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HomeBusinessExclusive: Taxpayers subsidized a who’s-who of companies, clubs catering to Vancouver elite

Exclusive: Taxpayers subsidized a who’s-who of companies, clubs catering to Vancouver elite


Bob Mackin

What do Meng Wanzhou’s security contractor, a high-end Swiss watch boutique, bespoke Italian tailor, Euro supercar dealerships, luxury parka retailer and a yacht club have in common?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2018 at Canada Goose in Winnipeg (Instagram)

They all received the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

The Trudeau Liberal government has approved $59 billion in payments through its pandemic job saving program to employers whose revenue fell 15% or more on a year-over-year basis. More than $6.8 billion of that went to B.C. employers, who can claim up to $847 per week, per eligible employee.

In December, Canada Revenue Agency launched a database listing names (but not the dollar amounts received) of most of the 386,000 successful applicants, including:

  • Luxury car dealers Brian Ross Motorsports LLC (Ferrari Maserati of Vancouver), 1187937 BC Ltd. Mercedes-Benz North Vancouver, 1187938 B.C. Ltd. Mercedes-Benz Vancouver, 1187939 B.C. Ltd. Mercedes-Benz Richmond and 2346519 Ontario Ltd. McLaren Vancouver;
  • Arbutus Club, Hollyburn Country Club, Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Vancouver Club and Vancouver Rowing Club;

    Royal Vancouver Yacht Club headquarters (RVYC)

  • Vancouver International Airport outlet mall owner McArthurGlen Management Vancouver Ltd., Nordstrom Canada Retail, Luxury Vancouver SR Retail Ltd. (Stefano Ricci Vancouver) and West Coast Luxury Brands Inc. (Hublot Vancouver).

How much did they receive? How many jobs were saved?

McLaren Vancouver (Instagram) asked the above companies, but none replied with answers to those questions.

Almost 2.09 million approved applications were for less than $100,000. Only 4,500 nationwide are in the $1 million-plus subsidy club.

One of the latter is Toronto-headquartered Canada Goose Inc. The publicly traded parka maker and retailer told shareholders in November that it received $20.7 million worth of payroll subsidies under CEWS and “similar plans in other jurisdictions” during the fiscal year’s first half. Canada Goose reported $10.4 million net income on $194.8 million gross revenue in the second quarter.

In April, Canada Goose announced it would put 900 employees to work at eight factories to make 1.5 million gowns for doctors and nurses at cost. 

B.C. Supreme Court heard that Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is charged $170,000 a month for “close protection services” from executive security specialist Lions Gate Risk Management Group.

In December 2018, a judge approved the company, which is run by several ex-RCMP officers, to monitor and protect Meng around-the-clock during her extradition proceedings.

Hublot Vancouver sponsored a controversial luxury car rally to Whistler last summer. (Instagram)

Lions Gate CEO Scot Filer referred’ query about its CEWS claims to the company’s CFO Richard Moss, but Moss did not respond.

Lions Gate employs 225 people (including 20-25 full-timers), according to COO Doug Maynard’s court testimony earlier this month.

Meng awaits a judge’s Jan. 29 ruling on whether she can move about the city without Lions Gate bodyguards between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., when she is not under curfew at her Shaughnessy mansion.

A company called Huawei Trading Limited is in the CEWS database. However, Huawei Canada’s corporate affairs vice-president Alykhan Velshi said that CEWS recipient is neither an affiliate nor a subsidiary of the Shenzhen, China tech giant founded by Meng’s father, Ren Zhengfei.

Meng Wanzhou and one of her Lions Gate security bodyguards. (Bob Mackin)

“Huawei Technologies Canada did not apply for the CEWS,” Velshi said by email. “The entity you referred to is not related to us, though the names are similar. We have no knowledge of nor relationship with that entity.”

On Jan. 19, Trudeau told reporters that Canada Revenue Agency and others are checking to ensure companies and workers that received benefits under the CEWS program met the qualifications. He said anyone found breaking the law “will face severe penalties.”

“We knew we had to move quickly to support workers in jobs right across the country,” Trudeau said. “Obviously that meant sending help immediately to families and to individuals when this pandemic hit back in March, so that people could keep food on the table, could continue to pay their rent regardless of the job or organization they worked for.”

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