Beginning of end for Clark?

B.C. politicians return to the legislature in Victoria today, marking the beginning of the end for the minority Liberal government.

Premier Christy Clark's Liberals have recently announced a number of campaign-style promises that will be included in today's throne speech, including hikes for welfare rates, reforms to campaign financing and new money for childcare.

Clark said yesterday that the party heard from voters during this spring's campaign that social issues and political fundraising reforms are major concerns and the government is now prepared to act on them.

But New Democrat house leader Mike Farnworth says the Liberal's promises are acts of desperation from a party that simply wants to stay in power.

The election on May 9 gave B.C. its first minority government in 65 years, with the Liberals winning 43 seats, the NDP 41 and the Greens three.

Following the vote, the NDP and Greens signed an agreement to vote against the Liberals in an upcoming confidence vote, ending 16 years of Liberal rule and clearing the path for a minority New Democrat government.


First Nation airport deal

A Lower Mainland First Nation has signed a long-term benefits agreement with Vancouver International Airport.

The Musqueam Indian Band and airport officials say in a release that the 30-year deal is based on "friendship and respect" and is meant to be mutually beneficial.

The airport sits on the traditional territory of the Musqueam people.

Chief Wayne Sparrow says the agreement provides Musqueam people with employment opportunities at the airport as well as a voice in future development and environmental enhancements.

It also includes a number of scholarships and new jobs for the First Nation, protection of archeological resources and one per cent of annual revenue from the airport.

Vancouver Airport Authority CEO Craig Richmond says the agreement is not only good for business, but it's the right way for the airport to move forward in the community it serves.

Shots at Fisherman's Wharf

A police Emergency Response Team has converged on Victoria's Fisherman's Wharf following reports of gunfire.

A heavy police presence is reported at the popular tourist destination in Victoria's Inner Harbour.

There are unconfirmed reports of shots fired from a boat docked at the wharf.

The public is being kept behind police tape.

Residents of houseboats there have been told to take cover or evacuate.

– with files from CTV Vancouver Island


Murdered, ditched in truck

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has taken over the case of a dead man found inside a burned vehicle near Squamish.

The body was found June 14 on Cheekye Forest Road, north of the South Coast community.

"Due to the difficulty of fire investigations and the suspicious nature of the incident, IHIT was engaged from the onset," said Cpl. Sascha Banks.

The male victim is unidentified at this time, but the vehicle he was found in is a 2000 red GMC Yukon XL.

“It has now been determined the male's death was a homicide, and IHIT has taken conduct of the file in conjunction with the Squamish RCMP and the BC Coroners Service,” said Banks.

Anyone with information about the man or vehicle is asked to contact police.

60,000 new childcare spots

The BC Liberals are promising to spend $1 billion in early childhood education over the next four years as the party faces a confidence vote in the legislature that is expected to bring down their minority government.

Premier Christy Clark says the money would create 60,000 childcare spots in addition to the 13,000 already promised in the last budget.

Childcare was a key plank in the New Democrat's platform in last month's election campaign.

NDP Leader John Horgan promised to create $10-a-day daycare.

Horgan repeated the pledge earlier this month, saying his government would create 22,000 new childcare spaces in the next three years and that number would grow to 66,000 spaces in five years.

The legislature is set to reconvene Thursday and it is expected that Clark's minority government will soon be defeated in a confidence vote, making way for a minority New Democrat government supported by the Green party.

Confided in retired cop

A former RCMP employee testified she was told she'd be considered a troublemaker if she reported inappropriate comments by a former inspector on trial for alleged sexual assault.

The woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, testified that she confided in a retired member of the force.

She says she didn't name the person who had commented on her breasts and wanted her to wear low-cut tops.

The woman says the retired Mountie recommended she speak with the individual to try and resolve the matter because reporting it would be difficult in the RCMP, and an investigation would be launched.

Tim Shields, who was the media spokesman for the Mounties in B.C., has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault. Shields previously worked at the Kelowna detachment.

The complainant has testified he made inappropriate comments before sexually assaulting her in a locked washroom at their workplace in Vancouver.

Clock ticks on Liberals

The clock that counts down to the expected defeat of Premier Christy Clark's minority government starts ticking Thursday with the throne speech.

After that, the province watches for a confidence vote that is expected to lead to the installation of an NDP government propped up by the Green party.

But the prospect of defeat hasn't deterred the Liberals from releasing details of the throne speech in advance, including major policy shifts on issues the party stood against in last month's election campaign, ranging from increasing monthly welfare rates by $100 to a ban on corporate and union donations to political parties.

Clark said the Liberals heard from voters that social issues and political fundraising reforms are major concerns and the government is now prepared to act on them.

NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said the election showed voters want the Liberals out after 16 years in office.

"All of a sudden they've had an in-the-coffin conversion," he said.

"After having 16 years to deal with these issues they say, 'Oh, we actually want to deal with them.' People are just going to reject that as outright cynicism by this government."

Farnworth said the NDP will table a motion Monday to amend the throne speech, which sets the stage for a confidence vote on June 29.

Sex charges span decades

Police in Victoria say 23 new charges have been laid against a man who is already accused of a series of sexual assaults dating back decades.

A news release from Victoria police says Charles Henry Sadd, a former teacher and youth badminton coach who is in his 70s, was arrested and charged with the new offences on Tuesday.

Investigators appealed for more possible victims to come forward when the Victoria man was first arrested in August of last year and charged with three sex-related crimes.

Twelve men have come forward and police say they were all between the ages of nine and 15 at the time the alleged offences occurred.

The new charges include eight counts of sexual assault, three counts of gross indecency, six counts of being a male person did indecently assault another male person, four counts of buggery or bestiality, and two counts of assault with intent to commit buggery or indecent assault on a male.

Police say their investigation found alleged victims dating back to the late 1960s.

Brace for fire season

The first heat wave of the summer is expected to hit B.C.'s Cariboo region by the weekend, and the BC Wildfire Service says it is bracing for potential fires.

The service says lightning storms along with the heat could spawn increased wildfire activity across the Central Interior.

It says there were three lightning-caused fires in the region over the last four days after seeing just seven between April 1 and June 20.

Thirty-four other wildfires over that period were blamed on human activity.

The fire danger rating in the area covered by the Cariboo fire centre is mostly moderate to high, although an extreme fire risk is posted across much of the Chilcotin fire zone, which is within the centre.

Environment Canada forecasts temperatures in Williams Lake could reach 30 C by Sunday.

Dog thrown from car

A young dog is recovering in Castlegar after being thrown from the window of a vehicle, and police are investigating an alleged case of animal cruelty.

RCMP Sgt. Laurel Matthew says the dog was tossed out on Saturday in a rural area along the Columbia River, south of the West Kootenay city.

Matthew says a witness reported seeing someone drive a car to a nearby gravel pit, throw a dog from the window and drive off.

Officers found a young dog, possibly a black lab or lab cross, curled up in the grass.

It was not seriously injured but was checked by a veterinarian who determined the female pup is not spayed and does not have a microchip or tattoo.

Police are trying to track the vehicle, which may be a black Honda, but are asking for information from anyone who might recognize the dog or know its owner.

Speeding bus drivers

A transit rider used an app on his phone to clock his bus driver going more than 20 km/h over the speed limit.

Erin Dalzell rides the 352 bus every morning and says the drivers regularly speed. He's fearful it will take an accident to get them to slow down.

Using the app, he clocked the bus going 73.4 km/h in a 50 km/h zone. 

Translink receives more than 400 speeding complaints a year and makes drivers pay their own tickets, the transit authority says. 

"It's frustrating, frustrating, frustrating. TransLink says they'll deal with it. Clearly they don't," Dalzell told CTV.

TransLink spokesperson Chris Bryan said the company takes complaints seriously.

"Safety is definitely our top priority, and we want to know if there are concerns," he said.

– with files from CTV Vancouver


HazMat incident at YVR

UPDATE: 7:30 p.m.

Two people were sent to hospital after exposure to an unidentified powder at Canada Post's YVR sorting centre on Tuesday. 

Fourteen people were exposed to the powder, including two Canada Border Services agents who were taken away on stretchers. 

The CBSA is investigating the incident, though it has yet to be determined what the powder was. Richmond firefighters said it was not a biohazard or narcotic.

The package was found in the international side of the sorting centre.

ORIGINAL: 4:45 p.m.

Police and firefighters are responding to a possible HazMat situation at Vancouver International Airport.

CTV reports at least two people have been loaded into ambulances on stretchers at Canada Post's YVR sorting facility.

Aerial photos from CTV's Chopper 9 show a large emergency presence with at least eight fire, police and ambulance vehicles on scene.

Firefighters were also seen being hosed down, an unusual situation usually associated with hazardous materials exposure.

RCMP have so far said only that officers are assisting firefighters with a situation at the Richmond facility. 

Several people apparently felt ill, and the building was evacuated.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

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