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HomeBusinessFire destroys garage at site of controversial 2016 Trudeau fundraiser

Fire destroys garage at site of controversial 2016 Trudeau fundraiser

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Bob Mackin

Detectives from Vancouver’s police and fire departments are investigating an early morning fire at the Shaughnessy mansion that hosted a controversial Liberal Party of Canada cash-for-access fundraiser with Justin Trudeau in 2016.

Miaofei Pan outside the fire-destroyed garage (Ina Mitchell)

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services crews were called to 6261 Churchill Street at 2:12 a.m. on Sept. 21. Police were called 10 minutes later. The garage was destroyed and a window on the front of the house is showing signs of damage from a projectile, possibly from a pellet or bullet.

“The file is still under investigation as of this morning,” said VFRS spokesman Capt. Jonathan Gormick on Sept. 25. “The cause and nature are still part of the investigation.”

Police spokesman Sgt. Aaron Roed said he was unable to provide any information regarding the file.

The owner of the $7.7 million-assessed property, real estate developer Miaofei Pan, was seen by a photographer outside the garage on Sept. 24 while investigators continued to scour the scene, which was behind a temporary fence.

Pan hosted Trudeau for an 80-person, $1,500-a-head fundraiser in November 2016 at the Churchill Street property. Trudeau was in Vancouver earlier in the day to announce new measures for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to allow for more oil tanker traffic in Vancouver and on the South Coast.

The cash-for-access fundraiser was not publicized and came to light after a website for the government in Pan’s native Wenzhou province published photographs and a description of the event. The Liberal Party buckled to pressure and announced reforms and Elections Canada began an online registry of major fundraising events involving party leaders and cabinet ministers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shaking hands with Miaofei Pan at a 2016 Liberal fundraiser (Wenzhou government)

A year after Pan hosted the fundraiser, another mansion that he owns in northern Shaughnessy suffered a massive fire. The roof and interior of the historic 1911-built Rounsefell House at 3737 Angus Drive were severely damaged.

Police ruled it an arson, but there was insufficient evidence to lay charges.

Pan is a former chair of the Chinese Communist Party-linked Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations and a major donor to the Canada Wenzhou Friendship Society’s clubhouse near Richmond’s Aberdeen mall.

Pan and wife Wen Huan Yang bought the Rounsefell mansion in 2012. In August 2018, Vancouver city hall accused Pan of failing to repair and maintain a heritage structure. WorkSafeBC issued a stop work order that found the fire damage was so extreme that it was a danger to life and health, fearing that one of the 50-foot-tall brick chimneys could fall.

Pan is appealing last year’s $1 award from a B.C. Supreme Court defamation lawsuit against a journalist, Bing Chen Gao. Justice Neena Sharma did not find Pan to be a credible or reliable witness because he relied on the deemed falsity of the defamatory statements and did not back-up his testimony with documents.

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