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Bob Mackin

Meet Joy Alexander, one of the fired Vision Vancouver school board trustees running for a comeback in the Oct. 14 by-election. 

Alexander is the wealthiest of several candidates from Vancouver’s “greener than thou,” anti-pipelines and anti-tankers party who enjoys income from fossil fuel investments. 

One-percenter Alexander’s statement of disclosure is like no other for any candidate in this by-election. 

Alexander (Facebook)

It includes a seven-page portfolio valuation summary from Cypress Capital Management, her $86,910 Vision donor husband Dean’s investment firm. The Sept. 5 statement lists investments in oil and gas, resources and real estate trusts.

Alexander’s total accrued income? $6,000,359.67. Annual income? $132,299.50.

But it doesn’t stop there. 

Alexander is listed as the first owner on title for a $7.624 million-assessed West Point Grey house with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. 

On paper, the retired teacher is Vision’s $13.6 million woman. 

Fellow candidate Allan Wong lists shares in Cameco (uranium), Canfor (lumber), Canopy Growth (marijuana), Suncor Energy (tar sands oil) and Barrick Gold.

Mike (Michele) Lombardi was the chair when the BC Liberals fired the board last year. His investments include the Li Ka-shing-controlled Husky Energy (tar sands oil) and Encana Corp. (oil and gas). 

Meanwhile, COPE candidate Diana Day’s nomination papers include endorsement from a pair of unlikely fellas: NPA opponents Rob McDowell and Christopher Richardson. Day’s name, however, is not on McDowell or Richardson’s papers. 

NPA has long been a coalition of Conservatives and Liberals, but the party is becoming a place of refuge for out-of-power BC Liberals. Ex-Christy Clark husband Mark Marissen is the mastermind of former Rich Coleman aide Hector Bremner’s campaign for city council. 

Nomination papers for NPA candidates include signatures of: BC Liberal executive director Emile Scheffel, former Gordon Campbell aides Dale Steeves and Tom Syer, Telus lobbyist and failed 2017 candidate Kim Chan Logan and hubby Max, the ex-Port Mann Bridge tolling vice-president, ex-BC Young Liberals vice-president Margareta Dovgal, former BC Liberal ministerial aide Marissa Chan-Kent, and Sarah Weddell, the NPA president who was field operations manager in 2001, ran George Abbott’s leadership campaign in 2011 and now a vice-president of the Hill and Knowlton lobbying firm. 

Bob Mackin Meet Joy Alexander, one of the

Bob Mackin 

Vancouver voters looking at the two main parties vying for the vacant city council seat on Oct. 14 are provided choices as distinct as a flat bottle of Coke and a flat bottle of Pepsi. 

Behind the glitzy labels fashioned by their image makers, the mass-manufactured flavours offer no nourishment. 

VIsion’s Cardona (left) and NPA’s Bremner

On the right is the NPA’s Hector Bremner, who showed little interest in Vancouver civic politics until this summer. His claim to fame is being a failed BC Liberal candidate in 2013 in New Westminster who parlayed that into jobs as the step-and-fetch-it for two controversial BC Liberal cabinet ministers: the Beijing-friendly Teresa Wat (international trade) and career politician Rich Coleman (natural gas and housing).

Bremner’s wife, Virginia, is ex-Premier Christy Clark’s former receptionist and a recipient of a golden parachute after the NDP took over last July. One of Bremner’s campaign signs is, coincidentally, on the front lawn of the house in Mount Pleasant that property records say Clark owns. 

Bremner says he wants to “fix housing” (which is vastly different from solving the housing crisis). To him, it’s all about supply, supply, supply. Not a peep about reducing or managing demand in a market flooded with money from China. Some of that money is laundered through casinos by real estate and construction executives. 

Bremner’s campaign is run by Clark’s ex-husband, Mark Marissen, and he “won” the nomination by signing-up instant NPA members en masse around the Ross Street Sikh Temple.  

In a day and age when sophisticated political campaigns demand their candidates sanitize and correct their social media postings, Bremner didn’t. Why? 

His online LinkedIn resume claimed, until this reporter began asking, that he had worked at the same time in Coleman’s office as he did at the Pace Group, the Liberal-friendly lobbying and public relations company that scored $4.92 million of taxpayer-funded contracts with government ministries since 2012, including events to promote Clark’s image to voters. Bremner had changed his profile photo in the online resume in early September, after getting the NPA nod. In the old one, he stood in front of a Helijet helicopter. In the new one, he is sitting close to his wife. But, for some reason, did not see fit to change the text below it.

Bremner says this was a mistake in his online resume. (LinkedIn)

Screen grabs from Sept. 27 to Oct. 11 say that he worked from June 2013 to December 2015 inside government, and that he started in February 2015 as a vice-president at Pace Group. A 10-month overlap. He told theBreaker that he left government in January 2015 and started in February 2015 at Pace. 

“I was shocked, I genuinely was very shocked that that was incorrect. It was a mistake,” Bremner said. Pressed further, about why voters should trust a candidate who can’t get his public-facing resume correct, Bremner said. “This minor mistake on a social media entry is not a major issue.” 

Maintaining a misleading resume is one thing, breaching the lobbyist disclosure rules is another. 

At Pace, from February 2015 to February 2017, Bremner was registered to lobby finance minister Mike de Jong on behalf of Steelhead LNG. But Bremner failed to report to the lobbying registrar that he had been a former public office holder. The Lobbyist Registration Act defines a public office holder as an employee of the government and any person appointed by a minister or cabinet. The Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists confirmed to theBreaker that it is aware of the omission. theBreaker has confirmed that a citizen filed a complaint. 

Rather than answering the question from theBreaker about his lobbying activities, Bremner hung up the phone. 

This is someone seeking an $85,000-a-year job on city council. 

The other candidate from Vancouver’s other main party, the one that holds a majority on city council, is Diego Cardona. 

When Mayor Gregor Robertson was on a then-secret trade mission to China in September, Vision Vancouver released a video to unveil the appointed (not elected!) candidate. In that introductory video, 21-year-old Cardona was not even allowed to speak! 

Bremner celebrates nomination with Marissen (second from right, back row)

theBreaker revealed that the Visionista, who came to Canada as a refugee from Colombia, had amassed more than $1,000 in traffic fines for disobeying the motor vehicle act, including speeding in a playground zone. He applied several times to delay his court dates but, when they proceeded, failed to show up. 

Cardona was evasive when contacted and asked for proof of payment of the fines. Vision Vancouver campaign co-chair Paul Nixey provided ICBC documents which show three of the fines were paid (one on Sept. 1 for $253, and two on Sept. 5 totalling $327). But Nixey did not provide proof of payment for the other four, totalling $436. When asked for clarification and additional proof of payment, Nixey did not respond. 

Cardona’s excuse for his repeated driving violations was his youth, inexperience and that he did not put anyone’s life in jeopardy by his actions. Residents around John Hendry Park might beg to differ. One of those fines was for driving more than double the 30 km-h speed limit there on Sept. 17, 2016.

It should also be noted that the NPA and Vision Vancouver are both refusing to release their unaudited lists of donors before election day

Pete Fry and the Vancouver Greens, independent  Jean Swanson and Judy Graves and OneCity released theirs to theBreaker

More than a week before the 2014 general election, all major parties, including NPA and Vision, released their unaudited lists. In 2017, when big money corporate and union donations are a major province-wide issue, the city’s two major real estate and construction-funded parties are trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube and pretend that voters don’t care about moneyed special interests getting favours at city hall. 

There is no law limiting the size or source of political donations to municipal parties and candidates. Neither does city hall have a lobbyist registry. Elections BC requires the full, sworn lists by 90 days after election day.

But, as soon as next week, a new city councillor will be in a position to pay back favours to donors and you won’t know it.  

Voting is from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 14.

Bob Mackin  Vancouver voters looking at the two

Bob Mackin

Oct. 14 is by-election day in the City of Vancouver, for one seat on city council and the entire school board.

Distrct 39’s elected school trustees were spectacularly fired Oct. 17, 2016, after a nasty spat with the BC Liberal government over a budget deficit and allegations by senior staff that trustees were bullying them.

A government-commissioned, February-released report by labour lawyer Roslyn Goldner was harshly critical of the way the board did business. Goldner pointed to a toxic work environment where some trustees yelled, called each other names and pounded tables, while others rolled their eyes and sighed audibly.

Tupper Secondary (VSB)

Several senior bureaucrats took sick leave, claiming to be victims of board bullying. Education Minister Mike Bernier finally laid down the law, fired the trustees and appointed a single administrator to replace them. The July 18-sworn-in NDP government chose to reinstate an elected school board.

Fired Vision Vancouver trustees Joy Alexander, Mike Lombardi and Allan Wong are attempting a comeback Oct. 14. So are the NPA’s Fraser Ballantyne and Christopher Richardson and Green Janet Fraser, who held the balance of power in the 2014-elected school board.

“Some trustees routinely tweeted throughout meetings, conduct that was described by many witnesses as disruptive and disrespectful,” Goldner wrote. “While witnesses agreed that not all trustees behaved badly the board did nothing to intervene or to indicate that this conduct was inappropriate and unacceptable. This behaviour manifest at committee meetings and in private and public board meetings.”

Goldner pinpointed ex-chair Patti Bacchus of Vision Vancouver and then-chair Lombardi.

“Ex-trustee Lombardi had been criticized in his role as chair of the board for his failure to maintain order in meetings and a failure to promote respectful exchange of ideas and information.

“Several trustees acknowledged that the conduct of trustees, both NPA and Vision Vancouver trustees, in private board meetings was disrespectful and rude. Several trustees noted that the stakeholder representatives who attended committee and board meetings were also highly partisan and used these meetings to promote their agenda to ‘get rid of the Liberal government.’ It was noted that there was a lack of objective, independent people at meetings.”

Goldner’s report pinpointed a pivotal, circus-like Sept. 26, 2016 meeting at Tupper Secondary where the board pondered closure of several schools in order to balance the budget. 

“According to witnesses,” Goldner wrote. “Trustee Bacchus then asked a series of questions related to other budget expenditures pointing out that many processes were undertaken without a dedicated budget and if this were the case then why could this not be done for the additional consultation. Witnesses reported that Trustee Bacchus paused after her questions as the audience laughed at the discomfort of the superintendent (Scott Robinson). There was no intervention from any trustees and no attempt to restore order by trustee Lombardi in his capacity as chair…”

Under the freedom of information laws, theBreaker obtained a recording of nearly three hours of the four-hour-plus meeting.

That recording is published here, in its entirety, for you to decide: Was it bombast, bloviation or bullying?

Or all three?

Bob Mackin Oct. 14 is by-election day in

Bob Mackin

The former earthworks and dam construction director at Site C is suing the main civil works contractor for breach of contract. 

Kent Peyton’s Oct. 4-filed B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit against Petrowest Corp. and Peace River Hydro Partners offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the troubled $9 billion dam project, which the NDP government could decide to mothball or kill next month. 

“Shortly after work commenced on the Site C project, it became apparent that various project components, including the dam, were over budget and behind schedule,” Peyton’s statement of claim says. “In an effort to get construction of the dam on schedule and on budget, Petrowest, on its own behalf or on behalf of PRHP, decided to hire a new earthworks and dam construction director.”

Ex-Site C construction director Kent Peyton (Facebook)

Peyton claims he was lured away from his job of nine years at Flatiron Group, where he was senior vice-president of operations for Canada and vice-president of major projects for North America. The court document below says he accepted a job offer late last November, but negotiated terms and conditions until mid-January of this year. The claim says no written contract exists, but a written secondment agreement does. It spells out Peyton’s salary, benefits and vacation pay through 2021. It did not include a termination clause, but four-and-a-half years remained on Peyton’s term when he was fired in June.

Peyton’s starting base salary was $480,000-a-year, rising annually to $610,727.04 in 2021. His package included an annual $100,000 bonus, $150,000 project uplift, $115,000 housing allowance and $9,000 travel allowance, plus a company car lease. The five-year deal was worth more than $4.6 million. 

“Mr. Peyton had ultimate responsibility for the construction of the dam, including responsibility for all high-level decision-making related to the dam’s excavation process,” the court filing says. “In the position, he was also responsible for the health and safety of all workers engaged in dam construction.

“Mr. Peyton faithfully and diligently performed his duties on behalf of the employer and throughout his employment, provided to be a valuable and reliable employee.”

The lawsuit keyed-in on right bank cofferdam excavation delays that predated Peyton’s hiring. It says Peyton found the instructions to workers by construction superintendent Paul Merrithew and/or project director Louis Brais were dangerous and likely to lead to a workplace safety incident. It alleges that a watertight pit was severely overcrowded with workers and heavy equipment. Access roads into the watertight pit were allegedly up to 20% steeper than permitted. 

Peyton claims he told Merrithew that certain crews and equipment needed to be moved to an adjacent worksite to safeguard their health and safety. Merrithew disagreed and allegedly started an altercation with Peyton on May 10, using abusive language towards Peyton in front of other workers. 

Quigley (BC Gov)

“Mr. Merrithew then accused Mr. Peyton of striking him, which allegation Mr. Peyton categorically denies.” 

Brais was not on-scene, the document says. 

Two days later, on May 12, Petrowest CEO Rick Quigley banned Peyton from the site indefinitely. Peyton claims he had been asked for a statement about the incident, but the lawsuit says Petrowest did not want to know anything about what preceded the incident. 

Peyton was finally fired June 20. 

Veronica Rossos of Singleton Urquhart filed the lawsuit for breach of a fixed term contract and seeks various damages. 

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

Petrowest went into receivership in August. On Oct. 4, BC Hydro president Chris O’Riley revealed in a letter to the B.C. Utilities Commission that PRHP told BC Hydro on Sept. 27 that it won’t meet the 2019 river diversion deadline, adding $610 million to the project’s costs. BCUC’s final report to cabinet on its accelerated inquiry is due Nov. 1.

Peyton v. PRHP Lawsuit by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin The former earthworks and dam

Bob Mackin 

A controversial figure from ex-B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s inner circle has become the top lobbyist for Canada’s credit unions.

Athana Mentzelopoulos was fired as the $284,052-a-year deputy finance minister and took a $474,552.51 golden parachute when the BC Liberal dynasty ended in mid-July. On Sept. 1, the Canadian Credit Union Association named Mentzelopoulos the vice-president of government relations. Her first major project is the association’s Oct. 16-17 Government Relations Forum and Hike the Hill, for credit union leaders and directors to meet members of parliament to discuss credit union concerns.

Mentzelopoulos was one of the most powerful deputy ministers in the Clark administration and was granted the severance package when Clark signed orders-in-council on July 17 to revoke Liberal cabinet appointments the day before the NDP’s John Horgan was sworn-in as premier. 

The CCUA news release emphasized Mentzelopoulos’s prior post, in which she was the top bureaucrat responsible for the B.C. Securities Commission and credit union regulator Financial Institutions Commission.

“Given Athana’s responsibility for both CCUA’s provincial and federal government relations, she will be based in Toronto, travelling often to Ottawa and other provincial capitals,” said the news release from the national trade group for member-owned financial institutions. 

While Mentzelopoulos has registered to be a federal lobbyist, post-employment restrictions for senior management in B.C’s public service include a one-year ban on lobbying of otherwise making representations “for any outside entity to any ministry or organization of the government in which you were employed at any time during the year immediately preceding the termination of your employment.”

NDP government-tabled amendments to B.C.’s lobbying law include a ban on lobbying “in relation to any matter” by an ex-public office holder for two years after leaving government. 

“Ms. Mentzelopoulos is and will be in compliance with all requirements as she works with credit union government relations representatives across Canada,” CCUA spokeswoman Janet Gibson-Eichner said by email. 

Bridesmaid’s baggage

Dermod Travis of anti-corruption watchdog IntegrityBC said Mentzelopoulos is cashing-in by leveraging her government-cultivated relationships and insider knowledge. Her new job, he said, raises questions about regulatory capture. 

“Even if she had to wait a year before lobbying, all she has to do is walk down and to talk to whoever is in the next office, whoever is handling the lobbying in that 12-month period, and sharing all of her knowledge,” Travis said. “The revolving door swings too fast between senior posts in the public sector and government relations posts in the private sector.”

Late Roderick MacIsaac, one of the health researchers wrongly fired.

Mentzelopoulos was nicknamed “the bridesmaid” for performing that role when Clark wed fellow Liberal strategist Mark Marissen in 1996. Mentzelopoulos and Clark were both political appointees in Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s administration in 1993. Mentzelopoulos served in various capacities in ministerial offices in Ottawa before moving to Victoria in 2004 as deputy minister of intergovernmental relations and later government communications, under Premier Gordon Campbell. She returned to Ottawa for a two-year stint with Health Canada in 2009 before Clark took power in 2011 and named her to head B.C. government communications.

Perhaps her defining moment in B.C. was approving a 2012 press release that falsely claimed the RCMP was investigating a data breach in the Ministry of Health. 

Eight researchers were wrongly fired. One of them, Roderick MacIsaac, died by suicide in late 2012. 

In a damning April 2017 report on the scandal, Ombudsperson Jay Chalke wrote: “Ms. Mentzelopoulos conceded that she thought that it was important to have the RCMP in the press release, ‘because I assumed that it was true’.”

In March 2016, Clark shuffled Mentzelopoulos out of the tourism and labour portfolio and into finance, under minister Mike de Jong. During de Jong and Mentzelopoulos’s management of the finance ministry, real estate corruption and money-laundering at casinos flourished in B.C.

Bob Mackin  A controversial figure from ex-B.C. Premier

Bob Mackin

BC Hydro is proud of the number of heavy duty trucks at the Site C dam construction site, but embarrassed about the cost overruns.

That much is obvious from reading a heavily-censored report by the main civil works contractor that BC Hydro sat-on for four months.

The contract value, changes and incremental values of change orders were fully censored from the Peace River Hydro Partners’ May progress report, which was finally released under freedom of information to theBreaker on Oct. 6 and published below.

(BC Hydro FOI)

“Throughout this reporting month of May 2017, PRHP and BC Hydro continue to work together to progress the design and construction of Site C. PRHP continued with excavation and other works in preparation for critical 2017 scope,” said the report, prepared by Moises Barbosa of Spanish construction giant Acciona. “This includes the Left Bank Inlet Portal excavation and the Right Bank RCC (roller compacted concrete) Powerhouse placement.”

Acciona is a partner with South Korea’s Samsung in PRHP. In August, the third partner, Calgary-based Petrowest, went into receivership. The report said that a joint-partner audit happened May 23-26, but there had been no major government inspections on-site between April 25 and May 31.

Forty-two change directives had been issued to PHRP through May 31. Work had been completed on 31 of them. There were 23 change orders issued, seven of which were in May. Nine were sent to BC Hydro during May. Ninety-three claims for change had been provided to BC Hydro.

Safety statistics show that the project tallied 39 near misses, 169 first aid and 12 medical aid incidents, but no fatalities. There had been 339 incident investigations, 15 property damage incidents, 187 motor vehicle incidents and 10 fires reported. WorkSafeBC issued inspection reports on dust control, silica exposure, respiratory protection and work refusal. Most of the environmental incident reports were about fuel leaks and spills.

In May, PRHP counted 1,334 people in the workforce (including 108 aboriginal). What their job titles were was censored.

As for those trucks, BC Hydro was proud to report 20 dozers, 14 loaders, 91 trucks, 13 rollers, five graders, two roadheaders, and 47 other equipment. Nearly 18 million litres of diesel had been used to date.

The release of the PRHP May 2017 report comes almost a year since theBreaker began asking for such reports, which are submitted monthly by contractors to owners of major projects.

An Oct. 25, 2016-filed FOI request to BC Hydro sought a copy of the “most recent” project status report on Site C. But, when it finally

(BC Hydro FOI)

responded last June — nearly a month after the May 9 provincial election — BC Hydro claimed that “the most recent project status report from PRHP has not been finalized.” It withheld the entire draft document based on unsubstantiated claims that the report contained advice or recommendations, and fear of financial harm to the Crown corporation and third parties.

theBreaker discovered subsequently that the request sparked months of off-and-on deliberation, involving the Crown corporation’s CEO Jessica McDonald and COO Chris O’Riley. By the end of March, O’Riley had approved a response after discussion with McDonald, the BC Liberal hire who was eventually fired when the NDP took over in July. But the documents received by theBreaker don’t show who decided to delay the release of the denial letter until after the election.

BC Hydro’s secrecy blanket is becoming frayed with time. A September report by Deloitte for the B.C. Utilites Commission Site C inquiry found that PRHP filed a $327 million claim and notice of 435-day construction delay on Aug. 24.

O’Riley finally admitted in an Oct. 4 letter to the BCUC that PRHP wouldn’t meet the 2019 river diversion deadline, pushing the mega-project cost up $610 million to almost $9 billion.

Deloitte estimated the cost to pause the dam until 2025 would be $1.4 billion, which is more expensive than the $1.2 billion estimate for cancelling it.

Public hearings continue. BCUC’s final report on the fate of the mega-project to the NDP cabinet is expected Nov. 1.

2018-022_Final Response (Sent 06 Oct 2017) by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin BC Hydro is proud of the

Bob Mackin

In 2014, the major parties running candidates in Vancouver’s civic general election released their unaudited donations lists more than a week before election day.

Green candidate Fry

Three years later, a by-election is on. City council majority Vision Vancouver and its main opponent, NPA Vancouver, are ignoring repeated requests by theBreaker to see who is putting how much into their campaigns to win the vacant city council seat and school board on Oct. 14. 

Vision’s candidate to replace Geoff Meggs, now Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff, is Diego Cardona, who has had numerous run-ins with traffic cops. His NPA challenger is BC Liberal Hector Bremner, a natural gas lobbyist and protégé of ex-Deputy Premier Rich Coleman whose campaign is run by Christy Clark’s ex-husband, Mark Marissen.  

Since 2014, big money in politics in British Columbia has become a major issue. Last month, the NDP government tabled a bill to ban corporate and union donations, ban donations from outside B.C. and limit individual contributions to $1,200 a year. That bill, however, only covers provincial parties and provincial candidates. There are no fundraising limits for Vancouver’s 2017 by-election. 

By Oct. 10, only the Vancouver Greens and independent Jean Swanson had sent theBreaker copies of their lists, which you can read below. On Oct. 11, OneCity disclosed its donors. 

The Greens, whose city council candidates is Pete Fry, reported $28,166.37 in contributions. The biggest donor is filmmaker Ian Mackenzie at $4,000. Canada’s only Green MP, Elizabeth May, kicked in $250. 

Anti-poverty activist Jean Swanson

Swanson reported $36,766.59 in donations so far, including $1,000 from the Teaching Support Staff Union and $200 from the St. James local of the Health Employees’ Union. Swanson also reported $300 from the Vancouver Social Justice League and $120 from Place and Space Collective. 

Vying for the anti-poverty vote is Judy Graves, a former social housing bureaucrat at city hall. Graves is running for OneCity, an outfit populated by activists with historical ties to Vision and COPE. On Oct. 11, it released its unaudited list, showing $33,548.60 raised since July 4.

OneCity says it does not accept corporate donations, but the biggest individual donor in the list is corporate and political market researcher Angus Reid at $5,000. In 2013, Reid’s Vision Critical scored a no-bid, $152,000 contract with Vancouver city hall to provide the Talk Vancouver online polling system for two years. Reid was named the $1-a-year “technology and citizen engagement advisor” to Vision Vancouver leader and Mayor Gregor Robertson. The Angus Reid Institute website says that it is a non-profit foundation (registered with Canada Revenue Agency) and its employees are prohibited, when acting in their professional capacity, from participating in any political activities. Executive director Shachi Kurl did not comment on Reid’s donation. 

The party also reported $5,000 from the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers Association, $2,000 from International Union of Operating Engineers, $1,000 each from unions like CUPE Local 15 (civic, parks board and school board workers), Vancouver Firefighters Union Local 18 and Heat and Frost Insulators Union Local 118. On the lower end of the scale are former Vision Vancouver politicians Patti Bacchus ($100) and Constance Barnes ($100). 

Neither Vision nor the NPA have responded to repeated queries from theBreaker. If they have a change of heart, theBreaker will publish their donations lists. 

None of the parties can keep their by-election financial details secret forever. Elections BC states that campaign finance disclosure statements must be filed within 90 days after voting day. 

Jean Swanson for council donors list by BobMackin on Scribd

Vancouver Greens by-election donors list by BobMackin on Scribd

OneCity Donors List by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin In 2014, the major parties

Bob Mackin 

The International Olympic Committee, reeling from the arrests of Rio 2016’s top two executives on corruption charges, is patting itself on the back for re-testing Vancouver 2010 urine samples and finding only one more athlete cheated. 

It made the announcement Oct. 9. Almost three weeks later, on Oct. 26, the International Biathlon Union admitted it was one of their own: Slovenia’s Teja Gregorin, whose Feb. 6-7, 2010 B-sample was found to contain the banned substance GHRP-2 (growth hormone releasing peptide 2). Gregorin’s best finish at the Vancouver Games was fifth in the mass start. 

As per standard practice, samples were reviewed against new technology; for Vancouver, the statute of limitations is set to expire in February 2018. 

“Out of the 1,710 urine samples available from Vancouver 2010, 70% (1,195 samples) were analysed, including the samples from all medallists and all Russian athletes,” said the IOC’s Oct. 9-released statement. “Three adverse analytical findings, all coming from one athlete, are being taken forward for results management.”

Richmond Olympic Oval hosted a temporary anti-doping lab in 2010 (Richmond)

The Vancouver Games were far from clean and the numbers in the IOC statement conflict with a post-Games report by the World Anti-Doping Agency from May 2010.

A report by WADA’s independent observers said 2,149 samples were collected at Vancouver 2010, including 1,742 urine samples and 407 blood samples. theBreaker asked the IOC to explain the difference of 32 urine samples, but a prepared statement adds to the confusion.

“The 1,710 urine samples available for reanalysis by the IOC were the ones transported to Lausanne for storage after the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010,” the IOC media statement said. “Other urine samples were collected by laboratories in various locations around the world and therefore were not part of the samples available for the reanalysis program Vancouver 2010.”

The May 2010 report said an out-of-competition urine sample from Russian women’s hockey player Sventlana Terenteva found the prohibited stimulant tuaminoheptane. Slovakian men’s hockey player Lubomir Visnovsky failed an in-competition test for the stimulant pseudoephedrine. They were both reprimanded, but not disqualified. 

Kornelia Marek, a Polish cross-country skier, tested positive for illegal EPO after the Games and was disqualified in April 2010.

A temporary drug testing laboratory was set-up at the Richmond Olympic Oval, the Vancouver 2010 speedskating venue. The report said the issues identified did not affect the integrity or validity of the program, but it did point to many problems for doping control workers trying to do their jobs. 

Vancouver 2010 mascots Miga, Quatchi and Mukmuk (VANOC)

“Access to the field of play and mixed zone was sometimes restricted despite the doping control officials (including the IO team) having the correct accreditation and identification,” said the WADA report. “The personnel from the host broadcaster (Games designated television) presented the greatest obstacle, often trying to prevent (on occasion successfully) the chaperones and other doping control officials (including the IO team) from gaining the necessary access to conduct notification of the athletes on the field of play or to chaperone them through the mixed zone once notification was completed.”

In 2010, Canada won a Winter Olympics host nation record of 14 gold medals, including men’s and women’s hockey. Canada also registered seven silver and five bronze medals. 

Officials from Sochi 2014 and Russia’s national anti-doping agency were also observers at the Vancouver Games. Russia’s three gold medals, five silver and seven bronze showing at Vancouver 2010 embarrassed the country’s leadership, which spent $186 million on preparations, according to a government audit that found waste and corruption. The three gold medals were Russia’s worst post-Soviet Winter Games showing and motivation for the Sochi program. 

Lawyer Richard McLaren’s independent investigation for WADA found more than 1,000 Russian athletes across 30 sports were part of a massive doping conspiracy that peaked at Sochi 2014, where the host won 13 gold medals, 11 silver and nine bronze. Laboratory manager and whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov fled to the United States in early 2016 and was featured in the Netflix documentary Icarus. Advocates for clean sport wanted the IOC to ban Russia from the Rio 2016 Olympics, but the IOC left it to each international sport federation to decide eligibility of individual athletes. The IOC is re-analyzing all 254 urine samples from Russian athletes who competed at Sochi 2014. 

 

Bob Mackin  The International Olympic Committee, reeling from

Bob Mackin

Two of British Columbia’s most-scenic recreational properties are in Chinese hands.

Grouse Mountain, skiing’s so-called Peak of Vancouver, sold in July to a Canadian-incorporated arm of China Minsheng Investment Group.

Now, during China’s National Holiday Golden Week, a company connected to southern Guangxi province is buying the golf course that straddles the Sea-to-Sky Highway, by the shores of Howe Sound.

Fine Peace Holdings will own the as-seen-in “Happy Gilmore” Furry Creek Golf and Country Club when the deal closes Oct. 10.

theBreaker has learned that the three officers of the Sept. 25-incorporated Fine Peace Furry Creek Holdings Ltd. are Liang Kaiwen, Wen Musong and Zhong Shan. All three reported Nanning, Guangxi, China addresses to the B.C. Corporate Registry. Liang and Wen are both based in “Gentle Town.” Their addresses are near the Gentle Uptown Golf Club, 12 kilometres from the Nanning city centre.

(British Columbia relies on the registrants to report their interest in a company or property. There is no requirement to disclose actual shareholders or beneficial owners.)

Furry Creek, site of the Bob Barker vs. Adam Sandler fight scene in Happy Gilmore (Universal)

The vendor is Burrard Group, the Chan family company with real estate holdings in B.C., Seattle, San Francisco and Hawaii. Burrard operates the GolfBC chain of golf courses.

Developer Michael Geller was a consultant on the deal for Fine Peace. He was also involved in the original community plan back in 1990.

“I’ve been dealing with some local representatives, very fine young people,” Geller told theBreaker. “Once it closes and once they have developed their overall strategies, they’ll become much more visible.

“They have other Canadian land holdings as well. The money is certainly Chinese, the group is here and have been here for a while.”

The corporate registry shows related companies named Fine Peace Deas Island Park Holdings Ltd. and Fine Peace Deas Island Park Ltd. 

The course, at 150 Country Club Road, is on 152 acres, assessed at $3.639 million last year and registered to GolfBC Holdings Inc. The 15.54 acres of vacant waterfront land, worth $11.045 million, is registered to Furry Creek Land Development Corp.

Geller said that he did not know the sale price, but the deal included land zoned for 250 housing units. “They’ll be looking at whether it’s feasible to develop a resort component.”

“Furry Creek got somewhat neglected, it’s fair to say, but this group is pretty confident that they can significnatly improve it,” Geller said. 

Furry Creek was the site of the fight scene in the 1996 cult classic “Happy Gilmore” between The Price Is Right host Bob Barker and Adam Sandler, who played a hockey player-cum-pro golfer who wanted to win enough money to help his grandmother keep her house.

A 2016 feature in Fortune about the PGA Tour’s marketing of golf in China said the sport is hampered by scarce land. Novice players are from the richest of Chinese society, but many courses closed in the wake of Xi Jinping’s anti-graft campaign. Too many government officials were spending too much time on golf courses.

“In a country of 1.4 billion, the potential for the sport is certainly as vast as anyone’s imagination,” Fortune reported. “Estimates of the number of Chinese golfers fall around 1 million, a small fraction of the 24 million who play in the U.S. If just 2% of China’s population played, up from less than 0.1% today, China could become a $2-billion-a-year market for golf products.”

The acquisitions of Grouse Mountain and Furry Creek are bound to put a smile on the face of Chinese president Xi Jinping. It is his goal for China’s sports industry to be worth US$1 trillion by 2025, three years after the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

 

Bob Mackin Two of British Columbia's most-scenic

The bi-ennial Allard Prize for International Integrity was awarded Sept. 28 to Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova. The brave woman who exposed kleptocracy was unable to attend the University of British Columbia ceremony due to a travel ban. 

Egyptian women’s rights lawyer Azza Soliman and Brazil’s Car Wash (Lava Jato) prosecution team received honourable mention. 

The Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald was the keynote speaker. He compared Barack Obama’s legacy to the Justin Trudeau administration, which is reaching mid-term. 

The bi-ennial Allard Prize for International Integrity