Recent Posts
Connect with:
Monday / August 15.
  • No products in the cart.
HomeStandard Blog Whole Post (Page 124)

On this edition of Podcast, host Bob Mackin speaks to Vincent Gogolek, who retired at the end of February as the executive director of the British Columbia Freedon of Information and Privacy Association. 

As head of B.C. FIPA, Gogolek became one of Canada’s most important voices in the ongoing battle for citizens’ information access and privacy rights. Gogolek has a background in both law and journalism. In the interview, he recounts some of the victories and what still needs to be done. 

Plus, commentaries on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Delhi Debacle and how the media and public in the State of Washington banded together against secrecy in their state capital. 

Enjoy this week’s edition and spread the word. If you missed a previous edition, go here.

Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: Saluting a warrior in the battle for transparency and accountability

On this edition of Podcast, host

Bob Mackin

Burnaby’s NDP-leaning civic party had almost $600,000 in the bank last November, according to documents obtained by theBreaker

With less than a year until the Oct. 20 election, the Burnaby Citizens Association had more in its dedicated election account than it spent in the 2014 election. The party, led by five-term mayor Derek Corrigan, swept the nine-seat city council and seven-seat school board in 2014. Since then, city council’s Anne Kang and school board’s Katrina Chen successfully ran for the NDP in the 2017 provincial election. 

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and Paul Faoro of Burnaby Citizens Association donor CUPE (Facebook)

Minutes from a conference call by the party’s table officers on Nov. 7, 2017 show there was  $500,000 in the election account and $77,000 in a general account. By comparison, the party spent $473,728.97 of the $508,687 it raised for the 2014 campaign, according to Elections BC returns

The conference call happened the week after the NDP government tabled municipal campaign finance reform. Funds raised through Oct. 31, 2017 can be spent in 2018 campaigns, but parties can no longer take donations from unions and corporations. Individual donations are capped at $1,200 per year to a single party or candidate. 

The BCA treasurer, Rob Nagai, was the NDP’s provincial corporate fundraiser until the end of 2017 when he joined lobbying firm Bluestone Consulting. Nagai delivered the financial report on the conference call. He referred theBreaker to party president Gord Larkin, whose name does not appear on the minutes. He did not return a phone call. By email, he wrote: “As you are aware, new regulations were recently put in place. We will be complying with those rules.”

The only BCA politicians involved in the conference call were Colleen Jordan from city council and Gary Wong from school board.

All nine Burnaby Citizens Association council candidates were elected in 2014. (Facebook)

In 2014, corporations — primarily in real estate — donated $275,550 to BCA. Thind Properties Ltd. ($26,125), Appia Developments ($15,000), and Amacon Management Services ($7,500) were the biggest. A long list of others donated $5,000 each, including 4301 Hastings Development, Adex Enterprises, Anthem Properties, Blue Sky Properties, Boffo Construction, Bosa Properties, Intracorp, Kebet Holdings, RPMG Holdings Ltd., Rennie Marketing, and Wall Financial. 

The party also reported $202,220 from trade unions, mainly $127,875 from various arms of CUPE (which represents civic workers), $10,000 from the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, and $8,375 from the Hospital Employees’ Union. 

BCA has led the local opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, but is under fire for permitting “demovictions” and luxury towers that have mushroom around Metrotown. 

The party’s annual general meeting is scheduled for March 14 and nomination meeting is April 25. 

The election is Oct. 20.

Vision Vancouver, by comparison, held its annual general meeting in January and reported a $28,670 deficit after raising $1 million from October 2016 to September 2017. It spent almost $700,000 on office expenses. 

Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

Bob Mackin Burnaby’s NDP-leaning civic party had

Bob Mackin

Two things are remarkable about ex-British Columbia Premier Christy Clark’s Feb. 28 speech to the Ontario Real Estate Association. 

First, it was Pink Shirt Day. The Nova Scotia-founded anti-bullying campaign that she championed while she was a CKNW talkshow host and later as the BC Liberal premier. She wore a blue jacket and blue shirt to the conference. 

Clark, sans pink, at a Toronto real estate conference on 2018’s Pink Shirt Day with OREA spokesman Jamie Hofing. (Twitter)

Second, reporters were shut out of the Toronto event. Both her speech and the question and answer session with OREA CEO Tim Hudak, the former Ontario PC leader, were closed to media accredited to cover the conference. 

Better Dwelling and Business Insider contributor Stephen Punwasi Tweeted that it was the “Only [conference] event media will not be able to attend. The era of real estate transparency in [Ontario] is inspiring.”

OREA spokesman Jamie Hofing told theBreaker by phone that “we wanted a candid conversation with Ms. Clark, and to do that, sometimes when media are present, people measure their words.”

Hofing provided theBreaker a copy of Clark’s speaking notes, but said there was no transcript or recording available. He said non-media attendees were not restricted from recording or photographing the speech. Clark’s presentation was titled “How Not to Become Your Own Worst Enemy.”

Hofing said the decision to prohibit reporters from Clark’s keynote session was made jointly by OREA and Clark’s agent, Jeff Jacobson Agency. Hofing refused to disclose the amount Clark was paid to appear at the convention, which was branded REALiTY: The Future is Unreal. The conference is attracting 800 attendees. A three-day pass cost $599.

Clark lost power in July 2017 on a no confidence vote when the Green Party supported the NDP, after Clark’s BC Liberals lost their majority in the May 2017 election. Clark was heavily criticized by opponents and the media for doing too little, too late to tax and regulate the real estate industry amid a housing affordability crisis. Her party was under fire for accepting millions of dollars of donations from real estate and construction companies that were profiting from a deluge of Chinese investment. 

The 1,290-word speech that Hofing provided included many themes that British Columbians had heard before. 

Clark’s script blamed the housing crisis on a shortage of supply, growing population and demand, consumers with double the borrowing power they had in 2000, and millennials “who are greater in number than even the baby boomers – and who are now entering the housing market for the first time – and they aren’t happy.”

Clark introduced a 15% foreign buyers tax in summer 2016 for Metro Vancouver, but exempted condominium presales. Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne copied B.C.’s 15% foreign buyers’ tax in April 2017. Earlier this month, B.C.’s NDP government increased the tax to 20% and expanded it to the Fraser Valley, Central Okanagan and parts of Vancouver Island.

“There is no argument that in some regions it’s a terrible idea,” read Clark’s notes. “What if there was a tax on foreign buyers in Whistler where is exclusively a tourist economy?”

The speech criticized the decision in B.C. to end double-ending of real estate deals because of conflict of interest. 

Clark (left) and OREA’s Tim Hudak (OREA)

“Well what they didn’t appreciate is that in some small communities, there is only one realtor. And that in markets where price growth is the opposite of frothy, the potential for a problem is very low.”

Oddly, Clark’s speaking notes said that “My dream – and the dream of the vast majority of Canadians – is to have a roof over our heads that belongs to us. One that we can invest in and improve.  One that we can use to take the next step up the housing ladder if that’s what we choose. One that our kids can perhaps inherit one day.”

Clark’s name is on the deed for a house near Vancouver city hall that was assessed at $2.273 million. In summer 2016, she moved to a $3.3 million house in Dunbar that has Nevin Sangha listed on the deed. Sangha is the right-hand man to Vancouver Whitecaps’ owner and BC Liberal donor Greg Kerfoot. 

Last spring, Clark, her press secretary and her lawyer all ignored theBreaker’s questions about Clark’s tenancy agreement with Sangha.

Clark quit as both BC Liberal leader and Kelowna MLA last August, after Abbotsford MLA Darryl Plecas dissented at a Penticton caucus retreat. Plecas left the BC Liberal caucus to become the speaker in September.

Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

Bob Mackin Two things are remarkable about ex-British

Bob Mackin

Five years ago today, on Feb. 27, 2013, while Premier Christy Clark was posing in a pink shirt with high schoolers on anti-bullying day, the man who would succeed her rose to speak in Question Period. 

“Today another leaked Liberal document details a plan to target ethnic voters across British Columbia, blurring the line between partisan activity and public service,” said John Horgan, the NDP opposition house leader. “The document demonstrates the folding together of government services and resources into the election machinery of the B.C. Liberal Party. A central objective of the plan is ‘making sure that government, caucus and the party are all working together…in a coordinated…manner.’

“Certainly, this side of the House supports multiculturalism in British Columbia. What we don’t support, however, is the blurring of lines between partisan activity and public service.”

The December 2011-conceived multicultural strategic outreach plan was sent by Clark’s deputy chief of staff, Kim Haakstad, to members of the party, government and caucus. It was the BC Liberal blueprint to use taxpayer-funded resources to pander to ethnic voters in swing ridings and win the 2013 election. Some of the strategies were deemed Quick Wins, which became the nickname for the scandal. 

Evidence from the breach of public trust case against Brian Bonney.

Added NDP critic Carole James: “This is a very serious issue. These documents show that an entire strategy was developed by the B.C. Liberals based on using taxpayer dollars for their own partisan purposes. The then communication director for multiculturalism was assigned to develop comprehensive lists that would help the B.C. Liberal Party — and I quote from the document — ‘bypass the media to get our message out. Be very well prepared when the writ is dropped.’

“This is a clear violation of the rules, and according to this leaked Liberal document, the Minister for Multiculturalism has full responsibility for implementation of this plan.” 

Clark’s BC Liberals eventually won the 2013 election after Clark’s deputy, John Dyble, issued a whitewash report. Thousands of pages of email were finally published after the election. Some of those caught the eye of Adrian Dix, the man who would have been premier had the NDP chosen to run an aggressive campaign.

Dix complained to the RCMP and a special prosecutor, David Butcher, was appointed. It took until May 2016 for BC Liberal operative Brian Bonney to be charged with breach of public trust. A trial was scheduled to begin last October, but Bonney copped a guilty plea and was sentenced to nine months of house arrest on Jan. 31. 

Had the trial occurred, it would have easily overshadowed the contest to replace Clark as leader. Court time was scheduled through Feb. 22. Ex-Multiculturalism Ministers John Yap and Harry Bloy did not cooperate with the RCMP investigation. They would have been ordered to testify. 

Gabe Garfinkel (left) and Kim Haakstad were Christy Clark aides involved in the Quick Wins scandal.

Maybe Clark herself would have been called to answer about a brief email between two of her closest aides that says so much. 

Haakstad’s Feb. 22, 2012 one-line message to Clark executive assistant Gabe Garfinkel contained the two page “Status of Multicultural Plan” attachment. 

“I told PCC [Premier Christy Clark] I would give her an update on this,” Haakstad wrote. “Can you put it in her reading folder?” 

Clark claimed ignorance of the plan when she talked to reporters in Prince George on March 1, 2013 and, again three days later, in the Legislature. But that was before Bonney was charged and before that email ended up in a court file. 

She knew. Our she ought to have known. 

Haakstad to Garfinkel Email Feb 22-2012 by BobMackin on Scribd

Hansard 022713 QP by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Five years ago today, on Feb.

Bob Mackin

Under the BC Liberals, negotiations for the new long-term agreement with casino operators were intended on generating more revenue, not security. 

Last November, the NDP government announced it had reached a new 20-year pact with the industry to replace operating agreements that are set to expire in 2021. The NDP, aiming to capitalize on headlines about money laundering at casinos, issued a news release that mentioned new compliance and security clauses, and a requirement for annual business plans, in exchange for letting casino operators keep more of their profits in the hope that they would renovate or expand. The deal, however, was substantially complete before the BC Liberals ceded power to the NDP last July. 

BCLC CEO Jim Lightbody (right)

Documents obtained by theBreaker, via freedom of information, show that then-Finance Minister Mike de Jong hosted a roundtable meeting Dec. 15, 2016 with senior bureaucrats from his office, officials from the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch and B.C. Lottery Corporation, and executives from Great Canadian Gaming, Gateway Casinos, Paragon Gaming, Chances, and the B.C. Gaming Industry Association. The location of the meeting was censored for seecurity reasons, but theBreaker confirmed it was the downtown Vancouver cabinet office at Canada Place. Elections BC’s database shows $187,254.74 in donations from Gateway to the BC Liberals since 2005 and $114,704.65 from Great Canadian, whose River Rock flagship hosted de Jong’s roast in 2015.

To prepare for that meeting, BCLC CEO Jim Lightbody and GPEB assistant deputy minister John Mazure wrote de Jong’s speaking notes. It is not clear whether de Jong used the ones provided by Lightbody alone or the version co-prepared by Lightbody and Mazure. 

A Nov. 30, 2016 briefing note by Lightbody outlined the business case for the new agreements with casino operators. It said service providers invested $200 million less in facilities development than in each of the two previous five-year periods. “The continued success of our market model is contingent upon [service providers] willingness to continue to invest in existing and new facilities and BCLC’s relationship with SPs must evolve to achieve market view alignment.”

The briefing note also said the casino market grew by $230 million between 2011 and 2016, but 14 of the province’s 36 gambling venues experienced revenue declines. “Investments in facilities that are new or have undergone substantial renovation, however, have proven to generate incremental revenue.”

An agenda for de Jong’s meeting with industry players and regulators indicated rising costs were a major issue for the private sector companies that operate B.C. casinos. It said the service providers wanted to discuss compensation for free slot play promotions, lengthy timelines for capital recovery, the offloading of BCLC costs to service providers, and the desire by service providers for greater control over casino marketing and gambling equipment. 

They also wanted to discuss the availability of cash alternatives, such as electronic funds deposits, for high rollers, who were referred to as “Very Very Important Persons” in the report. 

Lightbody’s briefing note for de Jong said table games were a priority business segment for BCLC, but B.C. offered the lowest commissions in the country for table games. BCLC opted to increase the commission by 2.5% to retain large service providers’ focus on B.C. and to remain competitive with other provinces. “Table game management is the most labour intensive gaming product for SPs and the increase in commission responds to the higher costs of labour required to operate and manage the games, including security considerations and anti-money laundering SP responsibilities.”

That was the only mention of anti-money laundering in the documents released to theBreaker.

The new deal announced by the NDP includes a 5% facility investment commission, based on net win (or the amount gamblers lose) to replace the 3% facility development commission and 2% accelerated facility development commission. Slot machine commissions for operators remain at 25%, table commissions rise from 40 to 42.5% and poker 75% to 77.5%. Commission for high-limit table games stays at 40%. 

The NDP, under Premier Glen Clark, launched the incentive program in 1997. The parkade at the 2017-opened B.C. Place casino, Parq, was built with at least $32.5 million in BCLC stimulus funds. 

theBreaker asked for agendas and minutes from the Dec. 15, 2016 meeting and an earlier meeting held to prepare for it, plus copies of presentation materials and handwritten notes and the post-meeting summary. The ministry only provided briefing notes and internal correspondence to set-up the meeting. 

The documents were censored because the originals allegedly contain policy advice and could harm government finances if disclosed. The only information withheld for security reasons was the location where the meeting took place and the coordinates for a conference call. 

Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

MAG-2017-73941 BCLC OSA by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Under the BC Liberals, negotiations for

The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics are over. So where does the International Olympic Committee and world sport go from here?

The easy answer is Beijing 2022. Chinese leader Xi Jinping appeared in a recorded greeting played during the closing ceremony of the South Korean Games. But it’s more complicated than that. 

Few cities want the Winter or Summer Games because of the out-of-control costs, questionable legacies, deterioration of human rights and the stench of corruption that seems to follow the five-ring circus everywhere it goes. 

On this edition of Podcast, host Bob Mackin interviews Jules Boykoff, a political science professor at Pacific University in Oregon and the author of three books about the Olympics. His most-recent is Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics, published in 2016. Boykoff analyzes the International Olympic Committee’s dilemma and offers advice to citizens of Calgary, the 1988 host that is pondering a bid for the 2026 Winter Games.

Listen to Podcast to learn how you can get your very own copy of Mackin’s Red Mittens & Red Ink: The Vancouver Olympics e-book for free. 

 Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: South Korea's Winter Olympics over, China next and then what?

The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics are over.

Bob Mackin

National Lampoon never sent the Griswolds to India, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s madcap family vacation to “Diwali World” will have to suffice.

Funny costumes and dancing, flubbed speeches, a celebrity chef who endorsed him on the campaign trail and a cameo appearance by a convict who traveled halfway around the world.

The latter was the one and only Jaspal Atwal, who was jailed for attempting to assassinate a visiting Indian cabinet minister in 1986. He generated headlines in 2012 for visiting the B.C. Legislature for the budget speech on Premier Christy Clark’s guest list.

Trudeau during his unannounced visit to Tasty Indian Bistro (Facebook)

It’s the latest in a string of bad judgment from Trudeau, who famously went to a private fundraiser with Chinese billionaires in 2016 and ended the year in luxury at the Aga Khan’s island.

How did Atwal, the Forrest Gump of the federal and BC Liberals, make it through security screening to get into India and then even more screening to get inside the Trudeau entourage in the subcontinent?

Instead of a SNAFU, could Trudeau’s RCMP security detail have been overruled by someone in the Trudeau entourage?

Will we ever find out?

Trudeau has called audibles before, surprising those who are paid to keep him safe.

A source told theBreaker that’s what happened last May 19.

The Prime Minister’s Office itinerary said he had an 11:15 a.m. meeting with members of the Filipino community at the Kubyertos Lechon House Restaurant in North Delta, before heading to Abbotsford’s Gur Sikh Temple.

Trudeau went off-script with lunch at Tasty Indian Bistro in North Delta. A source told theBreaker that he did so without his RCMP security detail.

theBreaker wanted answers from Trudeau’s press secretary, Cameron Ahmad, but he did not respond. Who was Trudeau meeting and what were they discussing?

The surprise trip to Tasty was the day after Trudeau’s fundraiser at the Sheraton Wall Centre in Vancouver.

Those who paid the $90 to $750 admission price included: Party bagman Raymond Chan and his wife Ting Ting Wang, National Observer columnist Sandy Garossino, Karim Lalji, chairman of the Aga Khan Conciliation and Arbitration Board in B.C., and Nevin Sangha, Greg Kerfoot’s right-hand man whose name appears on the deed for the Dunbar house occupied by Christy Clark.

Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

Bob Mackin National Lampoon never sent the Griswolds

Bob Mackin

The Olympic flag will pass to Beijing 2022 at Sunday’s PyeongChang 2018 closing ceremony, and the former CEO of Vancouver 2010 is already poised to capitalize on the return of the five-ring circus to China.  

John Furlong’s 2011 memoir, Patriot Hearts: Inside the Olympics that Changed a Country, was published last summer in Chinese with the blessing of Xi Jinping’s government. theBreaker obtained a copy and translated several chapters of the book, which is known in China as The Sun Finally Shines

Covers of Furlong’s 2011 book and the 2017 Chinese edition.

theBreaker compared the most-controversial sections of the English edition with the Chinese edition and found they are substantially the same, despite a high-profile international controversy that raged for more than three years.  

Errors and omissions in the original English publication inspired journalist Laura Robinson’s September 2012 exposé in the Georgia Straight newspaper, which was headlined John Furlong biography omits secret past in Burns Lake

Just like the English edition, the translation of the Chinese edition includes Furlong’s anecdote about leaving his native Ireland and traveling to Canada on an autumn day in 1974, with his wife and their son and daughter, and meeting a customs officer in Edmonton who told him “Welcome to Canada, please make us better.”

Furlong wrote that he was on his way to a teaching job at a Catholic high school in Prince George, British Columbia. However, Robinson revealed that Furlong had already been in Canada. He originally came in 1969 as an 18-year-old to work as a gym teacher at the Immaculata Catholic elementary school for aboriginal children. 

Forty-three years later, several students accused him of mental, physical and sexual abuse. 

Furlong denied all the allegations and the RCMP did not recommend charges. None of the allegations has been tested in court. On the day that Robinson’s feature was published, Furlong’s co-author, Gary Mason, admitted that Furlong never told him about his time in Burns Lake. Furlong said that he didn’t include his time in Burns Lake in Patriot Hearts because it was “fairly brief and fairly uneventful.”

Furlong filed, but later withdrew, defamation lawsuits against Robinson and the Georgia Straight. Robinson countersued Furlong for defamation, but a judge ruled in September 2015 that Furlong had a right to defend his reputation.  

Laura Robinson’s exposé in the Georgia Straight, Sept. 27, 2012.

Cathy Woodgate, one of the former students who alleged abuse, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in November 2015, asking for Trudeau to remove Furlong from chairing the federally funded, Canadian Olympic Committee affiliate, Own the Podium.

At its annual meeting in July 2016, the Assembly of First Nations resolved to ask the federal government for a “thorough and impartial investigation” into allegations that Furlong abused aboriginal students. 

Furlong travelled to the PyeongChang Olympics in his capacity as chair of Own the Podium. He also leads a Canadian Olympic Committee group that is advising Calgary on a potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. 

Russian intrigue, Korean bribery 

Just like the English edition, the translation of the Chinese edition mentions the death of his cousin, Siobhan Roice, after a terrorist car bomb exploded in Dublin in spring 1974. Furlong claimed that his father Jack was never the same after he identified Roice’s body at a makeshift morgue.  

The English translation of the Chinese edition of Patriot Hearts reads: 

However, everything changed after the afternoon of May 14 (sic), 1974. On this day, the life of our family has been completely changed…

The government urged people who lost their loved ones to go to a temporary mortuary in the city centre to claim their bodies. It was too unbearable for my aunt and uncle, and their home was 130 kilometres from the city centre. My father volunteered to take on this task. Later, he described the scene as a temporary morgue brutal beyond the imagination of people. Bombs exploded people into pieces, broken bodies were collected into bags, my father can only confirm the body of the ring by the fingers of Siobhan.

Robinson interviewed Roice’s brother Jim and quoted from a 2003 Irish newspaper interview with her father Ned, who said he found Siobhan’s body intact after the May 17, 1974 attack. 

Robinson’s lawyer, Bryan Baynham, challenged Furlong’s chronology and credibility in B.C. Supreme Court on June 23, 2015. Evidence showed that Furlong had returned to Ireland in 1972 after he was the victim of an assault during a Prince George amateur soccer game that he refereed. 

Furlong told the court that the date of his move to Canada was “frankly, irrelevant.”

“You didn’t arrive in Canada as a landed immigrant until 1975,” Baynham said.

“I’ll give you this,” Furlong replied. “I won’t say it was 1974.”

From the 2017 Chinese edition of John Furlong’s 2011 memoir.

As for his late cousin, Furlong maintained in court that Siobhan was “blown apart” and that “my version of the facts is true.” He told the court that Siobhan’s true condition was withheld from her mother for fear of adding to her grief. But he could not recall the last time he had spoken with the Roices.  

The head of Justice for the Forgotten, an Irish organization that represents victims of the 1974 terrorist attack, told this reporter in 2015 that she knew the Roices and confirmed that Siobhan’s father had travelled to Dublin to identify his daughter. “She was killed, almost certainly instantly, but was not ‘blown apart’,” said Margaret Urwin.

Like the English edition, the Chinese edition also contains sections that raised the eyebrows of the International Olympic Committee in 2011. Furlong had written about a non-monetary deal with the Mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, to gain Russia’s votes in the host city election. He also alleged he saw members of South Korea’s bid team distribute watches and CD players during a meeting in Buenos Aires. The IOC had strict rules banning gifts after the Salt Lake 2002 bidding scandal. 

Furlong wrote that he travelled to Moscow with international bobsled executive Bob Storey to give Luzhkov advice on bidding for the 2012 Summer Games (which eventually went to London) in exchange for Russia’s six or seven votes.

Vancouver edged PyeongChang’s 2010 bid by just three votes in the second ballot victory at Prague in July 2003. PyeongChang lost again in 2007 to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Games, but finally won the 2018 hosting rights in 2011. 

The IOC, in May 2011, opted against disciplining Furlong. ”There is no evidence of wrongdoing and this is supported by John Furlong’s confirmation that no IOC members were involved in either case,” the IOC said at the time. 

The Chinese edition was published in mid-2017 by China Pictorial Publishing House with support of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and China Friendship Foundation for Peace and Development. 

All are arms of the Communist Party government.

The English title, lifted from O Canada, was changed for the Chinese market to The Sun Finally Shines

“The original title ‘Patriot Hearts‘ was about Canadian people’s patriotism, which created some distance for Chinese readers,” publisher Yu Jiutao told ‘The Sun Finally Shines is actually the title of one of its chapters. We wanted it to sound inspiring to Chinese readers, as it is.”

Bob Mackin The Olympic flag will pass to

Bob Mackin

Veteran BC Liberal and federal Conservative spinner and part-time pundit Alise Mills popped up in Toronto media on Feb. 21. 

Toronto Newstalk 1010 host Jerry Agar didn’t buy Alise Mills’ explanation for Patrick Brown’s no show on Feb. 21.

Her latest gig is press secretary for embattled ex-Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown, who is mounting a comeback after being forced to resign over sexual harassment allegations. A party committee is deliberating on whether to deny Brown’s nomination for the June provincial election, which would ruin his bid to regain the leadership.

Brown was scheduled for an in-studio interview with Newstalk 1010’s conservative talkshow host Jerry Agar.

Instead of Brown, Agar got Mills. 

Minutes before the interview, Agar’s producer was informed that Brown would not be coming in. He would be available instead by phone. Then that didn’t happen. 

Mills called-in to apologize and to claim that it was all her fault. 

“This is just an issue of confusion over the schedule, and I won’t really get into it,” Mills said. 

Replied Agar: “But I’m going to stop you right there. We’ve been talking about this for several days. how confusing is it?” 

Mills: “We went back and forth on a couple of days…I gather there was a couple of other people booking the schedule. I don’t want to put this on anyone else, this one’s on me Jerry, that’s why I wanted to jump on the show. I apologize profusely.”

Agar: “I don’t understand how there can be any confusion on this. We were back and forth and back and forth, we’ve promoting the heck out of it on the radio station. I’m not buying that.” 

Mills: “Well you should buy it, because it’s the truth, and that’s why I’ve joined the show, Patrick is not avoiding any media today.”

Agar: “He’s avoided me, as a matter of fact… How about 11? Can he come in here at 11?” 

Mills: “Jerry, I have jumped on the show today to apologize profusely. Patrick is not avoiding your show, we’ve simply had an issue around scheduling… I’m taking full responsibility for that… I wanted to apologize to you and your listeners and let you know that it was just a scheduling issue, I take full responsibility for that…”

Agar: “[Producer] Becky was checking with you even as early as this morning.”

Mills: “I, I have not spoken to Becky this morning…”

Agar: “Well we’re getting to the point here, where and I’ve tried to be a defender to the parts I thought were unfair to Patrick Brown in this whole brouhaha that’s going on… but it’s really time after time after time, everything is everybody else’s fault, and Patrick Brown isn’t responsible for anything.” 

Mills: “That’s simply not true, don’t conflate a scheduling issue, a human error this morning with his character and his truth, I think that’s taking too far. At this point Patrick has defended his reputation, he has cleared his name and he will continue to refute those other allegations. I’m taking full responsibility for the scheduling confusion…”

Agar: “What’s he doing?” 

Mills: “He’s, he’s in meetings this morning…”

Agar: “Is he doing other media today?”

Mills: “Um, he is going to be, we are beginning the campaigning today, Jerry, we are, Patrick is going to be on the ground meeting with members, exactly where he should be. The focus now has to shift to meeting with his many supporters, and also building support…

Agar: “I want to make a guess. You were already told he can’t run for leader and that’s why he’s decided not to come in.”

Mills: “Jerry that would be spreading fake news, that’s simply not true.”

Agar: “So you are telling me that there has been no decision made from the party.”

Mills: “No decision, you shouldn’t get your news off twitter Jerry. You should just wait for press releases.”

Agar: “I didn’t get that off twitter, I’m getting that from you because the candidate won’t show up.”

Mills: “So you have conflated my scheduling mistake with the party denying his right to run for leader and that he that he is somehow avoiding talking to you about this. I think this is why Canadians are fed up with where we are with the news media today… 

Agar: “I’m not reporting, I’m trying to find out from you what’s going on, I know you can apologize and you’re not going to change your story, because it doesn’t make sense to me…”

Agar continued to grill Mills. Mills continued to defend Brown. 

Mills: “This is not just a story about Patrick Brown. This is a story of democracy, civil liberties and breach of privacy, constitutional rights, all the above Jerry.

Agar: “Yeah, that’s the kind of stuff Patrick should be here saying. When’s he coming in?” 

Mills: “I will talk to Becky about it, your producer.”

Agar: “Uh-huh, well she’s here right now.” 

Mills: “We’re not going to negotiate or litigate this on air. That’s really unprofessional.”

Agar: “No, not showing up is unprofessional.” 

Mills: “Y’know Patrick did not not show up…”

Agar: “Oh, he’s here?” 

Mills: “Okay, Jerry, c’mon…” 

Agar: “Thanks for doing this.”

Mills: “Thank you for thanking me.”

After the interview, Agar told his listeners that “we had it in writing” that Brown would be on the show.

Listen to the interview at this link. 

Mills resorted to her familiar Trumpian tactics with Agar, accusing him of “fake news.” She also did that last August after theBreaker exclusively revealed how Darryl Plecas stood-up to Christy Clark, who then quit as leader of the BC Liberals after pledging to stay on and fight the Green-supported NDP government. In the wake of theBreaker bombshell, Plecas did an in-depth interview with the Abbotsford News. He later quit the BC Liberal caucus to become the Speaker of the B.C. Legislature. 

Meanwhile, Mills’ spot on CBC Radio’s post-budget B.C. political roundtable during the Feb. 20 edition of On the Coast was filled by Amy Robichaud from the backroom of Todd Stone’s failed leadership campaign. NDP lobbyist Bill Tieleman was introduced as a media commentator, not the lobbyist that he is (for 17 clients!). Tieleman also did not disclose his lobbying activities during the segment. 

When Tieleman appeared on the same show in December, after the Horgan government green-lit Site C, his work for pro-Site C unions was disclosed to listeners. But not to viewers when he later appeared with Mills on the CBC Vancouver supper hour newscast. 

Bob Mackin Veteran BC Liberal and federal Conservative

Bob Mackin

Last September’s British Columbia budget update came with an asterisk. 

The NDP government had to table a budget bill or the government would’ve shut down, so it didn’t include many of John Horgan’s key promises. It looked an awful lot like the pre-election BC Liberal budget. The Horgan Horde had only been in office for about seven weeks.

Now they’ve been in office for seven months, and the Feb. 20 edition was the first step at putting an orange stamp on government. No, it doesn’t include all the promises, but it ticks many boxes. Like any budget, it will also tick some people off.  

Here is what caught theBreaker’s eye. 

  • Finance Minister Carole James revealed that the government will crack down on tax fraud related to the real estate industry, by collecting information on presale condominium assignments and mandating a new beneficial ownership registry. 

Beneficial ownership will be declared on the Property Transfer Tax form and entered into a registry that will be made public through the Land Title Survey Authority. Laws will be amended to require corporations to hold their beneficial ownership information; how and when that will be publicly available is up to negotiations brokered by the federal government. 

Transparency International flagged the use of numbered companies and nominees as an epidemic of fraud and tax evasion. It’s 2016 No Reason To Hide report lobbied for a public beneficial ownership registry. 

  • The 15% foreign buyers’ tax in Metro Vancouver goes to 20% at midnight and expands to the Fraser Valley, Central Okanagan, Nanaimo and Victoria regions. A new tax on real estate speculation is coming, at $5 per $1,000 assessed value, to rise to $20 per $1,000 a year in 2019. “Primary residences and long term rentals will generally be exempt,” said the budget presentation. “Satellite families will be captured by the tax.” 

The 10% provincial sales tax luxury surtax on passenger vehicles over $125,000 will increase April 1 to 15% on vehicles worth $125,000 and up. It’ll double to 20% for cars and SUVs worth $150,000 or more. 

New taxes on houses and cars announced during the first week of the Year of the Dog, when there is likely an uptick in 10-Year Visa visitors from China to B.C.? A gutsy move. 

  • Despite money laundering in casinos intersecting with real estate and the illegal drug trade, the new B.C. budget allots less than $100,000 more for the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch in 2018-2019. Its budget remains less than $20 million. 

Meanwhile, policing and security will be cut by $5 million, from $400.6 million to $395.06 million. 

  • B.C. Lottery Corporation’s annual service plan, also released on budget day, contemplates a $64 million dip in net income next year, partially from measures to crack down on money laundering at casinos. 

“The decrease in fiscal 2018/19 net income reflects the assumption that BCLC’s casino business will experience an impact due to potential changes in anti-money laundering requirements, in combination with making necessary investments to ensure the long-term health of the overall business,” says the service plan.

Potential changes in anti-money laundering requirements, according to a sensitivity analysis, could mean the pendulum will swing $25 million to the black or $28 million to the red. 

  • The BC Liberals’ $700 million, three-year BC Home second mortgage loan program, a campaign gimmick announced in December 2016, will be cancelled March 31. It will cost $10 million a year to wind down for the next three years. All existing loans and accepted applications will be grandfathered. The money left in the budget will help create the new BC HousingHub office at BC Housing to connect private sector and non-profit agencies to create more affordable housing.

“A review undertaken by BC Housing concluded that the program has helped far fewer first time home buyers than originally projected and had a minimal impact on housing affordability,” said the service plan for the Municipal Affairs and Housing ministry.

  • The budget did not include the NDP’s promised $10-a-day daycare or $400 renters’ rebate. James said both are long-term goals, but some programs in this budget will help families needing daycare and renters. The government is spending $214 million on the subsidized bus pass program for 100,000 people on disability assistance, a program eliminated in 2016 by the BC Liberals. Seniors will ride BC Ferries for free again Mondays to Thursdays. 
  • Pot could be worth $50 million to government coffers when weed is legalized this summer. Liquor Distribution Branch is preparing to move to a leased warehouse this summer in Delta, a $57 million move expected to increase efficiency. The impact on liquor sales from the legalization of recreational marijuana is not known. The NDP government declared LDB the monopoly distributor for the province last December. 

“With this major project underway, there could be an impact on the LDB’s liquor related priorities in the near term.” 

LDB is also waiting for the Supreme Court of Canada to decide the Comeau case, about personal importation limits for taking liquor across provincial borders. Negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization challenge of protectionist B.C. wine sections in grocery stores could impact LDB. 

  • There is nothing in the budget for the proposed Broadway Subway or the Surrey LRT projects; money has been committed for the Pattullo Bridge replacement, which was announced last Friday.  
  • Full-time equivalent staffing in the central government is expected to increase by 500 to 29,400 next year. More staff will be hired to handle childcare and housing spending, as well as sheriffs, court services staff, social assistance services and conservation officers. 

“The projected increase in FTEs is also explained in part by new staffing to support activities related to cannabis legalization, enhanced support for workers and employers in matters related to WorkSafeBC, wildfire recovery efforts, land use planning and environmental management.” 

Bob Mackin Last September’s British Columbia budget update