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China’s Lu Wen-Bo rises above Canada’s Aaron Best at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena in the Pacific Rim Basketball Classic on June 22. Canada won the exhibition 97-62 before 7,636 fans. Wu Qian scored 27 of China’s points. (Bob Mackin)

China’s Lu Wen-Bo loses the ball to Canada’s Dwight Powell. The game lived up to its “not a friendly” billing. Canada’s Anthony Bennett and China’s coach Feng Du were ejected late in the game. (Bob Mackin)

China’s Yu De-Hao scores on a free throw. It was Canada’s number 8, Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies, who led the home team with 21 points. Canada’s Jay Triano-coached roster boasted six NBA players and R.J. Barrett, who is anticipated to be a first round draft pick in 2019. He scored 16 points in his national team debut. (Bob Mackin)

Chris Boucher and Tao Han-Lin exchange a glance. Boucher was waived earlier in the day by the NBA champion Golden State Warriors. It didn’t stop him from registering 17 points and 11 rebounds. (Bob Mackin)

 

Fans of China after the team bus departed the arena. The teams meet again June 24 in Victoria. (Bob Mackin)

Courtside spectators capturing the match on smart phones (Bob Mackin)

Fans of China brought flags and signs (Bob Mackin)

[caption id="attachment_6225" align="alignleft" width="714"] China's Lu Wen-Bo

Bob Mackin

On the last night of spring, with four months until election night, lame duck Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson dropped a bombshell in a committee meeting that could make the single-family house an endangered species in the City of Vancouver. 

In doing so, Robertson stole thunder from the rookie councillor who wants to succeed him. He also sparked a passionate objection from one councillor and caused another to abstain from voting altogether.

A staff report that made nine pro-density recommendations, including relaxing zoning rules in Kitsilano and Kensington-Cedar Cottage, came to the policy and strategic priorities committee on the evening of June 20. At the 11th hour, Robertson, who lives in a $3.125 million English Bay penthouse, tabled a 10th recommendation to order staff to develop policies to allow triplexes, quadplexes and other multi-unit forms in low-density neighbourhoods, reduce or eliminate parking quotas, and reduce or eliminate setback requirements and design guidelines.

Robertson (left) and Bremner (CoV)

It is a move that will please real estate agents, construction companies and so-called “supplyists,” who believe building more housing is the only way out of the city’s housing crisis.

NPA Coun. George Affleck said there was “zero input” from citizens because they had no warning of Robertson’s proposal. 

“It is pretty clear to me what it says,” Affleck said. “It provides direct policy changes of the entire city.

“We’re talking about a swath of all single-family homes in the city,” Affleck said. “If staff had included that [in the report], we would have had 500 people lined up here, yelling and screaming at us. This is a significant addition and change to this report that is unfair to drop on us here, tonight. It’s just not fair.”

Green Coun. Adriane Carr said she supported the first nine items in principle, but she abstained from voting because “I don’t believe we’ve had the public support and the conversation that’s needed to land us there.”

“What the mayor just put in, the idea of removing design guidelines,” Carr said. “I mean, there is a lot of people who feel strongly we do need design guidelines, and we do need them because it is about the quality of appearance of our neighbourhoods.” 

Affleck and Carr have often slammed Vision Vancouver for late additions of proposals to council agendas, which have precluded public debate on a variety of controversial topics. 

Robertson’s move strategically upstaged Coun. Hector Bremner. The rookie city councillor and mayoral wannabe is a vociferous advocate of increasing density and development across the city under his “fix housing” slogan.

Bremner called Robertson’s motion “helpful” and “positive” and voted along with the Vision Vancouver majority after saying he would have preferred the 10th recommendation to have been in the staff report. “We don’t have to have this sort of process,” Bremner said. “It does sow a bit of a division.”

Bremner’s mayoral hopes were derailed by the NPA board in May, after conflict of interest complaints were filed against him with city hall over his work as a lobbyist. Bremner, an ally of the pro-density Abundant Housing Vancouver campaign, is planning to start his own civic party to run for mayor.

Robertson tried to downplay his motion, saying that it would likely be for the next city council to deal with after the Oct. 20 civic election. 

Robertson said “we need to go farther and further,” because Vancouverites want more affordable, ground-oriented housing.

However, he left the door open to the possibility that change may come sooner.

“This is asking staff to bring forward policies to council; it may not be this council, unless they are speedy in their work over the summer and come back with all kinds of exciting opportunities in September for the low density neighbourhoods,” Robertson said. “But it will certainly enable the next council to benefit from staff doing work and leveraging the work they’ve already done in the community.”

The nine clauses in the staff report passed unanimously. Affleck and fellow NPA member Coun. Melissa De Genova cast the dissenting votes on Robertson’s additional clause. 

Carr abstained and NPA Coun. Elizabeth Ball was absent. 

The meeting was held at the end of a day in which the NDP B.C. government coincidentally published a white paper on its plan to start a beneficial ownership registry of land owners in the province to combat real estate money laundering and tax evasion. 

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Bob Mackin On the last night of spring,

Bob Mackin

A report by a House of Commons committee contains harsh words for the principals of a Victoria company implicated in the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica political datamining scandal.

The Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee’s June 19 report, called Addressing Digital Privacy Vulnerabilities and Potential Threats to Canada’s Democratic Electoral Process, summarized the April 24 testimony of AggregateIQ co-founders Zack Massingham and Jeff Silvester.

They denied AIQ had been a department or subsidiary of SCL or Cambridge Analytica and denied using Facebook data improperly obtained by anyone. Silvester said the company merely conducts online advertising, makes websites and software for clients, which included the pro-Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom and the Republican Party in the United States. 

Silvester (left) and Massingham of AggregateIQ (ParlVu)

Whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who hails from Victoria, had called AIQ a franchise of SCL and that Silvester had boasted to him that what the company was breaking laws, a claim that Silvester denied. AIQ has also worked for BC Liberals, including Mike de Jong and Todd Stone, and the B.C. Greens. AIQ is under investigation by the official information and privacy watchdogs in British Columbia and the United Kingdom.

“The committee does not concur with AIQ’s version of the facts, as the witnesses’ testimony is inconsistent, full of contradictions, and conflicts with the testimony of several other reliable witnesses,” said the report. “For example, Mr. Massingham stated that AIQ has no connection with SCL, yet he is listed on certain documents as the head of SCL Canada, and SCL listed his direct telephone line as the number for SCL Canada. Mr. Massingham said he was unaware of the reference to his direct line on SCL’s website until it was reported in the media. Both Mr. Massingham and Mr. Silvester deny that AIQ ever presented itself as SCL Canada, or that SCL Canada – as an entity – has ever existed.” 

AIQ had been paid $5.4 million, 40% of the budget for the Vote Leave campaign that successfully pushed in 2015 for United Kingdom voters to choose separation from the European Union in a referendum.

Silvester stated AIQ had been working with the United Kingdom Information Commissioner, responding to letters in May 2017 and January 2018. The report said that AIQ provided the committee with its two responses to the ICO. The March 5, 2018 letter stated “We are not subject to the jurisdiction of your office… We consider our involvement in your office’s investigation to be closed.” 

“Although, technically, AIQ did respond to the Information Commissioner in the form of two letters, it appears that the Commissioner considered that its replies constituted a refusal to cooperate with her.”

U.K. Commissioner Elizabeth Denham testified to the committee about AIQ’s lack of cooperation, noting that there had been new communications between the parties that could lead to “better collaboration in the future.” 

“The committee wishes to emphasize that it has complete confidence in Ms. Denham and trusts her judgement. The Committee also notes that Mr. Silvester appeared before the Committee a second time on June 12 to answer further questions. In general, he made the same statements he had made during his first appearance.” 

The report included a dissenting opinion by NDP and Conservative members on the committee, who reiterated the unanimous view that Silvester and Massingham’s evidence was contradicted by other witnesses. 

“Mr. Massingham appeared to be reticent to answer in a fulsome manner during his initial appearance before the Committee, which prompted the Committee to issue a summons to appear again,” said the statement by the NDP and Conservative members. “Mr. Massingham failed to appear again when summoned, which has raised serious questions about the ability of parliamentary committees to conduct their work unobstructed on behalf of Parliament and the people of Canada.”

 “In the opinion of the New Democratic and Conservative members of the Committee, allowing Mr. Massingham’s actions to stand unchallenged would set a lasting precedent that could undermine the ability of other Members of Parliament and Committees to gather witness testimony from witnesses on issues of national importance,” it said. 

They recommended the committee chair, Bob Zimmer, be directed to raise Massingham’s no-show with the Speaker of the House of Commons. 

The committee recommended the Government of Canada “must urgently act” to protect Canadians’ privacy, by strengthening the powers of the Privacy Commissioner, including significant fines against those that breach the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. The report recommended subjecting political activities to privacy laws, and to regulate organizations and political actors to make their collection, use and disclosure of personal information more transparent. In British Columbia, provincial parties are subjec to privacy laws. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner began an investigation last September, after complaints arising from the 2017 provincial election.

Requirements for transparency, according to the report, could include identification of who paid for a political ad, the target audience and mandatory registration of political advertising outside of Canada. 

“The scandal has brought to light issues relating to mass data harvesting, the use of data for nefarious purposes, and the threats and challenges these questionable methods can create for democracies around the world,” the report said. “The evidence that the committee has heard so far gives rise to grave concerns that the Canadian democratic and electoral process is similarly vulnerable to improper acquisition and manipulation of personal data.”

Listen to theBreaker.news Podcast for highlights of AIQ testimony at the House of Commons committee on April 24 and June 12, and a similar committee in the U.K. on May 16

Click here for all of theBreaker’s coverage of the ongoing scandal. 

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Bob Mackin A report by a House of

Bob Mackin

A major investigation into illegal gambling and money laundering has “pretty much concluded,” and B.C.’s organized crime cops are now focused on putting the case together for Crown counsel to decide on charges.

That is the latest from Sgt. Lindsey Houghton of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-B.C.), which announced on June 13, 2017 that nine people had been arrested in a probe with the Joint Illegal Gaming Investigation Team. 

CFSEU-B.C.

CFSEU revealed more than a year ago that it had busted an organized crime network, with connections to mainland China, that was involved in illegal gambling houses and money laundering. “A search of six residences resulted in the seizure of large amounts of cash and bank drafts, drug paraphernalia, suitcases, cell phones, computers and other related material,” said the news release. “Also seized were a number of luxury vehicles, including one with a sophisticated hidden compartment.”

Houghton said the investigation continued for much of the last 12 months and became “even larger, more complex.”  Nobody has been charged yet, neither have there been any additional arrests. 

“There are hundreds of thousands of documents and tasks that require translation and disclosing and vetting,” Houghton told theBreaker. “The translation side of things, because we’re dealing with Chinese language, has slowed things down significantly.”

Houghton said more than a dozen officers are working full-time on the file. He said disclosure requirements at the outset of a case have become more stringent. This one involves both provincial and federal Crown prosecutors, various agencies and witnesses, some of whom may not be in the country, he said. It could take Crown counsel more than six months to review the thick files and lay charges. 

“[CFSEU detectives are] starting to put together disclosure packages that, as they continue to work, go out our door and into the door of Crown,” he said.  

Richmond’s 8880 Sidaway (GuanJian.ca)

Asked if this investigation is related to the farmland mansion on 8880 Sidaway in Richmond that was the site of an illegal casino and subject to civil forfeiture, Houghton said there was “no tangible nexus to this investigation.”

“While there may have been connections to some of the individuals, it formed no part of our investigation,” he said. “It’s a Richmond [RCMP] file, it’s not forming part of this much larger investigation from the announcement last year.”

theBreaker reported May 31 that a judge allowed Wen Feng to sell the eight-bedroom, eight-bathroom mansion. It was transferred May 11 to a numbered company. The civil forfeiture case against Wen is ongoing. 

The June 13, 2017 announcement came amid uncertainty about who would govern B.C. after the provincial election ended without a clear winner. The Green-supported NDP minority eventually defeated the BC Liberals on a no-confidence vote on June 29, paving the way for John Horgan to become premier.

In September, Attorney General David Eby released a report on casino money laundering that the BC Liberal government had suppressed. He also hired anti-money laundering expert Peter German to review Metro Vancouver casinos. German’s report, delivered at the end of March, remains unpublished. German is also reviewing the role money laundering plays in the Metro Vancouver real estate industry.

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Bob Mackin A major investigation into illegal gambling

Bob Mackin

JUNE 20 update: Two sources have told theBreaker that Coleman informed the BC Liberal caucus he is running for Mayor of Surrey. Coleman has not responded for comment. Developing…

On May 13, theBreaker reported that career politician Rich Coleman may not be back in the Legislature this fall.

The Langley East BC Liberal’s name was being polled in preparation for a potential run for the mayoralty of Surrey or Langley City this fall or as a Conservative candidate in the Cloverdale-Langley City riding in 2019.

Last week, Coleman was in Hawaii with wife Michele, enjoying “beauty, love and contemplation,” as he Tweeted on June 11. 

Rich Coleman: contemplating a run for Surrey’s mayoralty? (Twitter)

Two sources tell theBreaker that he is so seriously contemplating a run to replace Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, that he is already putting a campaign team together. Hepner won’t seek re-election this fall and her key advisor, longtime BC Liberal powerbroker Patrick Kinsella, is also a close Coleman friend. 

Coleman has found the results of pollster Greg Lyle’s research to be more than satisfying. The sources say that Coleman could hit the ground running in early July, just in time for the summertime barbecue circuit. 

The team includes Kinsella, Pace Group’s Norman Stowe and Independent Contractors and Businesses Association’s Chris Gardiner and Jordan Bateman. 

Bateman told theBreaker that there isn’t a “formal team” yet, but he would be glad to help Coleman get elected.

“Rich has been a friend for more than 20 years and if he asked me for a favour, I owe him a few,” Bateman said. 

Bateman said it is wait-and-see while Surrey First decides its candidate for mayor. 

“Once that gets sorted out, then I think Rich has more information to make his decision with,” Bateman said. 

The ex-deputy premier is 62 and has enjoyed six election victories in Langley ridings that earned him several cabinet posts during the 16-year BC Liberal dynasty, from housing to horse racing, and hooch to hydro. He is in line for an $83,000-a-year MLA pension. But, as they say, the worst day in government is better than the best day in opposition. 

Coleman broke from tradition as the interim opposition leader and endorsed Mike de Jong for February’s party leadership election. When Andrew Wilkinson won, both Coleman and de Jong were demoted from the BC Liberal shadow cabinet. 

Being Mayor of Surrey would propel Coleman back into the limelight with influence beyond the borders of Surrey, with seats on the Metro Vancouver board and TransLink Mayors’ Council. Imagine this scenario: Coleman wins the Surrey mayor’s chair and his protegé Hector Bremner follows through on a threat to start a new party and wins in Vancouver. 

Coleman’s imminent move is apparently why there is no widespread panic in the NDP about longtime MLA Leonard Krog throwing his hat in the ring for Nanaimo’s mayoralty.  Instead of one late-2018 or early-2019 by-election, there could be two by-elections in ridings that are unlikely to swing. The NDP/Green alliance’s slim, two-seat edge over the BC Liberals may just hold after all. 

Before his years as the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation’s highly effective spokesman for B.C., Bateman was a Langley Township councillor and Coleman’s riding association president. If Coleman quits the Legislature, would Bateman run in the Langley East by-election?

“No, I have an excellent job where I get to criticize the NDP for their goofy politcies, I don’t have to be an MLA to do that,” Bateman said. “I already told the party that I wouldn’t be interested.” 

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Bob Mackin JUNE 20 update: Two sources have

The House of Commons Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee recalled AggregateIQ’s co-founders Jeff Silvester and Zack Massingham to Ottawa on June 12.

It was part of the committee’s ongoing probe into the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica Scandal. AIQ, an obscure Victoria company with connections to the federal Liberals and BC Liberals, played a pivotal role in the result of the Leave campaign in the Brexit referendum and worked for the Republican Party in the U.S.

Silvester attended, but Massingham was a no-show, prompting an official threat of contempt of Parliament. Silvester gave the clerk a doctor’s note on behalf of his business partner, but that was not good enough for the committee, whose vice-chair suggested Massingham is hiding.

“I’ve got a lot of friends who are lawyers, you’ve clearly lawyered up and, frankly, the information you provided is inadequate,” said Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith.

Committee members wanted AIQ to answer questions after whistleblower Christopher Wylie, also of Victoria, testified. They didn’t get all the answers they wanted, but Silvester revealed AIQ’s use of a phone number spoofing app and work on a cryptocurrency token.

Listen to highlights of the hearing on this edition of theBreaker.news Podcast. Plus commentaries on FIFA’s selection of North America to host the 2026 World Cup and a nod to those who teamed-up to help Lynn Valley residents after a devastating apartment fire. Also: headlines from around the Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest. 

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The House of Commons Access to Information,

Bob Mackin

In its quest to crack down on unlicensed sports and poker websites, the British Columbia government is proposing a multi-province complaint to the Canadian advertising industry’s self-regulator. 

At a meeting of the Canadian Association of Gambling Regulatory Agencies in Charlottetown last September, an official from B.C.’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch urged fellow provincial regulators to team-up and file a special interest group complaint with Advertising Standards Canada. Thousands of websites, some of which are major advertisers on Canadian sports broadcasts and websites, are taking business from provincial gambling corporations and depriving governments of revenue. 

Canada’s legal gambling websites compete with many unregulated companies. (GPEB)

“B.C. is willing to lead the drafting of this complaint with input from those provinces that are interested in participating,” said the speaking notes for Michele Jaggi-Smith, the GPEB executive director of policy and projects. “Participation would involve some research by each regulator— namely, documenting the instances and mediums of advertising by these websites in your province from now until our next Community of Practice meeting — the more evidence we can show that this type of advertising is prevalent and linked to actual gambling websites, the better.”

The Advertising Standards Council, whose members include some of Canada’s biggest media companies and advertisers, can ask for an advertiser to amend or withdraw an advertisement. Jaggi-Smith’s notes, released to theBreaker under freedom of information, do not specify the complaint, but the council’s Code includes 14 provisions that could apply, such as accuracy and clarity, guarantees, safety, and advertising to minors, 

“My view is that if there were enough regulators that agreed with the proposed complaint, that would be enough to meet the test for special interest group. The ASC would have difficulty ignoring a group of government regulators making a singular complaint of this nature,” she said.

Section 207(4)(c) of the Criminal Code allows only a province to conduct and manage a lottery or game of chance on or through a computer. The section has not been clearly defined in law or by a court while technology has rapidly advanced. For fear of being shut-down, some Canadian online gambling companies moved their operations offshore, while others migrated to the Kahnawake Mohawk reserve near Montreal.

GPEB executive director Michele Jaggi-Smith (LinkedIn)

Gambling companies not licensed by provincial governments are significant advertisers on Canadian sports TV and radio channels and websites. They generally tout free-play or “educational” dot-net websites, hoping that gamblers will find their way to the pay-to-play dot-com sites. One such recent free-play campaign was for the Malta-based, Swedish-developed LeoVegas.com. The company used its LeoVegas.net address for a spring TV and billboard ad campaign in B.C. that starred former Toronto Maple Leaf and Vancouver Canuck Mats Sundin.

Jaggi-Smith estimated there are over 2,200 unregulated websites accessible by British Columbians that compete with B.C. Lottery Corporation’s PlayNow.com. She estimated the industry is worth $50 billion worldwide and $640 million in B.C. The sites, however, lack consumer protection, technical integrity and responsible gambling checks and balances. 

“You’re probably familiar with a number of these companies, or at least their names — PokerStars, Party Poker, Draft Kings, Bet888, Bodog — these are all companies that operate gambling websites legally in other jurisdictions,” said the speaking notes. “There are many reasons why we believe Canadians choose to gamble in the unregulated market — from the ability to place bets on single sports events to having a larger variety of choice when it comes to operator. We do know that many who gamble in the unregulated market are unaware of the risks involved.” 

Jaggi-Smith said government bears the negative social consequences and pays through its health and justice systems for addicts and criminals who gamble on unregulated sites. 

Revenue from unregulated sites goes into “private pockets,” often located offshore, to benefit shareholders and executives. Jaggi-Smith showed a picture of Calvin Ayre, the Saskatchewan native who founded Bodog in Vancouver. She said at Ayre’s peak, his net worth was over US$1 billion.

Slide from Jaggi-Smith’s presentation shows Canadian online gambling tycoon Calvin Ayre (GPEB)

In 2017, Ayre avoided jail in the U.S. when he pleaded guilty in Maryland to being an accessory after the fact to transmission of wagering information from 2005 to 2011. He was fined $500,025 and put on unsupervised probation for a year.

A representative of the Ministry of Attorney General told theBreaker that the advertising standards complaint has yet to be filed. GPEB is still discussing the matter with other provinces. 

“GPEB is currently compiling information to support a complaint, including identifying how the advertisement of unregulated sites may violate the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards. GPEB will share that information and a draft complaint letter with other provincial gambling regulators for their consideration,” said a prepared statement sent by Liam Butler.  

In August 2016, GPEB sent letters to 18 companies that operate at least 25 of the most prominent gambling websites, asking them to stop targeting B.C. gamblers. However, none of them ceased operations in B.C. 

Quebec’s Bill 74 was intended to give Loto-Quebec power to order Internet service providers to block illegal gambling websites. The law was opposed by Canada’s telecommunications industry and free speech advocates and the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission ruled it illegal in late 2016. 

In the wake of a the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark May 14 decision to legalize sports betting outside Nevada, B.C. Attorney General David Eby said the federal government should legalize single-event wagering in Canada for the benefit of provincial gambling monopolies. The most-recent attempt to amend the Criminal Code, an NDP private member’s bill called the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, was defeated in the House of Commons in fall 2016.

“We really need the federal government to be involved in the discussion, given the fact that British Columbians are already betting on single-game events using these grey market and black market websites,” Eby told theBreaker in a May interview. “How can we ensure we protect the integrity of sport in Canada and how can we ensure there are responsible gaming and age protections in place for these kinds of bets, if they were to take place in Canada?” 

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Bob Mackin In its quest to crack down

Greetings, Minister Ralston and Minister of State Chow. 

May I call you Bruce and George? 

Let’s cut to the chase. 

Which one of you, or your staff, bought a $16 orange juice on your Asian junket earlier this year?

Did anyone get dinged $250 for smoking in a non-smoking hotel room?

Come on, ‘fess up. 

Ralston, Chow and Oda.

Your underlings are acting just like you committed a Bev Oda. 

She was the Conservative cabinet minister who enjoyed only the finest orange juice and smoking where she was not allowed during a trip to London’s posh Savoy Hotel in 2011. It led to her becoming an ex-cabinet minister. 

Today, staff from your ministry dug in their heels and thumbed their collective noses at taxpayers. They told me it would cost $510 to see all the receipts from the late January/early February trade mission, on which you and four other public servants from the Jobs, Trade and Technology ministry traveled on the taxpayer dime to China, South Korea and Japan. They claim it would take 20 hours to do the work — work that can be performed pretty easily in less than two hours. 

The public has already paid for your entourage’s travel and the public has already paid for the filing and processing of the expense reports. To suggest that I, on behalf of the public, must pay a single dollar, let alone $510, to see how public money was spent is, frankly, absurd and wrong. 

Your staff did send me a summary of spending. They say the mission cost $291,487, of which $223,552 came from your ministry. You were accompanied by B.C. trade representatives Paul Irwin, Francis Acquarone and Richard Sawchuck, for a cost of nearly $25,000.

Deputy Minister Fazil Mihlar and the two of you spent $30,737. And then more than $168,000 on “general mission costs,” such as $80,000 in meetings, ceremonies, lunches and receptions. Plus $51,000 on interpreters and translators. 

Sure would be nice to see all the receipts, to know whether taxpayers really got value. Or whether they were stuck paying for fancy orange juice and misbehaviour.

Chow (left) and Ralston at Japanese video game giant Sega’s headquarters. (Twitter)

Your staff told me to go fish around travel expenses website for some of your receipts. But they won’t get me all of your receipts and they won’t give me any of the receipts for your staff. 

Unless I pay $510.

This only validates what United States Senator and open government advocate Patrick Leahy famously said: 

“Indeed, experience suggests that agencies are most resistant to granting fee waivers when they suspect that the information sought may cast them in a less than flattering light or may lead to proposals to reform their practices. Yet that is precisely the type of information which the FOIA is supposed to disclose, and agencies should not be allowed to use fees as an offensive weapon against requesters seeking access to Government information….”

While your party was in opposition, Christy Clark and the BC Liberals jetted off to Asia several times. When NDP caucus researchers and the media asked to see their travel expense receipts, they were released at no cost. 

Like this one.

Fancy that! Those triple deletin’ BC Liberals were being transparent and accountable on travel spending and now you’re not! 

The NDP has already been caught deleting. Now the NDP has been caught gouging.

Heck, let’s call a spade a shovel. The NDP government sent me an information ransom note. 

Is this what Better B.C. really looks like? 

Best regards,

 

Bob Mackin 

FOI Request JTT 2018 82916 by BobMackin on Scribd

Greetings, Minister Ralston and Minister of State

Bob Mackin

With Vancouver’s participation in the United Bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup hanging by a thread, the general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association issued an ultimatum to the NDP government and Vancouver city hall three days before the bid book’s deadline. 

Peter Montopoli (CSA)

At 7:58 p.m. on March 13, Peter Montopoli wrote to Deputy Tourism Minister Sandra Carroll, B.C. Pavilion Corp. CEO Ken Cretney and Vancouver Sport Hosting manager Michelle Collens. 

He set 8:30 a.m. March 14 as the deadline for Vancouver’s bid to be included. 

“The City of Vancouver and Province of British Columbia must provide the following documents: An unaltered and duly executed Host City Agreement and unaltered and duly executed Stadium Agreement,” wrote Montopoli, a director on the United Bid Committee. “We will require a confirmation email on the direction being taken in advance of the deadline to ensure that the City of Vancouver continues as a Candidate Host City and is included in the United 2026 Bid Book. Failing to meet these conditions, the City of Vancouver will be removed as a Candidate Host City.” 

On March 13, Carroll had written to the United Bid Committee’s lawyer, Michael Kuh, reiterating the desire for B.C. and PavCo to host 2026 World Cup matches at B.C. Place Stadium, but not without further information and clarification from, and negotiation, with FIFA.

“We are well-equipped to continue hosting and supporting international competitions and expect our partnerships with the Government of Canada, the United States and Mexico would mean a successful FIFA World Cup in 2026,” Carroll wrote. “We agree, in principle, with many of the terms contained in the Stadium Agreement, we do have some concerns about the costs to British Columbia taxpayers. Certain key terms of the Stadium Agreement are so broad in scope that, based on our legal counsel advice, we believe that they may pose unacceptable risks to PavCo and its shareholder, the Province.” 

Carroll had included the March 9 letter by Cretney, who was concerned with several unknown costs: security, securing land near the stadium for related events, a temporary grass field and backup field, inflation and the ability of FIFA and the CSA to unilaterally amend the contract.  

Cretney’s letter, also obtained under the freedom of information law, said the proposed terms of the stadium agreement were “unnecessarily broad, create unacceptable risks and require further clarification and information.” 

UPDATE (June 15): Cretney’s letter was not warmly received after it arrived in New York on March 10 at the Latham and Watkins law firm. United Bid executive director John Kristick emailed Cretney at 8:41 a.m. on March 11, after a discussion with members of the United Bid’s board and partners at the CSA.

Kristick had worked as an executive between 1992 and 2008 with ISL, Kirch and Infront, the notorious Swiss sports marketing firms that enjoyed cozy relationships with FIFA during the corrupt presidencies of Joao Havelange and Sepp Blatter. 

“Unfortunately, the Vancouver submission does not meet the standard required for inclusion with the United Bid’s submission for FIFA,” wrote Kristick. “In order for Vancouver to go forward with the bid, you must provide to us an unaltered and duly executed original of the Stadium Agreement by 12 PST on Monday, March 12. We are prepared to have a personal courier authorized by the United Bid Committee at your offices tomorrow to retrieve the documents… Canada Soccer will contact you today to discus this matter further and determine if there is a way forward. ” 

Montopoli followed-up on March 12, before 8:30 a.m., restating that noon deadline. It is not clear why United Bid eventually stepped back from that deadline. 

FIFA president Gianni Infantino announcing the United Bid to host the 2026 World Cup (FIFA)

At 9:26 a.m. on March 14, almost an hour after the passing of the deadline he set, Montopoli sent an email rejecting Vancouver and B.C., because “The conditions set out in the March 13th email have not been met.”

The message was copied to FIFA vice-president Victor Montagliani, CSA president Steve Reed and Kristick. 

The U.S.-led bid with Canada and Mexico submitted its detailed proposal to FIFA on schedule March 16, without Vancouver. 

Chicago, Minneapolis and Glendale, Arizona were also not included, because they had similar concerns about uncertain costs. The Alberta government withdrew its support for Edmonton, which remained in the bid book.

In March, theBreaker reported that FIFA demands the 2026 World Cup host agree to pay all security costs, give FIFA a 10-year tax holiday, relax labour laws, and allow the import and export of unlimited sums of foreign cash. 

In a statement issued on March 14, B.C. Tourism Minister Lisa Beare said that “should the bid committee reconsider, our door remains open to bringing some of the 2026 World Cup games to Vancouver.”

Beare’s statement said B.C. made “numerous attempts to clarify the risks and obligations faced by British Columbians.

“So far, the bid committee has rejected our requests to clarity how much British Columbians could be expected to contribute. And they have declined to negotiate with the province regarding the concerns we raised.” 

Bureaucrats in the sport division of Beare’s ministry drafted an internal analysis, marked confidential, on Feb. 2 to compare the 2026 World Cup bid phase with the 2015 Women’s World Cup, which ended at B.C. Place. The heavily censored document included columns on security requirements, cash and in-kind contributions from taxpayers, economic impact, cost-sharing and indemnification, budget and risk/optics. The estimated TV audience in 2026 is a cumulative 26 billion, compared with a total 500 million-plus in 2015. 

theBreaker obtained the document after asking for the NDP government’s cost-benefit analysis for the 2026 bid. It withheld information claiming policy advice, fear of harm to governmental relations or negotiations, and fear of harm to government finances. The Feb. 2 document came after a Jan. 29 meeting held by Carroll about the bid. The NDP government is refusing to release any documents from the Carroll meeting, claiming they also contain legal advice and third-party business information. 

On June 13 at the FIFA congress in Moscow, United Bid beat its only rival, Morocco, by 134 votes to 65. One person voted none of the above. Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton are in the running to host some of the 10 games allotted to Canada. Mexico will also get 10 games.

The U.S., which hosted in 1994, will stage 60 matches, including the opener and the final, in the first World Cup to feature 48 nations. 

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TAC-2018-82236-UnitedBid by BobMackin on Scribd

TAC-2018-82220-2026 by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin With Vancouver’s participation in the United

Bob Mackin

On the day between the G7 Summit in Quebec and the Trump/Kim Summit in Singapore, the biggest delegation of government officials to visit British Columbia from the People’s Republic of China since 2005 arrived in Vancouver.

The NDP government did not publish a news release. Trade Minister Bruce Ralston Tweeted photographs of the June 10 airport greeting and Westin Bayshore dinner. Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin Tweeted dinner photographs a day later. 

Premier John Horgan did not, but there are photographs of him meeting with Wang Chen, a member of Xi Jinping’s Politburo, on the B.C. government’s Flickr site. 

A Chinese governemnt entourae dined with five B.C. cabinet ministers on June 10 at the Westin Bayshore (Rich Lam/BC Gov)

The roster of the Chinese entourage, obtained by theBreaker, included senior officials in Beijing’s propaganda and Internet censorship regime and the Communist Party anti-corruption department. 

Wang, leader of the 24-person entourage, is also vice-chair of the National People’s Congress standing committee, China’s rubber-stamp legislature. The NPC standing committee’s secretary general is a director of the Cyberspace Administration of China and deputy director of the party’s publicity department. The former journalist was president of People’s Daily from 2002 to 2008. 

In total, there were a dozen members and bureaucrats from the NPC, including the chair of the Committee on Supervisory and Judicial Affairs (Wu Yuliang), and vice-chairs of the Financial and Economic Affairs Commission (Yin Zhongqing) and Legislative Affairs Commission (Zhang Yong).

Wu is also the deputy party secretary of the 18th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party’s anti-corruption office. 

Horgan, who had to fly back to Victoria, was unable to join them for the private Westin Bayshore banquet with Austin, Ralston, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Carole James, Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark, Minister of State for Trade George Chow, and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. 

Discussions centred around trade, the Canada-China year of tourism, education, climate change, and “ways to enhance co-operation” between B.C. and China. 

The entourage, which carried-on to Ottawa, was the biggest since 2005 when President Hu Jintao visited the Bayshore on a North American tour.

Ex-Premier Christy Clark and Trade Minister Teresa Wat hosted a 21-person entourage from Guangdong on May 8-9, 2016. That delegation was led by Politburo member Hu Chunhua. 

Wang’s visit came the week after Chinese dissidents marked the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre and two weeks since the 9th Conference of the World Guangdong Community Federation in Vancouver.  The Vancouver Convention Centre-hosted event was linked to the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department. The Financial Times described the United Front as “China’s secret magic weapon for world influence.” 

A May report by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service analyzed China’s influence on western governments and ambitions to rival the United States as a superpower. 

“With the abolition of the two-term limit on the presidency, Xi Jinping will guide China for the foreseeable future,” the report said. “Authoritarian rule facilitates determined action, but this can translate into decreased sensitivity to criticism, vulnerability to corruption, and a restricted flow of information vital to sound decision-making. The inter-mingling of private and public economic enterprises has led to ineficiency and corruption that persist.”

The Chinese delegation list:

1.     His Excellency Wang Chen, Member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China (NPC).

Horgan and Chinese Politburo member Wang Chen (Rich Lam/BC Gov)

2.     The Honourable Wu Yuliang, Member, NPC Standing Committee & Chairman, NPC Committee on Supervisory and Judicial Affairs.

3.     The Honourable Yin Zhongqing, Member, NPC Standing Committee & Vice Chairman, NPC Committee on Financial and Economic Affairs.

4.     The Honourable Zhang Yong, Member of the NPC Standing Committee, Vice Chairman, Legislative Affairs Commission, NPC Standing Committee.

5.     The Honourable Li Yihu, Member, NPC Committee on Foreign Affairs.

6.     Mr. Cao Yanfang, Director-General, Retiree Affairs Bureau, General Office, NPC Standing Committee

7.     Mr. Zhang Xinmin, Director-General, Service Department, General Office, NPC Standing Committee

8.     Mr. Jin Qingzhong, Deputy Director-General, Research Office, General Office, NPC Standing Committee

9.     Mr. Xiong Wei, Deputy Director-General, Foreign Affairs Bureau, General Office, NPC Standing Committee

10.  Mr. Yin Chengwu, Counselor, Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)

11.  Mr. Zheng Xiliang, Director, Central Guard Bureau, CPC

12.  Ms. Bai Dandan, Director, Foreign Affairs Bureau, General Office, NPC Standing Committee

13.  Mr. Zuo Liang, Secretary to the head of the delegation

14.  Mr. Xu Xiaoqing, Secretary to Hon. Wu Yuliang

15.  Ms. Zhao Daihong, Deputy Director, Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs, MFA

16.  Mr. Gu Xinqiang, Deputy Director, Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs, MFA

17.  Mr. Liu Rundong, Private Security Official to the head of the delegation

18.  Mr. Wu Yunbo, Private Doctor to the head of the delegation

19.  Mr. Chen Shanrui, Principal Staff Member, Foreign Affairs Bureau, General Office, NPC Standing Committee

20.  Ms. Wang Yan, Senior Staff Member, Foreign Affairs Bureau, General Office, NPC Standing Committee

21.  Mr. Luo Wei, Interpreter, MFA

22.  His Excellency LU Shaye, Ambassador of China to Canada

23.  Ms. Tong Xiaoling, Consul General of China in Vancouver

24.  Mr. Yang Fan, Counsellor, Embassy of China to Canada

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Bob Mackin On the day between the G7