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HomeBusinessVancouver real estate industry bucked-up for Trudeau at May 22 fundraisers

Vancouver real estate industry bucked-up for Trudeau at May 22 fundraisers


Bob Mackin

Justin Trudeau’s May 22 campaign fundraising blitz in Vancouver drew some of the city’s top real estate titans.

Lists published June 20 by Elections Canada do not show the amount raised for the Liberal Party’s re-election war chest, but the lists do show names of Liberal supporters and the costs of tickets to gnosh with the Prime Minister at a Yaletown boutique hotel and a Marpole gourmet Chinese restaurant.

Tickets were $250 to $1,500 each for the Opus Hotel luncheon with Trudeau, where real estate marketer Bob Rennie was joined by Bien Matute, Sheliza Vellani and Natalie Genest from Rennie and Associates Realty.

Sun Commercial real estate president Chris Lee (second from right) at the May 22 Trudeau Liberal fundraiser. MP Joe Peschisolido is in the background.

Rennie’s Olympic Village developer clients Peter Malek and Shahram Malekyazdi, the brothers who run Millennium Development, were there. So was lawyer Bryan Baynham, who sued on behalf of dozens of Olympic Village condo buyers who complained of shoddy workmanship at the $1.1 billion Southeast False Creek complex.

Baynham was also the lawyer for Vision Vancouver in 2014 when Rennie was then-Mayor Gregor Robertson’s bagman.

Wall Centre general manager Sascha Voth and Wall Financial director David Gruber also attended. Gruber is the riding president for Vancouver Granville, where Liberal-elected Jody Wilson-Raybould will run as an independent in the wake of Trudeau’s SNC-Lavalin scandal.

Last year, as lawyer for developer Peter Wall, Gruber was involved in the pre-election billboard and Facebook campaign promoting Hector Bremner’s failed bid for the Vancouver mayoralty. Former BC Liberal caucus worker Micah Haince, who also worked on the Wall-funded Bremner campaign, was also at the fundraiser.

Another Opus lunch attendee was Amy Venhuizen of Richmond-based MYIE Group. MYIE stands for Mo Yeung International Enterprise and Venhuizen is the assistant to namesake CEO Mo Yeung Michael Ching. MYIE is developing the International Trade Centre in Richmond, which will include an Opus Hotel.

Ching, also known as Cheng Muyang, is the son of a late Hebei province Communist bigwig expelled from the party. Ching’s name was on China’s most-wanted list, but he has maintained he is innocent. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the May 22 Neptune fundraiser.

Ching was photographed at several Liberal fundraisers, including some with Trudeau, in the lead-up to the 2015 federal election. His daughter Linda Ching is a former president of the Young Liberals of Canada in B.C.

Irene Kerr, the CEO of the NDP-created B.C. Infrastructure Benefits Crown corporation, was at the lunch. BCIB hires and pays union workers for major public projects, some of which will rely on federal funding. BCIB spokesman Geoffrey Nutter said BCIB did not pay for Kerr’s lunch or reimburse Kerr. 

Anti-Trans Mountain pipeline protester Will George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation bought a ticket and disrupted Trudeau’s speech. He was not the only anti-pipeline protester to pay for access. So did Sven Biggs of Stand.Earth, a group that hired a diesel-powered ad van to protest Trudeau’s visit to Yaletown. 

Trudeau also held a fundraising dinner at the Neptune Palace Chinese restaurant at the south foot of Cambie Street, with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South) and Treasury Board president Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra) also in attendance. Tickets were $750 to $1,500.

Seated near the stage was Westbank Projects CEO Ian Gillespie, whose Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel is Trudeau’s preferred hotel when in Vancouver. Westbank CFO Judy Leung was also on the list of donors.

Sun Commercial president Chris Lee, Bold Properties CFO Justin Khouw, Aspac Developments VP Ryan Laurin, unsuccessful Richmond First school board candidate Jason Zhen Ning Li and restaurateur Ling Xu were listed.

Xu was the name on the deed for a $10.5 million Shaughnessy house bought in 2014 from Chen Mailin, the former duck farmer from China who bought a mansion on so-called Billionaires Row in Northwest Point Grey for almost $52 million in late 2014.

The list showed both a Yajing Wang and ChiChi Wang; Yajing “ChiChi” Wang is an associate at the Liberal-aligned Earnscliffe Group lobbying firm. Her bio says she is a former marketing director with the municipal government in Hangzhou, China.

Elsewhere on the list, two of the names match those of University of B.C. students and their given postal code is for an area on Billionaires Row. Four attendees used a postal code for an area bordering Minoru Park in Richmond that includes the hospital and two motels. 

Only individual Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada can donate to a party, candidate or nomination contestant. The donation limit is $1,600. 

Trudeau was in Kamloops May 21 for former BC Liberal health minister Terry Lake’s nomination meeting. His only government event in Vancouver during the trip was in the morning of May 22 to announce another order of coast guard and navy ships from North Vancouver’s Seaspan.

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