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Horgan and Weaver agree to defeat Clark (Twitter)

Bob Mackin

The clock is ticking toward the end of 16 years of BC Liberal rule and, possibly, the end of Christy Clark’s political career. 

BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver announced May 29 that his party would support a minority NDP government led by John Horgan, ending almost three weeks of uncertainty. He said it was a four-year deal and would give the province a “stable minority.”

The deal, which has not been released, is pending ratification by the NDP caucus on May 30. 

The NDP won 41 seats in the May 9 election. The 41st was confirmed by a recount and absentee ballots in Courtenay-Comox last week. The Greens tripled their seats to three. The incumbent Liberals had 49 seats before dissolution, but fell to 43. That was one shy of majority status in the next 87-seat Legislature. 

A hint of the announcement came late Sunday when Horgan and Weaver were photographed at Westhills Stadium in Langford at the final of the Canada 7s women’s rugby sevens tournament. Both insist they had further talks afterward. 

Horgan and Weaver cited common platforms and that almost 60% of British Columbians voted for parties other than the Clark Liberals. 

The announcement came three hours after Clark Tweeted a video of her outside her office at Canada Place, wearing green clothes, claiming that her party was working toward a “progressive” solution. Clark was the only one of the three leaders who was not involved in negotiations. She let Brad Bennett, the BC Hydro chair, head the Liberal committee.

theBreaker has learned that Clark called an emergency caucus meeting  for 10 a.m. Monday, which meant she posted the video less than an hour later. A last, desperate pitch via social media while wearing a darker shade of the colour of the party she was hoping would help prop-up a party infested with corruption and cronyism. 

Norman Spector, the former Brian Mulroney and Bill Bennett aide that Weaver enlisted for negotiations, gave a glimpse into how the deal was made. “It’s true that [Horgan] and [Weaver] worked very well over the past couple of weeks,” Spector Tweeted.

“Ultimately, BC Greens recoiled (sometimes physically) at the prospect of supporting a Liberal government.” 

Weaver emphatically stated that the Greens have agreed to support an NDP minority government, rather than joining a coalition. The Green caucus will continue to meet separately and vote issue-by-issue, but will support the NDP throne speech and budget. 

After ratification, the next step is a trip to Government House and a meeting with Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon. But will Clark resign or recall the Legislature, present a throne speech and resign when it’s defeated? 

Falcon

One way or another, the arrangement is destined to end the controversial rule of Clark as BC Liberal premier. Clark’s reign was marred by various scandals over limitless fundraising, spending taxpayers’ money on party campaigns and the unjust firing of eight researchers in the pharmaceuticals safety division of the Ministry of Health. One of them, Roderick MacIsaac, died of suicide. 

Who’s next? 

Former Finance Minister Kevin Falcon is exploring a run for the leadership. Party sources tell theBreaker that Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson (Vancouver Quilchena) and backbencher Sam Sullivan (Vancouver False Creek) are organizing campaign teams. Supporters of former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts are said to be discussing a leadership bid with the Conservative MP. 

Clark defeated Falcon for the party leadership on Feb. 26, 2011 and was sworn-in as Gordon Campbell’s successor on March 14, 2011. She became the first woman in B.C. to lead a party to a provincial election victory when the Liberals upset Adrian Dix and the NDP on May 14, 2013. She lost her seat in Vancouver-Point Grey to the NDP’s David Eby, but returned to the Legislature in a summer 2013 by-election after Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart stepped aside. She rewarded him later that year with a $150,000-a-year job as B.C.’s Beijing-based trade envoy. 

Watts

For more than a year, Clark governed under the cloud of the cash for access scandal. She appeared at unadvertised party fundraisers where attendees were charged as much as $20,000 to meet her. It was revealed that Clark received a $50,000-a-year stipend from the party. The RCMP and a special prosecutor are investigating donations made by lobbyists on behalf of their clients. 

theBreaker revealed that the party paid for Clark’s Buick Enclave SUV from Dueck GM. She broke her promise to buy property in Kelowna. Instead, she lives in a rented Dunbar house that sold in 2016 for $3.7 million to a real estate investor who works for party donor and Vancouver Whitecaps’ owner Greg Kerfoot.

Clark, her public relations staff and even her lawyer all ignored questions from theBreaker about whether she actually pays rent to live in the house and who the owner really is. 

 

[caption id="attachment_4580" align="alignright" width="662"] Horgan and Weaver

theBreaker understands that the decision on who will govern British Columbia (and how) after the nail-biting May 9 election result is coming this afternoon. A source says the announcement about the B.C. Greens and… another party… is coming as early as 2 p.m.

Andrew Weaver led his B.C. Greens to three seats and the balance of power. Incumbent Premier Christy Clark’s BC Liberals fell from 49 to 43 seats — one shy of a majority in the next 87-seat Legislature — while the NDP under John Horgan sits at 41. 

UPDATE: Weaver and Horgan have a deal and will announce the terms at 2 p.m. at the golden gates, outside the Legislature. It appears the BC Liberal government since 2001 is almost over. 

Stay tuned for developments… 

theBreaker understands that the decision on who

Bob Mackin

The lawyer for a former director of the numbered company behind the bankrupt Pemberton Music Festival is pointing the finger back at New Orleans-based producer Huka Entertainment. 

Amanda Girling was one of three directors who quit 1115666 B.C. Ltd. the week before the July 13-16 festival was cancelled and put into bankruptcy. Girling did not respond to phone or email messages from theBreaker. Her lawyer, William Skelly, said he would only answer questions via email on her behalf. 

Amanda Girling

A Huka statement issued after the May 18 cancellation claimed that it was PMF’s decision. Asked whether that was accurate, Skelly wrote that the bankruptcy and cancellation were approved by all members of the board. “One of the members of the board was a representative of Huka [Stephane Lescure of Calabasas, Calif.]. He also approved of the resolution to assign the [General Partnership] and [Limited Partnership] into bankruptcy.”

There was no answer at Lescure’s listed phone number when theBreaker tried calling.

The numbered company, which also included Site C dam subcontractor Jim Dales, replaced Twisted Tree Circus, a company run by Huka executives Evan Harrison and A.J. Niland, as the general partner in April.

Ticket holders are the largest group of unsecured creditors, for a total $8.225 million of the $13.17 million owed to unsecured creditors. The two secured creditors, 1644609 Alberta Ltd. and Girling’s Janspec Holdings Ltd., claim a combined $3.57 million. The $6.6 million in assets includes $2.9 million cash. 

The first meeting of creditors is scheduled for 10 a.m. on June 6 at Vancouver’s Robson Square complex. The Ernst and Young notice says creditors must lodge a proof of claim in order to vote at the meeting. 

Billboard reported May 26 that Huka had commenced layoffs. 

theBreaker asked Skelly whether Girling, Lescure and third director Jim Dales considered downsizing the festival by the number of days or performers. He said there was no alternative financing available. 

“The board considered all alternatives to allow the festival to proceed,” Skelly wrote. “It is unfortunate for ticketholders, artists, suppliers and all those affected that, with the insufficient ticket sales and unfavorable currency exchange, the festival had to be cancelled.”

Festival site for sale 

The Girling-controlled Sunstone Ridge Developments lands, which hosted the festival, are listed for sale at $16.8 million through agent Paul Prade of Coldwell Banker Commercial. The 273-acre property, which has residential zoning for 40 acres, was assessed at $7.49 million last year. 

“The owners have invested over $2 million in site improvements, engineering, and consultant reports. The owners will retain the right to leaseback the farmland,” says the sales brochure. “Sunstone Ridge is offered for sale as is or as a joint venture opportunity with a strategic partner.” 

Skelly refused to say why it is for sale. He deemed the question “not relevant.”

Skelly also deemed several other questions from theBreaker “not relevant,” such as a request to see the Turner Foundation’s annual audited financial statements, why Girling is not speaking directly to the media, and whether her other businesses, including the Oak Tree Manor seniors home in Nanaimo, are in jeopardy. 

Daniel Fontaine, CEO of the B.C. Care Providers Association, said Oak Tree Manor is not a member of his association or the B.C. Seniors Living Association. 

Vancouver headquarters of Girling-owned companies (Mackin)

Girling is an heiress to the fortune of her late father Clifford Turner. The British-born packaging tycoon died in 2015, a few months shy of his 95th birthday. He was the last surviving co-founder of Linpac. A June 2003 story in the Telegraph described Linpac as a maker of fast food boxes for McDonald’s and shipping crates for Harley Davidson motorcycles, and valued at 900 million GBP.

Girling, her brother Jeremy Turner and Clifford Turner co-founded both Janspec and Sunstone Ridge in 2009. The Turner Foundation is described as a provider of water and education to children and families in Kenya. Last year, it reported only $12,288 in revenue and $12,556 in expenses. 

Girling lives in a mansion on 4.2 acres near Glen Valley in Langley that is registered to AJG Enterprises Inc. It was assessed at $2.134 million last year. Jeremy Turner has a four-storey, ocean view house in White Rock, purchased in June 2016 with a declared value of $2.7 million.

Nyal Wilcox, executive director of the Turner Foundation, replaced Clifford Turner as a director of Sunstone Ridge. Girling and accountant Neil Colquhoun, the president of Janspec Holdings, are listed as officers of the company.

Marc Geiger, the head of music at leading talent agency WME, vowed to pursue all the organizers personally, to the full extent of the law. Geiger represents several acts that were booked to play Pemberton, including Tegan and Sara. 

Skelly had no comment. 

Bob Mackin The lawyer for a former director

Bob Mackin

The email purge apparently resumed in Premier Christy Clark’s office before the provincial election was called. 

theBreaker applied under the freedom of information law for all of communications director Ben Chin’s email, in all folders, for the period of 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on April 6. That was the day when Ombudsperson Jay Chalke released his scathing 487-page report into the unjust 2012 firing of eight drug safety researchers in the Ministry of Health. The 11 a.m.-unveiled report was the dominant provincial story on the last Thursday before the election period officially began April 11. 

On May 25, more than two weeks after the governing BC Liberals lost their majority status, the Office of the Premier sent theBreaker a scant three-pages.

Clark’s top fart-catcher, Ben Chin (BC Gov)

The three pages contain not a single syllable about the Clark administration’s reaction to the Chalke report. They consist of an email between Chin and press secretary Stephen Smart (both former CBC journalists), with an attached two-page, opinion-editorial about B.C. softwood lumber exports to the U.S. Ghost-written for Clark.  

Chalke concluded the eight researchers, including suicide victim Roderick MacIsaac, should never have been fired and that the government lied when it claimed the RCMP was investigating a data breach. Chalke’s office also issued a news release headlined “Flawed 2012 investigation, rushed decisions had widespread repercussions.” 

The executive director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association was dismayed by the lack of disclosure. 

“It does seem odd that the head communications person in the Premier’s office would have so few incoming or outgoing e-mails on the day of a major report affecting the reputation of the government,” Vince Gogolek told theBreaker. “Or maybe not so odd, given what has happened in the past with important government records.”

History of deception, deceit and delete

In her damning October 2015 report, then-Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham found the government was systemically evading the public disclosure law. Staff in Clark’s office and Transport Minister Todd Stone’s office were mass-deleting email on their computers and the government’s server in a practice called triple-deleting. Stone aide George Gretes eventually pleaded guilty to lying to Denham while under oath. 

Clark responded to Denham’s “Access Denied” report by ordering all cabinet ministers and staff to retain their email. Clark’s office hired Denham’s predecessor, David Loukidelis. He made 27 recommendations in his mid-December 2015 report, including a ban on triple deleting email and an endorsement of the Denham-proposed duty to document law.

Elizabeth Denham, now U.K’s information watchdog.

The BC Liberal government gave itself a pat on the back for the March 16-passed Documenting Government Decisions Act, but Gogolek said it was anything but the duty to document law that Denham had conceived. Instead, it is entirely discretionary, because it merely gives the Chief Information Officer power to bring in “directives and guidelines” on records creation. 

In February, the NDP unsuccessfully proposed the Public Records Accountability Act, which included explicit duty to document language and fines up to $50,000 for the unauthorized destruction of government information. 

The party’s culture of concealment includes its Ontario-import executive director. Laura Miller is facing a trial to begin Sept. 11 in Toronto. The breach of trust, data mischief and computer system misuse charges date back to Miller’s time as an aide to Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty in 2011. Chin is also a former McGuinty aide. 

Chalke’s report mentioned that Deputy Health Minister Stephen Brown and the premier’s deputy John Dyble met with Chin in December 2013 “to tell him that there would likely be a number of settlements with terminated employees over the following year, which would need to be managed from a communications perspective.” Chin apparently favoured a third-party review, but the government didn’t act until early October 2014, three days after MacIsaac’s sister Linda Kayfish held an NDP-supported news conference. 

“There is no indication that, but for Ms. Kayfish’s press conference government would have established the review at that time, if ever,” Chalke wrote.

“[Clark’s] senior political staff and managers and her deputy minister get together, they find out they wrongly dismissed people and they did nothing to tell the truth about it, even though they had smeared them publicly,” said NDP critic Adrian Dix. “That says everything you need to know about them.” 

When that review was finally published in December 2014, lawyer Marcia McNeil said it was inconclusive because she lacked “the reports, briefing notes, meeting notes or other documents which are frequently prepared in situations where discipline may be contemplated.”

On April 11, before the Legislature was dissolved, Kayfish challenged Clark to look her in the eyes, apologize and take responsibility for the health firings and her brother’s death. Clark told reporters she would repeat a previous apology if it would bring Kayfish “some closure,” but she has refused to take responsibility.

In the May 9 election, Clark’s BC Liberals went from 49 to 43 seats and lost their majority. The Liberals and the 41-seat NDP are both in talks with the Andrew Weaver-led Greens, which hold a three-seat balance of power. 

UPDATE, May 31: theBreaker has filed a formal complaint and request for an investigation directly to Information and Privacy Commissioner Drew McArthur. If you are concerned about the BC Liberals mass-deleting or destroying public records while the governance of British Columbia remains unsettled, you can also complain to McArthur. His email address is DMcArthur@oipc.bc.ca

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FOI OOP-2017-71383 by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin The email purge apparently resumed in

Bob Mackin

On May 16, theBreaker exclusively reported that the BC Liberals had raised almost $7.3 million between New Year’s Day and Election Day. That figure was based on the party’s unaudited, proactive disclosures on its website. 

Right before Victoria Day weekend, the party slipped another PDF onto its website. After conversion to Excel, theBreaker has discovered that the Liberals brought in another $914,751.50 in donations.

That pushes the total for 2017 so far to a whopping $8,211,335.27. 

Compare that to the $7.44 million the party raised for the entire 2008 calendar year. Add it to the $13.1 million gross from 2016, and the Liberals have raised $21.3 million in less than 17 months. Deputy Premier Rich Coleman boasted last September that the party was already “fully funded” for the campaign. So why didn’t it stop?

Elections BC set $4,882,404.95 as the maximum a party could spend during the 28-day election period and $77,674.92 per candidate (or $6,757,691.94 for a full slate in 87 ridings). Even if the Liberals spent to the limit under both categories, they would have a sizeable war chest for 2021 or sooner.

The new list includes $100,000 from Rick Ilich, the CEO of Townline Homes, which ties Goldcorp’s Jan. 4 donation of $100,000 for the biggest single contribution of the 2017.

Townline scored a $23.2 million loan from BC Housing in late 2015 for a Port Moody project called The Strand. BC Housing is the Crown corporation under Coleman’s control. 

Ilich also gave the party $100,000 in February 2016, on the same day that the party was showered with $700,000 from various arms of the Wall-Redekop clan. 

The new list also shows $75,000 from Wesgroup Properties, $50,000 from Maple Ridge Plaza Properties Ltd., and $30,000 from Burnco Rock Products Ltd. 

There were four donations from four of developer Norman Cressey’s numbered companies, totalling $100,000. 

Robert Bosa’s BlueSky Properties Inc. and Bosa Properties gave $25,000 each. Though the Liberals claim they processed the donations on May 12, donations may have been received many months prior. 

Citizens disgusted

Despite widespread calls for reforms, there are still no legal limits to the size or source of donations to B.C. provincial or municipal political parties. The RCMP and special prosecutor David Butcher are investigating donations made by lobbyists on behalf of their clients, after a March 4 Globe and Mail story. The Liberals have returned nearly $250,000 in illegal donations. 

Under the freedom of information law, theBreaker asked March 17 for copies of correspondence to the Office of the Premier about BC Liberal fundraising, the lack of laws, and Elections BC calling in the RCMP to investigate lobbyists donations. According to documents received May 23, the citizens who wrote to Premier Christy Clark wanted immediate change. Many said they would base their ballot box decision on the need for campaign finance reform.

(The Premier’s office censored the names of letter-writers, citing a privacy clause in the FOI law.)  

March 4, 10:38 a.m.: “The current lack of limits on who can donate and how much is corrupting to our system of government. Is would and must be changed. Your lack of action on this is morally wrong and should damage your re-election chances. For what to do and how, look to Quebec, which used to be the target of many corruption allegations and is now becoming a model of campaign financing probity.” 

March 5, 12:41 p.m.: “The B.C. rules on poetical donations are a blight on democracy in our province. It is time for real limits on how political parties are funded. This will certainly affect my vote this year.”

March 6, 2:53 p.m.: “How can you possibly project yourselves as competent and trustworthy guardians of what is best for this great province when you refuse to address this issue? It is irresponsible and reeks of the potential for corruption – or, more likely, it is corrupt already.” 

March 7, 3:23 p.m.: “Donations from large corporations to the Liberal Party of B.C. is legalized bribery. It appears that your government has been bought and paid for by the corporate lobby.”

March 9, 4:53 p.m.: “So now I will know in real time who is buying the government. Stop legalized corruption of our democracy. Do the right thing by ending corporate and union donations and limiting individual contributions. This election is yours to lose.” 

March 13, 9:18 p.m.: “I don’t want my government determining health policy based on the size of donations to the governing party from Big Pharma, Big Pot, Big Alcohol, or Big Tobacco, establishing environment programs based on the size of donations from the oil industry or fish farmers, or deciding taxation and social safety net strategy based on the size of donations from only the wealthiest citizens.” 

March 14, 7:41 a.m.: “Legislation can be enacted quickly – the ethically right thing to do would be to change the law today. There should be no donations over one hundred dollars.” 

March 10, 11:20 a.m.: “Unlimited corporate and union donations to political parties are not only unethical, but also are eventually poisonous to the recipient. We’re watching and we don’t like what we see. The optics suck!”

March 10, 10:34 p.m.: “Accepting money from foreign corporations and holding private meetings where rich people can get the undivided attention of politicians is beyond despicable. Apparently ethics in politics is not a part of the Liberal party of British Columbia’s strong suits.”

March 6, 8:30 p.m.: “I think that it is time to put a cap on donations. Access to government by a monied few is not right.” 

The documents released to theBreaker included a copy of an undated, handwritten letter from a citizen that had apparently been trying to get a meeting or phone call with Clark for two years, but could not afford to attend a cash-for-access fundraiser. 

“Sadly, because of financial constraints, most of us cannot participate in the above practices, which in essence is undermining the ‘democratic process’. It is becoming evident that British Columbia is essentially a plutocracy, where the wealthiest of us are now governing the province.” 

2017_May19_BClibs 2 by BobMackin on Scribd

OOP-2017-71014 by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin On May 16, theBreaker exclusively

Bob Mackin 

The three directors of a numbered company behind the bankrupt Pemberton Music Festival quit six days before the 2017 edition was cancelled, leaving ticket holders with no certainty of refunds. 

The federal Superintendent of Bankruptcy says the May 18-bankrupt Pemberton Music Festival LP and 1115666 B.C. Ltd. had $16,744,723 in liabilities and $6,609,149 in assets.

Producer/promoter Huka Entertainment’s website said it did not make the decision to cancel the July 13-16 festival: “That decision was made by the Pemberton Music Festival LP (PMF). We are extremely disappointed for our fans, artists and all of our partners who have supported the festival over the years.” Scheduled headliners were Chance the Rapper, Muse and A Tribe Called Quest. 

B.C. Registry Services shows 1115666 B.C. Ltd. was incorporated April 19 with three directors: Stephane Lescure of Calabasas, Calif., Amanda Girling of Langley and James Dales of Vancouver. They ceased to be directors on May 12, according to a May 17-filed change of directors notice. 

The numbered company is the general partner of PMF, which was registered in 2014 to the office of Vancouver law firm Lawson Lundell. 

Both Girling and Dales are also directors of Arthritis Research Canada, whose board includes ex-BC Liberal finance minister Colin Hansen, the CEO of the New York Times-featured AdvantageBC

James Dales

Dales is the president and founder of Procon, a Burnaby-headquartered mine builder, operator and financier. Its website says it has a subcontract on the $9 billion Site C dam project to “manage the silica exposure control program, the mine rescue program, and underground safety program” for Peace River Hydro Partners.  

Girling’s Arthritis Research Canada bio lists her as CEO of Janspec Group of companies which includes the Pemberton Music Festival, the Sunstone Group, and Oak Tree Manor, an independent living facility for seniors in Nanaimo. Sunstone Ranch was the venue where Louisiana-based Huka staged the Pemberton Music Festival. The long-term concept for Sunstone Ridge includes a 21-acre “learning, living and recreation” community. However, the entire 274-acre property is for sale at a listing price of $16.8 million. 

Amanda Girling

Girling is a former executive director of the Turner Foundation. Canada Revenue Agency’s online file for the Turner Foundation says it reported $217 in assets and $43,497 in liabilities for 2016, with total revenue of $12,288 and expenditures of $12,556. Turner Foundation’s ongoing programs are described on the CRA website as “providing educational and development opportunities in Kenya. Construct bore holes and water distribution facilities. Support orphans so they can attend primary and secondary schools. Fund raising programs including holding SOL for Pemberton Music Festival Ltd. Partnership.” 

Neither Dales nor Girling responded to phone messages from theBreaker. Lawyer William Skelly, who acts for Dales and Girling, refused to do an interview with theBreaker. By email, Skelly would not comment on either Dales or Girling’s backgrounds, their investments or how they have been affected by the bankruptcy. 

According to trustee Ernst and Young, the festival claimed $8.225 million revenue to date on a $22 million budget. It blamed the high U.S. dollar, because most performers are paid in greenbacks and fewer performers are touring this summer.  

Last year, the festival claimed 38,423 average ticket sales per day and $15.23 million revenue.

In 2014, PMF, through the Turner Foundation, hired liquor licence consultant Bert Hick to lobby then-liquor minister and Attorney General Suzanne Anton. Gabe Garfinkel, a former aide to Premier Christy Clark, was hired to lobby in 2014 for Sunstone Ridge Developments. Before the 2016 festival, Mark Reder of Fleishman Hillard was hired by Huka to lobby Premier Christy Clark, Ministers Shirley Bond and Norm Letnick and local Liberal MLA Jordan Sturdy to “raise awareness of economic contribution of the Pemberton Music Festival to regional economy.” 

Huka donated $3,200 to the BC Liberals on Jan. 25, 2016. 

Are you a Pemberton Music Festival ticket holder, worker or performer? theBreaker wants to hear from you. Go here. 

Bob Mackin  The three directors of a numbered

Bob Mackin 

The centrepiece of the BC Liberals’ affordable housing platform has fallen far short of expectations. 

Last Dec. 15, Premier Christy Clark announced the B.C. Home Owner Mortgage and Equity Partnership scheme, offering loans up to $37,500 for first-time buyers of houses worth up to $750,000. The 25-year loans are interest-free and payment-free for the first five years. The government said the $703 million program would benefit 42,000 buyers over three years. 

Documents released under the freedom of information law to theBreaker on May 9, provincial election day, said the government expected to issue 2,778 loans worth $47 million by March 31. 

An April 7 news release by BC Housing, the Crown corporation administering the program, said that only 352 first-time buyers since the program’s Jan. 16 launch would receive a combined $5.3 million in loans on closing of their purchases. Another 645 applicants had been pre-approved. (Neither BC Housing nor the Housing Ministry responded with information updates to theBreaker by deadline on May 18.)

Coleman at a mortgage store on Jan. 16. (BC Gov)

The December 2016 technical briefing document also contemplated issuing 11,110 loans worth $185 million in the 2017-2018 fiscal year. By March 31, 2020, the government expected the average loan amount would be $16,685.

theBreaker asked the Rich Coleman-controlled Housing Ministry on Feb. 24 for a report that explains and justifies the program cost and the loan terms. The government responded March 27, claiming that it needed an extra 30 business days, until May 10. The records were sent to theBreaker just before 11 a.m. on election day. 

The Tyee’s Andrew MacLeod reported that the government sent him December-requested documents about BC HOME on May 11, two days after the election. Those documents included correspondence from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation CEO Evan Siddall, who said the program stunk. 

“You will know we are holding our noses firmly on this and I would not want any other [provinces and territories] to be misled into thinking this ill-advised program represents good public policy,” Siddall wrote. 

The program was originally called Downpayment Assistance Program, but rebranded as Home Purchase Assistance Program and Home Ownership Partners in Equity before the Dec. 15 BC HOME unveiling. It was heavily marketed in the government’s controversial $15 million Our Opportunity Is Here pre-election advertising campaign.

The documents also showed that the number of units built by BC Housing has fallen since Clark took over the premiership from Gordon Campbell in March 2011.

Between 2006 and 2011, BC Housing built 9,508 units through 309 projects, costing $2.025 billion. That fell to 7,226 units at 198 projects, worth $1.626 billion, under Clark. 

theBreaker previously reported that a Coleman aide gave someone outside government a sneak peek into the BC HOME program last July. But the person’s name was censored from an email. 

After Clark and Coleman announced the program in a glitzy pre-Christmas news conference, dozens of angry citizens complained to Clark’s office by email. The citizens threatened to vote NDP if Clark didn’t cancel the state-subsidized, subprime mortgage program.

Unversity of B.C. economist Tom Davidoff said BC HOME wouldn’t solve the affordable housing crisis, but would instead inflate prices at the low-end of the market and saddle young buyers with more debt.

BC Home – Mackin FOI by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin  The centrepiece of the BC Liberals’

Bob Mackin 

Thank God It’s Friday is not B.C. Place Stadium’s motto.  

When the roof ripped and collapsed under snow and sleet on Jan. 5, 2007 — after management refused to activate the snow-melting system — it was a Friday. 

U2 fans waited 90 minutes to get onto the floor at B.C. Place (Mackin)

When the Vancouver Winter Olympics opening ceremony on Feb. 12, 2010 was overshadowed by the cauldron malfunction, it was also a Friday. 

When mammoth lineups kept half the crowd outside the stadium on May 12, during U2’s opening act Mumford and Sons, that was, well… ditto. 

Yours truly was among those who spent 90 minutes in a line that snaked all the way around the Parq Casino construction site, after being assigned Gate E for the credit card entry to the floor. Staff finally cleared the line, with help from Vancouver Police officers, around 9:15 p.m., with no credit card check and no security pat-down. There was no time to buy a beer or visit a washroom. Only time to find a place to stand on the floor with minutes to spare before U2 began its Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour.

B.C. Place management blamed the massive SNAFU on the rollout of the credit card entry system that the band insisted on using to prevent scalping. The same system was employed on a smaller scale, with little fuss, two years earlier when U2 opened its innocence + experience tour across the street at Rogers Arena. 

Sources tell theBreaker that the credit card system crashed on May 12. It was supposed to print-off seat locator slips. Staff had minimal training and were overwhelmed. 

There may have been fewer than 100 staffers working the show, with temporary workers and contractors picking-up the slack. Senior security staff had little support and some were verbally abused, pushed and elbowed by disgruntled fans. A senior operations manager was spat upon. 

U2 delayed its arrival onstage until the lineups were solved. The B.C. Place spin bought stadium management almost 48 hours grace. 

U2 played May 14 down the I-5 in Seattle and yours truly noticed that entry to the stadium was orderly and efficient. Most of the crowd was inside the stadium for Mumford and Sons. U2 played an extra two songs that weren’t heard in Vancouver (Bad and I Will Follow). The event began an hour earlier than Vancouver, and it was a Sunday, but stadium attendees were also faced with airport-style security lineups and additional bag restrictions. 

The biggest differences? The venues and their operations. 

B.C. Place is a 1983 stadium with a 2011 roof, public-owned and public-managed. The 2002-opened CenturyLink Field is managed by First and Goal, the parent company of the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders. 

There are as many NFL and MLS regular season games in CenturyLink a year as there are CFL and MLS games. B.C. Place is used to attracting fewer than 20,000 fans to most of its events. The Sounders are the biggest draw in the MLS, with crowds around 38,000. The Seahawks sell-out their 67,000 full-capacity. 

The last time B.C. Place hosted a near-full house for a single event was the March 25, 2016 World Cup soccer qualifier between Canada and Mexico. The announced attendance was 54,798.

Despite B.C. Place’s richer hosting history — nine Grey Cups, Olympics opening and closing ceremonies and a FIFA Women’s World Cup final — CenturyLink is better resourced and better equipped for major, contemporary events. It showed by the sheer amount of smiling staff with wayfinding signs. Unlike their B.C. Place counterparts, they were calm and confident. No confusion at the “Clink.”

The bungling at B.C. Place cost the stadium and city reputation-wise. It also harmed the bottom line for the perennial money-losing B.C. Pavilion Corporation that operates the facility. 

The thousands stuck outside were hungry and thirsty, but had to choose between watching the concert they paid to see or buying food and beer. Beer sales were cut-off at 10 p.m., leaving many full kegs. 

The only ones breathing a sigh of relief must have been the BC Liberals under Christy Clark. They cling to a 43-seat minority after the May 9 election. 

Had the latest B.C. Place Friday night faux pas happened three days before the May 9 provincial election, instead of three days after, Clark would be the ex-premier by now. The NDP, and maybe Greens, would have exploited the latest case of PavCo mismanagement and the Liberals’ rejection of regulating the event ticket resale market.

Eddie Vedder showed up in Seattle to sing with U2 on Mothers of the Disappeared, which was a bonus for a concert that was better than the tour kickoff in Vancouver. U2 added Bad to its pre-Joshua Tree set and ended with I Will Follow. 

Did you have a bad experience at B.C. Place on May 12? Email your complaint to PavCo CEO/B.C. Place GM Ken Cretney, and send a copy to theBreaker

Bob Mackin  Thank God It’s Friday is not

Bob Mackin

While British Columbians wait and wonder which party will govern the province, the BC Liberals are busy banking millions of dollars from their donors. 

During the second half of the provincial election campaign, Christy Clark’s party rapidly amassed $2.1 million, putting the New Year’s Day to Election Day total at $7.3 million. 

The previous total was $5.2 million, according to a May 4 exclusive by theBreaker.

According to unaudited donation lists analyzed by theBreaker, the Liberals reported some of their biggest single donations of 2017 in the two weeks before the May 9 vote. The party’s 43-seat minority is subject to recounts in two ridings and 176,000 absentee ballots across the province. 

Sandman Hotels, Inns and Suites donated $85,000 on April 28, only $15,000 less than Goldcorp’s year-topping $100,000 donation from Jan. 4. 

Interfor Corp. and Anthem Properties gave $50,000 each on May 6, to match Pacific Investment Corp.’s March 25 donation. Kevin Falcon, the Anthem executive vice-president and former Liberal finance minister, said in a post-election interview that long overdue campaign finance reform was among the issues that cost the Liberals seats.

Others who gave May 6 included Robert Lee ($40,000), Warrington PCI ITF Infinity Building ($35,000), No. 201 Seabright Holdings Ltd. and Westwood Ridge Development Corp. ($25,000 each.)

The $7.3 million is just shy of the $7.44 million the party raised for the entire 2008 calendar year. 

In 2016, the Liberals grossed $13.1 million, more than half from controversial cash for access events where Clark and cabinet ministers were featured attractions. By comparison, the NDP raised $6.2 million and the Greens $757,268 in 2016. Even if corporate and union donations are eventually restricted or prohibited, the Liberals have raised enough dough in 2017 to fight the next election in 2021 or sooner. Or a leadership contest, to replace the unpopular Clark. In 2001, 916,888 British Columbians put an X beside a Liberal candidate to vote the NDP out of office. In 2017, a combined 1,018,236 NDP and Green voters “spoke” at the ballot box for an end to 16 years of Liberal rule.

The Liberals say they release unaudited donation lists in “real time,” but actually they publish their PDF lists in intervals of 10 days to two weeks. Underlying information shows that party communications director Emile Scheffel creates the files in Microsoft Excel, but converts them to PDFs for publication without totals.

The NDP and Greens say they will release their donors’ lists in accordance with Elections BC deadlines; for the 2017 election, that is 90 days after voting day. Both parties want to ban corporate and union donations. The Liberals have only committed to striking a non-binding, expert advisory panel should they win. 

B.C. has no legal limits to the size or source of political donations. The RCMP and Special Prosecutor David Butcher are investigating illegal donations made by lobbyists who didn’t disclose their clients. The Liberals have returned nearly $250,000 in illegal donations. 

April 28-May 9 Donations by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin While British Columbians wait and

Bob Mackin

The BC Liberal government waited until two days after the provincial election to finally give theBreaker documents about the $235 million transferred to a treeplanting society that is not covered by freedom of information laws. 

Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations, announced $85 million in public funding for the fledgling Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. (FESBC) in his Feb. 26, 2016 speech to the Association of B.C. Forest Professionals annual meeting. Premier Christy Clark gave Kamloops-based FESBC another $150 million from taxpayers in February 2017 when she posed for photos at the Canfor seedling nursery in Prince George. She estimated FESBC would create 3,000 rural jobs over five years.

Clark gave $235M to a treeplanting society with little oversight. (BC Gov)

On Feb. 22 — more than two-and-a-half months before the election — theBreaker asked to see copies of funding applications, assessments, recommendations and approvals about the $235 million transfer.

In mid-March, the government told theBreaker that it would delay the release of records by an extra 30 business days until May 23. After theBreaker complained, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner set April 28 as the deadline for disclosure of finance ministry documents. 

On April 10, the day before the election formally began, the government told theBreaker that the forests ministry was “not in possession of records” — a statement later disproven. 

The government ignored the OIPC’s April 28 deadline and sat on the documents until after the Clark Liberals lost their majority on May 9. Two recounts are pending and 176,000 absentee ballots must be counted. The Clark Liberals may regain a majority, lose the majority to the NDP or form a coalition with the Green Party.

Since the Legislature’s April 11 dissolution, Clark-loyal Deputy Minister Athana Mentelopoulos has controlled the finance ministry, which includes the central government’s FOI office, Information Access Operations. 

The records sent to theBreaker by the finance ministry on May 11 are scant and heavily censored. They include Treasury Board briefing notes from January 2016 and January 2017 and a letter to Thomson from Finance Minister Mike de Jong.

One briefing note explains how the program stemmed from a September 2015 announcement to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. The government pledged to develop a forest enhancement program for wildfire prevention and rehabilitation, and wildlife habitat restoration. The briefing notes both mention that option 1 was adopted, but no details of a second option are visible. The government censored records because it considers the information to be policy advice or recommendations, covered by cabinet confidentiality and it fears harming intergovernmental

FESBC directors include two public servants (FESBC)

relations.

The society board includes two public servants — assistant deputy ministers of forests Dave Peterson (finance chair) and Mary Sue Maloughney (human resources chair) — retired chief forester Jim Snetsinger, Duz Cho Logging director Chief Derek Orr and retired West Fraser Lumber executive Wayne Clogg.

When it knocked-off the NDP and came to power in the May 16, 2001 election, the Liberals vowed to make B.C. the most open, democratic and accountable province in the country. The party instead created agencies beyond the reach of the FOI law, to hide spending and contracting details from taxpayers. The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics organizing committee, known as VANOC, and its ally, 2010 Legacies Now, were the most famous such agencies.

In 2015, FOI expert Stanley Tromp told the Legislature’s special bipartisan committee reviewing B.C.’s information and privacy statutes that the law should be expanded to cover any institution established by the Legislature or a public agency that is publicly funded, controlled or performing a public function. The committee’s May 2016 report recommended extending the law to “any board, committee, commissioner, panel, agency or corporation that is created or owned by a public body and all the members or officers of which are appointed or chosen by or under the authority of that public body.” 

The Clark Liberals, however, neither amended the law nor did they choose to designate FESBC a public body for the purpose of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. 

FESBC FIN-2017-70804 by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin The BC Liberal government waited until two