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For the week of June 23, 2024:

April Hutchinson is a Canadian champion powerlifter and advocate for keeping women’s sport for women.

Hutchinson was at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria in April when Conservative leader John Rustad tabled the Fairness in Women’s and Girls’ Sports bill. But Premier David Eby’s NDP majority blocked the private member’s bill before it could be debated.  

It is an issue of health, safety and fairness, Hutchinson says. She is not alone. Tennis legend Martina Navratilova and Alberta track and field coach Linda Blade (who was a guest on this podcast) have also campaigned for rules against biological male athletes competing in women’s sport.

Listen to host Bob Mackin’s interview with April Hutchinson. 

Plus, this week’s Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines. 

CLICK BELOW to listen or go to TuneIn, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.

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thePodcast: Powerlifter April Hutchinson on the battle to keep women's sport for women

For the week of June 23, 2024: April

Bob Mackin 

It is called Project for a Strong B.C. and the names of the people behind the website and movie trailer-style attack ad are not listed.

(Project for a Strong B.C.)

That is perfectly legal, according to B.C.’s election laws. A third-party advertiser is not required to register and report who they are until July 23. The provincial election is Oct. 19.

According to its Societies Act registration dated March 12, three people are directors of the Project for a Strong B.C. Association: David John Andrew Porteus (sic) of West Kelowna, Samuel Aaron Schechter of New Westminster and Elaine Adele Willis, Duncan. 

The society’s registered office is the Richmond law firm of Kahn Zack Ehrlich Lithwick. 

The constitution is all of a vague two lines: “The purposes of the Society are: publicly advocate for a stronger British Columbia for everyone and undertake campaigns in support of this advocacy.”

David Porteous is a former NDP-appointee to the Okanagan College board of governors. Willis has a background as a schoolteacher and B.C. Teachers Federation activist. 

Schechter is a former North Vancouver city councillor, a protege of former NDP president and North Vancouver city councillor Craig Keating, and a communications instructor at Douglas College in New Westminster. 

He did not respond to interview requests. Instead, an Alberta-based representative of an Ottawa-headquartered public relations firm did. Megana Ramaswami, senior strategist with Emdash Agency, did not answer any questions about the amount of funding or source of funding for the ad, which is a movie trailer-themed recap of Conservative leader John Rustad and BC United leader Kevin Falcon’s past as cabinet ministers in the BC Liberal government of Christy Clark. 

Sam Schechter (X/SamSchechter)

Ramaswami said the campaign wraps-up in mid-July. 

Meanwhile, a campaign on the right of centre launched on June 18, via the @BrokenBC2024 social media account. 

A 30-second radio ad attacks Eby for not doing enough to combat the rise of post-Oct. 7 antisemitism. It includes a clip of Jewish MLA Selina Robinson, who resigned from the NDP caucus, and finishes with a male voice-over: “Is it going to take a tragedy for Eby and his radical NDP to wake up?”

Brad Zubyk, a political strategist and lobbyist who formerly worked with the NDP and BC Liberals, said he is behind it. 

“I threw in the initial money and friends have chipped in but it’s not a big money effort. Four of us are producing content,” Zubyk said. 

Zubyk said he contributed the first $15,000 and hopes to raise as much as $50,000. 

“It’s not corporate, just my friend group that want to make a difference,” Zubyk said. “I’m not going to disclose the volunteers but I have reached out to friends with some online skills but it is my idea.”

Eby unofficially launches his re-election campaign on June 20 during the noon hour at the Scottish Cultural Centre in Marpole, showcasing four candidates: Sunita Dhir (Vancouver-Langara), Baltej Dhillon (Surrey-Serpentine River), Randene Neil (Powell River-Sunshine Coast) and Michael Moses (Cariboo-Chilcotin). 

The theme is “What’s at Stake.”

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Bob Mackin  It is called Project for a

Bob Mackin

One of the highest-paid public officials in the Lower Mainland last year, costing taxpayers almost $350,000, was the former mayor of New Westminster.

Ex-New Westminster Mayor Jonathan X. Cote (X/Cote)

Metro Vancouver paid Jonathan Cote $237,303 in salary, expenses and taxable benefits in 2023 as the regional district’s deputy general manager of regional planning and housing development.

New Westminster’s statement of financial information for 2023 shows the Royal City’s mayor from 2014 to 2022 also received $106,443 under the civic “transitional allowance” scheme. 

Under a 2010 policy, politicians in New Westminster are entitled to 10% of their annual pay for each year of service from 2008 onwards, up to 12 years. Cote, paid $116,860 in his final year as mayor, spent nine years as a city councillor from 2009 to 2014 before winning the top job. He retired in 2022 instead of running for a third term. 

By comparison, Premier David Eby’s annual pay is $227,111.

Last October, a majority of city councillors defeated a motion by New West Progressives’ Coun. Daniel Fontaine to end double-dipping. Fontaine wanted the entitlement cancelled if a former council member got a new job within a year of leaving office. Coun. Paul Minhas, the other New West Progressive, said he will make a second attempt to change the policy. 

“In New Westminster, our taxpayers had a hike of 14% in two years,” Minhas said. “We need to prioritize the allocation of resources towards pressing needs, such as infrastructure, education and healthcare. To me, this is just a golden parachute, as the man knew he was headed to Metro Vancouver for a high-paying job.”

Metro Vancouver’s finances are coming under greater scrutiny after the unelected regional government revealed in March that the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant had gone $3 billion over budget and wouldn’t be completed until 2030. The project was supposed to cost around $700 million and be open in 2020. 

Commissioner Jerry Dobrovolny made the bombshell announcement on a Friday afternoon in the middle of March break. 

Ex-New Westminster Mayor Jonathan X. Cote and his successor, Patrick Johnstone. (X/Cote)

No surprise, Dobrovolny is the highest-paid bureaucrat at Metro Vancouver’s Metrotown headquarters. Metro Vancouver reported Dobrovolny’s total $711,668 pay package for 2023, including $451,949 base pay, $222,578 under other and taxable benefits and $37,141 in expenses. 

Dobrovolny and two other bureaucrats accompanied Mayors Mike Hurley (Burnaby), Brad West (Port Coquitlam), Malcolm Brodie (Richmond) and John McEwan (Anmore) to a drainage convention in Holland earlier this month. Metro Vancouver has not released the approved budget for the entourage’s travel and accommodation. 

Eby said June 17 that Metro Vancouver ought to appoint an independent auditor to examine the troubled North Vancouver project. Outgoing chair George Harvie, who is also the Delta mayor, called for a review on June 18, but he offered no details about the reviewer, terms of reference or the deadline. According to Jillian Glover, a spokesperson for Metro Vancouver, “at this time, the scope and details of the review remain to be determined.” 

Seven councillors from five municipalities want B.C. Auditor General Michael Pickup to audit the project, which received almost $200 million from Victoria. Four of those councillors, Surrey’s Linda Annis, New Westminster’s Daniel Fontaine, Richmond’s Kash Heed and Maple Ridge’s Ahmed Yousef, want a governance review and, ultimately, direct elections for Metro Vancouver directors. 

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Bob Mackin One of the highest-paid public officials

For the week of June 16, 2024:

How many Canadian lawmakers are colluding with foreign adversaries, like Xi Jinping’s China? 

Who are they? Will they ever be held accountable? 

Those questions remain unanswered after the heavily censored special report by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP). 

On this edition of thePodcast, host Bob Mackin welcomes Sam Cooper, the investigative reporter behind, to analyze the latest twist in Canada’s foreign interference scandal.

Cooper authored “Wilful Blindness: How a network of narcos, tycoons and CCP agents infiltrated the West” and his reporting for Global News in late 2022 and early 2023 helped pave the way for the Hogue Commission public inquiry into China’s meddling in Canada’s 2019 and 2021 federal elections. 

“For people like you and me, I don’t think there’s much shock value in what NSICOP confirmed,” Cooper said. “They did go further than Justice Hogue, in saying that some Canadian parliamentarians wittingly or through wilful blindness —which I liked that they used that word from my book title — knowingly accepted transfers, concealed or layered, to disguise their origin.”

Plus, this week’s Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines. 

CLICK BELOW to listen or go to TuneIn, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.

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thePodcast: Sam Cooper on parliamentarians colluding with China

For the week of June 16, 2024: How

Bob Mackin 

Could Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown have been one of the Conservative leadership hopefuls targeted by the Chinese government in 2022? 

The June 3 bombshell report by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians said some lawmakers are “semi-witting or witting participants in the efforts of foreign states to interfere in our politics.”

Brampton Mayor and Conservative Party leadership candidate Patrick Brown at the Chinese Canadian Society for Political Engagement in Vancouver (WeChat)

The heavily censored “Special Report on Foreign Interference in Canada’s Democratic Processes and Institutions” also said foreign actors targeted party leadership campaigns. 

“Three sentences were deleted to remove injurious or privileged information,” the report said. “The sentences described two specific instances where [People’s Republic of China] officials allegedly interfered in the leadership races of the Conservative Party of Canada.”

Brown was the sixth candidate to run for the leadership in March 2022, in the wake of the caucus vote to remove Erin O’Toole. Under O’Toole, the party took a hawkish stance toward China, but remained in opposition after the September 2021 election. 

O’Toole told the Hogue Commission on foreign interference in April 2024 that Chinese misinformation cost the party between five and nine seats in the election and led to the end of his leadership.  

Brown did not make it to the finish line, however. He was disqualified in July 2022 due to campaign financing violations. Two months later, Pierre Poilievre was elected leader.

In the spring of 2022, Brown made at least two trips to Vancouver to meet with politically active figures in the Lower Mainland’s Chinese community. Several of them leaders of groups affiliated with the Chinese consulate’s Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, which promotes the Chinese Communist Party in B.C.

Sing Tao daily’s April 2, 2022 edition included a photograph of Brown at a boardroom table with about a dozen people for an event hosted by the Canada Committee 100 Society (CC 100). Founding president, Ding Guo, seated next to Brown, is also known as an advisor to B.C. NDP premier David Eby. One of CC 100’s advisors is Victor Oh, the pro-China Conservative senator who reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 this month. 

The Sing Tao story said some of the attendees told Brown the party should learn from the defeat of two Conservative MPs in the 2021 election. That was a reference to incumbents Kenny Chiu (Steveston-Richmond East) and Alice Wong (Richmond Centre), who were replaced by Liberals Parm Bains and Wilson Miao, respectively. 

Brown told the meeting that “he believes that the most important thing for legislators is to reflect the opinions of voters in the constituency and serve them, rather than to be favoured by other things, let alone be ignored by the phenomenon of racial discrimination occurring in the local area.”

Chiu lost after a WeChat disinformation campaign that alleged his proposal for a registry of lobbyists for foreign governments would stoke anti-Chinese racism. Bains repeated that theme during his campaign. 

On May 28, 2022, Brown was back in Vancouver. He made a Saturday afternoon visit to the Chinese Canadian Society for Political Engagement (CCSPE), also known as the “Chinese Canadian Voting Alliance Activity Centre.” The former Domino’s Pizza on Dunbar Street had been converted into a clubhouse for an unregistered third party that promoted ethnic Chinese candidates through in-person events, its website and WeChat channel. 

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown in Vancouver in May 2022 (WeChat)

Brown and 20 others appeared in a group photo, circulated on WeChat, inside the facility. To Brown’s right in the second row, the honorary chair of the the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations, Yongtao Chen. To his left, CCSPE founder Kong Qingcun. Next to Kong, Harris Niu, leader of the Canadian Community Service Association.  

Maria Ling Xu, president of the United Global Chinese Women’s Association of Canada, stood in the front row before Chen. Wearing a mask, second from left, was Theresa ZhanZhan Feng, an aide to BC United leader Kevin Falcon. Fourth from left was Chen’s wife, Sang Chengqun, who helped recruit members for Brown. 

Feng did not respond to requests for comment.

The NSICOP report said that officials from China “used clandestine networks to conduct foreign interference in Greater Vancouver.” The unreacted version contained six sentences that “describe PRC’s efforts to leverage its network to support a specific political candidate, noted the work of certain organizations and individuals within the network, and noted an effort by a security and intelligence organization to counter the work of one of the individuals.”

Brown did not respond to interview requests made to his press secretary, Gary Collins. 

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Bob Mackin  Could Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown have

Bob Mackin 

It is too good to be true. 

Canada’s Liberal Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, flogging a scheme to earn at least $20,000 a month, with a minimal investment of $350. 

A company, whose website is registered to a service provider in Chicago, is behind ads on YouTube and related websites that portray Chrystia Freeland as an endorser. The videos are packaged as reports on CTV News Channel and CBC News Network, complete with anchor commentary.

Liberal Finance Minister in deepfake videos seen on YouTube (YouTube)

One of three clips that this reporter spotted by chance on May 31 on YouTube shows Freeland at a news conference April 7 in Toronto. That is where she announced $2.4 billion in grants to boost Canada’s artificial intelligence sector.

But the words on the video were not those that she spoke at the pre-budget photo op. Nor were the words spoken by the TV anchors. 

The videos are actually artificial intelligence-generated deepfakes. What, if anything, are Freeland’s staff and the Liberal government doing  to combat the misuse of the rapidly evolving technology? 

“The videos and websites you reference are fake and present false and misleading information,” said Shanna Taller, media relations advisor for the Department of Finance.
“Cases of unauthorized image use are handled by law enforcement agencies, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. For further questions on whole-of-government action, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.”

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) media phone line voice mail was full and emails were returned as blocked. YouTube has not responded for comment.

In March, the CAFC website contained a new technology bulletin. It warned that deepfake technology uses “machine-learning algorithms to create realistic-looking fake videos or audio recordings. This is most commonly seen in investment and merchandise frauds where fake celebrity endorsements and fake news are used to promote the fraudulent offers.”

“If you see a celebrity or trustworthy figure promoting merchandise or crypto investments, remember that the video can be a deepfake, created with AI technology. Do your research before you buy anything,” the CAFC bulletin said. 

An expert in spotting disinformation said this may be more than a fraudulent investment scheme, but someone seeking to advance their political interests. 

Marcus Kolga (MLI)

“There may be not that many Canadians who are falling for this specifically right now. But, it’s a very worrying sign of what may yet be to come,” said Marcus Kolga of 

Kolga said a close look at the videos revealed the audio was not seamlessly synchronized with the movement of lips. But that may not be detected by casual viewers who do not follow Canadian politics on a daily basis. He is concerned that the technology is advancing so rapidly that deepfake videos could become undetectable. 

That would open the door to financial and geopolitical manipulation and disruption on a mass scale. Governments need to enforce existing laws and enact new ones to prevent chaos, he said. In the case of the Freeland videos, Kolga said YouTube and others have a major role to play and should not be earning advertising revenue from carrying deepfake ads. 

“Today, it may be Chrystia Freeland, but tomorrow it could be a Jagmeet Singh, the next day, it could be Pierre Poilievre,” Kolga said. “You just never know, especially when we’re talking about foreign regimes. We know that China was pretty intensely using deepfakes during the Taiwanese presidential election. They weren’t great, if you knew what to look out for, you could tell all the telltale signs of a deepfake were there, again, with the synchronization issues and such. But this technology is only improving and it’s improving not yearly, it’s improving every month.”

In May, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission proposed a $6 million fine for political consultant Steve Kramer who was behind robocalls two days prior to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary in New Hampshire. Those robocalls featured deepfake audio using President Joe Biden’s voice to encourage citizens to abstain from the primary and save their vote for the November presidential election.

Kramer was also arrested in New Hampshire on bribery, intimidation and voter suppression charges. 

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Bob Mackin  It is too good to be

Bob Mackin

Between October and March, crews logged more than 7,200 trees in Stanley Park, a fraction of the 160,000 that the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation said would be removed due to the Hemlock looper moth infestation.

Stanley Park entrance on West Georgia (Mackin)

The Park Board is spending almost $7 million on the operation.

Reports by contractor B.A. Blackwell and Associates, obtained under the freedom of information law, showed 3,294 trees greater than 20 centimetres in diameter were logged and 3,035 under 20 cm between Oct. 3, 2023 and Feb. 29, 2024. Additionally, 118 loads of brush and 47 loads of logs were removed during the five months. Another 872 trees were logged in March.

Total volume of logs removed during the five-month period was 2,214 cubic metres. Another 742 cubic metres were taken in March, for a total of nearly 3,000 cubic metres in 63 loads.

“The total net revenue generated from the logs is $30,069.77, after paying hauling costs of $72,275.68,” said a memo from Park Board general manager Steve Jackson to Park Board commissioners. 

Work was conducted over 67 hectares of the park, a quarter of the park’s forested areas. A load of firewood was also transferred to the Vancouver Police Department’s On the Land Cultural Training Program. 

Jackson’s memo said almost 4% of fir and cedar logs, or 105 cubic metres, were set aside for the first nations. “Delivery of this material is still being coordinated and will be paid out of the remaining net revenue.”

Thirty-nine trees were reserved for the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh first nations, who received delivery of six loads of firewood.

The tops or limbs of 19 cedar trees over 100 cm diameter were cut “due to poor and hazardous conditions.”

Planting of 25,000 seedlings took place in March and April, including western red cedar, Douglas fir, grand fir, Sitka spruce and red alder. 

Removal of logs felled across six hectares was deferred to fall 2024, which also delays replanting in those areas.

Stanley Park logging hauler Skytech (Mackin)

Jackson’s memo said crews will continue to deal with hazard trees during the summer months and the city is considering bids on the next phase of work. Tendering closed March 14. 

“The scope will address priority treatments in forest areas at the Aquarium, Brockton Point, Chickadee Trail, and a portion of the seawall west of Lion’s Gate Bridge,” the memo said. 

Top city hall bureaucrats approved the first phase last August behind closed doors and recommended the emergency, no-bid contract with North Vancouver’s Blackwell while city council and park board politicians were on summer holiday. 

Blackwell’s subcontractors include Edith Lake Falling Ltd. and SkyTech Yarding Ltd. of Squamish and Swatez Forestry of Nanaimo. 

It took until February for the Park Board to finally release a copy of the Blackwell report behind the operation. In December, the freedom of information office at city hall sent a $450 invoice to a reporter seeking the arborist’s report, tree inventory and tree removal plan. The office later admitted the tree inventory and tree removal plan did not exist. 

Titled “Stanley Park Hemlock Looper Impact and Wildfire Risk Assessment,” Blackwell’s 37-page report to Joe McLeod, the city’s manager of urban forestry, was dated Jan. 24 — almost two months after the Park Board announced the operation to cut a quarter of Stanley Park’s trees. 

Blackwell reported that pest infestation killed or severely defoliated 20,300 trees with a diameter greater than 20 cm and 166,000 trees that are 20 cm or less in diameter. A majority of trees affected were western hemlock, but Douglas firs and western red cedars had been impacted to a lesser extent. 

Blackwell recommended emergency work between October and March because of decreased public use and to avoid bird-nesting season. 

Norm Oberson, owner of Arbutus Tree Service and a member of the Trees of Vancouver Society board, said the risk of wildfire was overstated in order to expedite bulk tree removal. He said that heightened the likelihood of errantly cutting healthy trees.

Vancouver software designer Michael Robert Caditz formed the ad hoc Save Stanley Park group and is seeking legal advice aimed at applying for a court injunction to stop whatever logging work is left. 

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Bob Mackin Between October and March, crews logged

Bob Mackin 

Conservative Party of B.C. vice-president Harman Bhangu became the Langley-Abbotsford candidate the day after a riding association board member launched a court bid aimed at stopping the June 8 virtual meeting.

A majority of 412 members chose Bhangu (220) on the first ballot in the day-long, online election over runner-up Shelly Jan Semmler (150) and third-place finisher Ryan Warawa (42). The official results were not announced on the party website.

Harman Bhangu (left) and John Rustad (right) in Surrey in 2023. (X/Bhangu)

Kari Simpson, the vice-president of the riding association and chair of its nomination committee, filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on June 7, asking a judge to cancel the meeting. Her petition also seeks a court order for the party to cease any further candidate selection by its election readiness committee (ERC), leader John Rustad or the party board of directors, wherever a riding association exists, until rules and procedures for nominations are determined. 

Simpson, a social conservative who campaigns against sexual orientation and gender identity instruction in schools, also applied for a judge to order the party president, Aisha Estey, to hold an annual general meeting no later than Sept. 3 and produce the current membership list, including contact information, to Simpson or regional director Daniel Semmler, so they could organize the special general meeting. 

Semmler is the husband of the Langley-Abbotsford nomination runner-up. 

Simpson’s affidavit said riding president Krista Budlong notified the ERC about holding a June 1 nominating meeting at the Murrayville Hall. Simpson claimed Estey called Budlong May 9, “with the threat to remove individual board members or the entire board, if we conducted our candidate nomination meeting as announced.”

In a May 14 letter to Estey, copied to Rustad and the board, Simpson accused Estey of breaching the party’s code of conduct and constitution. 

Kari Simpson between “Hockey Andy” and Dr. Stephen Malthouse in 2022 at the B.C. Legislature (Facebook)

“I believe that your ongoing bully-tactics and threats, made to numerous [riding associations], may finally start to convince those board members, who once deferred to you for reasons unknown to most, to re-evaluate their support,” Simpson wrote.

Simpson alleged in the main court filing that last September’s party board decision to create the ERC subverted the party and riding association constitutions and violated their rules. The result is exclusion of riding associations from influencing candidate nominations, “save for riding members voting if there are more than two candidates.”

“There has been no explanation or consultation, when asked, about the origins or who requisitioned this process,” said Simpson’s filing. 

Simpson’s petition said the “same interference has occurred in numerous other ridings,” but did not name the other ridings.

Neither Estey nor Simpson immediately responded for comment. Warawa declined comment.

A source with knowledge of the nomination meeting, but who declined to be named, said numerous voters in the June 8 online nomination meeting shared the same email and/or residential addresses. 

Trucker Bhangu finished third in the September 2022 Surrey South by-election, behind the NDP’s Pauline Greaves and winner Elenore Sturko. On June 3, Sturko defected from BC United to the Conservatives to run in Surrey-Cloverdale because Brent Chapman, the husband of Conservative MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, was chosen a month earlier for Surrey South. 

In the 2020 provincial election, Warawa, son of late Conservative MP Mark Warawa, finished fourth in the Langley East riding. The NDP’s Megan Dykeman won with almost 10,000 more votes. She is seeking the seat in the new Langley-Walnut Grove riding. Trudeau Liberal MP John Aldag (Cloverdale-Langley City) quit the House of Commons in late May to run for the NDP in Langley-Abbotsford. 

The Oct. 19 B.C. election will be contested in 93 ridings, six more than 2020, due to statutory redistribution. Seventy-two of the ridings feature new boundaries. 

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Bob Mackin  Conservative Party of B.C. vice-president Harman

For the week of June 9, 2024:

The Canadian Football League’s 66th season is underway. The B.C. Lions kick-off the home schedule of their 70th anniversary season on June 15 at B.C. Place Stadium — where they hope to hoist the Grey Cup in the 111th championship on Nov. 17.

Randy Ambrosie, a Grey Cup-winning offensive lineman with the 1993 Edmonton Eskimos, is the league’s 14th commissioner. He was in Vancouver on June 3 for a wide-ranging, question and answer session with reporters, including thePodcast host Bob Mackin. 

Plus, this week’s Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines. 

CLICK BELOW to listen or go to TuneIn, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.

Have you missed an edition of Podcast? Go to the archive.

Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast
thePodcast: CFL commish Randy Ambrosie on the road to Vancouver's Grey Cup

For the week of June 9, 2024: The

Bob Mackin

As the anti-Israel protest camp at the University of B.C. continues for a second month, a B.C. Supreme Court judge has weighed-in on a lawsuit against the university’s 2019 cancellation of a conservative author’s lecture. 

Cover of Portland writer Andy Ngo’s book on Antifa.

The Free Speech Club promoted a January 2020 appearance at the Robson Square campus by Portland writer Andy Ngo, a critic of Antifa protests that often feature intimidation and violence. But, in November 2019, UBC’s vice-president of students cancelled the Ngo event due to safety and security concerns and returned the club’s deposit. The Free Speech Club and members Noah Alter, Cooper Asp and Jarryd Jaeger sued UBC for breach of contract and a declaration that the university and provincial government both violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In a June 4 written decision, Justice Christopher Greenwood ruled the province would be struck from the claim. Greenwood wrote that neither the province nor any of its employees had any direct involvement in the cancellation and “the plaintiffs cannot succeed against the province based on the facts or the law.”

Greenwood also said the plaintiffs “face strong headwinds” in convincing the court that the Charter applies to UBC, due to previous decisions that say universities are not equivalent to government. 

The judge pointed to two 1990 Supreme Court of Canada decisions about mandatory retirement that said the University of Guelph and University of B.C. were not covered by the Charter. He also cited a 2016 B.C. Court of Appeal decision against the Youth Protecting Youth anti-abortion group at the University of Victoria.  

“Both the Chambers judge and the Court of Appeal found in [the UVic case] that regulating or prohibiting space controlled by the university from being used for expressive purposes was not sufficient to constitute the performance of a government function,” Greenwood wrote. 

The appeal decision said “[universities] manage their own affairs and allocate government funds, tuition revenues and endowment funds to meet their needs as they see fit. The complex nature of the relationship between the university and the provincial government did not alter the traditional nature of a university as a community of scholars and students enjoying substantial internal autonomy.”

In 2013, Youth Protecting Youth’s space-booking privileges were revoked for a year after it disobeyed the university’s orders against holding an outdoor event where photographs of fetuses were displayed. The B.C. Civil Liberties Association and group leader Cameron Cote accused the university of illegally censoring peaceful pro-life opinion on campus.

Ngo, who is not a party to the Free Speech Club lawsuit, authored “Unmasked: Inside Antifa’s Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy” in 2021. The senior editor with the conservative Post Millennial news outlet sued the far-left Rose City Antifa in 2023 for injuries suffered at a 2019 protest. Two people were found not liable. When three other defendants did not appear, a judge awarded Ngo $300,000 in damages by default. 

Protesters against Israel and its war on the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza arrived April 29 and erected barricades and tents on MacInnes Field at UBC’s main Point Grey campus. They demand UBC divest from Israel-related stocks, cut ties with Israeli universities and abolish police from campus. UBC President Benoit-Antoine Bacon has not agreed to the demands of protesters, nor has he ordered them to be removed. 

Protesters have also staged sit-ins at the university president’s office building and the bookstore. Police thwarted their attempt to occupy a building where NDP re-election campaign workers were meeting June 1.

Charlotte Kates of Samidoun on May 29 (CASI)

On May 29, campers and supporters blocked a major intersection near UBC hospital. Charges are being considered against Susan Bibbings, who defied orders to leave the intersection. The West Vancouver mother pleaded guilty in 2022 for blocking highways in environmental protests professionally organized by associates of the California-based Climate Emergency Fund.

The UBC protest camp started with help from 44-year-old Charlotte Kates, international director of the pro-Hamas Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. 

Prosecutors are considering whether to charge Kates for inciting or promoting hatred after Vancouver Police arrested her on April 29. 

On the Vancouver Art Gallery steps April 26, Kates called Iran-backed Hamas “heroic and brave” for the Oct. 7 attack on Israel and she urged followers to support those inside and outside Gaza who are fighting to end the state of Israel. Kates also said Hamas and its allies do not belong on Canada’s terrorist list.

Police released Kates on an undertaking to not attend protests, demonstrations or assemblies until a tentative Oct. 8 court date. Samidoun has organized or promoted most, if not all, Lower Mainland anti-Israel protests since Oct. 7.

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Bob Mackin As the anti-Israel protest camp at