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Bob Mackin

A senior bureaucrat behind B.C.’s vaccine passport has quit.

Corrie Barclay is leaving the Ministry of Health on Dec. 15 to take a job in the private sector, according to a memo by the deputy health minister obtained by

Corrie Barclay (BC Assessment)

Barclay had been assistant deputy minister of information management and information technology since 2018. She was paid $183,911 last fiscal year.

“Throughout the pandemic, Corrie maintained a strong alliance with the Provincial Health Services Authority and led the provincial digital response effort,” according to Stephen Brown’s Dec. 6 memo. “She has worked tirelessly with her team and across the health sector to deliver digital solutions, including most recently the vaccine digital solution and provincial call-centre to support mass vaccination clinics and implementation of the B.C. and federal vaccine cards.”

Barclay will be replaced temporarily by ADM Jeff Aitken and Shannon Malovec of PHSA.

B.C. rolled out its vaccine passport in late August, but it was not compatible with a federal document launched in October. Earlier in the pandemic, B.C. shunned the federal contact tracing app.

Barclay joined the Ministry of Health after almost three years as a vice-president at the B.C. Assessment Authority and 13 years as a consultant.

In 2012 and 2013, she was project director on the B.C.-led implementation of the IBM Panorama digital health surveillance system that had been mandated by the federal government after the 2003 SARS pandemic.

In 2015, B.C.’s Auditor General found the incomplete Panorama system had cost $113 million so far — 420% of what was budgeted — plus $14 million a year.

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Bob Mackin A senior bureaucrat behind B.C.’s vaccine

For the week of December 5, 2021:

Less than two months until the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, the most-controversial since Germany hosted the 1936 Winter and Summer Games under Adolf Hitler.

Benedict Rogers (Facebook)

The International Olympic Committee is content to see the 2022 Games go on, as scheduled, under the leadership of Xi Jinping. The Chinese Communist Party head refuses to cooperate with investigations on the Wuhan origin of the novel coronavirus. Xi resists international calls to free Uyghur Muslims. Xi has trampled on Hong Kongers’ freedom of speech and is threatening to invade Taiwan.

On this edition of Podcast, host Bob Mackin welcomes Hong Kong Watch co-founder and journalist Benedict Rogers.

Rogers says there should not only be a diplomatic boycott of Beijing 2022, but a consumer boycott.

“They should boycott the corporate sponsors of the Games,” Rogers said.

It is too late to move the Games. What about the athletes?

“This is a huge event in their careers, they’ve trained for a long time for it, but I would appeal to athletes to examine their own consciences — and I think it is a matter of conscience for each individual athlete,” Rogers said. “Those who decide courageously to pull out, I think, should be applauded. Those who decide to participate should think about what they can do to use the platform that they have as public personalities, as athletes following the Games. Of course, they shouldn’t do anything in China, because that could be dangerous for them.”

Listen to the full interview with Benedict Rogers.

Plus commentary and Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines.

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Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: Can a diplomatic and consumer boycott of the Beijing 2022 Olympics cause change?

For the week of December 5, 2021:

When British Columbia was plunged into a state of emergency in March 2020, due to the global pandemic, the Legislative Assembly put debating and lawmaking aside, except for a special sitting to pass a $5 billion spending bill. The NDP, Greens and BC Liberals united for the common good in the early days of the crisis.

After the mid-November flood disaster in Southern B.C., the NDP kept the house open to ram through several bills, including an amended freedom of information law opposed by the Information and Privacy Commissioner, B.C. Freedom of Information Association and Democracy Watch. They even shut down debate on Nov. 25 and rejected proposed amendments from the opposition BC Liberals and BC Greens.

The BC Liberals and BC Greens also pleaded to be part of the province’s disaster relief and rebuilding efforts, but the NDP rejected their calls for an all-party emergency committee. They say the task demands an all hands-on-deck approach, especially after the transportation and agriculture ministers offered such a bleak assessment.

Thirteen months after Premier John Horgan turned a minority into a majority in a snap election, B.C. politics is divided as it ever was.

On this edition, hear highlights of the week that was, featuring Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth, BC Liberal interim leader Shirley Bond, NDP Citizens’ Services Minister Lisa Beare, BC Liberal MLAs Lorne Doerksen and Coralee Oakes, Transportation Minister Rob Fleming and Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.

Plus commentary and Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines.

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: Despite Natural Disasters and Pandemic, Horgan government guts FOI law

When British Columbia was plunged into a

Bob Mackin

The B.C. NDP government is poised to ram through controversial amendments to gut the once-leading freedom of information and protection of privacy law when the fall Legislative session closes Nov. 25.

Bad actors? Premier John Horgan and Lisa Beare on the Riverdale set in 2019 (BC Gov/Flickr)

Documents obtained under the existing law by the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association suggest the fix was in, long before Bill 22’s Oct. 18 tabling.

Before it sought public input on updating the law, the majority NDP already decided to tax FOI requesters.

Citizens’ Services Minister Lisa Beare’s script for a June 15 caucus meeting said: “Some measures we are planning to reduce the impact of these increasing FOI requests include: a minor application fee for general requests that would not apply to individuals requesting their own information; limits to FOI requests not related to government business; and expanded criteria under which a public body can apply to the commissioner to disregard a request.”

On Oct. 18, Beare revealed she is recommending a $25 application charge, to be set via regulation after the amendments are passed.

BC FIPA executive director Jason Woywada said the date of Beare’s June 15 speech indicates the government’s dismissive attitude towards the law passed by a previous NDP government nearly 30 years ago.

BC FIPA’s Jason Woywada (Twitter)

“On the day that they launched the public engagement, asking British Columbians for their opinion, they’re telling caucus they’ve already made their decision. That, to me, is the height of hypocrisy and the greatest example of the illusion of public consultation that I’ve ever seen,” Woywada told

The secret planning to charge application fees continued into August. A communications plan under the heading “confidential advice for the minister” listed potential challenges to the law, including media opposed to an application fee, privacy groups that consider the existing privacy law world-class, and businesses that offer data resident solutions in B.C. (The bill also proposes permanently lifting the ban on storage of citizens’ data outside Canada.)

The documents also referred to the Legislature’s December 2020-struck, all-party committee struck to review the law. It suggested whatever public consultation those MLAs might undertake “could lead to some consultation fatigue.” After the government tabled Bill 22, it rejected calls from the opposition BC Liberals and Greens to delay the bill and refer the amendments to the committee.

“This whole action they’re taking undermines the work of the special legislative committee,” Woywada said. “Everything this government has done to draft Bill 22 has been done behind closed doors, behind the veil of secrecy. They’ve redacted 91 of 135 pages of their communications plan.”

Woywada said BC FIPA knew about the consultation program so it filed for the standard communication plan documents. The documents finally arrived Nov. 23, the same day that the NDP used its majority to declare that debate would end and the law be passed with the closure of the fall session.

“It’s incredibly disheartening when the commitments that were made were to improve access to information, and they’re not doing that,” Woywada said. “And they’re not making the legislature more transparent.”

In early 2019, then-Speaker Darryl Plecas revealed corruption in the offices of the clerk and sergeant-at-arms. Government House Leader Mike Farnworth agreed with Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy, and promised to finally add the Legislature to the FOI law.

“He’s not acting on it, he didn’t act on it before, he’s not acting on it now,” Woywada said. “And he’s just hoping everybody will forget. We’re going to work to make sure people don’t.”

Meanwhile, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs called for the immediate withdrawal of Bill 22, because it further entrenches barriers to access for aboriginals seeking reconciliation and resolution to land claims.

In an open letter to Beare, the UBCIC said its April 2018 formal submission seeking FOI law improvements identified key barriers, including prohibitive fees, denial of fee waivers, prolonged delays, overly broad exceptions to disclosure, widespread failures to create, retain and transfer records and the exclusion of subsidiaries from duties of disclosure.

“The bill, in its current form, fails to uphold First Nations’ unique rights of access to information, as many of the proposed amendments will create new barriers for First Nations requiring access to provincial government records to substantiate their historical grievances against the Crown,” the UBCIC letter said. “Further, several proposed amendments disregard significant concerns we identified in formal submissions to the public engagement process, and introduce measures about which we were never informed.”

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Bob Mackin The B.C. NDP government is poised

For the week of Nov. 21, 2021

British Columbia’s year of Natural Disasters and Pandemic got worse.

Heat dome. Wildfires. A parade of atmospheric rivers, formerly known as pineapple expresses.

(City of Abbotsford)

The weekend after Remembrance Day will not be forgotten anytime soon, for the devastating rain, floods, landslides and winds in Southern B.C.

Death and destruction. More economic chaos.

The recovery will take months, if not years, and cost in the billions of dollars.

The meteorologists did their job, so why was the B.C. NDP government slow to react? Why didn’t it warn the public?

On this edition, hear highlights form the week that was, including Premier John Horgan, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau, Abbotsford BC Liberal Bruce Banman, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun and Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon MP Brad Vis.

Plus commentary and Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines.

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: Mid-November mayhem

For the week of Nov. 21, 2021 British

Bob Mackin

The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch suddenly banned cash transactions over $5,000, four days after hosting the annual high-end spirits promotion where products were going for as much as $200,000.(BCLDB)

In a Nov. 17 memo, Blain Lawson, CEO of the Crown agency, announced the change applicable to both retail and hospitality industry customers.

No reason was given, although employees at one of the highest-revenue stores were concerned about money laundering in 2015.

“Effective immediately, BC Liquor Stores will no longer accept any cash transactions of $5,000. Transactions over $5,000 must be made using credit or debit card only,” said Lawson’s memo, which was leaked to

Neither Lawson nor director of retail operations Jonathan Castaneto responded to The Ministry of Finance, which oversees liquor sales, forwarded query to the LDB communications department, which said management was too busy handling supply chain issues related to the Nov. 18-declared provincial state of emergency.

The $200,000 featured product at the LDB’s 2021 Premium Sales promotion on Nov. 13. (BCLDB)

The memo stated the $5,000-and-up cash ban was an interim measure while LDB reviews its current large cash transaction policy. There was no previous cash limit, only steps to take if an employee believed a transaction of more than $10,000 was suspicious.

“Please note, if a customer asks for their purchases to be divided into multiple transactions but the total cash received for their transactions exceeds $5,000 Canadian (or equivalent), this group of transactions is collectively a Large Cash Transaction and this policy still applies,” said the Nov. 17 policy note.

LDB hosted its annual Premium Release promotion on Nov. 13, targeted to well-heeled collectors of rare, high-end whiskeys. It held an online draw for the privilege to purchase scarce products, including a $200,000 Dalmore Decades No. 4 Collection Set 19 and $38,000 bottle of GlenDronach 50-year-old.

Draw winners were told to pick-up and pay for purchases only at the Cambie and 39th Avenue store in Vancouver’s Oakridge neighbourhood.

A manager at that location in May 2015 contacted head office after workers became concerned about suspicious large transactions over $10,000. An LDB senior investigator told the workers to report concerns to management, not to police or FINTRAC, the federal financial intelligence unit, according to email leaked to the then-opposition NDP.

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Bob Mackin The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch suddenly

For the week of Nov. 14, 2021:

Four years ago this month, Podcast launched.

On this special anniversary edition, hear highlights from the first four editions, featuring four people known for speaking truth to power:

  • Nov. 5, 2017: the reporter who introduced the world to whistleblower Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald;
  • Nov. 12, 2017: journalism professor and access to information historian Sean Holman on whether Canadians truly live in a democracy;
  • Nov. 19, 2017: the late government watchdog Dermod Travis on B.C.’s campaign finance reform;
  • Nov. 26, 2017: the law student arrested in 1997 for protesting the leader of China’s visit to UBC for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit, Craig Jones.

Plus commentary and Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines.

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: Fourth anniversary edition

For the week of Nov. 14, 2021:

Bob Mackin

A human rights activist calls a B.C. NDP cabinet minister a hypocrite for posing with a Chinese diplomat at a Remembrance Day ceremony.

Tourism Minister and Vancouver East MLA Melanie Mark Tweeted four photos from the Chinatown Memorial Monument and wrote that she was “honouring and recognizing veterans of the Chinese community who fought/served for justice, for our freedom, to protect our shared values.”

NDP cabinet minister Melanie Mark with People’s Republic of China consul general Tong Xiaoling on Remembrance Day 2021 (Melanie Mark/Twitter)

In one photograph, Mark is side-by-side with Tong Xiaoling, the Consul General for the People’s Republic of China in Vancouver.

Ivy Li of the Canadian Friends of Hong Kong said it was a “huge insult” to Canadian veterans of all ethnicities who fought to protect Canadians’ rights, freedoms and sovereignty.

“Does Minister Mark consider the Chinese consulate to represent the Chinese community in Canada? Does the B.C. government forget that the Chinese consulates in Canada are here to represent the government of the People’s Republic of China, not our Chinese-Canadian community?” Li said.

Tong laid a wreath at the monument during the ceremony, which was featured on a pro-CCP Phoenix TV newscast. The consulate’s ornate wreath was placed on an easel, elevated above all the others, including one from City of Vancouver. Tong ultimately represents the Chinese Communist Party, which Li said is committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims, has decimated Tibetan culture, took away Hong Kongers’ basic liberties and is now threatening to invade Taiwan.

“This not only makes [Mark’s] claim disingenuous and hypocritical, but it is also totally inappropriate,” Li said. “Why a genocidal and civil rights and freedom-suppressing regime has anything to do with honouring our veterans who died for our freedom? Why an aggressive, dictatorial regime who is threatening an invasion of a democratic country has anything to do with honouring our veterans who died in defending our sovereignty?”

(Melanie Mark/Twitter) wanted Mark’s comment on the optics of posing with Western Canada’s highest-ranking representative of Xi Jinping. Instead of responding, Mark referred to a tourism ministry representative’s prepared statement.

“China has maintained a long-standing consular presence in Vancouver. It is a normal courtesy to acknowledge accredited foreign diplomats,” the statement read. “Canada-China relations are the responsibility of the federal government.”

In February, the House of Commons, including the entire NDP caucus, voted unanimously to declare China is committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims, and called on the International Olympic Committee to move the February 2022 Winter Olympics out of Beijing. 

Last month, the Esquimalt-based, Royal Canadian Navy vessel HMCS Winnipeg sailed through the Taiwan Strait. The mission was part of an allied operation to deter China from invading Taiwan, one of the few democracies led by a woman. Xi considers it a rebel province and has not ruled out a military takeover. On the consulate’s website, Tong opposes Vancouver city hall’s potential twinning with Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and calls the island a “region [that] is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory.”

NDP cabinet ministers George Chow (left) and Melanie Mark flanking China’s consul general Tong Xiaoling at the Nov. 5 opening of the Chinatown Story Centre. (Twitter/Melanie Mark)

Li wonders why the NDP has not learned from the events of the last three years, including China’s 2018 kidnapping of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor and the failure in late 2019 to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan. Beijing targets western politicians, who are prime targets of the CCP’s United Front foreign influence program, which includes currying favour with indigenous leaders in order to gain access to their natural resources. Li noted that Mark is a member of the Nisga’a nation.

Mark’s friendly pose with Tong is part of a pattern by B.C. NDP politicians of engagement with CCP interests. Minister of State for Trade George Chow recently appeared with officials from the consulate and the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations at Golden Week events in early October marking 72 years of Communist rule. One of them was a Beijing Olympics countdown promotion on Jack Poole Plaza.

Chow and Mark appeared together with Tong at the Nov. 5 opening of the Chinatown Story Centre.

In 2019, Mark’s predecessor, Lisa Beare, posed in a group photo with accused money launderer Paul King Jin at a Richmond gym he operated. In 2020, the NDP government briefly gave Jin’s son a licence to operate a security company out of the same address.

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Bob Mackin A human rights activist calls a

Bob Mackin

What did FIFA vice-president Victor Montagliani know about a coach’s misconduct? When did he know it?

FIFA VP Montagliani and president Infantino (Twitter)

Those are questions that players from the 2008 W-League Vancouver Whitecaps and national women’s soccer teams want answered.

Montagliani was on the Canadian Soccer Association board when Bob Birarda was the Whitecaps’ women’s team coach and an assistant with Canada’s entry in the Beijing 2008 Olympics tournament. When Birarda was fired from both jobs in fall 2008, both organizations called it a mutual parting of ways. The reasons were kept secret until former player Ciara McCormack blew the whistle in early 2019.

Birarda was charged in late 2020 with sexual exploitation, sexual assault and child luring from 1998 to 2008.

Since then, another former player, Malloree Enoch, blew the whistle on former Whitecaps’ coach Hubert Busby Jr., for allegedly soliciting her for sex while recruiting her for the team in 2011. Busby departed the Whitecaps in similar fashion as Birarda in 2012.

The Professional Footballers of Canada (PFCan) published a statement Nov. 8 on behalf of players from the 2008 and 2011 Whitecaps’ women’s teams. Among the seven demands are for Montagliani, the president of FIFA’s North and Central American and Caribbean zone (Concacaf), to “fully co-operate” with an investigation of the Birarda coverup.

Major League Soccer hired lawyers Janice Rubin and Melody Jahanzadeh of the law firm Rubin Thomlinson to investigate in the wake of the allegations about Busby. Whitecaps CEO Axel Schuster said executives still with the club were placed on administrative leave, but he did not identify them.

Bob Birarda in 2005 (CSA)

A statement from Concacaf said Montagliani “welcomes and supports” the CSA review of the 2008 circumstances, but the statement does not say whether Montagliani will co-operate. Concacaf said Montagliani and the CSA board took the allegations seriously in summer 2008 and unanimously agreed to fire Birarda.

“Mr. Montagliani believes that he and his fellow Board members at the time followed the appropriate steps to support the CSA with this very serious matter,” the statement said.

Paul Champ, an Ottawa human rights lawyer who represents PFCan, said he is hopeful the Rubin Thomlinson investigation will lead to transparency, accountability and increased safety for athletes at risk of exploitation and abuse by coaches.

He is disappointed that Canadian national team and club officials have moved slower than their counterparts in the U.S., where the National Women’s Soccer League’s North Carolina Courage fired coach Paul Riley in late September over allegations he coerced players to have sex with him.

“When you see the strong action the NWSL has taken with different clubs and executives related to those incidents, I think it’s fair to ask why hasn’t there been more accountability at the Whitecaps?” Champ said. “The MLS has recognized this moment, and full credit to the Canadian women’s national team, many of whom play in the NWSL.” reported in 2018 that Montagliani bought a $6.6 million West Vancouver mansion in 2017, mortgaged by Concacaf sponsor Scotiabank. Montagliani was paid $2.6 million that year, $500,000 more than FIFA president Gianni Infantino. 

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Bob Mackin What did FIFA vice-president Victor Montagliani

Bob Mackin

A volunteer with the Surrey Police Vote petition campaign says Surrey city hall breached his constitutional rights.

A May 2019 photo of Mayor Doug McCallum and council members. (City of Surrey)

A bylaw officer fined Paul Daynes $100 on Sept. 11 for unlawful advertising as he removed a sign promoting the petition from his car. Daynes had just arrived at the Dogwood Park parking lot to help set-up the kiosk in the drive to gain enough signatures to force a referendum over whether to replace the RCMP with the Surrey Police Service.

In an interview, Daynes, who is also the campaign director for Keep the RCMP in Surrey, said he told the bylaw officer his name and address. He refused to take the ticket, but said he encouraged the bylaw officer to mail a copy to him.

On Oct. 29, Daynes finally received a letter in the mail from Acting Public Safety Operations Manager Kim Marosevich, demanding he pay $200 by Nov. 29 or city hall would take further, unspecified action against him.

The letter said Daynes did not respond or dispute the ticket within 14 days of the alleged violation, so he is “deemed to have not disputed the charge and to have pleaded guilty to the offence.”

Daynes said he was peacefully exercising his democratic rights in a public place in accordance with the freedom of expression clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Courts across Canada have upheld the right of citizens to post notices on utility poles, hand out leaflets and erect signs and billboards.

“These are the very same freedoms that generations of Canadians are remembering this week, that they fought and died for,” Daynes said. “It’s an absolute outrage.”

Daynes called it a “gross violation” of his rights while participating in an Elections BC-approved campaign and believes it stems from Mayor Doug McCallum’s obsession with stifling debate unfavourable to his leadership. 

“He’s a little tinpot fascist dictator,” Daynes said.

The Elections BC-approved petition deadline is Nov. 15. It won’t meet the province-wide threshold of 10% of registered voters in all 87 districts to automatically trigger a vote. Campaigners have focused on the nine Surrey ridings, hoping to gather enough support to force the NDP cabinet to order a local referendum.

“[Mayor Doug McCallum is] a little tinpot fascist dictator”

In September, McCallum used his Safe Surrey Coalition majority on council to ban seven members of Keep the RCMP in Surrey from attending city council meetings.

That was the week after McCallum allegedly suffered a foot injury in a strip mall parking lot. He accused a KTRIS member of running over his foot, but the RCMP and a special prosecutor are investigating whether McCallum lied about the incident.

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Bob Mackin A volunteer with the Surrey