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HomeBusinessExclusive: Vancouver mayoral candidate filings reveal allies, backroomers and real estate holdings

Exclusive: Vancouver mayoral candidate filings reveal allies, backroomers and real estate holdings


Bob Mackin

A veteran lobbyist and federal Liberal strategist volunteering on Hector Bremner’s campaign said the Yes Vancouver party’s candidate for mayor is charismatic, thoughtful and “the only person ready” for the job.

“As a politician he’s a natural, you can’t make change in politics unless you’ve got the instincts. He’s got it,” Charles Kelly said in an interview about the candidate behind the Let’s Fix Housing slogan.

Kelly’s name and signature are on the list of Bremner’s nominators obtained from the City of Vancouver elections office by theBreaker. Kelly said he retired earlier this year as the president of the B.C. Ready-Mixed Concrete Association and is consulting for the B.C. Construction Safety Alliance, but shares Bremner’s desire to increase housing supply. Kelly said he is acutely aware of the high demand for housing because he owns several condos for investment purposes in Vancouver and Kelowna.  

Charles Kelly (UN)

The former federally registered lobbyist, ex-Blarney stone owner and New Pacific magazine publisher was commissioner general of the 2006 United Nations World Urban Forum in Vancouver. That event marked the 30th anniversary of Habitat ’76 where Kelly was an aide to federal urban affairs minister Barney Danson.

Bremner is a marketing consultant and unsuccessful 2013 BC Liberal candidate in New Westminster who was ex-Deputy Premier Rich Coleman’s aide until he join the Pace Group lobbying and public relations company in early 2015.

Bremner continued as a full-time vice-president at Pace after he was elected to city council last fall with the NPA. That sparked conflict of interest complaints to city hall, which led to Mayor Gregor Robertson’s appointment of Beach Avenue Barristers lawyer Henry Wood to investigate. Wood, who lectures on professional ethics at the University of B.C., is expected to submit his report this month. Bremner is represented by Farris lawyer James Hatton, the longtime federal and BC Liberal insider who Christy Clark named to BC Hydro’s board of directors in 2013.  

“I think people are reaching at straws and trying to create a bogeyman that doesn’t exist,” Kelly said. “He certainly didn’t do anything untoward.”

Besides Kelly, Bremner endorsers who signed his registration papers include the Yes party’s campaign svengali and Clark’s ex-husband Mark Marissen, lobbyist Cynthia Shore of Patrick Kinsella’s Progressive Group, independent city council candidate Adrian Crook and former B.C. Young Liberals president Sebastian Zein.

Crook is the Abundant Housing Vancouver activist and video game and app designer who supported Vision Vancouver in 2014 and had sought an NPA nomination for city council before Bremner split from the party. Crook’s campaign advisor is ex-Bremner campaign manager Mike Wilson, husband of Yes party co-founder Jocelyn Wong-Wilson. Zein’s background includes work with Proximis, the digital ad agency that worked for the BC Liberals and Vision Vancouver.

Crook (far right), Zein (third from right, beside Bremner) during an April NPA campaign fundraiser. (Facebook)

The registration for the Yes Vancouver website contains an email address at Kimbo Design, a company that had Facebook ad contracts with the BC Liberal government and created logos for BC Liberal and Vision Vancouver campaigns.

Bremner’s statutory disclosure form says he lives in an apartment building north of Wall Centre on Burrard and that he reports having no assets. Property records show he rents from a West Vancouver owner. One of his neighbours, on a lower floor, is Vision Vancouver city council candidate Tanya Paz.

The Pace Group is not listed under Bremner’s sources of income, as it was in his January filing. His LinkedIn profile says his employment there ended in July. 

Crook’s filings indicate he is a resident of a condominium near B.C. Place Stadium, part-owner of Adrian Crook and Associates and has shares in Loud Crow Interactive Inc.

His nominators are an eclectic bunch: BC Liberal MLA Sam Sullivan, independent council candidate Sarah Blyth, OneCity council candidate Brandon Yan, Green council candidate Pete Fry and Pro Vancouver ccouncil candidate Raza Mirza.

Since we are not running for majority on any office, as Greens we have to ‘walk the talk’ when we talk about a willingness and ability to work with other parties toward consensus, and wanting to do things differently from the toxic partisanship that has been ingrained at 12th and Cambie,” Fry said.

Said Mirza: “[Crook] asked me politely and I said OK, I’ll do it. I do not think it was a big deal. I’ve done it for other candidates as well.”

But, the heart of Crook’s nominators are from the Yes Vancouver sphere (Leo Heba, Stephanie Ostler, Tim Crowhurst, Scott de Lange Boom, Sebastian Zein and Jocelyn Wilson), fellow Bremner-allied candidate Wade Grant and their advisor Mike Wilson, Abundant Housing Vancouver (Jennifer Maiko Bradshaw, Graham Cook and Daniel Oleksiuk), and Cambie Report podcaster Ian Bushfield.

NPA mayoral candidate Ken Sim’s disclosure form lists a $3.67 million house in Arbutus Ridge, which assessment records show is in the name of his wife, Teena Gupta. Sim also has a $288,000 Whistler suite through his company, Chindian Holdings. His assets include Nurse Next Door Professional Homecare Services Inc., Rosemary Rocksalt Ltd. and Sim (2016) Family Trust.

Chindian holds an undisclosed number of shares in rideshare company Lyft, which could fall under partial civic regulation when the NDP government finally legalizes the industry in B.C. in 2019 or 2020. NPA spokeswoman Wendy Hartley said Sim would place Lyft and other shares in a blind trust or sell them, should he become mayor. He also favours implementing a conflict of interest commissioner or ombudsperson at city hall.

Sim’s endorsers include Teck Resources director Tracey McVicar, West Coast Liquor director Roger Gibson, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, and motorcoach fleet owners Robert and Joanne McMynn.

Sylvester between her ally Gregor Robertson and the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro.

Former Conservative MP Wai Young, the Coalition Vancouver mayoral candidate, reported a $1.01 million apartment near the Fraser River and $2.4 million house near Kensington Park. Vancouver 1st mayoral candidate Fred Harding, whose given names are Harold Christopher, lives with his Chinese singer/model wife Zhang Mi in a house worth nearly $3.1 million in Marpole. The property is registered to Yue Sui Zhou and Hideharu Hirose.

Ex-Burnaby South NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, whose full name is Edward Charles Kennedy Stewart, listed his residence in the 30th floor of a Concord Pacific-developed tower near David Lam Park. The suite, registered to Stewart’s landlord Shahab Moradi, was assessed at $1.83 million last year.

The other left-wing independent is Simon Fraser University professor Shauna Sylvester, the Queen of Co-ops. Her disclosure lists the following as assets: member shares in Belmanor Housing Co-Op, Vancity, MEC, Barnet Sailing Co-op, East End Food Co-op and CCEC Credit Union. She also has an undisclosed number of shares in Pique Venture Investment.

She lives in an apartment building near Rosemary Brown Lane, named for the late SFU women’s studies professor who was Canada’s first black woman elected to a provincial legislature.

Sylvester also reported interest in a cabin near South Beach in Point Roberts, Wash.

Her nominators include Vision stalwarts Denise Taschereau and Paul LeBlanc, Mark Busse, NDP Health Minister Adrian Dix’s wife Renee Saklikar, former Ipsos Reid pollster Daniel Savas, mining magnate Ross Beaty, and Sylvester’s husband, ex-CCEC Credit Union CEO Ross Gentleman.

Nominations closed at 4 p.m. Sept. 14. There were 21 people registered to run for mayor and 71 for city council.

The period to challenge a candidate’s nomination and endorsements runs through Sept. 18 at 4 p.m. The deadline for a decision on a challenge to a candidate’s nomination, and for a candidate to withdraw from the ballot, is 4 p.m. Sept. 21. The campaign period officially runs Sept. 22 to Oct. 20.

More to come…

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