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Lambo burns on Sea to Sky


 Lamborghini sports car burst into flames on the Sea to Sky Highway, Saturday.

The fire brought traffic to a crawl about 4 p.m. as the flaming car burned itself out.

The orange Lamborghini caught fire on Highway 99, north of Squamish. 

Drive BC reported southbound traffic was diverted to the northbound lane to avoid the burning vehicle. The incident was cleared by 6 p.m.

The vehicle is believed to have belonged to a tour company that lets customers drive exotic sports cars.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

Longtime councillor dies

A longtime Armstrong city councillor has died.

Melinda Stickney, the city's chief administrative officer, said the following in a statement released Saturday afternoon.

"On behalf of the City of Armstrong, it is with deep sadness that I write to advise you that long time Councillor Ron “Sully” O’Sullivan passed away on Friday, May 27."

Mayor Chris Pieper said O'Sullivan was on the council for 17 years and has been on every committee.

He was also president of the curling club and very involved with everything in the community.

"He was an absolute advocate for our community," he said. "He was much loved and will be really missed."

Memorial service arrangements are currently being organized and details will be made available on the city’s website once they are finalized.

Castanet will provide more details as they become available.



Same sex marriage policy

The Conservative party wiped a policy opposing same sex marriage off its books Saturday, proof many said that the party is truly setting a new course on the road to the next federal election.

A motion to delete sections of the party handbook supporting legislation to define marriage as being between a man and a woman was adopted by a vote of 1036 to 462 delegates at the party convention on Saturday afternoon.

"To see those results come in, to see the party so overwhelmingly agree that two consenting adults should have the right to marry is incredible," said Joseph Heap, one of the sponsors of the resolution.

The vote followed an intense debate both in policy workshops Friday and on the floor Saturday with some social conservatives arguing that any leadership candidate who supported it would automatically lose their vote.

That didn't phase candidate and MP Maxime Bernier, who spoke in favour of the motion from the convention floor.

"It's about freedom and respect. It's about us and telling Canadians that you can love who you want and that you can be in love," he said.

The resolution is not consistent with Conservative principles of faith, family and community, argued Manitoba MP Ted Falk.

"This motion is an attack on our values and principles," he said.

Others argued it will drive away the party's socially conservative base, though one self-proclaimed social conservative from a B.C. riding disagreed, telling the convention floor he saw it as a workable compromise.

The motion also adds to the policy book support for religious organizations to refuse to perform unions or allow the use of their facilities for events that are incompatible with their faith and belief.

"The most important thing we need to remember is we're not redefining marriage here," said Natalie Pon, one of the resolution's sponsors.

"We're just taking out a definition that is out of date and out of touch."

The vote was a culmination of 2 1/2 days of introspection and intense debate among Conservatives at a policy convention that was aimed at healing some of the wounds festering since last fall's election defeat and figure out what's next.

"It's a demonstration of the maturation of our party," former Tory cabinet minister Peter MacKay said of the vote.

"We're clearly recognizing the law, the realities of people's lives and I'm heartened by the very open transparent way in which we dealt with this issue."


Tories eye same-sex policy

Conservatives will vote today on a motion to delete existing parts of the party's policy that oppose same-sex marriage.

It's one of 30 updates or changes to party policy that made it out of emotional debates at workshops on Friday.

Those meetings saw divisions emerge among some Conservatives over issues such as assisted dying and marijuana as well as gay marriage.

The party's policy handbook isn't binding on the elected leadership, but is often used as the foundation of political platforms.

Delegates to the Conservative convention in Vancouver will also be voting on some changes to their party's constitution.

Five proposals came out of those workshops, including one that would add that a "belief in the value and dignity of all human life" into the party's statement of principles.

Tweets end campaign

A candidate for the British Columbia Liberals has ended his campaign for the 2017 provincial election after he was criticized for tweets he sent several years ago.

Randy Rinaldo announced Friday in a statement posted to Twitter that he had withdrawn his candidacy for the riding of Burnaby-Lougheed.

"My past Twitter posts have made me reflect on whether the current timing is truly the best fit for this point in my life. My wife and I are expecting our second child soon and my responsibility as a father needs to be my priority and focus," the real estate agent said.

"While insensitive Twitter posts from several years ago no longer reflect who I am today, the fact remains that this issue has become a distraction to my candidacy and my family responsibilities."

Rinaldo's past tweets included a comment that child poverty was a "cultural problem" because many people shouldn't be having kids. The 2012 post surfaced about two weeks ago when a Vancouver school board trustee highlighted it on Twitter.

In another tweet from 2012, directed to former B.C. Premier and MP Ujjal Dosanjh, Rinaldo said the Roma people were "destroying" Italy and added "Gypseys=rape pillage steal."

Rinaldo apologized for the tweets after facing a backlash earlier this month, writing, "As a member of the Facebook generation I'm aware of the benefits of this forum, but should have understood the pitfalls."

He said in his statement Friday that it had been a difficult few weeks as he arrived at the decision to withdraw and he extended his thanks to the many people who had reached out to support him.

Rinaldo said he hoped his decision would not deter other young people from elected office.

"It is important that we do not immediately disqualify individuals from seeking to represent their communities because they took positions on complex issues in the past," he said.

"We should allow people to express their opinions and accept that those opinions can change."

Tories nix Ambrose bid

UPDATE: 3:30 p.m.

Emotions ran high at the Conservative convention on Friday as delegates sparred over party policies and politics.

The divisive issue of whether to drop a long-standing policy seen as a direct condemnation of same-sex marriage and a rogue campaign to make interim leader Rona Ambrose eligible for the permanent leadership were two of the more hotly debated topics among the thousands of delegates gathered in Vancouver.

The push to change the rules to allow Ambrose to run was solidly defeated.

A motion to drop the same-sex marriage ban passed its first hurdle in a vote of 279 to 143 in favour of excising the current party policy calling for a traditional definition of marriage as being between one woman and one man.

Some delegates jumped to their feet in victory. MP Michelle Rempel had tears of joy in her eyes.

"Our party has always been the party of rights and equality for all Canadians," she said.

"Today I have never been more proud of our party."

The resolution must now rank in the top 10 of social justice policy resolutions in order to go before all the delegates Saturday.

Those campaigning hard against the motion hail from socially conservative wing of the party.

Many are furious that a set of resolutions representing some of their interests was kept out of the convention program altogether, while the same-sex marriage one was allowed to proceed.

They allege Ambrose had a hand in that, though her spokesman denied the accusation.

One delegate called the move to draft her a despicable resolution and said if Ambrose had a "shred of integrity" she would disavow it.

Another questioned the budget she has to travel around the country suggesting she wasn't using it in good faith if her intention had been to run for the permanent job.

The Draft Rona campaign was spearheaded by a group of Tory MPs.

"There is such a strong expression in the party how unfortunate it is she cannot run for the permanent leadership, she is who is the most likely person to bring us to victory in the next election," MP Scott Reid said in making his pitch for the motion.

The resolution caught Ambrose off guard and she has said repeatedly she is not interested.

The fact she doesn't want the permanent post is the biggest reason not to vote for the motion, said fellow Tory MP Garnett Genuis.

"To allow our fantastic leader to keep doing the job she's doing without the cloud of suspicion — let's vote down this resolution and focus on the important work that's in front of us."

Some social conservatives also heaped scorn on candidates who are running for the leadership after two voted to drop the same-sex marriage ban.

Both Kellie Leitch and Maxime Bernier voted to change the policy.

Conservative MP Brad Trost said they have lost his support.

He said just because the party doesn't have a policy that reflects his beliefs doesn't mean he doesn't have one.

"I'm not changing how I'm voting in the House of Commons on any of these issues," he said.

Unlike previous conventions, the Conservatives opened all of their policy workshops to the media.

Seeing the emotions running high is an important part of allowing Canadians to understand Tories want an open debate on the policies before them, said Lisa Raitt, who is considering her own leadership bid.

"We are not afraid of that," she said.

Trying to fold tent city

British Columbia's housing minister says the government is going back to court as early as next week in a second attempt to shut down a homeless camp on the grounds of Victoria's courthouse.

Rich Coleman says a recent fire commissioner's report warns of life threatening fire dangers at the camp where more than 100 people have been living in tents since last fall.

In an audio statement released by his ministry, Coleman says the fire commissioner's recent inspection report found that dangers to life and safety at the camp are increasing.

Bob Cooper's report says there has been a serious deterioration of safety conditions since his last inspection earlier this month and it's only a matter of time before a serious fire occurs.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Christopher Hinkson denied a government injunction application to shut down the camp in March after a three-day hearing.

Victoria council granted police extra funds last week to increase patrols at the camp after reports of increased violence and gang presence in the area.

Jail in cocaine conspiracy

An Osoyoos man who earlier this year pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine will spend several more years behind bars.

Kevin Van Kalkeren was sentenced in Vancouver on Friday to 16 years in prison, minus five years and seven months credit for pre-trial custody.

The sentence included a DNA order, a firearms prohibition and forfeiture of approximately $4 million dollars.

In 2012, Van Kalkeren, a Hells Angels associate, was among a group of suspects charged with conspiracy to import a controlled substance and conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance.

Relief as standoff ends

There is relief that a tense standoff at the Williams Lake Indian Band's headquarters ended peacefully Thursday afternoon.

The Northern Shuswap Tribal Council has released a statement stating the board of directors is thankful the “illegal and three-day occupation” is over.

The situation escalated before ending around 4 p.m. when the Williams Lake band's acting chief and a group of elders forced their way back into their own administration offices.

There was pushing and shoving before RCMP officers arrived to help end the melee, according to a council statement.

While several protesters who were not band members were removed, the band council has agreed to meet with other protestors to review their grievances.

A community meeting for members of the band will be held in Elizabeth Grouse gymnasium on Monday, May 30, at 5 p.m.

The NSTC board expressed its support for the band council.

“Our policies are driven by fairness, equality and respect,” said Donna Dixon, board chairperson. “As board members we fully support and respect the lawful governance policies which Williams Lake Indian Band council follows.”

Accessory in model murder

A man has been found guilty in accessory after the fact in the murder of Maple Batalia at Simon Fraser University in Surrey in 2011.

Gursimar Bedi was found not guilty of manslaughter, but was convicted on the lesser charge today.

Batalia was 19 years old when she was murdered in the Surrey parkade in September 2011. The aspiring model was studying to become a doctor.

Her boyfriend, Gary Gurjinder Dhaliwal, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in March.

Bedi’s sentencing is expected later Friday afternoon. 

Woman vies for top huntress

An RCMP officer in 100 Mile House is hoping to be named the most extreme female hunter in the world, facing competition from Africa, Australia and America.

Candace Knudsen, 27, has been hunting for as long as she can remember. She grew up in Hagensborg, B.C, a small town just east of Bella Coola.

The town is surrounded by woods, and some of her fondest early memories come from hunting, fishing and camping trips with her parents and brother.

Hunting continues to be a huge part of Knudsen’s life today, prompting her entry into the Extreme Huntress competition.

Knudsen was chosen as one of the top 21 finalists based on an essay she submitted.

Six of the top 21 women are from Canada.

For the month of May, the public has been voting on the top 21, and based on the votes and their essays, the top six will be chosen in early June and flown to Texas where they will compete in a number of events.

The winner will be crowned next January.

Knudsen says the competition is a great way to encourage women to get into a sport that’s dominated by men in the media.

“The hunting channel, Wild TV, still doesn’t even really have any female shows whatsoever – I think there’s one show, so it’s a process in trying to get more people aware and more females into it,” Knudsen said.

When she first joined the RCMP, Knudsen was posted in Burnaby, which it not exactly a hunting mecca.

"When I asked for a post, I said, ‘Any northern place – just don’t send me to the Lower Mainland,'" Knudsen said. “I did my time there for four years and all the time I was looking for postings up north. I wanted to be able to hunt and fish, and I had to get out of there to do it.”

She finally found a posting in 100 Mile House, where she’s called home for the past year and a half.

“I love being outdoors, I love getting away from the noise, I love being on my own and exploring,” she said. “Going on a hunt tests you so much and you learn so much about yourself.”

She said it’s extremely rewarding once you bring an animal back home and are able to share it with family and friends.

“A deer that I had last year, we still have meat in our freezer from it,” she said. “There’s a great story behind it and it gets everyone involved. I just love it so much.”

While her sport remains controversial to some, Knudsen said those who oppose hunting are simply uneducated about it.

“They kind of judge it right away as, ‘We’re killing innocent animals,’ when that’s not what it’s about whatsoever,” Knudsen said. “We’re supporting conservation and we’re putting food on the table for our family … I think people need to be more knowledgeable about that and then they would be more accepting.”

She says while she hasn’t received any backlash for hunting, she has seen friends take heat.

“There’s a couple girls who have gotten some death threats,” she said.

While she’s never experienced that, she says she’s prepared for it if she moves forward in the competition and gains more publicity.

Votes can be cast for Knudsen on the Extreme Huntress website until the end of May. The top six finalists who will head to Texas in July will be named early June. 

Missing tourist dead

The BC Coroners Service has helped close a two-and-a-half-year-old missing person's case.

The coroners office confirmed Friday, human remains found on Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver last month are those of British tourist Tom Billings.

Billings was reported missing in the fall of 2013.

The 22-year-old Oxford, England resident, was last seen hiking in the North Shore mountains on the afternoon of Nov. 25, 2013.

He was reported missing about a week later after he failed to complete his travel plans. He had been spending eight weeks travelling in North America.

A large-scale search that followed his disappearance failed to find any trace of him.

A hiker on Cypress Mountain found what he believed to be human remains last month, and contacted police.

North Shore Search and Rescue returned to the area some days later and completed more of the recovery operation.

Identification specialists with the BC Coroners Service now have confirmed that the deceased male found was, in fact, Mr. Billings.

The BC Coroners Service continues to investigate this death. Foul play is not suspected.

Mr. Billings’s family has been notified of this identification.

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