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Bob Mackin 

A former head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps women’s team and assistant coach with Canada’s Olympic team has pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault and one count of touching a young person for sexual purpose.

Bob Birarda in 2005 (CSA)

Robert Steven (Bob) Birarda appeared in North Vancouver Provincial Court on Feb. 8 via web conference. He answered “guilty” to each of the four charges as they were read, while sitting motionless to the left of his lawyer, Bill Smart, in a downtown Vancouver boardroom. Smart had waived reading of the charges, but the judge agreed with the Crown prosecutor that they should be read.

Birarda was formally charged Dec. 9, 2020 with nine offences and released on bail. A tenth charge was added, but six will be dropped under a plea bargain. This was the first time Birarda appeared since being charged. The court dates were repeatedly postponed over the last year due to the pandemic, lawyers’ scheduling conflicts and due to their negotiations.

Specifically, Birarda pleaded guilty to the following:

  • Between Dec. 12, 1988 and Feb. 25, 1990, touching a young person for a sexual purpose in North Vancouver; 
  • Between Jan. 1, 1990 and Aug. 31, 1990, sexual assault in Burnaby; 
  • Between Jan. 1, 1995 and July 1, 1995, sexual assault in North Vancouver; 
  • Between June 1, 2006 and March 25, 2008, sexual assault in West Vancouver and Burnaby. 

Names of the victims and evidence remain under a publication ban. The judge heard that Crown and defence have reached an agreed statement of facts, which will eventually be read in court. The case was adjourned to Feb. 15 for a scheduling hearing. The judge ordered ordered pre-sentencing and psychiatric assessment reports, which are both expected in early April. A one-day sentencing hearing will be set after that. The maximum sentence for sexual assault is 10 years imprisonment.

Both the Whitecaps and Canadian Soccer Association announced in October 2008 that they mutually split with Birarda “in the best interest of both parties.” Neither the Whitecaps nor CSA mentioned any alleged misconduct in that announcement.

CSA and Whitecaps

In February 2019, former Whitecap and national team player Ciara McCormack blew the whistle on Birarda’s return to youth coaching with Coastal FC in South Surrey. McCormack is not among the four alleged victims.

McCormack’s blog post went viral. A dozen players from the 2008 Whitecaps and national team issued a public statement, alleging “incidents of abuse, manipulation, or inappropriate behaviour” by Birarda in 2007 and 2008.

In the late 1980s, Birarda worked for late-Whitecaps and Canadian World Cup team coach Tony Waiters at his coaching education company in West Vancouver. Birarda coached in the 1990s with Capilano College in North Vancouver.

Birarda coached the Whitecaps women’s team to the 2006 W-League championship, missed the 2007 playoffs and advanced to the conference finals in 2008. He headed the under-20 national women’s team and assisted on Canada’s team that lost on penalty kicks to the U.S. in the quarter-finals of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.

Early in the 2019 season, Whitecaps supporters grew unhappy with the team’s response and organized match boycotts and first half walkouts at Major League Soccer games in B.C. Place. Owners Greg Kerfoot and Jeff Mallett eventually apologized to the players and admitted that Birarda’s contract was cancelled in 2008 due to sexually inappropriate text messages with a player.

Ciara McCormack (Twitter)

They ordered an internal review by a Toronto law firm and forwarded the players’ complaints to the Vancouver Police Department. VPD, in turn, forwarded the file to the North Vancouver RCMP. In August 2019, Bob Lenarduzzi was demoted from president to club liaison.

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Bob Mackin  A former head coach of the

For the week of Feb. 6, 2022: 

Canada is part of an international diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. Politicians are skipping the event that human rights activists have called the Genocide Games, because of the mass-internment of Uyghur Muslims in China. 

Despite that, the mayor of Richmond, B.C. and a city councillor have expressed their support for Beijing 2022 at events with Xi Jinping’s top diplomat in Western Canada. They told a pro-Beijing TV channel that the Olympics should be free from politics. Podcast guest Ivy Li of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong says Mayor Malcolm Brodie and Coun. Alexa Loo both used the Olympics to boost their careers in public office. 

“Then they turn around to say that no one should use the Olympics to raise human rights issues,” Li said. “It’s very disingenuous.” 

Also on this edition: 

ResearchCo pollster Mario Canseco on surveys showing a declining confidence in Canadian governments to handle the pandemic and a declining interest in the Olympics because of host Beijing’s human rights record.

Highlights of former Canadian Ambassador to China David Mulroney’s testimony to the House of Commons national defence committee on the biggest threat to national security. Mulroney told MPs that Canada has what it takes to overcome the Chinese Communist Party’s meddling and bullying. 

“The best antidote to this is a healthy sense of confidence in who we are and what we have accomplished,” Mulroney said. 

Plus Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines and commentary.

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Have you missed an edition of Podcast? Go to the archive.

Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: Olympics and politics are inseparable

For the week of Feb. 6, 2022:  Canada

Bob Mackin 

Kevin Falcon is finally the BC Liberal leader. 

The former Deputy Premier, Finance Minister, Health Minister and Transport Minister added another title to his political resume Feb. 5 at the Wall Centre Hotel in downtown Vancouver, after an online, ranked ballot election went five rounds.

Kevin Falcon and BC Liberal leadership candidates except Val Litwin (BC Liberals/Facebook)

But can he unite and rebuild the coalition of Liberals and Conservatives that struggled through the final month of the campaign under the weight of allegations of voter fraud by Falcon’s campaign staff? Who will step aside so that he can run in a by-election to get a seat in the Legislature before the next election? 

Falcon won the fifth ballot with 52.19% (4,541.35 points) to runner-up Ellis Ross’s 33.65% (2,928.33). Michael Lee, who was trying again after a third-place finish in 2018, was third with 14.14% (1,230.31). Falcon was just shy of victory on the fourth ballot, with 49.63%. 

Fourth-place finisher Val Litwin was eliminated with 7.21% in the penultimate round. Litwin had said a few days earlier that he would leave the party if Falcon won. The only contestant not onstage after the results were released had either stayed true to his word or didn’t want to join the maskless celebration that flouted pandemic public health orders.

“While we sometimes disagreed, we have largely done so without being disagreeable,” Falcon said about his opponents. 

Falcon spent 11 years as an MLA, winning election three times in Surrey Cloverdale. He was runner-up of the 2011 leadership election to Christy Clark, as successor to his mentor Gordon Campbell. 

Seven years later, a court heard that Falcon was cheated out of the job, because Clark’s campaign workers hatched a PIN number procurement scheme that appeared to lift Clark to victory.

In 2012, Falcon bowed out of politics. He embarked on a new career as a senior executive with the Anthem Realty development firm and had two daughters with his wife. 

“We are at an unprecedented time in the world today, trust in politics and politicians has never been lower,” Falcon said. “Politicians make all kinds of promises, but so often nothing gets done and some people are polarized, some people are apathetic, so many more are just disillusioned with the entire political process. There is a desire like I’ve never seen before for candour, for competence and for leadership.”

Kevin Falcon enters the Wall Centre ballroom on Feb. 5 (BC Liberals/Facebook)

Earlier in the day, a B.C. Supreme Court judge dismissed a petition by a BC Liberal Party member aimed at delaying the release of the results by 15 days in order to deal with alleged voter fraud. Campaign managers had complained about a process that was ripe for corruption. 

Vikram Bajwa had alleged the process was tainted, but Justice Heather MacNaughton took a cautious stance.

“The evidence of irregularities offered by Mr. Bajwa is weak and much of it is not Mr. Baja’s first-hand knowledge,” said Justice Heather MacNaughton in her oral judgement. “Whether there are irregularities that could be material to the outcome of the leadership election can only be known after the leadership vote.”

MacNaughton said no election is ever perfect and Bajwa was free to challenge the results in court after the election. She said that a court would only overturn an election if the magic number test was met — “in other words, that rejected votes must equal to or outnumber the winner’s plurality.”

She also said that although a general election is not imminent, it is still important for the opposition party to have a new leader in time for the throne speech and budget.

Falcon is the full-time replacement for Andrew Wilkinson, who led the party in 2020 to its worst result in 30 years. He quit after the snap election and Shirley Bond took over on an interim basis .

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Bob Mackin  Kevin Falcon is finally the BC

Bob Mackin

The B.C. Supreme Court trial of former B.C. Legislature clerk Craig James is taking a day off.

Special prosecutor David Butcher (Mackin)

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes agreed to allow lawyers for both sides to spend Feb. 4 negotiating a reduction in witnesses for the fraud and breach of trust trial that opened Jan. 24. 

Special Prosecutor David Butcher said some witnesses were being more repetitive than corroborative. With fewer witnesses, he said, the Crown will be able to finish its case in two weeks, leaving the defence two weeks for its case. 

Sixty-seven witnesses were on the original list, but that was reduced to 27 through the use of admissions statements. 

It won’t, however, be a political-free Friday at the Law Courts. A petition filed by BC Liberal member Vikram Bajwa of Surrey will be heard on short notice. Bajwa wants a judge to delay the scheduled Feb. 5 crowning of a new BC Liberal leader due to allegations of widespread voter fraud related to frontrunner Kevin Falcon. 

James’s trial heard Feb. 3 from former acting sergeant-at-arms Randy Ennis. In the January 2019 bombshell report by Speaker Darryl Plecas, Ennis was credited with informing Plecas about the wood splitter that is now the subject of one of James’s charges. 

Ennis was a senior officer in the Legislative Assembly Protective Services when he took over from the suspended sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz in November 2018. Ennis retired from the Legislative Assembly in May 2019 and now works as a Commissionaire at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt. 

Gavin Cameron (Fasken)

Under cross-examination, James’s lawyer Gavin Cameron asked Ennis about an investigation into spending by Plecas’s predecessor, Linda Reid. A whistleblower, Connor Gibson, had been fired at the end of May 2018 after reporting irregularities in Reid’s expense claims. The investigation was halted, but Ennis denied that anyone told him not to investigate and or to shut it down. 

Butcher objected to the line of questioning, saying the trial is “the fruit of an RCMP investigation,” not about what Plecas did. 

Plecas’s first report to the Legislative Assembly Management Committee said James told him that he ordered his then-deputy, Kate Ryan-Lloyd, to “rein” Lenz in and stop the investigation. 

Ennis testified that he had a heated meeting with Plecas and his chief of staff, Alan Mullen, where he was yelled at and told “you’re either with us or against us.” Ennis said he was pressured to give Plecas one of his keys to James’s office, and wished the RCMP had quarantined it instead. 

Ennis testified that did not remember the date of that meeting, except that it was “shortly after Mr. James and Mr. Lenz were taken off the precinct.” 

Butcher tried to jog Ennis’s memory on when Plecas retired. 

Ennis: “I think he didn’t run in the next election. So he wouldn’t have been an MLA.”

Asked when that election was, Ennis said: “I’d left the Legislative Assembly at that time. And the last thing I was thinking about.”

Meanwhile, facilities manager Surj Dhanota said there had been three locations proposed for the wood splitter and trailer bought for $13,000 in October 2017, but work was never approved. James kept it at his Cordova Bay house for a year. Because James’s house was 13 km away, it was “utterly useless” as a purported firewood tool should a disaster occur in Victoria. 

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Bob Mackin The B.C. Supreme Court trial of

 Bob Mackin 

The B.C. Legislative Precinct occupies almost 12.5 acres of downtown Victoria, but the Clerk never settled on a place to park a $13,000 wood splitter and trailer purchased in the fall of 2017. 

Instead, Craig James parked the equipment 13 kilometres north, outside his Cordova Bay house. That rendered it “utterly useless” according to one of the Special Prosecutors in the B.C. Supreme Court fraud and breach of trust trial against James.

The wood splitter trailer at Craig James’s house in Saanich (Speaker’s Office)

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes heard Feb. 2 from the former facilities manager, Randy Spraggett, who said it was his idea to buy the equipment in the wake of TV coverage of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Spraggett said a sea container was outfitted as a mobile command post in case of a major storm knocking out power and fuel supplies or even an earthquake-causing collapse of the buildings. 

“When I started thinking about the fact that here we are, we’re kind of late 50s, 60s, maybe older, trying to do cutting up wood, trying to split the wood in order to use it for burn barrels, that it makes logical sense to use a mechanical device which would save us the physical work,” Spraggett testified. 

He said Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz came up with the idea to buy the Wallenstein-brand wood splitter. Spraggett sourced the product online and used his assembly-issued credit card. He testified that James offered to pick up the equipment because he was heading over to the Lower Mainland and had a truck with a trailer hitch. 

The dilemma was where to store the wood splitter and trailer combo. Parking spots near the so-called Premier’s garage were being repurposed for electric vehicle charging. A spot behind the Armoury building was discussed. Spraggett even suggested a gravel pad be created on which to park the trailer. But he never got approval. 

The infamous wood splitter, photographed on the Legislature grounds on Nov. 20, 2019. (Mackin)

Special Prosecutor David Butcher asked who had the authority to say “it’s going to be here, period”? 

“That would be Mr. James,” Spraggett replied. “He would have had that authority at any time.” 

The trailer and wood splitter were delivered to James’s house, while Spraggett said he took the initiative to “basically say, you know, we’re gonna put it on the ground guys.” 

The equipment stayed outside James’s house. 

Defence lawyer Gavin Cameron asked Spraggett: “You also remember, Mr. James telling you during this conversation that his wife was quite unhappy that they’re seeing an unsightly trailer sitting in front of their house. And so he was paying to store it out of his own pocket somewhere else?

Spraggett said “I don’t remember that conversation.”

The trailer was finally parked on the grounds Oct. 22, 2018, almost a month before James and Lenz were suspended by MLAs and escorted off the property. RCMP officers attended James’s house on Dec. 7, 2018 and a tow truck driver loaded the wood splitter onto a flat bed truck and took it to a secure bay at Totem Towing. Police found evidence that it had been used.

The trial is expected to last another five weeks and hear another 20 witnesses.

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 Bob Mackin  The B.C. Legislative Precinct occupies almost

Bob Mackin

A BC Liberal Party member is asking a B.C. Supreme Court judge to delay the announcement of the party’s new leader by 15 days, so that a thorough membership audit can take place.

BC Liberal member Vikram Bajwa

“Throughout the course of the leadership election, various party members have made allegations of voting irregularities, including outright voter fraud,” said businessman Vikram Bajwa’s Feb. 1 petition. “These allegations have attracted media attention, to the detriment of the party.”

The filing, by lawyers Greg Allen and David McEwan, names the party, its president Cameron Stolz, leadership election organizing committee co-chairs Colin Hansen and Roxanne Helme and others. 

BC Liberal members vote online or by phone from Feb. 3-5 on a ranked ballot. Bajwa’s lawyers have scheduled a Feb. 4 short-notice hearing at the Law Courts in Vancouver. 

In the court papers, Bajwa said he wrote the party Jan. 26, asking it determine which members are properly entitled to vote, to release details about the pre-vote audit and any violations detected. He also demanded the leadership vote be postponed pending a thorough audit, but the party responded Jan. 27 and declined to take any steps.

“Permitting voter fraud, or even the appearance of voter fraud (particularly on the eve of a vote) is antithetical to the precepts of democratic governance,” said Baja’s petition.

On Jan. 6, revealed that managers for five of the seven candidates claimed the election could be tainted by thousands of illegitimate memberships. Many of the memberships were sold by representatives of frontrunner Kevin Falcon. 

From the Jan. 18 BC Liberal leadership debate (BC1)

Bajwa wants the court to declare the current membership audit incomplete and the party in breach of its constitution and the leadership election rules. Bajwa also wants the party to show the candidates and membership all documents about the current audit and details on what steps have been taken against any coordinated voter fraud.

“In sum, the mere fact that the party and the leadership are content to allow the leadership vote to proceed, given the significant and as of yet unaddressed allegations, cannot be reconciled with the basic rights of members as set out in the constitution.”

Bajwa ran for mayor of Surrey in 2011 and 2014 and was briefly a candidate for the BC Liberal leadership in 2017.

Bajwa’s petition came the day after revealed that candidate Michael Lee’s campaign manager wrote a scathing email to party brass. Diamond Isinger alleged the election is ripe for corruption, because any member outside B.C. can vote, IP addresses and virtual private networks won’t be limited, and there is no allowance for the candidates to send scrutineers until after voting is finished. 

“In this metaphor, the online voting systems will allow Joe Voter to walk in the (virtual) door of the polling station as many times as he wants and allow Susie Voter to vote on behalf of as many people as she wants, with no ability for campaigns to be made aware of this,” Isinger wrote.

“Similarly, someone could phone the helpdesk from her cell phone 100 times to cast 100 votes over the course of a day and this would not be disclosed to campaigns, nor are we being provided with the ability to proactively scrutineer those call logs.”

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Bob Mackin A BC Liberal Party member is

Bob Mackin

The Clerk of the B.C. Legislature denied Feb. 1 in B.C. Supreme Court that the fear of publicity caused her to return a large sum of money a year after she was paid $119,000 under a discontinued scheme.

Ken and Kate Ryan-Lloyd at Government House in 2019 (Association of Former MLAs of B.C./John Yanyshyn)

Kate Ryan-Lloyd, who was the deputy clerk at the time, received the payment in February 2012 under a long-service award program. Ryan-Lloyd’s predecessor Craig James has pleaded not guilty to fraud and breach of trust charges, including one for improperly obtaining and keeping $257,988 under the same program. 

Ryan-Lloyd earlier testified before Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes that she felt “uncomfortable” about keeping the money.

During cross-examination, James’s lawyer Gavin Cameron asked Ryan-Lloyd about the role of Bob Faulkner, the Legislative Assembly’s interim executive financial officer, and his relationship to her husband, Ken Ryan-Lloyd.

Faulkner and Ken Ryan-Lloyd both worked in the Office of the Auditor General before and after Faulkner’s seven-month secondment to the Legislature. 

“You get the retirement benefit on February 15th of 2012, you repay it on February 13th, 2013,” Cameron said. “And the auditor general’s critical report comes out nine days later, on March 1st, 2013.”

“Correct,” replied Ryan-Lloyd.

Cameron: ”But your husband was employed by the Office of the Auditor General in 2012 and 2013, correct? 

Ryan-Lloyd: “Correct.” 

Cameron: “And your husband and Mr. Faulkner are or were friends?”

Gavin Cameron (Fasken)

“No, they were colleagues,” Ryan-Lloyd shot back. “They were colleagues in the Office of the Auditor General.”

Ryan-Lloyd initially said she was unaware in February 2013 that a report was coming. 

“What happened is that in February, early February of 2013 or January of 2013, around that time, you received advice, through your links to the Office the Auditor General, that effectively the train was on the tracks, you should get out of the way?” Cameron asked.

Ryan-Lloyd replied: “Absolutely not. I received information, as did all of my colleagues, who were part of the executive team, who were working with Mr. Faulkner. He provided regular advice with respect to the status of financial audit work. My husband, at the time, was a performance auditor. And pursuant to the very strict professional standards in that office, he was explicitly excluded, at that time, before and after, subsequently, to any involvement with the Legislature as an audited institution.”

Cameron said that in January 2013, Faulkner told her that Auditor General John Doyle “had significant questions” about the payment of the retirement allowances in the wake of his scathing July 2012 report on shoddy Legislative Assembly accounting. 

Ryan-Lloyd repeated her earlier answer, before Cameron showed a transcript of her interview with former Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin on March 19, 2019 in Victoria. 

The Legislative Assembly Management Committee hired McLachlin to investigate whether James committed misconduct, after Speaker Darryl Plecas had revealed evidence of corruption by James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz.

Portrait of Craig James outside the Clerk’s Office at the Parliament Buildings (Mackin)

According to the transcript, Kate Ryan-Lloyd said: “the auditors had questions with respect to the payment of these retirement allowances. So I asked him to keep me apprised in their work in this area, hoping that things will be balanced in order. So apparently, there was a lack of documentation. In particular, I was advised by the chief financial officer of the day, Mr. Faulkner, Miss Woodward’s predecessor, that no legal opinion was on record.”

Cameron asked Ryan-Lloyd again if she agreed that the imminent, critical report from auditor general was “at least a factor causing you to return the funds.”

“No, I don’t agree because I was not sure of the contentions of the auditor general’s finding, what was the substance of that finding,” she said. 

The trial is expected to last another five weeks and hear another two-dozen witnesses.

Meanwhile, Holmes denied application to webcast the trial, ruling that it would be too cumbersome for the court to allow with the trial in progress. Lawyers for James and the Crown were mutually opposed.

Court rules allow media outlets to make applications between 14 and 60 days before a trial. submitted an application the week before the trial based on the risk of the rapidly evolving omicron pandemic and the judge’s late admission that accredited lawyers can use the court’s Microsoft Teams system to observe the proceedings from anywhere in Canada.

The application suggested the webconference system could have been repurposed to enable the trial to be viewed online. 

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Bob Mackin The Clerk of the B.C. Legislature

Bob Mackin

Kate Ryan-Lloyd returned a sum of money she held for a year, nine days before the Auditor General issued a scathing report on controversial retirement packages. 

Craig James’s defence lawyer Gavin Cameron showed the B.C. Legislature clerk her Feb. 20, 2013 letter about the return of a February 2012 payment under a discontinued program intended for retiring senior officials. Ryan-Lloyd, then the deputy to James, cited “personal reasons.”

A 2013 letter from Kate Ryan-Lloyd to Craig James, returning a retirement bonus (LAMC)

“That was the only description you gave as to why you were returning funds, nine days before the auditor general’s report came up,” Cameron remarked in B.C. Supreme Court on Jan. 31. 

John Doyle’s update to the July 2012 Audit of the Legislative Assembly’s Financial Records found none of the payments to James, Ryan-Lloyd and two others were publicly disclosed, as required under the Financial Information Act, even though their regular salaries were.

When the trial opened Jan. 24, James pleaded not guilty to five charges, including breach of trust for improperly obtaining and keeping $257,988 from the long-service award scheme. Ryan-Lloyd was earmarked $118,915.84, but returned $83,235 in 2013.

Ryan-Lloyd testified she didn’t go into detail about her concerns with the money, because “I didn’t intend this letter to be accusatory of Mr. James.”

She said she had received legal advice, including from a tax lawyer. Her husband was employed by the Office of the Auditor General, although she didn’t cite that as a reason.

“I met with Mr. [Chris] Considine just to ensure that um, again, my understanding of what options would be best available to me were understood.”

She testified that she also met with Speaker Bill Barisoff and clerk emeritus George MacMinn about the payment, without James, and remembered seeing a poster “think like a taxpayer.”

Earlier, in her Crown-led evidence, Ryan-Lloyd explained she was “humiliated” and “quite embarrassed” that she could not obtain a copy of the legal opinion about the payments from the Speaker’s office that James claimed to exist.

The wood splitter trailer at Craig James’s house in Saanich (Speaker’s Office)

“I had been led to believe one thing when in fact another was true,” Ryan-Lloyd said.

Meanwhile, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes also heard from one of James’s Cordova Bay neighbours, gift shop owner Jamie Cassels. 

Cassels testified it takes him 23 minutes to drive to work, near the Inner Harbour. He said he saw the wood splitter and trailer James bought with public funds on “a little paving stone area” out front of James’s house. He said he also saw a truck, Jeep and SUV, and Airstream trailer. He testified that he never saw the wood splitter used, nor did he see James chopping wood. 

The trial is expected to last another five weeks and hear another two-dozen witnesses. 

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Bob Mackin Kate Ryan-Lloyd returned a sum of

Bob Mackin

Just three days before the BC Liberals begin to vote for their next leader, a party insider fears the election will be easily manipulated.

In a Jan. 31 email to party interim executive Lindsay Cote, obtained by, Michael Lee’s campaign manager wrote that contractor Votem does not have basic safeguards to limit the use of multiple IP addresses and virtual private networks, nor is the party allowing real-time oversight.

Michael Lee (left) and Kevin Falcon, from the Jan. 18 BC Liberal leadership debate (BC1)

“Campaigns are to trust that this vote will have integrity, with no ability to independently verify this, despite that being a basic standard in all other types of modern day elections,” wrote Diamond Isinger.

Campaigns will have no way to digitally scrutinize the process as it happens, according to the email. Only after polls close will two people from each campaign be allowed into a room at the Wall Centre Hotel “to receive very high-level info (e.g. how many votes were cast, etc.) provided in a hurry before the new leader is announced.”

Additionally, an unlimited number of votes can be cast online from anywhere in the world. The email said that the candidates had been assured that those legitimately out of country, such as on vacation, would need to vote by phone. But that policy changed in the last few days. 

Without a way to monitor the system in real-time, the potential for abuse is significant. The email said that it is standard for scrutineers to see who is coming or going and observe whether a voter has walked through a door multiple times to vote or if a voter shows up claiming to be someone else.

“In this metaphor, the online voting systems will allow Joe Voter to walk in the (virtual) door of the polling station as many times as he wants and allow Susie Voter to vote on behalf of as many people as she wants, with no ability for campaigns to be made aware of this,” Isinger wrote. “Similarly, someone could phone the helpdesk from her cell phone 100 times to cast 100 votes over the course of a day and this would not be disclosed to campaigns, nor are we being provided with the ability to proactively scrutineer those call logs.”

From the Jan. 18 BC Liberal leadership debate (BC1)

Nobody from BC Liberal headquarters responded for comment by deadline.

The campaign has been rocked by allegations of mass-quantities of fraudulent memberships. revealed that five of the seven candidates wrote to the leadership election organizing committee on Jan. 5, demanding a thorough audit because thousands of members provided incorrect, non-existent or out of country contact information. 

“This is unbelievable for a leadership race, in the BC Liberal party, in British Columbia, in Canada, in the year 2022, which is being conducted online (with limited phone voting options) and requires both solid technology and common sense rules to underpin it,” said Isinger’s email.

Isinger’s email came two hours after Cote conveyed a message from Pete Martin, the CEO of Votem.

“We cannot universally put a limit of 10 votes or less per site/IP. Our CastIron platform and our Google cloud hosting partner have multiple security strategies for detecting and preventing bot-voting and other nefarious election hacks,” according to Martin. 

Martin said an unnamed third party monitoring service has been retained, but “we do not track IP address interactions to votes to ensure the privacy of voters throughout the process of casting their ballots.”

Wrote Cote: “I want to assure each of you, that the limitation to the system is not something that LEOC or the BCLP staff have asked for however, we are confident that with this additional program we will be able to monitor for suspicious behaviour and act accordingly.”

During the Jan. 18 debate, Lee lambasted perceived frontrunner Kevin Falcon, whose campaign is accused of selling fraudulent memberships. 

“We need to use this as the opportunity to restore that trust,” Lee said. “And the first step to restoring trust with British Columbians is running a process that every member can have confidence in, and the result the outcome, we need to go forward united. But your old style of politics, your backroom deals only erodes trust in our party, Kevin.”

Falcon denied the allegations and accused Lee of “creating a cloud of distrust.”

Party members vote online or by phone in a ranked ballot system from Feb. 3-5. 

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Bob Mackin Just three days before the BC

For the week of Jan. 30, 2022:

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are almost here, despite the pandemic, despite the Chinese Communist Party’s abuse of Uyghur Muslims, Tibetans and Hong Kongers, and despite its threats to invade Taiwan.

Jules Boykoff (Brian Lee)

“There’s never been an Olympics quite like what we’re seeing with the Beijing Games,” said Jules Boykoff, political science professor and author.
“I mean, we’re talking about staging an optional sporting spectacle under coronavirus pandemic conditions in a country that is a serial human rights abuser, that has long acted in ways that clash mightily with the lofty ideals that are enshrined in the Olympic Charter. And that may well be blunting the exciting zeitgeist of athlete activism, that you and I have talked about before, and also might be blunting critical reporting because of surveillance of reporters.”
Pacific University of Portland’s Jules Boykoff is the special guest on this edition of Podcast with host Bob Mackin. Listen to the full interview about the most-controversial winter mega-event in history.
Also, hear from Jeff Buziak ahead of the annual walk in memory of his daughter Lindsay Buziak, a victim of the unsolved Feb. 2, 2008 murder in Saanich, B.C. Buziak wants justice for Lindsay and has a message for anyone harming women.

Plus Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines and commentary.

CLICK BELOW to listen or go to TuneIn or Apple Podcasts.

Now on Google Podcasts!

Have you missed an edition of Podcast? Go to the archive.

Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: Here come Xi's Genocide Games

For the week of Jan. 30, 2022: The