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Bob Mackin 

Taxpayer-funded ad campaign boosted the governing party (BC Gov)

The B.C. Liberal government spent more than $20.5 million on advertising for the year ended March 31, but only $1.6 million of it was considered statutory. 

Information released on Aug. 22 with the Public Accounts by NDP Finance Minister Carole James showed that $2.6 million was charged to federal taxpayers under a labour accord. Still, the central government’s ad spending tripled since 2014-2015, mainly driven by the 2017 election.

Ads crafted to embellish the image of the party that governed B.C. since 2001 rankled NDP, Green and independent MLAs and drew critical comments from auditor general Carol Bellringer before the May 9 election. Except for admitting they had doubled the budget to $15 milllion late last year, the BC Liberals stubbornly refused to comment on costs and delayed many documents sought under freedom of information laws until after the election. The NDP government under Premier John Horgan has promised to enact new advertising restrictions.

The BC Liberal government claimed from late fall, all the way through the election campaign, that it had no choice but to increase the advertising budget because it needed to warn the public about the opioid crisis. Yet the documents show only $1.8 million was spent on that campaign. Likewise for other public safety campaigns, such as forest fire prevention ($875,000), anti-guns and gangs ($249,000), earthquake preparation ($58,000) and distracted driving education ($10,000). 

The 2016-2017 spreadsheet shows the government also spent $195,000 on recruitment advertising, gave $1 million for Elections BC to promote the 2017 election and doled out $802,000 in various creative, production, marketing, advertising and poll contracts for miscellaneous campaigns. The latter included $15,000 in billings by Hogan Millar Media, a company that worked on the last two BC Liberal election campaigns. 

Kimbo’s Pickett

Most of the expenditures — $15.38 million worth — were for four companies to produce and place ads favourable to the BC Liberals, under the Our Opportunity Is Here branding during the fiscal year. The so-called B.C. Services campaign, which began in late November 2015, sparked a class action lawsuit in March filed by lawyers Paul Doroshenko and David Fai on behalf of plaintiff David Trapp. They want a judge to order the BC Liberal Party to reimburse the public treasury after diverting taxpayers’ funds from healthcare and education to benefit their failed re-election campaign. 

Public Accounts show total payments for the campaign of $9.1 million to ad buyer Vizeum, $2.5 million to online ad buyer Kimbo Design, $894,000 to creative and production agency Saint Bernadine Mission Communications, and $503,000 for translation by ad agency Response Advertising.

Work on the campaign was not put out to public tender. In 2013, the companies applied to join a list of preferred suppliers for work as-and-when needed. Senior bureaucrats with well-publicized BC Liberal political backgrounds ultimately approved the preferred suppliers. The two deputy ministers that oversaw government advertising during the Christy Clark administration, Athana Mentzelopoulos and John Paul Fraser, were fired the day before the NDP government assumed power on July 18. The NDP appointed Evan Lloyd as deputy minister in charge of Government Communications and Public Engagement. He held a similar position in the 1990s under Mike Harcourt’s NDP administration. 

Response’s Rai

Kimbo’s president, Kim Pickett, worked on Clark’s leadership campaign in 2011 and provided branding for the BC Liberal Party. Response president Jatinder Rai is a longtime BC Liberal strategist who, like Pickett, was on Clark’s team when she made an unsuccessful run for the Vancouver NPA mayoral nomination in 2005. 

The companies also appeared in the master list of all central government supplier payments for the fiscal year, showing a combined $19.14 million in billings: Vizeum ($13.25 million), Kimbo ($3.27 million), Saint Bernadine ($1.54 million) and Response ($1.07 million). 

For the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the government reported spending $12.45 million, up from $5.67 million a year earlier. The Our Opportunity Is Here campaign cost $4.98 million in its first year and involved the same four companies. The two-year campaign cost a total $20.36 million.

Kimbo unsuccessfully fought in 2016 to keep its invoices secret, but the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner ruled that the information must be released. Kimbo claimed publication of its preferred rates for government would harm its business, but it offered no evidence to back-up the claim. 

B.C. government advertising spending in 2016-2017 by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin  [caption id="attachment_4201" align="alignright" width="463"] Taxpayer-funded ad

Bob Mackin

One of four people who incorporated a company that is promoting a fall conference featuring Michelle Mungall became top aide to the energy, mines and petroleum minister when the NDP government was sworn-in, theBreaker has learned.

Lori Winstanley and Ed Presutti of Vernon and Kristy Fredericks and Will McMartin of Surrey registered Composite Public Affairs on June 27, according to the B.C. corporate registry. Mungall and Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser are the keynote speakers at Composite’s Oct. 27 “Politics, Policies and Priorities: A Conference on B.C.’s New Horgan Government,” at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Tickets start at $245 or $1,800 for a table of eight.

The website includes an invitation from retired Surrey NDP MLA Sue Hammell, who is identified as Composite’s executive vice-president, but is not a director of the consultancy.

Winstanley and Presutti’s names were removed from the company registration on July 18, the same day that Winstanley was appointed to a $94,500-a-year job as Mungall’s ministerial assistant. The Composite events website was registered three days later on July 21 and it says that the company is “led by” Hammell and McMartin. was registered May 31, and updated June 14, by Winstanley. 

Winstanley’s LinkedIn profile says she has worked on NDP campaigns since 1983 and was director of strategic communications from 2006 to 2012 with MoveUp, the union that represents claims, licensing and testing workers at ICBC. It does not mention her previous work as an aide to social services minister Joan Smallwood after the NDP’s Mike Harcourt became premier in 1991. Winstanley incporated a company called Composite Consulting Group in 1996. According to its latest filing, on Aug. 9, 2016, she was the sole officer of the company.

theBreaker left a message for Hammell on the phone number from the Composite website. Fredericks responded and said that Hammell was unavailable for an interview because she is caring for her ill husband.

Fredericks denied that Hammell was organizing the conference and said she had been retained by Phoenix Strategies under a professional services contract. Fredericks described Composite as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Phoenix.

‘Awkward optics’

“A member of the general public can only walk away believing that Sue Hammell is a principal in this company,” said IntegrityBC’s Dermod Travis. “The fact that it seems to be a subsidiary of Phoenix Strategies isn’t mentioned anywhere that I can find on this website adds to the murkiness of both the company itself and the conference.”

Phoenix is a New Westminster company incorporated in 2015 by McMartin and Fredericks as the publisher of their B.C. Political Report newsletter. McMartin and Fredericks worked with the BC Conservatives under leader John Cummins until they were laid-off two months before the 2013 election.

One of the key target markets for the $245 tickets, which increase to $295 on Sept. 15, is obviously the lobbying industry. Fredericks rejected the notion that Hammell is indirectly lobbying her former caucus, by being involved in such a conference. She also denied her company is receiving favourable treatment from the taxpayer-owned Vancouver Convention Centre. “The final, total expenditure — some costs, such as food, depend on attendance and currently are unknown — will be significant,” Fredericks said.

Presutti (left) and Winstanley (Twitter)

The government provided theBreaker a joint statement from Fraser and Mungall via Mungall’s spokesman, David Haslam.

“Elected officials in B.C. – and most jurisdictions around the world – are asked to speak at conferences on any number of issues and challenges that public officials are elected to help solve,” Haslam wrote. “Professionally organized conferences provide a platform for public and constructive dialogue. Conference fees in both the public and private sector are common practice to help pay the cost of the venue, food, organization, and promotion of a conference.”

Travis said the optics around the event are awkward.

“It’s also reflective of something that the public got tired of with the previous government,” he said. “This idea that people who can afford to write out cheques get to have access to politicians and other insiders in the government that the general public can’t have. This is certainly not putting the best foot forward after the promise of a new way of doing things in B.C.”

Stay tuned. theBreaker will tell you more about the who’s who of the conference tomorrow.

Bob Mackin One of four people who incorporated

Ferrari supercar impounded July 4 (WVPD)

Bob Mackin

The 22-year-old West Vancouver man charged with driving a supercar at more than triple the speed limit across the Lions Gate Bridge lives in a $6.25 million British Properties mansion. 

West Vancouver Police announced the Motor Vehicle Act charge against Yihao Wang on Aug. 21 for allegedly driving a vehicle at excessive speed relative to the road, traffic, visibility or weather conditions. Crown counsel approved the charge on Aug. 18, after police say they clocked a Ferrari speeding at 210 kilometres per hour early on July 4. The maximum posted speed on the bridge is 60 km-h. 

Wang’s appearance notice, issued at 1:30 a.m. July 4, originally cited him with driving without due care and a lesser excessive speed charge. The Sept. 13 appearance in North Vancouver Provincial Court was already set.

The vehicle, a 2015 Ferrari 458 with a base price of almost $285,000, was impounded 60 days and the driver banned for 16 months by the B.C. Superintendent of Motor Vehicles.

theBreaker visited the address on the appearance notice in Wang’s court file. Wang, who is tall, broad-shouldered, wears glasses and has dyed blonde spiky hair, opened the door. He invited a reporter inside the spacious foyer and went looking for his wife, who he said could speak better English. A packed, open suitcase was situated beside the front door.

The woman said Wang would not comment, but suggested talking to his lawyer instead. After a reporter asked for the lawyer’s name and phone number, Wang stood looking through his mobile phone for his lawyer’s contact information. The couple had a brief exchange in Mandarin. Wang’s wife then said they changed their mind and said to talk to the police instead. Except for an infant, there did not appear to be anyone else in the house at the time. 

The land titles registry lists Xinghui Wang as the first name on the title for the property.

The 2012-built, three-storey house has five bedrooms and six bathrooms. It is nearly 7,000 square feet with an outdoor swimming pool on a secluded 29,000 square foot lot, less than a kilometre downhill from multi-billionaire Jim Pattison’s expansive mansion.

The double garage doors were closed at the time. There were no vehicles in the driveway.

UPDATE (Sept. 13): Wang did not appear in court, but was represented by Richmond-based criminal defence lawyer David Baker. The case was adjourned to Sept. 27. 

Outside the courthouse, Baker told reporters that he got the case last month. He said he would challenge the West Vancouver Police findings after what he called the force’s “unprecedented step” of seeking a prohibition on driving before the case was heard in court. 

“I just picked up the particulars today, I’m going to have a look at them now,” Baker said. “So far it’s been Alice in Wonderland, sentence first, verdict afterward.”

Baker was asked whether Wang was in Canada, but said “I’m not sure where he is now.” 

He declined to answer what Wang does for a living, whether he is a Canadian citizen or how the 22-year-old can afford to live in a $6.25 million house and drive a Ferrari worth nearly $300,000. 

“I don’t know his personal family circumstances,” Baker said. “I don’t think his personal family background and their income have anything to do with the excessive speeding charge.”

“I don’t think it’s an offence to be from a successful family.” 

Pressed further about the nature of the Wang family’s line of work, Baker stopped answering questions and said “I’m going to end this now.” 

[caption id="attachment_4831" align="alignright" width="464"] Ferrari supercar impounded

Bob Mackin

Citizens aren’t buying the City of White Rock’s campaign to stamp-out gossip. According to documents obtained by theBreaker, several think it is a joke at taxpayers’ expense.

White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin

White Rock city hall launched a “Rumours and Misperceptions – Eliminating Misinformation” page on its website June 20. It is aimed at addressing what it calls “inaccurate information circulating in the community and media,” mainly related to the secretive water utility deal with EPCOR and complaints about polluted drinking water. 

Rather than being transparent, the “City by the Sea” is spending public money on lawyers and spin. 

theBreaker asked for email to and from the dedicated email address on the city hall website. On Aug. 18, White Rock released 10 email messages that it received between June 21 and July 10. The names of the correspondents were withheld for privacy reasons. 

“Please note that the city does not respond directly to email submissions to,” wrote FOI manager Ken Overton. “All incoming emails receive an automatic reply.” 

One of the first emails received was about the EPCOR deal. 

“You still haven’t disclosed the details of the purchase of EPCOR! Why aren’t we hooking up to [Metro Vancouver] water? Isn’t it the cheaper solution?” wrote a person at June 21, 7:14 a.m.

On April 12, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner ordered White Rock to give citizen Ross Buchanan a copy of the business case and related documents about the EPCOR deal, which is costing White Rockers more than $14 million. Instead of complying, city hall hired a lawyer to fight the order in B.C. Supreme Court. 

A writer of a July 10, 12:46 p.m. email charged Mayor Wayne Baldwin with spreading misinformation for boasting at the June 26 city council meeting that White Rock’s drinking water exceeds national standards.

“Simple common sense will tell you that the provincial and federal governments would not dole out $11.8 million of public monies to White Rock so that White Rock can try to correct its troubled water situation if it was in fact true that [according to Baldwin] ’White Rock’s water exceeds the Canadian Drinking Water Standards in all respects,’ said the email.

“Either City of White Rock Staff, Fraser Health, [Conservative MP] Diane Watts and [ex-BC Liberal MLA] Gordon Hogg are all wrong, or Wayne Baldwin is creating incorrect rumours and spreading misinformation. In my opinion, it appears very clear to be the latter, so I ask please that you take quick steps to stop these unfortunate rumours, correct this misinformation and advise back.” 

Is Baldwin “actually two children in a coat”? (City of White Rock FOI)

Another wrote at 8:54 a.m. on June 21 that “it is reminiscent of the Stalin era back in the days of the U.S.S.R., since you are asking the public to report rumours.  

“Rumour has it that following the recommendations of staff, council will approve a new White Rock bylaw giving the bylaw officers sweeping powers to act as ‘rumour police’ and any member of the public found to be spreading ‘rumours and misperceptions’ that the city deems to be detrimental to the city’s interest will face stringent penalties. Is this correct?” 

An even shorter email, under the salutation “Dear City Myth Busters,” on June 25 took a similar satirical swipe at the rumour patrol. 

“I have many myths that I wanted to have professionally investigated and this seems to be a fantastic use of my tax dollars. My first rumour that I hope you can dispel is that Mayor Wayne Baldwin, is actually two children in a coat. I have attached the image that is circulating to support this rumour below. Please look into this matter and finally put this rumour to rest.” 

  • Are you a current or former White Rock city hall worker or contractor who knows what is really going on behind the scenes at city hall? theBreaker wants to hear from you. Contact theBreaker in confidence. Click here. 

2017 08 17 Response to Requestor 2017-33 by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Citizens aren’t buying the City of

Bob Mackin

John Dyble disappeared. 

From the board of the money-losing Crown corporation that runs B.C. Place Stadium and the Vancouver Convention Centre, that is. 

Christy Clark’s ex-deputy John Dyble quit PavCo before Horgan’s swearing-in (ImageChef)

Dyble was Christy Clark’s $323,000-a-year deputy minister and cabinet secretary for five of her six years as premier. 

The professional engineer with a master’s degree retired in spring 2016, only to be appointed in fall 2016 to the B.C. Pavilion Corporation’s board of directors. 

That gig pays a $7,500 annual retainer plus $500 for attending each board and committee meeting. 

PavCo chair Stuart McLaughlin ignored theBreaker’s requests for comment after theBreaker noticed that Dyble’s name and biography had been deleted from the PavCo website in July. 

The stadium’s spokesman, Duncan Blomfield, finally responded Aug. 17 to confirm that Dyble resigned July 7, but, “as a matter of policy, PavCo does not comment on personnel matters.”

Meghan McRae, the spokeswoman for NDP tourism, arts and culture minister Lisa Beare, said by email: “I don’t have any information regarding the reason for his resignation.” 

July 7 was 11 days before the NDP’s John Horgan was sworn-in as premier to replace Clark and the BC Liberals, who lost a no confidence vote to the NDP/Green alliance on June 29. 

Dyble’s days were numbered anyway. The 27-year civil servant held senior posts in the transportation, forestry, health and tourism ministries and worked under Clark during the health firings and ethnic outreach scandals. 

His quickie, two-week internal report on the so-called Quick Wins scandal found staff broke rules by doing party campaign work on public time, but the report was otherwise deemed a whitewash by NDP critics. Dyble cleverly delayed the release of 8,000 pages of email until after the 2013 election. Those documents sparked an RCMP investigation in 2013 and breach of trust charges in 2016 against ex-BC Liberal aide Brian Bonney. 

Ombudsperson Jay Chalke wrote, in his report on the 2012 health firings, that “Premier Clark did not recall ever being briefed about the decision to terminate the employees. Mr. Dyble denied he put any pressure on [Graham] Whitmarsh to make the dismissal decisions, and this is consistent with the evidence of Deputy Minister Lynda Tarras, then-head of the Public Service Agency, and Mr. Whitmarsh.”

When the report was released on April 6, however, Clark said she “did ask a lot of questions at the time. As I said before, the assurances that we all received were that these were absolutely justified and the right thing to do.”

Last Oct. 24, Clark, and minister responsible Todd Stone, added Dyble, BC Liberal advertising strategist Jatinder Rai, Surrey business improvement association head Elizabeth Model and Kamloops hotelier Ron Mundi to the PavCo board. They replaced consultant Stephanie Sharp and Don Zurowski, a local politician in Prince George and BC Liberal supporter. 

theBreaker was unable to reach Dyble for comment.

UPDATE (Sept. 12): theBreaker received a copy of Dyble’s resignation letter to then-minister Todd Stone. In keeping with the Clark Clique’s oral government tradition, the letter offers no hint of Dyble’s reason for quitting. “I have discussed my resignation with Stuart [McLaughlin],” Dyble wrote. 

BRD-2017-72835 Dyble Resignation by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin John Dyble disappeared.  From the board of

Bob Mackin got a sneak peek of the PNE Fair’s Legends of Hockey exhibit at the Garden Auditorium and spoke with Hockey Hall of Fame curator Philip Pritchard. 

The fair runs Aug. 19-Sept. 4. The exhibit, which features 250 artifacts, is free with fair admission. It includes Wayne Gretzky’s first pair of skates and one of the jerseys he wore in his final NHL game. 

Bob Mackin got a sneak peek of

Bob Mackin

Stan Bartlett of the Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria took one look at the 13-page document released Aug. 16 by a group bidding to stage the 2022 Commonwealth Games in British Columbia’s capital, Vancouver and Richmond.

Above a photograph of fireworks over Victoria’s inner harbour, there are bold, capital letters that label it a “business plan.” But to Bartlett, the whole thing is smoke and mirrors.

“For starters, by no definition is this a business plan,” Bartlett told theBreaker. “Lunacy. Likely a $1.5 billion Games by the time all is said and done.”

The group, led by newspaper publisher David Black, claims it would cost $955 million — but it needs $825 million of that from taxpayers, including $298 million to build and renovate venues. The bid group also needs letters of support quickly from B.C. NDP Premier John Horgan and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Commonwealth Games Federation wants bid books in by the end of September so it can decide on a replacement for stripped 2022 host Durban, South Africa in November. 

The business plan dubs the group’s vision “Back to the Future” and pledges a “low cost, low risk, high impact” Games. But as Bartlett suggested, there is nothing in the document that explicitly discusses weaknesses or threats to the prospective business and how they can be mitigated or prevented.

It also does not say whether it would be the federal or the B.C. government that would be responsible for any cost overruns. When Vancouver hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, it fell upon the provincial government, which added more taxpayers’ money to the budget before and after the 2008 recession. The Vancouver Olympics took five years to win the bid and another seven years to build and stage; by the time the new 2022 host is chosen, there will be just over four-and-a-half years to deliver. A June 27 letter by Sidney Mayor Steve Price to the Commonwealth Games Federation president Louise Martin supported the bid, based on $300 million from Sport Canada and $150 million plus “a guarantee against overruns” from the B.C. government.

In a quip less colourful than Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau’s oft-quoted “the Olympics can no more lose money than a man can have a baby,” Black told reporters in Victoria on Aug. 16 that “there is no risk whatsoever of an overrun.”

Victoria/Vancouver/Richmond are not alone. Birmingham and Liverpool are jockeying for the United Kingdom government’s nod. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the 1998 host, is a potential bidder. Australia, the 2018 host, may step in if other bids fail.

The Victoria-centric document — which contains several grammatical errors and is missing economic spinoff estimates and venue maps — says $42 million is needed for a new athletics and ceremonies stadium and $30 million for a gymnastics arena in suburban Langford. It also needs $35 million to renovate the Saanich Commonwealth Pool, which was built for Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games. Temporary fencing, fixtures, facilities and equipment at venues, also known as “overlay,” would cost $87 million. 

Commonwealth Games executives, foreign aristocrats, politicians and sponsors would stay in luxury at the Westin Hotel and Residences on Bear Mountain. Officials would use 1,000 beds in existing University of Victoria dormitories. A $600 million, 7,000-bed athletes’ village is proposed for Langford, to be used by students after the Games. The business plan contemplates just $60 million from taxpayers for the development. 

On the surface, that is a bargain, until one considers the last time B.C. hosted a mega-event. The athletes’ village was the most troublesome venue for Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics after the global credit crunch hit in fall 2008 and the developer needed a taxpayer bailout to stay on schedule. The $1.1 billion, 1,108 condo development, which included $30 million in seed money from taxpayers, was refinanced by city hall in 2009 and put into receivership eight months after the Games because of slow condo sales. It took until 2014 to pay-off the debt. 

What price security?

Kris Sims, the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation’s B.C. director, said there is also a major gap in the alleged business plan: security costs, beyond local traffic police. 

British Columbians also don’t forget that it cost $900 million for an RCMP-led security blanket over the 2010 Games. There was no terrorism, but there was vandalism, protests that snarled traffic and a Latvian crime ring that bought $2 million worth of tickets with stolen credit card numbers. 

“We all want to be safe, but trying to leave that out of your actual tally of how much you’re going to cost taxpayers is disingenuous,” Sims said. “Taxpayers should know how much that’s going to cost.” 

Sims said major sports events should be built and operated only with private money. If not, taxpayers deserve the final say over how their money is spent. She also said mega-events tend to have fluid budgets, that always increase, and organizers that always try to claim they are under budget by moving the goalposts.

“Keep in mind what a billion dollars could pay for,” Sims said. “You could do many things, you could spend it more wisely, you could actually reduce your deficit, or you could cut taxes. Everybody needs to keep in mind this is not ‘government money,’ this is your money, my money and your neighbour’s money.”

The business plan says organizers want to integrate the Victoria Aboriginal Cultural Festival into the Games festival, complete with a lacrosse exhibition. There would also be an International Pride House, for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes and supporters. 

Such inclusivity is hardly a consolation for Chris Shaw. The neuroscientist was the leader of the No Games 2010 coalition and now lives in Victoria. He calls the Commonwealth Games bid premature and warns bidders to expect opposition every step of the way.

“So in this time of wildfires and other urgent needs, David Black thinks taking 400 mill [from B.C. taxpayers] for Games and fluff is a good idea?” Shaw asked.

Shaw said that by including Vancouver’s B.C. Place Stadium for rugby sevens and the Richmond Olympic Oval for table tennis and badminton, the anticipated $400 million federal contribution would have to double to pay for securing both sides of the Salish Sea. Shaw calls the $130 million estimate for TV rights and ticket sales revenue “fantasy.” 

“One has to wade through 13 pages of kittens and rainbows fluff to find the core. The budget is so pathetic it makes the 2010 Bid Corp look completely professional — and this is hard for me to say,” Shaw said. 

Politicians who will say yea or nay to the 2022 bid are on the fence.

Vancouver’s B.C. Place Stadium could host Commonwealth Games rugby sevens in 2022 and/or World Cup soccer in 2026. (Mackin)

CBC reported Aug. 15 that B.C. Finance Minister Carole James was “very cautious” because very few details had been provided by bidders. 

“The fact [is] that the decision has to be made very shortly and there’s still not a thorough business case that has come forward,” James said.

Federal sport minister Carla Qualtrough told theBreaker on Aug. 1 that Ottawa was waiting for a formal proposal. She said Hamilton was already considering a bid for the 2030 Commonwealth Games, to celebrate a century since hosting the first edition in 1930. Canada is part of a joint bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup with the U.S. and Mexico, and Calgary is studying a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

“We have to factor in all the other things going on in sport and other requests that might come to the federal government,” Qualtrough said. “We have to look at where this all fits on on the broader national agenda for sport hosting.

“These things become expensive very quickly and the kind of expectations that an international federation, Games organization would have on any community, so we’ve got to be mindful of all of that.”

Commonwealth Games 2022 Business Plan Aug 14 2017 Wo Appendix by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Stan Bartlett of the Grumpy Taxpayer$

Bob Mackin 

Six unions contributed nearly $2.5 million to the B.C. NDP’s 2017 election war chest, which eventually resulted in the party’s return to government. 

NDP leader Horgan and Green leader Weaver. (Twitter)

In opposition, the party failed six times to convince the previous BC Liberal government to ban corporate and union donations, but refused to voluntarily refuse big money donations. Premier John Horgan vows to legislate limits to the amounts and sources of political donations this fall.

United Steelworkers were the party’s biggest donor, with $757,614.87 in donations. The $672,576.38 in USW donations to the NDP last year were featured in BC Liberal attack ads during the election. 

Other big union donations to the NDP, disclosed by Elections BC on Aug. 15, came from the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union ($399,686.54), CUPE ($611,520.59), United Food and Commercial Workers Union ($220,141.83), MoveUP ($215,727.27) and Hospital Employees’ Union ($290,647.02). 

The NDP raised $9.125 million, including $3.07 million from unions, and spent $7.97 million. That broke down to $4.3 million on the central campaign and $3.6 million in transfers to candidates, who also did their own fundraising. The party ended the campaign owing $765,000.

The Liberals spent $13.6 million — $4.6 million on the central campaign and $7.8 million in transfers to candidates. The party that ruled the province from 2001 to 2017 took out $3 million in loans from four banks on Feb. 1 and owes $2.8 million.

Parties were limited to $4.8 million in central campaign spending.

The May 9 election ended with the BC Liberals winning 43 seats in the new 87-seat Legislature, one shy of a majority and six fewer than they held before dissolution. The three-seat Greens allied with the 41-seat NDP to displace the Liberals in a June 29 no-confidence vote. 

The Greens spent just $905,000. Last fall, leader Andrew Weaver eschewed donations from corporations and unions, but theBreaker analyzed the party’s disclosure forms and found that two businessmen and a member of a prominent real estate clan made large donations. 

Stephen Cheeseman of Chinook Power ($3,000) and tech entrepreneur James Douma ($5,000) were dwarfed by Elizabeth Beedie’s $20,000 contribution. She is the wife of Keith Beedie and mother of Ryan Beedie, the province’s largest industrial landowners. The younger Beedie donated $26,500 to the BC Liberals in 2017. 

The NDP claimed it raised $4.5 million from individuals. 

One of them was Mount Pleasant MLA Melanie Mark, now the Advanced Education minister, who donated $5,450 to her party, making her one of its biggest individual donors. She is eligible to receive a $500 tax deduction, the same as if she had donated to the $1,150 tax credit cap. By comparison, leader John Horgan gave $1,550. 

Ex-premier Christy Clark made no financial contribution to her party, which had paid her $50,000 last year in a controversial leader’s stipend on top of her $195,000 salary as premier. 

The NDP reported 11 individual donations for $10,000 each, including one from developer Dale Bosa. Ex-BC Hydro chair John Laxton gave $11,000. The biggest individual donations came from Kevin Campbell ($27,450), Sonya Lynn Makaroff ($26,560), Paul Jorjorian ($24,180) and Ghao Jie Li ($20,000). 

NDP ad highlighting Clark’s fundraising controversies (NDP)

The party also took in $1.4 million from corporations. The biggest, $101,000, came from two companies owned by the Aquilini family. There was also $50,790 from mining giant Teck and $21,185 from telecom Telus, which gave the BC Liberals $15,500 and $13,580, respectively. 

The NDP also disclosed donations from 30 numbered companies, including $25,000 from the Joo Kim Tiah-owned 1034808 B.C. Ltd. Tiah’s family developed the Vancouver Trump Tower and operates the Trump Hotel franchise.

Liberal lucre

The BC Liberals came into the election after raising $13.1 million in 2016. The party was under a cloud of controversy for hosting exclusive cash for access fundraisers featuring members of cabinet and it faced allegations of pay to play. There are no laws in B.C. that limit the size or source of donations to political parties. But, in March, the RCMP and a special prosecutor began to investigate indirect donations from lobbyists.

BC Liberal returns showed that three main cash for access fundraising events grossed $2.9 million, but were also subject to $1.08 million in costs. That limited the net deposit to the party’s accounts to $1.8 million. 

A Valentine’s Day fundraiser in Victoria grossed $208,800, but the function cost $114,821.75 for a $93,978.25 gross. On March 4 in Prince George, the event grossed $303,417.22, but netted only $85,248.43 after $218,167.79 in costs. The biggest was the April 10 fundraiser that grossed $801,300 at the Vancouver Convention Centre on the night before the election campaign officially started. The party counted $494,792.38 net, after $303,507.62 in costs.

The BC Liberals also disclosed $13,200 in 12 prohibited contributions returned to donors, including $5,000 from Mount Polley owner Imperial Metals Corporation and $3,000 from Woodfibre LNG. They were all listed as an “indirect contribution,” meaning they were made by lobbyists or executives under their personal names. 

Major BC Liberal corporate donors included West Fraser Mills ($111,000), Sandman Inn ($95,000), Independent Contractors and Businesses Association ($77,400), Interfor ($75,550), Anthem Properties ($64,500) and New Car Dealers ($48,050). 

Paul Oei (left) with Premier Christy Clark and John Yap at a 2015 Liberal fundraiser. (Twitter)

Prospero Group founder Robert Lee ($40,000) eclipsed former SNC-Lavalin chairman Gwyn Morgan ($38,500). Longtime BC Liberal bagman Peter Brown gave a modest $10,000. Vancouver Canucks’ co-owner Roberto Aquilini gave $10,500, while three of his family’s companies gave $17,100.

Defeated transit and taxis minister Peter Fassbender’s Surrey Fleetwood re-election campaign moved almost $318,000 in and out of its accounts. Only $66,288.03 was subject to the $77,674.62 per candidate spending limit, the form said. 

In the May 9 election, the NDP increased from 34 to 41 seats, the Liberals lost six for 43 and the Greens tripled to three. The NDP had 795,106 votes province-wide and wound-up spending $9.95 per vote. The Liberals spent $17.06 per vote for their 796,772 tally, while the Greens spent an economical $2.72 to attract 332,387 votes.

Nine candidates, including five from the NDP, got filing extensions due to extenuating circumstances. Five losing BC Liberals, including star candidate Steve Darling, missed the filing deadline. They have until Sept. 7 and must pay a $500 late filing penalty to Elections BC. 

Bob Mackin  Six unions contributed nearly $2.5 million

Bob Mackin 

Police officer photographs the Capilano Suspension Bridge shuttle bus that crashed Aug. 13 (Mackin)

A deadly 24 hour-period involving two of British Columbia’s biggest industries — tourism and movie production — is keeping Vancouver Police investigators busy. 

Around 10 a.m. on Aug. 13, a Capilano Suspension Bridge-contracted Vancouver Trolley Company tourbus rolled downhill on Canada Place Way, near the Vancouver Convention Centre, into an SUV. Three pedestrians from Massachusetts were pinned underneath. One of them, 49-year-old Dr. Michael Plevyak of Springfield, Mass., died later in hospital.  

Around 8:20 a.m. on Aug. 14, a stuntwoman driving a motorcycle on the Deadpool 2 movie production crashed into the window of the nearly vacant, ground floor community access TV studio at Shaw Tower. 

The script for the scene, which began across the street near the Jack Poole Plaza Olympic cauldron, called for the woman’s character to be helmetless. Jack Poole Plaza is part of the B.C. Pavilion Corporation-managed Vancouver Convention Centre complex. Both civic and provincial officials have permitted filming of the sequel on public property and promoted its presence in the city. Vancouver-born star Ryan Reynolds took to Twitter with a statement that said, in part: “We’re heartbroken, shocked and devastated.” 

Police survey the crash scene outside Canada Place (Mackin)

Shaw Tower is, coincidentally, next door to the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel, where B.C.-based Glee star Cory Monteith died July 13, 2013 of heroin and alcohol abuse. 

The Aug. 13-14 accidents recalled Dec. 2, 2010, a deadly day in another dynamic B.C. industry: construction. 

That was when two construction workers died in separate incidents on seperate sites, just a couple of blocks apart in the same area. Dan Martens was fatally struck by falling wood or concrete at Aspac’s Three Harbour Green condo tower at the foot of Thurlow Street. Only 20 minutes later and two blocks away, BirdAir subcontractor Diego Herrera fell more than 30 feet off the iconic Canada Place five sails, which were being replaced. The construction manager on both sites was Ledcor, whose late founder, William Lede, was fatally buried under gravel at an Edmonton construction site in 1980.  

Vancouver Trolley Company was sold in June to the Robert Safrata-owned West Coast Sightseeing; the Capilano Suspension Bridge contract precedes the sale, but ex-VTC owner Jim Storie declined comment. 

Capilano Suspension Bridge vice-president Sue Kaffka said: “We offer our sincere condolences to the people who were involved in this accident and to their families and friends.” Kaffka declined further comment. 

VTC general manager Stuart Coventry told reporters on Aug. 14 that the driver is a seven-year veteran of the company with a clean driving record and buses are independently tested every six months. Coventry did not name names or provide documentation to substantiate his claims. UPDATE (Aug. 15): theBreaker asked Coventry to provide the inspection, maintenance and replacement dates for bus 207’s brakes and tires, as well as the number of kilometres on its odometer. He declined to answer. 

“We anticipate the scope of your questions will be covered by the ongoing VPD investigation,” Coventry wrote. “We do not want to impact that investigation in any way and will therefore not be making any further comment beyond our two statements and media availability yesterday.”

The Deadpool 2 fatal crash scene on Aug. 14 (reader photo)

Passenger Transportation Board regulates licensed passenger vehicles, such as shuttle vans and intercity buses. The board is chaired by Don Zurowski, a BC Liberal patronage appointee who is a former Prince George city councillor. His appointment lasts until the end of September. 

The related Passenger Transportation Branch deals with compliance and enforcement of commercial passsenger transportation companies. Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement Branch audits 13 carriers annually. Its deputy director, Cole Delisle, refused to comment. 

Late last year, the provincial government published the Stantec-authored Motor Coach Safety Review to “evaluate BC motor coach safety trends, review collision statistics, regulations relative to other jurisdictions, and assess best practices in other jurisdictions.”

It found serious collisions on B.C. highways fell 5.4% annually and driver-related causes accounted 80% of the collisions. Drivers are evaluated every five years until age 45, when they must be graded every three years. At age 65, it is annual. Mechanical inspection of motorcoaches is required every six months.

Meanwhile, Deadline Hollywood reported that the deceased stuntwoman was veteran road racer, but movie rookie, Joi Harris. The website claimed, via unnamed sources, that the production “is enduring very long hours.” 

UPDATE: An Aug. 15 WorkSafeBC incident report addressed to TCF Vancouver Productions Ltd., released Aug. 18 to theBreaker, gave a brief description of the incident: 

“The worker had been rehearsing a stunt scene that involved driving a motorcycle, Ducati 939 Hyperstrada, out of the open doors of a building, across a concrete pad and down a ramp that had been built over three stairs and coming to a stop on the stair landing. During the first shooting of the scene the stunt driver continued driving beyond the planned stopping spot on the stairway landing, and continued to drive down a second ramp built over the bottom stairs and across the roadway. The motorcycle struck the concrete sidewalk curb, the worker was thrown off the motorcycle and propelled through a plate glass window of a building.”

A full report from TCF is due to be submitted to WorkSafeBC by Sept. 13. 

Have you worked in the tourbus industry or movie and TV production industry in British Columbia? Have you witnessed unsafe or unhealthy work? Please contact theBreaker in confidence. Click here. 

2017-08-14 IR 201717804029A (Redacted) by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin  [caption id="attachment_4793" align="alignright" width="623"] Police officer

Bob Mackin

McArthur (front row, fourth from left) at Sydney privacy conference.

British Columbia’s acting information and privacy commissioner says it was worth the $10,000 taxpayers spent to send him and a deputy to a convention in Australia while the government was in transition last month. 

Drew McArthur, who was appointed by the BC Liberal cabinet to replace Elizabeth Denham in mid-2016, told theBreaker that it was part of British Columbia’s commitment as the secretariat for the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities. 

“Information knows no borders,” McArthur said in an interview. “B.C. citizens’ information is traveling all over the world and there are investigations undertaken in different countries that involve B.C. citizens’ information and there is lots of good information we’re learning from other authorities on how they conduct investigations and the kinds of work they’re doing.”

McArthur and deputy commissioner Michael McEvoy appeared at the Sydney-hosted international forum of privacy commissioners on July 10-11, where attendees discussed topics like data protection, privacy law reform and artificial intelligence. Vancouver hosts the next forum, Nov. 15-17.

The inconclusive May 9 election led to an alliance between the NDP and Green parties that resulted in the  June 29 no-confidence vote and defeat of the BC Liberals. The government remained in limbo until July 18 when 16 years of BC Liberal rule ended with the swearing-in of NDP Premier John Horgan. McArthur said it was not necessary for him to be in the province during the BC Liberals’ last week in power, because he had no role in the transition of government.  

“We’re an independent office of the legislature, our investigation work continues no matter what state the government is in,” McArthur said. “I don’t have any authority to oversee any elements of transition or the creation or destruction of documents on behalf of the government. That authority is vested in the Information Management Act that appoints the chief records officer for the provincial government, whom you know has been dismissed. I don’t think we have a new chief records officer yet.”

Assistant deputy minister of finance Cheryl Wenezenki-Yolland held that post, but she was among a group of 10 senior bureaucrats dismissed on the final day of the BC Liberal administration in one of Christy Clark’s last cabinet orders.  

McEvoy (left) and McArthur in Sydney (

Leading up to the transition, theBreaker complained to the OIPC after finding evidence that documents in the Office of the Premier may have been destroyed before, during and after the election campaign. During Clark’s premiership, the OIPC found the BC Liberals mass-deleting government email, using private services like Gmail and avoiding written communication altogether in strategic efforts to evade FOI laws. 

By comparison, when 44 years of Progressive Conservative rule ended in Alberta in 2015, that province’s information and privacy commissioner Jill Clayton issued a public statement to remind public workers of their obligations under records statutes. That prompted a whistleblower to complain about the shredding of 344 boxes of Ministry of Environment documents the day after Rachel Notley led the NDP to victory. 

McArthur declined to follow Clayton’s lead in B.C. He said he was confident with the “very detailed instructions” about information-handling given to government workers by Clark’s deputy minister, Kim Henderson. McArthur deputy Jay Fedorak provided theBreaker with a copy of “Managing Records During an Election,” which is published below. 

“I don’t have any authority or jurisdiction like they do in Alberta over the destruction of government records,” McArthur said.  

“He needed to be here”: critic

IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis disagreed. He said McArthur had an obligation to be on-duty and on-call during the pivotal period in B.C. history. 

“Whether he has jurisdiction or not is irrelevant, his office has already demonstrated that it can involve itself at its own initiative in government document management and its first and foremost responsibility was to British Columbians in the event something happened that would have required his immediate attention,” Travis said. “He needed to be here, not a dozen time zones away Down Under.” 

B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association executive director Vince Gogolek said McArthur and OIPC could have done more. He pointed to section 42 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which gives the commissioner power to inform the public of the law or research anything affecting the achievement of the law’s purposes. 

“Some of these issues that we’re talking about here in terms of preserving records does, to my mind, relate to the purposes of the act,” Gogolek said. “The records have to be there to be requested. It might not be specifically put into the hands of the commissioner’s office, but I think there is scope there for the commissioner to certainly comment on those issues.” 

Horgan appointed Jinny Sims as the Citizens Services minister with jurisdiction over the government’s information and privacy functions. McArthur said he was “pleased” to see language in her mandate letter about promoting transparency and increasing the efficiency and timeliness of freedom of information requests. The NDP promised to amend the laws to make government more transparent. 

“We will see how that pans out and I’m certainly looking forward to an opportunity to work with her to look for ways to improve the government’s results in terms of freedom of information and protection of information for B.C. citizens,” McArthur said.

McArthur was Telus’s chief compliance and privacy officer until his 2007 retirement. In 2010, he joined the OIPC’s external advisory board. His post was supposed to last six months, while a special committee of MLAs sought a permanent replacement for Denham, now the United Kingdom’s information and privacy watchdog. They failed earlier this year to agree on a replacement, which means McArthur remains until a new committee completes a new recruitment process. Despite his temporary appointment by the previous cabinet, McArthur said he has not experienced any roadblocks or shied away from any investigations. 

“I have never encountered any issues that would prevent me from doing my role the way that I see best,” he said. “I am not subject to political interference, have not been. I have spent my time making sure my office has the leadership, direction and support in order to do the important work that it needs.”

Travis said that McArthur’s successor needs to be “an advocate for access to information issues, for privacy issues and for lobbying issues; not somebody who is a bureaucrat at administration.” 

  • Are you a B.C. government employee or contractor who was behind-the-scenes during the transition of power? Did you witness deletion, destruction or disappearance of documents or files? theBreaker wants to hear from you. Contact theBreaker in confidence. Click here. 

Managing Records During an Election 2017 by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin [caption id="attachment_4784" align="alignright" width="526"] McArthur (front