NDP communications director to resign after Burnaby South byelection

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The director of communications for the NDP is quitting her job once the crucial Burnaby South byelection test for the party is over. 

Kerry Pither, who came into the role early last year, told CBC News she’s stepping down March 1 to spend more time with her family. 

She cautioned not to take her departure as a sign the party is floundering ahead of October’s federal election. 

« We agreed when I came on that I could only stay for a few months, » she said Saturday. 

Pither’s family lives in the U.S., and she explained the travel and long hours of an election campaign were too difficult to manage with family obligations.

« My family comes first. »

She said she intentionally picked a quitting day after the Feb. 25 byelection in Burnaby South, where leader Jagmeet Singh is currently vying for a seat. 

She says she’s spent her time getting the team ready to dive into the October election campaign, and she has « no qualms » about leaving the party in its current state. 

Pither reiterated several times that it was a « tremendous honour » to work with Singh, and she’s committed to helping secure a federal win in whatever way she can — from a distance.

No replacement communications director will be appointed, and her duties will be absorbed by communications staff Melanie Richer and Jonathan Gauvin, Pither said.

A struggling NDP

The shift comes at a time when the NDP is struggling — both in the polls and the financial department. 

The New Democrats continued to trail their rivals in fundraising, raising just $1,974,257 from 18,637 contributors. That’s the party’s lowest fourth quarter result since 2011.

It puts the total for the NDP at $5.1 million for the year — better than 2017, but still below its fundraising numbers from 2011 to 2016. Heading into the 2015 election, when the NDP was still the Official Opposition, the party had raised $9.5 million.

On top of that, several senior members of the federal NDP caucus told CBC News they warned Singh back in June that he won’t be able to hang on as party leader if he loses in Burnaby South.

A significant chunk of the incumbent caucus have announced they won’t run in October, and the party’s support in Quebec has dropped considerably as well. 

Despite these troubles, Singh has vowed he will lead the NDP into the 2019 federal election.

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Anti-pipeline protesters shout at Trudeau during campaign event in Burnaby, B.C

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says some people will choose the politics of anger, fear and division, but Liberals will stay focused on serving Canadians, bringing people together and building a better future.

He made the remarks after a small group of anti-pipeline protesters began shouting at him at a campaign event to support Richard T. Lee, the Liberal candidate in the Burnaby South byelection. 

Trudeau joined Lee at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, where dozens of supporters cheered as Trudeau said he expects Lee to be a strong voice in Parliament for residents of Burnaby, B.C.

Lee is a former provincial legislator who replaced the Liberals’ first candidate, Karen Wang, after she resigned following an online post mentioning the ethnicity of her opponent, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

Singh is seeking his first seat in Parliament in the byelection, scheduled for Feb. 25, and earlier today he attended the annual Chinese New Year parade in Vancouver.

A small group of demonstrators clad in yellow vests also greeted Trudeau outside the Burnaby event to protest his government’s policies on immigration.

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Trudeau rallies for Burnaby South candidate Richard T. Lee – BC

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a campaign rally Sunday night for the Liberal party’s candidate in the critical Burnaby South byelection in B.C.

Trudeau was shouted down by a small but vocal group of anti-pipeline protesters, responding that some people will choose the politics of anger, fear and division, but Liberals will stay focused on serving Canadians, bringing people together and building a better future.

Trudeau says B.C. is a leader in environmental advocacy, specifically referencing the province’s carbon tax.

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“We have demonstrated in B.C. that putting a price on pollution allows you to grow the economy while creating good jobs for everyone. That’s the path we have because we know there’s not a choice to be made between the environment and the economy anymore. They have to go together.”

Trudeau has clashed in recent months with B.C.’s provincial government over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project on Burnaby Mountain. Ottawa recently bought out the project for 4.5 billion dollars.

Trudeau championed Richard Lee as a voice for the Burnaby South riding, throwing punches at former prime minister Stephen Harpers’s administration as an example of local MPs who would echo whatever the federal government wanted.

“We saw it all the time, that the local MPs were voices for Ottawa in the ridings. Well, that’s not what the people here in Burnaby South want, that’s not what the people right across Canada need. We need strong local voices standing up for you, fighting for you in Ottawa.”

The February 25 byelection in Burnaby South is an important one for the Liberals and for the federal NDP, whose party leader Jagmeet Singh is running in the riding.

Singh, who moved to Burnaby last year with his wife to run in the riding, is counting on taking Burnaby South in order to solidify his status as party leader, secure a seat in the House of Commons and make a run for the prime minister’s seat in the federal election in October.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Shooting suspect Daon Glasgow in custody after ‘high risk’ arrest in Burnaby

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Surrey RCMP have arrested Daon Gordon Glasgow in connection with the shooting of Transit Police Const. Josh Harms on Wednesday at the Scott Road SkyTrain Station in Surrey, B.C.

According to Surrey RCMP, Glasgow was arrested at a home in the 7500 block of Boundary Road in Burnaby at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.

In a press conference on Sunday morning, Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald with Surrey RCMP said that no one was injured in what he described as a « high risk » arrest.

He said the home where Glasgow was arrested was a fourplex, and that the residents of the other three units were evacuated prior to the arrest. Three other people were detained by police, but released shortly afterwards. McDonald said he did not know how long Glasgow had been in the home.

The Surrey RCMP Serious Crimes Unit, the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team, the Lower Mainland Integrated Police Dog Service, Air 1 and Burnaby RCMP assisted in the arrest.

McDonald said Glasgow, 35, is currently being held in connection to an outstanding warrant of being unlawfully at large before Wednesday’s shooting.

Police are now working with the BC Prosecution Service to lay charges in connection with the shooting.

A photo taken by a neighbour in Burnaby shows police vehicles deployed to the scene of the arrest. (Submitted)

Harms, 27, was on regular patrol duty Wednesday when a suspect shot him on the platform of the Scott Road SkyTrain station around 4:20 p.m. PT.

His injuries were not life threatening. 

In the press conference Barry Kross, chief of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police, said that Harms is « doing well » and recovering at home.

In the following days police released surveillance footage of a shooting suspect and said they were looking for Glasgow. A sweeping four-day manhunt of the area involved at least 80 officers. Schools and residences were temporarily put on lockdown on Wednesday evening.

Shortly after the shooting at the Scott Road SkyTrain station, police released images of a suspect, who police identified as Daon Gordon Glasgow. (Surrey RCMP)

« It certainly takes a team effort for an investigation of this magnitude to come to a successful completion, a successful conclusion, as it has today, » Kross said.

Investigation ‘extremely complex’

McDonald wouldn’t comment on how Glasgow was arrested from the home, but said police « pulled out all the stops given the risk to public safety. »

« In Wednesday’s shooting we had to consider that this was not a targeted event, that the suspect was armed with a firearm and at large in public, and there was a heightened risk for violence, » he said.

« These factors pose an extremely serious risk for public safety and from the outset this has been an extremely complex investigation. »

Glasgow has a previous conviction for manslaughter in the 2010 death of Terry Scott at the McDonald’s near 110th Avenue and Scott Road, just blocks away from where Harms was shot.

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Burnaby fire crews contain storage shed fire near Kinder Morgan tank facility – BC

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Fire crews have contained a fire at a commercial building at Aubrey Street and Pinehurst Drive in Burnaby, alarmingly close to the Kinder Morgan tank farm facility.

Burnaby Fire Deputy Chief Dave Samson assures local residents they are safe from danger, and there are no immediate concerns for those in the area. There are no reported injuries.

Samson tells Global News that crews were called out to 7742 Aubrey Street at 7:53 p.m. to a second alarm fire at a commercial structure – a large storage garage – situated about 400 feet away from the Kinder Morgan tank farm. A home nearby the structure was not damaged.

Samson says the main concern for firefighters was keeping the fire contained and from spreading to surrounding forest.

At the height of the blaze, there were 34 firefighters on scene and eleven trucks on hand to battle the blaze. Firefighters were challenged by difficult access to the site itself as well as water supply issues, due to low water pressure because of the the blaze’s location at the top of the mountain. Crews got around that challenge by creating a water supply structure to relay pump.

Assistant Fire Chief Barry Mawhinney tells Global the contents of the structure are not known for certain – possibly some chemicals – and a propane bottle is believed to have exploded as well. Firefighters limited their attack on the fire to the building’s exterior, due to the extreme heat and the danger of building collapse.

The bright orange flames, sparks and plumes of smoke could be seen for quite a distance, causing some justifiable alarm to nearby residents because of the proximity to the Kinder Morgan facility.

Fire officials say a long operation lays ahead putting out hot spots and cleaning up, as well as with the ensuing investigation.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Equipment shed fire in Burnaby is ‘under control’, says Deputy Chief – BC

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Fire crews have contained a fire at a commercial building at Aubrey Street and Pinehurst Drive in Burnaby, alarmingly close to the Kinder Morgan tank farm facility.

Burnaby Fire Deputy Chief Dave Samson assures local residents they are safe from danger, and there are no immediate concerns for those in the area.

Samson tells Global News that crews were called out to 7742 Aubrey Street at 7:53 p.m. to a second alarm fire at a commercial structure, which appears to be a large storage garage, situated about 400 feet away from the Kinder Morgan tank farm. There is a home nearby the structure, but Samson says it is protected and the owner is on site.

Samson explains the main concern for firefighters was keeping the fire contained and from spreading to surrounding forest.

Adding to that challenge was access to the site itself and water supply issues. Due to the blaze’s location at the top of the mountain, there’s relatively no water pressure. Crews circumvented that challenge by creating a water supply structure to relay pump.

Fire crews are not aware of what might have been inside the storage shed – perhaps some chemicals, Samson says – and their attack on the blaze was limited to the exterior due to the extreme heat.

The bright orange flames and plumes of smoke could be seen for quite a distance, causing some alarm to local residents no doubt because of the proximity to the Kinder Morgan facility.

Samson says he expects a long operation ahead cleaning up after the fire is put out, and with the ensuing investigation.

There are no reported injuries.

RCMP, BC Hydro and Fortis are all on hand.

 

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Federal Liberals announce Richard T. Lee as replacement candidate for Burnaby South

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The Liberal Party of Canada will run Richard T. Lee, a longtime B.C. MLA, as their candidate for Burnaby South in the federal byelection.

The announcement comes days after the Liberal’s first candidate, Karen Wang, quit over comments she posted on social media about NDP leader and candidate Jagmeet Singh.

On Thursday, Wang tried to have the resignation reversed, but the Liberal party said in a statement the decision was final.

Lee previously represented Burnaby as a Member of the B.C. Legislative Assembly for 16 years, where he also served as a Parliamentary Secretary.

According to a release from the party, Lee was the first Chinese-Canadian to serve as deputy speaker of the legislature. He’s lived in Burnaby for 32 years.

All eyes on Burnaby

Wang has said she’s considering running as an independent candidate. If she does, her deadline to re-register is Feb. 4. 

In a press conference held in Burnaby on Saturday afternoon, Lee said he had not spoken to Wang since her resignation.

« Karen’s comment is not aligned with the values of the party, » he said, when pressed by reporters.

« I want to have a fair and positive campaign, I’m going to be door knocking, I’m going to be talking to people in the community. »

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, left, places a sign on supporter Paul Pelletreau’s lawn while door knocking for his byelection campaign, in Burnaby, B.C., on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. Federal byelections will be held on Feb. 25 in three vacant ridings — Burnaby South, where Singh is hoping to win a seat in the House of Commons, the Ontario riding of York-Simcoe and Montreal’s Outremont. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The Burnaby byelection is considered crucial for Singh, who is running in a seat vacated by former New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart, who is now Vancouver’s mayor.

A win would give Singh a seat in the House of Commons. He’s been without one since he was elected leader of the federal NDP in October 2017.

Other candidates in the riding include Conservative Jay Shin and People’s Party candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Jan. 9 that byelections for the ridings of York–Simcoe in Ontario, Outremont in Quebec and Burnaby South in B.C. will be held Feb. 25.

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Liberals reject Karen Wang’s request to run again as party’s candidate in Burnaby South byelection

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VANCOUVER—The federal Liberal party is shutting the door on its former candidate in the Burnaby South byelection after she expressed second thoughts about resigning.

Karen Wang, who until Wednesday was the Liberal candidate running against NDP leader Jagmeet Singh in the highly anticipated byelection, Wednesday resigned over comments she made on social media about Singh’s race. Later, she asked the prime minister to let her run after all.

But the party has decided against letting Wang run under the Liberal banner.

“Recent online comments by Karen Wang are not aligned with the values of the Liberal Party of Canada. The Liberal Party has accepted her resignation as a candidate and she will not represent the Liberal Party in the Burnaby South byelection,” wrote Braeden Caley, Liberal Party spokesperson in an email Thursday.

Wang, a daycare operator who was selected last month to run for the Liberals in one of the country’s most diverse ridings, Saturday urged voters over the Chinese social media network WeChat to vote for her, “the only Chinese candidate in the riding,” rather than her opponent Singh, “of Indian descent.”

She apologized to Singh Wednesday, after the Star published details of the WeChat post initially published in Chinese, and stepped down as the Liberal candidate in the riding.

“My choice of words wasn’t well-considered and didn’t reflect my intent,” she said in the Wednesday statement, adding that she has deep respect for the NDP leader.

Speaking in a phone interview before she knew the Liberal party’s response to her request to run again, Wang said she has the « heart and passion » to serve Burnaby South and that she would consider running as an independent if the Liberals wouldn’t take her back.

Read more:

‘It makes us look bad’: Burnaby’s Chinese-Canadian community reacts to Karen Wang’s resignation over WeChat post

Peter Julian, NDP MP for New West Burnaby, which neighbours Burnaby South, called Wang’s on-again off-again candidacy “bizarre and confusing.”

“The prime minister needs to answer for this,” Julian told the Star Thursday. “He hasn’t commented on the Liberal campaign at all.”

Julian said the NDP campaign in Burnaby South meanwhile remains focused on knocking on doors and speaking to voters about election issues like housing.

In a statement Thursday, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said it’s not too late for the Liberals to do the “right thing” by not running anyone against Singh. May announced last year that her party would follow the so-called “leader’s courtesy” by giving an opposing party leader a pass when they try to win a seat during a byelection.

“Stéphane Dion extended it to me in 2008 and the courtesy has been extended to former leaders such as Joe Clark, Stockwell Day, Stephen Harper, Jean Chrétien and Robert Stanfield,” May said.

“Let Jagmeet Singh run unopposed in the Burnaby-South byelection.”

News of Wang’s resignation was met with mixed reactions from Burnaby’s large Chinese-Canadian community. Some members of the community told the Star Wednesday they were disappointed by Wang’s apparent attempt to appeal to persuade voters on the basis of race.

With files from The Canadian Press

Melanie Green is a Vancouver-based reporter covering food, culture and policy. Follow her on Twitter: @mdgmediaAlex McKeen is a Vancouver-based reporter covering wealth and work. Follow her on Twitter: @alex_mckeen

Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga

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Liberal candidate Karen Wang resigns from Burnaby South byelection following WeChat post singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

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VANCOUVER—The Liberal candidate running against NDP leader Jagmeet Singh in the Burnaby South byelection has resigned following a Star Vancouver report on her post on the Chinese social media app WeChat that urged people to vote for her, the “only Chinese candidate,” and not “Singh of Indian descent.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, Karen Wang apologized to Singh, saying “my choice of words wasn’t well-considered and didn’t reflect my intent.”

She said she has been proud to call Burnaby South home since arriving in Canada as a newcomer 20 years ago, and has deep respect for the NDP party leader.

“After consideration with my supporters, I have decided to step aside as the Liberal candidate in the Burnaby South byelection. I believe in the progress that Justin Trudeau and the Liberal team are making for British Columbians and all Canadians, and I do not wish for any of my comments to be a distraction in that work.”

On Saturday, Wang used WeChat to urge supporters to vote for her in a post, translated from Chinese, part of which said: “If we can increase the voting rate, as the only Chinese candidate in this riding, if I can garner 16,000 votes I will easily win the byelection, control the election race and make history! My opponent in this byelection is the NDP candidate Singh of Indian descent!”

Singh, who is vying for his first seat in the House of Commons, is Canada’s first non-white federal party leader. The other candidates in the Feb. 25 byelection are Conservative Jay Shin and People’s Party of Canada’s Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson.

Read more:

Liberal candidate’s WeChat post draws criticism for singling out race of byelection opponent Jagmeet Singh

Wang used the term “hua yi” to refer to people of the Chinese diaspora and used the term “yin yi” to refer to people of India’s diaspora.

When StarMetro asked about the post on Tuesday, Wang said her intent “was to stress the importance of people of all different backgrounds getting involved in this important byelection. The phrasing should have been different and it will be taken down.”

On Wednesday, Braeden Caley, senior director of communications with the Liberal Party of Canada, said Wang’s comments are not aligned with the party’s values.

“The Liberal Party has accepted her resignation as the Liberal candidate in the Burnaby South byelection,” Caley said in a statement. “Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada have always stood for the full and equal participation of all Canadians in our democracy, regardless of their background. The Liberal Party has a clear commitment to positive politics and support for Canadian diversity, and the same is always expected of our candidates.”

When asked by email whether the Liberals would nominate a new candidate in the riding, Caley said: “We’ll have more to discuss on that in due course.”

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment and referred questions about Wang to the Liberal Party.

In Ottawa, NDP MP Nathan Cullen called Wang’s social media post “the worst kind of politics there is.” He said noted her comment about Singh’s ethnicity comes after Shin, the Conservative candidate in Burnaby South, disparaged the NDP Leader for his past as a criminal defence lawyer.

“It’s brutal,” said Cullen, who represents the northwestern B.C. riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley. “It should be a warning to the Liberals and Conservatives that this stuff can’t come out in the general election.”

Cullen added that Trudeau’s silence on Wang’s post is “troubling” and pointed out that “she resigned, he didn’t fire her.”

“I’m trying to imagine if a Conservative candidate had said this, how Mr. Trudeau would have been on the front page of your paper, saying we’ve got to unite, not divide,” he said.

“They screened and vetted her and it took her quitting to end instead of Mr. Trudeau being a little bit more courageous in his leadership.”

With files from Jeremy Nuttall and Joanna Chiu.

Melanie Green is a Vancouver-based reporter covering food, culture and policy. Follow her on Twitter: @mdgmedia.

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Trudeau calls byelections for Burnaby South, York—Simcoe and Outremont for Feb. 25

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OTTAWA—Jagmeet Singh will finally get his chance.

After weeks in which the NDP leader bemoaned what he felt was an unjustifiable delay, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau scheduled the byelection in the British Columbia riding of Burnaby South.

The vote will take place Monday, Feb. 25.

Byelections will also be held that day in York—Simcoe, a seat that was previously held by former Conservative cabinet minister Peter Van Loan, and Outremont. The latter riding was home to former NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. His victory there in 2007 is widely seen the first step toward the historic “Orange Wave” breakthrough in 2011, in which New Democrats vaulted the Liberals to become the official opposition for the first time in Canadian history.

Trudeau did not call a byelection for the fourth vacancy in the House of Commons: Nanaimo—Ladysmith, where the NDP’s Sheila Malcolmson resigned this month to run for a provincial seat that could alter the balance of power in the B.C. legislature, where New Democrat Premier John Horgan heads a minority government supported by the Green Party.

Singh’s absence from the House of Commons—the former Ontario MPP has never held a federal seat — has been repeatedly highlighted as the NDP leader has faced a series of challenges over the 15 months since he won the job. Fundraising returns, for instance, have plummeted from levels seen three years ago, to the point where Singh has foregone a salary from the party he leads.

His decision to try and win his breakthrough seat in Burnaby meant that he had to relocate from Ontario to the B.C. riding, where he now rents an apartment with his wife.

Singh will face Liberal nominee Karen Wang, a local daycare business owner, and Conservative Jay Shin—a lawyer—in the coming byelection.

In the 2015 general election, New Democrat Kennedy Stewart won the riding by just 547 votes over the Liberal candidate.

Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga

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