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Bob Mackin

The mystery continues, even after the provincial election, “clone speech”, fall of the BC Liberals and the swearing-in of the NDP government. 

Surrey secrecy

What are the new cost estimates for TransLink’s Broadway subway and Surrey LRT megaprojects? 

In early 2016, City of Surrey revised the cost of its project, from $2.14 billion to $2.6 billion. The Broadway subway estimate was $1.98 billion.

TransLink chief financial officer Cathy McLay admitted in spring 2016 that costs had risen for both. She blamed the price of real estate and the costs for equipment and materials that would be sourced from the United States. The organization is steadfastly refusing to come clean on the numbers. 

Have the projects doubled in price? When government agencies are unreasonable and won’t be honest to the governed, then it becomes reasonable to pose such a question. Especially in British Columbia, where the phrase “on-time, on-budget” isn’t a rule or even an aspiration anymore, but a punchline. It is not entirely a B.C. phenomenon. 

The Journal of American Planning Association published “Cost Underestimation in Public Works Projects: Error or Lie?” in the summer 2002 edition by Bent Flyvbjerg, Mette Skamris Holm and Søren Buhl. They studied 258 transportation projects worth U.S. $90 billion

“Based on the available evidence, we conclude that rail promoters appear to be particularly prone to cost underestimation, followed by promoters of fixed links… The average difference between actual and estimated costs for rail projects is substantially and significantly higher than that for roads… The average inaccuracy for rail projects is more than twice that for roads, resulting in average cost escalations for rail more than double that for roads.”

On Aug. 8, TransLink released two heavily censored reports on the projects to theBreaker, plus its latest direct refusal to comment on the revised cost estimates. 

TransLink infrastructure and engineering vice-president Sany Zein cites “commercially-sensitive information that should remain confidential in anticipation of commercial negotiations” for refusing to offer an update on the dollars and cents of the megaprojects, which the ruling NDP, their allies in the Green Party and the opposition Liberals all support.

TransLink’s Sany Zein

Are Zein’s words just word salad to mask the fear of widespread public sticker shock? 

TransLink is withholding more than 1,200 pages of documents about the Broadway subway, which is officially called the Millennium Line Broadway Extension. It disclosed a cover page for a May 5 2017 report called “Due Diligence Technical Response,” but it didn’t even show theBreaker a table of contents. 

The Surrey project is officially known as South of Fraser Rapid Transit and TransLink gave theBreaker parts of two reports: the October 2016 Newton-Guildford Traffic Modelling Report by Steer Davies Gleave and Hatch and the Phase One: Surrey-Newtown-Guildford LRT project business case, dated Nov. 28, 2016. 

The former says Newton-Guildford will be “an urban style LRT system, integrated into the existing streetscapes, using modern lower floor Light Rail vehicles.” The second phase could be SkyTrain technology. 

“Work is ongoing to determine the preferred rapid transit technology for the Surrey-Langley Line, but if LRT is selected as the preferred technology, then the two lines will run on a common section of track in the Surrey City Centre area between King George and 104 Ave.”

The latter report is a joint TransLink and PartnershipsBC business case that recommends the Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT project. The estimated capital cost of the 11-stop, 10.4 kilometre LRT line is censored. The project schedule foresees construction from mid-2019 to the end of 2022, with LRT operations beginning in 2023. 

Claire Trevena, the NDP Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, has not responded to theBreaker’s request for comment. We will let you know if she does. 

  • Stay tuned. theBreaker will not give up trying to get you the cost estimates for these projects. If you’re a TransLink or government insider, theBreaker welcomes your tips, in confidence. Click this contact link. 

FOI Release Memo 2017-341 – Cost Estimates by BobMackin on Scribd

FOI Release 2017-339 Surrey LRT by BobMackin on Scribd

FOI Release 2017-340- Broadway Subway by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin The mystery continues, even after the

Bob Mackin

A journalism professor wonders if British Columbia has gone too far in legislating privacy. 

Two people complained that Surrey Creep Catcher, the vigilante group battling child sexual abuse, captured and published their images without permission. On July 24, Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner Drew McArthur ordered SCC to destroy videos of those stings by Sept. 6.

“I really wonder whether or not we should be legislating civil society in this way. It strikes me that Canada has become far more obsessed with privacy than we have with other values that should be given equal considerations,” said Sean Holman of Calgary’s Mount Royal University. “To me, that’s the more important issue, is how far do we go in legislating civil society, and what kind of restrictions do we place on civil society?”

McArthur’s order said SCC induced two people to communicate online with a woman who pretended to be under the age of 16. They were lured to a public location where SCC confronted them with cameras rolling. McArthur found SCC’s collection, use and disclosure of personal information breached the Personal Information Protection Act, because SCC had no permission or authority. 

“This unfortunately is the nature of vigilante groups to some extent, is that they exist because of lack of confidence in the authorities and it’s a short step from lack of confidence in the authorities to lack of respect for the laws,” said Vince Gogolek, B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association executive director. “We’re still a country that is governed by rule of law, there are laws we like or don’t like or whatever, but we have to obey them. Privacy law is no different.”

SCC argued that its activities should be covered by an exception in the law for journalism, but McArthur rejected that defence. 

“The organization posted videos of the complainants and other information about them, but this does not automatically constitute journalism,” McArthur wrote. “Again, there is no fair attempt to describe or analyze the facts, or to provide opinion or debate. The purpose of the exercise is to entrap individuals whom the organization believes are attempting to lure a minor and to publicly denounce them.”

Blurring the lines

Holman conceded this may not be the ideal test-case, but it is a worthy conversation-starter about what constitutes journalism in an era of media evolution.

“As civil society and journalism changes, we now increasingly have civil society groups doing what could be described as journalistic work in the absence of these [mainstream media] outlets that could be capable or willing to do that work,” Holman said. “This case is an indicator that journalists in Canada should have been more aggressive in the past about establishing a definition of what constitutes journalism.” 

Holman worries that, for example, a videotaped ambush of a corporate executive over a company’s pollution or corruption could end in the same fashion as the case against SCC. Or it could have a chilling effect and deter someone from seeking comment in such a fashion.

Ryan LaForge (Facebook)

“You could see many other civil society groups running afoul of this law for similar reasons, if any civil society group is doing accountability work regarding a whole range of issues,” he said. 

Gogolek concurred. He said there may be parallels to a 2013 Supreme Court of Canada decision that found Alberta’s privacy law unconstitutional. Union members who videotaped a picket line outside a West Edmonton Mall casino in 2006 failed to convince lower court judges that they were performing journalism. The country’s highest court did eventually side with the union, agreeing that the privacy law breached the union’s “ability to communicate and persuade the public of its cause.” 

SCC tactics recall the “To Catch a Predator” stings that ran a decade ago on Dateline NBC. SCC received extensive national mainstream media attention in 2016 for a sting involving a Surrey RCMP officer. Dario Devic faces trial on a charge of communicating with a person under age 16 for purposes of sexual interference or touching. SCC leader Ryan LaForge was charged with assault in connection with two stings in April of this year. In one of them, the target was charged with child luring.

LaForge was defiant in a July 25 Facebook video directed at McArthur. He vowed that he would not comply with the order and would step-up his efforts to protect the community from those who intend to harm children. 

“You guys trying to cover up child luring? You guys trying to destroy evidence of adults meeting children?” LaForge said on Facebook. “What kind of fucked-up system is it when you guys are placing orders on me to destroy evidence of adults who wanted to meet children off of the Internet? I’m sorry, but the RCMP themselves can say Ryan stop it, and I say the same thing: cuff me, put me in jail! You know what they’re doing? They’re making me go harder, I’m actually going to go harder at this.” 

Said McArthur in an interview with theBreaker: “We’ll wait until Sept. 6 to see if they have complied. If they haven’t by then, then we’ll refer to the authorities.”

Bob Mackin A journalism professor wonders if British

Bob Mackin 

(Originally published in the Vancouver Courier) 

The Aug. 8, 2008 edition of this column is brought to you by the number eight. The Romans called it VIII. In Chinese, it’s a homonym for prosperity.

Eight is the central back row position in rugby union.

Eight runners entered the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games mile race at Empire Stadium, but only Roger Bannister and John Landy finished in under four minutes.

In the Olympics, there are eight men or women rowing, with a coxswain of course to do the steering. Richmond’s Kyle Hamilton is one of five B.C. rowers on the men’s team for Beijing. Darcy Marquardt of Richmond is joined by two others from B.C. in the women’s boat.

Greg Adams wore number eight when he scored “The Goal” that sent the Vancouver Canucks to the 1994 Stanley Cup finals. Michael Dickerson was the Vancouver Grizzlies’ only number eight during his 1999 to 2001 tenure with the bad news bears.

The greatest business deal in hockey history could’ve been done Aug. 8, but Peter Pocklington chose to trade Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings on Aug. 9, 1988.

Quarterback Steve Young entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005, a year before Troy Aikman was inducted. They joined receiver Tommy McDonald and free safety Larry Wilson as the great eights in the Canton, Ohio football shrine.

There were eight eights before B.C. Lions’ utilityman Bret Anderson, including quarterbacks Danny Barrett and Jerry Tagge and receiver Ned Armour.

Steve Kindel wears number eight for the Vancouver Whitecaps, but the world’s most famous eight is Spanish defender Xavi Hernandez, the top player of Euro 2008. The 2004 Whitecaps women won the W-League final on penalty kicks on Aug. 8, the same day the number eight horse Actxotic won the eighth race at Hastings Racecourse.

Lynn Swann is the greatest 88 of NFL history; Eric Lindros was going to be the greatest 88 in hockey history, but he got his bell rung a few too many times. Kobe Bryant has one eight on the back of his gold-and-purple Lakers jersey.

More than any other sport, baseball is the ultimate game of numbers. It has a veritable dream team of eights.

Baltimore Orioles’ ironman Cal Ripken Jr. wore number eight. Eight Chicago White Sox were banned forever from baseball for conspiring to lose the 1919 World Series to the underdog Cincinnati Reds and are collectively known as the Black Sox.

Eight turned on its side is the symbol for infinity, but this column’s length is finite.

Aug. 8 is also the final day on the job for Courier editor Mick Maloney after 25 years in the chair. It was Mick who took a chance on this columnist in the summer of 1998. For that I am forever grateful. Enjoy your retirement. We’ll miss you.

Bob Mackin  (Originally published in the Vancouver Courier)  The

Bob Mackin 

In what she said was her last news conference as a public figure, ex-Premier Christy Clark told reporters that none of her 42 fellow BC Liberal MLAs wanted her to quit the party leadership.

But after a walk on a beach, she did so anyway, for the good of the party. Because her head caught up with her heart.

“I talked to the caucus the day before [her July 28 resignation], I asked them all, did they want me to stay, did they want me to go?” Clark said July 31 in Vancouver. “Every single person in the room asked me to stay.”

That is not the way it went down, according to two independent sources intimately familiar with the caucus retreat at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. Clark chose to quit instead of being dumped.

In Penticton, Prof. Plecas pressed previous premier.

Clark had repeatedly vowed to stick around as both the MLA for Kelowna West and the opposition leader — “as long as my caucus wants me to” — after losing the June 29 confidence vote that led to the NDP’s John Horgan becoming premier. The June 22 “clone speech,” which copped parts of the NDP and Green platforms that her party campaigned against, backfired and threw the party into an identity crisis. She was a lame duck. 

The sources told theBreaker that, during the retreat, Abbotsford South MLA Darryl Plecas demanded a review of Clark’s leadership. He even threatened to quit caucus and sit as an independent when the Legislature reopens this fall. 

Plecas was not alone in the release of pent-up anger directed at Clark. Of the prevailing mood at the retreat, one of the sources said bluntly: “It was really ugly.” 

The pivotal Penticton meeting came two weeks after theBreaker revealed details of closed-door BC Liberal campaign post-mortems in Vancouver and Surrey. Defeated cabinet minister and former adman Peter Fassbender (Surrey-Fleetwood) was said to be the harshest critic: “She lost it for us. Period. End of story.” 

Plecas was a star candidate recruited before the 2013 election, from his job as an accomplished and oft-quoted criminology professor at the University of the Fraser Valley. He defeated independent incumbent John van Dongen, who quit the BC Liberal caucus in 2012 over Clark’s rapidly waning integrity and her habit of being economical with the truth. “When more and more decisions are being made for the wrong reasons, then you have an organization that is heading for failure,” van Dongen told the Legislature in a prophetic speech.

Clark put Plecas in charge of a blue ribbon task force on crime reduction, but the premier’s office ensured the panel’s report was relegated to obscurity. It was released with no fanfare on the last Thursday before Christmas 2014, buried under dozens of news releases and more photo ops than the province’s media could keep up with.

That the end of Clark’s political career (for now) has an Abbotsford angle is an intriguing historical footnote. While Kamloops used to be British Columbia’s bellwether riding, Abbotsford has become the end of the road for right-leaning leaders, provincial and federal.

Clark held the last rally of her province-wide campaign tour May 8 at the Quality Hotel in Abbotsford.

On Oct. 18, 2015, Stephen Harper ended his ill-fated federal Conservative campaign at Cascade Aerospace, before flying home to Calgary to become the ex-Prime Minister.

Late Social Credit leader Grace McCarthy attempted a 1994 comeback in Matsqui, but Liberal Mike de Jong eked-out a 42-vote, by-election upset over B.C.’s first lady of free enterprise. 

Most of the Clark-less caucus appeared before cameras in Penticton after the publication of her written resignation, which is effective Aug. 4.

“What she’s given to this province should never be forgiven,” said distraught interim leader Rich Coleman, who held back the tears and corrected himself a moment later. “Forgotten.” 

Bob Mackin  In what she said was her

Bob Mackin

Buried in the middle of the Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training minister’s 622-page, 2016 budget binder are eight pages rife with bureaucratic word salad about controversial patronage appointee Gordon Wilson’s job to flog B.C.’s going-nowhere LNG export industry.

The former BC Liberal leader and his wife, Judi Tyabji, were facing financial and legal struggles when he endorsed Premier Christy Clark in the May 2013 election. Clark rewarded him in October that year with a $50,000, four-month contract as the “Buy B.C. LNG Advocate.” The Clark cabinet renewed Wilson’s gig twice and expanded it twice. By the time he was fired Aug. 1 by the new NDP government, Wilson had been paid more than $550,000.

Clark and endorser Wilson in 2013.

The briefing notes for then-Minister Shirley Bond claim that Wilson had “great success connecting communities and companies with the LNG Buy B.C. program” because Wilson “engaged 200 businesses during 22 community visits and 16 presentations.” 

The briefing notes contain no list of names, dates or places for Wilson’s engaging, visiting and presenting. But they do shed more light on the expensive program, which cost taxpayers $567,841 for the 2015-2016 fiscal year alone. 

Besides Wilson’s $150,000 salary, $32,000 in travel expenses (down from $35,730 the previous year) and $1,200 cell phone bill, there were two-full time workers and a co-op student assigned. Their names were not disclosed. The office spent $45,100 on workshops, $21,000 on a “local benefits dashboard project” and $18,000 on an “aboriginal business development project.” The other $300,000 was deemed an “inter-ministry cost share with [Ministry of International Trade] for systems support.”

“A good example of the advocate’s work is his efforts to encourage industry to follow the leadership example of FortisBC in tracking and reporting on local participation in their Tilbury LNG expansion project,” said the briefing notes. “FortisBC leveraged the LNG Buy B.C. program and is using their dashboard to help local communities see how benefits from the project are flowing to local businesses.”

Bond’s successor, Bruce Ralston, said the NDP government could find no reports or evidence of deliverables. Indeed, freedom of information-released documents provided to theBreaker by a reader earlier this year showed that the only reports Wilson filed were expense reports. Wilson, who was paid $600 a day, claimed in media interviews that he was not hired to write reports. Wilson is a former community college economics and geography instructor who also boasts two university degrees. 

theBreaker issued a public challenge to Wilson via Twitter on Aug. 1 to deliver a report (maximum 3,000 words, deadline Friday, Aug. 4 at 5 p.m.) to answer key questions about what he actually achieved in his well-paying job. Who did Wilson meet? When and where? What was discussed? What were the outcomes? 

Though theBreaker would not pay the already well-compensated Wilson anything, it would give Wilson a chance to explain, in detail, what exactly he did for all that public money he received after endorsing Clark and the BC Liberals in the 2013 election.

UPDATE (Aug. 8): Wilson never did respond to theBreaker’s #ReportToThePublic challenge. Instead, he threatened to sue Premier John Horgan and Jobs minister Bruce Ralston for defamation for comments made after firing him, about the paucity of reports. They both did apologize, but that wasn’t good enough for Wilson, who may still sue. 

A report released under FOI by the previous BC Liberal government to the NDP could be the most-expensive in B.C. history. It is apparently the only report made public about Wilson’s activities.

That report was filed in early 2014, near the end of Wilson’s first three-month appointment. In it, Wilson told then-Minister Shirley Bond what anyone reading business media websites already knew — that Russia, Qatar and Australia were leading the way in the LNG industry — and included the key recommendation to launch an interactive website. When that website was launched in 2016, it cost $1 million and it contained no LNG job or contract opportunities. 

UPDATE (Aug. 12): On Facebook, Ralston published an apology and retraction to Wilson, stating “Mr. Wilson did provide reports setting out what he had done to earn the money that he was paid.” Ralston claimed that he was provided “incorrect information” before originally claiming the NDP government was unable to locate any written reports by Wilson. 

The NDP government wants to turn the page on “Flip” Wilson, but theBreaker is determined to get the goods for taxpayers who were dinged for Wilson’s patronage job.

On Aug. 9, theBreaker filed five FOI requests about Wilson’s activities. Specifically, theBreaker applied for: a copy of the review and related correspondence that led to Wilson’s firing; activity reports and expense reports that Wilson filed since Nov. 1, 2016; a list of the “more than 200 businesses, during 22 community visits and 16 presentations” that Wilson met with (including the names and dates) in the 2015-2016 fiscal year; and any correspondence between Wilson and his son, Mathew Wilson, during the tenure of his patronage job.

BC Liberal Mathew Wilson unsuccessfully challenged NDP incumbent Nicholas Simons for the Powell River-Sunshine Coast seat in the May 9 election. The junior Wilson works as a lawyer for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. His duties have included strategic partnerships on west coast energy and policy analysis of oil, gas and pipeline development.  

In July 2013, Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham recommended the government proactively publish calendars and expense reports for “ministers, deputy ministers and senior executives or equivalent.” In 2016, the BC Liberal government finally began publishing calendars and expense reports for ministers and deputy ministers, but not for those like Wilson, who fall under the “senior executives or equivalent” category.

Denham also recommended the government proactively release “final reports or audits on the performance or efficiency of their policies, programs or activities.” Likewise, the BC Liberals did not act on that recommendation.

Had the BC Liberals followed Denham’s instructions, there would be no mystery about the quality or quantity of Wilson’s work. 

One more thing…

History can sometimes be amusing. Very amusing, if you thumb through Hansard transcripts.

In 1993, as leader of the official opposition, Wilson and his fellow caucus member and future wife, Judi Tyabji spoke out in the Legislature against NDP government patronage.

On April 6, 1993, Wilson said this:

“There is no question that what the people wanted when they elected a new government was significant change. They wanted reform and an opportunity to know that their tax dollars were going to be wisely spent. Instead, we see an ever-increasing growth in government through patronage appointments and in those who seek to serve government through various committees and reporting agencies — all of whom have an expense account on a daily basis. Yet the delivery of service to the public is lacking.”

On April 14, 1993, Tyabji said this: 

“…get your priorities straight. Rein in government spending, stop the patronage treadmill by cutting back on some of the $100,000-a-year or $120,000-a-year patronage appointments, and feed the people.”

Politicians. They say and do the darnedest things, don’t they? 

From Shirley Bond’s estimates binder for 2016-17 by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Buried in the middle of the

Bob Mackin 

The baton relay for the 2018 Commonwealth Games came through Vancouver on Aug. 1, a week before the 63rd anniversary of the 1954 British Empire Games. 

The Gold Coast Games’ baton, which contains a message from Queen Elizabeth II to be read at next April’s opening ceremony, stopped at the Empire Fields statue marking Brit Roger Bannister’s victory over Aussie John Landy in the historic Miracle Mile.

Could the Games return to British Columbia, for the first time since Victoria held it in 1994?

A Victoria committee, headed by newspaper publisher David Black, has support from Mayor Lisa Helps. But there are no funding commitments yet from the new NDP B.C. government or the federal Liberal government. theBreaker did not receive a response from the NDP government. 

Federal sport minister Carla Qualtrough told theBreaker that cabinet is waiting for a formal proposal before deciding.  

Durban, South Africa missed deadlines and lost hosting rights earlier this year. The Commonwealth Games Federation wants bid books in by the end of September, so it can make a decision in November. Birmingham and Liverpool are jockeying for the U.K. government’s endorsement. 

“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, referring to the joint bid with the U.S. and Mexico for FIFA’s 2026 World Cup and Calgary’s potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. 

Qualtrough said there could also be a bid for the 2030 Centennial Commonwealth Games from Hamilton, the original host. 

“When a formal [Victoria bid] requrest is made, we’ll look at it seriously.” 

Commonwealth Games Canada CEO Brian MacPherson told theBreaker in early July that Black’s committee is trying to craft a $700 million operations budget and it envisions using warehouses and hangars for several venues. Whether any proposed venues are in Vancouver would rely on the provincial governemnt funding and priorities. 

“If and when we can sit down with the B.C. government, and if they’re supportive of this, if they have other options, we’d be more than happy to listen to them,” MacPherson said. 

The Gold Coast baton also visited the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame and roof of B.C. Place Stadium, which would be a logical venue for the Commonwealth rugby sevens tournament. 

Chris Shaw, the leader of the No Games 2010 Coalition that opposed the Vancouver Olympics, and Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria both want full transparency and a referendum on the bid. Commonwealth Games have doubled in number of athletes and sports since Victoria 1994. Organizers of the Vancouver Olympics claim they balanced a budget of nearly $2 billion, but B.C.’s auditor general never did a final report. Board minutes and financial documents at the Vancouver city archives are hidden from the public until 2025. 

Bob Mackin  The baton relay for the 2018

Bob Mackin

As many as seven politicians are seriously pondering a run to become tomorrow’s leader of Today’s BC Liberals. 

Christy Clark’s July 28-announced resignation from politics ignited (and, in a few cases, reignited) a flurry of exploring, organizing and fundraising. Some of it had been happening under-the-radar since late last year, all of it can benefit from the NDP’s delay in reforming campaign finance laws. 

Liberal sources tell theBreaker to watch out for announcements soon from the following. 

Andrew Wilkinson 

Wilkinson has been signing up members for months. That November transit shelter ad campaign in his Quilchena riding may have been about more than just the May 9 election in the safest BC Liberal seat in the province. The doctor and lawyer has been acting as a leader since before the election, subbing for cabinet colleagues at photo ops and media interviews. His recent crashing of a news conference by his Attorney General successor, David Eby, was another experiment in heightening his profile. 

Jas Johal 

Clockwise from top: Sullivan, Johal, Falcon, Stone, Moore, Wilkinson and Watts (centre).

The Tsawwassen-based reporter-cum-LNG lobbyist narrowly won the Richmond-Queensborough seat on May 9 and was briefly in cabinet as citizens’ services minister. He knows it is too soon for him to be a party leader, but would be making the bid for the sake of raising profile. His other purpose? To support Wilkinson, and help put him over the top on the final ballot. 

Kevin Falcon

The former Gordon Campbell loyalist is on the fence, which is frustrating party insiders who believe the 2011 runner-up can win this time. Falcon faces a dilemma. Does he want to leave his comfortable position with developer Anthem Properties to return to B.C.’s political wars? He may be chomping at the bit, after watching the party languish under Clark. 

James Moore

In Stephen Harper’s Conservative goverment, Moore was once the senior minister for B.C. He has a background in talk radio and is an effective communicator and debater. Moore now enjoys a lucrative job with the Dentons law firm, as a senior business advisor, but he has formed a three-person exploratory committee to ponder a run for the leadership. 

Todd Stone

Unlike Moore, ex-Transportation Minister Stone is a shaky communicator. He also has the baggage of the Triple Delete scandal that emanated from his ministerial office. What sets him apart from the other six is geography. That is the main reason why Interior Liberals are pressuring Stone, to throw his hat in the ring and be the voice for the rest of the province. 

Sam Sullivan 

The one-term Vancouver mayor and two-term MLA is forming a team. He knows he is not a frontrunner, but thinks he has a chance if the heavyweights split votes. 

Dianne Watts

The former, three-term Surrey mayor became one of only two federal Tories elected in a riding touching the Pacific Ocean in 2015 (Richmond incumbent Alice Wong was the other). Despite her recruitment by Harper, she can also appeal to social liberals. She faces a rough ride, because heavyweights in the party are already forming an “Anyone But Dianne” plan. Rich Coleman and Mary Polak, especially, blanch at the thought of Watts winning. They fear she would run a top-to-bottom reform of the party.

Watts and new Conservative leader Andrew Scheer were featured attractions at a $100-per-person fundraiser at former Ritchie Brothers industrial auctioneer Russell Cmolik’s South Surrey mansion on July 30. Her successor at city hall, Linda Hepner, showed up to the garden party with Liberal powerbroker Patrick Kinsella, who was in and out within 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, more questions than answers after Clark’s swansong news conference on July 31. 

She tried to portray herself as choosing her destiny. Pierre Trudeau had a walk in the snow. Gordon Campbell had a walk on a beach, in California. Clark had a walk on a beach in Penticton. But her political fate was already out of her control. 

Party backers had been paying for polling for months and the results were not good. Clark was especially weak among young adults, women, and college-educated males. 

Many of those backers sighed in relief when she failed to convince Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon to call an election on June 29. Their polling pointed to an easy and massive Horgan NDP majority in the low 60s, had there been a second 2017 election this summer. 

Based on their projections, the Liberals would have fallen from 43 to approximately 24 seats and the Greens cut to two, from three. 

Bob Mackin As many as seven politicians are

Bob Mackin

Christy Clark was a walking, talking contradiction. 

On her 2,345th day as BC Liberal leader — 10 days after becoming the ex-premier — she shocked the province and announced her resignation from politics. 

She loved to campaign. But govern? Not so much.

She was a political animal who didn’t want to be in the capital city. She called Victoria a “sick culture” and cancelled the Legislature sitting last fall, to campaign and fundraise instead. She really loved to raise money for the party from corporations because it meant a $50,000-a-year bonus and a sport utility vehicle provided by a donor.    

Clark and Coleman, December 2016.

She preached fiscal responsibilty, but scooped millions of dollars out of the public treasury to spend on advertising campaigns and events, like the Times of India Film Awards, which were strategically designed to help the party gain votes at election time. 

When the NDP was in power in the 1990s, it was a sin to waste money on such activities. But when she had her hands on the purse, there was no limit.

She sported a pink T-shirt for a photo op to battle bullying in schools on the last Wednesday every February, but did nothing to give B.C.’s downtrodden a voice. She prolonged the tradition of party discipline, which made her the bully in chief.

She came to power promising openness, but ran a government where her staff trained others to not write things down, delete what they did write down and use non-government email and apps to evade freedom of information laws. 

She was a career politician who enjoyed an interlude as an open line radio talkshow host. But, as premier, she refused invitations to be a guest on open line radio in the province’s biggest markets. 

She pledged to be a leader who wouldn’t run away, but when scandal visited — and it visited often — she made herself scarce for the first 24 to 48 hours, hoping the media and public would move onto something else. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. 

In the midst of a real estate bubble, driven by massive inflows of Chinese money, and rising homelessness, she left her Mount Pleasant house and moved to a bigger, posher one in Dunbar registered to a party donor connected to one of her biggest supporters. 

She represented a riding in Kelowna, but never followed through on a promise to buy a house there. Where did she stay on those rare occasions when she visited Kelowna? She spent on Galiano Island vacation property instead.

She was fond of repeating the jobs and families mantra. She gave many government jobs and contracts to friends of the party. Her ex-husband Mark Marissen and one of her brothers, Bruce Clark, were not only her inner circle, but powerful influences in the party. 

After the election, she pretended to be humble and threw a hail mary with that embarrassing “clone speech” that adopted the heart of the NDP and Green platforms. Instead of driving a wedge into the alliance, it ignited an identity crisis in the Liberal camp; her party’s conservative wing felt betrayed. She claimed she listened to B.C.’s divided populace, which wanted politics done differently. But that was all talk. She only wanted another election and the Lieutenant Governor, a Liberal rancher, wouldn’t put up with her nonsense. 

Clark liked to lecture her NDP opponents on the qualities of a true leader, which include not hiding or running away. Unlike Bill Vander Zalm, Mike Harcourt, Glen Clark and Gordon Campbell, Clark’s resignation was a two-step process with the second part delivered by news release. 

Career politician Rich Coleman became the interim leader in the most awkward fashion. At a news conference with caucus standing behind him in Penticton, he was on the verge of tears and stumbled over his words. “What she’s given this province should never be forgiven… forgotten.”

Coleman as interim leader could be a tantalizing prospect if Horgan wanted to call a snap election and convert his minority government into a majority. The Langley bloviator is tied inextricably to the ultimate Liberal power broker, Patrick Kinsella, and has extensive political baggage. Many believed Coleman to have been the real premier since 2011, much like Dick Cheney was to the George W. Bush White House. Coleman would be such a convenient target, that the biggest challenge for a quickie NDP campaign would be limiting the number of attack ads. 

Look for ex-Finance Minister Kevin Falcon to attempt a comeback in a leadership race. Former Advanced Education Minister and Attorney General Andrew Wilkinson has acted like a leader for months and is exploring a run. Could a reform-minded outsider emerge? Or could the post-election in-fighting lead to a split in the free enterprise coalition and resurgence of the B.C. Conservative Party (which has a convention scheduled for Sept. 30)? 

This is not the year that the party had in mind. It lost its majority on May 9. Lost a confidence vote on June 29. Lost power on July 18. It lost its leader on July 28. And the RCMP investigation into illegal donations from lobbyists is ongoing.

Bob Mackin Christy Clark was a walking, talking

Bob Mackin

The 35th Premier of British Columbia from March 14, 2011 to July 18, 2017 shocked the province just a week and a half into her new role as opposition leader. 

Christy Clark quit the helm of the B.C. Liberal Party and MLA for Kelowna West on July 28. 

The Dunbar resident had vowed to remain as opposition leader against NDP Premier John Horgan, who held a narrow, one-seat edge with the help of the Green Party. But, as theBreaker exclusively reported on July 14, a mutiny was brewing. Clark was blamed for her party’s loss of its majority status on the May 9 election day. That  led to the June 29 no confidence vote and the end of the 16-year BC Liberal dynasty. 

A party source told theBreaker that Clark no longer felt wanted by caucus and was tired of being blamed. So she chose to quit. Horgan’s horde will have a two-seat cushion, at least until a by-election is called to replace Clark. Expect a leadership convention early in the new year. 

Clark’s resignation was delivered to party members and media by email, Twitter and Facebook on the last Friday of July. Nicknamed “Premier Photo Op,” Clark did not go before cameras to deliver the news.

theBreaker presents theBreakerVision compares Clark’s two-step resignation with those political leaders before her, who quit as premier and leader simultaneously: Bill Vander Zalm (Fantasy Gardens conflict of interest scandal), Mike Harcourt (Bingogate), Glen Clark (Casinogate), and Gordon Campbell (HST)

Bob Mackin The 35th Premier of British Columbia

Kevin Donald Kerfoot

Bob Mackin

The younger brother of reclusive Vancouver Whitecaps FC owner Greg Kerfoot was sentenced to 13 years in jail on July 27 in a Seattle courtroom, in a case prosecuted by the grandson of legendary football coach Vince Lombardi.

Kevin Donald Kerfoot led a cross-border drug smuggling operation in 2005, in which he directed others to trade 41 kilograms of cocaine (bound for Canada) for 20 pounds of escstasy (bound for the U.S.). His subordinates were caught and pointed to Kerfoot as their leader. Kerfoot battled extradition for a decade and U.S. authorities believe he was behind last summer’s attempted murder of one of his subordinates after he served a 54-month sentence.

Kerfoot, 53, pleaded guilty in April in U.S. District Court in Seattle to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and ecstasy.  The lead attorney on the case was Vincent T. Lombardi. 

Court documents say that although Kerfoot was entitled to contest his extradition in Canada, he was “not entitled to obstruct justice in doing so — and he clearly did.”

“Kerfoot repeatedly suborned perjury, and likely ordered the attempted murder of one cooperating witness,” said the sentencing report.

That was in reference to accomplice Reginald Purdom, who was shot in Kelowna by a cyclist while he drove a car on Aug. 2, 2016. (A sentencing report explains in a footnote that Purdom is no longer using that name and refers to him only as R.P.)

Tyrone Reynolds McGee was charged with attempted murder, but is apparently not cooperating. 

The document alleges that Kerfoot ordered the hit in an attempt to silence R.P. during the extradition process.

“According to a later interview, R.P. had fallen back into drug use and drug trafficking, including with Kerfoot. On August 2, 2016 – approximately two weeks after Kerfoot lost his intermediate appeal of his extradition – Kerfoot asked R.P. to go meet with another drug trafficker to pick up narcotics in a parking lot in British Columbia. While R.P. was waiting in his vehicle, a man on a bicycle pulled up next to him and shot him seven to eight times with semi-automatic pistol equipped with a silencer.

“Amazingly, R.P. survived the shooting. He managed to put his vehicle in gear and run down the shooter before he could reload. The shooter also survived and is pending trial in Canada for the attempted murder. According to the RCMP, he has refused to make any statement about whom he was working for, and the investigation is ongoing.

The report said there is nothing in Kerfoot’s background to mitigate the circumstances.

Greg Kerfoot (Santa Ono, Twitter)

“Unlike many defendants who come before this court, Kerfoot appears to have had every advantage growing up. His parents, by his own account, were loving and provided for him. His brother is a wildly successful businessperson, who also provided Kerfoot with many opportunities to make a lawful living. Kerfoot appears to have willfully chosen a life of crime.”

In an unrelated case, Kevin Kerfoot was accused of failing to repay a $115,000 debt last fall. In B.C. Supreme Court documents filed Sept. 23, 2016, Eric Dutcyvich of Port McNeill claimed Kerfoot, who was residing at a house on 105th Avenue in Surrey, and a Langley-based vodka company owed $115,456.64. 

Greg Kerfoot, who is believed to be 57, is a software billionaire and BC Liberal donor with houses in West Vancouver and Kelowna. He is a close friend of ex-Premier Christy Clark, who represents a Kelowna riding, but lives in a Dunbar house registered to Kerfoot business associate Nevin Sangha. 

Kevin Donald Kerfoot sentencing report by BobMackin on Scribd

[caption id="attachment_4746" align="alignright" width="326"] Kevin Donald Kerfoot[/caption] Bob