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Bob Mackin

The Surrey man wanted for aggravated assault on an autistic man near Toronto applied for an Ontario driver’s licence before the attack, according to a source in Ontario.

Two photos of Ronjot Dhani, wanted for aggravated assault.

On March 13, three men were captured on surveillance video in a bus station next to the Square One Shopping Centre. At the bottom of stairs, they kicked and punched a man who was putting on rollerblades. The 29-year-old victim suffered a broken nose and facial cuts.

A Canada-wide warrant was issued for the arrest of 25-year-old Ronjot Singh Dhami of Surrey. His lawyer, Jag Virk, told Toronto media that his client was innocent and would turn himself in to police next Monday.

Co-assailant Parmvir Singh Chahil, a 21-year-old from Abbotsford, is also subject to a Canada-wide warrant. Police do not have the identity of the third man, who they believe is named Jason.

British Columbia court files show a Ranjot Singh Dhami, born in 1993, has several Motor Vehicle Act violations, an August 2011 conviction for assault with a weapon in Surrey and a June 2014 arrest in Kelowna on charges of possession for the purpose of drug trafficking.

In December 2016, a Provincial Court judge ruled that Dhami’s arrest was unlawful. Judge Peter Rogers, however, said in his ruling “there is no doubt” that, while in police cells, Dhami expelled 23 bags containing crack cocaine, 23 bags of fentanyl and seven bags of heroin from his rectum.

Chahil was believed to be the target of a 2015 drive-by shooting in Abbotsford, an incident that ended in the death of an innocent 75-year-old neighbour, Ping Shun Ao.

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Bob Mackin The Surrey man wanted for

Bob Mackin

Provincial government employees across British Columbia received a memo March 22, warning them of the March 23 anti-pipeline protests targeting the offices of federal politicians. 

A copy of the internal memo was leaked to theBreaker. It is headlined “staff safety advisory – low risk” and warns of the Defend the Water national day of action. 

“This campaign is described as taking action across Canada in an effort to stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline,” said the memo, under a  bright, yellow heading. “Organizers are urging demonstrators to visit over 50 locations across the country to deliver water collected from B.C.’s coastline to MP’s offices and demand the federal government stop supporting the project.”

Events are expected to be concentrated in the Lower Mainland, but also take place on Vancouver Island and in the Interior. 

“While the focus of this event is to put pressure on the federal government, there is a possibility that demonstrations could also occur at provincial government offices.” 

Staff were advised to not risk personal safety to protect property or assets. “If you are approached by individuals participating in the demonstration, respond in a non-confrontational manner and leave the area if asked to do so.” 

Aboriginal-led protests began March 10 next to a tank farm on Burnaby Mountain. Protesters are aiming to prevent Kinder Morgan from twinning its Alberta tar sands to Burrard Inlet pipeline. The project has federal approval, but B.C.’s NDP government is challenging it in court.

Bob Mackin Provincial government employees across British Columbia

Bob Mackin

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ordered a new inquiry into whether key parts of a contract with the private company behind the $200 million British Columbia jail near Oliver should be made public. 

In late 2016, Penticton Herald reporter Joe Fries successfully convinced adjudicator Celia Francis of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to order the release of the cost and schedule appendices for the  design, build, finance and maintenance contract for the Okanagan Correctional Centre. 

At issue are a six-page chart of the draft initial project schedule and 587-page spreadsheet of projected costs. Francis ruled that the contract was negotiated between the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services and Plenary Group (Canada) Ltd., so the public has a right to see the deal. 

Ribbon-cutting in October 2016 for the Okanagan Correctional Centre (BC Gov)

Both Plenary, which is Australia-headquartered, and the Ministry opposed release and sought a judicial review of the decision because they claim release would harm Plenary’s business interests. After a two-day, late-February hearing in B.C. Supreme Court, Justice Douglas Thompson decided in a written verdict on March 20 to quash Francis’s ruling and send the matter back to the OIPC for reconsideration. 

“Plenary Group and the Minister argue that the adjudicator’s reasons show that she ignored and misapprehended important evidence, and applied the wrong test in her interpretation of [the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act] provisions relevant to the withholding of commercial information, and, in the result, came to a decision that was unreasonable,” Thompson wrote.

Plenary and the Ministry argued that the fairness of the hearing process was compromised when Francis reviewed an online version of the contract and drew conclusions without giving them a chance to submit evidence or arguments. 

“Adequacy of reasons is not the issue in this case,” the judge wrote. “Rather, the problem is that the adjudicator did not undertake the necessary analysis in one very important respect.”

Thompson ruled that it was apparent that some of the information in the documents was supplied, rather than negotiated. 

“Plenary Group and the Minister have succeeded in establishing that the OIPC outcome and the articulation of the reasons for the outcome are not defensible in respect of the facts and law,” he wrote.

Fries told theBreaker that he is disappointed by the decision, but respects it. His main concern is a securing a swift re-hearing. The OIPC has a three-month backlog and Fries’s quest for the financial details will soon be four years old. 

“Plenary Justice is a multibillion-dollar company, they have deep pockets, and I don’t. They know that,” Fries told theBreaker. “They could tie this up, this new decision could come down and they could ask for another judicial review. It could go on and on. I have no intention of giving up, ever.”

Fries remains firm that his request was in the public interest. “Partnerships BC boasts that it has overseen more than $17 billion worth of P3 projects, yet, to my knowledge, the public has never seen the financial models underlying any of them. Perhaps these are good deals for the public, but people can’t know for sure unless they see the details and judge for themselves.”

In 2012, the Sydney Morning Herald called the secretive Plenary “hotshots” in the multi-billion-dollar public-private partnership industry. It was formed in 2004 by former ABN AMRO investment bankers John O’Rourke, Ray Wilson and Paul Oppenheim. Plenary’s Canadian projects include the Communications Security Establishment headquarters, Waterloo light rapid transit, B.C. Cancer Agency for the North, Interior Heart and Surgical Centre and Abbotsford law courts. 

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Bob Mackin A B.C. Supreme Court judge has

Bob Mackin

A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for the arrest of a Surrey man that police say viciously attacked an autistic man near a Mississauga, Ont. shopping centre on March 13. 

Peel Regional Police identified Ronjot Singh Dhami, 25, as one of three men captured on surveillance video at the City Centre Transit Terminal, which is in the parking lot of Canada’s second-biggest shopping centre, Square One. Dhami is wanted for one count of aggravated assault.

Ronjot Singh Dhami (left) and Parmvir Singh Chahil, who are wanted by police for aggravated assault in Mississauga, Ont.

For six seconds, three men punched and kicked the 29-year-old victim who was sitting at the bottom of stairs in the bus terminal, putting on rollerblades. The victim was taken to hospital with a broken nose and cuts to his face. 

Insp. Norm English said the circulation of the video of the attack and still photos of the trio to British Columbia “proved to be very beneficial” in identifying the first suspect. Police do not have the names of the other two men. 

“They should be aware,” English said, “we’ll identify you and we’re coming for you.” 

British Columbia court files show a man with the same name and a 1993 birthdate has several Motor Vehicle Act violations, an August 2011 conviction for assault with a weapon in Surrey and a June 2014 arrest in Kelowna on charges of possession for the purpose of drug trafficking.

In December 2016, a Provincial Court judge ruled that Ronjot Singh Dhami’s arrest was unlawful. Judge Peter Rogers, however, said in his ruling “there is no doubt” that, while in police cells, Dhami expelled 23 bags containing crack cocaine, 23 bags of fentanyl and seven bags of heroin from his rectum.

Update (March 21): Police have identified a second suspect. A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for the arrest of Parmvir “Parm” Singh Chahil. He is also wanted for aggravated assault. Chahil was believed to be the target of a 2015 drive-by shooting in Abbotsford, an incident that ended in the death of an innocent 75-year-old neighbour, Ping Shun Ao. Police have not identified the third suspect, but he may go by the first name of Jason. 

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Bob Mackin A Canada-wide warrant has been issued

Bob Mackin

When British Columbia’s government yanked support for Vancouver’s bid to host early round matches in the 2026 FIFA World Cup, it may have been the biggest sports headline to come out of the West Coast of Canada since the 2010 Winter Olympics. 

theBreaker counted readers from 92 countries after publishing a story about FIFA’s audacious and exorbitant list of demands for governments that want to host its marquee event. Media outlets near and far cited theBreaker in their reporting about governments in five North American jurisdictions that quit supporting the United Bid for 2026.

From 10 years of no federal, provincial or municipal taxes to relaxed labour laws. From the movement of unlimited sums of currencies to the public paying the full cost of security and taking liability for any security incidents. B.C. Premier John Horgan was spot-on when he called FIFA’s demands a “blank cheque.” Some members of the Horgan administration, like chief of staff Geoff Meggs and junior trade minister George Chow, came to Victoria from Vancouver city council. Through the 2010 Winter Olympics and Canada 2015 Women’s World Cup, they grew weary of satisfying the snobby Swiss sports lords.   

Bid boosters are always quick to offer blue sky estimates of benefits, but the costs are something they either don’t know or don’t really want you to know. Meanwhile, FIFA salivates at the US$300 million in bonuses it stands to gain from North American rights-holding broadcasters if (when?) it chooses the United States/Mexico/Canada bid over Morocco on June 13 in Russia. FIFA reported US$1.27 billion in the bank through 2016. Surely, FIFA can afford to produce events on its own.  

The organization is still reeling from the US$150 million bribery and kickbacks scandal. Yes, slippery Sepp Blatter was given the long overdue red card in late 2015, but many of his enablers remain. New president Gianni Infantino didn’t inspire confidence after his salary was omitted from the annual financial report and he fired ethics committee members last year who were probing his UEFA-funded presidential campaign. 

The very hour that theBreaker was publishing the story on March 14, news emerged from Chicago that the host of the 1994 World Cup kickoff and the headquarters of the United States Soccer Federation had withdrawn. The next day, after theBreaker story began circulating around the world, Minneapolis withdrew and word emerged that Glendale, Az. was gone. The Province of Alberta pulled its support. Its capital city, Edmonton, remains one of three Canadian cities on the bid book, for now. Toronto and Montreal are the others.

This reporter was interviewed by several media outlets and theBreaker was cited in many more. 

Play the Game, the Denmark-based sport ethics and transparency foundation, and Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl Tweeted theBreaker story to their followers. 

CBC Vancouver’s Karin Larsen interviewed your servant for FIFA follies: Chicago, Minneapolis join Vancouver in saying no to hosting 2026 World Cup games,” which was followed by Matt Sekeres and Blake Price on TSN 1040.  

Business Insider’s Brandon Wiggins reported under FIFA’s absurd demands are pushing cities to drop out of the bid for hosting the North American World Cup.”

Globe and Mail’s Gary Mason, “B.C. was right to give FIFA World Cup bid the boot,” and National Post’s Chris Selley “Some welcome pushback from B.C. and Alberta to FIFA’s World Cup racket” also credited theBreaker when they opined in time for the weekend.

The topic dominated the March 17 edition of The Sport Market with Tom Mayenknecht. 

The ball kept rolling after the weekend, with Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd “Montreal must get out of World Cup bid before it’s too late,” and The Province’s Ed Willes, “FIFA needs to act like guests — not like visiting royalty.”

On Monday, it was an interview with CJAD AM 800 in Montreal. 

Globetrotting mega-event owners are having troubles finding places to pitch their tents, because of the skyrocketing costs to build and operate those events, the often disappointing legacies and the stench of scandal that follows from one host city to the next. The owners, whether it is the International Olympic Committee or FIFA, must lessen the burden on the public, and they must transform themselves into transparent and accountable entities with zero tolerance for corruption. 

Quite simply, the business model must change or these events will decline in prominence, like the World’s Fair movement did after Vancouver’s Expo 86. (Hands up if you know where last year’s expo happened or where the next one will be in 2020? The answers are Kazakhstan and Dubai.)

All of that is easier said than done. FIFA’s brazen demands of 2026 bidders only prove that the organization hasn’t learned to be humble since the 2015 FBI crackdown. Sport is a powerful and meaningful way to bring the world together in peace. FIFA has wrapped itself in flags that preach sportsmanship and fair play. Yet, the athletes aren’t the only ones who should be expected to be on their best behaviour at all times. 

  • For more about the FIFA 2026 World Cup bid controversy, listen to theBreaker.news Podcast, which features an interview with sports economist Victor Matheson. Is hosting the World Cup an honour or a burden? 

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Bob Mackin When British Columbia’s government yanked support

Bob Mackin

Three men wanted by police in Mississauga, Ont. for brutally attacking an autistic man are believed to be from British Columbia, theBreaker has learned. 

The 29-year-old victim was at the bottom of stairs in the bus station next to Square One Shopping Centre on the evening of March 13.

Do you know who these three men are? They’re wanted for a brutal March 13 attack on an autistic man in Mississauga, Ont. (Peel Regional Police)

While he was putting on rollerblades, three South Asian males came down the stairs and began to punch and kick him.

The victim was taken to hospital with serious injuries, including a broken nose and cuts to his face. The whole attack, which lasted approximately six seconds, was captured on surveillance video.   

The suspects are all South Asian males, about five-foot-10, wearing casual clothes. 

Insp. Norm English said social media attention to the “cowardly attack” has led to “credible information that the persons responsible are from B.C., specifically the Lower Mainland area. Also they recently travelled to the Greater Toronto Area.” 

Anyone with information is asked to call Peel Regional Police at (905) 453-3311 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). 

 

Bob Mackin Three men wanted by police in

Bob Mackin

Joe Keithley says something better change at Burnaby city hall. 

So the the leader of 1978-formed punk rock legends D.O.A. is running to win the battle over five-term incumbent Mayor Derek Corrigan in 2018. 

Keithley, known to many as Joey Shithead, told theBreaker that he will seek the mayoralty for the Burnaby Civic Green Party in the Oct. 20 election. 

D.O.A. leader and Burnaby Civic Green Joe Keithley is running for the mayoralty in October. (Mackin)

Keithley says Burnaby Citizens Association leader Corrigan has become too cozy with real estate developers at the expense of citizens needing affordable housing.  

“It is time for a fresh start in Burnaby,” Keithley said in a prepared statement. “Corrigan and the BCA council have been pushing their same old agenda for the last 30 years.”

Keithley promises to freeze property taxes at 2017 levels for two years, stop “demovictions” in Metrotown and institute term limits on city council. He also promises to carry-on Corrigan’s opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. 

“People distrust politicians and I would say with good reason, because they don’t listen to the voters. I will fight for and demand that everyone’s voice is heard.”

theBreaker reported exclusively on March 1 that the BCA already had more money in the bank for the 2018 campaign than it spent in 2014 to sweep all city council and school board seats. A leaked copy of the BCA’s Nov. 7, 2017 table officers’ minutes said there was $500,000 in the election account and $77,000 in the general account. Last fall, the NDP banned corporate and union donations to political campaigns, but let parties keep whatever they raised through Oct. 31. 

In 2014, BCA reported raising $275,550 from corporations, primarily developers, and $202,220 from unions. 

Keithley has been on the ballot four times in provincial ridings. In 2016, he finished third for the B.C. Greens in the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain by-election and third in the 2017 general election in Burnaby Lougheed. He also ran in 1996 and 2001 in Burnaby Willingdon for the Greens. 

Keithley formed D.O.A. 40 years ago in Burnaby, with drummer Chuck Biscuits and bassist Randy Rampage. 

In 2001, he recorded an acoustic cover of Alice Cooper’s “Elected.” Watch it here. 

Bob Mackin Joe Keithley says something better

Vancouver is out of the running to host early round matches during the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

British Columbia’s NDP government and the United Bid committee couldn’t reach an agreement. Premier John Horgan said FIFA demanded a “blank cheque” from B.C. taxpayers. 

Chicago, Minneapolis and Glendale, Arizona are also gone from the United Bid. They, too, questioned the uncertain costs and benefits. Edmonton is going ahead, but the Alberta government withdrew support after theBreaker reported on FIFA’s exorbitant wish list.

Two dozen cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico remain hopeful. 

FIFA will decide between underdog Morocco and heavily favoured North America on June 13 in Russia. If North America gets the nod, FIFA gets US$300 million in bonuses from North American media companies that have already bought the broadcast rights. 

Sport industry boosters say it’s a big missed opportunity for Vancouver, which hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and Canada 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. But would hosting three or four FIFA matches really be such a bonanza? 

Did FIFA want too much, too soon after the FBI cracked down on its bribery and kickbacks in 2015? 

Are political leaders finally exercising due diligence? Are we witnessing the end of the era of mega-event organizers having their way with pushover governments?

On this edition of theBreaker.news Podcast, Bob Mackin explores those themes. His special guest is sports economics professor Victor Matheson from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

Matheson has studied the impacts of Olympics, Super Bowls, World Cups and other mega-events. The reality of the costs and benefits of mega-events should surprise both casual sports fans and taxpayers.

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

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theBreaker.news Podcast: Is hosting the World Cup an honour or a burden?
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Vancouver is out of the running to

Bob Mackin

La fheile Padraig sona duit!

Horgan with Ireland’s Ambassador to Canada, Defence Minister and Chief of Irish Defence Forces. (Twitter)

That’s how you say Happy St. Patrick’s Day, the Gaelic way. 

(It’s pronounced “lah-leh PAH-drig SUN-uh gwitch.”)

The happiest day of the year takes on special meaning in Victoria in 2018. There is a distinct Celtic flavour again in the Legislature and the orange-clad party in power owes it to the Green Party for the privilege of governing. (In Ireland, the orange and the green have a whole other meaning, as covered by the Irish Rovers at bottom.)

Premier John Joseph Horgan’s father Pat came to Canada from County Cork. Tragically, he passed away when young John was just 18 months old.

B.C.’s 36th premier isn’t known to play hurling, but lacrosse. He is a devoted follower of the Victoria Shamrocks.

B.C.’s first premier was Irish. John Foster McCreight, a Trinity College Dublin graduate from Caledon in County Tyrone. He was in B.C.’s first post-Confederation government in August 1871. The Canadian Encyclopedia cites the former judge’s “lack of political experience, seemingly aloof person and outspoken opposition to responsible government and other reformist policies.” Newpaper editor William Smith, better known as Amor de Cosmos, succeeded McCreight in 1872. 

George Anthony Walker from Newry in Northern Ireland had two stints as premier, 1874-1876 and 1878-1882.  

(Clockwise, upper left) McCreight, Walker, Hart and Elliott: B.C.’s Irish-born premiers.

Walker’s time in the top office sandwiched Andrew Charles Elliott (1876-1878), who came from an unspecified area of Ireland. 

John Hart from Mohill, County Leitrim was premier during World War II. The Liberal led a coalition with Conservatives from 1941 to 1947 which kept the CCF, the forerunner of the NDP, out of power. Hart’s legacy was the B.C. Power Commission, the forerunner of BC Hydro.

Horgan’s predecessor as leader of the NDP is health minister Adrian Dix. His late father, Dubliner Ken Dix, was a prominent Kerrisdale insurance salesman. 

Press secretary Sheena McConnell is one of many Irish names in Horgan’s office. 

Christine Kennedy (assistant deputy minister), Eleanor Mulloy (executive coordinator) and Judy Cavanagh (executive director) are three others.

Another former NDP leader, Joy MacPhail, is ICBC’s chair. Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan doubles as the TransLink Mayors’ Council chair. Corrigan’s grandfather came from Ballinakill in County Laois. 

Érinn go Brách!

Bob Mackin is a descendant of Joseph Patrick Mackin (born St. Patrick’s Day, 1855) and Catherine Byrne of Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland. 

Bob Mackin La fheile Padraig sona duit! [caption

Bob Mackin

Is the fledgling NDP government planning its first big ticket Take Out the Trash Friday on March 16? 

  1. The Legislature is on a three-week, mid-session break, meaning the next Question Period isn’t until April 9. Politicians and their families are skedaddling next week for March break holidays. 
  2. Premier John Horgan meets Washington Gov. Jay Inslee at 12:45 p.m. at the Vancouver cabinet office in Canada Place, to discuss the pie-in-the-sky idea of Vancouver-Seattle-Portland ultra-high speed rail. 

    Selina Robinson and Premier John Horgan at a recent TransLink funding announcement. More to come. (BC Gov)

  3.  A 2 p.m. news conference is scheduled for TransLink headquarters in New Westminster, featuring minister responsible Selina Robinson, about the future of transit megaprojects in Metro Vancouver.

Could Robinson finally reveal TransLink’s dirtiest financial secret: The estimated costs of the Broadway subway and Surrey LRT? 

On March 14, TransLink rejected theBreaker’s request under the freedom of information laws for copies of the TransLink business cases for the two rapid transit projects and the Pattullo Bridge (which the Ministry of Transportation recently took over, in order to lessen the capital cost pressure on TransLink). 

TransLink said the 1,300-plus pages that it submitted late last year to the NDP government are covered by laws applying to cabinet secrecy and policy recommendations. It also fears disclosure would harm intergovernmental relations and TransLink finances. 

The 2015-adjusted estimates were $2.53 billion for light rail transit in Surrey and $2.28 billion for a subway under Broadway. The Mayors’ Council was given new estimates in 2016 behind closed doors. 

TransLink won’t say what they are.

TransLink has been planning for just a little over a year to release the figures.

A March 2, 2017 communication plan obtained by theBreaker said: “The latest work indicates that growing property costs around the Lower Mainland is driving up the cost of purchasing property for these projects. Original project cost estimates have also been affected by the significant drop in the value of the Canadian dollar since 2014 and charges to the scope of the projects.”

TransLink Megaprojects Communications by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Is the fledgling NDP government planning