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HomeBusinessPutin’s Ukraine invasion prompts B.C.’s rep for Russia to quit

Putin’s Ukraine invasion prompts B.C.’s rep for Russia to quit

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Bob Mackin

Russia’s honorary consul general for British Columbia suddenly resigned.

Venture capital and mining executive Erin Campbell said Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was the reason.

In 2016, Russian Ambassador Alexander Darchiev (left) with Ltd. Gov. Judith Guichon and honorary consul Erin Campbell (Government House)

Campbell declined an interview request, but said by email: “This is a very sad day for those who tried to bridge the divide.”

Campbell is the CEO and founding partner of ECMB Capital, mergers and acquisitions and corporate restructuring partner with Raiven Capital and vice-chair and co-founder of Kanata Clean, a First Nations-led natural gas-powered electricity plant in Alberta.

She is also well known in B.C. politics, as a strategist on several federal Conservative, BC Liberal and Vancouver Non-Partisan Association election campaigns.

In December 2016, Russia’s Ambassador to Canada, Alexander Darchiev, introduced Campbell to Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon and told a Vancouver Club ceremony that her “extensive business background both in Russia and Canada would contribute to enhancing bilateral trade and investment, as well as regional and people-to-people contacts, especially between British Columbia and Russian Far East.

“This will surely benefit Russian Canadians as a vibrant and important community in multicultural Canada,” Darchiev said.

At the time, Campbell was president of Rare Capital Corp., chair of Global Energy Metals Corp. and director of Khot Infrastructure.

Oleg Stepanov, the current ambassador to Canada, assumed his position last September. Nobody from the embassy responded for comment.

The honorary consul of Ukraine in B.C. is lawyer Lubomyr Huculak.

B.C. Investment Management Corp., the province’s public sector pension fund, won’t comment on the status of Russian investments in its $66.6 billion public equities portfolio.

The inventory of holdings through March 31, 2021 showed $103.25 million worth of shares in state-owned bank Sberbank, $83.85 million in Lukoil, $32.2 million Rosneft Oil, and $19.16 million in Gazprom.

Photo from the Feb. 26 pro-Ukraine protest in Vancouver (Twitter)

“We’re respectfully declining to comment as we do not publicly discuss our investment strategy or specific holdings,” said Gwen-Ann Chittenden, BCI’s vice-president of corporate stakeholder engagement.

Paul Finch, who is the treasurer for the B.C. General Employees Union and a director of BCI, declined comment.

A statement from the Ministry of Finance said BCI “by design” operates independent of government to avoid conflict of interest. “BCI is accountable to its clients for investment returns and the investment of each client’s funds.”

The NDP cabinet appointed three of the seven members of the board, including former BC Liberal deputy finance minister Peter Milburn as chair, University of Victoria vice-president Gayle Gorrill and retired former Ministry of Finance chief operating officer Sheila Taylor.

The other four are appointed by the College Pension Plan, Public Service Pension Plan, Municipal Pension Plan and Teachers Pension Plan.

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