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Bob Mackin

If Peter Fassbender gets his old job back, he said he won’t quit his new job.

Fassbender is running in the Oct. 20 election to be mayor of Langley City. That is the position he held from 2005 until 2013, when he was elected the BC Liberal MLA for Surrey-Fleetwood.

Peter Fassbender in the mayor’s office, in 2011 (Facebook)

He was education minister and municipal affairs minister (with responsibility for TransLink) in the Christy Clark government until losing the seat in the 2017 provincial election to the NDP’s Jagrup Brar. In a post-election party meeting, Fassbender emphatically blamed Clark for the defeat.

Since then, he became a managing director of a company called Modusteel, which markets modular structural steel for houses, towers, warehouses, hotels, airports, stadiums and bridges. His Modusteel partners include Surrey developer Robert Dominick, lawyer David Siebenga and Stantec architect Jiang Zhu.

“It’s an organization that is looking at building more affordable housing and so it will be dealing with the private sector and social housing,” Fassbender said in an interview. “I don’t see any need for me to step away at all.”

Fassbender said, as mayor, he would recuse himself if a matter came to council that involved Modusteel, “but I think that’s way down the road.”

A brochure on Modusteel’s website lists a Surrey address, but the website includes a Richmond address. A source told theBreaker that Fassbender visited the office of Hong Guo, the immigration and real estate lawyer and Richmond mayoral candidate, on Sept. 19.

“I know Hong, but I’m not getting involved in it. I’ve got my own campaign to run,” Fassbender said.

Will Hong Guo remain in the race?

The NDP cancelled the BC Liberals’ plan to build a bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel last year. Guo is a proponent of the bridge, hence her campaign logo and change-themed campaign. Incumbent Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie is a BC Liberal who prefers a new tunnel rather than the 10-lane bridge concept.

“I’ve encouraged her,” Fassbender said. “I’ve talked to [Delta council candidate and outgoing mayor] Lois Jackson, I’ve talked to a lot of people for a long time that that should be one of the priorities, it’s one of the most-congested corridors in the Lower Mainland and we need to find a solution to that. Of course, I supported the bridge when I was in government and I still do.”

Guo, however, faces major obstacles to her election bid in the form of a professional misconduct citation by the Law Society of B.C. and a $13 million lawsuit, first reported by the Richmond News, from Chinese investors involved in a collapsed real estate deal. None of the allegations has been proven in court.

“I’m not going to comment on Hong’s situation with the Law Society, that’s for her to answer,” he said. “I’m going to leave that to her. I think that’s inappropriate for me because I don’t know any of the details whatsoever, I’m not going to comment at all.”

Earlier this year, Fassbender was co-chair of ex-Transportation Minister Todd Stone’s unsuccessful bid for the BC Liberal leadership. 

Fassbender’s opponents in Langley City are Coun. Val van den Broek, who is endorsed by outgoing mayor Ted Schaffer, and Serena Oh. Oh is a perennial candidate whose allegations of ballot improprieties in the 2016 by-election were rejected by B.C. Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judges. The mayor of Langley City will be paid $99,533 next year, plus meeting fees for Metro Vancouver and the TransLink Mayors’ Council.

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Bob Mackin If Peter Fassbender gets his old

Bob Mackin

A pair of Coalition Vancouver school board candidates is taking issue with a OneCity city council candidate listing his name in Chinese characters on the Oct. 20 ballot.

Ken Denike and Sophia Woo filed a challenge of Brandon Oliver Yan’s registration in B.C. Supreme Court before the Sept. 18 deadline.

OneCity’s Brandon Yan and his grandparents (Twitter)

“There are 158 candidates [for mayor, city council, park board and school board], his is [the] only ballot accepted by B.C. Elections (Vancouver city office). No other candidate allowed same privilege,” said the statement of claim. “We hereby request either his Chinese characters be removed or all eligible candidates be given same opportunity/privilege.”

On Yan’s registration, he identified himself as “Yan, Brandon Oliver.” His preferred name for the ballot is “Yan, Brandon 甄念本.”

City hall spokeswoman Ellie Lambert said it is too late to change nomination documents. Yan, she said, was asked by the city’s chief election officer, Rosemary Hagiwara, to confirm that the Chinese characters, 甄念本, are his usual name.

Mr. Yan provided written confirmation that the Chinese characters are his usual name given to him at birth by his parents,” Lambert said. “Section 44(1)(b) of the Vancouver Charter allows candidates to be listed with any name they are commonly known as (usual name) to ensure they are identifiable on the ballot. In this case Brandon Yan confirmed to Election officials that he is known to some people by his Chinese name.”

In the 2014 election, COPE candidate Audrey Siegl was listed on the ballot beside her Musqueam name, sχɬemtəna:t. 

OneCity campaign manager Deanna Ogle refused to let theBreaker speak to Yan.

“They filed at the exact same spot with the exact same rules as Brandon did,” Ogle said. “It is their responsibility as candidates to understand the rules and make requests. The school board list has Mrs. Doubtfire on it and we’re focusing on this?”

Denike and Woo are trying to make a comeback after 2014 when they were ejected from the NPA for opposing changes to the school board’s policy on transgendered students. They unsuccessfully ran for Vancouver 1st. 

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Bob Mackin A pair of Coalition Vancouver school

Bob Mackin

The political battleground that Facebook has become is harmful to democracy, says the Victoria whistleblower whose revelations of widespread data misuse shook the social media giant earlier this year.

Christopher Wylie told a tech investment conference on Sept. 19 in Vancouver that Facebook’s claim to be a community is an illusion.  

He pointed to the stage he was on at the Vancouver Convention Centre and the audience at the Cambridge House International Extraordinary Future conference. 

Christopher Wylie at the Extraordinary Future conference in Vancouver on Sept. 19 (Mackin)

“Everybody understands and hears what that person is saying, if that’s bullshit, someone can call me out,” Wylie said. “If I’m a candidate and I say something and I lie — news shock, lying happens all the time in politics! — but the difference is that the media can call me out, or an opposition candidate can call me out or civil society or members of the public can call me out.”

But, on Facebook’s version of a public forum, content can be surreptitiously tailored for and delivered to individual users.

Or, as Wylie put it: “I can whisper in your ear something with the benefit of having followed you around for months on end, read your conversations, listened in to what you say, what you’re interested in, what you watch, what you listen to and know exactly the types of things that you connect with and you don’t connect with.”

Facebook, he said, “has created the degradation of our public forum, because you can’t actually see what happens.”

Wylie said that is what made it a successful medium for disinformation, which is like magic. “What makes it so dangerous is that people enjoy receiving it. It’s not like you’re receiving something you don’t like, it wouldn’t work that way.”

Techniques used in political campaigns, from the Brexit referendum in 2015 to the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, were honed with military precision by SCL Group, the military contractor where Wylie worked as research director. SCL begat its American division, Cambridge Analytica, and what Wylie called its subsidiary in Victoria, AggregateIQ.

Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic are investigating the companies that Wylie exposed. British Columbia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy has collaborated with former B.C. information watchdog Elizabeth Denham, who now is now the United Kingdom information commissioner. 

Wylie said that psychological operations employed to deceive and confuse terrorist recruits or enemy combatants have been adapted for the digital world. 

“If you’re a voter and you get led down the garden path, you are targeted in the same way,” he said. “We find you and we identify dispositional attributes in you that make you more inclined to engage with paranoid thinking, for example, or conspiratorial thinking or racial biases, and we start to compact that in you by disseminating information to you which is not necessarily true, but is conducive to amplifying your dispositional starting point.”

Wylie’s appearance coincided with the Vancouver civic election campaign that has been marked by anonymous Facebook pages promoting mayoral candidate Hector Bremner and attacking NPA rival Ken Sim. Both were removed from the platform last weekend for violating Facebook policy. Bremner denied responsibility at a Sept. 17 debate, but did not answer whether he wants to learn who was responsible. 

In May, Facebook announced a new policy requiring election and issue-related ads in the United States to be clearly marked with a “paid for by” disclosure, and that advertisers must verify their identity and location.

“We believe that increased transparency will lead to increased accountability and responsibility over time – not just for Facebook but advertisers as well,” said Facebook’s director of product management, Rob Leathern, in a May 24 news release. “These changes will not prevent abuse entirely. We’re up against smart, creative and well-funded adversaries who change their tactics as we spot abuse. But we believe that they will help prevent future interference in elections on Facebook. And it is why they are so important.”

However, the policy has not been rolled-out in Canada, despite municipal elections in B.C. and Ontario and provincial elections in Quebec and New Brunswick this fall. 

Listen to an excerpt from Christopher Wylie’s Sept. 19 appearance in Vancouver. Click below. 

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Bob Mackin The political battleground that Facebook has

Bob Mackin

The mystery remains about who was behind a Facebook page that promoted mayoral candidate Hector Bremner and another that attacked a rival from the party that Bremner originally wanted to lead.

But the social network giant has revealed the reasons why those pages are no more.

The Vancouverites for Affordable Housing page appeared in late August and preceded a pro-Bremner billboard and transit poster campaign that took advantage of a loophole in new campaign finance laws. Vancouverites for Affordable Housing is also the name of a Facebook page that was active in 2015 and 2016 and spawned the Housing Action for Local Taxpayers group.

Logo for anonymous Vancouver election-related Facebook page

The anonymous pro-Bremner page disappeared Sept. 14, the same day that an anonymous attack page called Vancouver Deserves Better Than Ken Sim appeared. The anti-Sim page featured graphics and text that made baseless allegations against Sim. theBreaker has chosen not to repeat the allegations.

Bremner did not respond for comment and a message to the operator of the page was ignored.

Citing company policy, Facebook refused to divulge the names of the users behind the two pages. Its media relations department confirmed to theBreaker the reasons why the pages disappeared.

The admin account for the pro-Bremner Vancouverites for Affordable Housing was disabled for violating Facebook’s authenticity policy, “which resulted in the page being unpublished,” according to a Facebook staffer who refused to be identified in print.

The policy rationale under what Facebook formally calls Misrepresentation states: “Authenticity is the cornerstone of our community. We believe that people are more accountable for their statements and actions when they use their authentic identities. That’s why we require people to connect on Facebook using the name they go by in everyday life. Our authenticity policies are intended to create a safe environment where people can trust and hold one another accountable.”

The Vancouver Deserves Better Than Ken Sim page was “unpublished” for violating the Facebook spam policy.

We work hard to limit the spread of commercial spam to prevent false advertising, fraud, and security breaches, all of which detract from people’s ability to share and connect,” said the anti-spam policy rationale. “We do not allow people to use misleading or inaccurate information to collect likes, followers, or shares.”

“I’m glad to see that they are taking action,” said Justin Fung of HALT, who complained to Facebook about the pages. “I think there is still a long way to go in terms of full disclosure on the source of funds is. A lot of damage has already been done inn terms of people’s faith in politics, and people’s faith in that platform.”

Fung has launched a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign that offers to pay for information leading to the identification of those responsible for the Facebook and out-of-home ads that feature high-resolution photos of Bremner. 

Elections BC does not regulate free content on social media, but any paid campaign messages by candidates, elector organizations or third-party sponsors must identify the advertiser from Sept. 22 to Oct. 20.

theBreaker asked the office of Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson about the pro-Bremner campaign.

The advertising in this case appears to be an attempt to spend as much money as possible on advertising a mere two weeks before the campaign period begins,” said the prepared statement sent on Robinson’s behalf. “Clearly this suggests that the third party limits set by the old government, which only cover the campaign period, don’t do enough to take big money out of politics. We will be reviewing all of the new amendments to the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act based on the experience in these elections. We will make improvements where they are needed.

Bremner at the Sept. 17 BIV/Courier debate.

In May, Facebook moved to make all election-related ads on Facebook and Instagram in the U.S. clearly labelled with a “paid for by” disclosure from the advertiser at the top of the ad. The company also requires political advertisers to provide government-issued photo identification and verify where they live in the U.S. The social network has not yet applied the same checks and balances in Canada.

At the Sept. 17 mayoral debate moderated by Kirk LaPointe, the 2014 NPA mayoral runner-up and Glacier Media vice-president, Bremner was asked whether he or his party would “encourage the mystery people behind the ads to come forward and show the receipts or would you rather they remain shrouded?”

Bremner, who is running a campaign that pledges to “stop playing politics,” did not directly answer the question. Instead, he tried to shift the spotlight onto left-of-centre parties and well-known environmental and labour donors.

“So… the campaign finance laws written by the NDP, supported by Vision, supported by Green, put in place, and you know if someone wants to come out and say it was them, I’d love to know about it as well. The reality is they created this [political action committee] system, our campaign did not ask for, did not collaborate with, and did not have any knowledge of this campaign,” Bremner said.

“When this showed up it was there….(audience laughter)… Listen, where were you, when Tides Canada was pouring tons of money in here just a few years ago? You didn’t say anything, you said nothing, where is all the [Vancouver and District Labour Council] money going? There has been astroturf campaign after astroturf campaign in supporting a new party, a new campaign and it says I’m best for mayor. I was honoured to have their support. If they want to come out and do it, then. I have not engaged with them, they are free to come and tell ya.”

Bremner’s bid to become the NPA mayoral candidate was thwarted by the party’s board amid conflict of interest accusations inside and outside the party. He was elected to city council in last October’s by-election, but remained as vice-president of the Pace Group lobbying and public relations company. 

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Bob Mackin The mystery remains about who was

Bob Mackin

In 2014, Mayor Gregor Robertson’s original chief of staff Mike Magee was found to have used his private email account to negotiate the lease of a city building to Vision Vancouver campaign supplier Hootsuite.

In 2016, Magee was caught mass-deleting his city hall email.

Now, as his mayoralty is finally ending, theBreaker can exclusively reveal that Robertson used a Gmail account to hide messages over a four-year span from freedom of information requesters.

Last fall, theBreaker found evidence that Robertson had been communicating with chief of staff Kevin Quinlan via Gmail. In January, city hall unsuccessfully asked the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to delay release of Robertson’s email beyond the 2018 election because it had to search more than 5,000 pages from Robertson’s account. Robertson opted to retire, instead of seek a fourth term.

More than 300 pages were finally released to theBreaker this summer, showing the earliest message from May 2014, six months before Robertson was re-elected to a third term and more than a year after B.C.’s information watchdog issued a stern warning for  politicians and bureaucrats to stop using private email services.

In the wake of a BC Liberal government email scandal, Elizabeth Denham told provincial and municipal officials that private email is not private when used to discuss public business. She also suggested public bodies prohibit elected and appointed officials from using private email, because the accounts are web-based and reside on servers in foreign countries.

“The use of personal email accounts does not relieve public bodies of their duty to comprehensively search for requested records and to produce them,” Denham wrote. “The use of personal email accounts for work purposes can give the perception that public body employees are seeking to evade the freedom of information process.”

The email obtained by theBreaker showed, among other things, that Robertson’s Tweets are ghostwritten.

Some examples, within the trove of “Gregor Mail.”

“Getting these out soon will help frame media. All these should be ready to go, no edits needed to fit,” Quinlan wrote March 18, 2016.

July 11, 2014: “Vancouver! It’s weekends like this that we changed patio hours to stay open later. Get out there and support our local biz! #patiolanterns” 

“Time to vote #yesfortransit. take your ballot…  Remind friends + family to vote #yesfortransit” Quinlan wrote on May 27, 2015, in the dying days of the failed plebiscite for TransLink expansion funding.

On Oct. 6, 2015: “I had doubts about #viaducts removal 4 years ago but city staff studied extensively. Connecting Georgia with Pacific=car access maintained.”

Neither Robertson nor Quinlan responded to interview requests.

Other highlights:

  • Various email about media coverage after the September 2015 firing of city manager Penny Ballem and the reaction of retired bureaucrats, like former chief engineer Peter Judd, who said Vision was pushing its agenda too hard;
  • December 2014 exchanges with perennial Robertson speechwriter Rob Cottingham, about edits to Robertson’s swearing-in speech;
  • March 2018 email about scheduling a meeting with Don Millar, the veteran campaign strategist that Robertson shared with Christy Clark;
  • Email from March 2016 from the owner of Tractor Foods, recounting his conversation with Robertson, who said he would “make some calls to push [a building permit] ahead”;
  • A March 2018 email in which Robertson expressed confusion to his aide, Shea O’Neil, about travel arrangements. “Is this doable? The cal says G travel but I’m forgetting what that is…”
  • Censored August 2017 email with ex-Vision city councillor Geoff Meggs, now Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff, and TransLink Mayors’ Council executive director Mike Buda;
  • A mysterious February 2016 email from Magee to Robertson, Quinlan at his private email address and aide Braeden Caley about Chip Wilson, the Lululemon founder and Vision donor who invited Robertson to a private Red Hot Chili Peppers concert at his Point Grey Road mansion in 2013. But the contents were censored for fear of revealing alleged advice and recommendations.
  • And a March 1 email to proclaim Jean Scott Magee Day in Vancouver, in honour of the 90th birthday the mother of ex-chief of staff Magee.

When Robertson was sworn-in for the first time in December 2008, he stated “I will not let you down on making city hall more open and accountable.”

A 2016 audit and compliance investigation by Denham found city hall routinely ignored FOI deadlines, deliberately deleted or hid records, went overboard with censorship, issued deceptive invoices, and showed ill-will toward reporters who filed FOI requests.

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Bob Mackin In 2014, Mayor Gregor Robertson’s original

Bob Mackin

A veteran lobbyist and federal Liberal strategist volunteering on Hector Bremner’s campaign said the Yes Vancouver party’s candidate for mayor is charismatic, thoughtful and “the only person ready” for the job.

“As a politician he’s a natural, you can’t make change in politics unless you’ve got the instincts. He’s got it,” Charles Kelly said in an interview about the candidate behind the Let’s Fix Housing slogan.

Kelly’s name and signature are on the list of Bremner’s nominators obtained from the City of Vancouver elections office by theBreaker. Kelly said he retired earlier this year as the president of the B.C. Ready-Mixed Concrete Association and is consulting for the B.C. Construction Safety Alliance, but shares Bremner’s desire to increase housing supply. Kelly said he is acutely aware of the high demand for housing because he owns several condos for investment purposes in Vancouver and Kelowna.  

Charles Kelly (UN)

The former federally registered lobbyist, ex-Blarney stone owner and New Pacific magazine publisher was commissioner general of the 2006 United Nations World Urban Forum in Vancouver. That event marked the 30th anniversary of Habitat ’76 where Kelly was an aide to federal urban affairs minister Barney Danson.

Bremner is a marketing consultant and unsuccessful 2013 BC Liberal candidate in New Westminster who was ex-Deputy Premier Rich Coleman’s aide until he join the Pace Group lobbying and public relations company in early 2015.

Bremner continued as a full-time vice-president at Pace after he was elected to city council last fall with the NPA. That sparked conflict of interest complaints to city hall, which led to Mayor Gregor Robertson’s appointment of Beach Avenue Barristers lawyer Henry Wood to investigate. Wood, who lectures on professional ethics at the University of B.C., is expected to submit his report this month. Bremner is represented by Farris lawyer James Hatton, the longtime federal and BC Liberal insider who Christy Clark named to BC Hydro’s board of directors in 2013.  

“I think people are reaching at straws and trying to create a bogeyman that doesn’t exist,” Kelly said. “He certainly didn’t do anything untoward.”

Besides Kelly, Bremner endorsers who signed his registration papers include the Yes party’s campaign svengali and Clark’s ex-husband Mark Marissen, lobbyist Cynthia Shore of Patrick Kinsella’s Progressive Group, independent city council candidate Adrian Crook and former B.C. Young Liberals president Sebastian Zein.

Crook is the Abundant Housing Vancouver activist and video game and app designer who supported Vision Vancouver in 2014 and had sought an NPA nomination for city council before Bremner split from the party. Crook’s campaign advisor is ex-Bremner campaign manager Mike Wilson, husband of Yes party co-founder Jocelyn Wong-Wilson. Zein’s background includes work with Proximis, the digital ad agency that worked for the BC Liberals and Vision Vancouver.

Crook (far right), Zein (third from right, beside Bremner) during an April NPA campaign fundraiser. (Facebook)

The registration for the Yes Vancouver website contains an email address at Kimbo Design, a company that had Facebook ad contracts with the BC Liberal government and created logos for BC Liberal and Vision Vancouver campaigns.

Bremner’s statutory disclosure form says he lives in an apartment building north of Wall Centre on Burrard and that he reports having no assets. Property records show he rents from a West Vancouver owner. One of his neighbours, on a lower floor, is Vision Vancouver city council candidate Tanya Paz.

The Pace Group is not listed under Bremner’s sources of income, as it was in his January filing. His LinkedIn profile says his employment there ended in July. 

Crook’s filings indicate he is a resident of a condominium near B.C. Place Stadium, part-owner of Adrian Crook and Associates and has shares in Loud Crow Interactive Inc.

His nominators are an eclectic bunch: BC Liberal MLA Sam Sullivan, independent council candidate Sarah Blyth, OneCity council candidate Brandon Yan, Green council candidate Pete Fry and Pro Vancouver ccouncil candidate Raza Mirza.

Since we are not running for majority on any office, as Greens we have to ‘walk the talk’ when we talk about a willingness and ability to work with other parties toward consensus, and wanting to do things differently from the toxic partisanship that has been ingrained at 12th and Cambie,” Fry said.

Said Mirza: “[Crook] asked me politely and I said OK, I’ll do it. I do not think it was a big deal. I’ve done it for other candidates as well.”

But, the heart of Crook’s nominators are from the Yes Vancouver sphere (Leo Heba, Stephanie Ostler, Tim Crowhurst, Scott de Lange Boom, Sebastian Zein and Jocelyn Wilson), fellow Bremner-allied candidate Wade Grant and their advisor Mike Wilson, Abundant Housing Vancouver (Jennifer Maiko Bradshaw, Graham Cook and Daniel Oleksiuk), and Cambie Report podcaster Ian Bushfield.

NPA mayoral candidate Ken Sim’s disclosure form lists a $3.67 million house in Arbutus Ridge, which assessment records show is in the name of his wife, Teena Gupta. Sim also has a $288,000 Whistler suite through his company, Chindian Holdings. His assets include Nurse Next Door Professional Homecare Services Inc., Rosemary Rocksalt Ltd. and Sim (2016) Family Trust.

Chindian holds an undisclosed number of shares in rideshare company Lyft, which could fall under partial civic regulation when the NDP government finally legalizes the industry in B.C. in 2019 or 2020. NPA spokeswoman Wendy Hartley said Sim would place Lyft and other shares in a blind trust or sell them, should he become mayor. He also favours implementing a conflict of interest commissioner or ombudsperson at city hall.

Sim’s endorsers include Teck Resources director Tracey McVicar, West Coast Liquor director Roger Gibson, Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, and motorcoach fleet owners Robert and Joanne McMynn.

Sylvester between her ally Gregor Robertson and the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro.

Former Conservative MP Wai Young, the Coalition Vancouver mayoral candidate, reported a $1.01 million apartment near the Fraser River and $2.4 million house near Kensington Park. Vancouver 1st mayoral candidate Fred Harding, whose given names are Harold Christopher, lives with his Chinese singer/model wife Zhang Mi in a house worth nearly $3.1 million in Marpole. The property is registered to Yue Sui Zhou and Hideharu Hirose.

Ex-Burnaby South NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, whose full name is Edward Charles Kennedy Stewart, listed his residence in the 30th floor of a Concord Pacific-developed tower near David Lam Park. The suite, registered to Stewart’s landlord Shahab Moradi, was assessed at $1.83 million last year.

The other left-wing independent is Simon Fraser University professor Shauna Sylvester, the Queen of Co-ops. Her disclosure lists the following as assets: member shares in Belmanor Housing Co-Op, Vancity, MEC, Barnet Sailing Co-op, East End Food Co-op and CCEC Credit Union. She also has an undisclosed number of shares in Pique Venture Investment.

She lives in an apartment building near Rosemary Brown Lane, named for the late SFU women’s studies professor who was Canada’s first black woman elected to a provincial legislature.

Sylvester also reported interest in a cabin near South Beach in Point Roberts, Wash.

Her nominators include Vision stalwarts Denise Taschereau and Paul LeBlanc, Mark Busse, NDP Health Minister Adrian Dix’s wife Renee Saklikar, former Ipsos Reid pollster Daniel Savas, mining magnate Ross Beaty, and Sylvester’s husband, ex-CCEC Credit Union CEO Ross Gentleman.

Nominations closed at 4 p.m. Sept. 14. There were 21 people registered to run for mayor and 71 for city council.

The period to challenge a candidate’s nomination and endorsements runs through Sept. 18 at 4 p.m. The deadline for a decision on a challenge to a candidate’s nomination, and for a candidate to withdraw from the ballot, is 4 p.m. Sept. 21. The campaign period officially runs Sept. 22 to Oct. 20.

More to come…

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Bob Mackin A veteran lobbyist and federal Liberal

On this week’s edition of theBreaker.news Podcast, host Bob Mackin checks-in with Research Co pollster Mario Canseco. 

His latest poll shows 46% of respondents say they would definitely or probably consider voting for a Green Party candidate for Vancouver city council on Oct. 20 and 38% would consider an independent candidate. 

Meanwhile, in the race to succeed Mayor Gregor Robertson, ex-Burnaby NDP MP Kennedy Stewart has confidence of 33% of respondents, followed by Shauna Sylvester and Coun. Hector Bremner at 26% each, and the NPA’s Ken Sim at 24%. 

Canseco sat down at Mahony and Sons in False Creek after the registration deadline passed on Sept. 14 to talk about his findings and observations. The official campaign period is set to begin Sept. 22. The conversation covered the bombshell withdrawal of Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate Ian Campbell to vote-splitting among right-of-centre parties. 

“To go from forming the government and having a majority in council to not running anybody [for mayor] and being in great danger of not having anyone elected,” Canseco said of Campbell’s mysterious Sept. 10 departure. “It’s one of the most-astonishing collapses that we have seen.” 

Also: commentaries and headlines from around the Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest.

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

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theBreaker.news Podcast: Less than five weeks until Vancouver votes
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On this week's edition of theBreaker.news Podcast,

The filing window for candidates in the 2018 British Columbia municipal elections is closed.

The door of the Vancouver civic election office closed to registrants at 4 p.m. on Sept. 14, but it took almost nine more hours for the official list to be made public. theBreaker, which was there at 4 p.m., had been updating the list as it progressed since the Sept. 4 opening of the filing period. 

There are 21 candidates for mayor, 71 candidates for the 10 council seats, 33 for seven seats on park board and 33 for nine seats on school board. That is 158 contestants vying for 27 jobs. (Kelly Alm and Gordon T. Kennedy are running for both city council and school board.) Names will appear on the ballot in random order, after a draw for positions on Sept. 21 at 5 p.m. in the city council chamber. 

The list is subject to change. Candidate nominations can be challenged until 4 p.m. Sept. 18. Names can be withdrawn until Sept. 21.

As always, theBreaker welcomes confidential tips about what’s going on inside campaigns. Click here. 

Office First Name Middle Name Last Name Party (independent if blank)
Mayor Wai Yee YOUNG Coalition Vancouver
Mayor Katherine Susan LE ROUGETEL
Mayor Gölök BUDAY
Mayor Angela May (Rollergirl) DAWSON
Mayor Hector Dennis BREMNER Yes
Mayor Ken SIM NPA
Mayor Timothy Ping Kwan CHAN
Mayor Jason LAMARCHE
Mayor David Kuan-Yu CHEN Pro Vancouver
Mayor Michael Christian HANSEN
Mayor Constance Clara FOGAL IDEA Vancouver
Mayor Christopher Harold HARDING Vancouver 1st
Mayor Maynard AUBICHON
Mayor Sophia Cherryes Kaur KAISER
Mayor Tim LY
Mayor Lawrence MASSEY
Mayor Kennedy STEWART
Mayor Shauna SYLVESTER
Mayor John YANO
Mayor Satie SHOTTHA
Mayor Sean CASSIDY
Councillor Lisa Gwen KRISTIANSEN Pro Vancouver
Councillor Hsin-Chen FU
Councillor Harry Herschel MIEDZYGORSKI
Councillor Abubakar Amanat KHAN
Councillor Ken D CHARKO Coalition Vancouver
Councillor Glen Norman CHERNEN Coalition Vancouver
Councillor Sheng-Yang James LIN Coalition Vancouver
Councillor Franco PETA Coalition Vancouver
Councillor Penelope STAINTON-MUSSIO
Councillor Sheng XIE Coalition Vancouver
Councillor Hamdy EL-RAYES
Councillor Brinderjit Kaur BAINS Yes
Councillor Phyllis Ming-Hui TANG Yes
Councillor Jaspreet Singh VIRDI Yes
Councillor Stephanie Kelly Anne OSTLER Yes
Councillor Glynnis Choi Tei CHAN Yes
Councillor Larry James FALLS
Councillor William John SPARK
Councillor Elke PORTER
Councillor Kenneth Graham COOK
Councillor Christine BOYLE OneCity
Councillor Colleen HARDWICK NPA
Councillor Justin GOODRICH NPA
Councillor David GREWAL NPA
Councillor Rebecca BLIGH NPA
Councillor Francoise RAUNET
Councillor Morning LI Coalition Vancouver
Councillor Sarah KIRBY-YUNG NPA
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The filing window for candidates in the

Bob Mackin

The real estate and immigration lawyer facing a professional misconduct hearing registered her name Sept. 13 for the Richmond mayoral election.

Hong Guo is one of four challengers aiming to upset incumbent Malcolm Brodie, the mayor since 2001, in the Oct. 20 vote. theBreaker was first to report on Sept. 8 that Guo was having second thoughts about running after the Law Society of B.C. accused her of breach of accounting rules, failure to supervise/improper delegation, misappropriation/improper withdrawal, breach of undertaking to the Law Society, and breach of a Law Society order.

The allegations are unproven. A hearing is to be scheduled. They are related to the $7.5 million that went missing from trust accounts for around 100 clients at Guo’s law firm in 2016 after two ex-employees allegedly laundered the money and departed for China with the loot. The law firm was placed under a Law Society custodian. Guo has since repaid the trust account after selling a Surrey property and drawing on an insurance policy. She has also sued former bookkeeper Zixin “Jeff” Li , ex-receptionist Qian “Danica” Pan and CIBC.

Mayoral candidate Hong Guo

“I paid every penny of the shortage, that I am a victim of this theft matter,” she told theBreaker on Sept. 8.

Guo was not available for an interview on Sept. 13 and has not yet responded for comment on her decision to continue her campaign.

If the Law Society finds against her, Guo could be reprimanded, fined up to $50,000, have conditions or restrictions placed on her practice, suspended, or expelled from the legal profession.

Guo’s nominators are real estate agent Peter Schellenberg and motivational speaker Dr. Greg Gerrie. Gerrie heads KidTalks Canada, which is also located at Guo’s law firm. The campaign financial agent is Cui Hong (Cheryl) Li.

Guo’s statement of disclosure lists ownership of two houses in Richmond. Land title records for the one near Donald McKay elementary describe Guo as a “homemaker” who has half-interest in the $2.38 million-assessed property with businessperson Yunyan Luan. The other, near No. 2 Road and Francis, is worth $1.74 million.

Guo also listed commercial property at 143-5951 Minoru Blvd. ($426,100), her No. 3 Road law office ($4.315 million), a house in Regina ($139,600) and the legal description for farmland in the Rural Municipality of Key West #70 in south central Saskatchewan.

Her assets include Guo Law Corporation and seven other entities, five of which were incorporated in 2017 and 2018:

  • Canpur Products, with co-director Ding Wenge;
  • Canada Energine International Holdings Ltd., by Guo herself;
  • Cinewest International Productions Ltd., with directors Franco Amurri of Delta and Wolfgang Richter of Vancouver;
  • State Renewable Energy Association with Richter;
  • Guo Jia Jing Wang Elite Club Association, with Kwok Kuen Yu.

The latter is a society whose stated purpose is to promote the Guo family name “by establishing a platform to network and connect with Chinese communities.”

The 2008-incorporated Citic Investments Corp., whose directors are Guo and Chen Xu. Citic is also the name of the state-owned China International Trust Investment Corporation, but it is not known whether Guo’s company is affiliated in any way.  She is a director, with four others, of the 2011-incorporated Canada Home Buyers Protection Association.

Hong Guo aims to upset Malcolm Brodie

That association’s stated purpose is “To provide information to homebuyers and homeowners in Canada’s housing industry and in the life and development of our communities; To support the business success of our members; and to help members become more informed and confident when they buy a new home, or hire a renovator to improve their existing one.”

Guo is a 14-year resident of Richmond with a law degree from Ontario’s University of Windsor. She was called to the B.C. bar in 2009. She said she is concerned about traffic congestion, public safety, affordable housing and job and education opportunities for youth. Her campaign logo is a stylized bridge, which symbolizes her advocacy for a bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel and for strengthening cultural ties between Richmond and China.

Other Brodie challengers are Wei Ping Lawrence Chen of Surrey, retired consultant Don Flintoff and Li Feng Cliff Wei. In 2017, Brodie was paid $132,426 base salary and $18,786 in taxable benefits to be mayor.

Nominations close at 4 p.m. Sept. 14. The period to challenge a candidate’s nomination and endorsements runs through Sept. 18 at 4 p.m. The deadline for a decision to challenge a candidate’s nomination, and for a candidate to withdraw, is 4 p.m. Sept. 21. The campaign period officially begins Sept. 22.

Candidates for mayor in Richmond can spend up to $130,813.80 each on their campaign.

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Bob Mackin The real estate and immigration lawyer

Bob Mackin

Whistler’s outgoing Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said it will be up to the ski resort’s next municipal council to decide whether to let citizens vote on being part of Calgary’s $5.2 billion bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

But, it won’t matter if Calgarians vote “no” in their Nov. 13 plebiscite.

Calgary 2026 Bid Corporation’s draft hosting plan was published Sept. 11, and it proposes ski jumping and nordic combined be held in the Whistler Olympic Park at the Callaghan Valley, with accommodation at the Whistler Athletes’ Centre. Both are legacies of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and operated by Whistler Sport Legacies, a taxpayer-funded spinoff of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic organizing committee, also known as VANOC.

Whistler’s outgoing mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden (RMOW)

The Calgary bid document estimates it would save $50 million by using the Whistler venues instead of the venue constructed for the 1988 Games, but it does not show how it made the estimate.

“It just makes so much sense that if you’re going to host the Winter Games that you make use of facilities that are already in existence,” Wilhelm-Morden said. “I’m so pleased to see the IOC go down that road instead of building these facilities around the world that are under-utilized.”

However, Wilhelm-Morden emphasized, the costs to taxpayers in Whistler and other Sea-to-Sky municipalities are unknown.

“We’ve been kept apprised of the process and, of course, the decision Calgary council just made [for the plebiscite], but we haven’t had any conversations among our council about this idea, we haven’t considered or passed any resolutions,” she said. “No nuts and bolts about the budget.”

Wilhelm-Morden said the Resort Municipality of Whistler is expecting the Calgary bid corporation, which includes former VANOC executive vice-president Terry Wright, to make a presentation at a city council meeting. A new mayor and council will be elected Oct. 20 in Whistler.

“Questions in connection with costs, with security, with transportation and so on, which the community will want good detail about in order to provide meaningful responses,” she said. “Whether we have a plebiscite or referendum is a separate question. We haven’t had any discussions about that.” 

Calgary’s plan estimates 155 athletes and 104 team officials, for a total 259, would be accommodated in Whistler. The nordic venue would need “minor” renovations, including upgrades to the ski jump in-run and refrigeration, cross-country ski trails and utilities. The rest of the nordic sports would be held closer to Calgary, in Canmore, Alta.

Transportation and security considerations would extend well beyond Whistler, however. Vancouver International Airport is identified in the book as “first port of entry for many accredited clients,” which includes athletes, officials, sponsors and media. A retail store for Games products would be in “Whistler/Vancouver,” as would a ticket box office.

For Vancouver 2010, 11,000 tickets were distributed for nordic combined, while 28,000 went for ski jumping. 

Chris Shaw, a Vancouver scientist who led the No Games 2010 Coalition, cast doubted over the bid corporation’s estimates.

So Calgary is hoping that we will take some of the financial costs off of them? Nice, thanks for everything, Alberta,” Shaw said. “And, the Whistler angle easily doubles the security costs, hence the budget as proposed is completely inaccurate.”

Calgary’s bidders estimate the Games would cost $5.2 billion, including more than $3 billion from taxpayers. The Sept. 11 document estimates the Games organization would spend $685 million for security by 2026. The Vancouver 2010 Games, however, had a $900 million security bill.

The International Olympic Committee will choose the 2026 Games host when it meets in Milan, Italy, Sept. 11-15, 2019. A joint bid by Milan and Turin could be Calgary’s biggest challenger.

British Columbia’s auditor general never did a post-Games audit, but media outlets have long estimated it cost between $7 billion and $8 billion to stage and host the 2010 Games, including the Canada Line rapid transit and Sea-to-Sky Highway improvement.

Financial records and board minutes remain hidden from the public at the Vancouver Archives, as per the agreement between VANOC and City of Vancouver. Not until 2025 is the public scheduled to finally get a chance to peek at organizing committee board minutes, to learn more about the costs and complexities of the Olympics held in the wake of the Great Recession.

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Bob Mackin Whistler’s outgoing Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said