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Bob Mackin

The PNE Fair is over for the 107th year and the attendance rebound continues. 

Organizers talled 722,466 through the gates at Hastings Park for the 15-day fair during the 17 days between Aug. 19 and Sept. 4 (it was closed the first two Mondays). 

That’s up from 712,637 in 2016 and 678,193 in 2015, the year of the Aug. 29 windstorm that left much of Metro Vancouver without power.

The Northern Light Sky drone show and Legends of Hockey exhibit were two of the main draws in 2017, away from the amphitheatre, where entertainment ranged from the B-52s to ZZ Top. 

There were no rainstorms this time. There was a mere trace of precipitation. Instead, record-breaking heat may have both a blessing and a curse.

The last Saturday of the 2017 fair drew 56,329 — nearly 20,000 fewer than 2016, when 75,461 came. 

Attendance fluctuated from a high of 64,439 on Aug. 29 to a low of 34,211 on Aug. 23, averaging 48,164 a day. That was slightly better than 2016’s average of 47,491. 

The fair is still a long way from its 2010 heyday, when 937,485 celebrated the centennial fair. 

Mark Aug. 18-Sept. 3 on your calendar for 2018’s fair dates.

Before that, Hastings Park will host a winter fair for the first time. Dec. 15-Jan. 21 is the inaugural Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival. The PNE promises artisan lanterns, live performances, children’s activities and food trucks. 

 

Bob Mackin The PNE Fair is over for

Bob Mackin

A New Era in British Columbia began June 5, 2001 when Gordon Campbell was sworn-in as the 34th premier after his BC Liberals swept the NDP out of power by winning 77 of 79 seats in the previous month’s election. 

When the pomp and circumstance ended, the 28-member executive council got down to business the next morning, witih a four-hour, closed door meeting in Victoria. 

theBreaker finally obtained minutes this week under freedom of information laws, which state that cabinet confidentiality no longer covers records that are 15 years or older. Staff in Christy Clark’s office delayed processing theBreaker’s Feb. 24 request to May 25 — beyond the election period. The documents evidently got lost in the transition to the new NDP government. The office of new premier John Horgan needed an August nudge from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. 

Five members of that 2001 cabinet won re-election on May 9: Shirley Bond, Rich Coleman, Mike de Jong, Linda Reid and Clark, who quit as BC Liberal leader and Kelowna MLA on Aug. 4. Coleman is the interim leader and de Jong is exploring another run at the job. 

During the first 100 days in office, the Campbell cabinet kiboshed photo radar, phased-in tax cuts, lifted the grizzly hunt moratorium, supported the 2010 Winter Olympics bid and went to work on new policies on climate change, log exports and labour relations with nurses and teachers. The ripple effects can still be felt more than 16 years later, after the Campbell-Clark dynasty ended July 18.

The first meeting included a briefing on conflict of interest guidelines from cabinet lawyer Sheila Gallagher. 

“Cabinet was also cautioned not to comment on matters before the courts,” the minutes state. “Cabinet was reminded that appointments to agencies, boards or commissions will be reviewed on the basis of merit.” 

All cabinet ministers were to receive media training. Communications head Andy Orr emphasized reading Today’s News (the government’s media clipping service), and to “take a deep breath and compose yourself after each meeting and before you meet the press; don’t talk and walk with press scrums; do stay locked on cameras while in scrums. 

“Ministers were encouraged to reply ‘I’ve got nothing new on that today,’ rather than creating a deadline or signalling a potential agenda item for cabinet. 

Ministers of state were advised to stay in close touch with ministers, while ministerial assistants would assist ministers to return calls from the press and ensure issues management coordination. 

At the second meeting, on June 14, minutes say the chief of staff (Martyn Brown) responded to a follow-up question about the conflict of interest commissioner. He asked to be “notified prior to any minister contacting the conflict of interest commissioner, in order to avoid adverse rulings.

“The premier reminded ministers that a campaign is still on and our job is to do what we said we were going to do. Ministers were encouraged to keep the premier informed through his office and his personal number. Ministers were asked to coordinate communications with each other — particularly with the ministers of state, the local MLAs and to ensure consistency with the New Era plan. Cabinet was encouraged to reduce the number of press releases and to consider alternative ways of communicating on web sites and in person. A monthly communications calendar will be available next week in order to facilitate the timing and coordination of announcements.”

At the June 20 meeting, cabinet was told that Government Caucus Committees were expected to be “critics, not cheerleaders” on fiscal, policy and legislative issues. (With only two members of the NDP opposition, Campbell had to create some level of internal scrutiny). A report was expected from the Public Affairs Bureau on government advertising; a subcommittee led by Campbell was examining all other non-statutory advertising. Before the election, the Liberals had vowed to end NDP advertising waste. 

On July 20, Clark and Gordon Hogg declared a conflict of interest and withdrew from participating in something on the agenda — the government used the legal advice loophole in the FOI law to withhold details.

On Aug. 8, some disappointment for politicians who got elected on a tax-cutting platform. They weren’t paying enough tax. “Members were also informed that currently the income tax being deducted from their pay was insufficient,” it said. 

B.C. and the rest of the world changed Sept. 11, after the Al Qaeda terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Cabinet met the morning after, for the last time in the first 100 days of the Campbell New Era. Its top item: “Cabinet received a briefing on the air traffic conditions, offers made to assist the U.S.A., and process in British Columbia to keep Minsters informed on public safety issues.”

Economic storm clouds were no longer on the horizon, but were hovering over B.C.

“The global slowdown, the impact of the softwood lumber tariff, the events of Sept. 11 on the U.S. economy and Crown corporation losses are all contributing to a scenario of weak economic growth. Ministers were encouraged to contact their buddy MLAs to explain and support the quarterly report and the current fiscal strategy.” 

Read the cabinet minutes from the first 100 days of BC Liberal rule below. 

Campbell Cabinet Minutes – TheBreaker FOI by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin A New Era in British

Bob Mackin

So they say the Pacific National Exhibition’s annual fair is always the same and it always rains. 

Nothing could be further from the truth for the 107th annual edition. 

Sunscreen, not umbrellas, are required for Hastings Park visitors in 2017. When the sun goes down, the drones go up. Yes, drones, instead of fireworks and lasers, every night at 10:15 p.m.

theBreaker spoke to Zev Bertini and Sam Zhao of the producer, Toronto-based Arrowonics. The spinoff from the University of Toronto’s Institute of Aerospace Studies hopes to become a world-leader in drone shows. 

The Northern Light Sky display above Festival Park is free with admission and a West Coast first.

But it ends Labour Day when the fair closes.

Bob Mackin So they say the Pacific National

Bob Mackin 

Who was invited to be among the “socialist horde” at Government House on July 18, where the NDP returned to power and John Horgan was sworn-in as British Columbia’s 36th Premier?  

Government House was packed July 18 for the Horgan swearing-in (BC Gov)

The list, released under freedom of information on Aug. 28 to theBreaker, says 674 invitations were sent, but 133 didn’t respond and 91 gave their regrets, for a total 607. Attendees included logical ones, such as Horgan’s proud wife Ellie and four other family members. 

Ex-NDP Premier Glen and Dale Clark were listed as “not attending,” but their daughter, Layne, did. She has a $100,000-a-year job as a Horgan aide. Two ex-NDP premiers Dan Miller and Mike Harcourt are on the list, but the last NDP premier before Horgan, Ujjal Dosanjh, has a “no response” beside his name. 

From the NDP cabinet of the 1990s: Moe Sihota, Ian Waddell, Joy MacPhail and Jenny Kwan. The latter two comprised the entire NDP caucus after the 2001 election defeat.

NDP insider Brad Lavigne, who has signed-up six clients to lobby the Horgan NDP, was there. 

Kingmaker and Green leader Andrew Weaver and his two caucus mates, Adam Olsen and Sonia Furstenau, were there.

Ex-Harper Tory James Moore was listed in his role as University of Northern B.C.’s chancellor.

Surrey Liberal powerbroker Prem Vinning (right) (BC Gov)

Richmond Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido represented the federal government, along with Trudeau-appointed Senator Yuen Pau Woo. 

The biggest BC Liberal name on the list was ex-attorney general Geoff Plant, in his role as chancellor of Emily Carr University. Surrey-based federal and B.C. Liberal power broker Prem Vinning sat in the upper balcony. Vinning attended a BC Liberal campaign post-mortem in early July and was among those furious with Clark’s inner-circle for losing the majority of Surrey seats to the NDP. Vinning was forced to quit a patronage job in 2005 under Premier Gordon Campbell after lying about his identity in a phone call to a TV talk show on which Campbell was a guest. 

Respected former child protection watchdog Mary Ellen Turpel Lafond was invited.

Former Canadian Labour Congress head Ken Georgetti was on the list as attending, but it says “no response” next to United Steelworkers’ boss Leo Gerard. USW was the biggest donor to the NDP’s 2017 election campaign at $757,614.87. Horgan and Gerard dined in Washington, D.C. during Horgan’s trade mission in late July. 

Many Chinese community organizations were represented: Yong Tao Chen, honorary chair, Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations; Baizhong Jiao and Lian Wei Liu, of Richmond Overseas Friendship Asssociation; Sunny Ho of Richmond Business Association; Xiang Pu of Canadian Community Service Association; Omni TV commentator Guo Ding; Grace Wong of SUCCESS; Frank Zhu of Bodwell Development Co.; and Charles Chang of the Taiwanese Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 

Liu Fei, the People’s Republic of China consul general, was the only notable diplomat at the event. Webcast viewers noticed that she sat beside Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, an ex-NDP MLA.

Robertson’s Vision Vancouver comrades were scattered around the room, including: his ex-chief of staff Mike Magee and his latest chief of staff Kevin Quinlan; Coun. Raymond Louie; Vision 2014 co-chair Maria Dobrinskaya; 2014 park board candidate Sammie Jo Rumbaua; Bob Penner of the Vision/NDP polling firm Stratcom; aide Brenton Walters; and development lobbyist Gary Pooni.

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Premier Horgan Swearing-In Guest List by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin  Who was invited to be among

Bob Mackin

While Christy Clark was premier and Teresa Wat was the international trade minister, the BC Liberal government spent millions of taxpayer dollars to convince a Mainland Chinese company to open a North American head office in British Columbia.

Script for the BC Liberal international trade minister (BC Gov)

What it got was a trojan horse. The art and culture business arm of a massive company that was birthed by the People’s Liberation Army and raised eyebrows among Canadian and American intelligence officers.

Despite its parent, China Poly Group Corporation, boasting a $120 billion value, Poly Culture North American Investment Corporation Ltd. became a member of B.C.’s controversial AdvantageBC tax breaks scheme, which works hand-in-hand with the taxpayer-subsidized HQ Vancouver promotion agency that helped lure Poly.

The expansion to B.C. announcement was made in November 2015 in Beijing, at Poly’s sprawling headquarters, during Clark and Wat’s visit. Just over a year later, the company opened an art gallery in the ground floor of a downtown Vancouver office building.

Poly decided on B.C. by the time Clark and Wat travelled to Beijing. Among the 500-plus pages of documents obtained by theBreaker via freedom of information is a July 2015 letter from Poly Culture CEO Jiang Yingchun to Wat, saying that his company would establish the North American head office in B.C. Jiang invited Clark to make the announcement during her tour.

A B.C. government briefing note dated Aug. 24, 2015 said Poly Culture Group had registered its subsidiary in Richmond in early 2015. A briefing note prepared for Clark and Wat’s Nov. 30, 2016 meeting with Poly Group chair Xu Niansha, Poly executives and Chinese diplomats said Wat first met with Jiang in Vancouver in August 2014 to discuss Poly’s expansion to North America.

Where in Richmond did Poly open its North American culture division office? On the same floor of the same office building as Wat’s constituency office. Poly has ambitious expansion plans:  Jiang admitted in an interview last November that Poly’s real estate division was already scoping the market.

Poly Culture North America Investment Corporation Ltd. was incorporated in B.C. on Jan. 19, 2015. The registration includes its pinyin name, Bao Li Wen Hua (Bei Mei) Tou Zi You Xian Gong Si. Five officers were listed: Chen Yi, Jiang Yingchun, chief financial officer Wang Wei, vice-president Liu Debin and general counsel Ren Wei. Their address was the China Poly Group headquarters at New Poly Plaza, No. 1 Chaoyangmen Beidajie in Beijing.

The 2017 annual report lists a $2.188 million house in Richmond’s Terra Nova neighbourhood under Chen and Jiang’s names and adds Wang Xinming, whose address is a townhouse in Surrey’s Fleetwood neighbourhood. The Terra Nova house is registered in the name of Liu Yuesheng. 

Poly Culture North America’s registered office, where its records are held, is the downtown Vancouver law firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin. Fasken is also the law firm that helped incorporate a Canadian company for China Minsheng Investment Group’s reported $200 million purchase of beloved Grouse Mountain. Elections BC’s database shows Fasken gave $415,785 to the BC Liberals between 2005 and 2016. Edmond Luke leads the law firm’s China group. 

Last August, Wat was mysteriously injured during a trip to Zhuhai, China and did not return to B.C. until the early November BC Liberal convention. Wat and Clark held a BC Liberal fundraiser at the River Rock Casino Resort. The event netted more than $124,000 for the party’s re-election campaign and was scheduled for the same week that Poly cut the ribbon on its Vancouver gallery and sponsored a Chinese orchestra’s performance at the University of B.C. 

Clark’s successor as premier, John Horgan of the NDP, is planning his first foreign trade mission to China this fall. British Columbians know little about Horgan’s China policy — relations with China were absent from the leaders’ debates  —  though his party has pledged to deal with foreign real estate speculation. 

In the meantime, theBreaker brings you the Poly Papers, or How the B.C. Liberal Government Rolled Out the Red Carpet for China Inc. 

MIT-2017-70547 Mackin by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin While Christy Clark was premier

Bob Mackin

Under glorious blue skies and on calm waters, Howe Sound environmental groups My Sea to Sky and Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative — with help from the Backbone Campaign and Skwomesh Action — launched the Protect Howe Sound campaign on Aug. 26.

The mass-gathering of paddlers, in canoes and kayaks and on stand-up paddleboards, was captured from the water and the air, with a backdrop featuring the majestic Mount Garibaldi and Stawamus Chief.

theBreaker spoke with My Sea to Sky’s chair and former Lions Bay Mayor Brenda Broughton and executive director Tracey Saxby, whose main focus is opposing the Woodfibre LNG plan near Squamish.

The controversial project was approved-in-principle by the federal Liberal and B.C. Liberal governments. While he was natural gas minister and deputy premier, Rich Coleman signed an agreement in Singapore with Woodfibre LNG’s owner last fall that the BC Liberal government refused to make public. NDP Premier John Horgan has expressed support for the project.

Negotiations continue with the Squamish Nation. The FortisBC natural gas pipeline that would feed the export plant awaits approval. 

 

 

 

Bob Mackin Under glorious blue skies and on

Bob Mackin

Was Vancouver’s most-significant historical marker stolen for what it was made of or how it was worded? 

The plaque commemorating the foundation of Vancouver was stolen from New Brighton Park (Mackin)

The “Here Vancouver Began” plaque was installed when B.C. Premier W.A.C. Bennett and Vancouver Mayor Tom Campbell dedicated New Brighton Park at the historic former Hastings Townsite on April 26, 1968. 

theBreaker noticed that it was missing while at New Brighton Park on Aug. 20 to photograph a freighter unloading Chinese materials for Victoria’s Johnson Street Bridge project. 

Park Board spokeswoman Margo Harper told theBreaker that it was reported as stolen to the Vancouver Police in January, but she said the communications department was only informed a few weeks ago. 

“We are seeing an increasing amount of theft, particularly of bronze plaques, so we reviewing potential vulnerability of the remaining two plaques on site,” Harper said. 

A news release was not issued, she said, because of other pressing issues in city parks, such as homeless camps. New Brighton Park is undergoing a $3.5 million beautification and it is not clear if the plaque would be replicated. 

A 2014 photo of the missing New Brighton Park plaque (Fcheng62)

“We are in the final stages of the New Brighton Salt Marsh project with partners from the Port [of Vancouver] and First Nations,” Harper said. “This project involves a significant new interpretive signage component. The new interpretive signs will be installed later in the year with a kiosk structure at the site. Our park development team is working with the nations on that signage.”

Green Party Park Board chair Michael Wiebe did not respond for comment.

The plaque contained the British Columbia coat of arms in the upper left corner, images of dogwood, trees and the Burrard Inlet shore. It read: “Here Vancouver Began… all was forest towering into the skies. British Royal Engineers surveyed it into lots, 1863, and named the area ‘Hastings Townsite’ to honour admiral Hastings, British Navy. Everything Began At Hastings. The first post office, customs, road, bridge, hotel, stable, telegraph, dock, ferry, playing field, museum, CPR offices. It was the most fashionable watering place in British Columbia. New Brighton Park retains the name of a hotel built here in 1880 known as the new ‘Brighton House.’

Two plaques remain on the small, aging plaza, under the Canadian, B.C. and British flags near the outdoor swimming pool. Bennett’s dedication references historical information provided by famed city archivist Major J.S. Matthews, who attended the 1968 ceremony. A smaller plaque lists members of the park board at the time. 

Vancouver Historical Society president Michael Kluckner called the stolen marker a “real vintage plaque” that accurately described the beginning of a non-indigenous commercial operation. 

Spanish explorers in 1791 and British explorers in 1792 recorded contact with Coast Salish aboriginals.

Mayor Tom Campbell speaking at the 1968 dedication of New Brighton Park (Vancouver City Archives)

Controversy is raging on both sides of the border over statues and plaques about 19th century people and events. 

The Law Society of B.C. decided last spring to remove a statue of B.C.’s famed “Hanging Judge,” Matthew Baillie Begbie, from its lobby for fear of offending aboriginal people. Begbie sentenced six chiefs to death in 1864 after 20 white road builders were killed in the so-called Chilcotin War, for which Premier Christy Clark apologized in 2014. New Westminster city council is pondering the future of the Begbie statue outside the Royal City’s provincial courthouse and Begbie’s name on a city street. 

In March, the Vision Vancouver majority city council asked staff to study reverting to indigenous place names in parts of the city under a Canada 150-related place-naming project. 

Several U.S. city and state governments are removing statues and plaques about the Confederacy in the Civil War because of connections to slavery. 

In Bellingham, Wash., south of the U.S./Canada border, civic authorities removed a sign from a bridge named for Confederate general George Pickett on Aug. 18. The move was in reaction to the violent Charlottesville, Va. protest between white supremacists and anti-fascist demonstrators. 

Before the Civil War, Pickett was the American commander in the Pig War on San Juan Island, an 1859 standoff between American and British soldiers after an American farmer shot a Hudson’s Bay Company hog. 

Bob Mackin Was Vancouver’s most-significant historical marker stolen

Bob Mackin

The Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria “are happy today,” says spokesman Stan Bartlett, after hearing that B.C.’s finance minister pulled the plug on a bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Carole James wasn’t expecting to announce a decision on seeking the billion-dollar-plus mega-event until next week. The NDP finance minister had already expressed doubt over the rushed bid, which will leave the chosen city less than five years to do what is normally done in seven.

Finance Minister Carole James (BC Gov)

“We certainly compliment the minister of finance for her caution and analysis around the bid, she fulfilled her fiduciary duty to the taxpayers,” Bartlett said. “Obviously she saw the same numbers as we did.”

The Commonwealth Games Federation is looking for a new host after it stripped planning laggard Durban, South Africa in March. The frontrunner could become Liverpool or Birmingham, depending on the United Kingdom’s imminent decision.

In a news release, James said there were too many unknown details to fully understand the “costs, obligations and risks” of hosting the Games in Victoria, Vancouver and Richmond in 2022. 

“Those include commitments from the federal government and local governments, commitments on revenues from the Games, finalized venue locations, costs for security and emergency response, as well as any added costs to the Province, like transit, transportation infrastructure and health services that would come with the influx of athletes, coaches, dignitaries and visitors,” James said. 

James also said the Games bid did not correspond with government spending priorities, such as dealing with the costs of this summer’s interior wildfires and the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic. 

The Victoria bid committee, headed by newspaper publisher David Black, released what it called a business plan on Aug. 16. It wanted $400 million, plus an unlimited guarantee to pay for cost overruns, from the B.C. government, $400 million from the federal government and $25 million in services, mainly traffic police, from municipalities. The committee believed it could fund the other $130 million from the sale of TV rights, tickets, merchandise and sponsorships. The biggest unknown cost was security. The federal government spent $900 million to secure the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

Victoria hosted the 1994 Commonwealth Games, but the event has doubled in size since then because of the addition of team sports. 

Commonwealth Games Canada president Brian MacPherson called James’ decision disappointing, but not surprising.

“Time and timing are two essential ingredients for a successful Games bid and unfortunately neither was on our side,” he told theBreaker

MacPherson said Canada will not bid for the 2026 Games, but will consider applying for 2030. 

He said his association will respect the Canadian Soccer Association’s joint bid with the U.S. and Mexico for the 2026 FIFA World Cup and the Canadian Olympic Committee, which is mulling a bid to bring the 2026 Winter Games to Calgary. 

“Given Canada hosted the first Commonwealth Games in 1930, CGC will seriously look at mounting a strong, winnable bid for the centennial Commonwealth Games in 2030,” he said. 

Those Games were hosted in Hamilton. Sport Minister Carla Qualtrough told theBreaker in early August that the Ontario city is already talking to the federal government about a bid.  

Commonwealth Games Canada’s MacPherson

Asked if he was surprised that James did not give another week to study the bid, Black told theBreaker: “Carole James is a smart, capable person. You’ll have to ask her why B.C. didn’t want to proceed.”

The bid committee proposed holding most events in and around Victoria, with the exception of rugby sevens in Vancouver and table tennis and badminton in the Richmond Olympic Oval. 

Several municipalities in the region supported the bid in principal. Esquimalt did not. As pleased as he is with James’s decision, Bartlett said he is disappointed with how municipal politicians handled the bid. “We certainly weren’t happy with the closed-door mentality and secrecy around the bid process. “

“We are pro-business and pro-economic developement, but sure as hell won’t put up with wasted tax dollars,” Bartlett said. “That’s what this was about from the start.”

Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, said British Columbians are already “stretched to the max” because of taxes, housing costs and hardships like the wildfires and downturn in the energy sector.  

“Asking them to foot the huge bill for a large event like the Commonwealth Games would have been unfair and we are pleased the BC government has made the right decision.”

 

Bob Mackin The Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria

Bob Mackin

In the wake of an exposé by theBreaker, cabinet ministers Michelle Mungall and Scott Fraser have withdrawn from speaking at a fall conference that is aimed at boosting the NDP government’s brand. 

Fraser (left) and Mungall (BC Gov)

Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Mungall and Indigenous Relations Minister Fraser were scheduled to be the keynote speakers at “Politics, Policies and Priorities: A Conference on B.C.’s New Horgan Government” Oct. 27 at the taxpayer-owned Vancouver Convention Centre. Tickets — $245 until Sept. 15, when the price will rise to $295 — are being marketed to lobbyists.

Suntanu Dalal, a representative of Mungall, confirmed Aug. 24 to theBreaker that Mungall and Fraser are gone from the agenda.

theBreaker noticed Aug. 23 that promoter Composite Public Affairs no longer included references to Mungall and Fraser on its website. No reason was given by the government for their withdrawal. A call to the phone number on the event website was not returned. The website does not indicate whether refunds will be offered to anyone who bought tickets to hear Mungall and Fraser speak.

On Aug. 21, theBreaker exposed the background of the conference.

Composite Public Affairs was incorporated June 27 by four people, including Mungall’s July 18-hired ministerial assistant Lori Winstanley. The conference website includes an invitation from retired Surrey NDP MLA Sue Hammell, who is an executive vice-president of Composite but not an officer of the company, according to its registration. 

Winstanley and Ed Presutti of Vernon and Kristy Fredericks and Will McMartin of Surrey incorporated the company two days before the NDP and Greens defeated the BC Liberals in a no confidence vote. 

Winstanley is a longtime NDP campaign manager who worked in the Mike Harcourt administration in the 1990s and later for MoveUp, the union that represents workers at ICBC. Fredericks and McMartin are former BC Conservative strategists who publish the B.C. Political Reports newsletter. 

Composite hired one-term former NDP MLA Jane Shin to emcee the conference, with panel moderation by Province columnist Michael Smyth. Featured panellists include ex-B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair, Vancity director and former Vision Vancouver Park Board chair Niki Sharma, Vision Vancouver city councillor Andrea Reimer, economist Iglika Iginova of the left-wing Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives thinktank, and Simon Fraser Univeristy Labour Studies director Kendra Strauss. 

Organizers also scheduled BC Liberal-friendly panellists, such as ResourceWorks executive director Stewart Muir and Business in Vancouver vice-president Kirk LaPointe.

Sharma unsuccessfully ran for Vancouver city council in 2014. She was one of four Vision Vancouver politicians who appeared before an Oct. 14, 2014 meeting of the city’s outside workers union to appeal for donations. Then-councillor Geoff Meggs led the delegation and told union members that a re-elected Vision Vancouver city council would not contract out work. Union officials later voted to donate $34,000 to the ruling party, which was matched by the B.C. and federal headquarters. 

Meggs quit city council to become the $195,000 chief of staff to Premier John Horgan. A by-election to replace Meggs is scheduled for Oct. 14. Horgan’s office also includes $125,000-a-year communications aide Sage Aaron, a Vision Vancouver campaign veteran and daughter of Hammell.

The short-lived, post-election BC Liberal government cancelled the Nov. 28-30 LNG in B.C. conference after the June 12 cabinet swearing-in. 

Bob Mackin In the wake of an exposé