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Bob Mackin

One year ago, on Nov. 30, 2018. Canadian authorities were in a rush to arrange a welcome for Meng Wanzhou, who was packing for a business trip that was supposed to take her from Hong Kong to Vancouver, Mexico City, Costa Rica, Argentina and France.

Meng Wanzhou’s Hong Kong passport (B.C. Courts exhibits)

Instead, the Huawei Chief Financial Officer found herself in a cell in the Richmond RCMP detachment. She was moved to the Alouette jail for women in Maple Ridge and shuttled to and from a packed courtroom at the Law Courts in downtown Vancouver.

The United States government wanted her extradited to face charges she defrauded banks in an effort to subvert U.S. sanctions forbidding trade with Iran. A judge in New York City had issued an arrest warrant on Aug. 22, 2018.

The Chinese government said she was a victim of the ongoing trade war. Chinese social media was abuzz about the “Huawei Princess,” the daughter of founder Ren Zhenghfei. 

Meng was freed on $10 million bail Dec. 11. to live in her Dunbar corner house, surrounded by court-appointed bodyguards, while wearing a GPS anklet to enforce an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. She is allowed to travel with those bodyguards, within City of Vancouver and parts of the North Shore and Richmond. But not near the airport. She now lives in her Shaughnessy mansion, on the same block, coincidentally, as the U.S. consulate general’s mansion.

Meng’s arrest did not become public until Dec. 5, 2018. It became the biggest news story in Vancouver since the 2010 Winter Olympics. It also began a 12-month period in which China came under the most international media scrutiny since Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics. 

Xi Jinping’s celebration of 70 years of Communist Party rule became overshadowed by the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and the concentration camps for more than a million Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province. Meanwhile, the Canadian government, under a re-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, continues to consider whether to allow Huawei to build the nation’s fifth generation telecommunications infrastructure, despite warnings of Chinese government surveillance from allies, including the U.S.

Meng’s extradition hearing is scheduled to begin Jan. 20, 2020 in Vancouver. Here is the timeline of Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 2018 from RCMP documents obtained by from the B.C. Supreme Court.

Nov. 30, 2018
  • 8:58 a.m. (Pacific Standard Time) E Division Foreign and Domestic Liaison Unit received an email from the Department of Justice Vancouver office, in anticipation of an urgent provisional arrest request that same day.
  • 9:04 a.m. Const. Gurv Dhaliwal text to Const. Winston Yep: “DOJ also advised another provisional warrant is coming in… no details yet but they need someone at their office around 3 p.m. to sign an affidavit.”

    Text messages between RCMP officers , on the eve of Meng Wanzhou’s arrest (BC Courts)

  • 1:11 p.m. Urgent request received, including a password protected attachment: a summary of fact for Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese citizen.
  • 3 p.m. Members were advised that Meng was arriving to Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1, 2018, arriving 11:30 a.m., Cathay Pacific flight 838. Dhaliwal assigned to assist Yep with a Warrant of Provisional Arrest in regards to Meng Wanzhou, aliases Cathy Meng and Sabrina Meng. Department of Justice attorney John Gibb-Carsley provided a copy of the warrant, granted by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Margot Fleming. 
  • 3:23 p.m. Dhaliwal text to Yep: “I’m staying at the office until we have a plan in place for tomorrow.”

Yep: “OK we’re just waiting on Janice to call Peter.”

Dhaliwal: “OT for everyone!”

  • 4:22 p.m. Dhaliwal requested contact numbers for Regional District officers, Richmond YVR supervisors, to locate a Mandarin speaking female officer to assist with the arrest, to obtain all direct flights from YVR to Mexico happening on Dec. 1 about 12 hours after Meng is to land at YVR. Meng’s next stop, after Vancouver, was to be Mexico City.
  • 4:31 p.m. FDLU forwarded request for assistance to Richmond YVR RCMP to provide contact numbers and a Mandarin speaking female officer.
  • 5 p.m. Dhaliwal and Yep attend YVR to speak to Richmond RCMP regarding upcoming possible arrest of Meng on Dec. 1.
  • 7:52 p.m. Provisional Warrant for Meng, granted by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Fleming, on Canadian Police Information Centre database.
Dec. 1, 2018
  • 12:01 a.m. Cathay Pacific flight 838 departs Hong Kong (local time 4:01 p.m.). Destination: Vancouver.
  • 7:30 a.m. FBI Assistant Legal Attache in Vancouver email to RCMP and CBSA counterparts. “Sorry for the early morning email. My HQ is asking if there is confirmation the subject has boarded the plane.”
  • Meng Wanzhou’s CBSA declaration card mugshot on Dec. 1, 2018 (BC Courts)

    8:02 a.m. Sgt. Ross Lundie email to RCMP, CBSA and FBI officers. “I have just spoken with CBSA and confirmed that she is on the plane.”

  • 9:30 a.m. Const. Dhaliwal and Const. Yep attend YVR and have briefing with Sgt. Lundie, Const. Dawn But and CBSA officers Scott Kirkland, Sanjit Dhillon and Sowmith Katragadda.
  • 10:03 a.m. FBI Assistant Legal Attache in Vancouver email to RCMP and CBSA officers.
  • “Below is description. White t-shirt with lettering on the front, dark pants, white shoes, carrying large purse/bag, hair slightly longer than shoulder length.”
  • 11:18 a.m. Cathay Pacific flight 838 arrives at gate 65; CBSA officers Kirkland and Katragadda wait at jetway.
  • 11:21 a.m. Kirkland takes control of two cell phones from Meng and one cell phone from her companion.
  • 11:30 a.m. Meng in CBSA secondary waiting area.
  • 11:44 a.m. Yep text to Dhaliwal: “She’s been pulled into secondary at CBSA with her female companion. Once they are done, we will serve the warrant on her.”
  • 2:13 p.m. Yep and But escort Meng to room C2860.0 at CBSA secondary area.
  • 2:15 p.m. Warrant executed.

But: “So because in the United States, you have committed fraud, we’re arresting you and then you will be sent back to the United States.”

Meng: “Me?”

But: “Right.”

Yep: “Now this is a warrant of provisional arrest under section 13 of the Extradition Act..”

Meng: “You think that, you’re saying I committed fraud in the United States?”

But: “Yes.”

Officers read Meng the warrant.

Meng Wanzhou’s RCMP prisoner report from Dec. 1, 2018 (BC Courts)

But: “We’re going to take you to the police station in Richmond, and then when we arrive there, you’ll be placed into our cells. We need to obtain your fingerprint and then take a photo of you. Then you will stay a few days and then go to the United States. Because today is Saturday, it won’t be until Monday when you’ll be able to see the judge.”

Meng: “You’re saying I’m seeing a judge in Canada?”

But: “Right.”

Meng: “And then after I see the judge, I’ll go to the United States?”

  • 2:27 p.m. Yep read Meng her rights.
  • 2:45 p.m. Katragadda handed Dhaliwal a Hong Kong passport belonging to Meng.
  • 2:59 p.m. Dhaliwal seized all personal belongings subsequent to the arrest of Meng: two cell phones, one iPad; one MacBook computer; one Cruzer Glide 3.0 256 GB storage; eight pieces of luggage (suitcases, handbags and boxes). The iPad was festooned with Winnie the Pooh stickers. Is Meng a Disney fan or was she poking fun at Xi Jinping?  
  • 3:32 p.m. One brown Botega bag, wallet with money, large Rimowa blue suitcase and four rings given to her travel companion, as per Meng’s request.
  • 3:53 p.m. Dhaliwal leaves YVR for Richmond RCMP with Meng’s electronic devices.
  • 4:38 p.m. Dhaliwal observed Meng at Richmond RCMP cells. She is assigned prisoner number 849.
  • 4:44 p.m. Meng fingerprinted and photographed. The booking officer determines she is alert and her state of mind is “OK.” But her balance is “fair.” 
  • 5:06 p.m. Meng escorted to private phone room 407 to await a call
  • 5:17 p.m. Meng picked up phone in room 407; she hung up the phone at 5:25 p.m.

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Bob Mackin One year ago, on Nov.

Bob Mackin (Updated Nov. 30 and Dec. 2)

The veteran BC Liberal who was deputy premier in 2015 has denied he knew a caucus mate’s Legislature smartphone had been searched by Chinese customs officers.

Ex-BC Liberal MLA Richard T. Lee (Mackin)

On Nov. 29, Richard T. Lee, who represented Burnaby North from 2001 to 2017, told reporters that he informed Rich Coleman about the Nov. 24, 2015 detention at Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

Lee, who was deputy speaker, was traveling with his wife on a 30th wedding anniversary holiday. He said he was held for eight hours, refused entry into China on the vague grounds that he was a danger to national security and returned to Vancouver. His one-year, multi-entry visa that had been issued in March of 2015 was cancelled and he has not applied to return to China.

While in custody, Lee said officers demanded he hand over his two phones, including a BlackBerry containing his Legislature email account.

“They cannot open the BlackBerry, they asked me for the password, I did not want to give the password,” Lee said. “I recorded that I put in the password, but under their close watch, they probably got the password, I don’t know.”

Lee said he does not believe the incident was ever investigated. He was initially reluctant to name Coleman for reporters.

“I talked to my colleagues over the phone at that time I was on vacation, so they knew about this case; one individual in particular would know about this case,” Lee said. “Right after I came back I tried to forget about the unpleasant experience. My wife and myself, we went to the U.S. by train. I didn’t follow up immediately on that.”

Moments later, he told reporters that it was Coleman that he told. Prior to running for provincial office in 1996, Coleman had been an RCMP officer.

By email, Coleman told that he “had not heard Richard Lee’s phone was looked at until I heard it on the news today. He never mentioned it to me.”

Coleman told News1130 that he was only aware that Lee had been denied entry into China and that Lee did not ask for anything to be done.

My understanding back then when he had come back to Canada, he was going to talk to his MP or somebody federally, so I would have assumed that he did that,” Coleman said.

Richard Lee (left), Rich Coleman and Derek Corrigan on Dec. 10, 2015 in Burnaby (left)

That is not good enough, said Dermod Travis of independent watchdog IntegrityBC.

Not only is Coleman an ex-Mountie and former B.C. solicitor general, but he had been appointed in February 2015 as the B.C. government’s liaison to the Canadian military.

“He should’ve realized the import of that information,” Travis said. “It was incumbent upon him, as deputy premier, that the information he was provided [by Lee] was followed up by the appropriate agency.”

Almost three weeks before Lee’s scuttled trip, Premier Christy Clark and international trade minister Teresa Wat had traveled on a trade mission to Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Lee had met with an emergency management delegation from Zhejiang, China on Nov. 18, 2015 in Victoria, with Minister Naomi Yamamoto. Lee and Coleman both appeared at the Dec. 10, 2015 groundbreaking ceremony for the Derby Manor seniors housing project in Burnaby.

Six months later, in May 2016, Clark hosted Hu Chunhua, the top Communist Party official in Guangdong province, and a 200-person trade delegation. Lee’s name is on the list of invitees for a May 8, 2016 banquet, but he does not appear in any of the official government photographs of Hu’s two-day visit published on the B.C. government website. 

Lee’s Shanghai incident happened three years after Google warned Gmail users about state-sponsored email hacking and two years after whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations focused global media attention on cybersecurity and privacy.

Coincidentally, Lee’s revelation came two days before the anniversary of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s Dec. 1, 2018 arrest on a U.S. warrant at Vancouver International Airport. Meng awaits a Jan. 20, 2020 extradition hearing in Vancouver, at which her detention and the handling of her electronic devices by Canadian authorities will be argued.

Lee also said that Coleman and then-Consul General Liu Fei had suggested he not attend the annual candlelight vigil for victims of the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. Lee speculated that is the reason he was denied entry to China.

“I think we have the freedom of expression in Canada and we should be allowed to practice our freedom and rights to attend events like this. I didn’t go there as an elected official,” Lee said.

Lee said he now thinks the 2015 incident was more serious than he originally thought, though he said an MLA’s email is usually not as important as a cabinet minister’s email.

Lee went public about the incident which is described in the letter that he wrote last Dec. 31 to then-Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and then-Chinese Ambassador Lu Shaye. The letter was also copied to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He did not receive an acknowledgement of receipt until last week, when reporters started inquiring to the federal government. 

Lee’s letter contained five new year’s wishes for better relations between Canada and China, including the release of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig and that Meng is not extradited to the United States.

In May 2016, B.C. Premier Christy Clark hosted Guangdong Communist Party Secretary Hu Chunhua (upper right). Hu is now vice-premier of China. Current BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson is lower left. (BC Gov)

Lee’s letter also revealed that the Consulate General of China in Vancouver since 2014 had been pressuring community organizations and individuals to shut him out of their events. He wrote that he had been previously denied a visa in 2002, the year after he was first elected. 

Clark and ex-Speaker Linda Reid did not respond to

Kate Ryan-Lloyd, who is now the Acting Clerk, said she was not aware of concerns related to Lee’s trip until Nov. 29 media reports. She did not know if then then-Sergeant-at-Arms or the Legislature’s Information Technology department were made aware of the incident.

The Legislative Assembly is excluded from the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which means it is beyond the jurisdiction of the Commissioner, Michael McEvoy, to launch an investigation. In the wake of a corruption scandal exposed by Speaker Darryl Plecas, the NDP government promised in February to finally bring Legislature offices under the information and privacy laws, but the fall session closed Nov. 28 without the tabling of any reform bill.

Attorney General David Eby said he is writing a letter to federal Attorney General David Lametti and pledged to offer B.C.’s assistance.

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Richard T. Lee’s New Year’s letter by Bob Mackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin (Updated Nov. 30 and Dec.

Bob Mackin

The Victoria political advertising company that worked on digital campaigns for BC Liberals Todd Stone and Mike de Jong, and made worldwide news for its role in the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, broke privacy laws.

B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy (left) and federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien (Mackin)

That is the conclusion of a joint report released Nov. 26 in Vancouver by British Columbia and Canada’s privacy watchdogs.

They say AggregateIQ failed to gain consent for the collection, use or disclosure of personal information when it worked for SCL Group, the Vote Leave Campaign in the Brexit referendum and on provincial and municipal campaigns in B.C.

“With AIQ we now have a Canadian player playing a key role in the troubling ecosystem of political campaigning in the digital era,” said Federal Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien. “This is too close for comfort.”

Therrien and B.C. counterpart Michael McEvoy also found found AIQ failed to properly secure the personal information of 35 million voters in the U.K., U.S. and B.C. 

“While we found that some of AIQ’s services were covered by the consent of individuals, in many other instances, they were not,” McEvoy said. “This includes microtargeted online profiling using social media which was clearly not based on consent. Most concerning was AIQ’s work in the U.S. [to identify Republican voters.]”

McEvoy described AIQ’s data-crunching machine that contained a “whole panoply” of information gained from vendors, such as age, ethnicity, religion, magazine subscriptions, home, vehicle and gun ownership, marital and parental status of voters. All highly valuable for those jockeying for power.

AIQ also obtained psychographic profiles or scores for millions of voters that were derived, in part, from the Facebook user data collected by data scientist Aleksandr Kogan’s app for Cambridge Analytica.

“AIQ stated that it never received the raw Facebook user data collected by Kogan,” said the 29-page report. “However, documents uncovered during our investigation demonstrate that AIQ was made aware that SCL was using data collected from Kogan. The documents also disclose that AIQ was fully aware they were using voters’ OCEAN scores.”

Silvester (left) and Massingham of AggregateIQ (ParlVu)

For clients in B.C., AIQ developed websites and targeted digital advertising, supported campaign websites on the NationBuilder platform and piloted a proprietary tool for a client.

The company was involved in the re-election campaign for Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong, who was the minister responsible for information and privacy before the BC Liberals were defeated in June 2017.

Former Transportation Minister Todd Stone was a client during his unsuccessful leadership bid in 2018. On the eve of the vote, more than 1,300 party memberships that his camp sold were cancelled. AIQ had created fake email addresses for use in online voting. Most of the cancelled memberships were sold in Richmond’s Chinese community and Surrey’s South Asian community.

The Nov. 26 report said AIQ services for a St. John’s, Newfoundland mayoral campaign included robocalls, mass-email and telephone surveys. But its most-famous work was for Vote Leave and BeLeave, the pro-Brexit campaigns that won the 2016 referendum on the U.K.’s European Union membership.

McEvoy did not include names in the report, because the focus was on AIQ, not its clients. McEvoy and Therrien concluded the matter to be “well founded and conditionally resolved.” AIQ co-operated with the investigation and the company committed to implement their recommendations for compliance. AIQ will be subject to followup in six months.

McEvoy, however, rued the lack of penalty for breaking the law and renewed his calls for the B.C. government to enact fines.

“There are no fines because we do not have the authority to levy fines, to be clear, that is an authority we believe regulators in Canada should have,” McEvoy said. “My office should have it to act as a deterrent, to ensure that the public knows somebody is looking after their interests and make sure somebody has their back.”

Nothing nefarious about political ads, says AIQ exec

An executive of AIQ did not agree that the company benefited from a lack of fine.

AggregateIQ website

“It doesn’t feel to me that there is no penalty,” said COO Jeff Silvester, who lamented that the investigation took two years.

“We have cooperated throughout the whole process. It probably would have been cheaper to not cooperate, but that’s not how we do business.”

Silvester was referring to the federal law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, which includes a fine up to $100,000 for obstructing the Commissioner’s investigation. Silvester and Zack Massingham started the company in 2013. Massingham had worked on de Jong’s 2011 leadership campaign. Silvester is a former aide to Liberal and Reform MP Keith Martin.

Asked how the investigation affected AIQ’s client roster and revenue, Silvester said it was “difficult to quantify.” He was cagey on staff numbers, but said some full-timers have converted to part-time or contractor status. He said the ongoing investigation had to be disclosed to potential new clients. It scared some away.

“We definitely lost some clients through this and we also maintained some, and we’ve added new ones since,” he said. “Now I can share that [report] with potential clients and they can make up their minds if they want to work with us or not.”

Silvester said the company had no clients in the recent Canadian federal election and is not working with anybody involved in the upcoming U.K. election.

“The [investigation] process itself is a bit broken,” he said. “It didn’t have to be adversarial, we were happy to give them everything they had asked for and we did. it could have been a lot easier for both sides. Two years is a long time to wait for the report.”

Though Silvester is reluctant to identify clients in an interview, he said he provided B.C.’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner with a list of “everyone we’ve worked with, for all-time, he looked at every client that we have ever had.”

Mike de Jong on Facebook during the 2017 election

Silvester said he does not regret any client work or outcomes of the client work, but he disagrees with critics of the digital political advertising game.

“Just because a politician wants to share their message with as many people as possible in the most effective way, that is somehow nefarious? What we do is help our clients to get their message out to the people who need to hear it, most effectively.”

During testimony in early 2018, whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who hails from Victoria, had called AIQ a franchise of SCL. In the interview, Silvester remained emphatic that his company is 100% Canadian-owned, the only directors are Massingham and him, and they are two of the three co-owners [Chris Shannon being the other].

“We make every decision for our company and there’s no one that can tell us what to do,” Silvester said. “We have no obligations to any other company, anywhere.”

Massingham’s testimony in September 2018 to the House of Commons information and ethics committee revealed that there was another tech expert involved with the company. He used the words “mentor” and “shareholder” to describe Matthew Watson, the chair and CEO of Victoria-headquartered sports highlights service SendtoNews.

Silvester clarified that Watson’s involvement was primarily during the company’s launch in 2013. Like Massingham in his committee testimony, however, Silvester did not say when Watson ceased to be a shareholder.

“He gave us advice in the early days, we did thank him by giving him some shares, but he ended up returning those shares and he’s not had any role in any of the stuff we’re dealing with now,” Silvester said. “His involvement now is nothing and in the early days was quite limited. Obviously we’re thankful for the help because we had no idea at the time. In terms of day-to-day, no he’s not involved.” 

Silvester said the company remains suspended from Facebook, but does offer advice to clients on how they can deal directly with Facebook.

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Bob Mackin The Victoria political advertising company that

Bob Mackin

More turmoil inside Vancouver’s oldest civic party.

The president of the Non-Partisan Association says he overruled a motion to block the candidacy of a board hopeful.

In an interview with, Mark Angus said Jane Frost’s name is appearing on the ballot for the Nov. 25 vote “in the best interest of the organization.”

Candidate for NPA board Jane Frost (LinkedIn)

A motion by director Eli Konorti, who has since resigned, was seconded by treasurer David Mawhinney and passed by a slim majority. It called for Frost’s removal from the ballot.

Frost is a former federal government negotiator involved in the B.C. Treaty Commission process. She leads the so-called “Group of Seven” seeking to take over the board of the party which backs five members of Vancouver city council, the biggest bloc on the 2018-elected council. Some board members complained Frost had gained access to inside information only accessible to the board. 

Angus did not get into the details of the complaints against Frost, other than to say “there was some concern by some members that she may have gotten a foot up in going out and contacting different people that should be running. We looked at it. She did not have a membership list.”

Angus received a legal opinion on Nov. 15 from lawyer and former NPA president Paul Barbeau, who called the motion defective. Barbeau’s letter to Angus, obtained by, advised that the NPA board “give serious consideration to retracting the said motion and expunging it from the record.”

Barbeau wrote that Frost met the requirements for nomination to the board and no formal or informal investigation or inquiry process was initiated or completed.

“No independent assessment has occurred, regarding what (if any) NPA property may have been used by the individual who is the subject of the motion,” wrote Barbeau, the NPA president from 2004 to 2007 and the current president of the BC Liberal Party.

In an internal party email, Angus wrote that Frost may have broken protocol, but did not break any rules. He called the opposition to Frost’s candidacy an overreaction that would “cause nothing but grief for the NPA.”

“If you care about the city and the NPA, show some true leadership and damn the torpedoes, full bore ahead and let’s get this AGM done and move forward,” Angus wrote.

NPA 2018 mayoral candidate Ken Sim (Mackin)

Frost is involved in the so-called Group of Seven bloc, with other board candidates Stephen Molnar, David Pasin, Virginia Richards, Marie Rogers, Alaura Ross and Corey Sue. All seven were endorsed in a Nov. 21 email to party members email from Ken Sim, who lost the 2018 mayoral election by 957 votes to Kennedy Stewart.

Frost has not responded immediately for comment. Konorti has not commented. 

Meanwhile, personal injury lawyer Wes Mussio is also among the contestants for the NPA board and his love of hockey is the main reason.

Mussio has law offices in Vancouver and Nanaimo, where he owns the B.C. Hockey League’s Nanaimo Clippers. While the Clippers are staying put in the Hub City, Mussio is hopeful to bring another junior A BCHL or junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League to Vancouver to fill the void left by the Langley-based Vancouver Giants.

“There are very limited opportunities to play high caliber hockey for boys/men between age 16 and 20 in Vancouver,” Mussio said. “Our children of Vancouver have to go elsewhere to play hockey even during school age due to this gap.”

Mussio was on the Cedar Party city council ticket in 2014, but withdrew because leader Glen Chernen demoted himself to the city council ballot and endorsed independent Bob Kasting for mayor. Kasting later endorsed NPA leader Kirk LaPointe.

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Bob Mackin More turmoil inside Vancouver's oldest civic

Part of Hastings Park in East Vancouver has been transformed into a winter wonderland for Aurora Winter Festival.

A hidden north pole village of light displays and magical characters. Traditional Christmas market huts. Amusement rides. Live bands. Santa’s storytime. Even a skating pond. got a sneak preview on Nov. 21.

Aurora Winter Festival is open through Jan. 5, 2020, with admission ranging from $12.99 to $59.99 (for a family of four) plus tax and service charge.

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Part of Hastings Park in East Vancouver

One week left in the fall sitting of the British Columbia Legislature. Fundamental promises made in last February’s throne speech remain unfulfilled.

In the wake of the Legislature corruption scandal, which eventually led to the retirements of the clerk in May and sergeant-at-arms in October, the NDP government promised new accountability and transparency measures.

Including the expansion of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to finally cover the Legislature.

At his penultimate news conference of the sitting on Nov. 21, Premier John Horgan said the latter was still a work in progress. He gave no hint when the February-promised bill would be tabled.

“We’ve had some challenges when it comes to the Legislative Assembly Management Committee, it’s a year since we had what can only be described as an extraordinary day here at the Legislature,” Horgan said, referring to the Nov. 20, 2018 suspension and RCMP investigation, of Craig James and Gary Lenz. “So with that backdrop, the challenge is of coming to a place where all members of the legislature are comfortable with the changes we would make to the role and function of independent officers is a work in progress.”

Despite running in 2017 on a platform that included reforms to the FOI law, Horgan said the vast majority of the public is more interested in gas price and mobile phone billing transparency.

“I’m focusing on the things that matter to people, we’ve been here two years and we’ve addressed almost 80% of the commitments made and we’ve got two years left in the mandate. So, be patient and we’ll clean up that last 20%.”

Listen to highlights from Horgan’s news conference. He remained upbeat despite the lack of a new contract with the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the prospect of Unifor drivers and mechanics shutting down the Coast Mountain Bus and SeaBus system on Nov. 27.

Also, listen to several lawmakers pay tribute to Spirit of the West’s late John Mann, who passed away Nov. 20 after a battle with Alzheimer’s. Plus headlines and commentaries.

Click below to listen or go to Apple Podcasts and subscribe. 

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

Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: Overdue FOI reforms take a backseat to Horgan's push for gas price and cell phone bill transparency

One week left in the fall sitting

Bob Mackin

Almost three weeks after Craig James was suspended with pay, RCMP officers seized a wood splitter bought with public funds from his Saanich house, according to documents released by a Provincial Court judge on Nov. 22.

The wood splitter trailer outside Craig James’s house in Saanich last year (Speaker’s Office)

The information to obtain a production order, sworn by RCMP Const. Rafida Yonadim, offers a glimpse into the investigation into the purchase by the disgraced former clerk of the B.C. Legislature of the wood splitter and its trailer that he kept at his house for a year.

James’s oddball purchase was revealed in Speaker Darryl Plecas’s report to the Legislative Assembly Management Committee last January, which explained some of the reasons why Plecas called the RCMP to investigate corruption at the Legislature.

Yonadim’s documents said there were reasonable grounds to believe that James, between Nov. 17, 2017 and Dec. 7, 2018, committed breach of trust to obtain a benefit from the purchase of a trailer and wood splitter paid with public funds, for a purpose other than public good, contrary to section 122 of the Criminal Code.

James retired in May on the eve of a report by former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin that found he had committed misconduct. Neither James nor Gary Lenz, the retired sergeant-at-arms, have been charged. James and Lenz were both suspended with pay and escorted out of the Parliament Buildings on Nov. 20, 2018.

Lenz retired in October, the week before a report was published that said he had breached the Police Act for lying to McLachlin, who had cleared him of wrongdoing in May. In a news conference on Nov. 26, 2018, they both said they did no wrong and they demanded to return to work.

Gary Lenz (left), ex-speaker Linda Reid and Craig James (Commonwealth Parliamentary Association)

The heavily redacted documents were released after an October-heard application to unseal the file by Postmedia in Surrey Provincial Court.

Yonadim, an officer from the Federal Serious and Organized Crime’s Financial Integrity office, wrote that officers from E Division attended James’s house at 9:50 a.m. on Dec. 7 last year. A tow truck driver loaded the wood splitter onto a flat bed truck and took it to a secure bay at Totem Towing. Police found evidence that it had been used.

The trailer had been returned earlier to the Legislative precinct. The documents say that a black trailer was found parked beside sea containers on the Legislature grounds on Oct. 22, 2018. One of the witnesses interviewed said that “James suddenly returned the trailer because ‘we were pestering the Clerk to… you know… park it back on the ground’.”

James had purchased the P.J. D5102 Dump trailer and Wallenstein WX450-L log splitter for a total $13,230.51 in fall 2017. Witnesses interviewed indicated that James had insisted on picking them up himself, with his white 2017 GMC Sierra Crew Cab truck. The trailer could have been delivered to Vancouver Island, but witnesses said James insisted on using his own pickup truck to retrieve it from the Lower Mainland, instead of one owned by the Legislature, because it supposedly had the correct hitch.

“I believe, for James, as clerk of the house, to pick up the trailer and wood splitter, or any equipment on behalf of facilities services, is outside the scope of his duties,” Yonadim wrote.

The infamous wood splitter, photographed on the Legislature grounds on Nov. 20, 2019. (Mackin)

A $65,000 business continuity business plan from Oct. 25, 2017 had contemplated the purchase of equipment in case of a natural disaster, but there was evidence that James did not follow the proper procedures to approve the purchase.

“None of the witnesses police interviewed had seen the trailer prior to the beginning of this investigation,” Yonadim wrote. “I believe that given the totality of all the information learned, James picked up the trailer on his own accord, drove it to his property, kept it there and used it, until he discovered there was an investigation into the whereabouts of the trailer at which point he arranged to bring it back. None of the witnesses police interviewed ever saw a wood splitter on Legislature property after it had been purchased.”

A source with knowledge of the investigation, but not authority to speak publicly, said the wood splitter and trailer are the subject of one of the first reports sent to special prosecutors for their approval to lay charges.

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ITO-2018-7549.pdf by Bob Mackin on Scribd

Postmedia Network Inc v Attorney General of Canada Et Al by Bob Mackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Almost three weeks after Craig James

Nov. 20, 2018, 11:06 a.m.

NDP Government House Leader and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth stood in the Legislature, to ask for support to immediately and indefinitely suspend the Legislature’s clerk, Craig James, and sergeant-at-arms, Gary Lenz, while under investigation.

The motion passed unanimously.

Mike Farnworth announcing the suspension of the B.C. Legislature clerk and sergeant-at-arms on Nov. 20, 2018. (Hansard TV).

Farnworth didn’t say, but he met the previous evening with the two other party house leaders, BC Liberal Mary Polak and Green Sonia Furstenau, and Speaker Darryl Plecas — who had called the RCMP in months earlier to investigate corruption. Two special prosecutors joined in at the start of October.

James and Lenz were escorted from the Parliament Buildings. They held a news conference the following week, to deny wrongdoing and to demand their jobs back.

In May, James was found in misconduct. In a September report, Lenz was found to have broken the Police Act.

They both retired in disgrace.

The police investigation is ongoing. Meanwhile, Plecas and chief of staff Alan Mullen have shaken-up the Legislature and put it on the road to reform.

Catch-up on the scandal at the B.C. Legislature. Click the headline links below.

The story is far from over. 

What we know about the B.C. Legislature scandal

Analysis: Excluded from FOI law, B.C.’s Legislature was a scandal waiting to happen

More questions than answers about spending by suspended Legislature officials

Plecas’s “final straw” was Clark’s plan to politicize riding offices

Conniving for cash: Plecas report says suspended officials plotted to pad their paycheques

Fact-checking as the suspended Legislature duo responds to the Plecas Report

Plecas eviscerates suspended Legislature duo in rebuttal report

Disgraced clerk Craig James quits, rather than face firing for misconduct

Inside the misconducts of the McLachlin Report: “It is hard to understand what was going through Mr. James’s mind”

Mystery surrounds Craig James’s legal costs and why he was forgiven for ill-gotten gains

B.C. Auditor General quits after discredited report on Legislature spending scandal

Gary Lenz quit because he was going to be fired for “egregious breach of public trust”

Follow and Podcast for the latest developments in the Scandal at the Legislature.

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Nov. 20, 2018, 11:06 a.m. NDP Government House

Bob Mackin

The law firm that represents Gary Lenz, the B.C. Legislature’s former Sergeant-at-Arms, has billed taxpayers almost $50,000.

But the firm retained by ex-Clerk Craig James has not submitted any invoices to the Legislature.

Ex-Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz (left), ex-Speaker Linda Reid and Acting Clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd (BC Leg) confirmed with the Clerk’s office that McEwan Cooper Dennis LLP has been paid $49,966 during the fiscal year that began April 1. As of last week, no invoices had been submitted by James’s lawyers at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP.

Procedural clerk Artour Sogomonian said the Legislative Assembly does not disclose the specifics of what legal services were provided, to whom, or for what purpose, in part because solicitor-client privilege applies.

Lenz retired Oct. 1 before the release of a report that found he breached the Police Act by lying to former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin. Her misconduct investigation cleared Lenz last May. The Police Act investigation by former Vancouver Police deputy chief Doug LePard also found Lenz failed to investigate James’s 2013 bulk removal of liquor from the Legislature.

A year ago, on Nov. 20, 2018, British Columbians were shocked when James and Lenz were both suspended with pay and escorted out of the Parliament Buildings after unanimous vote of the Legislature. The RCMP admitted the duo had been under investigation for several months and special prosecutors David Butcher and Brock Martland had been appointed. Speaker Darryl Plecas had called in the RCMP, after he and chief of staff Alan Mullen found evidence of corruption.

James retired in May on the eve of the release of McLachlin’s report. She found James had committed misconduct by purchasing more than $4,000 in suits and luggage for personal use and by creating a $257,988 retirement allowance for himself. She also cited James for the 2013 booze removal and for keeping a wood splitter and trailer bought with Legislature funds at his house for almost a year.

The RCMP investigation continues. A source familiar with the investigation, but not authorized to speak publicly, told that the first charge recommendation reports are in the hands of the special prosecutors.

Clerk Craig James swore Christy Clark in as Westside-Kelowna MLA in 2013, near Clark’s Vancouver office. (Facebook)

After the suspensions, Deputy Clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd became Acting Clerk and Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms Randy Ennis took over from Lenz. Ennis retired at the end of last May. Greg Nelson was appointed Acting Sergeant-at-Arms in October.

In the wake of the Nov. 20, 2018 drama, James and Lenz demanded their jobs back. At a Nov. 26, 2018 news conference at the Fasken law office in Vancouver, a CTV reporter asked James and Lenz who was paying for lawyers Mark Andrews and Gavin Cameron. 

Said James: “There is a policy in the Legislative Assembly whether the legal fees in matters such as this would be borne by the Legislative Assembly. But the policy also exists that at the end of the day, if somebody is found guilty, that money would have to be repaid. It’s like the government’s indemnity program.”

After James finished his answer, Cameron said: “Just to be fair, I don’t think you should take from that that that’s where my fees are being paid from. I’ll leave it at that. But I don’t want that impression.” 

Cameron did not reply to Reached by phone Nov. 18, Andrews declined to answer questions about the lack of invoices by his firm to the Legislature.

“I don’t think you have any business asking me any more questions about how [James] is or is not funding his legal fees,” Andrews said. “That’s a privileged, confidential matter and not something which you should be asking about, in my view.”

Speaker Darryl Plecas (left) and chief of staff Alan Mullen (Mackin)

Could the invoices have gone elsewhere in the B.C. government? Sogomonian said no.

I can confirm that any invoices received for legal services provided to the Legislative Assembly, a member or an employee of the Assembly (past or present) would be approved and paid by the Assembly from Vote 1 [Legislative Assembly] funds,” he said. “Such costs would not be transmitted to another party for payment.”

Robert Cooper, on behalf of Lenz, and Cameron, on behalf of James, both appeared in Surrey Provincial court Oct. 9 to argue against an application by Postmedia to unseal the RCMP’s April information to obtain an evidence production order.

The Fasken website says that Andrews is the lead counsel for BC Hydro in the successful defence of the $10.7 billion Site C dam in B.C. and federal cases filed by environmental and aboriginal groups.

BC Hydro’s financial information returns from 2012 to 2019 show payments totalling $36.49 million to Fasken.

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Bob Mackin The law firm that represents Gary

Bob Mackin

Three investment companies want a B.C. Supreme Court judge to enforce a Chinese court’s decision against the owners of seven residential properties in the Lower Mainland.

Some of the luxury houses owned by Chinese recycling tycoons (BC Assessment)

Shanghai Zhong Jia Xing Hua Chuang Ye Investment LLP, Yangzhou Jia Hua Chuang Ye Investment LLP and Nantong Jian Hua Chuang Ye Investment LLP claim in Nov. 13 filings that Liaoning Muchang International Environmental Protection Industry Co. Ltd., a company owned by West Vancouver’s Bing Bai and his wife Yan Ma, was convicted of breaking China’s environmental laws in October 2018.

“In September 2014, the defendant Bai started ordering this employees to bury approximately 1,500 tons of hazardous waste directly under the soil,” said the court filing by Angel Jingling Wang of Jing Ling Wang Law Corp., a Burnaby lawyer representing the three plaintiff firms.

The company had guaranteed the three plaintiffs that it would not violate laws and regulations, that it would make full disclosure of company information to the plaintiffs and that it would apply to be listed on a public exchange by the end of June 2016.

“The crime impacted [Bai and Ma’s] company and they did not meet profit goals and became disqualified for a public listing due to the crime.”

The statement of claim alleges the investors transferred a total 3,360 million renminbi — more than $600 million Canadian — for 14.93% of shares in Bai and Ma’s hazardous waste and recycling company at Christmastime 2014. The plaintiffs claim permanent resident Bai and Canadian citizen Ma and their adult child Mu Qing Bai, also a Canadian citizen, used some or all of that money to buy real estate in West Vancouver, Vancouver and Richmond. 

The statement of claim says that in March 2017, Liaoning Muchang’s management was arrested by Chinese police. By December 2017, Bai and Ma allegedly stopped sending company financial information to the plaintiffs. Details of the October 2018 convictions and sentencing were not included in the court document, which says a middle level court in China upheld the ruling last March.


None of the allegations has been proven in court. The defendants have yet to file a response.

The three plaintiffs want enforcement of the Chinese court verdicts or an order that they breached contracts and committed conversion and unjust enrichment. The claim is for the equivalent of $8.39 million Canadian.

Attached to the statement of claim are land titles records that show five properties registered in the name of Yan Ma, one under her pseudonym Sapphire Mar and another 99% owned by Mu Qing Bai, and 1% by Ma. Bai is not named in any of the seven documents. Five of the seven properties were purchased between 2016 and 2019.

Ma’s occupation varies by registration: She is identified as a businesswoman, manager, self-employed or student. The real estate portfolio is currently worth almost $24.7 million, including Bai and Ma’s $6.34 million Gleneagles residence in West Vancouver and Mu Qing Bai’s $2.983 million Caulfeild residence in West Vancouver.

Ma’s name is also on the deed for a $3.09 million house in West Vancouver’s Altamont and a $4.339 million house on Queens Avenue, a $4.45 million house in Shaughnessy in Vancouver, a $2.85 million house in Blundell Road in Richmond and condo on Elmbridge Way in Richmond.

A Chinese business website says Bai and Ma’s company employs more than 200 and is involved in collection, transportation, storage, incineration and landfill of industrial and hazardous waste, chemical and medical waste and electronics.

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Bob Mackin Three investment companies want a B.C.