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HomeBusinessExclusive: Venue for a controversial 2016 Trudeau fundraiser has become a crime scene in 2019

Exclusive: Venue for a controversial 2016 Trudeau fundraiser has become a crime scene in 2019


Bob Mackin

The $7.7 million Shaughnessy mansion that hosted Justin Trudeau for a private Liberal Party fundraiser in 2016 is now the subject of a Vancouver Police Department investigation, has learned.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services referred to VPD Sgt. Aaron Roed, who said the major crimes section is now involved. An early morning fire on Sept. 21 destroyed a garage detached from the house on Churchill Street near 47th Avenue.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited with Miaofei Pan (left) and Wen Huan Yang in November 2016 (Mackin)

Owner Miaofei Pan showed a reporter surveillance footage of the fire. He also pointed to broken windows on the front of the house that he said were caused by gun shots more than an hour after the police left the fire scene. The fire, he said, cut the camera feed from the front of the house.

“We want to go back to China just for safety, but the children are studying and living here, so we have no choice, we have to accompany the children,” Pan said through a translator.

By coincidence, no cars were parked in the detached garage that night.

It was the second fire to tear through a Pan-owned property in less than two years. In October 2017, the 1911-built heritage mansion Pan owns with wife Wen Huan Yang at 3737 Angus in Shaughnessy suffered a devastating fire that was later ruled arson. Nobody has been charged.

Pan said that, before the Angus fire, he had planned to repair and renovate the heritage mansion, also known as Rounsefell House, after a tenant caused extensive water damage. He wanted to move his family from the Churchill house to Angus, because his daughters were complaining they needed more space.

“We already made the repair plan, we signed a contract with developers and construction companies. All documents have been done to repair the water damage,” he said.

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

City hall filed a B.C. Supreme Court petition against Pan, alleging he did not follow an order after the fire to maintain the Angus mansion so as to prevent further weather damage and decay. The September 2018 response from Pan said the house could not be repaired because of hazards presented by the chimneys and hazardous materials inside the house. The structure is so fragile that WorkSafeBC issued a temporary stop work order that has since been lifted.

No court date has been set for the dispute with city hall. Pan has another court matter on the horizon, as he is appealing the late 2018 award of only $1 after a judge ruled he had been defamed by journalist Bing Chen Gao. In the verdict, the B.C. Supreme Court judge criticized Pan for being an uncooperative witness.

Pan is a past chair of the Beijing-aligned Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations and was a donor to the Canada Wenzhou Friendship Society’s clubhouse near Aberdeen Centre in Richmond. Pan hails from the Zhejiang province coastal city Wenzhou, where he was in the real estate development business. The Richmond-based society gained attention during the 2018 civic elections for endorsing a slate of candidates in Richmond, Burnaby and Vancouver and offering a $20 transportation subsidy via WeChat. Richmond RCMP did not recommend vote buying charges.

Pan said the 2016 Liberal event attended by 80 people at his house was organized by the party, which had been trying to recruit his son to be a member. He said nobody made donations on-site, on the night of the event. The Liberal Party, he said, returned his $1,500 donation and paid for tea and cookies.

Pan said he was familiar with Raymond Chan, the former Richmond MP who became a party fundraiser in the Chinese community and is in one of the photographs, but said it was a woman from the Liberal Party office that called to ask if Pan’s house could be used as a venue. Pan said he was in China at the time, so he flew back to host the event. Police did come to the house for a security sweep before the event and that he spoke briefly with Trudeau, but the conversation was “very limited” due to the language barrier.

Miaofei Pan said someone shot a window at his house multiple times, hours after a fire destroyed a detached garage (Mackin)

According to The Tyee, Pan decided to hold the Nov. 7, 2016 fundraiser at his house after Trudeau invited him to a dinner in September of that year with China’s visiting Premier Li Keqiang. That was denied by the Liberal Party. In a Dec. 2, 2016, Globe and Mail story, Pan was quoted as saying he asked Trudeau to make it easier for rich investors from China to invest and stay in Canada.

Trudeau was in Vancouver for an earlier announcement of funding to help Department of Fisheries and Oceans deal with more South Coast oil tanker traffic.

The fundraiser was not advertised and Canadian media only found out from Wenzhou government and media websites. The ripple effects were felt across Canada.

By April of 2017, the Liberal Party buckled to pressure and announced reforms, including proactive disclosure of fundraising events and attendee lists. Elections Canada later began an online registry of major fundraising events involving party leaders and cabinet ministers. In B.C., it helped hasten campaign finance reforms after the 2017 provincial election. The Green-supported NDP government eventually adopted caps on donations and banned corporate and union financing of provincial and municipal elections.

Miaofei Pan’s photograph with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2011 (Mackin)

Pan said he met Trudeau again in Ottawa and jokingly told him that he would invite him to the other mansion, after it is repaired.

Pan said he believes Trudeau will win re-election on Oct. 21, but not with as many votes as in 2015. He considers Trudeau a “good guy and with enough capability to be a prime minister in Canada. Of course [Stephen] Harper was also a good guy as well.”

A photograph of Pan with Harper, shot in 2011, is displayed above golf trophies, at the opposite end of a room from a group photo with Trudeau from Nov. 7, 2016.

Elections Canada shows donations by Pan of $1,478.96 and $1,420 to the Liberal Party on Nov. 24, 2016 and $1,100 to the Abbotsford Conservative Association in September 2011. He also gave $1,000 and $1,450 to MP Jenny Kwan’s Vancouver East NDP association in 2016 and 2018.

His wife, Wen, donated $1,478.96 and $1,420 on the same November day in 2016 to the Liberals. Last December, she gave $1,550 to the Don Valley North Federal Liberal Association in Ontario. Han Dong is running instead of Geng Tan, the first Mainland China-born Member of Parliament when he was elected in 2015.

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