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HomeNewsHappy New Year and Welcome to theBreaker! Seven storylines, from ’16 to ’17

Happy New Year and Welcome to theBreaker! Seven storylines, from ’16 to ’17

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Welcome to theBreaker, your source for news, opinion and analysis about British Columbia issues and institutions. It is a vehicle to stop secrecy, unravel the spin and enable citizens to better scrutinize those who hold power and influence on the west coast of Canada and beyond.

Please send me your feedback and news tips. See the bottom of the page.

As a pivotal year dawns, the media industry is in decline and democracy is under attack around the world. Now, more than ever, citizens need to stand up and speak out for their communities against the status quo.

Before we can move forward, we must remember how we got here. To that end, seven storylines from 2016 that will shape 2017. Happy new year!

–Bob Mackin, publisher

Cash for access

Premier Christy Clark (Mackin photo)

Premier Christy Clark (Mackin photo)

Thank Bernie Sanders and, to a lesser degree, Donald Trump for thrusting the issue of big money in politics onto the stage. It spilled over to Canada, where we learned that B.C. Premier Christy Clark earns a $50,000 a year bonus for attending BC Liberal fundraisers.

Democracy Watch has gone to court after the conflict of interest commissioner cleared Clark. Democracy Watch says the commissioner, Paul Fraser, is in a conflict himself and should step aside.

Deputy Premier Rich Coleman, the co-chair of the committee to re-elect the Premier, boasted to a party fundraiser in September that the campaign is fully funded. Yet the big bucks fundraisers have only continued.

Is the BC Liberal Party the best party money can buy? And how is the NDP responding? 

Little Potato for Big Dinner

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was caught making house calls to mansions of Chinese billionaires with ties to the Chinese Communist Party and accepting donations from a man wanted by the Chinese government.

The man Chinese leader Xi Jinping calls “Little Potato” blamed the media and claimed he was doing it for the sake of the middle class. 

Money ways. Honeymoon’s over.

Project Souvenir a dud

A judge had harsh words for the RCMP when the subjects of an expensive sting operation were set free. The verdict? John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were called victims of entrapment who could not have cooked-up a plot to blow up the B.C. Legislature in 2013 without help and encouragement from undercover cops.

On one hand, justice. On the other, an embarrassment for the RCMP.

Pipelines and plants and terminals, oh my

It was a classic case of campaigning from the left in 2015 and governing from the right in 2016.

The Trudeau Liberals gave thumbs up to Woodfibre LNG, Petronas Pacific NorthWest LNG, Kinder Morgan and Energy East. Who knows when or if they’ll get built, but it sends a message to the environmentalists who voted for the Grits to beat the Harper Conservatives that the economy takes precedence over the environment.

Broken promise 

In 2001, the BC Liberals beat the NDP on the basis of the New Era platform that promised a Liberal government would become Canada’s most open, democratic and accountable.

More than a decade-and-a-half has elapsed. We’re still waiting.

The Clark Liberals cancelled the fall Legislature sitting. Question period phobia, anyone?

Clark refused to give The Tyee’s Andrew MacLeod an end-of-year interview.

The government was forced to pull an ad over misleading claims of $20 billion invested in LNG.

The government is stalling the Ombudsman’s investigation of the 2012 firings of eight health researchers (one of whom died of suicide).

The teachers’ union won a 15-year legal battle with the Liberals at a surprise Supreme Court hearing, one of several times the government has been spanked.

Real estate and Renminbi

Vancouver is now a resort city, reliant on investment from China.

What did quality reporting turn up in 2016?

A $16 million-valued property sold for $60 million and then, a month later, was flipped for $68 million.

A huge Chinese insurance company, Anbang, bought the heart of Vancouver’s business district, Bentall Centre and later announced the acquisition of a chain of senior citizens’ homes.

Huge mansions built on farmland in Richmond were found to be operating as illegal hotels. 

We learned more about Kevin Sun aka Hong Sun, aka Kevin Lin, aka Hong Wei Sun, aka Sun Hongwei and his ties to half-a-billion-dollars of deals.

The art auction and theatre management arm of the massive state-owned China Poly Group conglomerate opened an art gallery in Vancouver. Poly Culture’s CEO hinted that its powerful real estate arm is on the way.

Clark largesse

Premier Christy Clark is the MLA for Westside-Kelowna. When she visits the Okanagan city, it’s usually a day-trip on a charter jet. She hasn’t revealed where she stays on the rare occasions that she overnights.

She moved out of her $1.7 million Mount Pleasant house to live on the western edge of the Vancouver-Quilchena riding in a $3.7 million house. The deed lists the name of an associate of Greg Kerfoot, the Vancouver Whitecaps’ owner. Clark and her brother Bruce bought their parents’ $720,000 Galiano Island property out of a trust.

A career politician living in the lap of luxury. How can she relate to the average British Columbian struggling to make ends meet?

May 9 is the next provincial election. It’s up to you, the people, to decide her future.

 

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