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For the week of Nov. 7, 2021:

Under Mike Harcourt’s NDP government in 1993, British Columbia got a North America-leading freedom of information and protection of privacy law.

BC FIPA’s Jason Woywada (Twitter)

Now it’s 2021 and John Horgan’s NDP government is trying to take the free out of freedom of information with Bill 22.

Jason Woywada, executive director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, said British Columbians need more transparency not less. The plan to charge a $25 fee is only the tip of the iceberg, more than four years after the NDP promised to rejuvenate the FOI system that suffered under 16 years of BC Liberal rule.

“The system, as bad as it was, and as it was falling behind, was a problem,” Woywada told theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin. “The steps that they are taking are increasing the power distance from people to their government and are increasing the friction that people will have to gain basic access to information from the government.” 

On this edition of theBreaker.news Podcast, Woywada discusses the Transparency Matters campaign to oppose Bill 22. Environmental protection charities and construction industry associations that are normally at odds with each other have even united under the BC FIPA-led coalition. 

“Transparency matters to everyone,” Woywada said. “This isn’t just a matter for journalists and media, that access to information allows us in a democracy to make informed decisions, and that it’s important for all of us to gain access to information to make those informed decisions at the ballot box and to trust the decisions that government is making.”

Listen to the full interview with Woywada and find out how you can tell the NDP to scrap Bill 22. 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 theBreaker.news Podcast? Go to the archive.

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theBreaker.news Podcast - Tell the NDP: Transparency Matters
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For the week of Nov. 7, 2021:

Bob Mackin

Surrey taxpayers received a $14,500 bill from the spokesman for the fledgling municipal police force for the month of July.

Surrey Police Chief Norm Lipinski.

Chief Norm Lipinski approved the July 30 invoice from MacDonald Media 360 for the period beginning July 3. A copy of the invoice, released under the freedom of information law, shows Lipinski signed-off on the payment on Aug. 4.

Lipinski ignored a request for comment from theBreaker.news. Contracted spokesman Ian MacDonald retired in 2019 from a 22-year career at the Abbotsford Police Department, where he was public information officer for eight years. Based on the invoice, MacDonald’s contract would be worth more than $165,000-a-year, plus GST.

Meanwhile, mixed signals from the Surrey Police Service freedom of information office.

A supporter of the Keep the RCMP in Surrey campaign was told that one senior officer had no email in her outbox after two months, but she received an invoice after asking for email from another senior officer’s inbox.

The supporter, who asked not to be identified, had applied for all email sent by Deputy Chief Jennifer Hyland between July 1 and Aug. 31, but SPS said there was none.

MacDonald denied Hyland had deleted any email and claimed that her messages were transferred to a shared drive for document management purposes. He did not explain why SPS did not simply search that drive and provide the emails that Hyland had sent during the summer.

The RCMP supporter asked separately for all email in Supt. Allison Good’s inbox box for the same two month period, but received a $300 invoice. SPS claimed it would take 13 hours to locate, retrieve, produce and prepare the records.

The RCMP supporter had previously received email from the accounts of Lipinski and other senior officers without any hassle. 

If the NDP passes Bill 22, the SPS could charge $25 per FOI request in addition to search fees for larger, more complex files. The Surrey RCMP is under the federal Access to Information Act, which requires a flat $5 application fee. No additional fees are charged.

Fifty SPS officers are scheduled to begin ride-alongs wth Surrey RCMP officers at the end of this month, the first phase of Mayor Doug McCallum’s plan to replace the Mounties with a municipal force. The cop swap may take until 2023 or 2024 to complete, unless a campaign to derail the transition succeeds.

The Surrey Police Vote petition aimed at forcing a referendum is nearing its Nov. 15 signature drive deadline. It won’t meet the province-wide threshold, but organizers hope to gain enough support in each of the Surrey provincial ridings to prompt the NDP cabinet to order a vote anyway.

McCallum is under investigation for allegedly lying about an RCMP supporter running over his foot in a strip mall parking lot in September. The Attorney General’s ministry appointed Richard Fowler as special prosecutor. 

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Bob Mackin Surrey taxpayers received a $14,500 bill

Bob Mackin

Former B.C. Lions wide receiver Josh Boden killed his ex-girlfriend because he blamed her for ending his Canadian Football League career, a B.C. Supreme Court judge concluded on Nov. 4.

Ex-B.C. Lion Josh Boden: guilty of second degree murder

Justice Barry Davies found Josh Boden, a 2006 and 2007 member of the Lions, guilty of second degree murder in the March 15, 2009 beating and choking of 33-year-old Kimberly Hallgarth in her Burnaby home.

“The root is the loss of the football career, that he blamed her for that loss,” Davies said. “There is also convincing evidence that he sought monetary recompense from her because of that loss. Although Mr. Boden submits that the career of a Canadian Football League player is not particularly lucrative, the fact that his continued assertion and pursuit of a debt owed to him by Ms. Hallgarth over the loss speaks volumes of his continued resentment.”

Former BC Lions coach Wally Buono testified in February that Hallgarth had contacted him in 2008 and showed photographs of her injuries inflicted by Boden and the damage he did to her vehicle. That prompted Buono to cut Boden, a product of Carson Graham secondary in North Vancouver, from the team. Boden attempted a comeback later that year with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, but did not see action.

The only witness to the killing was Heidi Nissen, the mother of two of Boden’s children. Nissen testified that she had a tumultuous relationship with Boden that she described as that of a “pimp and ho,” due to her dabbling in street prostitution to provide Boden money.

Kimberly Hallgarth

After one of many beatings by Boden, Nissen finally sought refuge in a safe house. On March 15, 2009, she spoke with Hallgarth and traveled to her house to tell her about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Boden. But Boden was there when she arrived. A dispute ensued and Boden tried to strangle Nissen, who testified that she regained consciousness only to find Boden stomping on Hallgarth.

Not only did Boden kill his ex-girlfriend, Davies said, he “also tried to cover up his acts by attempting to stage the crime scene to look like Ms. Hallgarth died accidentally after ingesting drugs.” Boden also lied to police, claiming he was in Surrey. But cell phone records showed he was in Burnaby and his fingerprints were found at the crime scene.

Boden’s defence lawyer Kevin Westell raised questions about the credibility of Nissen, who had recanted in 2009. He also suggested that Nissen was responsible for Hallgarth’s death out of jealousy or a desire to hurt Boden for hurting her.

Davies rejected those theories as “at best speculative.” He noted that Nissen first implicated Boden in the crime six weeks after the murder. 

Ultimately, Davies was satisfied with Nissen’s testimony because elements were supported by other witnesses and evidence from the police and coroner.

“I can safely rely upon her eyewitness testimony. She saw Mr. Boden kill Ms. Hallgarth in her home on March 15, 2009, at first stomping on her neck and chest, and then strangling her with his thumbs on her throat and his fingers on the back of her neck,” Davies said.

A date will be set for sentencing Boden. A second degree murder conviction means life in prison, but parole could come in a decade.

Boden turns 35 in December. The conviction came one day shy of the third anniversary of his arrest.

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Bob Mackin Former B.C. Lions wide receiver Josh

Bob Mackin

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s entourage to the United Nations climate party in Glasgow included a videographer, photographer, speechwriter and an Instagrammer/Tweeter.

Justin Trudeau and billionaire Mike Bloomberg (PMO)

Trudeau returns to Ottawa Nov. 3, after a trip that included a state visit to Netherlands, Italy for the G20 leaders’ summit and Scotland for the UN’s 26th climate change conference.

The UN’s official registration list, released Nov. 1, shows 18 people from the Prime Minister’s Office in the 280-person delegation of federal and provincial government officials, non-government organizations and representatives of private industry.

Joining Trudeau are cabinet ministers Steven Guilbeault (environment), Chrystia Freeland (finance) and Jonathan Wilkinson (natural resources).

Chief of staff Katie Telford and Senior advisor Ben Chin are both listed, along with a videographer (Akshay Shawn Grover); lead speechwriter (Astrid Krizus); senior manager of digital and creative communications (Johanna Mae Robinson); and official photographer (Adam Scotti).

Trudeau is also traveling with a physician, Dr. Sandra Marie Lynne Rainbow.

The federal government has not released the approved travel budget for the event.

Former Trudeau Liberal cabinet minister Ralph Goodale leads Canada’s High Commission sub-delegation of 28, which is mainly responsible for logistics. They include an airport, aircrew and aircraft coordinator (Albert Price); vehicle dispatcher (Giles Boden-Wilson); and transportation coordinator (Katherine Last).

Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden (PMO)

Representing opposition parties are: Conservative MP Dan Albas, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and both Green MPs, Elizabeth May and Mike Morrice.

Top provincial officials include Quebec Premier Francois Legault and Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey.

Representing B.C. are environment minister George Heyman, his senior aide Kelly Anne Sather, and assistant deputy minister Jeremy Hewitt.

Canada’s politicians and bureaucrats are accompanied by 14 RCMP officers.

The UN’s Provisional List of Participants (PLOP) for COP 26 shows a total 39,509 registered from 4,972 organizations — a substantial increase from the 2019 figures of 26,706 and 2,440, respectively.

Rather than meet via web conference in 2020 due to the pandemic, the UN postponed the 26th meeting until 2021. Scotland’s Sunday Mail reported 400 private jets have carried elite political and business leaders to the conference.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s health secretary Humza Yousaf admitted to the BBC that the 25,000 delegates visiting Glasgow could lead to a spike in coronavirus cases, despite daily testing for participants and mask requirements at the central venue, which was used in 2014 for the Commonwealth Games.

The conference runs through Nov. 12.

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Bob Mackin Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s entourage to

Bob Mackin

They came dressed as Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, Department of Corrections prisoners, even Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar.

Masks were few and far between — both of the pandemic protection kind and the Halloween kind.

Some shotgunned cans of Sole Vodka at the Langley company’s bash on the night before Halloween.

Some left in ambulances.

Vancouver Police and B.C. Emergency Health Services were called to the $33 million mansion on Point Grey’s “Billionaires’ Row” for multiple calls of overdoses at one of Vancouver’s biggest house parties of the pandemic.

The venue? Stock market player David Sidoo’s mansion.

A year ago, the former pro football player spent Halloween in a U.S. jail during a three-month sentence, after pleading guilty to paying bribes to get his sons Jordan and Dylan Sidoo into prestigious California universities. (Jordan Sidoo told theBreaker.news that his father was not at home during the party.)

Click and watch the exclusive video below for highlights of the Halloween bash that went awry.

Were you at the party? theBreaker.news wants to hear from you. Click here. 

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Bob Mackin They came dressed as Dallas Cowboys

Bob Mackin

More than 620,000 British Columbia chickens and turkeys died in the “heat dome” in late June.

Documents released to theBreaker.news under the freedom of information law contained preliminary estimates of 500,000 dead during the sizzler. 

(B.C. Chicken Marketing Board)

A June 29 situation report said B.C. Chicken Marketing Board estimated more than 250,000 mortalities, B.C. Egg Marketing Board 150,000 perished hens, and B.C. Broiler Hatching Egg Commission 25,000 dead birds.

B.C. Turkey Marketing Board reported six farms with significant loses.

“One farm housing 50,000 toms (750,000 kg) approaching shipping were lost as of late Sunday, with an additional farm of 11,000 hens that died Sunday-Monday, these birds were also approaching shipping weight,” the provincial government’s situation report said about the turkey scene.

The situation report from the Ministry of Agriculture indicated other challenges existed, from labour shortages to mass-disposal of carcasses.

“Continuous daily large mortality events will likely stress” West Coast Reduction and commercial composters, the report said. Gasification, on-farm compositing and landfill were alternatives, in that order.

Last week, B.C. Chicken told theBreaker.news that it counted 416,146 birds lost out of 2.5 million placed on 46 farms — a rate of 16%.

In its updated figures, B.C. Egg said it lost about 144,000 laying hens and pullets (young hens). There was no loss of food-quality eggs that are stored in walk-in fridges, said Amanda Brittain, director of communications and marketing.

B.C. Turkey lost 61,000 birds — 2.4% of production and a more than $2 million direct hit to farmers. 

Add it all up, and that’s 621,146 chickens and turkeys lost in the heat dome.

“Despite these losses, all turkey farmers remain active in the province,” said B.C. Turkey general manager Michel Benoit. “Although we have heard that both levels of government are considering recovery programs for farmers impacted by the heat dome, no special compensation has been offered to poultry farmers.”

The June 29 ministry situation report said there were three major concerns across horticulture (energy usage and costs, cooling systems struggling to keep up with demand and heat stress on labourers) and livestock (animal welfare, animal transport avoided or only at strategic times to decrease stress and untimely deaths, and heat related sudden death.)

(B.C. Turkey Marketing Board)

Meanwhile, Nov. 1-released figures from the B.C. Coroners Service say at least 595 humans died from the June 25-July 1 heat wave.

At least 526 deaths occurred during that period, and the rest in days and weeks afterward due to injuries suffered in the heat wave. Three-quarters were in the Fraser Health (273) and Vancouver Coastal (120) regions, with 69% aged 70 or older.

The investigation will continue, with a report by late spring 2022.

The NDP government has deflected criticism that it failed to adequately warn the public and industry about the heat wave. It did not centrally communicate or coordinate after Environment Canada’s June 23 warning of a “dangerous long duration heat wave.”

Premier John Horgan was forced to admit his government was focused instead on the July 1 deadline to lift pandemic public health restrictions.

Minister of Health Adrian Dix has consistently blamed climate change for what he called an “unprecedented,” once in 1,000 years disaster, ignoring the 1925 heat wave that occurred during the same week of June when B.C. receives maximum daylight. Like 2021, the 1925 heat wave stretched all the way down the West Coast and far inland.

On theBreaker.news Podcast, University of Washington atmospheric sciences Prof. Cliff Mass said the Pacific Northwest has warmed by 1 degree Celsius over the last 50 years. But, in the aftermath, politicians, activists and even some in the media exaggerated the role of climate change as a “political tool.”

“If you blame everything on global warming and fossil fuels, then you don’t do what’s needed to save and protect the population,” Mass said.

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Bob Mackin More than 620,000 British Columbia

Bob Mackin

At least two people left in an ambulance from a Halloween party in the Billionaires’ Row mansion owned by David Sidoo, the ex-CFL star jailed last year for his role in the U.S. college admissions scandal.

Const. Tania Visintin said Vancouver Police officers were called to deal with a crowd of around 200 people while paramedics treated two people unconscious by either booze or drugs at the party. The two were taken to hospital.

David Sidoo (left) and Justin Trudeau in 2016 (PMO)

Shannon Miller of BCEHS said there were multiple calls for help in the wee hours of Oct. 31 to the $32.78 million mansion.

“Shortly after 1:30 a.m., five ambulance units responded to the scene for multiple reports of overdoses,” Miller said. “Three paramedic crews transported patients to hospital. BCEHS was called again to the address at 3:40 a.m. for an intoxicated patient.”

Visintin said nobody was arrested.

What were the substances that caused the overdoses and how did the partygoers obtain them?

Why did Sidoo allow a party at his mansion during the pandemic?

theBreaker.news wanted to ask Sidoo those questions and more. He answered the phone but hung up when this reporter identified himself. Sidoo did not respond to a subsequent email query.

One of his sons, Jordan Sidoo, later phoned and claimed responsibility for the party. He said his father was not involved in the event.

“He was not in the house, nor was he in town,” Jordan Sidoo told theBreaker.news. 

He said the the premises were rented to Sole Vodka and permitted via city hall, but he declined to show a copy of the permit. 

David Sidoo spent Halloween 2020 behind bars at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center in Tacoma after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. The University of British Columbia booster paid bribes so his sons could attend prestigious California universities instead.

Five days before his 61st birthday in July 2020, Sidoo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and went to jail for 90 days.

In 2011 and 2012, Sidoo paid $200,000 to consultant Rick Singer’s “side door” scheme that saw tennis pro Mark Riddell use false identification to pose as Jordan Sidoo and brother Dylan to ace their college entry exams. On two occasions, the Floridian flew to B.C. to write exams.

Dylan Sidoo was accepted to Chapman University, and later transferred to the University of Southern California. Jordan Sidoo entered University of California Berkeley. They both graduated.

UC Berkeley opened an investigation into the scandal. theBreaker.news asked Jordan Sidoo whether he still holds his diploma, but he declined to answer. 

Dylan (left), David and Jordan Sidoo (Facebook)

David Sidoo told a judge in July 2020 that the scheme was a “terrible mistake that has deeply affected our family.” He apologized to his former teammates and those that he said look up to him.

“You are quite evidently an intelligent, hardworking very successful businessman who overcame many hardships in your life, in fact a pillar of your community, and yet you have committed a crime that displays an unbelievable lack of integrity, morality and common sense,” Federal Judge Nathaniel Gorton said in the Zoom sentencing hearing.

“You have let your selfish desire, your pride, and your enormous wealth overcome all of what you apparently want to stand for by your works of charity.”

David Sidoo originally pleaded not guilty after his March 2019 arrest in San Jose, Calif. He initially faced charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy, but copped a plea bargain in early 2020 to avoid a jail sentence of up to 20 years.

His name was removed from Thunderbird Stadium at UBC, his Order of B.C. revoked and he withdrew his name from the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

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Bob Mackin At least two people left in

For the week of Oct. 31, 2021:

The 100-day countdown to next February’s Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics came and went last week.

Human rights protesters around the world called on western nations to boycott the most-controversial Olympics since Berlin 1936, due to China’s treatment of Uyghurs, Tibetans and Hong Kongers, and the threat to annex Taiwan.

Charles Burton (MLI)

On this edition, host Bob Mackin’s guest is Charles Burton, a former diplomat in Canada’s embassy in China and now a senior fellow in the Macdonald-Laurier Institute think tank. 

Plus commentary on the B.C. NDP’s controversial Freedom of Information Bill 22 and Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines.

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

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theBreaker.news Podcast: Less than 100 days to Xi Jinping's Games of vice and woe
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For the week of Oct. 31, 2021: The

Bob Mackin

A Richmond real estate and immigration lawyer, who denied China is a human rights offender, is banned from practising law for a year.

Hong Guo is suspended beginning Dec. 1 after an Oct. 28-released decision from a Law Society of B.C. disciplinary tribunal.

Richmond 2018 Mayoral candidate Hong Guo

Almost a year ago, a tribunal found Guo had committed professional misconduct related to the 2016 theft of $7.5 million of client trust funds by her bookkeeper, Zixin “Jeff” Li.

Guo, 54, originally came to Canada in 1993 and studied law at the University of Windsor. She was called to the Saskatchewan bar in 2000 and B.C. bar in 2009. She also worked in the Chinese Communist government’s powerful State Council.

The three-member disciplinary panel could have disbarred Guo, but chose the lesser penalty due to mitigating circumstances.

“We understand that the respondent currently practises under supervision and does not currently operate a trust account,” said the decision from Jennifer Chow, Ralston Alexander and John Lane. “The respondent’s misconduct in creating the conditions that led to the massive employee theft is serious and warrants a suspension. However, since the respondent did contribute family funds, took steps to restore the stolen trust funds and to prevent pending client transactions from failing, a lengthy suspension is in our view not warranted.”

Guo facilitated bookkeeper Li’s theft by failing to supervise him and failing to ensure strict compliance with Law Society accounting rules. She left Li with blank, previously signed trust cheques, while she went on vacation for two weeks in March 2016. Some of those cheques were used in the theft. Li allegedly took the millions from 100 clients, laundered the cash at a casino and fled to China.

When Guo discovered the theft on April 1, 2016, she made reports to the Law Society and RCMP.

Richmond lawyer Hong Guo announced her run for Mayor of Richmond last June.

Over several months, she deposited more than $2.6 million of family money into her trust account. Until an insurer covered the missing $4 million, the clients and third parties were unsecured creditors who didn’t know whether they would see any of their money for at least 18 months.

With the exception of those who filed lawsuits against Guo, most, if not all, clients affected were eventually made whole, the tribunal said.

Guo testified that she suffered considerable stress and financial impact, but “we agree with the Law Society that the effect of the theft does not excuse the respondent’s misconduct.”

The decision also mentioned seven occasions between 2013 and 2017 in which the Law Society intervened in Guo’s practice.

“The Law Society emphasizes that the respondent ‘borrowed’ trust funds from her clients to cover her losses, disregarded her undertaking to the Law Society and disregarded a Bencher Order put in place to protect the public. The Law Society also points out that some of the proven misconduct occurred prior to the bookkeeper’s theft.”

The tribunal ordered Guo pay the Law Society $47,329.44 in costs at a rate of $1,000 per month until the full amount is paid. The Law Society had sought more than $70,000.

Guo finished a distant fourth in the Richmond mayoral election in 2018, shortly after she was originally cited for misconduct.

In an interview with theBreaker.news after an all-candidates meeting, Guo denied the existence of China’s well-documented human rights abuses, including the mass-detention of Uyghur Muslims and arbitrary jailing of journalists.

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Bob Mackin A Richmond real estate and immigration

Bob Mackin

The Attorney General behind B.C.’s 1993 freedom of information law said the goal under NDP Premier Mike Harcourt was “to create the best legislation in the western world.”

Colin Gabelmann in 2015 (@JeanneCBC/Twitter)

“Whether we met that standard or not, I don’t know, but it was certainly the best legislation in Canada at that time, for sure,” said Colin Gabelmann in an exclusive interview with theBreaker.news. “Now they seem to be striving in the middle of the pack, to paraphrase the minister responsible now. I’m disappointed about that, that’s not what the NDP can be proud of.”

Gabelmann worries that today’s NDP under Premier John Horgan wants to ram through a bill harmful to citizens’ right to know. His biggest grievance is the plan to charge an application fee. Citizens’ Services Minister Lisa Beare has proposed a $25 charge for each FOI request.

“I argued all the time back in the ’90s, that if the governments of the day would just put everything that’s permissible online — and the internet was just developing in those days, it wasn’t as useful a tool as it has become — then people wouldn’t have to make these applications for information,” he said.

“There would still be some necessity to make application and some borderline and some grey areas, but, if the information belongs to the public, in principle, it should be the public’s information at no cost.”

There is no application fee today and applicants are entitled to three hours of free service. The law was originally written to allow fees be charged only for complex, time-consuming requests. The Information and Privacy Commissioner has the power to overturn unjustified fees. 

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

Gabelmann said the NDP government should refer Bill 22 to the all-party, statutory review committee that considers amendments every five years. The current version of that committee has yet to meet. However, the NDP used its majority Oct. 26 to defeat the BC Liberal motion to refer Bill 22 to that committee by a 50-29 tally.

One of those who voted on the government side was Oak Bay MLA Murray Rankin, who advised Gabelmann on development of the FOI law almost 30 years ago. In 2017, while he was the Victoria NDP MP, Rankin called FOI application fees a “tollgate” on the public’s right to know during a House of Commons access to information committee hearing. 

“[Rankin was] an invaluable asset to developing the ’93 legislation,” Gabelmann said. Fast forward to 2021, Rankin is between a rock and a hard place in a whipped caucus and subject to the traditions of cabinet confidentiality and solidarity. That means Rankin cannot publicly dissent without losing his post as the Indigenous Relations minister.

“I’m disappointed he’s not in a position to articulate what I know to be his values,” Gabelmann said.

Gabelmann said he is also concerned that Bill 22 proposes removal of the premier’s office from the list of public bodies. The NDP claims it doesn’t intend to ban FOI requests about the premier, but Gabelmann said “I’m not 100% sure of that.”

Only two new public bodies are proposed for inclusion in the amended law: the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police and B.C. Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police.

Another is conspicuously absent from Bill 22: the Legislative Assembly itself.

Mike Farnworth announces $2,000 fines on April 19 (BC Gov)

In February 2019, after Speaker Darryl Plecas’s report on corruption by the Clerk and Sergeant-at-Arms, the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ombudsperson and Merit Commissioner publicly called for the NDP government to protect whistleblowers, mandate hiring and firing by just cause and designate the Legislature as a public body under the FOI law.

NDP House Leader Mike Farnworth promised it would happen: “Let me be really clear: Those three recommendations are going to be implemented,” Farnworth said in 2019.

theBreaker.news wants to interview Farnworth about the omission of the Legislature from Bill 22, but he has not responded.

Gabelmann agreed it should be added, but not before the all-party committee does its work.

CLICK HERE AND LISTEN TO COLIN GABELMANN ON THEBREAKER.NEWS PODCAST

When the NDP used its majority to defeat the referral motion on Oct. 26, it also voted to pass Bill 22 through second reading. Beare rose and briefly accused the opposition BC Liberals and Greens of fearmongering.

“I look forward to committee stage, which is where we’re going to have this debate — clause by clause, line by line — through this legislation, and I’m going to get the chance to outline what this means for British Columbians and how important it is,” Beare said in the Legislature.

No other NDP MLA stood to justify their support of Bill 22 on Oct. 26, which shocked a former BC Liberal Finance Minister and Attorney General. Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong said the NDP government had been “consumed by its own arrogance.”

“A government armed with a majority that now governs on this basis: we’ll do what we want, when we want, because we can,” said de Jong. He is an expert at spotting those warning signs, after spending 16 years in a government that was fond of using its majority whenever convenient. 

Also on Oct. 26, a coalition led by the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association urged Horgan and Beare to withdraw Bill 22, let the all-party committee do its work, and commit to introduce amendments to the law that reflect the recommendations of current and past committees.

In an open letter, BC FIPA called Bill 22 “regressive” and said the law would make it harder for everyone to get facts, rather than spin.

“This legislation would extend the ability of current and future governments to keep people in the dark about vital matters of public interest,” the letter said.

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Bob Mackin The Attorney General behind B.C.’s 1993