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Bob Mackin

“At last, we come to committal.”

The words of Robert Frater, the top lawyer at Canada’s Department of Justice, to begin the final phase of the extradition saga for Chinese fraud suspect Meng Wanzhou — 984 days since Canadian police arrested the Huawei CFO at Vancouver International Airport.

Meng Wanzhou’s Hong Kong passport (B.C. Courts exhibits)

Frater was appearing before Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Aug. 11, the morning after a court in Dandong, China sentenced Canadian hostage Michael Spavor to 11 years in jail in retaliation for Meng’s arrest.

At issue is the United States bid to try Meng in New York for her August 2013 meeting in Hong Kong with HSBC. The U.S. claims Meng misled bankers about a Huawei subsidiary called SkyCom in order do business in Iran, contrary to U.S. sanctions.

Meng’s statements to HSBC “were dishonest because of what she did say and because of what she did not say,” Frater said.

He told the court that Meng misled HSBC by not disclosing the truth about Huawei’s control of SkyCom.

Robert Frater (Government of Canada)

“Ms. Meng was faithful to Huawei’s script that SkyCom was a third party partner of Huawei and that HSBC had no risk committing sanction violations by continuing to provide banking services to Huawei,” Frater said.

“When you send the CFO to the bankers to try and persuade them there is no risk, it certainly sends them a  message.”

Frater said there need not be economic loss to establish fraud — only acts of dishonesty and deprivation.

Despite Meng’s defence team aiming to try the case before Holmes, Frater said, extradition hearings are not trials. They are expeditious procedures to determine whether a trial should be held. He told Holmes that her job is to decide whether the case meets Canadian extradition law, not to assess “quality, credibility or reliability of the case, except in a very limited sense.”

Two Canadians named Michael were taken hostage in China (Mackin)

Meng was arrested Dec. 1, 2018 after a flight from Hong Kong. She had planned to travel onward to Mexico City the same day after a brief detour to deliver some items to one of her two houses in Vancouver.

She made it to one of those houses on Dec. 11, 2018, the day she was released on bail. Since May 2019, she has lived at a mansion on the same block as the U.S. consul general’s residence.

Her arrest sparked a diplomatic rift between Canada and China. Businessman Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig were arrested in China the same day Meng was released on bail in Vancouver. Kovrig awaits his verdict on a similar charge of spying. The Chinese government has released no evidence and denied diplomats and reporters access to their trials.

During court hearings in Vancouver over the last two years, Meng’s legal team has claimed she is the victim of a politically motivated prosecution stemming from the U.S.-China trade war. They also claim Canadian police infringed upon her rights when she was arrested.

In May 2020, Holmes ruled the U.S. extradition application could proceed because of similarities in Canadian fraud law — a principle known as double criminality.

The extradition hearing is expected to conclude by Aug. 20 and Holmes is expected to reserve her decision for a later date.

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Bob Mackin “At last, we come to committal.” The

Bob Mackin

While another heat wave sizzles British Columbia, questions remain about the apathy by public officials toward the record-breaking “heat dome” in the last week of June.

The hottest June weekend in 96 years taxed emergency responders and hospitals, and led to the deaths of at least 569 people. While frontline workers had their hands full, politicians were nowhere to be seen. 

Vancouver city hall (Mackin)

The calendar and email for the mayor of the province’s biggest city are further evidence that Vancouver’s Kennedy Stewart did not take any active role in responding to the weather emergency — despite the early 2019 declaration by his council of a symbolic climate change emergency. 

Stewart’s only June 25 appointment was a meeting with NDP Childcare Minister Katrina Chen.

June 26 and 27 were blank.

On June 28, he met with development lobbyists from the Urban Land Institute, city manager Paul Mochrie, Attorney General and Housing Minister David Eby and a follow-up meeting on a potential 2030 Winter Olympics bid.

There was no meeting specific to the heat wave.

theBreaker.news wanted to see all of Stewart’s email for June 25-29, 2021 that contains the words heat, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, temperature, weather, hot weather, heat wave, heat dome, Environment Canada, climate change, and forecast.

Under the freedom of information law, Vancouver city hall released 49 pages — 18 of which were pages from the Vancouver Sun website. SEE THE DOCUMENTS BELOW.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart (Mackin)

Stewart received email on June 24 from a person asking for an amnesty on Downtown Eastside street sweeps and park bylaws enforcement during the heat wave.

The June 25 reply came from Stewart’s email account, but contained the signature for “senior legislative advisor” Laurie MacLean.

Otherwise, the only other heat emergency-related email released to theBreaker.news comprised of Vancouver Coastal Health bulletins. One was the June 25, 6:30 p.m. declaration of an extreme heat alert. The other was a June 28 notice that the heat wave had postponed coronavirus vaccination and testing appointments at the West End Community Centre and Vancouver Community College.

Environment Canada issued numerous warnings several days in advance of the June 25-29 heat wave that temperatures would put the very young, very old and people with chronic illness at risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

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2021-344 – res by Bob Mackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin While another heat wave sizzles British

Bob Mackin

The head lawyer for Canada’s Department of Justice said in a Vancouver courtroom on Aug. 10 that Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou is no victim.

Robert Frater (Government of Canada)

Meng’s lawyers want B.C. Supreme Court Assoc. Chief Justice Heather Holmes to stay proceedings and let her return to China. They say her rights were abused by Canadian police when they arrested her at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018. They also claim she suffered prejudice when then-U.S. President Donald Trump suggested she could be a bargaining chip in trade negotiations with China.

The defense application was a last-ditch effort before the actual extradition hearing is scheduled finally to begin Aug. 11.

Crown lawyer Robert Frater refuted the defence arguments and called Meng a “sophisticated traveler who was, at most, minimally inconvenienced.

“Many travellers are inconvenienced by having to deal with officials at the airport.”

Meng spent three hours in limbo on Dec. 1, 2018, before she was finally interviewed by customs officers after flying from Hong Kong.

Instead of flying onward to Mexico City, an RCMP officer took her to the Richmond detachment lockup and booked her. A warrant had been issued for her arrest the previous day, because the U.S. government wants to try her in New York on fraud charges.

Frater conceded that the sharing of Meng’s mobile device passwords between Canada Border Services Agency officers and RCMP officers was the only hiccup. However, he reminded the court, the passwords were not used to access the information on her devices.

Frater, meanwhile, said that Meng’s lawyers “greatly overstate the former president’s words. There was nothing approaching a threat in those words, no words like ransom or bargaining chip have been used by requesting state officials.”

Said Frater to Holmes: “Your job is to look at the actual words, not an emotive recasting of the original language.”

Meng Wanzhou’s CBSA declaration card mugshot on Dec. 1, 2018 (BC Courts)

In March, Meng’s lawyer Richard Peck said Trump “cast a pall” over the proceedings and reduced Meng “from a human being to a chattel.” Peck described Meng as a bargaining chip or pawn in the “economic contest” between the U.S. and China.

The hearing came the morning after the latest in the trans-Pacific, geopolitical chess match. A court in China upheld a death sentence for 2018-convicted drug smuggler Robert Schellenberg of Abbotsford, B.C. The court also said it would soon announce a verdict in the case of Michael Spavor, one of two Canadians jailed and tried for spying in retaliation for Meng’s arrest.

Meng, however, lives in a Vancouver mansion under a nightly curfew and round-the-clock electronic monitoring. She is otherwise free to visit restaurants, parks and shop in boutiques under supervision from a court-appointed security company.

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Bob Mackin The head lawyer for Canada’s Department

Bob Mackin

West Vancouver penny stock promoter Frederick Sharp is one of four men charged in Boston over an alleged pump-and-dump scheme.

Frederick Sharp (YouTube)

Former lawyer Sharp, 69; Luis Carrillo, 47, previously of California; Mike Veldhuis, 41, of British Columbia; and Courtney Kelln, 41, of British Columbia, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of securities fraud. 

The group is accused by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts of using encrypted smartphones and code words to communicate about their $140 million scheme through a Swiss firm from 2014 to 2018.

None of the allegations has been tested in court. 

Prosecutors pinpointed four stocks sold via pump and dumps: Vitality BioPharma, Inc. (ticker VBIO); OneLife Technologies Corp. (OLMM); Garmatex Holdings, Ltd. (GRMX); and PureSnax International, Inc. (PSNX).

Maximum penalties include 20 years in jail and $5 million in fines.

Sharp was the Canadian rep for notorious Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, a specialist in offshore tax havens. He was one of more than 600 Canadians listed in the Panama Papers leak in 2016.

Sharp’s charges come almost 13 months after Vancouver stock promoter David Sidoo was sentenced to three months in jail for conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Sidoo cut a plea bargain with prosecutors in Boston who were handling the college admissions scandal investigation. 

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Bob Mackin West Vancouver penny stock promoter

Bob Mackin

Special prosecutors David Butcher and Brock Martland announced Aug. 10 that they would press no more charges against B.C. Legislative Assembly senior staff after receiving the final report from RCMP investigators.

Retired-in-disgrace Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz,  (BC Leg)

Butcher and Martland are not issuing any further comment, but could release a clear statement once all court proceedings are wrapped-up. The B.C. Prosecution Service said in a prepared statement that any proposed charges did not meet the standard of substantial likelihood of conviction or public interest.

Ex-Clerk Craig James is the only person charged so far. He faces five counts of breach of trust by a public officer and fraud over $5,000. He is scheduled for trial before judge alone beginning Jan. 24, 2022 at the Law Courts in Vancouver.

James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz were immediately suspended and escorted out of the Legislature on Nov. 20, 2018. On that day, British Columbians learned that then-Speaker Darryl Plecas had called the RCMP after he and his Chief of Staff Alan Mullen found corruption in the offices of the two, most-senior permanent officers at the seat of government.

Plecas, who was speaker from 2017 to 2020, released details and evidence of the spending scandal in early 2019.

James and Lenz both retired in disgrace later in 2019 after separate reports found they committed wrongdoing. They kept their pension entitlements, but they were not forced to repay taxpayers.

A source familiar with the investigation told theBreaker.news that investigators sought to question a former speaker and the current clerk.

Former BC Liberal aide Connor Gibson blew the whistle on expense irregularities in Linda Reid’s office. It was not the first time that the BC Liberal Party speaker from 2013 to 2017 came under fire for spending.

Clerk Craig James swore Christy Clark in as Westside-Kelowna MLA in 2013, near Clark’s Vancouver office. (Facebook)

In 2014, Reid’s Richmond riding office underwent $79,000 in renovations and she spent $60,000 on Legislature renovations, including a muffin case for MLAs. She also charged taxpayers more than $5,500 to bring her husband with her to a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference in South Africa.

After she was caught, Reid said she reimbursed the treasury. Despite numerous requests by this reporter, Reid has never showed proof of repayment.

James’s successor, Kate Ryan-Lloyd, took a lump sum $83,235.30 payment in February 2012 when James gave himself $257,000 under a so-called, long-service retirement allowance program.

However, Ryan-Lloyd had a change of heart, repaid the sum and incurred an extra $16,285 in income tax a year later. Her husband Ken is a senior manager at the Office of the Auditor-General.

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Bob Mackin Special prosecutors David Butcher and Brock

For the week of Aug. 8, 2021:

The Tokyo Olympics are over.

Postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, but they happened in the pandemic anyway. 

The International Olympic Committee is claiming success, because the Games eventually opened and closed on time. But the Japanese people are stuck with the bill and more coronavirus infections than there were when the cauldron was lit in an empty stadium surrounded by protesters. 

On this edition, hear expert analysis from ex-Vancouverite Dave Olson in Okayama, Japan and Jules Boykoff,  political scientist, author and Olympics industry critic from Portland, Ore.

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
theBreaker.news Podcast
theBreaker.news Podcast: The Games are over, but Tokyo's problems aren't
/

For the week of Aug. 8, 2021:

Bob Mackin

Constituency assistants for the B.C. NDP’s 57 MLAs could issue strike notice this week to back their demands for wage parity with federal counterparts and caucus employees.

John Horgan and Bowinn Ma at Waterfront Park in North Vancouver (Mackin)

They voted 94% to strike at the end of June. Mediation reached an impasse and two-thirds voted at the end of July against a settlement offer from the B.C. NDP Government caucus.

A strike committee is pondering next steps, said Paul Finch, treasurer of the B.C. General Employees’ Union (formerly the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union).

In case they decide to strike, we’re prepared to support those efforts and obviously they’ll have the whole union standing behind them,” Finch said.

“We’re very determined to get this wage correction and these are very difficult jobs, very critical jobs. CAs want to make sure they’re compensated fairly with their provincial and federal counterparts, they want to do that for the community and the community that they serve.”

Wages under the previous collective agreement ranged, as of Jan. 1, 2020, from $48,490.42 for starters to $57,466.64 for the most-senior. Finch said NDP caucus workers start at $52,635 and federal NDP constituency assistants $55,560.

Constituency assistants for the 28 BC Liberal and two BC Green MLAs are not unionized. 

Paul Finch of the BCGEU (Twitter/BCGEU)

Finch said talks also include changing the job title to “constituency advisors.”

“They do a lot of case work for the community, they’re kind of the glue or the integrated communication between people that are having difficulty accessing core government services and people that provide those services,” Finch said. “These are very precarious positions. CAs, if their MLA retires or isn’t elected, they don’t have a job to go back to necessarily.”

In a prepared statement, NDP Government Caucus executive director Roseanne Moran said MLAs “remain committed to continuing to work towards an agreement with the union.”

“B.C. NDP MLAs recognize that our constituency staff provide great service to communities across the province,” Moran said. “Since bargaining began in September 2020, we have addressed a range of issues and made progress. We respect that our staff, like all unionized workers, have a right to engage in job action should they choose to.”

Meanwhile, BCGEU is also in talks with head office workers represented by MoveUp. According to MoveUp, both sides hit a roadblock on July 22 on four issues: work from home, health and welfare benefits, wage increases and training premiums.

“There’s not a lot to report at this time,” Finch said.

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Bob Mackin Constituency assistants for the B.C.

For the week of Aug. 1, 2021:

It’s British Columbia Day Weekend and theBreaker.news welcomes back Jim Mullin of TSN and Football Canada for the View from Bowen Island.

Football Canada president and Krown Gridiron Nation host on TSN Jim Mullin

Mullin joins host Bob Mackin to talk about the pandemic-impacted Tokyo Olympics, the return of the Canadian Football League and the yesterday, today and tomorrow for B.C.

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 theBreaker.news Podcast? Go to the archive.

Support theBreaker.news for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here.

theBreaker.news Podcast
theBreaker.news Podcast
theBreaker.news Podcast: The B.C. Day View from Bowen Island
/

For the week of Aug. 1, 2021:

Bob Mackin

You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!

A version of Oprah Winfrey’s famous 2004 giveaway happened for the seven most-senior officers at Surrey Police Service, which may not replace the RCMP in Surrey until 2023 or 2024.

Oprah Winfrey’s famous 2004 car giveaway (Harpo Studios)

A day after refusing to provide the costs, the force-in-waiting revealed July 30 to theBreaker.news that it spent almost a quarter-million dollars on the seven vehicles.

The total cost of Lipinski’s 2020 Nissan Rogue is $37,521.12, which is almost $7,000 more than the quote he approved in Jan. 4 internal email.

Deputy Chief Mike LeSage received a 2019 Ford Explorer ($36,759.45), while the other Deputy Chiefs, Jennifer Hyland and Todd Matsumoto, received 2020 Ford Escapes, $36,758.40 and $36,540, respectively.

B.C. RCMP commander Brenda Strachan (left) and Surrey Police Chief Norm Lipinski.

The three Superintendents — Lavinder Mangat, Alison Good and Michael Procyk — were issued 2021 Nissan Altimas at a cost of $34,128.04 each.

Lipinski did not respond for comment. 

The purchases were from the department’s annual budget and did not need board approval. 

Surrey Connect Coun. Brenda Locke wondered why the officers need taxpayer-funded vehicles to commute to the office.

“It seems an extraordinary amount of money for police officers that aren’t going anywhere,” Locke said in an interview. “This police force is not operational, it’s not working, I’m unclear why they’d feel such a need to have a vehicle.”

Locke has announced she will run for mayor against incumbent Doug McCallum in October 2022, pledging to stop the cop swap if elected. In the meantime, an Elections BC-certified petition campaign is underway in a bid to give Surrey voters the final say on whether to replace the RCMP.

Coun. Brenda Locke (Surrey Connect)

Surrey taxpayers are also paying for McCallum’s $46,000 Buick Envision SUV after McCallum decided that a $14,500-a-year vehicle allowance wasn’t good enough for him.

Meanwhile, theBreaker.news asked the Surrey Police Service for all of Lipinski’s expenses reports since he was hired last November.

But it only disclosed $295 worth of dry cleaning bills in a July 29 freedom of information release.

Surrey Police Chief Norm Lipinski’s dry cleaning receipts (SPS/FOI)

Lipinski billed for dry cleaning of shirts, four or five at a time, at a Yaletown dry cleaner. Expense reports were approved by police board executive director Melissa Granum.

Like McCallum, Lipinski fills up at the works yard gas pumps by using a special token. But expense figures for fuelling his Nissan Rogue were not provided by the Surrey Police Service.

Locke called Lipinski’s spending “ridiculous.”

“Are you kidding me? We’re paying for the dry cleaning for a person’s personal clothes who makes in excess of $350,000-a-year,” she said. “That is outrageous.”

Locke said the vehicle buying spree and Lipinski’s dry cleaning bills are “exactly why I want a line-by-line accounting of the Surrey Police Service, they’re spending money on things that I think are not warranted at this point.” 

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Bob Mackin You get a car! You get

Bob Mackin

You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!

A version of Oprah Winfrey’s famous 2004 giveaway happened for the seven most-senior officers at Surrey Police Service, which may not replace the RCMP in Surrey until the end of 2023.

Oprah Winfrey’s famous 2004 car giveaway (Harpo Studios)

theBreaker.news received a list of vehicles procured for Chief Norm Lipinski and six others in the fledgling department.

But the Surrey Police Service and Surrey Police Board both refused to release the costs on July 29.

theBreaker.news has independently confirmed that Lipinski opted on Jan. 4 for a 2020 Nissan Rogue from King George Nissan at a cost of $30,921, instead of the slightly more expensive $31,888 Hyundai Tucson from Jim Pattison Hyundai.

Deputy Chief Mike LeSage received a 2019 Ford Explorer, while the other Deputy Chiefs, Jennifer Hyland and Todd Matsumoto, received 2020 Ford Escapes.

B.C. RCMP commander Brenda Strachan (left) and Surrey Police Chief Norm Lipinski.

The three Superintendents — Lavinder Mangat, Alison Good and Michael Procyk — were issued 2021 Nissan Ultimas.

Lipinski did not respond for comment. 

Surrey Connect Coun. Brenda Locke, who announced she will run for mayor against incumbent Doug McCallum, wondered why the seven needed new vehicles when the force is a long way from operational.

“They’re just trying to spend money as fast as they can because they think they will get it to the point of not return, that seems to be the goal,” said Locke, who has pledged to stop the transition if elected in October 2022. 

After theBreaker.news received the list under the freedom of information law, a query was made to the Surrey Police Board for routine information about the costs and whether the vehicles were purchased outright, leased or financed.

Coun. Brenda Locke (Surrey Connect)

Instead of answering, executive director Melissa Granum forwarded the query to the board’s freedom of information office, which set Sept. 13 as the response date.

In an interview last year after she was hired, Granum told the Surrey Now Leader: “I agree that transparency is incredibly important to citizens and that is the lens that I will put on the work that we do with the board.”

McCallum, the politician who is driving the controversial cop swap, decided a $14,500-a-year vehicle allowance wasn’t good enough for him. So he convinced city hall to spend $46,000 of taxpayers’ money to buy him a Buick Envision SUV. McCallum regularly fills up at the civic works yard gas pumps.

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Bob Mackin You get a car! You get