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Bob Mackin

Developers are laughing at Premier John Horgan, because the NDP’s speculation tax does nothing to address demand by domestic and foreign property flippers. 

That is according to an email sent to the Premier’s office from someone who claimed to be a developer and supporter of David Eby’s 2017 re-election. The sender’s name was censored by the government for privacy.

“Sadly, this new budget did nothing but open champagne bottles through the development community all day and night. Why? Because you are continuing to allow the ‘same old, same old,’” read the Feb. 21 email released to theBreaker under freedom of information. 

“Developers are laughing at you,” the person wrote, because they will continue to sell suites and homes in bulk to local and offshore property flippers “known as ‘whales’ in the development community.”

Premier John Horgan and Wang Chen, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo (Rich Lam photo)

The correspondent proposed restricting sales of all residential properties — including pre-sale and re-sale condos, townhomes and houses in the City of Vancouver — to Canadian-resident, owner-occupiers. “Developers and realtors will cry foul as they will go from stratospheric profits to extremely high profits. By removing the global (and local) investor/speculator, you will be doing what you were elected to do — serve your taxpaying citizens who are looking to purchase homes!”

The email was among 39 pages released to theBreaker on June 12 about post-budget reaction from citizens to the increase and expansion of the foreign home buyers’ tax and the introduction of a real estate speculation tax. 

Email from residents of Vernon, Sunshine Coast and Penticton seeking relief from a bubbling real estate market complained their areas weren’t included. 

“I hope you will continue with the momentum, and close loopholes such as bare trusts which allow foreign buyers to avoid disclosing their nationality and other money laundering in our markets,” reads a Feb. 23, 8:16 a.m. email. “Drain the swamp!” 

“Speculators, flippers, drug money, etc etc – use the whole province as a PIGGY BANK – why not impose these real estate rules province-wide?” wrote someone at 2:59 p.m. on Feb. 23. “Why the discrimination? Our children, grandchildren will never be able to purchase a house, destined to live as renters, deal with landlords — so sad!!!’ 

The sender of a Feb. 22, 12:15 p.m. message proposed channeling foreign capital into low-cost housing. A Feb. 23, 11:32 a.m. writer claimed to have voted NDP and did not support the foreign buyers’ tax increase, calling it racist to single-out people from other countries and punish them with a high tax rate. “Not everyone from another country is laundering money here, many are honest.” 

Five emails decried the lack of tax or regulation on Richmond farmland. 

“I live in Richmond and have been watching with horror as Richmond Mayor and Council have ignored the majority of Richmond citizens in favour of developers and corrupt realtors who have ruined our most precious resource,” reads one of them, sent Feb. 22, 7:54 p.m. “With all due respect, you seemed to go out of your way (to) exclude farmland. Why did you fail to protect farmland?” 

A dozen emails expressed concern about the imposition of a speculation tax on recreational properties.

Said a Feb. 23, 3:09 p.m. email: “The B.C. government’s latest attack of non-residents who already pay 30% more property tax than B.C. residents and use less services have been included in your government’s efforts to control an out of control housing market in Vancouver fuelled by what now the B.C. government admit is money coming from foreign buyers with no traceable income. The collateral damage to the government’s misguided policy is us.” 

The writer of a Feb. 21 email said his or her family moved from B.C. to the U.S. for employment opportunities. 

“We still own our Vancouver home. We want to keep our Vancouver home as a vacation home so we can stay there when we visit family and friends in B.C or when we have a ski trip to Cypress or Whistler. Did we do anything wrong that warrants the punishment of the 2% speculation tax? There is nothing speculative about our ownership of the home. We worked hard, paid $10,000s of tax, saved enough down payment and bought our first home. So for expat Canadians like us, the only option is to just sell the house and never come back for a visit? (The strata has bylaw forbidding rental so even if we wanted to rent we cannot.)”

A retired septuagenarian couple living in a Kelowna townhouse, who spend 120 days a year in a West Vancouver condo, feared prohibitive costs. 

Finance Minister Carole James (BC Gov)

“We are highly stressed by this possibility as we cannot possibly afford to pay the massive annual tax that would be assessed to us. It would force us to have to sell…. we have always paid our fair share, but this additional $12,000 or more annual tax is not acceptable to us.” 

On March 27, Finance Minister Carole James softened the blow, by limiting the areas where tax will be charged and exempting properties worth less than $400,000, if owned by a British Columbian. Resort areas like Harrison Hot Springs and the Gulf Islands are not covered anymore. Whistler was not among the areas targeted in the first place. 

The Urban Development Institute launched a campaign, by multinational lobbying firm Hill and Knowlton, to oppose the measures. It includes an anonymous-organized online petition, that was rejected by the Legislature’s clerk, and an anonymous-organized Facebook page. 

British Columbians who own more than one house that is not rented for at least half the year are subject to a 0.5% rate. Rates for out-of-province owners are 1% and foreign owners 2%. 

theBreaker filed the application on March 8. It was supposed to be due April 23, but delayed by the government to June 5 to consult with an unnamed third party or public body. The records were released June 12, a week later than the revised deadline. 

Jinny Sims, the minister in charge of the government’s FOI office, was ordered last July with orders by Horgan to “improve response and processing times” for FOI requests.

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OOP 2018 81669 Real Estate Taxes by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Developers are laughing at Premier John

Bob Mackin

In a letter obtained by theBreaker, the executive in charge of B.C. Place Stadium told the lawyer for North America’s 2026 World Cup bid committee that he could not agree to FIFA’s demands without further negotiation. 

“While we agree in principle to many of the terms contained in the Stadium Agreement [SA] provided, certain key terms of the document are so uncertain and broad in scope, and pose unacceptable risk, that they prevent PavCo at this time from providing an irrevocable offer in response,” B.C. Pavilion Corporation CEO Ken Cretney wrote on March 9 to Michael Kuh of New York’s Latham and Watkins firm. “PavCo is therefore unable to sign the SA as provided, or provide a legal opinion regarding the enforceability of the SA.” 

PavCo CEO Ken Cretney (PavCo)

A week later, on March 16, the United Bid committee submitted its 23-city hosting proposal to FIFA without Vancouver, which hosted FIFA’s 2015 Women’s World Cup final. Chicago, Minneapolis and Glendale, Arizona also withdrew bids after similarly deeming FIFA’s demands too rich.

On June 13 in Moscow, FIFA’s 211-member congress will choose between the joint U.S./Mexico/Canada bid and Morocco. 

Cretney’s letter, obtained under the freedom of information law, said the proposed terms of the stadium agreement are “unnecessarily broad, create unacceptable risks and require further clarification and information.” He wanted more information on the “broad and expansive” indemnities, guarantees and waivers in order to ask the Ministry of Finance whether it would agree to indemnify FIFA. 

“The SA provides for the payment of certain fees to PavCo, but it is unclear whether such fees will include inflation escalators. As the expectation is for PavCo to incur future significant and yet unknown costs imposable by FIFA until 2026, the inflation risk is significant and requires further discussion.” 

Cretney wrote that PavCo could not accept safety and security obligations on behalf of other governments and parties or be stuck having to negotiate the rent of land for tournament-related uses. 

“The potentially significant costs and other complexities of securing control of property owned by third parties will require further discussion, clarity and certainty.”

The playing surface was the last of PavCo’s six grievances. 

“A natural grass pitch that meets FIFA requirements would need to be installed over the current artificial turf at B.C. Place Stadium. Costs related to the installation of a grass turf and related watering, maintenance and lighting systems, all currently excluded from the draft Stadium Rental Fee, will require agreement and confirmation of a source of funds. Additionally, the parties will need to address the requirement for a contingency pitch.”

United Bid 2026

Kuh replied on March 11, but the NDP government has not yet released the letter. On March 13, Deputy Tourism Minister Sandra Carroll reiterated the desire of B.C. and PavCo to host 2026 World Cup matches, but not on terms dictated by 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 SA 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.” 

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. 

A committee evaluating the two bids deemed Morocco’s venue, transportation and hotel plans high risk. Should the United Bid win the vote, FIFA stands to gain a US$300 million bonus from North American rights-holding broadcasters, including Fox. FIFA reported US$1.27 billion in the bank through 2016.  

FIFA is still reeling from the US$150 million corruption scandal that led to the end of Sepp Blatter’s presidency in 2015. 

FIFA vice-president Victor Montagliani (Mackin)

In April, the New York Times reported FIFA vice-president and United 2026 board member Victor Montagliani of Vancouver was paid US$2 million last year, more than his superiors at FIFA and at the European confederation. CONCACAF boss Montagliani is the former president of the Canadian Soccer Association, which reported a $2.26 million loss for 2017. 

The CSA’s $20.6 million revenue included $7.4 million in membership fees paid by associations, teams and registered players, $3.6 million in grants from taxpayers and $1.26 million from FIFA and CONCACAF. 

Of the $22.8 million expenses, the CSA’s biggest cost was its senior men’s and women’s teams at $5.8 million. It spent nearly $5 million on administration, meetings, marketing and communications, and $270,000 on the 2026 bid. 

Neither Canada nor the U.S. qualified for the Russia 2018 World Cup, which kicks-off June 14. Mexico’s first opponent, on June 17, is defending champion Germany.

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TAC 2018 82232 TheBreaker by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin In a letter obtained by theBreaker,

Except for Stompin’ Tom Connors’ “The Bridge Came Tumblin’ Down,” there has been relatively little to commemorate the mass-tragedy of June 17, 1958 in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet. 

Until now. 

George Orr’s new documentary, The Bridge, tells the story of the day the under-construction Second Narrows Bridge collapsed. 

“About 3:40 in the afternoon, there were 79 men working on this bridge…They felt a lurch, it went bump, then it fell out from under them,” Orr said during an interview. 

“Nineteen men died that day. It’s the biggest industrial accident in the city’s history.”

The Bridge features never-before-seen colour footage of the bridge, before and after the fateful afternoon.  

Orr is gearing up to premiere the documentary at the Vancity Theatre in Vancouver on June 17. Screenings on three other days are scheduled. 

On this edition of Podcast, host Bob Mackin catches-up with Orr, on-location at the Vancouver end of the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing. That is where survivors gather every year on the anniversary for a sombre memorial ceremony. 

Plus commentaries on the Ontario election and the comeback of a Vancouver summertime tradition, and headlines around the Pacific Rim and Cascadia. 

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Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: New documentary commemorates the biggest industrial accident in Vancouver history

Except for Stompin’ Tom Connors’ "The Bridge

Bob Mackin

Canada’s provincial governments will try again on May 8 to give away a $60 million jackpot in the nationwide Lotto Max. Plus 52 prizes of $1 million, and the $500,000 Extra. 

This, the week after the B.C. Lottery Corp. awarded $30 million to the anonymous winner of the April 25 Lotto 6/49 draw. 

The minister responsible for gambling in B.C. is Attorney General David Eby, who is facing a BC Liberal-backed tax revolt in his Vancouver-Point Grey riding for the NDP’s schools surtax on the value of houses over $3 million. 

Boosters of this controversial tax contend that those who bought a house before the 21st century and the recent price explosion have figuratively “won the lottery,” because they are now multimillionaires on paper. 

Finance Minister Carole James talks to the media in Victoria (BC Gov)

Opponents of the tax include former NDP premier Mike Harcourt, a Point Grey resident whose government backed-off a similar tax in 1993 when Westsiders complained en masse. Harcourt said it will hurt senior citizens, even if they choose to defer their tax bills. 

So why not actually tax winners of lottery jackpots, like the United States does, to replace the schools surtax or lessen the blow on those who really cannot afford it? 

In the United States, home of the Powerball, winnings $5,001 and above are subject to a 25% federal withholding tax. 

California, Florida, Texas and Washington are among a handful of states that do not apply state taxes to lottery prizes. Oregon (8%) and New York (8.82%) do. 

Eby didn’t respond to a query on whether his goverment should tax lottery jackpot winners. However, according to the office of Finance Minister Carole James, “this is not being considered.” 

Economist Victor Matheson of the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts has studied the economics of gambling. 

“There is no theoretical economic reason not to tax the award, and the only reason you wouldn’t is for advertising purposes, I think,” Matheson said by email. “There are a handful of places that don’t tax the award, and of course, it also means that if you win Powerball, try to make sure you are living in Texas or Florida at the time instead of California or New York City.”

Diana Gibson, research manager for the Canadians For Tax Fairness, say taxing big gambling winnings “makes sense.”

“They should be treated differently than earnings people have made through working,” Gibson said.

She also said that gambling is associated with social harm and governments need more revenue to deal with that. 

In a similar vein, Gibson said, those facing higher property tax bills or applying for deferral because they live in houses worth more than $3 million should be paying extra. 

“The people that earn money by the luck of the market, paying a higher tax on that is important,” she said. 

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Bob Mackin Canada’s provincial governments will try again

Bob Mackin

Whitby Estates in West Vancouver may be the most-expensive new neighbourhood in Canada with the most-awesome panoramic views. 

It may also be the most lonely. 

Weeds on the walkway of a vacant mansion at the centre of a dispute between a Chinese government official and his daughter. (Mackin)

During visits to the area over the last two years, theBreaker noticed a dearth of daytime pedestrian and vehicle movements and very few residences with lights on during evenings in this British Pacific Properties development.

The views of Point Grey, Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver Island and Washington’s San Juan Islands at sunset are stunning. It is a popular destination among astronomy aficionados and Celebration of Light fireworks fans. 

There are knee-high weeds growing in many gardens and walkways during the summer. After winter snowstorms, the streets are dutifully plowed long before the knee-high snowbanks on many driveways. 

When cars are spotted, they are often parked in clusters while their drivers are inside, perhaps enjoying the solitude. Like the black Mercedes and white BMW SUVs and gold Mercedes AMG GT R Coupe seen June 6. 

An analysis of property assessment records for 60 mansions and townhouses on the once-forested slopes of Highview Place and Highgrove Place shows a whopping $350.416 million combined real estate value — an average of $5.84 million — in the luxury enclaves below Cypress Bowl Road.

The area, developed between 2009 and 2014, was marketed to investors from China. Two-thirds of the names on titles in the B.C. Assessment database are non-anglicized Chinese names. Some of those names are familiar to court watchers in B.C.

For instance, the neighbouring mansions at 2783 and 2785 Highview Pl. are worth a combined $16.443 million. They are held by members of the Li family from Meizhou in Guangdong province. Except, a family feud is winding its way toward a B.C. Supreme Court trial. 

Li Xiaoqi is suing her father Li Jianhua, because she claims to be the beneficial owner of both houses. Communist Party member Li Jianhua is the former chairman of wood products manufacturer Guangdong WeiHua Corp. and a former deputy in the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp legislature. 

The 2783 Highview house is worth slightly more, at $8.238 million, with five bedrooms and seven bathrooms on 20,780 square feet of land. Compared to 2785 Highview, which is worth $8.205 million, and contains six bedrooms and six bathrooms on 18,665 square feet. 

Next to the pair of Li mansions at 2791 Highview Pl. is the $8.24 million property registered to PE Consulting Ltd., which has an address on West Boulevard in Kerrisdale. PE’s sole director is Jizhe (Mary) Yang. 

In January, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck ordered Yang’s other house, near Prince of Wales secondary, to be sold. Affleck ruled that it had been fraudulently transferred in 2008 by Yang and her husband, Samuel Zhu, to Yang’s teenage daughter, Yang’s sister and her sister’s husband. On March 26, Justice Gregory Bowden ordered the shares of PE Consulting Ltd. be sold. 

Yang’s Highview house also offers an example of how values ballooned. Back in 2011, when it was an empty lot, it was worth just $1.686 million. By 2015, the land was worth $3.189 million and buildings $3.554 million. 

The values of the 60 homes analyzed in Whitby Estates range from $3.151 million to $9.28 million, meaning all are subject to the NDP’s so-called schools surtax for the value over the $3 million mark. Some will also be subject to the NDP’s speculation tax. Finance Minister Carole James and Attorney General David Eby have also vowed to start a beneficial ownership registry to find out who really owns what. 

A real estate agent’s sign is swallowed by bushes in Whitby Estates. (Mackin)

Transparency International says governments need to know beneficial owners, in order to curtail money laundering and tax avoidance. Canadian land title offices only record the titleholder, who can be a shell company, a trust or a nominee, TI says. Beneficial owners of Canadian property can, therefore, remain anonymous.

Continuing along on the tour…

Next door to the Yang house, at the $7.667 million 2795 Highview Pl., the registered owner is Guan Yueqin of the Nanshan district of Shenzhen, Guangdong. 

Across the street is 2788 Highview Pl., registered to Su Ya Qing. It is assessed at $6.401 million, but it can be all yours for $7.98 million. 

Hurry, don’t miss this limited time offer.

Just pulling your leg! Luxmore Realty agent Wendy Tian’s for sale sign by has been standing for so long, that it is in danger of being swallowed by bushes. No word on whether the silver Lexus SUV and white BMW sedan in the car port — both without licence plates — are included. 

Tian is also flogging a strata townhouse at 2533 Highgrove Mews for $4.28 million, slightly above the $4.004 million assessment. 

Down the winding road at 2751 Highview Pl. is the $8.51 million mansion that was formerly in the name of Jia Gui Gao. When Gao defaulted on the mortgage, he was served legal documents at the Venetian Hotel in Macau. One of those holding a mortgage on the property was none other than Paul King Jin, the cash facilitator banned from B.C. casinos. Jin sued Gao for $2.3 million because he alleged Gao spent the money on gambling and women. 

The court agreed to sell the property in June 2017 to a Richmond-based, mobile phone retail chain executive. 

Who really owns the $3.977 million strata townhouse at 2748 Highview Pl.?

Lunar New Year decorations displayed in June at Whitby Estates (Mackin)

It is registered to TR Highview Holdings Ltd., which is tied to the Tortola, British Virgin Islands address of ILS Fiduciary (B.V.I.) Ltd. The multinational firm specializes in “tax mitigation, asset protection, property ownership and assisting cross-border business.”

Marian Nibbs, the assistant manager at ILS B.V.I., told theBreaker by email “we are unable to divulge information to third parties; however, I have forwarded your request to our client for them to respond to you.” 

The B.C. corporate registry said TR Highview Holdings Ltd. is the assumed name of the B.V.I. incorporated TR Management Ltd., and its lawyer is Sterling Hein of Bell Alliance. 

Neither Hein nor anyone from TR Highview or TR Management has responded to theBreaker.

Song Zhi Quan and Song Yu Xin are the names on the deed for $7.347 million 2701 Highgrove Pl., but their registration includes the address of the Mao and Yang LLP accounting firm (formerly SunRonkai) in the MacMillan Bloedel Building in downtown Vancouver. Neither of that firm’s principals responded to theBreaker.

Likewise for TV production sales company HRTV Productions and real estate investment company Home Run Developments, which are at the address on the deed for Yan Ming Liu’s $8.225 million property at 2737 Highgrove Pl. 

The entry for Li Jin Fong’s $6.973 million property at 2709 Highgrove refers to 155 Winding Way in Ottawa, a house that was listed for sale at $1.65 million in the posh Barrhaven East neighbourhood. 

Similarly, the entry for Zhong Cheng Na and Chen Tang’s 2717 Highgrove Pl., worth $6.418 million, includes a Kingsway address in Burnaby. 

Behind the 2727 Highgrove Pl. mansion, assessed at $6.922 million, is another surprise. 

The seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom house is registered to Quan Hua and Qui Chan, who are connected to the $25.889 million mansion at 3639 Osler St. via the numbered company 0880902 B.C. Ltd. 

The Osler mansion was the 39th most-expensive in the city last year.

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Bob Mackin Whitby Estates in West Vancouver may

Bob Mackin

The 24-year-old man who was crushed beside a North Vancouver house construction site on June 5 was an employee of a Richmond surveying company. 

Trish Knight Chernecki of WorkSafeBC told theBreaker that the victim, whose name has not been released, worked for Richard Fu Land Surveying Inc. 

A bouquet of flowers in memory of a surveyor who died June 5 in North Vancouver (Mackin)

North Vancouver RCMP said the man was knocked over and crushed by a dump truck around 10:30 a.m. near the site of a demolished house at 4538 Timberline Place, north of Handsworth Road. 

A bouquet of flowers was later placed in the middle of the orange paint-splattered road, which leads to a cul-de-sac. What appears to be surveying marks in white spray paint were also visible. 

Chernecki said none of WorkSafeBC’s preliminary reports mention the orange paint. Was the surveyor alone? “At this stage, we won’t be able to speak to solo vs. spotter,” she said.

By mid-morning on June 6, the flowers had been removed, but work on the site had not resumed. A District of North Vancouver official attended the site, along with staff of the prime contractor, Burnaby-based JKCE Construction Group/TKCW PKCT Construction Co. Ltd. 

Fu declined comment. JKCE did not respond. Permits for demolition and a new single-family house were issued by District Hall on Jan. 24. 

The fatality is under investigation by the RCMP, B.C. Coroners Service and WorkSafeBC. 

According to WorkSafeBC, two land surveyors died between 2007 and 2016, one from a traumatic injury, the other from an asbestos-related illness. There were 34 serious injury time loss claims filed by surveyors during that time period. 

Richard Fu Land Surveying Inc. was inspected by WorkSafeBC in December 2016, but there were no orders or violations noted. 

The $1.99 million Capilano Highlands property is registered to Maple Jean Holding, whose directors are Xiao Jun Liu and Yong Li Zhang. Liu is also named on the deed for a $2.093 million property in nearby Canyon Heights. 

JKCE’s website said the company was established in 2006, “among the very first ones in the Chinese community.”

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Bob Mackin The 24-year-old man who was crushed

Bob Mackin

A Provincial Court judge acquitted a Richmond man of dangerous driving causing death, despite finding the accused had accelerated his Audi to almost three times the posted speed limit a block before the 2015 crash.  

Judge Gregory Rideout presided over the six-day trial of Ken Chung earlier this year. Chung was charged after crashing into popular Chinese-Canadian doctor Alphonsus Hui before 9 a.m. on Nov. 14, 2015 at Oak Street and 41st Avenue in Oakridge. 

“In this case there were fatal and tragic consequences arising from the accused’s objectively dangerous driving conduct as result of his excessive speeding,” Rideout ruled on May 25. “There is at least a reasonable doubt that such conduct amounted to a marked departure from the standard of a reasonably prudent driver.” 

Dr. Alphonsus Hui

Chung was driving an Audi that struck Hui’s 2012 Suzuki SX4 at 119 kilometres per hour in the intersection. Hui had been traveling southbound on Oak Street and was trying a left-hand turn to go eastbound on 41st Avenue. Chung’s silver Audi struck Hui’s Suzuki on the passenger side. Hui’s car spun, became airborne and hit a fire hydrant and advertising sign outside a Petro-Canada station. Cardiologist Sui Him Chan witnessed the crash and, with help of other bystanders, extricated Hui from the vehicle. Chan administered CPR until an ambulance arrived. Hui, however, died at the scene.  

Rideout ruled there was evidence that Chung saw Hui’s Suzuki and did not expect Hui would turn in front of him as he entered the intersection. He found that Chung had the right of way and that there was insufficient evidence to establish whether Hui signalled to make the left turn. 

“Additionally, the accused did engage the brakes of his Audi as he entered the intersection which I infer is more consistent with attention, rather than, inattention to the hazard posed as Dr. Hui made his left hand turn,” said Rideout’s reasons for judgment. 

Crown counsel Jocelyn Coupal submitted that Chung had been overtaking vehicles while driving in the curb lane, came within a half-second of rear-ending a right-turning vehicle in the curb lane in front of him, and did not see or could not have seen Hui’s vehicle in the intersection. 

Chung did not testify in his defence. His lawyer, Richard Fowler, claimed Chung momentarily accelerated his high-powered Audi to an excessive speed and claimed he had been driving at the posted speed limit for all blocks on Oak Street south of 42nd Avenue. 

Rideout relied on five witnesses and dashboard camera footage of the incident, as well as two Vancouver Police officers and an engineer.  One of the police officers, Const. Uwe Rieger, testified that Chung was speeding at 143 km-h between 42nd and 41st avenues.

Rideout found Shedrack Katarama to be the most helpful witness. Katarama testified that the Audi merged onto the Oak Street Bridge from Bridgeport Road in Richmond and he observed the Audi to be “in a hurry” causing him and another driver to apply their brakes. He later saw the Audi behind him while he was driving at 50 km-h until 42nd Avenue, when the Audi passed him at a high speed, in the curb lane between 42nd and 41st before the collision. 

“The accused’s conduct may be objectively dangerous such that it departed from the standard of care of a reasonable driver in the circumstances, but there is at least a reasonable doubt that it amounted to a marked departure from the standard of care,” Rideout wrote. 

Hui, born in 1947 in Guangdong, China, moved to Hong Kong with his family when he was three. He immigrated to Canada in 1966 to study for a medical degree at Montreal’s Loyola College and the University of Toronto. He founded his Oakridge practice in 1977. 

Hui’s obituary said he enjoyed singing, ballroom dancing, fishing, skiing, windsurfing and playing tennis and table tennis. He was also a leading member of the New Life Stem Cell Society to “increase registration amongst ethnic minorities, redressing cultural reluctance to donate, specifically in Chinese-Canadians.”

Wang in the passenger seat of a Porsche SUV (Mackin)

The case is under Crown review on whether there may have been an error in law that would give rise to an appeal. UPDATE (June 14): The B.C. Prosecution Service announced that the verdict will be appealed. It issued a statement that said there were errors in the judge’s ruling and the public interest requires an appeal.

While NDP Attorney General David Eby wrestles with ICBC’s $1.3 billion deficit, the Chung acquittal is the third dangerous driving incident to gain attention this spring. 

On May 15, a judge in Richmond banned Michael Wing Sing Fan from driving for a year and fined him $1,800 after the real estate agent pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention. Family and friends of deceased cyclist Bradley Dean were outraged that Fan was not charged with a more serious offence for driving into a group of cyclists on River Road in Richmond on a Sunday morning in November 2016. Fan had been partying all night at the Starlight Casino before getting behind the wheel.

On May 8 in North Vancouver Provincial Court, 23-year-old Yihao Wang was fined $750 after he pleaded guilty to driving his $300,000 Ferrari at 210 km-h over the Lions Gate Bridge last July 4. Wang’s July-imposed, 16-month driving ban continues until November.

UPDATE (June 10): Hui’s daughter, Monique Hui, launched an online petition aimed at convincing the Deputy Attorney General to file for an appeal of Chung’s acquittal. 

Hui wants to forward the petition on June 15, ahead of the June 24 deadline. 

“My father was robbed of seeing my brother get married and continuing his unyielding service to his more than 1,000 patients and multiple non-profit organizations that he gave his time and energy to. My twin baby boys will never get to meet their grandfather,” Monique Hui wrote.

“We are concerned the government and our courts are not doing enough to keep drivers who speed excessively off our streets. Ken Chung is still driving and it’s only a matter of time that he and others like him will hurt or kill again. I pray it is not your family or loved ones. The pain is too much to bear.”

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Bob Mackin A Provincial Court judge acquitted a

Bob Mackin

In the lead up to Vancouver’s 2014 civic election, Gregor Robertson called the Non-Partisan Association the “party of angry old white men.” 

Robertson is a lame duck, whose Vision Vancouver party may be wiped-off the electoral map this fall for its housing-related sins against all demographics. Unless the Vancouver and District Labour Council has its way. 

The NPA is now led by a mild-mannered, Vancouver native in his late 40s from a Chinese immigrant family. Even though there are still old white men in the background. 

NPA mayoral candidate Ken Sim (YouTube)

Ken Sim entered the race in mid-April, with two weeks left for membership sign-ups, and used his business networks, as well as those of his two big backers, Chip Wilson and Peter Armstrong, to help him win the nomination on June 3. Just two months earlier, the 2014 candidate, Kirk LaPointe, surprised many by withdrawing from the race. 

Sim registered his campaign domain on Friday the 13th back in April, and went public two days later. He admitted he had only a few weeks to accomplish what the other candidates had been working on for months. 

Sim said that he had been pondering a run for politics for a few years, but it didn’t become a serious consideration until March. His physiotherapist and CEO at Nurse Next Door told him he’d regret it if he didn’t try. “With that entrepreneurial spirit I said let’s do this. It could be a good thing.” 

Along the way, the NPA board, populated with supporters of rival Glen Chernen, gave thumbs down to Coun. Hector Bremner’s candidacy, over his perceived lobbying conflict of interest. 

Park Board veteran John Coupar represented the old guard of the NPA, with endorsements from ex-Mayor Philip Owen and Suzanne Anton, the former NPA councillor who was an unremarkable attorney general in the Christy Clark administration. 

Chernen drew headlines as an outspoken anti-corruption activist, but that got under the skin of Armstrong and others.

In fact, it was Armstrong that sent Chernen an email thanking him for the Cedar Party’s endorsement in 2014. Then, in the next breath, Armstrong urged Chernen to support Sim. Chernen’s campaign was turned upside down, as evidenced by the Tweeted elementary school and wedding photographs. 

“Glen’s a good guy, I’ve got nothing but great things to say about him,” Sim said after the April announcement. “I don’t think it’s any different than we were in high school and having a debate in social studies. We debate issues and someone wins and someone loses. Glen’s a good guy.”

The only problem was, there was no debate. Not until less than two hours left in the voting at the Hellenic Centre on June 3 did the three candidates address membership. This was in stark contrast to 2008, when Vision Vancouver was looking for a leader. Gregor Robertson, Raymond Louie and Allen De Genova sparred at the Jewish Community Centre, in an event that was co-sponsored by 24 Hours and The Tyee. It served dual-purpose, giving the party much-needed media attention and to help members narrow their choice.  

Sim will have to immediately build a profile outside the party, which has been overshadowed by the media-savvy, Bremner campaign masterminded by Mark Marissen. Sim will have the rest of summer to develop a platform.

Beyond stemming the flow of Vancouverites being lost to more affordable postal codes, two things are on Sim’s mind. 

An accountant by trade, he wants to bring a team accountants to open and analyze the books at city hall. 

Chernen Tweet about their friendship (Twitter)

“The budget at the City of Vancouver has gone up disproportionate to the rate of inflation, it just doesn’t make sense. We have to make it transparent, people are pissed off in the city, they don’t know what we’re spending money on,” Sim said. 

Vision habitually sparred with the former BC Liberal government. Sim would have to work with an NDP government in Victoria. 

“I’m an entrepreneur and all we do is we don’t pick fights, we assess situations and we see how people work together to get things done.”

In his franchising businesses, Nurse Next Door and Rosemary Rocksalt, Sim admits that head office may not always agree with franchise owners groups. “Sometimes we say yes, sometimes we say no. I believe that everyone should win. I always ask people, how can we make you win? So in business, our partners, our suppliers, we want to make them win. When they win, they’ll help us win.

“We’re going to work together, we’re going to be authentic, we’re going to tell them what the challenges are,” he said. “My focus is not going to be NDP or Liberall, it’s going to be City of Vancouver and what’s in the best interests of the City of Vancouver and we will work with our provincial government.” 

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Bob Mackin In the lead up to Vancouver's

Bob Mackin

British Columbia’s thoroughbred horse owners and breeders want to find a new operator for Hastings Racecourse. 

In a letter published June 2, the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, B.C. Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of B.C. slammed Great Canadian Gaming Corp. for failing to invest in the East Vancouver track, while watching the value of its stock climb from the company’s expansion in Ontario. 

Hastings Racecourse’s tote board awaits connection to a new system (Mackin)

“The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation has made no secret of its view of the thoroughbred industry’ s future. In an article that appeared in the Vancouver Courier on March 9, 2012, the Great Canadian CEO Rod Baker described thoroughbred racing as “sunsetting “. Great Canadian’s corporate policies would appear to be designed to guarantee that this view becomes reality,” said the letter, published in owner Glen Todd’s newsletter.

“Thus, given GCGC’s palpable lack of interest in racing and its refusal to meet its obligation to make reasonable efforts on behalf of the industry, the thoroughbred associations request that the [British Columbia Horse Racing Industry Management Committee] assist us in finding an operator who wants to be a part of the thoroughbred industry.”

Presidents of the three organizations met May 31 with the committee, which is chaired by B.C. Lottery Corporation CEO Jim Lightbody, to address complaints about the track. The letter said the industry is “being damaged by the ongoing neglect” of Great Canadian. 

“GCGC’s disinterest is manifested by a refusal to make the investments necessary for maintaining a facility that has fallen into a state of disrepair. It can be seen in the current situation at Hastings vis a vis the totalizator (tote) board. The tote board has not functioned at all this season to the frequently and emphatically expressed dismay of Hastings patrons who consider it an essential source of information.”

When city council approved the installation of slot machines in 2004, Great Canadian had promised to build a parkade and renovate the barns, but scrapped those plans in 2011 when it wrote down its assets at the city-owned track. 

The letter said Great Canadian tried to charge stall rent during the 2010 season, until the committee overruled the company. Great Canadian also proposed a 29-day season in 2012, despite the 71-day operating agreement with the city. The committee again overruled Great Canadian to insist on a season that spans six months.

The letter said thoroughbred owners spend $15 million to $20 million a year  on workers, veterinarians, farriers and the purchase of horses and feed from the agricultural sector and need long-term certainty.

“For the industry to advance and continue to provide the jobs and economic activity it generates, changes are required. If GCGC is not committed to the industry, as appears to be the case, another operator should be given the opportunity, along with the financial incentives and structures now available to GCGC.”

David Milburn, president of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, said he met with Hastings’ general manager Darren MacDonald and Great Canadian operations vice-president Raj Mutti on June 2 for a tour of the decrepit backstretch. Owners and breeders will meet June 6 to plot their next steps, Milburn said. 

“The meeting was constructive, they did have a walk around. It’s a start, we got their attention with the letter and the executive summary,” Milburn said. “They’re responding in a professional way. They’ve got a lot of ground to make up, we’re a long way apart in the way we think things ought to be running and the way they run it.”

Great Canadian vice-president Chuck Keeling did not respond for comment. 

The 2017 annual report of the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch said the B.C. horse racing industry employs 2,350 owners, jockeys, drivers, trainers, grooms and exercise drivers. It recorded $70.17 million in wagers at Hastings last year, of which $62.4 million were on simulcast races from other tracks. BCLC allocated 25% of slot machine net revenue from Hastings and Great Canadian’s other track, the standardbred Fraser Downs, to an $11.6 million fund for purses. Great Canadian’s lease with City of Vancouver runs through November 2019. City hall took in $1.1 million from host city royalties last year. 

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Bob Mackin British Columbia's thoroughbred horse owners and

For Christopher Wylie, the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, it was a sort of homecoming.

The data scientist who hails from Victoria made headlines around the world in March when he revealed how Cambridge Analytica exploited data from tens of millions of Facebook users to help the Vote Leave campaign win the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum and the Republican Party take back the White House. A key player in the equation was AggregateIQ, a small Victoria company that Wylie had an indirect role in launching. 

On May 29, Wylie testified from London, via videolink, to the House of Commons committee in Ottawa that is investigating the scandal and its implications for Canada. 

AggregateIQ’s co-founders, Jeff Silvester and Zack Massingham, appeared before the same committee in late April, and went through a rough ride as several Members of Parliament doubted their crediblity and accused them of offering misleading testimony. 

At the end of the public portion of Wylie’s hearing, chair Bob Zimmer (Conservative, Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies) asked Wylie if he felt Silvester and Massingham had been untruthful to the committee. 

Some of their testimony, Wylie said, was “so fantastical, it’s hard to believe.” 

During a two-hour hearing, that continued behind closed doors, Wylie offered his advice to the committee on how to bring truth to online advertising and protect social media from abuse. Listen to the highlights on the Big Deal feature of this week’s Podcast. 

Also on this edition, commentaries and a special scan of headlines related to the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. 

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Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: Datamining whistleblower shares ideas with Canadian lawmakers on stopping digital deterioration of democracy

For Christopher Wylie, the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica whistleblower,