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Premier vows lumber fight

Premier Christy Clark stepped away from the campaign trail Monday night to talk about a U.S. decision to begin charging duty on Canadian softwood lumber exports.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it would begin assessing duty of approximately 20 per cent on softwood exports from Canada into the United States.

Clark, in a statement released after the news was announced, said her message to wood producers, forest workers and their families is simple, "we will fight for you. And, we will not give up."

The premier said the province will press its case and implement an action plan on softwood lumber, including:

  • Fight the unfounded claims of the U.S. lumber production lobby and the unwarranted and unfair duties placed on Canadian lumber products
  • Use this preliminary period for B.C. and Canada to reinforce our efforts to reach a fair deal with the United States
  • Work with U.S. home builders and lumber retailers to demonstrate that Canadian softwood lumber is a critical component of continued U.S. economic growth
  • Continue to work with the federal government to ensure B.C. forest workers are supported in the event of job impacts
  • Accelerate our proven actions to diversify our markets and products to further reduce our reliance on the United States.

“The forest industry built this province, and it has a strong future ahead."

"We will only accept a new agreement that works for B.C. We will fight, and we will win – as we have before.”



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No charges in derailment

There will be no criminal charges in a fatal Vancouver Island train derailment.

The incident Thursday in Woss killed three people and injured two others.

RCMP said Monday the investigation is being turned over to the Transportation Safety Board and WorkSafe BC.

The Western Forest Products log train spilled its load over a two-kilometre stretch in the tiny community.

A safety director for the United Steelworkers union told CTV the injured workers will be OK.

WorkSafe says it investigation into the derailment will likely take months.

– with files from CTV Vancouver Island



Search for bridge jumper

RCMP are continuing to search for a female who jumped off a bridge in Prince George, Sunday.

A passing driver observed a female with long, blonde hair and slight build jump off the west side of John Hart Bridge about 8 p.m.

“Extensive efforts were made to locate the person,” said Cpl. Craig Douglass.

“Officers and a police service dog searched the shoreline of the Nechako River and various points along the Fraser River that were accessible," he said.

A helicopter was also used to search for the female, but no one was found.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact police.



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30 pets saved from breeder

Dozens of animals have been removed from a puppy breeding operation near Lillooet.

A total of 24 dogs, including puppies, and six cats were all suffering from severe neglect.

A number of animals were rescued earlier this month.

“The dogs were kept in a filthy environment with high levels of ammonia from urine and have serious dental disease and badly matted fur,” said Kent Kokoska, senior animal protection officer for the BC SPCA.

“Some of the dogs were being kept in a chicken coop filled with chicken and dog feces, and one of the dogs and two puppies were being kept in a rodent cage,” he said.

The cats were severely matted and were also living in filthy, hazardous conditions without proper ventilation and light.

The SPCA is continuing to investigate, and charges of animal cruelty may be recommended.

The animals are currently staying at the SPCA facilities in Kamloops and Kelowna.



Dead body by river

UPDATE: 1:20 p.m.

Richmond RCMP confirmed they found a body in a park off River Road.

The body they found was a deceased male and police said his death appears to be targeted.

Corp. Dennis Hwang said the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has been contacted and taken over the investigation.

No further information is being released at this time.


ORIGINAL: 11:30 a.m.

A Richmond nature park is behind police tape following what police are calling a "serious incident."

Access has been blocked to Terra Nova Rural Park, near the children's play area, and a large number of officers have converged on the scene.

A police tent has been set up on the river bank.

Officers at the scene are not commenting on the situation.

– with files from CTV Vancouver



Appeal over 'pay-to-play'

The group Democracy Watch is appealing a B.C. Supreme Court decision tossing out a case involving allegations that Premier Christy Clark was in a conflict of interest related to the Liberal party's fundraising events.

A judge ruled in January that he didn't have the jurisdiction to overturn a decision from the province's conflict commissioner, who determined Clark's appearances at the events did not constitute a conflict.

Justice Kenneth Affleck said conflict commissioner Paul Fraser makes recommendations to the legislature and it can choose whether to discipline its members.

Democracy Watch spokesman Duff Conacher says the group is asking the B.C. Appeal Court to hear the case because the lower court's ruling essentially means members of the public who complain to the conflict commissioner are not entitled to a remedy.

Democracy Watch lawyer Jason Gratl says the organization also disputes a finding that members of the cabinet are always protected by legislative privilege.

In its complaint, Democracy Watch argued Clark benefited personally because she was getting a $50,000 annual stipend from the B.C. Liberals.

Clark asked the party to stop paying her in January, saying it had become a distraction.



$300K fentanyl bust

A months-long drug investigation has resulted in the seizure of $300,000 worth of fentanyl and fentanyl-laced heroin.

Search warrants were executed in Surrey and New Westminster, and a number of vehicles and firearms were also seized, along with a large quantity of cash.

New Westminster Police said Monday that "numerous" people have been arrested. They face charges including trafficking in a controlled substance and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

Surrey RCMP, Delta Police, Canada Border Services Agency, Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit and the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team worked with NWPD on the case.

B.C. is on track to hit more than 1,300 fentanyl-related overdose deaths this year.

– with files from CTV Vancouver



Third fire in four years

A blaze in a Surrey building Saturday night marks the third time that building has gone up in flames in less than four years.

The fire, on the 8300 block of Scott Road in Surrey, was reported to emergency services by Ilham Ali, a nearby resident. When Ali saw the blaze, he and his daughter left their house and called 911.

“It was very scary and we could see all the flames coming towards our house too,” Ali told CTV News.

The same building was last hit with a fire in 2016, with another fire tearing through the house on Boxing Day of 2013.

The first fire caused the evacuation of about 12 people who lived in the building.

Because of those previous fires, firefighters weren’t able to work on the fire from the inside.

“Nobody went inside or into the collapse zones,” Kevin Beenham with the Surrey Fire Service said.

Surrey RCMP is investigating the fire, which reportedly has caused no injuries.

A developer is looking at putting a four-floor building on the lot, according to neighbours.

The Saturday night blaze is just one in a trend of fires in unoccupied buildings, according to Vancouver firefighters.

“We have patrols and we set up … and our fire crews in the area go and check to ensure that houses are boarded up securely,” Beenham said.

The building, reportedly written off from the fire, is now set for teardown.

–with files from CTV Vancouver



Standoff ends peacefully

A Courtenay standoff has come to a “peaceful resolution,” including at least one arrest after two people surrendered to police.

Reports of a man with a gun brought Comox Valley RCMP to Tull Avenue in Courtenay for a two-plus-hour standoff Saturday evening, between about 7 and 9:30 p.m.

“(I was) frightened enough to make sure I locked my doors,” nearby resident Donna Cook told CTV News, adding that she saw officers brandishing rifles around her neighbour’s house.

While two people reportedly surrendered to police, just one arrest has so far been confirmed by RCMP.

Police also drew concern from a drone that was flying around the area during the standoff, which RCMP says could cause safety issues.

“For our tactics it’s really important that we’re able to move around and not necessarily be seen,” said Const. Rob Gardner.

“If that was broadcasted out while we were trying to bring this to a peaceful resolution, it could really change the flow of how it worked out.”

–with files from CTV Vancouver



Deadly crash in Vancouver

The Vancouver Police Department's collision investigation unit remained on the scene for hours Sunday after a man drove his car into a power pole.

The man, in his 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. No one else was in the vehicle.

The crash happened around 5 a.m. on Commercial Drive near Victoria Drive on Vancouver's east side.

The cause of the crash has not been determined.

–with files from CTV News


Hikers safe after rescue

Two more hikers have the busy North Shore Search and Rescue and the police to thank after being found, and rescued, on Saturday night.

“It was our first time doing (the trail) and we lost our friends and we just felt that things weren’t marked as clearly as possible,” Adam Kurgatnikob, one of the hikers, told CTV News. “I thought to go one way and (the other hiker) wanted to the other way and, next thing you know, we got lost.”

As evening set in, the hikers were able to get a signal and called 911.

An RCMP helicopter looked from above while volunteers with North Shore Rescue began a ground search.

The two were found on Big Cedar Trail at the end of Mountain Highway.

“Big Cedar Trail—which goes up to Kennedy Falls—has gotten a lot of attention online lately and a lot of people seem to want to come up and do this, so we have been getting a number of people getting lost up there,” said Allan McMordie, North Shore Rescue’s search manager.

–with files from CTV News


Clark heckled at sun run

B.C.'s election campaign is nearing the halfway point and one party leader says she's feeling optimistic, but acknowledges that the race is far from over.

Liberal Leader Christy Clark spoke to media at the starting line of the annual Sun Run in Vancouver on Sunday, saying her party is working hard to get its message out before voters head to the ballot box on May 9.

"There's a reason there's 28 days in a campaign, because we spend every day talking about the things that we stand for and the things that we believe in," she said.

The Liberals are campaigning on a job creation and economic growth platform, and Clark said that will require standing up to the U.S. in order to secure a new softwood lumber deal amid U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist rhetoric.

"We've got to make sure we stand up for British Columbia and get this softwood deal done. We've got to make sure we keep taxes low because we've got to be competitive compared to the United States, absolutely with this Donald Trump government," she said.

Meanwhile, the NDP is pledging to make life more affordable for British Columbians, with promises like $10-a-day daycare and scrapping tolls on two busy bridges in Metro Vancouver.

Clark criticized the NDP on Sunday, saying their plaform "appears to be changing ever day," and gave the party's stance on scrapping medical services premiums as an example.

The NDP have pledged to do away with the fees, but Clark says it's unclear how they intend to make up the revenue.

"It's kind of a moving target when they're changing their policies every day," she said.

One man standing at the race's starting line heckled Clark as she readied to run, calling on her to go back to the corporate boardroom before Liberal staff stepped in and he stopped.



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