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Bob Mackin

Vancouver joined Victoria and Richmond on Sept. 30 by renaming a street named for the province’s first Lieutenant-Governor. 

Design for the signs replacing Trutch Street in Vancouver (Pete Fry/City of Vancouver)

At an on-reserve, public ceremony, the Musqueam Indian Band bestowed City of Vancouver a new name for Trutch Street in Kitsilano on the second annual Truth and Reconciliation orange shirt day. New signs will read Musqueamview Street in English and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (pronounced “ShMusqueam-awsum”) in the Halkomelem language.

City council voted unanimously July 8 to support Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s name change motion. Stewart, whose re-election campaign team wears Forward Together-branded orange shirts, called Sir Joseph William Trutch, a “racist and chief architect of policies causing immense and long-standing harm to First Nations people.” 

English-born Trutch came north. from California for the Fraser River Gold Rush in 1858. He eventually negotiated British Columbia’s 1871 entry to Confederation and was appointed lieutenant governor. But he was also known for disregarding aboriginal title and reducing the size of reserves. 

In a 2017 B.C. Studies essay, former BC Liberal aboriginal relations and reconciliation minister George Abbott noted the 2003 rebuke of Trutch by Iona Campagnolo, B.C.’s 27th lieutenant governor. Campagnolo called Trutch her “least illustrious” predecessor and blamed him for “prejudices and injustices that stain our provincial history.”

In April, without any fanfare, Richmond renamed Trutch Street in the Terra Nova neighbourhood to Point Avenue, in honour of B.C.’s first Indigenous lieutenant governor, Steven Point. Point chaired the Sto:lo Nation and sat as a provincial court judge before his 2007 to 2012 term at Government House.

On July 10, Victoria hosted an Esquimalt and Songhees ceremony to rename its Trutch Street as “Su’it Street.” In the Lekwungen language, Su’it, pronounced “say-EET,” means truth.

Documents released under freedom of information show Victoria city hall spent $3,124 to change the name.

Trutch Street in Vancouver (Mackin)

The cost of three new cut vinyl-on-aluminum signs was just $225. With labour and design costs added, the total was $1,465.35. It spent $235.29 for three posts from Flocor in Stoney Creek, Ont. Nine city workers billed time for the project. 

The Hungry Bubbas food truck from Duncan catered strawberry bannock and coffee for $750 and city hall paid $900 in stipends to three local First Nations members: Margaret Charlie and Michelle Sam ($400 each) and Diane Sam ($100).

The Victoria renaming ceremony came a month before the fourth anniversary of Mayor Lisa Helps unofficially launching her last re-election campaign with the removal of the 1982-erected Sir John A. Macdonald statue outside city hall. 

Canada’s first Prime Minister and Victoria member of parliament helped unite the country by railway, but also approved creation of the Indian residential school system. Helps said in 2018 that the statue removal was conceived in meetings of the so-called “city family” committee with local Indigenous leaders. 

Minutes were not kept of the meetings and Victoria’s FOI office originally issued a $1,185 invoice to find email to city council from citizens about whether the statue should stay or go. It eventually disclosed 13 pages containing letters of support, plus a letter from the Sir John A. Macdonald Historical Society’s chair, Michael Francis. 

Francis wrote that Macdonald worked to reform laws to enable Indigenous people to vote, but it was important to learn from mistakes made by leaders of the past. 

“Sometimes an appropriate location of a statute with a suitable plaque to reflect the strengths and weaknesses on the individual may be far more instructive for all of us than its simple obliteration from the landscape,” said Francis’s letter. 

Removal of the statue cost taxpayers $30,126, including $12,446 for policing and $9,303 for city staff. It was placed in city storage. 

On Sept. 22, outgoing mayor Helps led the unanimous vote to return the statue to the society for storage in Ladner. 

Early last year, vandals beheaded the Queen Elizabeth II statue in the capital city’s Beacon Hill Park. On Canada Day in 2021, a mob tore down the Capt. James Cook statue across from the Empress Hotel and heaved it into the Inner Harbour. 

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Bob Mackin Vancouver joined Victoria and Richmond on

Bob Mackin

A sports ticketing and travel company is suing the promoter of the cancelled Vancouver electric car race and its four principals for more than $3.4 million. 

ATPI Travel and Events Canada Inc. filed a claim Sept. 20 in the Quebec Superior Court against One Stop Stategy Group Inc., and its executives, Matthew Carter, Eric Kerb, Anne Roy and Philip Smirnow.

OSS Group’s Matthew Carter (LinkedIn)

ATPI claims the majority of OSS directors have departed and it fears OSS will go bankrupt instead of paying what it owes the company and ticket holders: $2,789,539 to reimburse ticket buyers and $656,224.46 for ATPI’s service fees and customer refunds. 

A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 20 in Montreal.

“The defendants have absolutely no intention to refund customers and comply with their obligations,” the ATPI claim said. 

The first of five annual Canadian E-Fests was scheduled for June 30-July 2, including a Nickelback concert, environmental conference, e-sports tournament and ABB Formula E World Championship race around East False Creek streets. In April, the event was postponed to 2023 due to the OSS failure to obtain permits from public and private landowners. Vancouver wasn’t included on the 2023 race schedule in June when Formula E terminated its contract with OSS.

ATPI’s court filing said it agreed Sept. 29, 2021 to be the ticket seller with a contract that required OSS to fully refund ATPI and ticket buyers within 30 days of any cancellation. 

ATPI’s claim states trouble appeared April 15 when it was informed that the event “would allegedly be postponed” and that Carter was to meet with City of Vancouver, Formula E and key suppliers. 

Map of the proposed route for the Vancouver Formula E race.

“ATPI was not aware nor was it informed by defendants that at that time, OSS had already

been notified by the City of Vancouver that the latter had terminated its agreement with OSS regarding the event, given OSS’ failure to comply with their obligations,” said the lawsuit. 

ATPI said it discovered June 17 through a Formula E media statement that the race was not postponed, but cancelled and that OSS’s contract with Formula E had been terminated. 

On June 27, ATPI demanded all ticket sale proceeds from OSS and eligible costs so that it could refund customers. But, it claimed, OSS refused. 

“Consequently, many consumers have been addressing their reimbursement requests

directly to ATPI, by proceeding to ‘chargebacks’ through their credit card companies which have been debiting the refunds from ATPI’s account.”

ATPI alleged the chargebacks have cost it $560,000 so far and that OSS ignored its Aug. 2 demand letter. 

“[OSS and its executives] clearly tried to elude their obligations towards ATPI and consumers, by refusing and/or neglecting without any valid reason to see to the reimbursement of ticket holders.”

None of the allegations has been proven in court and OSS has not responded. 

At the end of July, city council decided behind closed-doors to direct staff to refund the $500,000 deposit to OSS, even though the city’s contract allowed it to keep the sum. Talks between the city and OSS broke down in mid-August when OSS balked at the city’s insistence that a mutually agreed lawyer be retained to ensure the funds were properly disbursed to ticket holders and suppliers. 

“It’s impossible for us to accept it, and they knew that,” Carter, the OSS CEO, said in a brief phone interview Aug. 22. “I will give you an update when I’m allowed to. All I can confirm is we have not received any of the funds.”

Coun. Michael Wiebe (left) and Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung in 2018 (Mackin)

The Jan. 26 contract between city hall and OSS, obtained under freedom of information, said OSS was responsible for all costs of producing the event, including city engineering and police services. It also agreed to pay overtime costs due to holding a downtown core event on Canada Day weekend — a date typically blacked-out for new major events. 

Carter said 33,000 tickets were sold to the event, but did not say how many were full price to the public versus freebies for sponsors. 

Green Party Coun. Mike Wiebe and ABC Vancouver Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung co-sponsored the April 2021 city council motion to bring Formula E to Vancouver.

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Bob Mackin A sports ticketing and travel company

Bob Mackin

The biggest backer of Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s re-election campaign has been accused in court of abusing his children.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart (Twitter)

But Stewart’s Forward Together party has not responded to requests for comment about the party’s relationship with its most-important fundraiser. 

In B.C. Supreme Court on Sept. 27, a judge heard allegations from Francesco Aquilini’s estranged wife Tali’ah that the owner of the Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena had a history of physically and mentally abusing his children.

Tali’ah alleges that her former husband, with whom she reached a divorce settlement in 2013, stopped making child support payments a year ago. She also claimed that the three children, now in their 20s and studying in university, want no contact with their father. 

The case prompted the National Hockey League to issue a statement, saying that it had contacted Aquilini and his lawyers. “Mr. Aquilini has advised us that he categorically denies the allegations. We plan to continue to monitor the situation and, if necessary, will respond as we learn more as events unfold.”

A statement on Francesco Aquilini’s behalf said that he has and will continue to meet legal obligations, “but he has concerns about the veracity of the information provided in support of financial demands. 

“It is unfortunate that allegations without merit are brought forward for a collateral purpose. He will have nothing further to say at this time as the matter is before the courts.”

Francesco Aquilini between MP Taleeb Noormohamed (left) and Premier John Horgan (BC Gov/Flickr)

Evidence of the rift in the public domain includes a 2019 profile on an American university website for one of the couple’s children, who identified the first names of her siblings and mother, but omitted her father’s name.

The Forward Together spreadsheet of fundraising “captains” found by Stanley Q. Woodvine of the Georgia Straight says Aquilini helped raise $64,350 in 2022 donations for Stewart’s re-election, with a goal of $110,000. The amount raised and the goal are far and away higher than any of the other prominent names from the city’s real estate industry in the document. 

In Forward Together’s Aug. 8-released fundraising list, Stewart reported receiving almost $14,000 in donations from Aquilini family members in the last two years. 

The list shows 2021 donations from brothers Francesco ($1,238.07) and Roberto Aquilini ($1,239). Francesco, Roberto and father Luigi each gave $1,250 in 2022.

Jim Chu, the former Vancouver Police chief now working as a vice-president of Aquilini Investment Group, is on the list for $1,239 in 2021 and $1,250 in 2022. Former AIG president David Negrin, now the top executive at MST Development, donated $1,239 to Stewart in 2021.

Francesco Aquilini publicly threw his support behind Stewart’s re-election campaign, when he hosted an April 25 fundraiser at the Captain’s Room in Rogers Arena. The event was officially called the Mayor’s Engagement Lunch. Stewart advertised tickets for the event at $600, $900 and $1,250. 

AIG and MST Development Corp., the Musqueam-Squamish-Tsleil-Waututh real estate company, plan to redevelop the former B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch site on East Broadway. AIG, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh co-own the Willingdon Lands in Burnaby. Negrin advised MST on its purchase of the province’s Jericho Lands, after MST combined with Canada Lands Co. to acquire the federal parcel and two other federal properties. 

Squamish Nation spokesman Marc Riddell has not responded for comment about the allegations against Aquilini.

The three First Nations have proposed an athletes’ village be built at the Jericho Lands if the Canadian Olympic Committee’s bid for to bring the Olympics back to Vancouver wins next year. The proposed venues include Rogers Arena, site of the 2010 men’s and women’s hockey gold medal games. 

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Bob Mackin The biggest backer of Vancouver Mayor

Bob Mackin

A SkyTrain derailed near Scott Road station last May because of what TransLink has called “almost simultaneous failure of two bolts” at one of the mainline’s 124 turnout switches.

On May 30 at 7:40 p.m., two cars of a four-car Mark 11 train derailed: both trucks of the third car and the rear truck of the fourth car went off the rail, disrupting rapid transit service to and from Surrey for 24 hours.

Photo of the derailed SkyTrain car on May 30, 2022 near Scott Road Station (TransLink)

TransLink originally downplayed the severity, calling it a “track issue” and “stalled train” before saying the train had been “partially dislodged.” No injuries were reported, though passengers stuck on the train for a half-hour needed attendants to walk them back to the station.

Email released under freedom of information indicates that the switch, which enables a train to move from one set of tracks to another, should have received a thorough annual inspection earlier in May, but received a bi-weekly inspection on the morning of May 29. A bi-weekly inspection generally involves a track-level visual and condition assessment and lubrication of movable components. A work order log shows that technicians dealt with faults at the same turnout switch, known as DC47, from early 2021 all the way to April of this year.

Guideway supervisor Nick Micelotta’s May 31 handover report said that two “K-plate bolts sheared at the head.” The switch was not movable and that a burning smell was coming from the train. Micelotta’s report said the derailment caused extensive damage. 

“LIM [linear induction motor] cap was scraped for about two track sections, concrete wall was hit by collector shoe assembly that was ripped off the train, handrail right above it was hit by the train and walkway cover inserts/bolts were torn off on one side,” Micelotta wrote.

TransLink’s rail division, B.C. Rapid Transit Co., waited for Technical Safety BC’s approval for rerail and repair. Revenue service resumed after 7:47 p.m. on May 31. 

“We have never had this incident or similar incident occur before,” TransLink spokesperson Tina Lovegreen said by email.

Photo of the derailed SkyTrain car on May 30, 2022 near Scott Road Station (TransLink)

Lovegreen said the impact of trains on rail causes wear and tear and loosening of components over time. 

“Immediately after this incident, we inspected all frogs [common crossings] and bolts across the system, none showed the same problem as DC47,” Lovegreen said.

A report to the Sept. 28 TransLink board meeting said the incident was a major reason why Expo and Millennium lines did not meet service delivery and on-time performance targets in the second quarter. 

Operations vice-president Mike Richard said SkyTrain was 95.7% on-time, below the 96.5% target. There were 12 delays over 30 minutes, including the derailment, three switch issues, two power issues, two extended medical emergencies, two objects falling into the track, one extended trespasser in the track area and one train door problem.

TransLink has six levels of switch inspection, ranging from a daily visual inspection using a sweep train to the hands-on yearly inspection, which includes lubrication of movable components, a complete hardware condition assessment and cleaning of all components throughout the switch.

The completed inspections log for DC47 showed there had been 11 biweekly switch inspections in 2022 before the derailment, plus a hands-on quarterly in February. The work order for a May 18 annual inspection was not completed. 

Three work orders in 2021 focused on problems with the fastening systems. 

“Both heads on the K-plate bolts sheared off. Bolts were stuck inside the plate,” said the entry for Jan. 9, 2021. 

The “K-plate bolt [was] found with its head sheared off and the bolt shank drifting out of the hole,” on July 7, 2021.

Photo of the derailed SkyTrain car on May 30, 2022 near Scott Road Station (TransLink)

The K-plate bolt appeared to be loose during Oct. 18, 2021 work, “So I went to tightened it and it was snapped already. There is history on this frog (Siemens) for adapter plate and K-plate & bolts snapping.”

Lovegreen said the bolts used were recommended and authorized by the original equipment manufacturer and there was no indication that bolt failures were specific to Siemens machines. She also said there was no “go slow zone” in place at the time of the incident at the DC47 switch. 

While the incident was called a derailment by SkyTrain managers throughout the email disclosed, TransLink’s communications department refers to the incident as a “dislodgement.” Richard repeated the same word during his Sept. 28 presentation to the TransLink board.

“Given only one part of the train was dislodged from the track, it was more appropriate to refer to the incident as a partial dislodgment,” Lovegreen said. 

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Bob Mackin A SkyTrain derailed near Scott Road

Bob Mackin

An outspoken advocate for affordable housing calls an apology by a OneCity Vancouver supporter a “non-pology” after a leaked chat log showed party supporters discussing potential dirty tricks against opponents who aren’t on the Oct. 15 ballot.

Rohana Rezel (ProVancouver/YouTube)

Rohana Rezel, who ran for city council in 2018 with ProVancouver, published excerpts on his ThinkPol website from online discussions between activists involved with the party behind Coun. Christine Boyle and School Board Trustee Jennifer Reddy. 

Several of those named are also associated with Abundant Housing Vancouver (AHV). The group of activists, aligned with the B.C. NDP and federal Liberals, frequently lobbies Vancouver city council to fast-track the replacement of single-family housing with high-density projects. 

One of those on the chat, Tim Ell, proposed “we give [Rezel] a taste of his own medicine and openly wonder why he’s associating on Twitter with possible pedophiles.”

Another person, whose identity was redacted on Rezel’s website, suggested “someone should just create anon (account) that spews nonstop racist misogynist stuff and then pin it on Rezel.” 

“They tried to destroy my life and they spread some horrendous, malicious rumours about other people,” Rezel said in an interview. “They need to beg everyone involved for an apology. But no one’s taking accountability.”

Neither Boyle, the de facto leader of the party, nor campaign manager Alex McGowan responded for comment.

In a series of Tweets on Tuesday attributed to McGowan, the party said it became aware of private Twitter chat logs including comments from a OneCity door-to-door campaigner. 

“OneCity was founded on a commitment to do politics differently. The statements in question are clearly inconsistent with our founding values,” read the party’s Tweets. “We are glad to see that the individual understands that his language was inappropriate and has apologized and committed to do better. Elections are contests of ideas that should be approached in good faith. This is not how we address the crises that are facing our city.”

Tim Ell (left) and Christine Boyle (Twitter)

Tim Ell Tweeted an apology, claiming the screenshots were taken “wildly out of context,” but admitted he got caught-up in “toxic, bad faith politics.”

“I have never, and would never, accuse someone of anything without evidence,” wrote Ell, who works as a branch manager at BMO. “Regardless of their political views, no one deserves to be the target of slanders or misinformation.”

Rezel said he had received nothing directly from OneCity or Ell.

“It feels like they tried to downplay the severity of what was discussed, to slander people,” Rezel said.

Nobody from AHV responded for comment. The 2016-founded, pro-development group’s board includes Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal lawyer Danny Oleksiuk. During his appearance at the Seattle-based Sightline Institute’s YIMBYTown 2022 conference, Oleksiuk revealed how AHV had become allied with OneCity by the 2018 election. 

He described the party as a “left, left NIMBY kind of thing” during the 2014 election cycle. 

“Abundant Housing actually spent a lot of time talking to OneCity people, because we’re like, look, these aren’t really your values if you really think about what you’re doing,” Oleksiuk said on April 12. 

“OneCity had a really incredible change of heart” and it replaced some organizers and members along the way with people like Dustin Rivers, aka Khelsilem, now the Squamish Nation’s council chair. Rivers also spoke on the April 12 event and said he had led the development of OneCity’s 2022 campaign platform.

Dustin Rivers (aka Khelsilem), Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Coun. Christine Boyle (Twitter)

Rezel has been a thorn in the side of Vancouver followers of the so-called YIMBY movement, who aggressively lobby for rapid housing deregulation and fast-tracked density to bring down prices, despite evidence to the contrary. For instance, a 2019 study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Urban Affairs Review found upzoning resulted in Chicago price increases.

Rezel has also exposed abuses by Airbnb operators and professional housing speculators. He originally revealed that Liberal Vancouver-Granville candidate Taleeb Noormohamed had five properties to his name. Noormohamed narrowly won the riding in the 2021 federal election. 

Rezel received 6,336 votes in 2018 when he ran unsuccessfully for city council. He decided not to run this time around, despite gaining a higher-profile over the last four years. 

“I have a three-year-old and, he’s not going to be three again,” Rezel said. “So I thought he needs me more than the city does.”

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Bob Mackin An outspoken advocate for affordable housing

Bob Mackin

Numerous British Columbia government websites were out of service for almost 12 hours on the last weekend of September.

The Ministry of Citizens’ Services said that between 1:26 p.m. Sept. 25 and 12:30 a.m. Sept. 26, an undetermined number of websites were inaccessible due to maintenance gone awry.

DriveBC couldn’t show traffic cameras while government websites were down. (Twitter)

“This was caused by an issue with scheduled firmware update from one of our service providers and there continues to be no indication of malicious intent,” said a statement from the ministry. 

On Sept. 26, the ministry said it would take too much time to confirm the number of websites impacted, “but this was a widespread, intermittent outage.”

“We are currently working with our service delivery partners Advanced Solutions and Hewlett Packard Enterprise to investigate root cause of the outage.”

The first major public notification of trouble came on the DriveBC Twitter account at 2:15 p.m. Sept. 25, when it announced a network outage. The entire highways information website was down, so none of the highway traffic cameras across B.C. was accessible. The Lions Gate Bridge was also affected by a service outage, which meant less-frequent lane changes and additional southbound congestion.

Citizens’ Services Minister Lisa Beare (NDP)

Other inaccessible websites included Premier John Horgan’s page, Government Communications and Public Engagement and the public-facing government employees’ directory.

The NDP government budgeted $173.4 million for enterprise services this year, up from $146.1 million last year, including information technology infrastructure, and network and data services.

The outage came almost two years after a cyber incident at the Legislative Assembly.

The Legislature’s website was taken down Nov. 10, 2020 and replaced with an image that claimed it was subject to “unscheduled maintenance.” The Clerk’s office finally admitted on Nov. 19, 2020 that it had been hacked, but downplayed the severity and said no data had been lost.

The all-party Legislative Assembly Management Committee (LAMC) and Clerk’s office have not released the report into what went wrong. Then-BC Liberal house leader Peter Milobar expressed frustration at a July 2021 meeting over increasing IT costs and continuing network outages at constituency offices stemming from the incident. 

“Our own ability to service our constituents has been eight months of complete frustration that seems to not be getting any better — if anything, getting worse,” Milobar said. 

The $5.8 million allotted for IT is the biggest line item in the Legislative Operations budget for the current fiscal year. 

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Bob Mackin Numerous British Columbia government websites were

Bob Mackin

A real estate agent running for Vancouver city council with the NPA promoted his company on YouTube for almost two-and-a-half years with a so-called Chinese “blessing video” starring African children.

Chinese greeting video on Morning Lee’s YouTube account (YouTube)

Only after it went viral on social media Sept. 25 did Morning Lee remove the 15-second ad from public view. Before that happened, downloaded a copy.

The “Voices of African friends” video was uploaded to the Best Choice Real Estate Group/Morning Li Team YouTube account on March 27, 2020 and shows 19 African children told by an off-screen voice to repeat Mandarin phrases translating to: “Benefit the people, benefit the people, co-operate once, friends for a lifetime.” 

The children are standing around a chalkboard. The Chinese characters read: “Anything is possible, be a friend for lifetime, call.” In English, it reads: “Morning Li Team” and “Call 77-88-99-99-86,” the office phone number for Best Choice and related firm Royal Pacific Realty. 

It is not clear when or where the video was produced or by whom. It is a similar style to videos sold for US$10 to US$70 through a child exploitation industry that was exposed in June’s BBC Africa Eye “Racism for Sale” documentary. 

In an interview, Lee said the video was produced without his consent, but he did not explain where it came from and why it had been displayed since March 2020. Asked how much the video cost, Lee said: “I cannot answer that how much, because I did not pay anything.”

“Some of my team members did that,” Lee said. “I asked who did that? But nobody told me who did that. And so I did not know anything about that. But recently, yes, I saw the news. I saw something happened in Africa. So I think it’s not good. So that’s why I deleted it.”

Morning Lee’s YouTube account for his Morning Li Team (YouTube)

By early Sept. 26, the link went to a screen that said the video was unavailable. “This video is private.”

Lee later issued a statement that said “child exploitation or jokes about it of any kind should be banned and prosecuted. I condemn all related things.”

He remains on the NPA website as a candidate for the Oct. 15 civic election. Neither mayoral candidate Fred Harding nor party president Dave Mawhinney responded for comment. 

BBC reporter Runako Celina noticed personalized greeting videos on a Chinese social media account called “Jokes About Black People Club” and traced them to Malawi. She found a 26-year-old Chinese national named Lu Ke producing videos featuring children paid a pittance to work long hours in front of the camera when they should have been attending school. In one video, the unwitting children were coached to call themselves black monsters with low IQs in Mandarin. 

Lu Ke was arrested in Zambia and extradited in July to Malawi to face child trafficking and money laundering charges. 

Lee did not say precisely when he became aware of what the BBC exposed or how many people could have seen the video for his company, which he said was also posted elsewhere. He said he has 30 people on his team and “they did it for a surprise to me.”

“I don’t know anything about that,” Lee said. “They did not ask me, hey Morning, you need to reimburse this money. No. Nobody asked me.”

Lee is licensed by regulator B.C. Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) as Li Huimin for Morning Lee Personal Real Estate Corporation with the Royal Pacific Realty (Kingsway) Ltd. brokerage through Dec. 21, 2023. Best Choice Real Estate Group is not listed in the online database. 

“BCSFA is aware of allegations towards real estate licensee Morning Lee (Huimin Li) however we cannot comment on the allegations or confirm whether a complaint has been received, or if an investigation is underway,” said BCFSA spokesperson Audrey McKinnon.

BCFSA advertising rules say that social media platforms used to market services or properties must follow the same guidelines as all other print advertising. A team name must be BCFSA-approved and may be used in advertisements, but the brokerage name must also be prominently displayed and easily readable.

“Translations of brokerage names into other languages is not acceptable,” the rules say. “Your name and the name of your brokerage and personal real estate corporation/team must be reflected as registered by BCFSA.”

Real estate agents and 2018 Vancouver city council candidates Morning Li (left) and Jason Xie (Coalition Vancouver/Facebook)

In 2018, when he ran unsuccessfully for council with Vancouver 1st, he registered as Morning Li. For the 2022 ballot, he uses Morning Lee and Chinese characters corresponding with his birth name, Li Huimin. He said he now uses Lee because too many people mispronounced Li as “lie.”

“Who is Morning ‘lie’? Morning doesn’t lie!” he laughed.

It is not the first time during this campaign that Lee’s YouTube channel has sparked controversy. In a November 2021 Chinese YouTube video, he advised landlords to “assert ownership” and deal with a bad tenant by defecating in the tenant’s toilet. Lee told Glacier Media on Sept. 16 that he was joking. Last week, he filed a handwritten, self-represented defamation lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court. None of the allegations has been proven in court and Glacier has not responded.  

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Bob Mackin A real estate agent running for

For the week of Sept. 25, 2022:

It’s MMA time again: Mackin-Mario-Andy. Podcast host Bob Mackin, ResearchCo pollster Mario Canseco and Simon Fraser University city program director Andy Yan, that is.

They look at the week that was on the road to the Vancouver civic election:

Is TEAM for a Livable Vancouver’s Colleen Hardwick striking a chord with her party’s opposition to rapid densification pushed by other parties? 

Is a commission to schedule all-candidates meetings needed to ensure mayoral hopefuls don’t skip out on debates?

Will mail-in voting and ballot order make a difference on Oct. 15?

And what about an NPA city council candidate’s oddball advice to landlords about flushing away bad tenants? 

Plus Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim headlines and a virtual Nanaimo bar for a difference maker.

CLICK BELOW to listen or go to TuneIn or Apple Podcasts.

Now on Google Podcasts!

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

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thePodcast: On the road to Vancouver's civic election

For the week of Sept. 25, 2022:

Bob Mackin

A year after losing his Steveston-Richmond East seat, former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu is pondering whether to make a comeback. 

“Tell me when the election is, and I’ll tell you the answer,” Chiu said. “I was hoping [Justin] Trudeau will somehow be scared by [Pierre] Poilievre and therefore pull the plug, but it looks like the possibility of that is actually diminishing. So I don’t know how long I have to be in a holding pattern.”

Steveston-Richmond East runner-up Kenny Chiu before the election (Twitter)

Chiu has bills to pay, but still has things he wants to do in service of the country, because it’s “critical that we hold Canada closer to our heart.” 

The sting remains from the Sept. 20, 2021 snap election. Voter turnout in the riding fell 3,000 from 2019, when Chiu upset Liberal incumbent Joe Peschisolido. Chiu’s vote count plummeted 25% and he finished a distant 3,477 votes behind Liberal rookie Parm Bains, after a campaign marred by anti-Conservative disinformation via Chinese state media and social media.

“If you offend the Chinese, the whole group will be punished!” said an English translation of Luxmore Realty president Jason Liu’s celebratory commentary posted on WeChat. “Richmond’s two Conservative seats were replaced by the Liberal Party, which was the result of the awakening of Chinese.”

Liu applauded the “great role” played by the Chinese Canadians Goto Vote Association [CCGVA]. Supporters of the society, which formed the week after Trudeau called the election, even campaigned with Bains, near Chiu’s Steveston riding office. Two of the men wearing “Your Vote Matters” T-shirts and holding signs are involved with groups related to China’s United Front foreign influence campaign. One of them, an honorary chair of the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations. 

Ivan Pak, a former People’s Party of Canada candidate, anti-Asian racism activist and co-founder of the CCGVA, said Chiu lost after paying more attention to foreign issues. 

Meng Wanzhou’s tearful goodbye at Vancouver International Airport (Bob Mackin Exclusive, copyright 2021)

“He basically was stirring the water among the Chinese community,” said Pak.

During the pandemic, Canadians had become more concerned about the rising superpower and its government’s adverse influence on Canada. ResearchCo gauged public perception, two years after China took Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor hostage in retaliation for the YVR arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. The result: Only one in five respondents viewed China favourably.

That translated into Erin O’Toole’s Conservative platform, which considered the Chinese Communist Party a national security threat to Canada, promised to crack down on money laundering and impose a moratorium on foreign real estate purchases, and to ban Huawei from Canada’s 5G network.

Chiu didn’t hide where he stood. Shortly after his 2019 election, he returned to his native Hong Kong to observe local elections. In February 2021, he supported the House of Commons motion to declare China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims a genocide and to call for the 2022 Winter Olympics to be moved out of Beijing. In March 2021, China sanctioned members of the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights, thus banning vice-chair Chiu from returning to Hong Kong.

In April 2021, Chiu tabled a bill to create a registry for anyone lobbying for any foreign government. Pro-China activists seized on this issue and called Chiu and the Conservatives “anti-China” and accused them of stoking anti-Asian racism.

“They have convinced the people that party equal to state equals to the race itself. So if you criticize the CCP,  you’re equated to criticizing the state, China,” Chiu said. “Especially for overseas Chinese, they extend that further: if you’re criticizing the motherland, the state, well, then you’re criticizing our race. That is a very powerful and very impactful mobilizing force.”

Chiu said he took racism seriously, advocated for Richmond victims and met with RCMP Supt. Will Ng to seek a solution.

“This is not Canada, we don’t accept racism. But it’s more important that I was fully aware of the Chinese Communist Party’s effort, not just in Canada, but around the world, of hijacking the issues and trying to pretend itself to be the spokesperson for ethnic Chinese around the world.”

The week that began with the election, ended with a surprise twist. On Sept. 24, 2021, Meng admitted to U.S. authorities that she deceived HSBC, her Vancouver extradition court hearings halted and she flew back to Shenzhen. China freed the Two Michaels and they flew home to Canada.

Maxime Bernier (left) and Ivan Pak in 2019. In 2021, Pak endorsed James Hinton. (Facebook)

Precisely eight months after the election, the Trudeau Liberal government banned Huawei from Canada’s 5G networks.

Over the summer, Chiu worked on Poilievre’s leadership win over Jean Charest, who Poilievre slammed for acting as a lawyer for the tech giant that Beijing considers a “national champion.”

“For me, it’s important for us to elect a leader that didn’t work for Huawei or is not in the pocket of the CCP,” Chiu said.

In the meantime, he is keeping an eye on the Oct. 15 municipal elections, concerned that the CCP’s sophisticated and relentless meddling could affect outcomes around B.C. 

He specifically mentioned Vancouver mayoralty challenger Ken Sim of ABC Vancouver. The 2018 runner-up unofficially kicked-off his campaign last October, the week after the Meng and Two Michaels swap. 

Nobody from Vancouver city council attended the Chinese consulate-sponsored Beijing Olympics promotion a day after China’s 72nd national day. But there was Sim, glad-handing on the Jack Poole Plaza stage and cutting a ribbon. 

“Municipal politics, they know that those are grooming grounds, those are just the incubators,” he said. “The Chinese, we believe, and we put a lot of emphasis in, relationship-building.”

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Bob Mackin A year after losing his Steveston-Richmond

Bob Mackin

Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations honorary chairman Wang Dianqi (left) listening to Liberal Parm Bains in Steveston (WeChat)

Supporters of a society that registered during the 2021 federal election campaign to encourage Chinese-Canadians to vote campaigned with the Liberal candidate who upset the Conservative incumbent in the controversial Steveston-Richmond East race a year ago.

A video clip that circulated on Chinese social media shows Parm Bains addressing a group wearing Chinese Canadians Goto Vote Association (CCGVA) T-shirts and holding signs bearing the society’s “Your Vote Matters” slogan.

The group included Wu Jiaming, executive chairman of the Canada-China City Friendship Association, and Wang Dianqi, honorary chairman of the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations. The Metro Vancouver organizations are related to the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front foreign influence and propaganda program.

“There’s been unprovoked attacks, discrimination, and racism, we’re not going to accept,” Bains told the group in Garry Point Park, near Conservative Kenny Chiu’s constituency office. “The Liberal Party of Canada is about inclusion. We’re here for everyone and my understanding is that this community specifically doesn’t have somebody who’s been a strong voice in representing them for a long time.” 

On Sept. 20, 2021, Bains defeated Chiu by 3,477 votes, after outspending him $107,000 to $89,000. Almost two years earlier, Chiu had ended Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido’s political career by a 2,747-vote margin. 

“I am not surprised by what what you found,” Chiu said in an interview. “And I think Mr. Parm Bains is just a puppet these pro-CCP elements are using now.”

Richmond Conservative Kenny Chiu says a story on WeChat is wrong (CCN Media)

Hong Kong-born Chiu had been the target of a pro-Beijing disinformation campaign on Chinese social media, part of a larger effort against the Erin O’Toole-led Conservatives and their platform, which promised to ban Huawei from Canada’s 5G network and investigate the company’s role in surveillance of Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region. A week before election day, an office at Global Affairs Canada detected anti-Conservative content from CCP-affiliated media accounts across Chinese social media platforms WeChat, Weibo and Douyin.

“The [Canadian Security Intelligence Service] have been reminding parliamentarians and reminding our political leaders for for ages, that Russia, Iran and China are trying to influence Canada, and it should not have been partisan,” Chiu said. 

In neighbouring Richmond Centre, Liberal newcomer Wilson Miao upset the thrice re-elected Conservative Alice Wong by just 772 votes, despite spending 56% less than Wong. People’s Party of Canada candidate James Hinton finished fifth with 748 votes. Had Hinton not split the right-wing vote, there could have been a judicial recount. A year later, Elections Canada said it has still not received Hinton’s campaign finance disclosure.

CCGVA was co-founded by Ivan Pak, “Ally” Wang Li and Daoping Bao, the week after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the snap election. Pak, a 2019 PPC candidate who endorsed Hinton’s candidacy, said CCGVA was not registered with Elections Canada as a third-party because it is non-partisan and does not favour a candidate or an issue. CCGVA’s Chinese-language website sought to identify eligible Chinese-speaking Canadian citizens and urged them to register and vote.

On Sept. 18, 2021, the Saturday before election day, CCGVA supporters campaigned at Richmond city centre shopping and transit hubs and in Steveston. Pak said CCGVA did not set-up the meeting with Bains. He said Wu Jiaming and Wang Dianqi were not part of CCGVA’s organization, just volunteers during last year’s campaign.

Maxime Bernier (left) and Ivan Pak in 2019. In 2021, Pak endorsed James Hinton. (Facebook)

“We made it very clear to them that our organization, we’re not supporting the candidates,” Pak said. 

“I know they are very close to the Chinese Consulate. I mean, they attend a lot of events at the Chinese Consulate, and so we do not want to do that because we want to focus [on issues] here in Canada.”

Alexander MacKenzie, aide to Bains, said the MP was unavailable for an interview due to recovery from a medical procedure. MacKenzie said Bains had been invited by the YoYo Hiking Club, but did not recognize Wu Jiaming or Wang Dianqi. “They had no role in my campaign,” Bains said by email.

Pak and Li hosted Bains and Mandarin-speaking Liberal Burnaby South candidate Brea Huang Sami for an interview on Rise Weekly’s YouTube channel during the federal election. MacKenzie said it was not a paid appearance and not part of the Bains campaign’s $945 magazine ad buy. Rise also featured a video interview with PPC leader Maxime Bernier, but not with Conservative or NDP candidates. Pak, who said he is a friend of Chiu, said Chiu was invited, but did not respond. Pak later said organizer Rise sent invitations to each party, not any particular candidate, and the Conservatives did not respond. 

Chiu describes Pak as an acquaintance, “somebody that has my personal phone number,” but said he did not receive an invitation.  

In August, at King George Park in Richmond, CCGVA kicked-off its campaign to encourage Chinese-Canadians to vote in the Oct. 15 municipal elections. Pak said CCGVA would engage in outreach events similar to 2021, closer to election day. In the meantime, Li hosts candidate interviews on the Vancouver Chinese Radio program on 550 KARI AM, a Blaine, Wash. Christian radio station that targets Metro Vancouver. 

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Bob Mackin [caption id="attachment_12544" align="alignright" width="391"] Canadian Alliance