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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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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Tens of thousands still without power as wind batters B.C.’s South Coast

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Tens of thousands of people remain without power after winds battered B.C.’s South Coast on Friday and Saturday.

According to BC Hydro, more than 35,000 customers were affected as of Saturday afternoon by outages in the Lower Mainland, on the Sunshine Coast and on Vancouver Island.

BC Hydro spokesperson Kevin Aquino said the hardest-hit areas include Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey, Victoria and the southern Gulf Islands.

« BC Hydro crews have worked overnight and will continue throughout the day to restore power, but what we have noticed is that as crews restore power in some areas there have been outages in other locations, » Aquino said.

A BC Ferries vessel holds in dock at Horseshoe Bay on Saturday due to high winds. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

The storm caused numerous BC Ferries sailing cancellations between Horseshoe Bay, northwest of Vancouver, and the Sunshine Coast, and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.

Barge toppled

The wind was so strong that a barge partially sank at Sewell’s Marina in Horseshoe Bay on Saturday morning.

Tess Baker said she was waiting for the ferry when she saw a « big cement barge carrying speed boats and zodiacs » tip over and sink.

Baker said it appeared that about nine boats have also been swept up onto the beach. 

« It’s windier than I’ve ever seen it here in the harbour. »

A Sewell’s Marina barge capsized due to high winds causing several rental boats, used oil and fuel drums to go into the water. 0:29

The Canadian Coast Guard said in an email that the barge capsized as a result of the storm. It said several several rental boats, used oil and fuel drums ended up in the water.

The agency said there is no visible sign of pollution, but marina staff can smell fuel.

If there is a visible sign of pollution, the marina along with nearby BC Ferries have pollution-response equipment available to be used.

The Coast Guard said it is also ready to assist if needed.

A tree rests on a power line in Deep Cove, B.C., after powerful winds blew through Metro Vancouver on Friday and Saturday. (Mike KilleenéCBC)

Meanwhile Aquino said hydro crews have been repairing damaged power lines, power poles and transformers.

Downed power lines should always be assumed to be live and are considered an emergency situation. If you come across one stay 10 metres away and call 911.

Wind and snow warnings are in effect for Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, eastern Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands. Winds are expected to gust up to 90 kilometres per hour.

Meanwhile, Environment Canada says snow across the South Coast is possible, with up to 10 centimetres in places such as southern Vancouver Island.

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Gathering place for new Canadians opens in south Winnipeg – Winnipeg

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Ryerson School in south Winnipeg is the new home of a community hub aimed at giving immigrants a warm welcome.


READ MORE:
Winnipeg students create on-demand snow shoveling app, will partner with Hire-A-Refugee

“Many of the services for our new refugees are in downtown Winnipeg, but the kids are here. Giving the organizations that serve these communities a place to meet here at Ryerson School is an exciting part of what we can do for families,” says Ted Fransen, superintendent of the Pembina Trails school division.

The idea has been in the works for over a year.

One of many families present at the grand opening of Winnipeg’s new welcoming hub.

Marek Tkach / Global News

The final product was designed by Immigration Partnership Winnipeg and the Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations.

“It’s essentially like a family resource centre for some of the newcomer families that live in the Pembina Trails area. We want to provide a safe, welcoming space for these families where they can find support and services but also build connections with each other,” says Noelle DePape of Immigration Partnership Winnipeg.


READ MORE:
Winnipeg church hopes Kingston RCMP investigation won’t deter sponsorship

Nasar and Nahsih Hamad are brothers who moved to Canada from northern Iraq, They are excited to take advantage of the new facilities where Nasar’s five-year-old son goes to school.

“We are comfortable here not like Iraq. We are very comfortable,” said Nasar.

“The Canadian people help us go shopping, go to the doctor and take the bus. They show us.”

WATCH: Syrian refugee thanks Justin Trudeau at New Brunswick town hall






© 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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SQ seeks witnesses of fatal south shore crash – Montreal

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Quebec provincial police are looking for witnesses of a fatal crash on Highway 10 in Montreal’s south shore.

On Dec. 27 around 5:30 p.m., a 42-year-old driver heading west on the highway between Brossard and Chambly lost control of her car.

READ MORE: 1 dead, 5 injured in Highway 10 collision near Brossard

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According to investigators, the car crossed the median, veered into the eastbound lanes and hit two cars.

The driver was killed in the incident.

READ MORE: Longueuil police remove 24 dogs from Brossard residence after finding man in distress

Her husband and child, who were in the car with her, as well as the drivers of the other vehicles, were all injured and brought to hospital.

The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) asks witnesses to contact them at 1-800-659-4264.

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

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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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OPP recover man’s body from lake south of Ottawa

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Ontario Provincial Police divers have found a man’s body in Mississippi Lake just over 24 hours after getting a call about a vehicle that went through the ice.

Police said in a news release he was a 31-year-old man from Drummond North Elmsley Township, a community in the area.

His name was not released.

At about 3:45 a.m. Sunday, OPP responded to a report that a vehicle had crashed through the ice on Mississippi Lake, just south of Carleton Place, Ont.

This map shows the location of Mississippi Lake, the site of a potentially fatal crash on Jan. 6, 2019. (CBC)

When officers arrived, they found a partially submerged all-terrain vehicle with its lights on. 

The ATV’s three passengers managed to escape with minor injuries, police said.

While searching for the ATV’s occupants, police found another vehicle, a completely submerged Volkswagen sedan, which had been the subject of the original call.

A man inside the submerged vehicle was taken to hospital to be treated for hypothermia​.

It was believed a passenger in that vehicle had died.

Police are still investigating.

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