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Bob Mackin

Whenever British Columbia’s government uses the word transparent, always take it with a grain of salt. Then ask questions. 

Last Nov. 3, it said it pulled in more than $6.9 million after auctioning six special wine store licences. Bidding started at $125,000 per licence.

Minister Polak purchasing plonk at a Loblaw-owned store (BC Gov)

Grocery and pharmacy giant Loblaw Companies snagged all six via the government’s B.C. Auction agency from April 19 to May 5 last year. The government claimed the online auction was “evaluated by a third-party auditing firm to ensure the process was fair and transparent.”

theBreaker wanted to find out just how transparent the process was, and asked for reports on each auction and the evaluations by the third-party firm. 

Via freedom of information, the government released a two-page, May 20 letter from Shane Troyer at Grant Thornton to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch and a two-page May 25 report. Partially censored, of course. No information about the bidders or their bids was released at all. 

Grant Thornton generally gave the process a thumbs up. Whatever problems that existed have been censored from the report that was released to theBreaker. Grant Thornton admits its procedures did not follow a standard Chartered Professional Accountants Handbook audit. 

So was the process transparent? 

No.

Another round of auctions was scheduled for December.

Sixteen B.C. grocery stores have opened B.C.-only wine departments since laws were changed in April 2015, 11 of which are Jim Pattison-owned Save-On-Foods. Loblaw-owned stores in Kelowna, Langford, Langley, Surrey and Vernon are the other five. 

Grocery stores with aspirations to sell booze are hampered by the one-kilometre buffer zone to protect existing government and private liquor stores from competition. That explains why none are in Vancouver.

Speaking of competition, the protectionist, B.C.-only wine departments are the subject of the United States’ January complaint to the World Trade Organization

Wine Store Licence Auction FOI by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Whenever British Columbia's government uses the word

Bob Mackin

An aide to Deputy Premier Rich Coleman may have given someone outside government a sneak peek into the BC Liberals’ plans to address housing affordability. 

The government has refused to show who Coleman’s chief of staff, Tobie Myers, emailed the week before lawmakers reconvened in Victoria to regulate the real estate industry and impose a tax on foreign buyers in Metro Vancouver.

On July 19, 2016 at 9:32 a.m., Myers sent an email to someone whose name the government censored. It claims disclosure of the recipient would harm the government’s finances. 

Coleman (BC Gov)

“Following up on this one that we sent over to PVO [Premier’s Vancouver Office] last week – did you have any concerns?” Myers wrote. “We are expecting to see a draft [treasury board submission] based on this doc in fairly short order.”

The heavily redacted Summary of Provincial Housing Affordability Proposals was dated July 7 and released under the freedom of information law. Only one proposal, enhanced partnership with the federal government, is visible.

Those four pages were among the 26 heavily redacted pages released to theBreaker, which applied for a copy of the cost-benefit analysis and business case for the controversial BC HOME Partnership down payment assistance program for first-time homebuyers. 

The documents indicate that a submission was prepared in September 2016 for Treasury Board, but the submission was not released to theBreaker, nor was any document containing a cost-benefit analysis or business case. B.C. Housing CEO Shayne Ramsay claimed that he has no copy of the cost-benefit analysis or business case.

The Premier’s office missed its own March 15 deadline to release documents it holds. In January, the finance ministry said it would release records, but only if $1,140 was paid. theBreaker refused and complained to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. 

theBreaker asked separately for a report about the methodology behind the already-disclosed numbers for the three-year, $703 million program. In a letter sent March 27 to theBreaker, the government claimed it needs to consult an unnamed third party or public body and set May 10 as the new deadline. The provincial election is May 9.

Last week, the government said 831 BC HOME applicants were approved since Jan. 16. By theBreaker’s analysis, that is 12.4 per day and it would be 2026 before Coleman’s stated target of 42,000 loans is reached.  

Meanwhile, NDP housing critic David Eby continues to wait for Coleman to release documents about $80 million in spending on two B.C. Housing downtown Vancouver projects involving party insiders. Coleman pledged March 23 in the Legislature that they would be released within a week. theBreaker reported March 10 about how Wall Financial sold a $6.7 million Chinatown property to B.C. Housing the week after Peter and Bruno Wall donated $400,000 to the BC Liberals in 2016. 

The BC Liberals promised in their 2001 platform that the party would make B.C.’s government the most open, accountable and democratic in Canada. 

HOU-2016-65165 by BobMackin on Scribd

HOU-2017-70825 delay to May 10 by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin An aide to Deputy Premier Rich

Bob Mackin

What was the Mayor of Vancouver doing at the office tower of a prominent developer and party donor on a Saturday afternoon in late May 2015? 

Saturday, May 23, 2015, to be precise. 

Cell phone video given to theBreaker shows Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Westbank Projects president Ian Gillespie at the Shaw Tower. Westbank developed the once-tallest tower in Vancouver and it remains the company’s headquarters. 

The video shows Robertson entering the main floor at 3:09 p.m. with Gillespie, where a bag was deposited at the security desk. They were also photographed at 4:48 p.m. near the street.

A developer visiting city hall on a business day would fall within the realm of dog-bites-man. But a mayor visiting a developer and major party supporter on a Saturday, at the developer’s office building, meets the man-bites-dog test of newsworthiness in real-estate mad Vancouver. 

  • Why were they meeting?
  • What was discussed?
  • What was the outcome? 

    Robertson and Gillespie, May 23, 2015

Nothing improper is implied, but those are the three simple questions that readers of theBreaker deserve to know. Neither Robertson, Gillespie nor their representatives responded to repeated queries from theBreaker

In November 2014, Robertson won his third term as mayor and Vision Vancouver retained its city council majority, with help from Gillespie. Winter and spring 2015 were especially busy on several fronts for Gillespie, downtown Vancouver’s titan of tall towers. 

Were they discussing items on the agenda for the May 26, 2015 city council meeting? 

That was when Robertson and the Vision Vancouver-dominated city council voted to send the proposal for a video screen on the west facade of Westbank’s Telus Garden tower to public hearing. 

At the public hearing on the same day, Robertson and city council voted to remove the restriction on office uses on the ground floor of Telus Garden, and allow a “retail use continuity agreement.” 

Were they discussing the city council-granted neighourhood energy monopoly for Gillespie’s Creative Energy?

City hall inked a memorandum of agreement with Creative (formerly Central Heat Distribution) on Nov. 29, 2013 and voted to amend the enabling Northeast False Creek and Chinatown bylaw on April 28, 2015. 

Last September, however, the B.C. Utilities Commission sent city hall and Gillespie back to the drawing board when it rejected the proposed monopoly. 

Were they talking about the rezoning of Gillespie’s property at 1754-1772 Pendrell Street for a 21-storey tower? 

Westbank filed an application on Jan. 26, 2015 and city council gave the rezoning on Sept. 15, 2015. It withstood a court challenge in Feb. 2016. 

Were they talking about party fundraising? 

Gillespie was a Vision Vancouver bagman during the 2011 election and threw a big fundraising party on Oct. 25 that year at the Westbank-developed Fairmont Pacific Rim tower. That just so happened to be a week after city council approved in principle Telus Garden, the new headquarters for B.C.’s biggest private sector company.

Post-election filings show that Westbank gave $11,705.70 in 2011 and $15,000 in 2014. 

Westbank donated just shy of $150,000 through 2015 to provincial parties ($121,000 to the BC Liberals and $28,574.88 to the NDP). But we do not know how much Westbank (or any other company, for that matter) gave to Vision Vancouver (or any other municipal party).

That is because the law does not require municipal parties and politicians in B.C. to disclose donations they receive in non-election years. 

Similar to provincial parties and politicians, there is no limit to the dollar value or source of donations to local government parties and politicians in B.C. 

Westbank launched sales of its next Vancouver tower project, called Alberni, on March 18 in Singapore.

theBreaker will let you know if Robertson or Gillespie break their silence about what they were doing at Shaw Tower on May 23, 2015. 

Bob Mackin What was the Mayor of Vancouver

Bob Mackin

You never know who you’re going to see in Victoria. 

Fort St. John court clerk Frederick Garrow got a business trip to the capital because of a staff shortage at the Victoria Provincial Court.

The Victoria Times Colonist reported March 18 that three clerks were seconded from elsewhere in the province to cover for sick or retired staff.

That’s not the only staffing shortage in the capital city’s courthouse. Last month, two accused drug dealers walked free when judges wouldn’t tolerate further delays. In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada, in the Jordan case, set 18 months as the maximum for charge-to-trial in Provincial Court cases. 

Fun-loving Garrow’s Facebook and Instagram’s posts indicate he is having a grand time, staying at hotels like the Chateau Victoria and the Marriott Inner Harbour and enjoying refreshments at the Sticky Wicket

The friend of Education Minister Mike Bernier also captured images of what may have been Speaker Linda Reid’s last exit from the Legislature on March 16 and even got to rub elbows with Attorney General Suzanne Anton and Premier Christy Clark. 

You can find those images (and more) on Garrow’s safe-for-work Instagram account, under the not-safe-for-work handle (ahem), FreddyFingerbanger

Meanwhile, Mitch Bellamy, a badminton-playing entrepreneur/executive coach, showed what it’s like inside a Helijet flight taking-off from Victoria en route to Vancouver.

The passenger to his right on the flight? None other than Clark. See the video from March 16 on his Instagram page. 

The smiling passenger to his left appears to be one of Clark’s RCMP bodyguards. The occupant of the opposite window seat is Clark’s press secretary Stephen Smart, who did not respond for comment.

Clark is a frequent Helijet flier. She prefers to commute between Victoria and Vancouver, where she lives in a $3.7 million Dunbar house registered to Vancouver Whitecaps’ owner Greg Kerfoot’s close associate Nevin Sangha.

Bob Mackin You never know who you’re going

Bob Mackin

Remember when Premier Christy Clark got caught running a red light during the 2013 election campaign

Jonathan Fowlie of the Vancouver Sun was along for the ride for his April 27, 2013 profile, “Christy Clark, a politician first.” 

At times, the two seem more like sidekicks — siblings even — than they do mother and son. And especially so the morning when the two were on their way to Hamish’s goalie clinic.

“Let’s see you go through this red light,” Hamish challenged as they pulled up that morning, at 5:15 a.m., to an abandoned Vancouver intersection.

“I might. Don’t test me,” Clark replies.

“Yeah. Go ahead.”

“Should I?”

“There’s no one.”

“Would you go through? You shouldn’t because that would be breaking the law,” she says.

And with that the car has already sailed underneath the stale red stoplight and through the empty intersection.

“You always do that,” says Hamish.

Fast forward to October 2016.

Instead of a newspaper reporter in the backseat, it was Clark. The driver? CTV News anchor Tamara Taggart at the wheel of a Land Rover. Her co-anchor, Mike Killeen, was in the passenger seat.

They were shooting a carpool karaoke skit on Oct. 18, 2016 for the opening of the Taggart/Killeen-hosted Jack Webster Awards, where B.C.’s best journalists were honoured on Oct. 20, 2016. Clark had some time on her hands. She cancelled the last fall sitting of the Legislature before the 2017 election. The documents at bottom show how her aides, Ben Chin and Stephen Smart, put their minds together to help plan the James Corden-inspired video, in which the 2013 red light-running incident was mentioned.

Look closely. Clark is not wearing a seatbelt. That’s a breach of Section 220 of the Motor Vehicle Act, an offence that carries a $167 fine.

To borrow the late, great Webster‘s famous politician-shaming words: “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!” 

Clark Webster Skit by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Remember when Premier Christy Clark got

Bob Mackin

As Chris Isaak sang in “Wicked Game,” it’s strange what desire will make foolish people do. 

Vancouver Mayor Gregor “Moonbeam” Robertson promoted the new “Moon and Back” single by his girlfriend, Wanting Qu, on his Twitter account March 19. NPA Coun. George Affleck isn’t going to let him get away with it. 

Mayor pumps girlfriend’s career

Section 1.1 of the city’s employment code of conduct is plain and clear. Robertson put his heart ahead of his mind and his muse ahead of his constituents when he promoted Apple Music and Qu, the thirtysomething Olympic Village-dwelling Chinese citizen signed to French-owned Universal Music Group.  

Council officials… are keepers of the public trust and must uphold the highest standards of ethical behaviour. Council officials… are expected to… be free from undue influence and not act, or appear to act, in order to gain financial or other benefits for themselves, family, friends or business interests.

“It was inappropriate and I will be pursuing it at council,” Affleck told theBreaker

Robertson did not respond to theBreaker. His spokeswoman Katie Robb said Robertson uses a “personal” Twitter account, to which Affleck scoffed. 

“Given that his Twitter handle is @MayorGregor, because of that he has significant followers,” Affleck said. “He has significant influence in the city with that title.”

Robertson’s first Tweet was Sept. 26, 2008, during his first Vision Vancouver campaign for mayor. What’s more, Robertson’s Twitter account links directly to city hall’s MayorofVancouver.ca website and the purpose of the account, since fall 2008, is to communicate to the citizens of Vancouver that pay his bills. 

Robertson’s Twitter account is effectively taxpayer-funded because his public disclosure statements show that his only source of income is via city hall, the Metro Vancouver board and the TransLink board. 

This year, Robertson’s main gig at 12th and Cambie will pay him $168,748. According to the most-recent figures, TransLink paid Robertson $34,600 in 2015 and Metro Vancouver $4,667. 

Bob Mackin As Chris Isaak sang in "Wicked

Bob Mackin

By now, Gordon Wilson will have grossed a half-million-dollars since “coming home” to the BC Liberal Party during the 2013 election. 

For helping Premier Christy Clark win, the ex-B.C. Liberal leader scored a plum patronage gig in October 2013 as the Buy B.C. LNG Advocate. A new job for which there was no open, public competition. Last year’s cabinet order extending his appointment to Feb. 24, 2018 at $150,000-a-year means Wilson is poised to gross $650,000. Unless there is a change in government. 

Wilson’s 2013 “come home” video

That’s a lot of money to be a traveling salesman for a product that could be at least three years from its first sale. Wilson made headlines last year when he claimed that B.C. has a “moral obligation” to export LNG to China. The hyperbole was met by a Times Colonist editorial in which Wilson was dubbed “glib and cynical.” 

Based on an analysis of Wilson’s travel expenses from January 1, 2016 to September 30, 2016, he worked on 61 of 189 business days. Wilson charged taxpayers $4,507.67 for accommodation and $12,117.47 for travel, including $2.75 TransLink fares. Part-timer Wilson was paid his full $12,500-a-month cheque, totalling $112,500.36 over nine months. 

That means taxpayers are dinged $595.24 per business day, whether or not Wilson is advocating for B.C. LNG. 

Add the cost of expenses, and the daily ding for the nine months was $683.20.

All this for a fella who was an LNG buzzkill during the 2013 election. “The most compelling reason to be concerned about relying on this golden goose, however, is the fact that the markets we are told will buy all we can supply may not materialize as we think, and even if they do, the price they are prepared to pay for our product may be well below what is anticipated,” Wilson wrote on his blog on April 23, 2013. 

Wilson did not respond to theBreaker for comment. Neither did his son Mat, the B.C. Liberal candidate hoping to knock-off NDP incumbent Nicholas Simons in Powell River-Sunshine Coast.

That was the seat “Flip” Wilson held from 1991 to 2001, a period in which he became opposition leader, had that affair with caucus-mate Judi Tyabji, lost the Liberal leadership to Gordon Campbell, started the Progressive Democratic Alliance, folded that small tent and joined the NDP. 

Last year, Tyabji wrote Clark’s error-riddled “Behind the Smile” biography, which can described as the least-unauthorized, authorized biography in the Gutenberg age. Her son Kaz is scheduled to go on trial in Calgary on Sept. 11 over charges of importing deadly fentanyl from China. 

Sept. 11 is, coincidentally, the same day that B.C. Liberal executive director Laura Miller is scheduled to go on trial in Toronto for breach of trust, and mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system to commit the offence of mischief. The charges date back to her days as deputy chief of staff for Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Wilson LNG JTI-2016-64951 pg 1-75 by BobMackin on Scribd

Wilson LNG JTI-2016-64951 pg 76-150 by BobMackin on Scribd

Wilson LNG JTI-2016-64951 pg 151-225 by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin By now, Gordon Wilson will have

Bob Mackin

It doesn’t pack the cultural import of the live broadcast of the 1954 Tournament of Roses Parade, which introduced the world to colour television. But the translation from French into English of the key part of Quebec’s landmark inquiry on construction corruption couldn’t come at a better time.

NDP housing and gambling critic David Eby and justice critic Leonard Krog were the only two lawmakers at last October’s Transparency International-sponsored “Follow the Money” anti-corruption conference at Robson Square’s University of British Columbia campus. Organizers told me that the governing B.C. Liberals and Vision Vancouver were invited, but no one from either party showed up. 

Several of the presentations noted the lack of English translation of what is officially known as “Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Awarding and Management of Public Contracts in the Construction Industry.” Enter Eby, who commissioned the translation of volume 3: “Schemes, Causes, Consequences and Recommendations.”

The translation was published in-time for the Eby-hosted, March 21 appearance at the UBC Allard Law School by Sonia LeBel, who was lead lawyer for the Charbonneau Commission. Last month, LeBel joined the Coalition Avenir Quebec party in Quebec as its deputy chief of staff.  

Sonia LeBel

Within the report, there are many lessons for British Columbians, who are grappling with the corrupting influence of unlimited political donations. The RCMP is investigating donations made to political parties via lobbyists. Eby, Krog and the NDP have vowed to ban corporate and union donations if elected on May 9. The Liberals said they will study it. The Greens say they already have stopped taking corporate and union donations.

“The Commission’s work revealed the possible existence of direct and indirect links between the payment of political contributions and the awarding of public contracts,” said the report. “Direct links were mainly observed in the context of municipal politics, and indirect links, in the context of provincial politics.”

Major engineering firms in Quebec were paying more than $100,000 a year in the mid-2000s to the party in power and contractors were paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in donations. 

“Some companies circumvented the electoral law by asking their employees to make contributions, which they reimbursed through a variety of schemes (bonuses, expense accounts, salary increases). In so doing, the employees of these companies acted as straw donors. Testimony also showed that these companies simultaneously financed several political parties, among other things from fear of retaliation if an opposition party came into power. Companies also offered favours and gifts to MNAs [members of the national assembly] and ministers as part of these business strategies.”

Several business leaders told the inquiry that they were solicited by political parties that promised “an attentive ear in exchange for their contributions.”

“They also claimed that parties set fundraising targets based on their share of procurement contracts. Ministerial offices also organized paid and private meetings between business people and ministers. Funding events for the ministers of Transport and Municipal Affairs were the most popular among business leaders in the construction industry. For that reason, these ministers were often solicited by their fellow MNAs and ministers, who struggled to meet the funding targets set by their party.”

In B.C., the transport minister is Todd Stone, the co-chair of the BC Liberal re-election campaign. Municipal affairs minister Peter Fassbender is responsible for transit and taxis. Premier Christy Clark has ridiculed NDP leader John Horgan for wanting to refer the $9 billion Site C project to the B.C. Utilities Commission and for opposing the $3.5 billion replacement of the George Massey Tunnel with a bridge. Yet, Clark has resisted calls for measures to protect taxpayers from corruption.

Among the 60 Charbonneau recommendations: 
  • Create a provincial public procurement authority mandated to: monitor public contracts to identify malfeasance; support public contracting authorities in managing contracts; intervene with public contracting authorities when necessary. 
  • Improve the whistleblower protection system to ensure: anonymity for all whistleblowers, regardless of the agency to which they report; assistance to whistleblowers in their efforts; financial support, when required. 
  • Require all public contracting authorities to report to the Commission de la construction du Québec any situations involving intimidation or violence on worksites established for their projects. 
  • Create a penal offence to sanction any attempt by a bidder to communicate directly or indirectly with a member of a selection committee of a public contracting authority for purposes of influencing that individual’s decision. 
  • Amend the Elections Act to require that: the annual financial report of the party or authority be signed by the party leader and the highest official of each party authority in addition to the official representative; the party leader, the elected representative or the candidate sign a statement in the annual financial report and in the report on election expenses stating that: 
  • – the representative or official agent informed him of the financing rules; 
  • – he reminded his colleagues of the obligation to respect these rules; 
  • – he has been informed of the fundraising practices of his party and is satisfied that they comply with the law; and 
  • – he obtained any clarification he required from the representative or the official agent on the contents of the financial report. 
  • Amend electoral laws to require that authorized political entities disclose in their annual financial reports and their returns of election expenses the names of individuals who have worked as volunteers in the area of expertise for which they are usually remunerated. 
  • Amend the codes of ethics and professional conduct applicable to elected provincial and municipal officials and their staff to prohibit the announcement of projects, contracts or grants in the context of political fundraising events. 

Read volume 3, in English, below. 

  Volume 3 of the Charbonneau Commission report in English by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin It doesn't pack the cultural import

Bob Mackin

With 50 days until the May 9 provincial election, the legal problems are piling up for the B.C. Liberals. 

The RCMP is investigating the party’s cash for access and pay to play campaign fundraising after the Globe and Mail reported on indirect donations via lobbyists. 

Democracy Watch wants the Court of Appeal to order a new conflict of interest investigation of Premier Christy Clark after she received $300,000 in fundraising bonuses. Democracy Watch says B.C.’s conflict of interest commissioner, Paul Fraser, is in conflict of interest himself. His son is the Clark-appointed Deputy Minister of Government Communications and evidence points to Paul Fraser making donations to the Liberals before he was appointed in 2007. 

Slogan from the Liberals’ taxpayer-funded pre-election ad campaign.

In a separate application, Democracy Watch wants a B.C. Supreme Court judge to deem Clark in conflict of interest for accepting $560,000 in donations from Kinder Morgan and its allies before her Liberal cabinet approved the pipeline twinning. 

The latest? On March 20, two Vancouver lawyers filed a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court that says the B.C. Liberals are breaking the law with their $15 million-plus, taxpayer-funded, pre-election ad campaign. The lawsuit (see below) is aimed at forcing the B.C. Liberals to reimburse taxpayers for the Our Opportunity Is Here ad campaign. Paul Doroshenko and David Fai’s class action application, on behalf of David Trapp, also seeks a court order to stop the campaign. 

Trapp, a 63-year-old, retired TransLink network analyst, was diagnosed with cancer in November 2015 and underwent surgery in August 2016, the legal document says. 

“Just two days after his surgery, the plaintiff was released from hospital,” reads the notice of claim. “Only one followup was provided. The plaintiff concluded on the basis of his experience in the B.C. health care system that B.C.’s health care system is in great need of further provincial government funding to improve health care services for British Columbians.”

Outside the Law Courts in Vancouver on March 20, Trapp said the B.C. government should be spending public money on “real doctors, not spin doctors.”

The notice of claim argues that the Liberals have raised enough money on their own — $12.5 million in 2016 and $32.6 million since the 2013 election — that they don’t need to spend taxpayers’ money. 

Lawyer Doroshenko

The notice of claim takes issue with ads branded with the B.C. Jobs Plan, B.C’s LNG industry, WorkBC and Our Opportunity Is Here slogans. It cites a December 2008 directive by the Gordon Campbell Liberal administration that banned non-essential ads for a four-month period before the May 2009 election. Clark did not follow Campbell’s lead. 

“The defendant government as led by the defendant party has distorted the electoral process by using taxpayer money to fund an election campaign,” the statement of claim ends. “The defendant government has breached their fiduciary duty to the plaintiff and the proposed class and continues to breach this duty.”

For Doroshenko, NDP advertising waste in the 1990s was the catalyst for his work to help Campbell and the Liberals win the 2001 election. In 2017, Doroshenko says he sees no difference in the strategy employed by the NDP then and the Liberals now.

“The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was the then-NDP government spending tax money in advance of the election just to enhance their chances of success in the election, runnning ads that just say ‘B.C. is great,’ to make pepole think well of the the government they’ve got,” Doroshenko told theBreaker.

Doroshenko said every government has a fiduciary duty to taxpayers to spend their money to benefit the taxpayers, not the party. 

“This money that they’re spending is for the benefit of the B.C. Liberal Party, it’s money the B.C. Liberal Party doesn’t have to spend,” he said. “It’s our taxpayer money they’re spending, that’s a breach of fiduciary duty. They’re advertising because it works.”

The B.C. Liberals have only owned-up to a $15 million pre-election ad budget. Minister Andrew Wilkinson has refused to be interviewed by theBreaker and his staff have refused to say how much they are spending on the politically motivated WorkBC advertising. 

Our Opportunity Is Here launched Nov. 19, 2015, hours after the fall sitting of the Legislature ended. Vizeum Canada is the media buyer on the campaigns and St. Bernadine Mission the creative agency. Kimbo Design (online) and Response Advertising (ethnic) are owned by longtime Clark friends Kim Pickett and Jatinder Rai. Pickett is the party’s logo designer. Clark appointed Rai to the B.C. Pavilion Corporation board of directors last fall and he is a regular attendee of campaign planning meetings at the $3.7 million Dunbar house Clark allegedly rents from a close associate of Vancouver Whitecaps’ owner Greg Kerfoot. 

None of the advertising contracts was awarded through an open, public tendering process. Instead, the government created a “preferred suppliers list” after the 2013 election when Athana Mentzelopoulos, one of Clark’s closest confidantes, was deputy minister of the propaganda department. The Social Credit government in the 1980s, the NDP in the 1990s and the Liberals since 2001 all shamelessly rewarded their message-making friends in the advertising business. 

Last July, the B.C. government disclosed that it spent $12.45 million on advertising for the year-ended March 31, 2016, an increase from $5.67 million spent the year before. In 2012-2013, before the previous election, the government spent $16.6 million on a B.C. Jobs Plan ad campaign.

The NDP’s Banning Publicly-Funded Campaign Advertisements bill proposed legislating a moratorium similar to Campbell’s 2008 order. It was not passed, like all bills tabled by the NDP, Greens and independent Vicki Huntington in the March 16-ended Legislature sitting.

When the NDP was in power, Clark didn’t fool anyone. She was an outspoken foe of government advertising waste and attacked then-Finance Minister Joy MacPhail in Question Period on April 1, 1999.

Watch the archival video below and ask: how many hospital beds, firefighters, police officers are not on the streets because Clark is spending more than $15 million on her ad campaign? 


Trapp vs. Province of B.C. and B.C. Liberal Party by BobMackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin With 50 days until the May

Bob Mackin

Henry James Mackin died the year before the Deas Island Tunnel opened, but he did live to see export ships loaded with lumber at his Fraser Mills sail the Fraser River above where tunnel construction began in 1957.

The 1959-opened, Richmond-to-Delta tunnel was renamed for another prominent Irish-Canadian, George Massey, in 1967. 

Their legacies were both celebrated March 11 by the Coquitlam Heritage Society and Ireland Canada Monument Society at Mackin House

H.J. Mackin, my great-grandfather, was born 1884 in New York. He was one of eight children of Joseph Patrick Mackin and Catherine Byrne, immigrants from Drogheda, Ireland. H.J. began his career as a child labourer in a Portland, Ore. box factory and made his way to New Westminster in 1908, settling in the general manager’s house at then-Fraser Mills the next year. It became known as Mackin House during the 1910 census. Today it is lovingly restored civic museum and tourism office. 

Henry James Mackin

He worked his way up to the presidency of Canadian Western Lumber Co., which boasted the largest mill in the Commonwealth. He also spearheaded the building of the Elk Falls pulp and paper mill near Campbell River. 

Fraser Mills was an important industrial site that gave opportunities to families of diverse backgrounds. According to the 1910 census, of the 943 Fraser Mills residents, 172 were of Indian ethnicity, 66 Japanese, 24 Chinese, 12 Greek and five Norwegian.

Nehemiah George Massey came to Canada from County Wexford before he was 20. In 1946, with the help of many Lander citizens, he formed the Lower Fraser River Crossing Improvement Association. A decade later, he served four years as the Social Credit MLA for Delta. He had a vision for a tunnel. 

“He prepared all his own maps along with research information,” his son, Doug Massey, remembered. “He spoke to many municipalities and cities in the area and with their support he was able to convince the provincial government that given the location and the soil conditions that a tunnel should be built instead of a bridge.” 

In 2013, Premier Christy Clark announced a $3 billion bridge would replace the tunnel. The price tag has since risen to $3.5 billion and shovels are supposed to be in the ground sometime this year. The government refuses to release the business case for the megaproject. 

George Massey

“The Liberal government in Victoria wants to remove the existing George Massey Tunnel and replace it with a high level, 10-lane bridge, but the geological facts show that another modern tunnel with rapid transit built would be a better alternative,” Massey said. 

“It would appear that the real reason for removing the George Massey Tunnel is so they can dredge the river deeper deeper and accommodate bigger ships for industrial interests, end up destroying the Fraser River as the greatest salmon-bearing river in the world.” 

It is bound to be an election issue on May 9. Lois Jackson, the Liberal mayor of Delta, wants it. Malcolm Brodie, the Liberal mayor in Richmond, doesn’t. NDP leader John Horgan, the son of an Irishman, calls it the premier’s vanity project. To Clark, anyone who questions her addiction to spending other people’s money on debt-fuelling projects that are prone to corruption and cronyism is attacked as anti-jobs. 

In 2015, Metro Vancouverites were asked whether they would be willing to pay more sales tax to fund TransLink’s expansion. But there is no plebiscite for the Massey bridge. 

We have a government, for now, that only pretends to be democratic. Where did B.C. go wrong? 

The day before St. Patrick’s Day, the Legislature adjourned for no particular reason but the ruling Liberals want to devote all their time to their non-stop campaign and avoid the NDP’s grilling in Question Period.

They didn’t care to ask voters whether they want to fund a $3.5 billion bridge. Just like they didn’t ask for consent to pay for the $9 billion Site C dam, which will take most of the rest of the century to pay down. The B.C. Utilites Commission was purposely excluded from performing its normal regulatory duties.  

These are the same Liberals who came to power in 2001 promising to become the most open, accountable and democratic government in Canada. Six months ago, the Deputy Premier, Rich Coleman, boasted the party was “fully funded” for the campaign. They raised $12.4 million last year and are continuing fundraising unabated. They refuse to ban corporate and union donations and are welcoming donations from foreign entities. Liberal allies at shadowy third-party attack ad campaigns Concerned Citizens for B.C. and Future Prosperity B.C. are spending millions in pre-election ad campaigns without the pressure of public disclosure.

Another $15 million of taxpayers’ money is being spent on deceptive government ads that are only necessary for Liberals who are scared of losing their government jobs. 

They tout a balanced budget in name only. A wish — and it is only a wish — to phase-out medical insurance fees. They celebrate a whopping increase in jobs… part-time jobs, that is. And they give themselves a pat on the back for slapping a too little, too late tax on foreigners buying B.C. real estate. Housing is beyond the means of young British Columbians after billionaires from China, some with ill-gotten wealth, swooped in and bought from baby boomers. Meanwhile, homeless camps are popping up around Metro Vancouver. The regional district says there are 70. 

The Liberals have too many skeletons in their closet, from dead children in provincial care and wrongly fired drug researchers to mass-destruction of email and the pay-to-play system of fundraising that they refuse to reform. They proudly cut income taxes, but raised the price of electricity, medical insurance, ferry rides, camping sites, vehicle insurance and beer. 

While you’re enjoying the craic, wearing green and drinking black beer (green food colouring in Budweiser is not Irish) on St. Patrick’s Day, give it some thought. 

Is this the British Columbia your ancestors hoped for? Is this the British Columbia you want?

Enjoy the music from March 11 at Mackin House and have a happy St. Patrick’s Day. 

Bob Mackin Henry James Mackin died the year