stood on the side of the highway from the airport to downtown Victoria cheering and taking photos as the royal motorcade passed. Overpasses were packed with waving people. The windows of the car carrying the royals were down so that they could wave back.

Some of the thousands waiting at the legislature lawn had staked out spots before dawn.

“We got here around 6:15 a.m. and a few other ladies were already here,” said Sarah Larson, who drove down from Courtenay with her mother Gloria Zimmer Friday night.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to see them … I’ve been researching royal stuff all week,” said Larson, who sat on a blanket alongside the red carpet walkway with snacks, travel Boggle and enough crosswords to fill the day. Larson also prepared a bouquet with the Canadian and Union Jack flags and small picture of a friend who died. “She was a major royals fan. She would have loved this.”

Emily Emery and her mother Jill Boudreau drove from Mount Vernon, Washington, for the event. “I admire their work and how they use their celebrity for good. They’re big on children’s health and as a nurse, I admire them,” Emery said.

Patrick Wilson stood for nearly 12 hours at a metal gate along the red carpet to see the royal couple. He said as a First Nations person, from the north Island Kwakiutl First Nation, it is meaningful for him to see the Royal Family’s interest in B.C.’s Indigenous peoples. “I don’t have the words for it but it’s good,” said Wilson, wearing a cedar bark top hat.

The royal couple arrived at the legislature around 5:30 p.m., about a half hour behind schedule.

A solemn ceremony at the legislature cenotaph marked the start of the ceremony, featuring the skirl of bagpipes and a lone bugler.

The cheerful crowd grew silent as Kate and William placed a wreath at the cenotaph. Retired colonel Paul Paone, who was with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, was happy to see a new plaque honouring Afghanistan veterans unveiled. “It’s absolutely wonderful,” he said. “It took long enough.”

William and Kate spoke at length with three veterans, including Gordon Quan, who served as a commando in Burma during the Second World War.

Also meeting the royal pair were Afghanistan veterans Cpl. Mireille Poulin and Petty Officer Wayne Clarke. Prince William, who flew helicopters in the Royal Air Force, asked Poulin what kind of helicopters were used in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The royal couple was welcomed to traditional Lekwungen territory by Esquimalt and Songhees dancers as they walked the red carpet to the stage with the prime minister and his wife, the Governor General and his wife, the lieutenant governor, and the premier and her son. They were met by a line of local politicians, including Mayor Lisa Helps, First Nations chiefs, Victoria MLA Carole James and federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

In his speech, the Governor General noted that the royal couple first came to Canada in 2011 as newlyweds of three months, “and now you’ve come back as a family. We couldn’t be happier for you,” he said. For Canada, the monarchy “represents a family and reminds us that people come first.”

Trudeau got a few laughs when he jested about travelling with kids. “As any parent who has travelled with children knows, it is a whole different experience when you bring your family with you. I want to commend you and thank you for introducing our part of the world to Prince George and Princess Charlotte,” he said.

“Though let me caution you from my own experience, if they’re anything like our kids, getting them back on a plane after a visit to our beautiful West Coast will really be a challenge.”

William and Kate rewarded many of the fans who’d spent hours waiting to see them with greetings as they walked along the red carpet after the ceremony.

“He said he liked my flower,” said Teresa Bell, who shook Prince William’s hand on the walkabout. Bell and her friend Kisha Cook, both from Nanaimo, wore black decorative fascinators. “I can’t believe it.”

Standing next to them, Lori Hitchcox said she was shaking after her encounter with the prince.

“He asked if I lived in Victoria. I said yes. And he said, ‘I see we’re taking up most of your city,’ ” said Hitchcox, wearing a maple leaf scarf. “I told him I loved his grandmother. He was so sincere. They really are as nice as they look.”

Monique Girard was surprised to be approached by the duchess while holding her six-month-old daughter Scarlett. “She told me that after this small stage, it only gets better,” Girard said. “I told her that she’s beautiful. It was like this goddess in front of me.”

Kate told Girard and Loreen Topping that she wished she had brought her children, particularly Prince George, so that they could enjoy the lights on the legislative buildings.

Dayna Mottishaw and her friend Courtney Simcoff were decked out in pearls, fascinators and tea cups.

“We’re both moms of young kids so it’s not easy to get out and do something like this,” said Mottishaw. It panned out. They saw the royal couple up close and shook the prince’s hand. “He really looks you in the eye.”

Mottishaw said it was a once in a lifetime chance to see the royals, then quipped, “Although I am off to see the Royals tonight. They’re playing Prince George,” she said, referring to the local hockey game.

After the one-hour ceremony, the duke and duchess returned to Government House, where they had private meetings with the prime minister and Governor General. They are scheduled to leave Victoria today at 10 a.m. by seaplane for a day of events in Vancouver.

At least one dead, 100 injured after New Jersey train plows into platform: ‘I heard panicked screams’


HOBOKEN, N.J. — A crowded commuter train crashed into the bustling Hoboken station during the morning rush hour Thursday, killing at least one person and injuring more than 100 others, some critically, in a tangle of broken concrete, twisted metal and dangling cables, authorities said.

People pulled concrete off bleeding victims and passengers kicked out windows and crawled out amid crying and screaming after the arriving New Jersey Transit train smashed through a barrier at the end of its track and ground to a halt in a covered waiting area. It apparently knocked out pillars, collapsing a section of the roof onto the first car.

Ross Bauer, an IT specialist who was heading to his Manhattan job from his home in Hackensack, was sitting in the third or fourth car when the train plowed into the historic 109-year-old station.

“All of a sudden, there was an abrupt stop and a big jolt that threw people out of their seats. The lights went out, and we heard a loud crashing noise — like an explosion — that turned out to be the roof of the terminal,” he said. “I heard panicked screams, and everyone was stunned.”

The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known. The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators.

Investigators will want to know what the operator was doing before the crash and whether the person was distracted, said Bob Chipkevich, who formerly headed the NTSB train crash investigations section.

Gov. Chris Christie said one person was killed.

The Hoboken Terminal, which handles more than 50,000 train and bus riders daily, is just across the Hudson River from New York City. It is the final stop for several train lines and a transfer point for many commuters on their way to New York City. Many passengers get off at Hoboken and take ferries or a PATH commuter train to New York.

None of NJ Transit’s trains are fully equipped with positive train control, a safety system designed to prevent accidents by automatically slowing or stopping trains that are going too fast. The industry is under government orders to install PTC, but the deadline has been repeatedly extended by regulators at the request of the railroads. The deadline is now the end of 2018.

Jennifer Nelson, a spokeswoman for NJ Transit, said she didn’t know how fast the train was going when it crashed through the bumper. Rail service was suspended in and out of Hoboken.

Passenger Bhagyesh Shah said the train was crowded, particularly the first two cars, because they make for an easy exit into the Hoboken station. Passengers in the second car broke the emergency windows to get out.

“I saw a woman pinned under concrete,” Shah told WNBC-TV in New York. “A lot of people were bleeding; one guy was crying.”

Brian Klein, whose train arrived at the station after the crash, told The Wall Street Journal that transit police ushered everyone aboard his train into a waiting room, “then quickly started yelling, ‘Just get out! We don’t know if the building is going to hold.’”

The train had left Spring Valley, New York, at 7:23 a.m. and crashed at 8:45 a.m., said NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder.

More than 100,000 people use NJ Transit trains to commute from New Jersey into New York City daily.

“It simply did not stop,” WFAN anchor John Minko, who witnessed the crash, told 1010 WINS. “It went right through the barriers and into the reception area.”
NJ Transit provides more than 200 million passenger trips annually on bus, rail and light rail lines. More than 100,000 people use NJ Transit trains to commute from New Jersey into New York City daily.

A crash at the same station on a different train line injured more than 30 people in 2011. The PATH commuter train crashed into bumpers at the end of the tracks on a Sunday morning.

The Hoboken Terminal, which was built in 1907 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has undergone waves of restoration, including a major project launched by NJ Transit in April 2004 that largely restored the building to its original condition. The station was extensively damaged during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and underwent major repairs.

With files from Karen Matthews and Deepti Hajela in Hoboken, Verena Dobnik in New York and Joan Lowy in Washington.

A burger-flipping robot? How automation threatens to disrupt the workforce

Reid Southwick, Calgary Herald


Robots are capable of taking over countless tasks that human workers are paid to perform, and these meddlesome machines are not just out for low-paying jobs — they can replace many of the duties of six-figure income earners.

These revelations are contained in research compiled at San Francisco’s McKinsey Global Institute, which studies emerging economic trends. Its findings on automation suggest that while intelligent machines will likely replace few occupations in the next decade, they could take over myriad tasks, from collecting data to cooking hamburgers.

Far from science fiction, the research indicates that hundreds of jobs could be forever changed by automation using current technologies. An estimated 60 per cent of occupations could see a third or more of their tasks automated without any major new breakthroughs, the U.S. institute forecasts.

“This technology is coming, and it’s coming not only for physical tasks but for cognitive tasks,” said Michael Chui, a partner at the institute who will discuss the robotics trend Thursday at the Global Business Forum in Banff.

“If you’re a leader, you ought to look at your entire organization and say, how can this potentially be valuable to you?”

About 200 business executives, researchers and other thought leaders will gather for the business forum at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel on Thursday and Friday to examine global migration, cyber terrorism and other challenges facing the private sector.

Executives from Google Canada, Shell Canada, Dow Chemical and other big employers will share their insights on innovation, tech trends and efforts to reduce emissions in the energy sector.

Chui will take the stage Thursday afternoon to reveal how robots and other forms of automation could disrupt the Canadian workforce.

“A lot of people, when they hear about automation, they quite naturally gravitate to the impact on jobs and whether it will cause mass unemployment,” he said in an interview.

But Chui and his colleagues believe that machines could become more of a “saviour” of productivity than a drain on human employment, as an aging workforce leaves gaps in the domestic economy.

“What we really need is a way to make a declining workforce more productive in order to just maintain GDP per capita or hopefully to increase it,” Chui said.

“This might suggest that automation is the thing that will allow us to continue to grow economically rather than being something that is going to throw people out of their jobs.”

Chui’s research suggests food service and accommodations, retail and manufacturing are among the sectors most susceptible to automation. Many of the tasks in these occupations involve predictable, physical activities, such as packaging products and even preparing food.

Fast food restaurants have already begun testing computers that take customer orders while the San Francisco robotics company Momentum Machines has come up with something even more novel: A robot that cooks 400 burgers an hour.

Still, the business case for investing in an automated fast food industry may be weak, given that existing labour costs are low.

In Singapore, researchers with Nanyang Technological University have developed a human-like robot programmed to display emotions and recall previous conversations. Nadine, as the humanoid has been called, has been put to work as a receptionist at the university.

There are constraints of introducing robotics in jobs that require social skills, wit and emotion, such as selling jewelry and trading stocks, where clients expect to be dealing with humans.

But other tasks within these occupations could be taken over by machines, including maintaining sales records and compiling customer information in the retail sector, Chui’s team argues.

Similarly, they believe computers could be programmed to collect and process financial services data, from reviewing mortgage and credit applications to verifying the accuracy of insurance records.

These are not all entry-level jobs — many workers currently charged with processing data earn six figures.

Chui said while technology is available to make way for a rise of robots in North American jobs, they won’t take over tomorrow. It will take time to integrate these technologies into the workplace, he said, adding the machines will also become less expensive.

“Today, it would cost quite a bit to put a robot in a home that would make breakfast,” Chui said. “But I think at one point you would have said that, too, about a vacuuming robot, but now there’s a pretty competitive market for those.”

No hard hat, no deal: Quebec court becomes latest to slap down turban exemptions for Sikhs

Tristin Hopper, National Post

The Port of Montreal requires hard hats for all workers on its property. Three Sikh truck drivers who perform regular pickups at the port have a religious conviction that forbids putting anything on their head except a five-to-six metre length of wrapped cotton.

And last week, in a court decision that was soon publicized throughout India, the Quebec Superior Court sided with the port. Turban-wearing Sikhs can still enter the port, but if they don’t put on a hard hat they have to stay in the cabs of their truck.

“We’re living in a world of moral panic about danger,” said Julius Grey, lawyer for the three Sikh appellants.

While the last 30 years have seen Canadian Sikhs achieve religious accommodation for the Sikh turban (dastaar) in the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP, on passport photos and in B.C. traffic law, the Quebec Superior Court becomes only the latest body to draw the line when it comes to protective headgear.

In 2006, an attempt by two B.C. dock workers to obtain helmet exemptions for Sikh longshoremen failed on arbitration; turban-wearing Sikhs were simply reassigned to areas where hard hats weren’t mandatory. “It is clear and obvious that workers can bump their heads, and thereby sustain head injuries,” read the decision.

There was a similar outcome in 2008, when two B.C. mill workers objecting to a mandatory hard hat policy were simply reassigned to a less dangerous part of the mill.

That same year, an Ontario court rejected the case of a turban-wearing Sikh man who claimed religious infringement for being ticketed while riding his motorcycle without a helmet.

More recently, in 2014 Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne definitively rejected the Canadian Sikh Association’s request for a religious exemption on motorcycle helmets. “Ultimately, the safety of Ontarians is my utmost priority,” wrote Wynne.

The World Sikh Association of Canada, in fact, now advises against trying to convince Canadian courts to permit Sikh exemptions for protective headgear.

“Largely it’s about liability, they don’t want to be on the hook for any accident that involves a turban-wearer,” said Balpreet Singh, the organization’s legal counsel.

Singh was instrumental in a 2012 decision that allowed kirpans — a small, stylized sword worn by Sikhs — to be permitted in Toronto courtrooms. But speaking to the National Post by phone, he suggested that Canadian law hits a brick wall when it comes to trading safety for religious accommodation.

No Canadian court will back a turban exemption “if there is a genuine risk of injury or death,” he said.

Currently, there are only two places in Canada where turban-wearing Sikhs can find a codified exemption from a safety requirement. In Manitoba, “bona fide members of the Sikh religion” are not required to wear helmets while motorcycling. In B.C., a similar motorcycle helmet exemption is open to any Sikh who “has unshorn hair and habitually wears a turban composed of 5 or more square meters of cloth.”

The B.C. exemption, enacted after a 1999 human rights tribunal decision, was made with the full knowledge that it would likely result in more Sikhs getting killed on B.C. highways. A detailed accounting contained in the decision surmised that exempting Sikhs from the helmet law would raise motorcycle fatalities by as much as two per year, and brain injuries by as much as 10.

“However … I am not persuaded that the increased risk associated with non-helmeted motorcycling is so substantial that it constitutes undue hardship,” wrote tribunal member Frances Gordon.

The World Sikh Association of Canada’s Balpreet Singh said no court would again make that kind of trade-off. The reason is a precedent-setting 2009 Supreme Court decision concerning a sect of Alberta Hutterites who believe that posing for driver’s license photos violates the Second Commandment, “thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.”

The Supreme Court denied the Hutterites an exemption for license photos, arguing that their religious rights were outweighed by the security risks of a photo-less license. “Any exemptions, including those for religious reasons, pose real risk to the integrity of the licensing system,” read the decision.

It’s why the turban-wearing Sikh community has successfully fought anti-turban policies at restaurants, soccer games or public institutions. But the accommodation stops if there’s a chance someone might get hurt.

And it’s not just turbans. In 2000, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal cited safety concerns when it dismissed the complaint of a Sikh pulp mill worker who objected to a requirement that he shave his beard in order to accommodate a respirator.

Canada is home to roughly 500,000 Sikhs, the largest population outside India. The turban is worn as a symbol of equality, but as with dress requirement across all religions, the practice varies across levels of Sikh observance.

In India, for example, it has been estimated that roughly half of Sikh men are now foregoing the turban.

For those who wear the turban, meanwhile, it is generally not taken off unless inside the home or if it is needed to save a life (such as being used to bandage an accident victim). Turban-wearing Sikh men also do not believe in placing anything atop the dastaar.

Hard hats were a moot point at the Port of Montreal until 2004, when a blanket hard hat rule was enacted in response to a new amendment to the federal Criminal Code mandating that employers now had a “legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm” to their workers.

Turban-wearing Sikh truck drivers could still enter the Port of Montreal, but they had to stay inside the cab of their trucks until a hard-hatted port worker could be found to locate and load the shipping container that the driver was to pick up. The added steps had the effect of turning a 20 minute process into a marathon of up to two hours.

In a French-language decision, the court acknowledged that the rule infringed upon the religious rights of the three men, as guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Nevertheless, it noted that between 1999 and 2008, 27 head injuries had been recorded as occurring around trucks at the port.

“In light of the laws and regulations that govern their activities, the choice to require hard hats on all port workers, including the appellants … is amply justified,” it read. The “stay in truck cab” rule was thus upheld.

Singh maintains that if Canada is ever going to have helmetless Sikhs on industrial sites, the reform will have to come from provincial governments, not courts. “It has to be the legislature that will make these kinds of accommodations,” he said.

Ian Smith/Vancouver Sun
Ian Smith/Vancouver SunA 1992 file photo of Baltej Singh Dhillon, the RCMP constable who fought to wear his turban as part of his Mountie uniform.
In the U.K., for instance, it was a 1989 amendment to the Employment Act that allowed turban-wearing Sikhs to be exempt from head protection requirements on construction sites. “Where a turban-wearing Sikh chooses not to wear the head protection provided, the exemption includes a limitation on the liability of the duty-holder should an incident occur,” explains the official webpage of the U.K.’s Health and Safety Executive.

Grey, however, intends to take the Port of Montreal case to appeal. He says the case still has a good chance to win on the grounds of “relative safety.” Three guys don’t want to wear hard hats, and it should be their business if they want to take the slim risk of taking an errant wrench to the skull.

Said Grey, “it was the French philosopher Jacques Attali who said that in the future, all policy will be dictated by insurance companies.”

Targeted shooting leaves one dead in Maple Ridge

Maple Ridge: On September 24, 2016, just after 2:00 am, the Ridge Meadows RCMP responded to a report of shots fired in the area of 243 Street and 102 Avenue, Maple Ridge. Upon police attendance, a 32 year old male victim suffering gunshot wounds was located and transported to hospital. Despite all medical efforts, the male victim died as a result of his injuries and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) has taken conduct of the investigation.

IHIT is working closely with the Ridge Meadows RCMP to determine what events led up to the shooting, and the 24300 block of 102 Avenue will be shut down for an undetermined amount of time.
The investigation is in its early stages, but from the evidence gathered so far the shooting appears to be targeted. Currently, the 32 year old male victim cannot be identified as the next of kin has yet to be notified.

Cpl. Meghan FOSTER of IHIT says, We are looking to speak with more witnesses who were in the area at the time of this incident, and may be able to provide valuable information to assist our investigation.

IHIT is asking that anyone with information regarding this investigation to contact the IHIT tip line at 1-877-551-4448 (IHIT).

Mounties nab man in a stolen car

Photograph of a shotgun, two knives, a shot gun shell, and needles on the roof of a car.

A man from Chilliwack is facing criminal charges for firearm and property crimes after being arrested by RCMP in early September.

Cameron Joseph Koutecky, 25, faces Criminal Code charges of:

  •  Possession of stolen property under $5000
  •  Possession of an instrument suitable for the purpose of breaking into a place
  •  Possession of a firearm while prohibited by an order
  •  Possession of a firearm knowing he was not the holder of a licence
  •  Possession of an unloaded prohibited or restricted firearm with readily accessible ammunition
  •  Knowingly possess another person’s identity information

Koutecky remains in custody pending a court appearance in late September.

The police investigation was initiated following a call made to RCMP at approximately 9 a.m. on September 6, 2016, from a vehicle owner in the 46000 block of Yale Road to report their car was stolen during the night.

As police investigated the theft they were contacted at approximately 2:45 p.m. by an alert citizen who reported a suspicious vehicle stopped at Quarry Road and Beaver Crescent. The suspicious vehicle was immediately identified by police as the car reported stolen that morning.

General Duty officers supported by the Lower Mainland Integrated Police Dog Services quickly arrived on site where they located the allegedly stolen vehicle and apprehended the suspect. During a search of the suspect vehicle, officers seized a -‘sawed -off’- shotgun, ammunition, knives, and evidence linking the suspect to property crime.

The suspect was taken into custody, stolen property recovered, and weapons dangerous to the safety of our community were taken off the street, largely in part to an alert member of the public, who reported unusual behaviour to police, says Corporal Mike Rail, spokesperson for the UFVRD.

RCMP remind everyone who witnesses anything they believe to be suspicious in nature to contact the Chilliwack RCMP at 604-792-4611 or, should you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

Two persons with gunshot injuries in South Surrey

Surrey RCMP were called to a home in the 4200 block of 152 Street after learning of an adult male and female suffering from gunshot injuries. The male and female are associated to the residence in which they were located. Both victims were transported by land ambulance to a regional trauma hospital to be treated for their apparent non-life-threatening injuries. This event appears to have been a targeted event.

Surrey RCMP has the area secured for the investigation and Serious Crime Unit investigators are on scene. The Lower Mainland Forensic Identification Section is also on scene gathering evidence to advance the investigation.

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

IHIT investigating suspicious death in Coquitlam – Victim Identified

Coquitlam: On September 23, 2016 just after 6:30 am, the Coquitlam RCMP responded to a report of an abandoned vehicle in the 4900 block of Quarry Road, Coquitlam. Upon police attendance, a deceased male was located nearby the abandoned vehicle. The death was deemed suspicious in nature, and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) took conduct of the investigation.

The deceased male has been identified as 39 year old Jason Leigh ZELLMER , a Surrey resident. From the evidence gathered so far, Mr. ZELLMER’s death does not appear to be random. Investigators believe that Mr. ZELLMER met with foul play and died as a result of the injuries he sustained; an autopsy is required to determine the cause of death.
IHIT continues to work closely with the Coquitlam RCMP, the BC Coroners Service, and the Integrated Forensic Identification Section as the evidence gathering process continues.

Cpl. Meghan FOSTER says IHIT investigators are seeking information from people who saw Mr. ZELLMER during the day on September 22. Or, were in the area of 4900 Quarry Road overnight on September 22, and saw a newer black Hyundai Elantra.

IHIT is asking that anyone with information regarding this investigation to contact the IHIT tip line at 1-877-551-4448 (IHIT).

Chilliwack Mounties bust dial-a-dope operation

Two people face charges after being arrested for drug offences by the RCMP in late August.

Dipendra Varma Bundhoo, 27, of Delta, faces charges for three counts of trafficking in a controlled substance and three counts of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking under the Controlled Drug and Substance Act. Bundhoo remains in custody pending a court date in late September.

Chelsea Tara Hagen, 23, of Port Moody, faces charges for two counts of trafficking in a controlled substance and three counts of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking under the Controlled Drug and Substance Act. Hagen was released from custody pending a court appearance in early October.

The charges stem from a RCMP dial a dope investigation that was initiated on July 8, 2016 after a Chilliwack RCMP Crime Reduction Unit (CRU) officer observed a suspicious transaction occur between Bundhoo and another person behind a building in the 8100 block of Young Road.

Dial a dope is a criminal operation where the seller and their customer communicate by phone to arrange a pre-determined location to meet for the exchange of illegal drugs, says Corporal Mike Rail, spoke person for the UFVRD.

As police in Chilliwack conducted their investigation they were supported on August 17, 2016 by officers from the RCMP E Division Support Services. Over the following twelve days undercover officers met Bundhoo and Hagen on three occasions in commercial parking lots located around the city where the suspects sold crack cocaine to police.

The two suspects were taken into custody by police on August 29, 2016 at the site of the third transaction. During the arrest, drugs that police believe to be approximately 8 grams of crack cocaine, 5 grams of methamphetamine, 1.6 grams of heroin containing trace amounts of fentanyl, as well as, cash, a vehicle and evidence linking the suspects to the alleged dial a dope operation were seized by RCMP investigators.

RCMP in Chilliwack have taken another step in reducing organized crime and removing illegal drugs from our streets to ensure the safety of the residents of our community, said Rail.

Police remind everyone who witnesses anything they believe to be suspicious in nature to contact the Chilliwack RCMP at 604-702-4017 or, should you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

BC NDP Director Raj Sihota becomes first South Asian woman to hold top staff position

News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver’s News.

Vancouver’s Talk

Bailey Nicholson

Raj Sihota is now the first woman of South Asian descent to hold the top staff position at a major political party in BC.

Sihota is Provincial Director of the BC NDP as the party prepares for the upcoming May 2017 election. She was appointed in August.

According to a release by the party, Sihota has played key roles in many elections. Some of which include the recent by-election wins in Coquitlam and Vancouver where MLAs Melanie Mark and Jodie Wickens were elected.

She says it’s important to see South Asian women in powerful positions.

“South Asian women of my generation are making a difference in all parts of our society… We are professionals, leading businesses and now running political party offices as strategists and administrators.”

In the release, NDP Leader John Horgan says he’s proud of the role that South Asians have played in the BC NDP, and that his party has gone above and beyond to send a positive message to visible minorities.

“All political parties understand the need to field candidates that appeal to their voters, but the NDP has gone a major step further by appointing a visible minority woman to the top staff job. This sends a powerful message to other women of visible minorities that the NDP takes them seriously and values their skills and contributions.”