Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s former South Asian community organizer in B.C., who was accused in civil court documents of cheque-kiting, worked on Coun. Hector Bremner’s NPA by-election campaign last fall, theBreaker has learned.
Internal Bremner campaign documents seen by theBreaker show that Rajinder Singh Bhela was among Bremner’s inner circle that phoned NPA members to seek votes in the nomination contest for the October by-election. Bhela also signed Bremner’s nomination form. Bremner and Bhela were photographed together at campaign events.
Bremner took advantage of low voter turnout, left-wing vote-splitting and anger towards Vision Vancouver to win the by-election to replace Geoff Meggs, who quit to become Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff. Bremner is one of three candidates vying to become the NPA’s mayoral nominee on May 29. The civic election is Oct. 20.
The National Post reported March 29 that Scheer had cut ties with Bhela, who is facing several default judgments for millions of dollars in B.C. courts. Toronto Dominion Bank obtained a court order for $500,000 on Feb. 1, 2017 against Bhela and five other defendants, after TD alleged they had been involved in a cheque-kiting scheme to defraud the bank. The court filing defined cheque-kiting as obtaining money by passing a cheque through a bank without value being deposited against the cheque.
Bremner did not respond to several interview requests.
Bhela is a former general secretary of the Ross Street Sikh Temple who quit the federal Liberals in 2014 when he claimed Sikh extremists were manipulating Justin Trudeau. In 2013, he was on the guest list for Christy Clark’s cabinet unveiling event in Vancouver for party donors, lobbyists and campaign staff.
Reached by phone on April 3, Bhela said “I’m not going to say nothing, my lawyer is going to have a press conference” before he hung up.
Glen Chernen lost to Bremner in last September’s nomination contest for the by-election and is challenging the rookie councillor for the NPA mayoral nod. Asked about Bhela’s involvement in the Bremner campaign, Chernen said: “It’s not surprising and it’s indicative of the poor decision-making of Hector Bremner, which is much like Gregor Robertson. It’s time for a change.”
Two-term NPA park board commissioner John Coupar declared his bid last month.
“Obviously it’s a concern when these kinds of allegations are made, we have to look into those to see what they really are,” Coupar said. “Right now I’m concentrating on what I can do to do seek the nomination.”
Bremner ran unsuccessfully for the BC Liberals in New Westminster in 2013. He was an aide in the BC Liberal government to cabinet ministers Teresa Wat and Rich Coleman, before joining the public relations and lobbying firm Pace Group in 2015 as an LNG and liquor lobbyist.
Bremner is a part-time city councillor with a full-time job as a vice-president at Pace, whose clients include Aquilini Investment Group, Port of Vancouver, Vancouver International Airport Authority, B.C. Pavilion Corporation, Concert Properties and Intracorp.
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