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Bob Mackin

The Vancouver city hall housing executive who crossed the street to a civic contractor would not have been able to do the same, had he been employed by the provincial government.

Luke Harrison, the CEO of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency, has resigned from the $161,711-a-year job to join Horizon North Camp and Catering Partnership, the supplier of temporary modular housing to City of Vancouver.

Harrison was appointed the company’s vice-president of business development in late October. A Horizon North news release said Harrison will be responsible for growing business in the government and not-for-profit social housing sectors, including First Nations, seniors, students and affordable housing initiatives.

Luke Harrison (podium) with Gregor Robertson (Twitter)

Horizon North was paid $2.989,920 by the city last year. In October 2017, Horizon North announced a $66 million contract with City of Vancouver for 600 temporary modular housing units, to be funded by B.C. Housing.

The NDP government updated the post-employment restrictions for senior management in B.C.’s public service last May, preventing senior managers from registering to lobby the government for a year.

If a senior manager had “a substantial involvement in dealings with an outside entity at any time during the 12 months immediately preceding” his or her departure from government, he or she must not accept a job, contract or directorship with that outside entity for a year after the end of employment.

“Until one year after your employment ends, you must not act for an outside entity in connection with any ongoing proceedings, transaction, negotiation or case in which the outside entity and the government are involved,” the policy states.

No such rules exist at city hall. Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who was sworn-in Nov. 5, vowed in his election platform to tighten conflict of interest rules.

“Once elections are over, voters need to have confidence that city staff and politicians aren’t seen to be in any perceived conflicts of interest. That means staff that leave city hall one day, don’t start work with major developers the next, or politicians are no longer having undisclosed meetings,” Stewart’s platform said.

Dermod Travis of IntegrityBC said it is crucial that Stewart expedite reforms to preserve public trust. 

“The mayor has a number of commitments that he has to see through in terms of transparency and ethics at city hall, he’d be well-advised to make that his number one priority,” Travis said. “It simply feeds the public cynicism that somebody must be on the take, whether they were or not it feeds that cynicism, that’s what the mayor has to prevent.”

Harrison joined VAHA in February 2017, succeeding Mukhtar Laktif, who was fired and given a $266,170 golden parachute. Harrison was promoted from the planning department, which he joined in 2015 after working as a real estate development manager with TransLink and development manager with Rize Alliance Properties.

In July, real estate general manager Bill Aujla announced his departure from city hall to the Aquilini Investment Group. Last February, former Vision Vancouver executive director Stepan Vdovine joined Amacon Developments as director of business development. Duncan Wlodarczak left Vision in May 2016 to become chief of staff for Onni. 

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Bob Mackin The Vancouver city hall housing executive

Bob Mackin

British Columbia’s whistleblower law is incomplete, says a new report for the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.

The report, by Kwantlen Polytechnic University criminology professor Caroll Anne Boydell, said whistleblowers in the public and private sectors need protection because they have been critical to detect corruption and disclose wrongdoing.

British Columbia was one of the last Canadian jurisdictions with such a law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act, which was enacted by the NDP government last May to protect provincial government employees. It does not go far enough, writes Boydell.

“Broader definitions of whistleblowers, such as private sector workers, and broader definitions of protected disclosures, such as those pertaining to interference with FOI requests, are needed,” said the report. “In addition, more provisions are required in the law to protect the identities of disclosers and afford them more access to information about outcomes of investigations.”

The report said it is critical that best practices inform new or amended whistleblower protection laws, “to ensure that all whistleblowers in Canada are protected with metal and not cardboard shields.”

The report cited Tim Duncan, who blew the whistle on a fellow staffer in the B.C. Transport Minister’s office for ordering him to delete email about the Highway of Tears rather than disclosing it to an FOI requester. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham found this was a routine practice in the BC Liberal government. In 2016, George Gretes pleaded guilty to wilfully misleading Denham’s investigation about triple-deleting.

“Duncan concluded his letter to OIPC stating that it is ‘[his] belief that the abuse of the Freedom of Information process is widespread and most likely systematic’. Since this case, the practice of triple deletion of emails has been banned by the government,” the report said. “Without Duncan’s disclosure of wrongdoing, this practice of interference with access to information requests by destroying email records may have been permitted to continue.”

Boydell’s report also mentioned the firing of Service Canada fraud investigator Sylvie Therrien, who told a Montreal newspaper that she and fellow workers were ordered to meet quotas to reduce employment insurance payments in a bid to save $485,000 a year. Therrien eventually filed for personal bankruptcy, but is contesting her wrongful termination in court, five years after her disclosure.

“Legal protections for whistleblowers are clearly needed to prevent what can be severe reprisals for disclosure of wrongdoing and, as a result, remove any fear that someone with knowledge of wrongdoing might have that prevents them from disclosing it. Such protections increase the likelihood of openness and accountability in both public and private sector workplaces and entrench the right of  citizens to disclose wrongdoing, which benefits society.” 

It is an offence under the Criminal Code to prevent or punish an employee for disclosing information to law enforcement that an employer, fellow worker, or corporate director has committed a criminal act. B.C.’s FOI law does prohibit a public body employer from engaging in reprisals against an employee who discloses offences related to the act or refuses to engage in actions to break the act.

“There are still some disclosures of wrongdoing that may remain unprotected, such as interference with freedom of information requests. Some issues were also found related to transparency of decisions made about investigations into disclosures of wrongdoing and complaints of reprisal against whistleblowers, as well as about the accountability of government agencies in protecting whistleblowers.”

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Bob Mackin British Columbia’s whistleblower law is incomplete,

Bob Mackin

“I think you have to have all the information. To put a question to people without proper information and real costs and real data — I can’t imagine that you’d put that to the voters and think that that’s acceptable.”

That is what John Furlong, the CEO of Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics organizing committee (VANOC), told the Calgary Herald in March. Will Nov. 13 plebiscite voters find it acceptable that they really don’t have all the information?

John Furlong (second from left) at the last VANOC news conference in December 2010 (Mackin)

The Yes campaign did publish cost estimates in September that it revised at the end of October, but none of the governments behind Calgary 2026 has agreed to cover cost overruns. Unlike Vancouver voters in 2003, Calgarians won’t see the bid book until January and the athletes village site is unknown.

The athletes village is the most troublesome venue to finance, build, operate and hand over. Taxpayers bailed-out Vancouver’s $1.1 billion Southeast False Creek complex when the Great Recession hit in 2008 and the Wall Street financier withdrew. Post-Games condo sales tanked and lawsuits were filed over shoddy workmanship. The village went into receivership in late 2010. The owners of the Vancouver Canucks scooped the remaining luxury condos for a tax loss in early 2014.

Calgary bidders pared the 2026 security budget just below half-a-billion dollars. It was $900 million in 2010, after Vancouver’s post-9/11 bid book suggested a lowball $175 million. The second word is eternally true in the Olympic motto (“citius, altius, fortius”); Games costs go higher.

Meanwhile, facts and data become harder to access.

How can Calgarians trust the $5.1 billion price tag for 2026 when British Columbians don’t really know how much the 2010 Games cost? B.C.’s Auditor General never did a final report.

Vancouver Archives, where Vancouver Olympic board minutes and financial books are sealed until 2025 (Mackin)

The $7 billion ballpark estimate includes the Canada Line airport-to-downtown train, Sea-to-Sky Highway to Whistler and Vancouver Convention Centre. The latter was built for $885 million, 78% higher than the original budget. The organizing committee took an extra two years, until summer 2014, to claim it balanced a $1.9 billion operating budget — $600 million more than the 2003 bid book said.

VANOC was incorporated as a private entity, beyond the freedom of information law. The government-appointed board never met in public. Reporters relied on leaked documents and confidential sources to learn what was really going on behind the scenes.

Don’t be fooled by Joe Ceci’s Oct. 12 letter to federal sport minister Kirsty Duncan and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi. The Alberta finance minister’s vague words about subjecting Calgary 2026 “to provincial transparency and freedom of information laws, or other equivalent rules or regulations” only sound nice in theory.

Alberta charges $25 for each FOI request, five times more than a federal access to information request. In B.C., there is no application fee.

The FOI law contains loopholes that allow bureaucrats to censor, delay, deny and charge additional fees. Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton said two years ago that “access to information is fast approaching a crisis situation.”

Clayton complained of government offices applying for time extensions, failing to meet disclosure deadlines, refusing to provide records to her investigators, and going to court to challenge her authority to access records for investigations. Under the Notley NDP government, she wrote, there had been “no concrete action to update and modernize Alberta’s access to information legislation.”

Cover of Red Mittens & Red Ink: The Vancouver Olympics (Mackin)

Furlong and the rest of VANOC were in no hurry to show the public how they put the 2010 Games together. VANOC transferred its files to the Vancouver city archives, on the condition that the public won’t see board minutes, correspondence, procurement and payroll before the fall of 2025, around the time that the Calgary 2026 Olympic flame would be lit. That is, if Yes wins Nov. 13 and the International Olympic Committee picks Calgary on June 23.

So it was fitting that bid boosters brought 1988 underdog ski jumper Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards back to Calgary.

Voters are being asked to take a leap of faith. At least Edwards had glasses to see where he was going.

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Bob Mackin “I think you have to have

Doris Gómora 

The first time that I was so close to Joaquin “El Chapo” (“Shorty”) Guzman Loera was in the high-security Federal Jail in Almoloya de Juarez, Mexico. I was part of a group of press reporters that got authorization to access inside the jail. We covered Raul Salinas de Gortari’s trial, and during a break, I crossed the hallway to the next room, where “Shorty” Guzman was.

The judge and Mexican government never authorized press reporters to watch the first trial of Guzmán. But in the United States that would be very different: it was an historic opportunity for press reporters to be in the gallery for Guzman’s trial, to know about his associates, about his illegal business, about bribes that he ordered to pay to politicians and government officers in several countries, and maybe know some anecdotes.

(DEA)

Many answers will come in the courtroom in New York, when Guzman’s blockbuster trial begins Nov. 13.

In Mexico, Guzman’s first trial was inside of the number 1, high-security federal jail, originally built without courtrooms.

But with Guzman and other kingpins in jail, and with a high risk to move them to a courthouse, the Mexican government adapted part of the jail and separated the gallery by glass from the prisoners.

I covered, for El Financiero newspaper, the trials of suspects in the murder of Luis Donaldo Colosio, the former presidential candidate, and Francisco Ruiz Massieu, the former general secretary of the PRI political party. They were killed in March and September of 1994, respectively.

Sometimes I covered news about Gulf Cartel members, and learned about the way of life for prisoners inside that federal jail, all of them high-ranking members of organized crime.

Reporters only accessed the inside of federal jail if the Ministry of Interior (aka Gobernacion) granted authorization. So, every day reporters arrived outside of the federal jail and wrote their names on a sheet, to show their interest in covering those trials.

We gave that list to the external security chief of the federal jail. With clearance, we used to walk a couple of miles to the main entrance with just a paper notebook and transparent plastic pen.

After strict security screening, sometimes with dogs, security officers took us to the courtroom.

From time to time, press reporters got authorization to watch the Othon Cortes trial or Raul Salinas trial, and very rarely, in the next room, the trials of drug trafficking kingpins. 

One day in 1995, I took time to be in Guzman’s gallery.

I was in my mid-20s. I remember that older reporters told me about the man in the next room.

“It’s ‘Shorty’ Guzman, the drug dealer captured in Guatemala,” they said.

So, I remembered that in June of 1993, Guatemalan authorities captured Guzman with a woman, his girlfriend, and later put them in the custody of Mexican authorities.

On June 18, in an open yard of the high-security Almoloya federal jail, Mexican authorities presented Guzman to press reporters. It was a very rainy day.

Suddenly, photographers asked him to get out of his light brown jail uniform. He did it, and meanwhile, somebody asked him: ”What do you do for a living?”

With a very calm voice, he answered: “I’m a farmer.”

The Mexican government never granted authorization to press reporters to watch Guzmán’s court appearances. Not officially. One day in a break of the Raúl Salinas case, I watched Guzman’s court appearance. In the left corner of the section of prisoners, two men in federal prisoners uniforms were very close to each other, and around three feet apart. To the right it was Guzman.

A federal jail security guard close to me said: “those two guys were lieutenants of Guzman, and it’s probable they’re going to die because in the last 30 minutes they declared against him. And you, please, move out.”

I asked him to let me stay a little moment, and he agreed.

Then the judge ordered Guzman to answer to the accusations.

Guzman turned his head to the former lieutenants and just said: “Really?” The former drug traffickers were terrified and said: “No, no. We are wrong. We want to change our statement.”

Mexican fiscal attorneys could not believe how, with just a phrase, Guzman changed everything. Meanwhile, I just thought: Why are they so afraid? Guzman turned his head to us and then reporters were removed from the room.

Then, Macario Lozano, another reporter told me: “‘Shorty’ Guzman is terrible.”

Why? Because, Macario said, they were afraid of the way he looked at them.

I saw Guzman other times, and I learned about his life inside the jail. 

And I remember something strange: after many years without maintenance, suddenly the rural road that crossed the land of the federal jail was rebuilt in a couple of months.

The plan was to connect a rural road with the highway. But on Nov. 22, 1995, when Mexican authorities transferred Guzman to the federal jail in Jalisco, work stopped. Ten years later, he used that highway to run away.

On Jan. 19, 2001, Joaquin Guzman Loera escaped from Jalisco federal jail. On Feb. 22, 2014, he was recaptured and transferred to the federal jail in Almoloya. On July 11, 2015, he escaped again.

On Jan. 8, 2016 Mexican authorities recaptured him and, on Jan. 19, 2017, they extradited him to the United States.

Joaquin Guzman Loera was public enemy number 1. Now he is in the United States and his trial will offer many answers.

That is why it is so important that press reporters will be inside of the courtroom, to know those answers. 

  • Doris Gómora is a Mexican freelance journalist.

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Doris Gómora  The first time that I was

Further chaos and division in the United States last week. 

Midterm elections gave the Democrats the House, but the Republicans gained more power in the Senate. 

President Donald Trump sparred with CNN’s Jim Acosta and had his White House press pass revoked. Protesters tried to break into FOX host Tucker Carlson’s house. Trump also fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 

And yet another senseless, horrific rampage shooting. A dozen innocents were killed in Thousand Oaks, California. 

All this happened just days after the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport met in Vancouver where theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin interviewed Stephen Mosher, a professor at Ithaca College in New York.

The commentator on sport and popular culture and sport as political resistance presented his analysis of how the music of John Mellencamp was used in sports TV, and how it intersects with politics and business. (Mellencamp, coincidentally, ends his 2018 tour Nov. 14 in Abbotsford, B.C.)

“How, over the past 25 years, has politics and a certain brand of American patriotism infused into sports television programming in the U.S. to the point where this hyper-patriotism is utterly unquestioned and normalized,” Mosher explained in the Nov. 4 interview. 

Plus Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines and a commentary on the proportional representation debate. 

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theBreaker.news Podcast: America at the crossroads of sport, music, politics and industry
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Further chaos and division in the United

Bob Mackin

The bureaucrat from ex-Premier Christy Clark’s office who famously used Post-it notes to keep track of freedom of information requests is now a member of the Victoria and Esquimalt police board.

The Oct. 1 NDP cabinet order ratifying the appointment of Evan Southern was signed by Solicitor General Mike Farnworth and Attorney General David Eby.

Evan Southern (Twitter)

Southern is the director of communications for the Capital Regional District’s Wastewater Treatment Project who worked as the BC Liberal Party’s director of operations from December 2015 to July 2017. He went to party head office after acting as the director of issues management in the Office of the Premier. Southern had been given the FOI duty after only one hour of training and his FOI processing work was mentioned in Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s October 2015 investigation of triple deleting in cabinet offices.

The Office of the Premier has put the FOI coordinator in a difficult situation,” Denham wrote. “I believe he is not adequately positioned to determine the Executive Branch’s access to information process. It is surprising that the Executive Branch of the Office of the Premier would conclude that not writing anything down about the processing of an access request, apart from a temporarily retained sticky note, is appropriate.”

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins did not agree to an interview about Southern’s appointment. She was an unsuccessful BC Liberal candidate in 2017 when Southern was at party headquarters. She referred theBreaker to the township’s director of corporate services, Anja Nurvo.

Nurvo said council chose Southern at a June 11 closed-door meeting after four applicants were interviewed. The province was notified of the appointment on June 26. She said the township originally advertised the vacancy in the Victoria News last April, and on the township’s website and social media. But nobody applied.

“We contacted the province since they were also recruiting for a board appointee to represent Esquimalt at the same time. The province provided us with contact information for applicants who were residents of Esquimalt but were not selected as the provincial appointment to the board. We contacted those people and invited applications to be sent to the township directly.”

Southern did not respond for comment.

IntegrityBC’s Dermod Travis said Southern’s appointment was ill-advised. 

“That is absolutely way over the line, there is no reason that he should be sitting on the police board, given his political activities,” Travis said. “They’re not compatible.”

The Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board pays directors $264 per regular board or committee meeting and $527 if a meeting exceeds four hours.

When a municipal council in B.C. endorses the appointment of a candidate, the resolution is provided to the Police Services Branch of the Solicitor General’s ministry, which conducts supplemental conflict of interest and police record checks, then liaises with the Crown Agency and Board Resourcing Office and Office of the Legislative Counsel to draft an order in council for the minister’s signature.

Southern joined a police board that is emerging from the scandalous 2017 resignation of Victoria Police Chief Frank Eisner.

Eisner was found by two retired judges to have committed eight acts of misconduct related to exchanging personal and sexual messages with a subordinate’s wife via Twitter. He is now a cannabis security consultant.

Based on how Desjardins and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps handled the file, police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe recommended to the provincial government that a retired judge oversee discipline of a municipal police chief or deputy chief, instead of a mayor.

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Bob Mackin The bureaucrat from ex-Premier Christy Clark’s

Bob Mackin

A retired nurse who stayed two weeks at the aging Burnaby Hospital last summer said she was alarmed by a mousetrap in her washroom.

Joyce Moski, 81, said she was treated at the hospital’s Acute Care for the Elderly unit from Aug. 19 to Sept. 2. A photo of the patient washroom of room 523 that she provided to theBreaker shows a mousetrap and two pest control boxes that Moski said were in direct line of sight from the toilet.

“There’s a walk-in shower in that room,” Moski said. “There is absolutely no way I would’ve stepped into that shower in my bare feet. If there’s mice in the bathroom, why would I?”

Mousetrap photographed Aug. 22 in Burnaby Hospital’s elderly ward (Joyce Moski)

She said she complained to Fraser Health, but was told by a health inspector that the department only inspects kitchens. Moski also said a portion of the baseboard in the washroom was attached to the wall with multiple pieces of paper medical tape.

Fraser Health spokesman Dixon Tam said in a prepared statement that the authority was “sorry seeing a mousetrap was upsetting for our patient, but pest control is part of the regular year-round maintenance plan for Burnaby Hospital.”

Pests are a challenging situation, especially with a large, older building with many access points,” Tam said. “Our proactive strategy includes setting traps plus locating and sealing access points into the building. It’s not uncommon to see pests looking for warmth this time of year so we work to mitigate any issues.”

Said Moski: “I think our temperatures were pretty high, Aug. 19-Sept. 2, I don’t think [mice] were seeking refuge from the cold. I think they were well-established.”

Tam said Fraser Health did not have the costs associated with pest control because it is managed under contracted services.

Moski said she doesn’t blame the nursing staff.

“I understand the system, there are so many layers of management, middle management and senior management, there is no money left for care, there’s no money left for housekeeping, that’s why it’s all contracted out,” Moski said.

In 2012, Burnaby BC Liberal MLAs Richard Lee and Harry Bloy struck the Burnaby Hospital Community Consultation Committee. Documents obtained by the NDP said the committee’s purpose was to “deliver a new seat” and win two swing ridings for the party in Burnaby.

The condition of the 66-year-old hospital is of major concern to Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley, who vowed to lobby the NDP provincial government for a replacement. In his swearing-in speech, Hurley mentioned a Nov. 1 Burnaby Now story, in which three patients in hospital gowns were sent via taxi to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster because Burnaby’s only CT scanner was down.

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Bob Mackin A retired nurse who stayed two

Bob Mackin

Two things you don’t see every day.

Someone not named Derek Corrigan was sworn-in as Mayor of Burnaby and a punk rocker pledged allegiance to the Queen.

New mayor Mike Hurley took the oath of office in the Crystal Ballroom at the Hilton Metrotown on Nov. 5 and gave a brief address, promising more details on his four-year plan in the first meeting of 2019.

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley (right) with councillors Pietro Calendino, Joe Keithley, Nick Volkow and Paul McDonnell (Mackin)

The retired Burnaby fire chief defeated Corrigan, the five-term mayor since 2002, in the Oct. 20 election. Housing and affordability were central to Hurley’s campaign platform. He has a big task to stop displacements of Metrotown apartment renters in favour of luxury condo owners. Unlike his predecessor, he vows to have a plan to deal with homelessness.

“It’s not acceptable to allow our citizens to sleep outside in freezing weather conditions,” Hurley said, to raucous applause.

Hurley also pinpointed the sorry state of the 66-year-old Burnaby General Hospital in his speech.

“The buildings are in a very run down state, we need to be champions for the redevelopment of this vitally important facility for our residents. We will push the provincial government to get on with this work, we are B.C.’s third-largest city and our hospital has been ignored for way too long.”

Many of Hurley’s supporters from the local firefighters’ union and the International Association of Firefighters were in attendance. Even the general-secretary of the Boston-based union, Ed Kelly, made the trip. Hurley said he would sit down with local RCMP officer in charge, Deanne Burleigh, to ascertain the force’s needs.

A Hurley-Burleigh meeting will be better than it sounds.

“Our police department has been not fully staffed for a long time,” Hurley said in an interview after his speech. “There are many issues to address with the police force, first I need to talk to the chief to see what she needs.”

By the time Hurley had taken his oath of office, Doug McCallum had reassumed the mayoralty of Surrey and his new council had already voted to dump the proposed light rail transit line in favour of building SkyTrain to Langley. Hurley said he has yet to decide whether to Surrey’s new direction when he assumes a seat on the TransLink Mayors’ Council.

“If that’s the case he really does have enough funds to do it, then he should be supported,” Hurley said. “The question is, if he doesn’t have the right amount of funds, where do they come from?”

Hurley takes over a council that looks a lot like the one Corrigan was voted-off. Seven of the eight councillors with the NDP-aligned Burnaby Citizens Association were returned. The only newcomer is Joe Keithley of the Burnaby Greens.

Burnaby Coun. Joe Keithley (right) and Mayor Mike Hurley (Mackin)

Keithley, the leader of pioneering hardcore punk band DOA, had intended to run for mayor, but stepped aside so that Hurley could run. 

“It’s a very nice mix, we have a lot of experience, we have some new enthusiasm, Joe and I, I think it’s going to work out very well.”

Keithley said NDP and Green politicians have proven they can govern provincially, so the same should hold true on Burnaby city council. 

“There are going to be areas where we can come together on,” said Keithley, who didn’t bring his punk nickname “Shithead” into the political arena. “Part of being a Green is working with other people, it can’t be my way or the highway politics.”

Keithley lives by his motto “Talk-Action=0” and had sought public office municipally and provincially in elections throughout the last three decades. He vows to continue recording and touring with DOA, whose first album in 1980 was “Something Better Change,” but the band will take a backseat to his council duties.

Keithley said his priority is to help solve the housing crisis in Burnaby. He also wants to do his part to help musicians and artists who are also feeling the pinch from the overheated real estate market and to help underprivileged youth. He said he would like to reach out to new Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who was bassist in State of Mind in the early 1990s.

“You make friends for life from [music],” he said. “For a lot of kids that had a hard time being accepted, music can be that bridge. It’s a non-discriminatory bridge that just speaks to everybody.”

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Bob Mackin Two things you don’t see every

Bob Mackin

Mayor Kennedy Stewart said that he will strive to make Vancouver a more globalist city, but he doesn’t plan on being a globetrotting mayor.

Stewart and the new city council, featuring just two incumbents, were sworn-in Nov. 5 at Creekside Community Centre in the Olympic Village. In his nearly nine-minute speech, Stewart cited his mentor, Simon Fraser University political science professor Patrick Smith, who suggested a city could either be globalized or globalist. Stewart said he chooses the latter.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Vancouver’s new city council on Nov. 5 (Mackin)

“People are in despair around the world about what’s happening, even in our own country there is division, there is hatred, but that’s not here in Vancouver,” Stewart told reporters. “This council can show the way forward and say not only are we not going to tolerate that in our city, we’re going to show you how it can be done. We’re going to show you you how we will spread goodwill and love rather than hatred.”

Stewart told the crowd in the gymnasium that the city’s single-greatest challenge facing the city and the new council is the lack of affordable housing. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where in the city go, the stress of affordability hangs over Vancouver, stifling our creativity, our energy, our promise of opportunity.”

Stewart takes over from Gregor Robertson, who was elected in 2008 and won two more majorities on city council with Vision Vancouver. Robertson spent the equivalent of a year of his mayoralty traveling outside Vancouver, including trips to speaking engagements at conferences in Singapore, South Africa, the Vatican City, White House and United Nations, and multiple trips to China.

As an NDP Member of Parliament for seven years, Stewart said he took only one work-related trip, to Washington, D.C. He said he paid for it himself.

“I know my work is right here, we have a housing crisis that we have to solve,” he said. “I don’t intend to go away unless it’s going to get us something, and it can’t just be discussion, it has to be something that is concrete, and I would discuss with my caucus colleagues before I did that.”

Mayor Kennedy Stewart signs the oath of office on Nov. 5 (MackIn)

In his speech, Stewart acknowledged mayoral opponents Ken Sim, Shauna Sylvester, Hector Bremner and Wai Young (though he omitted Fred Harding or David Chen). He said they presented bold ideas, but stayed away from divisive politics. He thanked Robertson and the previous council for tackling climate change and building the city’s international reputation. As an independent mayor, Stewart said he would be guided by the key word, respect.

“I pledge here today to put respect at the centre of my approach, to inform residents and council members of my intentions and to listen to your ideas before making decisions,” he said in the speech. “I will strive to foster an environment of openness and transparency with a goal of building trust right across the city, and I’ll do my best to live by these words.”

To that end, he said sought advice from ex-mayor Mike Harcourt, who was the city’s last independent mayor from 1981 to 1986.

In the speech, he acknowledged the record eight women elected to the 11-member council, but called the lack of Asian councillors in a city with large Chinese, Filipino and South Asian populations a “deep structural problem.”

“We really have to look at ourselves and say okay, what went wrong?” Stewart told reporters.

Ironically, had the NPA’s runner-up Sim tallied 958 more votes, Vancouver would have had its first ethnic Chinese mayor, instead of Nova Scotia-born Stewart.

Green Corn. Adriane Carr and NPA Coun. Melissa De Genova are the most-senior members of the new council. They flanked Stewart at the news conference and said there is hope for a less-political city council after the end of Vision Vancouver’s party discipline and domination. The NPA’s five members are one short of a majority. The Greens elected three councillors and OneCity and COPE one each.

“I think more than anything this election was about people feeling like they weren’t being listened to, that’s why there was change,” said Carr, who is starting her third term on city council after leading the ballot with 69,730 votes.

De Genova, along with other councillors elected Oct. 20, is optimistic about Stewart’s approach because she had been invited to meet with Stewart quickly after the election. De Genova said she was only invited to meet Robertson once, when he censured her after a media interview.

“All councillors here bring a lot of experience in different areas,” said second-term councillor De Genova. “I’d like to start by trying something new, something that Vision Vancouver never did, let’s be respectful, let’s take down that partisanship and see what we can get accomplished. We never had that opportunity.”

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Bob Mackin Mayor Kennedy Stewart said that he

Bob Mackin

Large crowds on Labour Day weekend meant the PNE Fair’s 2018 attendance saw only a small dip from 2017.

PNE daily attendance for 2018.

This year’s 705,379 total was 17,000 fewer than last year and just 7,000 less than 2016.

Instead of rain, the traditional bane of the Fair, smoke from wildfires hampered the crowds on six days.

The fair averaged almost 32,000-a-day during the first week, but just over 58,000 in the second.

According to daily attendance figures provided to theBreaker, the second of two free Tuesday admission promotions, during 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 28, was the biggest day of the 2018 edition, with 76,247 turnstile clicks.

The smallest attendance was 31,376 on Aug. 25, one of just two days affected by rain.

Crowds progressively grew on the final weekend, from 54,558 on Aug. 31 to 67,068 on Labour Day.

The total remained significantly less than the 937,485 recorded at the 2010 centennial fair, but better than 2015, when 678,193 attended.

The 15-day fair was held between Aug. 18-Sept. 3.

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Bob Mackin Large crowds on Labour Day weekend