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Bob Mackin 

It was supposed to be Vancouver’s concert highlight of 2017, but it turned into one of the most-embarrassing nights in the history of the 1983-opened B.C. Place Stadium. 

U2 played The Joshua Tree in-full for the first time in front of a paying audience on May 12, to launch a 30th anniversary tour marking the 1987 classic album.

The floor lineup for U2 and Mumford and Sons stretched around the Parq casino construction site (Mackin)

Like the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE tour, which began two years earlier across the street at Rogers Arena, a credit card entry system was employed, to crack down on ticket-scalping and counterfeiting. 

B.C. Place staff and contractors were not ready for the crush of fans. Most were stuck outside while opener Mumford and Sons played. U2 delayed its set for about 20 minutes while thousands of fans who paid to stand on the floor — not stand in a lineup outside — were hustled-inside, without having their credit cards, bags or pockets checked. 

While many vented their frustration on social media, angry fans in lineups with smartphones complained directly to stadium management by email. theBreaker obtained almost 500 pages of complaints from stadium operator B.C. Pavilion Corporation under the freedom of information law. The names of the correspondents were censored by PavCo for privacy.

“This is the first time I’ve attended an event at BC Place, and I have to say I am completely disgusted by the disorganization outside,” said one complainant at 7:07 p.m. on May 12. “There are absolutely no staff members outside directing foot traffic, and the lineup to get in is a giant hodgepodge of people stuck in one spot. I’ve been standing in the same spot in line for 20-30 minutes now, the Gate H doors wide open in my sight, and people aren’t being let in — despite the fact the doors opened at 5:30, and the concert is supposed to be starting now. Everyone around me is commenting that they’ve never encountered disorganization like this. If this is what events at B.C. Place are like, I have absolutely no interest in coming back.”

Another writer at 7:23 p.m. was blunt: “Over an hour in line. Get your shit together. If I miss anything I want a refund.”

“I’m standing outside the U2 concert…wondering if I’ll ever get in,” said a 7:27 p.m. complaint. “This is the most poorly organized event I’ve ever attended.”

Another at 7:36 p.m.: “You knew you had a sold out show. You knew how many people you were expecting. Why is this not better organized?”

And on it went, with more complaints at 7:41 p.m., 7:43 p.m., 7:59 p.m., 8:01 p.m., 8:04 p.m., 8:16 p.m., 8:23 p.m.

Bono during Running To Stand Still (Mackin)

“Half a Mumford and Sons song. I’m in tears,” wrote an 8:26 p.m. complainant. “This is terrible. We travelled from [CENSORED] and have three families managing our small children for this. You’ve ruined our trip.”

“I have now been queueing for 90 minutes and missed Mumford and Sons because clearly you were not sufficiently organised or ready,” said an 8:31 p.m. complainant. “I wish to enter a formal complaint and seek a refund on my ticket.”

More at 8:35 p.m., 8:47 p.m., 9:21 p.m., 11:22 p.m.

Two nights later, U2 played in Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. Wrote another fan, at 9:37 a.m. on May 22: “Got into the stadium in less than 30 minutes. They also did credit card entry.”

At 8:59 a.m. the next day, another complainant said security gave up and stopped checking bags or people for weapons. 

“What if something had happened at your venue holding 40,000 innocent concert goers? After what just happened in Manchester [outside an Ariana Grande concert], you ‘building operators’ should be ashamed of yourselves and by the grace of god thankful that nothing happened that night.”

Among the sea of complaints, a few commendations. 

“I know you had a mare of an evening last night, so I just wanted to pass on our thanks as a family for ensuring a reserved ticket and the availability of the [CENSORED],” wrote one at 11:32 a.m. on May 13. “We got in easily, had a Golf Kart to the elevators and ready to see Mumford and Sons, which pleased half (!) the family.”

Another, at 11:58 a.m. “I just wanted to express appreciation to your organization and staff for last night. Regardless of the frustration, when the issue of what was occurring was realized it was quickly resolved by allowing people in and removing the restrictions that had caused the mess outside the gates. For that….thank you.”

By the start of July, BC Place offered those fans that complained $50 Ticketmaster gift cards per U2 ticket, plus free admission to a Vancouver Whitecaps or B.C. Lions game and a $20 food and beverage voucher. 

A statement to theBreaker from stadium management said B.C. Place won’t use the credit card entry system again, until it and Ticketmaster are both “confident it is able to accommodate the needs of the venue and its guests.”

A technicolour Joshua Tree during In God’s Country (Mackin)

B.C. Place since hosted concerts headlined by Metallica, Guns ’n Roses and Coldplay and Canada Soccer and Rugby Canada events without similar access problems. 

U2 had previously played BC Place in 1987, 1992, 1997 and 2009 and it is not known when or if the Irish band will play there again. 

U2 begins the 2018 eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE arena tour on May 2 in Tulsa. 

San Jose is the closest tour stop scheduled to Vancouver.

theBreaker originally requested the documents May 29. PavCo said it would respond by July 11, but invoked a delay to Aug. 23. It finally sent the documents on Dec. 1. 

Jinny Sims, the NDP minister responsible for government FOI, was ordered in July by Premier John Horgan to “improve response and processing times for freedom of information requests.”

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U2 Complaints BCPC-507 Part 1 of 2 by BobMackin on Scribd

U2 Complaints BCPC-507 Part 2 of 2 by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin  It was supposed to be Vancouver’s

It’s Dec. 23. Festivus is here! To get you in the mood, theBreaker presents a podcast analyzing and celebrating the Airing of Grievances and Feats of Strength in British Columbia in 2017. 

All the regular features plus an interview with Mario Canseco, vice-president of InsightsWest, who has the finger on the pulse of grievance-airing-British Columbians, year-round.  

Miss an episode of Podcast? Click here. 

Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Thanks to new supporter Quan Lee of Vancouver. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: Festivus is Here

It's Dec. 23. Festivus is here! To

Bob Mackin 

Odd times at the Mother Corp. on the Left Coast.

Richard Zussman is now the ex-CBC reporter at the British Columbia Legislature, after being fired for co-writing a book about the sensational 2017 transition from the BC Liberals to the NDP with a reporter from a competing media company, Postmedia’s Rob Shaw. Zussman hasn’t spoken publicly and CBC has only vaguely addressed the controversy, claiming the termination was not “simply for co-authoring a book.” CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson said there were breaches of the code of conduct, conflict of interest and the collective bargaining agreement. 

If not for this, Zussman would most certainly have reported from Victoria on the momentous Dec. 11 announcement that the NDP government would carry-on with the BC Liberal-started Site C dam, now estimated to cost BC Hydro ratepayers $10.7 billion. 

CBC Vancouver News, Dec. 11, 2017. (CBC)

One of those happy with the decision was Bill Tieleman, the former NDP strategist, part-time media commentator and West Star Communications public relations consultant and lobbyist. CBC called upon him, along with BC Liberal pundit Alise Mills, for its B.C. Political Panel on the 6 p.m. Vancouver News with anchor Dan Burritt. 

The segment began 38 minutes into the telecast. Tieleman and Mills agreed for once — that Premier John Horgan made the right decision to keep building the dam. 

Burritt, however, did not mention one of the major reasons why Tieleman is pro-Site C.

Tieleman is a registered lobbyist for several labour unions that will benefit from the decision. He was involved in the public relations campaign for the pro-Site C Allied Hydro Council of B.C.

Tieleman’s registration with the Office of the Registry of Lobbyists for the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers – Local 118 described the objective to “Promote the creation and protection of private sector jobs, economic development and fair labour laws in regard to BC Hydro, Site C dam project and other infrastructure.”

The omission of the disclosure from the TV newscast was in stark contrast to the disclosure made on the earlier broadcast of CBC Radio One’s On the Coast with Stephen Quinn.

Host Quinn said this about Tieleman’s pro-Site C interests: “I will mention as well that Bill does communications work for some of the groups, including the B.C. Building Trades Council which represents construction unions, which are in favour of the Site C dam. So Bill does carry with him a particular point of view when it comes to this.”

Tieleman told theBreaker that he was not aware why there was no similar disclosure on the TV newscast or what the CBC TV policy is. “But I am, of course, willing to disclose anything they feel is pertinent to viewers,” he said.

Burritt’s Dec. 12 clarification about Tieleman’s pro-Site C work (CBC)

News director Wayne Williams told theBreaker: “We should have known that and shared the information with our audience so that they could understand that context for how Mr. Tieleman responded.”

Burritt offered a clarification on the Dec. 12 newscast: “In the interest of complete transparency, we failed to tell you at that time last night that Bill Tieleman has also done lobbying and communications work for groups including the Allied Hydro Council and some of its affiliated unions which are in favour of Site C.” 

Tieleman, who was the director of communications in Premier Glen Clark’s office in 1996, has 15 active registrations with the ORL to lobby Horgan and others in the NDP government on behalf of clients in the business, labour, health and cultural sectors: locals 115 and 963 of the International Union of Operating Engineers; Construction and Specialized Workers Union local 1611; International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada; Union of Canadian Transportation Employees; locals 111, 333 and 2200 of Unifor; Ironworkers Union Shop Local 712; Canadian Football League Players’ Association; Vancouver Native Housing Society; B.C. Naturopathic Association; CRM of Canada Processing; and Landcor Data Corp. 

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Bob Mackin  Odd times at the Mother Corp.

Bob Mackin

Internal TransLink documents obtained by theBreaker strongly suggest the estimated costs for three Metro Vancouver transportation megaprojects have skyrocketed and the agency is grappling with how and when to break the news to the public.

Document obtained by theBreaker confirms TransLink and Metro Vancouver mayors are keeping secrets about megaproject costs.

The 2015-adjusted estimates were $2.53 billion for light rail transit in Surrey, $2.28 billion for a subway under Broadway and $1.1 billion to replace the 80-year-old Pattullo Bridge. Documents released to theBreaker on Dec. 11 under the freedom of information law confirm that the costs were further updated in 2016 and given secretly to the Mayors’ Council, “but not publicly released.” Further estimates were crafted this year.

A March 9, 2017 communications plan said the cost pressures include rising real estate prices, inflationary pressures on contractors and a Canadian dollar that is lower in value than when the estimates were made for the regional mayors’ $8.08 billion, 10-year plan in 2014. 

Specifically, the Broadway project is feeling increased pressure because of geotechnical assessment. The cost of an operations and maintenance facility is adding pressure to the Surrey-Newton-Guildford phase of Surrey LRT, along with utility relocation and the rising cost of land to accommodate corridor widths. 

The communications document indicated that TransLink was planning to hold media briefings to provide in-depth information about the projects, business cases and updated costs. It contemplated holding a major media event in conjunction with the B.C. and federal governments. Development was underway on project websites and social media content, it said, was shared with mayors and the province. 

Project cost estimates were censored from January updates to the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund steering board. The documents did show that more than $11.6 million had been spent on the Broadway project and $15.2 million on Surrey. Other documents warn that every year of delay adds $300 million to $500 million to capital costs. 

An April 2 email from Sany Zein, TransLink’s infrastructure management and engineering vice-president, to TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond did not show dollar figures, but it said “the project inflation numbers are higher than recent GDP growth and higher than general recent inflationary growth; so some level of ‘hot market’ inflation is accounted for.

“The contingency percentages have been getting lower as the design definition improves. If interest during construction and internal labour charges are excluded from the gross total, the contingency value would represent a higher percentage.”

Inflation was estimated at 3.5% per annum for construction and 2.5% for systems prior to contract award, 2.5% for construction and systems during construction and 2.5% for management and professional services. 

Donald Trapp, the ParternshipsBC project director, wrote April 7 to Zein that contingency estimates for construction costs ranged from 19% for Surrey-Newton-Guildford to 25% for Pattullo. Trapp also offered some optimism. 

“Cost inflation for heavy civil does not follow residential/commercial domestic market trends,” Trapp wrote. “Major projects attract contractors and consortia from around the world, and some areas (think Europe) the outlook is not secure; our projects will be very attractive.

“Cost control is achieved through proper management of the scope and schedule throughout the project from inception to substantial completion.”

TransLink’s Sany Zein

Final business cases were supposed to be completed and submitted for approval to the NDP government this fall. The documents estimated that, pending funding confirmation, construction work on all three projects could be underway by 2019. Pattullo and Surrey-Newton-Guildford could be completed in 2023 and Broadway in 2024. 

An update on major capital projects is on the agenda for the Dec. 14 board of directors meeting at TransLink headquarters in Sapperton. It will be the swansong for Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, who were replaced as the Mayors’ Council-appointed directors last week. 

The region’s mayors chose Burnaby’s Derek Corrigan to replace Robertson as chair and North Vancouver District’s Richard Walton to replace Hepner as vice-chair. 

Corrigan, a pragmatic, longtime NDP member, suggested that smaller municipalities are growing anxious. 

“Both Gregor Robertson and Linda Hepner were very much focused on the big projects in their cities, so I think there was a feeling that maybe there would be a little more regional perspective if they got people in that were from more neutral ground,” Corrigan told the Burnaby Now. 

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FOI TransLink Megaprojects TheBreaker by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Internal TransLink documents obtained by theBreaker strongly

Bob Mackin

A B.C. Securities Commission tribunal found prominent BC Liberal donor Paul Se Hui Oei committed securities fraud. 

In a 45-page ruling dated Dec. 12, but released Dec. 13, Nigel Cave, Audrey Ho and Suzanne Wiltshire agreed with the executive director’s case that Oei perpetuated a fraudulent scheme on investors between July 2009 and August 2013. 

The tribunal heard investors gave $13.3 million to Oei-controlled companies that he said were planning to build a plant to recycle organic waste into topsoil and fertilizer. Oei spent millions of dollars elsewhere, such as for his Bentley luxury car, legal fees, donations to the BC Liberal Party, advertising and funding beauty pageants.

Paul Oei (left) with Premier Christy Clark and John Yap at a September 15, 2015 Liberal fundraiser in Richmond. (Twitter)

The tribunal found, on a balance of probabilities, that “the prohibited act of deceit or other fraudulent conduct was carried out with respect to 63 investments in Cascade. Investors were told one thing about the use of funds and the respondents did something very different with $5,003,088 of those funds. The respondents misappropriated these funds and used them for their own purposes and not as the investors were told they would be used.”

The ruling also said “the evidence is clear” that Oei and another of his companies, Canadian Manu, were involved in prohibited conduct with respect to all 63 investments.  

“Oei met with all of the investors and made representations (orally or in writing) to those investors with respect to the intended use of their invested funds,” said the ruling. “Oei was also the person who controlled all of the flow of the investors’ funds.” 

Before the tribunal on April 10, BCSC lawyer Mila Pivnenko described Oei as a socialite in Vancouver’s Chinese community who impressed by driving expensive cars, rubbing elbows with politicians (like Christy Clark and Justin Trudeau) and donating to charities.

Pivnenko said Oei kept his investors, many of them from China, in the dark and exploited their lack of understanding of English and the Canadian investment process.  

The tribunal heard that Oei tailored his persuasive sales pitches to each investor, claiming Cascade was approved by the B.C. government and that the investments would allow them to immigrate to Canada. 

Elections BC’s database shows that Oei donated $55,787.85 between 2011-2015 to the BC Liberals, plus $680 through his Canadian Manu Immigration and Financial Services Inc. His wife, Loretta Lai, gave the party $13,565 between 2012 and 2016.

Oei boasted in interviews with Chinese media outlets that he wanted to build 100 composting plants.

Oei (right) and Clark at a Richmond Hospital fundraiser (RHF)

The ruling did not mention the names of the nine investors who testified, but instead referred to them by one of the first nine letters of the alphabet. Investor D, as one was known, and her mother invested in CROF. The mother died before the hearings.

“Oei told Investor D’s mother about [Cascade Renewable Organic Fertilizer Corp.]. Oei told Investor D’s mother that if they invested $500,000 in CROF, Investor D would be able to use the investment in Cascade as the basis for her to qualify to immigrate to Canada. Oei did not tell Investor D that any fees related to this immigration process would come from the $500,000 that they invested. 

“Oei did not tell Investor D’s mother that he would keep any of the money invested for himself, or that any of the money was going to be paid as a commission to anyone. Investor D testified that her mother did not receive any interest payments on her investment in CROF nor was their investment repaid.”

During the first week of the case, Jiang Yicheng testified that he was part of a group that invested $4 million in Cascade. The losses, however, led his wife to attempt suicide. “At times I wanted to kill myself,” Jiang told the tribunal. 

‘[Oei and Lai] told us that Cascade was an environment and immigration project strongly supported by the B.C. government, and there will be no problem absolutely in getting our immigration status,” Jiang testified.

Oei claimed his companies did not receive $13.3 million from investors, but instead $12.2 million, and denied misappropriating any investor funds. 

“The respondents submitted that they were reselling their own Cascade securities to the investors and were entitled to keep the difference between what they paid to Cascade and what investors paid the respondents for those securities.”

Oei did not testify in his defence during the 12-day hearing. 

The 12-day hearing ran between April 10 and July 6. The ruling was expected Oct. 13. No reason was given for the delay.

The executive director has until Jan. 19 to file submissions about penalties against Oei. Oei has until Feb. 2 to respond.

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Securities fraudster Oei’s 2015 video interview with ChinaLive America, talking about his investments and philanthropy.


Bob Mackin A B.C. Securities Commission tribunal

Bob Mackin

Another case of a public figure using a personal email account and deleting his email at Vancouver city hall.

This time, Mayor Gregor Robertson is the centre of attention.

theBreaker discovered that Robertson’s chief of staff, Kevin Quinlan, sent the Vision Vancouver leader an email in June 2016, to both his personal address and his city hall address. The email included a copy of what Quinlan had earlier sent to an aide for federal families, children and social development minister Jean-Yves Duclos.

Mike Magee (left) and Mayor Gregor Robertson. Birds of a feather, hide email together. (Twitter)

theBreaker filed a freedom of information request for all correspondence, from 2014 to 2017, between Robertson’s Gmail account and nine party insiders and developers. 

In a Dec. 12 letter, city access to information and privacy director Barbara Van Fraassen wrote: “The Mayor confirms that no city business is conducted on his personal email account. City business-related emails received on this account are forwarded to the appropriate City of Vancouver department or the Mayor’s City of Vancouver account and then deleted.” 

Van Fraassen provided no proof. Robertson did not respond for comment.

A separate request, for all email between Robertson’s Gmail account and any City of Vancouver account, was delayed by Van Fraassen’s office from Dec. 4 to Jan. 18. The delay letter said meeting the time limit would interfere with city hall operations because a large number of records were requested or must be searched.

Vince Gogolek, the executive director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, said there is an obvious contradiction.

“They’re saying no city business is conducted on the email account, but the other thing you sent me shows that city business was at least copied to his Gmail account,” Gogolek told theBreaker. “So it seems like there’s a bit of an inconsistency there. Of course the question is what happens to the information that does go there, assuming this is not just a one-off.”

Gogolek said former B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham was very clear when she issued a directive to elected and appointed officials across the province: any work-related email sent to or received from a personal email account is still subject to the search and disclosure provisions of the FOI law. The letter to theBreaker from city hall about Robertson’s Gmail account does not indicate whether a comprehensive search took place. 

Wrote Denham in her 2015 directive: “The use of personal email accounts for work purposes can give the perception that public body employees are seeking to evade the freedom of information process.”

Government email sent to Vancouver Mayor’s Gmail account (CoV)

When he was sworn-in as mayor nine years ago, Robertson promised: “I will not let you down on making city hall more open and accountable.”

In June 2016, however, Denham issued a scathing report that found city hall under Robertson routinely broke the FOI law. Denham’s staff began the investigation in November 2015, after The Province revealed that Robertson’s then-chief of staff, Mike Magee, mass-deleted his email. 

Magee also used a private email account to receive messages about public business. In July 2012, Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes sent email to Magee’s Convergence Communications consulting company, while the social media advertising and analytics company negotiated to lease a city building that had been removed from public tender.

The B.C. NDP ran on a platform that included a promise for a duty to document law. It did not introduce any FOI reform during the fall session of the Legislature. Ex-Vision Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs is now Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff.

Elsewhere, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall was caught earlier this year using his Saskatchewan Party email account for public business. He vowed he would stop, but the Regina Leader-Post reported Oct. 1 that Wall continued to his private email for public business. 

Coincidentally, Hillary Clinton is in Vancouver Dec. 13 to promote her “What Happened” book about the 2016 presidential election defeat to Donald Trump. 

Clinton was investigated for using a private email server while she was Secretary of State. FBI director James Comey concluded she was “extremely careless,” but did not press charges. Critics, however, believe her husband, Bill Clinton, tampered with the investigation when he held a private meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on a private jet in June 2016 at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport. 

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2017-403 – res by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Another case of a public figure

Did you know? Corruption costs the world an estimated $2.6 trillion a year. Canada is no angel, says James Cohen of Transparency International Canada, who is interviewed on this edition of Podcast.

His organization wants a registry of beneficial ownership of companies and real estate; it is harder to get a library card. 

Also on this edition of Podcast: a scan of headlines around the Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest and a commentary on the lack of law and order in British Columbia. 

Miss an episode of Podcast? Click here. 

Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: Of "Snow-washing" and the "Vancouver Model"

Did you know? Corruption costs the world

Bob Mackin

The British Columbia pharmacist in Al Jazeera’s 2015 hidden camera documentary on doping in sports was suspended for six months and fined $10,000, theBreaker has learned. 

Pharmacist Chad Robertson (right) and Liam Collins outside Fortius Centre in Burnaby in 2015 (Al Jazeera)

Chadwick Aaron Robertson’s Nov. 22-dated disciplinary notice was quietly published on the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia website.

“The College considers, and the Registrant [Robertson] concedes, that this conduct reflected negatively on the Registrant and the profession of pharmacy in British Columbia,” reads the notice. “It constitutes professional misconduct, a serious matter pursuant to section 26 of the Health Professions Act.”

In “The Dark Side: The Secret World of Sports Doping,” Robertson and naturopathic doctor Brandon Spletzer were shown counselling undercover reporter Liam Collins, a British ex-hurdler who claimed to be mounting a comeback for the Rio 2016 Olympics. Collins came to Vancouver in May and October 2015 and the documentary aired in December 2015.

The disciplinary notice said Robertson provided Collins a training protocol that was never put into operation, but he made comments on a series of occasions in 2015 “about the use of banned drugs and their suitability for the purpose.” 

Robertson was a partner with Spletzer in a company called Pro Med. Robertson boasted to Collins that he had “doped people and no one’s got caught, because the system’s so easy to beat. And it still is, that’s the sad fact.

“I can take a guy with average genetics and make him world champion,” Robertson told Collins.  

Robertson and the Inquiry Committee reached a six-point consent agreement. His registration as a full pharmacist was suspended for six months beginning Nov. 22 and he has until Nov. 22, 2018 to pay the fine. A letter of reprimand is permanently on-file and Robertson was ordered to appear before an Inquiry Committee panel for a verbal reprimand. 

Robertson was also ordered to successfully complete a program on professional and problem-based ethics for healthcare professionals no later than Nov. 22, 2018. He must “thoroughly review” relevant legislation, complete the college’s Code of Ethics Educational Tutorial and sign declarations of understanding and compliance with legislative and ethical requirements.

Robertson’s discipline is more severe than the 10-day ban that Spletzer agreed to in March 2016 from the College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C. Spletzer admitted to importing and providing drugs not approved by Health Canada. He also had to complete an ethics course, be mentored by a senior naturopathic doctor, submit to random, spot audits and refrain from treating national or international athletes until spring 2017. 

Spletzer told the Vancouver Courier in May 2016: “It’s not my intention to help people cheat, it’s my intention to help people live longer, healthier. I’d love to change people’s minds. I realize that’s not going to happen for everyone, I can only offer an apology for the optics, but what was shown wasn’t the reality of the situation. If people choose to believe that that was reality, that’s their choice, if people choose to believe it was what it was I’d thank them for that, I just look forward to getting back on track.”

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Bob Mackin The British Columbia pharmacist in

Bob Mackin

A slate of candidates running for Squamish Nation council in the Dec. 10 election is campaigning for change.

The candidates and their supporters are also changing the way campaigns are run for the North Vancouver-headquartered First Nation. 

Logo for a social media campaign endorsing a slate of candidates in the Dec. 10 Squamish Nation election.

After input from 300 members, the “A New Nine for Squamish Nation Council” Facebook campaign endorsed nine candidates vying for the 16 seats on council. Fifty-nine people, including 13 incumbents, are on the council ballot. Seven others are in the running for band manager.

Knocking on doors and phoning aren’t new. But text messaging and social media — even a website on the popular political campaign platform, NationBuilder — are being employed in an effort to promote the youthful slate’s aim to gain majority control for the next four years. 

“There has been quite a disconnect between Squamish council and membership,” said A New Nine co-ordinator Michelle Nahanee, who runs a graphic design and communications consultancy. “We’re finding ways to communicate with each other instead of waiting for the official communications loop.

“The younger voters are the majority now, so across the board, indigenous populations in Canada, we’ve got the fastest growing number.”

The nine endorsed are: DJ Orene Askew; construction worker Brandon Darbyshire-Joseph; Capilano University student Taylor George-Hollis; teacher Deanna Lewis; payroll coordinator Jacob Lewis III; graphic designer, linguistics student and teacher of Squamish language Dustin Rivers; office manager Kristen Rivers; student/culture and language worker Joyce Williams; and real estate agent Marcus Wooden.

The slate is pressing for more housing supply, pay equity for Squamish Nation employees, equality for off-reserve members, increased monthly allowance for post-secondary students, online streaming of council meetings and publication of motions and minutes, and opposition to Woodfibre LNG. 

In 2013, 1,316 of the 2,730 eligible voters cast ballots for council candidates. Nobody won a majority. The 16 successful candidates tallied between 337 and 684 votes. 

Nahanee said there is room for even more modernization in the Squamish Nation electoral process, including online voting. Some members are disenfranchised because they are not able to travel to B.C. to vote.

“We’ve got members in the U.S., we’ve got members across Canada,” she said. “Not moving to online voting is something that angers a lot of people, the members are not getting represented who can’t make it to vote.”

Candidate signs near the Squamish Nation Capilano reserve in North Vancouver (Mackin)

Chiefs and council members were paid a base $70,470 each last year. The council co-chairs were paid more than $92,000 each, including pension and benefits. 

Squamish Nation is a 1923 amalgamation of 16 area tribes. In 1981, it switched from a hereditary government to a democratically elected one. Squamish Nation is the biggest First Nation in Metro Vancouver, by number of reserves, area of reserves and population. At the end of 2016, there were 4,214 registered members, including 2,232 living on Squamish reserves. 

The Deloitte-audited financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2017 showed $87.38 million revenue and $68.06 million in expenses. Lease revenue, at $22.28 million, was the biggest source of income. Social programs cost $51.16 million. 

Squamish Nation is partnered with Musqueam Indian Band and Tsleil-Waututh Nation in companies that own various parcels of former Crown land, negotiated outside the treaty process. The trio is also partnered with Aquilini Investment Group in the East Vancouver Liquor Distribution Branch warehouse land. LDB is scheduled to move in spring 2018 to Tilbury in Delta.

“We’re a very forward people and business-savvy people, but nobody should be struggling within a nation that has such huge revenue,” Nahanee said. “We shouldn’t have some people making a lot and some people making a little and having a hard time.”

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Bob Mackin A slate of candidates running for

Bob Mackin

If internal polling can be believed, one former mayor has a chance to win the BC Liberal leadership race and another one doesn’t. 

Watts in happier times during campaign launch in September (

Dianne Watts’ pollster, Innovative Research Group, surveyed BC Liberal members on the final weekend of November, and claims 30% prefer the former Surrey Mayor on the first ballot. 

The one-page summary leaked to theBreaker contains no details about the polling methodology. Internal polls are not always the most-reliable barometer, because they are not independent and sometimes used strategically to rally volunteers and donors. 

Innovative claims Watts’ closest challenger is Mike de Jong, with 14% first ballot preference, followed by Todd Stone (11%), Andrew Wilkinson (9%), Michael Lee (5%) and ex-Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan (4%). 

But a whopping 27% are in the “don’t know/none of the above” column, which covers those who are undecided or not happy with any of the six candidates. 

The poll was performed after the Nanaimo leadership debate when, the one-page summary says, “Dianne’s performance was mixed. People in the poll did not feel she performed well. However, in spite of that debate, and subsequent negative media commentary, it had no impact on her standing as the leader in the race.” 

On Nov. 27, Watts gathered her campaign team at headquarters in Surrey and read them the riot act: “If any of you are not completely on board with saving this party and this province, then feel free to get out now.”

Watts performed substantially better in the Dec. 2 Kelowna debate, sparring with other candidates in a way she didn’t during previous debates. The other five candidates ran under Christy Clark in the 2017 election and won their seats. Lee is the only rookie MLA, but his backroom includes Clark Clique bigwigs such as Clark’s ex-husband Mark Marissen and Clark’s brother Bruce Clark. 

The summary claims Watts leads with both men and women and is ahead in each region. 

Among those who are “very interested” in the leadership race, Watts leads with 38%. Nearest is Stone at 18%. 

The summary claims Watts has double-digit leads over other candidates in the all-important category of best able to beat the NDP. 

Watts and the other five candidates have, in varying degrees, targeted the NDP and Green push for a referendum on proportional representation in fall 2018. Yet the BC Liberal leadership vote on the first weekend of February will be conducted under a weighted, preferential ballot, with each riding association allotted 100 points, rather than the pure first past the post system. 

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Bob Mackin If internal polling can be believed,