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HomeBusinessExclusive: Conflict of interest probe of Bremner delayed

Exclusive: Conflict of interest probe of Bremner delayed

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Bob Mackin

The code of conduct investigation into Yes Vancouver mayoral candidate Hector Bremner is two weeks overdue.

City hall-hired lawyer Henry Wood did not respond to theBreaker’s query about the status of his conflict of interest investigation, which began May 7. He is out of office until Oct. 8. 

But, in an Aug. 1 letter, Wood wrote that, subject to the timing of Bremner’s responses, he would endeavour to finish the investigation and present his findings by mid-September.

The letter was sent to Mayor Gregor Robertson, deputy city manager Paul Mochrie, the complainants — Justin Fung of Housing Action for Local Taxpayers and ProVancouver city council candidate Raza Mirza — and Bremner and his lawyer James Hatton.

Lawyer Henry Wood

Said city hall spokeswoman Ellie Lambert: “The timing of the election is not a factor in the delivery of the report. Mr. Wood will deliver the report when he has completed his investigation but that process is not yet complete. The city does not have an updated timing for delivery of the report.”

Bremner was elected to city council for the NPA in October 2017’s by-election. He continued to be a full-time vice-president at the Pace Group public relations and lobbying firm after he was sworn-in.

Wood is deciding whether Bremner’s participation in city council agenda items about West Point Grey densification, Northeast False Creek development and liquor sales in grocery stores constitutes conflict of interest. The code of conduct says that a conflict exists “when an individual is, or could be, influenced, or appear to be influenced, by a personal interest, financial (pecuniary) or otherwise, when carrying out their public duty. Personal interest can include direct or indirect pecuniary interest, bias, pre-judgment, close mindedness or undue influence.”

Bremner left the BC Liberal government as a ministerial aide at the end of January 2015 to join the Pace Group, where he registered to lobby the BC Liberal government for Steelhead LNG. His mayoral candidacy disclosure form says his only source of income is now from city council. He originally wanted to run for mayor under the NPA banner, but the board rejected his candidacy.

Hector Bremner

Bremner did not respond for comment. In his Yes Vancouver party platform, on a page headlined #LetsFixHousing timeline, it says: “April 2018: two anti-housing activists, supporting a rival for the mayoral nomination, file frivolous ‘conflict of interest’ complaints with the city.”

“As a father and a husband, Hector Bremner strives to lead by example and never shy away from doing what is right,” his bio states.

Glen Chernen, who was his rival for the NPA by-election nomination in 2017, complained to the registrar of lobbyists about Bremner’s Steelhead LNG registration. Bremner was originally fined $2,000 last February for not disclosing his former employment under Deputy Premier Rich Coleman. The decision was overturned in August on a technicality. Registrar Michael McEvoy issued an extraordinary open letter to Attorney General David Eby, asking the government to close the loophole that allows former public office holders to avoid disclosing work for a cabinet minister who was still in office when they left government.

The outcome of the Bremner case, McEvoy said, represented “the very mischief the legislation was designed to eliminate, the potential for undue influence and the use of insider knowledge in lobbying.”

Opponents criticized Bremner for a billboard and Facebook ad campaign that the Globe and Mail reported was paid-for by developer Peter Wall. StarMetro reported that former BC Liberal caucus worker Micah Haince acted as the media buyer. Haince did not respond to queries from theBreaker. Bremner pleaded ignorance about who was behind the campaign, which ended before the Sept. 22 start of the campaign period.

Election day is Oct. 20.

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