One year ago, on April 7, 2016, real estate agent Tina Oliver posted a photo on Facebook. It was her sun-splashed Dexter Associates Realty sign on the lawn outside a house on a pleasant, tree-lined street in Dunbar.
“SOLD in 6 days, way over ask, super happy Seller and Buyer!” Oliver wrote about the four-bedroom, four-bathroom house.
BC Liberal insiders know that Oliver is a friend of power broker Patrick Kinsella and his wife Brenda, and was a campaign worker on Premier Christy Clark’s 2011 leadership win. Oliver’s website said the 2005-built house was listed at $3.488 million, but sold for $3.688 million.
It caused more than 30 seconds of commotion on Facebook, when several of her followers offered their congratulations throughout the day.
“This market is absolutely crazy!” wrote Jatinder Ardhawa.
“This sold to a local buyer, so I feel somewhat saintly,” wrote Oliver in a reply before midnight.
A Blueshore Financial Credit Union mortgage for the property was registered July 11, 2016.
Later in the summer, a famous new tenant moved in: Christy Clark.
Clark had lived in a house less than a kilometre south of Vancouver city hall, since she moved in 2005 from Port Moody with hopes of becoming Vancouver’s mayor. She was listed on the deed as “Christina Joan Clark, businesswoman.” She still hasn’t fulfilled her promise to buy a house in Kelowna after winning a 2013 by-election. She does have a half-interest in Galiano Island recreational property with her brother, Bruce Clark.
As reported in November, Clark’s Dunbar house is registered in the name of Nevin Sangha. Sangha is a close business associate of longtime Clark friend and Vancouver Whitecaps principal owner Greg Kerfoot. Sangha and Kerfoot played together on the same Hollyburn Country Club hockey team in 2004.
The Dunbar house, where Clark parks her party-leased, Dueck-supplied Buick SUV that theBreaker was first to tell you about, is also used as a meeting place for the BC Liberals’ inner circle. A source told theBreaker that Bruce Clark, her ex-husband Mark Marissen and Liberal adman Jatinder Rai have attended campaign strategy sessions there.
Aspects of Sangha and Kerfoot’s business affairs are intermingled. The B.C. Registry Services database shows Sangha is the sole director of Carrera Management Corporation. The Carrera website shows it does business from the same office as Landing Holdings Corporation, whose only director is Kerfoot.
Landing Holdings owns the Gastown heritage building where the Whitecaps souvenir store and offices are located. Kerfoot and Sangha both moved their corporate records to the same Langley law firm last summer.
Elections BC shows that Kerfoot was the principal officer of Carrera when he made a $7,500 donation to the BC Liberals on April 14, 2014. Sangha donated $1,250 in August 2010.
British Columbia laws do not require the registration and reporting of beneficial owners of land or companies. In its No Reason to Hide report last December, Transparency International said it is harder to get a library card than to register real estate or a business in Canada. “Public libraries typically require proof of address and photo identification,” the report said. “No corporate registry in Canada asks for either.”
B.C. Assessment’s latest valuation pegs the house at $3.426 million, a whopping $921,000 jump from 2015.
While Clark was MLA for Vancouver Point Grey in 2012, her cabinet approved a $14.5 million grant to the Whitecaps, primarily to build a training centre at the University of B.C.’s main campus. Kerfoot has donated almost $80,000 to the BC Liberals since 2005. The Bell sponsorship of the Whitecaps was one of the reasons why the government scrapped the $40 million Telus naming rights agreement for B.C. Place in early 2012. Taxpayers got a $15.2 million bill instead for Telus goods and services.
On Nov. 4, 2016, the Whitecaps and taxpayer-owned B.C. Pavilion Corporation signed a new B.C. Place rent contract, but the terms are a secret. The copy PavCo provided to theBreaker under the freedom of information law was illegally blacked-out. theBreaker has filed a complaint with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
In 2015, the OIPC ordered PavCo to release its full contract with the B.C. Lions.
Clark’s new income source
In the same month that Clark said she swore-off her $50,000-a-year party stipend — she said the party would pay her expenses instead — she reported a new source of income.
theBreaker has learned that Clark filed a material change to her 2016 Public Disclosure Statement with Conflict of Interest Commissioner Paul Fraser on Jan. 12. The summary version for public eyes, filed Jan. 16 with the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, said Clark is receiving rental income on a residential property. That would most likely be the Mount Pleasant house she vacated last summer.
Last fall, her spokesman Ben Chin claimed, without showing any proof, that Clark was paying $5,500 to $6,500 per month to rent the Dunbar house. Chin said Clark went beyond her legal obligation and mentioned it to Fraser.
When this reporter tried to confirm that, he met a wall of secrecy. Fraser’s office said that, beyond the documents already provided by the Clerk’s office, “members’ files are otherwise confidential.”
theBreaker also made repeated requests to the Office of the Premier for permission to inspect full copies of the disclosure and material change forms that Clark submitted to Fraser. theBreaker also wanted to inspect Clark’s tenancy agreement for the Dunbar house and see the cancelled rent cheques.
Clark’s press secretary, Stephen Smart, did not reply to any of theBreaker’s repeated email and phone messages since March 16. Clark walked away from theBreaker’s questions after the April 26 televised leaders’ debate (see video below).
The requests to Clark’s office were similar to one made by this reporter to the NDP in 2014 and 2015 to inspect Jenny Kwan’s Vancity banking records in the wake of the Portland Hotel Society expenses scandal. In 2015, Dunbar-dweller Clark ridiculed Kwan as the “member for Disneyland.”
A B.C. government-commissioned audit found that Kwan’s ex-husband, senior PHS manager Dan Small, had charged PHS for their trips to Disneyland and Europe.
The NDP granted this reporter a supervised inspection of Kwan’s cancelled cheque and her related bank statements. The documents showed that she did reimburse the Downtown Eastside charity for $32,992.57. Former B.C. NDP MLA Kwan is now the NDP MP for Vancouver East.
IntegrityBC’s Dermod Travis said Clark should go beyond the letter of the law and set an example for transparency and accountability.
“She should be proactively disclosing it, even if the law doesn’t require it, to set a standard that people can look up to, rather than do this little wiggle routine when she’s caught out,” Travis told theBreaker.
Instead of setting the standard, Travis said Clark is taking “the sneaky route” that leads to public distrust of politicians.
“You shouldn’t be in a situation where people are starting to talk about maybe we need to force premiers to disclose their tax returns. But that’s the position that all of her glib answers, all of her glib filings, have put us in,” Travis said.
Conflict of interest scandals involving the homes of two previous B.C. premiers led to the resignations of Social Credit’s Bill Vander Zalm in 1991 and NDP’s Glen Clark in 1999.
UPDATE, May 4: Bob Mackin spoke briefly with Clark’s lawyer, John Esson, on May 1 after sending him a detailed request by email to see Clark’s tenancy contract, cancelled rent cheques and annual conflict of interest disclosure submission. Esson did not respond to several follow-up email and phone messages.
Advance voting began April 29 for the May 9 British Columbia election.