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Bob Mackin

Did BC Liberal Party donors get sweetheart deals on public land or did they simply get lucky in the province’s real estate boom? 

British Columbia’s auditor general is investigating the first two years of the former BC Liberal government’s sale of land that it deemed surplus. In the 2012 budget, then-Finance Minister Kevin Falcon announced a two-year program called the Release of Assets for Economic Generation. The program has continued and, as of last May, the government said it netted $858 million. It is unclear whether the government netted all that it could. 

Auditor General Carol Bellringer’s report, originally expected in June or July of 2017, is expected in the second quarter of this year.

For instance, it sold the 5.8-acre Dogwood Lodge property in South Vancouver to Onni, a major donor to the BC Liberals and Vision Vancouver, for $83.5 million in April 2015. The land was assessed at $149.27 million in 2017. 

The land around Superior, Menzies, Michigan and Kingston streets near the Legislature in Victoria, called South Block and Portion Q, was assessed at almost $43 million in 2017, meaning it appreciated by almost $9 million since Concert and Jawl bought it.

Polygon bought and redeveloped the former Steveston Secondary land as luxury townhouses. It was assessed at $177.74 million in 2017 — an increase of $136.6 million from the purchase price.

The Willingdon Lands in Burnaby were sold to three First Nations backed by the Aquilinis for $57.9 million in 2014. The land increased by $14.85 million to $72.75 million in 2017.

When they were in opposition, the NDP attacked the BC Liberals for an apparent sweetheart deal with one of its donors, Wesbild, for a large swath of Burke Mountain. The NDP obtained a report by Equity Valuation and Consulting, which told the government that the Burke Mountain land could be worth as much as $128 million if it waited for six to nine months to sell. Instead, the government received $85 million from Wesbild for 14 parcels, a $43 million difference.

Documents released to theBreaker under freedom of information — and published below — show the province netted $312,976,654 in 2013-2014; $125,786,000 in 2014-2015; and $358,331,000 in 2015-2016. The three years totalled just over $797 million.

By the last week of May 2017, another $61.35 million of land had been sold. 

An internal briefing note said the 2017 budget forecast $344 million more sales by 2019-2010. It also forecast the Pearson Dogwood deal would eventually have $3.1 billion in economic spinoffs.

According to an analysis by theBreaker, six of the top 10 deals were completed just weeks before or weeks after the completion of the government’s fiscal year.  

The Ministry of Finance delegated management of the program to Citizens’ Services, to dispose properties held by Health, Education, Advanced Education, Forests, Transportation, and Citizens’ Services itself. It is led by Assistant Deputy Minister Sarf Ahmed, who was not fired when the NDP took over from the BC Liberals. 

Top 10 B.C. government land sales from 2013-2016
  1. George Pearson Centre, 700 W. 57th, Vancouver (VCHA) $193,185,916 (sale to Onni completed March 15, 2016);
  2. Dogwood Lodge, 500 W. 57th (VCHA) $83,517,794 (completed April 15, 2015, sold to Onni for $85M, booked at $84.38M net);
  3. Willingdon Lands, 3405 Willingdon, $53,538,847 (completed March 21, 2014, sold for $57.908M to Musqueam Squamish Tsleil-Waututh);
  4. Burke Mountain, $49,041,692 (completed March 21, 2014, sold to Wesbild for $50M
  5. Steveston Secondary, 6600 Williams, Richmond, $40,422,000 (completed Dec. 17, 2014, sold to Polygon for $41.125M);
  6. Burke Mountain NE Coquitlam, $34,320,619 (completed Oct. 27, 2014, 9 parcels sold to Wesbild Holdings in phase 2 for $35M);
  7. Jutland Road Axor Building, 2975 Jutland, $31,515,038 (completed March 21, 2014 sold to HOOPP Realty for $37M, which later sold to Industrial Alliance);
  8. South Block and Portion of Q Lot, $29,066,667 (sold to Concert and Jawl for $34M, completed March 21, 2014);
  9. Coronation Park Elementary, 135 Balmoral, Coquitlam $25,112,000 (Completed Jan. 12, 2016, sold to Polygon Pacific Homes Ltd. $26.16M;
  10. Plaza 400, 1011-1087 4 Ave, Prince George $22,279,132 (completed Oct. 1, 2015, office building sold to Nicola Crosby Real Estate Asset Management for $28M) (Queensway).

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TheBreaker Release of Assets for Economic Generation FOI by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Did BC Liberal Party donors get

Bob Mackin

Not only was BC Liberal operative Brian Bonney paid taxpayer money to roll out the party’s ethnic pandering strategy, but he was also heavily involved in media manipulation. 

Email from court exhibits in the breach of public trust case against Brian Bonney.

In documents obtained by theBreaker from B.C. Provincial Court, the only person charged and guilty of breach of public trust in the Quick Wins scandal boasted to party workers that he was so skilled at calling radio talkshows, he became known as “Brian from Burnaby.” 

Bonney helped organize fake phone calls to radio talkshows and recruited party members to sign their names to letters to newspaper editors that promoted the governing party and bashed the opposition NDP. 

On Jan. 19, 2012, Bonney encouraged one of the party’s Chinese outreach workers to call the Bill Good Show on CKNW, while B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Susan Lambert and Education Minister George Abbott were guests. 

“Can you call in? I know it is not Chinese radio but I guarantee you that MLAs and all staff will be listening,” Bonney wrote to Bill Yuen. “A Chinese voice is likely to get chosen first. 604-280-9898. Call often, fast as soon as the (sic) open the lines – Or better try to anticipate when they open lines.” 

Bonney wrote that BCTF was asking for 10 weeks off when a friend dies and 26 weeks off to help a sick friend, while demanding a 15% pay hike. 

“Who gets that???” Bonney wrote. “These demands are not realistic. Every other union recently has settled at Net Zero – CUPE school support workers settled at zero percent. If you can get on  – it would be huge.”

Clark (left) and Kukucha during the 2013 campaign.

On Feb. 2, 2012, lobbyist Steve Kukucha of the BC Liberal-connected Wazuku firm wrote 14 Liberal staffers, and copied party president Sharon White, above the subject: “Cutting Edge of the Leg. Tomorrow – CALLERS NEEDED.”

Kukucha’s email included 11 talking points about Premier Christy Clark’s LNG and jobs plans that “you can use tomorrow for call in shows and to speak with your networks (I’ve added a few people to the distribution list).”

Party executive director Chad Pederson chimed in. “I know this show is a focus each week, and thanks to Jehn [Benoit, party communications director] for her usual work, but I agree with Steve that this is a big segment. Let’s rally the troops!”

Bonney wrote to Sepideh Sarrafpour, a BC Liberal subcontractor, on Feb. 3, 2012. 

“Have you ever called a radio talk show? Tomorrow is “cutting edge of the ledge” on CKNW,” he wrote. “They are looking for people to call and just say good things about BC Liberals and start suggesting ‘the media has given Adrian Dix a free ride – they are NOT holding him accountable! He makes promise after promise, knowing we have a big deficit to get under control – where will he get the money? From us! Taxes will go up with Dix. – Not what I want.”

Lobbyist Kukucha’s email to BC Liberal party insiders.

Bonney continued: “The show on CKNW comes on at about 9-9:30 usually start calling just before they seem to go for the first break and keep calling over and over until the end. I know it is hard and you only get through once in say 5 tries but it is worth it! – when you get through, give them your first name (ok) and say what you want to talk about – very short. Then while on hold you can hear the show through the phone so turn your radio “off” as when you get on air it will bother you.”

Today’s BC Liberals, Yesterday’s Tactics… 

Bonney was not alone in the dirty tricks campaign. 

In a July 17, 2012 email, Mike McDonald, who was Clark’s first and last chief of staff, appealed for callers to Province columnist Mike Smyth’s fill-in appearance for Good.

“Looking for a little help this morning,” McDonald wrote. “If you are receiving this, it’s because you may be able to identify some open line callers on short notice (maybe you!).”

McDonald included key messages, such as: 

  • Premier and BCL are getting the big things right (AAA credit, job growth over last year, on track for balanced budget).
  • Media are being consistently negative. 
  • No focus is being put on Dix and what he would do.

McDonald even suggested quotes that party supporters could use on-air. 

  • “The Premier deserves a break. She inherited a tough situation and she’s run a good government.”
  • “Everyone is shooting at her. She’s showing a lot of toughness to put up with this.” 
  • “Judge her by her results. Created over 60,000 jobs and on track to balance the budget.”
  • “Dix have (sic) been given a free ride.” 
  • “Dix forged a memo to derail a criminal investigation and he’s treated with kid gloves.”
  • “Pollsters and pundits should stop telling us who’s going to win the election and let the damn voters decide for themselves.”

    Clark Clique insider McDonald (Twitter)

Bonney forwarded the email to Sarrafpour with advice: “Never say where you work! Tell them you have contracts to help non-profits. Only use first or middle name (middle best) and if they ask if you are a member that is Ok to say yes.”

In a July 23, 2012 email, Bonney wrote to her: “Dix is on air at 1:15. Can you call in and harass him???!!!”

Meanwhile, BC Liberal workers also plotted ways to get letters to the editor published in newspapers. 

Bonney emailed Sarrafpour and other party workers, Patrick O’Connor and Mark Robertson, on July 16, 2012: “Hi Patrick We finally have a new letter sender – Thanks to Sepideh. Sepideh – What is his email? 

“Patrick, Naveed [Waraich] will want to see each letter first. He will want to do PRO BC Liberal, Christy letters only.

“First email should do intro and say: I understand you would like me to send letters for you to the BC local papers and Sepideh has indicated what you wanted to say. Below is the letter you wanted — be sure it says what you want and how you would say it and if so let me know its ok. Then I will send it out for you.”

Media manipulation during the Quick Wins-era was part of a long tradition of BC Liberal dirty tricks. 

Mike McDonald’s appeal for fake callers to a CKNW talkshow in 2012.

In January 2005, Indo-Canadian community organizer Prem Vinning called a Channel M talkshow while Premier Gordon Campbell was a guest. Vinning called himself “Peter From Surrey” and asked Campbell a softball question on transportation infrastructure. Vinning was exposed on Sean Holman’s Public Eye Online and forced to resign as Campbell’s director of Asia-Pacific trade. 

In April 2007, B.C. Supreme Court heard evidence of ex-ministerial aide Dave Basi, and BC Liberal insiders McDonald and Mike Morton organizing fake phone calls to radio talkshows in Vancouver, Victoria and Prince George. 

Dr. Kenneth Fung, an associate professor at the University of B.C., was rewarded by cabinet in 2013 with a seat on the UBC board of governors. Fung admitted to calling a CKNW radio show under the pseudonym “Mike” to suggest an NDP candidate in Richmond couldn’t speak English. 

One of the most-notorious dirty tricks in B.C. history was in 1998, when Parksville-Qualicum MLA Paul Reitsma was booted from caucus after writing letters to a local newspaper under the monicker “Warren Betanko.” 

The Parksville Morning Sun revealed the deception when it published a story under the headline “MLA Reitsma is a liar and we can prove it.”

In the fall of 1979, Premier Bill Bennett’s Social Credit Party government was under fire for a dirty tricks scandal. Socred caucus researchers, led by Jack Kelly, wrote rosy letters to newspapers about the government under aliases. Grace McCarthy aide George Lenko resigned after a “how to” audio tape instructing party workers to write the fake letters was sent to campaign managers. Lenko is director of special projects with the Pace Group, a BC Liberal lobbying and public relations firm. 

In his book “Bill Bennett: A Mandarin’s View,” retired deputy minister Bob Plecas noted that Brenda Dalglish of the Goldstream Gazette originally broke the dirty tricks story in September 1979. The Vancouver Sun followed the next day with a sensational front page headline: Fake letters to editor penned by Socreds.

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Bob Mackin Not only was BC Liberal operative

Bob Mackin

The BC Liberals controversial multicultural strategic outreach plan had its limits.

The 2011-conceived blueprint, better known as Quick Wins, contemplated pandering to ethnic groups in a bid to win swing ridings in the 2013 election. 

BC Liberal ethnic outreach worker Sarrafpour (left) and MLA Lee (Lee)

Ethnic groups that weren’t expected to deliver many votes, memberships or donations were deemed expendable, according to Provincial Court evidence obtained by theBreaker

BC Liberal operative Brian Bonney, who worked as a government communications director, pleaded guilty to breach of public trust and was sentenced Jan. 31 to a nine-month conditional sentence.

Special prosecutor David Butcher, during last month’s sentencing hearing, told Judge David St. Pierre that “One particular community outreach effort deserves special note because it exposes the partisan nature of the community liaison program.”

Sepideh Sarrafpour, who had been subcontracted for the party by Bonney’s numbered company, arranged a spring 2012 meeting between multiculturalism minister John Yap and Tanzanian community leaders and members of the Swahili-speaking community. 

“The meeting apparently did not go well,” Butcher said. “Yap complained to Bonney: ‘As we move forward I think it more prudent for our team to be more discerning of groups we reach out to do as to better spend our somewhat limited time resources’.” 

In a June 13, 2012 email about “Yesterday’s roundtable with Tanzanian community,” Bonney wrote to Yap: “I re-enforced that quality has to win over quantity.” 

Yap responded, using a personal email account: “Noted. She may need more coaching on ‘demographics’ and ‘politics’. She has a big heart and nature; she’s probably too ‘inclusive’ or too ‘optimistic’ about people/what profiles of people support or could support the centre right — we should focus on the 60% and essentially not bother with some demographics that will not likely or absolutely never support us, eg. ‘Homeless people’ or ‘people dependent on social supports’, who tend to be left leaning or outright socialist We (our team) do not have the time resources to chase every single group out there that is ‘cordial’ with her. She should be more ruthless in deciding who has ‘good potential’ and who has ‘little or none’. 

“Now, with the Swahili roundtable, we have been ‘exposed’ to some dipper operatives (the neighbourhood house ladies and City of Vancouver Multi person) though I think the risk is manageable with the approach I took in messaging them. Brian: please continue to focus her on more quality versus quantity. I appreciate what you do in managing her. Thanks.”

Bonney conveyed Yap’s comments to Sarrafpour, despite Yap asking not to. 

“I believe you need to know what makes him happy and not so happy,” Bonney wrote. 

What Yap meant about his comments, Bonney said, “is that these people are not so wealthy (MAYBE??) and there (sic) social status suggests that they would not support us anyway.”

In telling Sarrafpour to work hard on having less events with better quality, Bonney told her to delete the message after reading. It is not clear whether Sarrafpour disobeyed and this was one of the documents she provided the RCMP, or if it was among many emails that detectives obtained directly from Google. 

Later that summer, an embarrassing incident at an Afghan Heritage days event. A Sept. 6, 2012 email from Bonney to Sarrafpour, Yap, caucus communications director Ben James and caucus executive director Primrose Carson described how a backbench MLA was woefully unprepared for his audience. 

“Just a heads up that at the Afghan Heritage days event [Burnaby North MLA] Richard Lee went on stage and started talking about Persians and Iran — the community was baffled an shocked,” Bonney wrote. “Sepideh went to the back of the stage and pulled the plug on the power but too late (when Raj Chouhan went up!). I think we need to have someone talk to Richard about being sure he knows who he is talking to. Just a heads up as this could be very damaging if it happens more often.”

Yap and his predecessor Harry Bloy did not cooperate with the RCMP investigation into Quick Wins, on advice of their lawyers. Had the case proceeded to trial, they would likely have been ordered by the court to testify.

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Bob Mackin The BC Liberals controversial multicultural strategic

Bob Mackin

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, the biggest sports gambling day of the year, and the B.C. NDP government says it is searching for ways to protect B.C. Lottery Corporation’s PlayNow website from illegal competitors.

But, like the Philadelphia Eagles’ quest to upset the New England Patriots, it is easier said than done. 

A briefing note by the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch’s Rachel DeMott for Attorney General David Eby, obtained by theBreaker under freedom of information, said enforcement has failed to stop grey and black market digital bookies from eating into the market.

“Canada’s monopoly model is relatively ineffective due to the lack of clear legislation outlining the legalities of online gambling as well as the popularity of certain prohibited wagers,” said the Sept. 25, 2017 briefing note to Eby. “This ambiguity has led to a lack in availability of enforcement mechanisms.”

The Canadian Criminal Code says it is illegal for anyone — other than a provincial government monopoly (like BCLC) — to take bets online from Canadians or advertise gambling websites. The law is rarely enforced. The Kahnawake Mohawk reserve near Montreal became a hotbed for offshore gambling servers. Canadian broadcasters sell time to companies that advertise free-to-play or tutorial websites with .net domains; the goal of those companies is to encourage migration to the pay-to-play .com sits.

The Criminal Code’s ban on single-event wagering means BCLC’s PlayNow, the province’s only legal gambling website, can offer a minimum of two games for bettors. That means anyone putting money on the result of the Super Bowl must also choose a second match from another sport. Efforts to amend the Criminal Code to allow single-event wagering have been defeated twice in Parliament, most recently in 2016. In opposition, the Liberals supported the amendment, but in government they cited concerns with problem gambling and match fixing.

“B.C. supported amendments, to take these bets out of the illegal market, protect citizens and capture revenue for government,” the note said.

It said unregulated sites offer the risk of fraud, changing odds, lack of responsible gambling features and access by minors. Government bears the burden of health and justice problems from those who become addicted.

GPEB wrote letters to 18 companies that operate at least 25 of the most-popular online gambling websites to no avail. “However none of these companies has ceased operations in B.C. because of these letters,” the briefing note said.

B.C., Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes have regulated online gambling sites. The global amount wagered in regulated and unregulated online markets has mushroomed from $6 billion in 2003 to $46 billion in 2016 and is projected to hit $56 billion by 2018. The briefing note estimated B.c.’s online gambling market to be worth $640 million.

Quebec has not been successful in attracting a large amount of players to its version of PlayNow and a Quebec-chaired working group, that includes B.C., had not met in the last year. A May 2016, Quebec-passed law to enable blocking of unregulated gambling websites through the province’s Consumer Protection Act is being challenged in Quebec Superior Court by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. “B.C. expects this legislation to be struck down,” the briefing note said.

A request to interview Eby was turned down. His office sent a prepared statement instead.

Attorney General Eby (Mackin)

“We are exploring what could be done at the provincial level to address unregulated online gambling websites and protect British Columbians. We are also participating in a federal/provincial/territorial working group to discuss this issue with the federal government and other provinces,” said the statement, attributed to Eby.

“The concern is that we’re unable to ensure these websites meet the standards of integrity set for B.C.’s gambling industry because they’re outside our jurisdiction and unregistered with the GPEB. I have asked ministry staff to look into options to address the unregulated market.”

The 2016-2017 annual BCLC report said its electronic gambling revenue increased $22.1 million, or 16%, from the previous year. So-called eGaming revenue was lumped-in with lotteries, and grossed $1.285 billion.

GPEB briefing note: “PlayNow.com has continued to grow year over year while land based gambling is flat lining.” 

Last July, a judge in Maryland agreed to fine renegade online gambling pioneer Calvin Ayre of Vancouver-born Bodog $500,025 and sentence him to a year of unsupervised probation. Ayre pleaded guilty to the misdemeanour of being an accessory after the fact to transmission of wagering information between June 2005 and December 2011. He was among four Bodog executives charged in February 2012 and could have been jailed up to 25 years for conducting an illegal sports gambling business and conspiracy to launder money.

U.S. authorities seized more than $66.1 million from Bodog accounts.

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Bob Mackin It’s Super Bowl Sunday, the biggest

The BC Liberals have a new leader, Andrew Wilkinson, who was a Campbell Crony and member of the Clark Clique.

ICBC, the Crown auto insurer, was described as a “financial dumpster fire,” touching-off a round of fingerpointing. Will there ever be any fingerprinting

BC Liberal operative Brian Bonney, the only person charged in the Quick Wins scandal, was sentenced to a nine-month conditional sentence. And Dave Barrett, B.C.’s first NDP premier, died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

It was a week like no other in B.C. politics. Listen to theBreaker.news Podcast for all that and more. 

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theBreaker.news Podcast: A week like no other in B.C. politics
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The BC Liberals have a new leader,

Bob Mackin

Todd Stone has the glitziest campaign of the six running for BC Liberal leadership. 

Four people are key in the Kamloops MLA’s bid to become opposition leader, and, maybe, premier: former adman and defeated BC Liberal cabinet minister Peter Fassbender; Brittney Kerr from Vision Vancouver and Team Trudeau; ex-Christy Clark fartcatcher Stephen Smart; and Premier Amor de Camera’s 2017 campaign photographer, John Lehmann. 

They’ve changed Stone’s hairstyle and put him through oratory lessons. His message is focussed on three key words: bold, vision, plan. 

Russia’s ambassador to Canada, Alexander Darchiev (left) with B.C. Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon and Russia’s honourary consul for B.C., Erin Chutter (Government House)

As much as they can repackage the admitted Triple Deleter, they can’t hide his ICBC baggage. 

The Crown auto insurer and driving regulator was described as a “dumpster fire” by his successor, NDP Attorney-General David Eby, as it careens toward a $1.3 billion deficit this fiscal year. 

That was Monday. 

Then, on Tuesday, all the other campaigns, save for also-ran Sam Sullivan, agreed on something: they wanted an internal investigation into Stone’s membership drive. They didn’t get it, so they went to the media.

Then, the bombshell on Friday. A full-blown scandal on the eve of the selection of a new leader, when Stone’s camp admitted 1,349 memberships were cancelled. Stone’s shady Victoria political campaign data mining contractor, AggregateIQ, created fake email addresses for new members who speak little or no English among Richmond’s Chinese community and Surrey’s South Asians. 

AggregateIQ is the company that played a key role in the Brexit referendum’s winning Leave campaign. It is under investigation by privacy authorities in the United Kingdom and B.C. 

Globalization also means foreign influence in political campaigns. 

Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s digital spy agency, studied cyber threats to Canada’s democratic process. Its report noted the 2016 U.S. presidential election, when both the Republicans and Democrats were targeted by Russian cyberespionage. 

CSE said nation-states could try the same thing to Canada during the 2019 federal election. Is B.C. at risk? 

“We assess that the threat to Canada’s democratic process at the sub-national level (i.e. provincial/territorial and municipal) is very likely to remain at its current low level,” CSE reported. “However, some of Canada’s sub-national political parties and politicians, electoral activities, and media are likely to come under increasing threat from nation-states and hacktivists.” 

On that count, theBreaker wonders about the endorsement of Stone’s campaign by Erin Chutter. 

Who is she, you ask? 

Erin Chutter (left) and Russia’s Ambassador to Canada, Alexander Darchiev (Russian Embassy)

A longtime federal Conservative. BC Liberal and Vancouver NPA strategist, Chutter is also a mining executive, as president of Rare Capital Corp., chair of Global Energy Metals Corp. and director of Khot Infrastructure. What makes Chutter newsworthy is her other gig: In December 2016, she was installed as the honorary consul of Russia in Vancouver.  

That means a Stone endorser represents Vladimir Putin. 

Ambassador to Canada Alexander Darchiev presented the consular patent at a Vancouver Club ceremony in December 2016, “stressing that Ms. Chutter’s extensive business background both in Russia and Canada would contribute to enhancing bilateral trade and investment, as well as regional and people-to-people contacts, especially between British Columbia and Russian Far East,” said the embassy’s website. “This will surely benefit Russian Canadians as a vibrant and important community in multicultural Canada.”

Darchiev and Chutter also met with B.C.’s Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon. 

Amnesty International reported in 2016-2017 that “restrictions on rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly increased” in Russia. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested Jan. 28 during mass, anti-Kremlin protests alleging the March 18 election is rigged in favour of Putin. 

Stone spokesman Smart did not respond to theBreaker. Neither did Chutter.

Bob Mackin Todd Stone has the glitziest campaign

Bob Mackin

The president of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said one of his best hiring decisions was to contract the disgraced B.C. government communications director from the BC Liberals’ “Quick Wins” ethnic pandering scandal.

“This is a bad thing that happened to a good person,” Troy Lanigan said about Brian Bonney, in an interview with theBreaker

Lanigan was one of 61 people who wrote character reference letters in support of Bonney to Provincial Court Judge David St. Pierre, after Bonney pleaded guilty to breach of public trust last October. 

Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s Troy Lanigan (CTF)

On Jan. 31, St. Pierre gave Bonney a nine-month conditional sentence, to be served in the community. Bonney is under house arrest from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily, among other conditions that he must follow in order to stay out of jail.

Bonney worked as a fundraiser during the CTF’s successful campaign to oppose the TransLink expansion tax plebiscite in 2015, which was revealed by the Georgia Straight at the time of the campaign. Lanigan was quoted calling the cost of the Quick Wins investigation “obscene” and “ridiculous.”

Court files obtained by theBreaker revealed that Bonney has remained with the CTF’s B.C. division, playing an integral role as the general sales manager for the lobby group. His resume boasts hiring, training and motivating 18 new territory managers who increased B.C. fundraising totals from $300,000 to $795,000 in two years. 

Lanigan’s Nov. 10 letter called Bonney task-focused, enthusiastic and loyal. “No matter what the outcome of this sentencing, I can tell you Brian has a home and a job with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation,” Lanigan wrote. 

“I sense this entire experience for him has been an incredibly costly lesson in the maxim: if you lie with dogs you will get fleas. I’m fairly certain Brian has had his share of fleas.”

During sentencing, both special prosecutor David Butcher and defence lawyer Ian Donaldson agreed that Bonney was not the mastermind or director of the scheme to use taxpayers’ funds to help the party gain votes from ethnic communities in a bid to win the 2013 election.

The court heard that ex-cabinet ministers John Yap and Harry Bloy did not cooperate with the RCMP investigation, on advice of their lawyers, and that then-Premier Christy Clark had been briefed on the multicultural plan a year before it was leaked. Clark had claimed in 2013 that she only learned of it when the NDP tabled a copy of the Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan in the Legislature.  

Lanigan’s letter mentioned a “very senior political aide close to the events” had told him Bonney had been “thrown under the bus,” that he deserved a break and his hiring would benefit the CTF. 

Asked for the name of that aide, Lanigan would only say “it was someone who was very senior, close to the premier. That person probably wouldn’t be happy I wrote that.” 

Brian Bonney after his Jan. 31 sentencing. (Mackin)

Besides Lanigan, two former B.C. directors of the CTF, Jordan Bateman and Gregory Thomas, also wrote letters in support of Bonney. No BC Liberal politician wrote in Bonney’s favour, but his Mainland Communications partner, Mark Robertson, did. Robertson and Bonney were fined $5,000 in 2016 under the Election Act for financing irregularities in the 2012 Port Moody by-election.

Lanigan said the CTF did not help fund Bonney’s legal defence, nor was it asked to.

But what about the optics of the anti-waste/anti-corruption CTF employing a former civil servant that St. Pierre described as being involved in “a kind of political corruption”?

Lanigan reiterated that the CTF is “concerned about proper and ethical use of tax dollars” and pointed to the BC Liberals’ repayment to the public treasury of half of Bonney’s $140,000 salary. 

“Partisan goings-on in the Legislature should be cleaned up,” he said. “Maybe this is a wake-up call to that.”

St. Pierre’s ruling acknowledged Bonney’s reputation suffered in the five years since the scandal broke. Court files indicate that the 55-year-old’s father Richard and one of his two brothers, Colin, passed away last year. Bonney’s marriage of 31 years produced five children, now aged 18 to 27. Four of his offspring continue to live at his residence, and two of them invited their partners to live there. 

Submissions from Donaldson say Bonney has had a long association with Scouts Canada and the Rotary Club. More recently, he has volunteered with the First Nations Education Foundation to preserve and revitalize aboriginal languages. 

Postmedia and theBreaker successfully applied to St. Pierre for access to court exhibits from the case, though several pages were withheld and St. Pierre banned publication of home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. 

He did not order redaction of Bonney’s address. In court, however, Donaldson quietly used scissors to remove it from a copy of Bonney’s resume in the court file. 

In his conclusion, St. Pierre wrote that: “The message to be passed on to other public servants in similar situations is that while there may be unfair and undeserved employment consequences for saying, ‘No Minister’, these consequences pale in comparison to the ones being experienced by Mr. Bonney right now.”

Bonney left the courthouse on his own, two hours after he was sentenced. But he did not answer any questions from reporters

“I kinda wish he’d talk, too,” Lanigan said. “I understand he wants to get this all behind him and move forward. It’s had a hell of a toll on him personally and his family and everything in between. I feel for my friend, I really do.” 

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Bob Mackin The president of the Canadian Taxpayers

Bob Mackin

The Richmond casino at the centre of an anti-money laundering report, that the BC Liberals buried, gave Mike de Jong a free stage and spotlight for a night, theBreaker has learned. 

Leadership candidate de Jong’s Jan. 14, 2015 “20th Anniversary in the Legislature Roast” happened 78 kilometres west of his Abbotsford riding, at River Rock Casino Resort. While he was finance minister from 2012 to 2017, de Jong’s duties included oversight of the public-owned gambling promoter, B.C. Lottery Corporation, and its regulator, Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch. 

BC Liberal leader wannabe de Jong was roasted in 2015 at River Rock Casino Resort.

Chuck Keeling, Great Canadian Gaming’s vice-president, said in an emailed statement to theBreaker that his company regularly hosts non-profit and charitable events “when they align with our community support initiatives and when scheduling allows.”

“Consistent with our typical practice surrounding charitable events, we waived our venue fee and associated audio-visual costs, but charged commercially standard food and beverage rates,” Keeling said. “Great Canadian Gaming or River Rock had no involvement in the planning of the event beyond being the chosen venue.”  

The de Jong roast was billed as a fundraiser for the Abbotsford Hospice Society. Its executive director, Ron Kuehl, told theBreaker that it received $5,000 in proceeds from the event organized by former de Jong aide Dave Cyr. In November 2014, Cyr registered to lobby the government on behalf of River Rock’s parent, Great Canadian Gaming, and he listed de Jong as his target contact.

In an interview, Cyr said he wasn’t the organizer and he couldn’t remember who was. Cyr said that he “helped out on the event, just basically helped sell some tickets for the hospice.” Cyr said 250 to 300 people attended the $125-a-plate event. 

theBreaker asked de Jong’s leadership campaign organization for comment, but nothing came before deadline.

Between April 2015 and May 2017, Great Canadian donated more than $120,000 to the BC Liberals. 

Dermod Travis, of government accountability watchdog IntegrityBC, said a charity roast involving politicians is appropriate if all the funds raised in excess of the cost go to the charity. “It becomes an issue when you do it in a facility that you have regulatory oversight for,” Travis said. 

Clark Tweeted a photo of Farnworth (left) and de Jong showing-off their hairdos.

“It is very clear you do not patronize facilities that are under your regulatory authority, particularly in areas such as gambling, simply because it leaves a perception. You don’t create a situation where a company, a facility that you might one day have to sanction or charge, is also a facility that you are patronizing,” Travis said. “The way to avoid that perception is to find a facility that doesn’t have a casino in it. There’s no shortage in Vancouver.”

Media reports before 2015 already indicated large, suspicious transactions were on the rise at B.C. casinos, including River Rock. Some reports indicated gamblers were arriving with hockey bags full of cash. 

Consultant MNP’s July 2016 report to GPEB said gamblers from China were using underground banks to bring large sums of potentially dirty money to River Rock. The report was finally released last September by NDP Attorney General David Eby, who has vowed to clean-up B.C. casinos.

“The majority of this cash is being presented by persons commonly referred to as high roller Asian VIP clients. Single cash buy-ins in excess of $500,000 with no known source of funds have been accepted at [River Rock],” said MNP’s report.

On Oct. 29 of last year, more than a month after the MNP report’s release, de Jong returned to River Rock for a campaign event with supporter and local Liberal MLA Teresa Wat. (Wat and Clark co-hosted a November 2016 party fundraiser at River Rock, which netted $124,450.42.) 

Great Canadian told its shareholders in early 2015 that River Rock’s table game net revenue jumped 30% during the 2014 Chinese New Year compared to 2013. Just over a month after the de Jong roast, BCLC published its three-year service plan on the annual provincial budget day. It said: “The segment of our business that contributed most to our net income this year – high-limit table games – is heavily dependent on an international player base and the tourism industry.”

Clark appeared at de Jong’s roast in River Rock.

The de Jong roast included appearances by Premier Christy Clark, press gallery veterans Vaughn Palmer and Mike Smyth performing a Coach’s Corner-inspired skit, and de Jong’s NDP counterpart Mike Farnworth, among others. 

Coincidentally, the Abbotsford Hospice Society’s audited financial report for 2015 said that it agreed, on the same day as the de Jong roast, to a $4.3 million B.C. Housing loan at an RBC prime minus 1.75% interest rate. 

A May 2011 B.C. government news release heralded a $3.5 million taxpayer grant towards the society’s $7.5 million fundraising goal for the two-storey, 28,500 square foot hospice. In March 2015, a news release announced another $2.5 million grant and said the society had raised $10 million. It also said construction started in 2013 and the 10-bed, 30,000 square foot hospice would open in 2015. 

The hospice finally opened in April 2016.  

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Bob Mackin The Richmond casino at the centre

Bob Mackin

Six years after the BC Liberals hatched their secret multicultural outreach plan and almost five years since it was leaked and tabled in the Legislature, only one person was convicted and sentenced.

Brian Bonney pleaded guilty in October to breach of public trust for mixing political campaigning with his job as a government communications director and was sentenced Jan. 31. Bonney was a middleman in the so-called Quick Wins scheme aimed at winning swing ridings in the 2013 election by targeting voters from ethnic groups. 

Brian Bonney, after his Jan. 31 breach of trust sentencing hearing. (Mackin)

Provincial Court Judge David St. Pierre gave Bonney a nine month conditional sentence, to be served at his house, with a nightly curfew and other conditions, including a ban on alcohol. Court heard that veteran politico Bonney was not the mastermind and that two former cabinet ministers did not cooperate with the RCMP investigation, on advice from their lawyers. 

Had it gone to trial, John Yap and Harry Bloy could have been ordered to testify. Such a trial would have lasted until Feb. 22 and overshadowed the election of a new leader to replace former Premier Christy Clark. Bonney did not stop to talk with reporters; see raw video of him leaving the courthouse here.

A copy of St. Pierre’s sentencing reasons is below. Watch theBreakerVision below for a report on the scandal’s climax.

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R v Bonney – Reasons for Sentence by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Six years after the BC Liberals