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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

Bob Mackin

B.C. Lottery Corporation saw revenue fall $1.62 billion last year because of the pandemic closure of casinos and bingo halls.

River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond (Mackin)

In its annual financial report, released with the public accounts on July 28, BCLC reported $965.5 million total revenue, down from $2.5 billion in 2020. Lotteries increased by a modest $60 million to almost $590 million. 

More than $182 million of slot machines and other hardware was idle due to the termporary closure of casinos.

“The financial effect of gaming facility closures on the corporation’s revenues, operating results and overall financial performance has been significant with a decline in revenue and operating cash flow of 62% and 63%, respectively, from the prior year,” said the BCLC report.

It got so bad, that BCLC obtained a loan borrowing limit increase, but it was not used during the fiscal year or up to the May 13 reporting date. It has opened the door to repayable advances to casino operators against future, not-yet-earned commissions, and temporary gaming cash floats.

“The corporation anticipates that amounts provided under these measures will not exceed $39 million and $50 million, respectively.”

The cost of the pandemic to the province’s three biggest health boards is also becoming clearer.

Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health and Provincial Health Services Authority spent $500 million each beyond their budgets.

3M N95 mask

PHSA runs the province’s central buying office for medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment. During the fiscal year, PHSA sold $349 million of supplies to other health authorities or entities under provincial control, up from $252 million a year earlier.

PHSA also made three agreements with the province worth $30.5 million to transfer PPE and supplies procured by the province to PHSA in order to sell via the B.C. Supply Hub website to first responders, local governments, and public and private social services providers.

Providence Healthcare, which operates St. Paul’s Hospital, entered a sale-leaseback deal with Concord Pacific for the Burrard Street heritage hospital. Providence received $125 million in cash, another $75 million was due June 30, 2021 and the remaining $650 million due by the end of the lease term, July 30, 2027. By then, St. Paul’s is scheduled to be in a new $2.2 billion hospital on False Creek Flats.

ICBC reported $1.538 billion net income. By March 31, it had paid $15.7 million in the pandemic rebate and nothing of the Enhanced Care refund. It earmarked $950 million in pandemic rebates due to fewer crashes during the economic shutdown and estimated $597.5 million in refunds from the shift to no-fault insurance, under the “Enhanced Care” branding.

B.C. Place’s retractable roof (Mackin)

During the fiscal year, B.C. Place Stadium hosted no B.C. Lions or Vancouver Whitecaps games and the Vancouver Convention Centre only a pop-up hospital that was not used. B.C. Pavilion Corporation did host film and TV shoots, but the Crown corporation needed $37 million from the province to stay afloat. It recorded a $235,000 surplus instead of the budgeted $8.08 million deficit.

Liquor Distribution Branch saw a marginal increase in comprehensive income, to $1.16 billion from $1.1 billion. It saw a $300 million boost in gross revenue.

BC Housing’s annual report said 12 purchase and sale agreements worth $154.1 million were pending completion for the 2021-22 fiscal year. It also entered $158 million in contracts to build or renovate affordable housing units for completion in the next two years.

After the province-wide state of emergency was declared in March 2020, BC housing went on a $122.4 million buying spree, snapping up six hotels in Vancouver and Victoria to house homeless from illegal tent cities in public parks.

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Bob Mackin B.C. Lottery Corporation saw revenue fall

Bob Mackin

Premier John Horgan’s pandemic election — held one year before legally required — cost $51.6 million, according to Elections BC.

John Horgan on election night (BC NDP/Flickr)

In the July 27-released report, chief electoral officer Anton Boegman, said that works out to $14.64 per registered voter. That was more than $12 million higher than 2017, when the cost-per-vote was $12.15.

Horgan won a 57-seat majority in the election, as 1.9 million voted. The 53.9% turnout rate was a record low, worse than 2009’s 55.14%.

Expenses for this election included unique costs associated with the pandemic, such as face masks and shields, gloves, transparent barriers, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes,” the report said.

Other cost pressures contributed, such as rent for district electoral offices and voting places, postal services, staffing, transportation, advertising and drop-off locations to collect ballots.

The cost of PPE totalled $2.2 million, including the purchase of  617,000 disposable masks, 36,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, 16,000 containers of disinfectant wipes, 11,000 face shields and 9,000 acrylic barriers.

Modification to voting procedures meant almost 18,000 election officials were hired to staff voting places, compared to more than 23,000 in 2017. There were only six fewer advance voting places and 60 fewer general voting places.

More than 604,000 vote-by-mail packages were returned on-time, of which 505,000 came through Canada Post. The remaining 100,000 were returned at Elections BC district offices or voting places. There was also a spike in phone voting, almost 3,500 in 2020, compared to nearly 1,100 in 2017.

NDP newcomer Susie Chant upset incumbent BC Liberal Jane Thornthwaite on election night (Mackin)

Horgan’s decision to fight for votes instead of fight the virus unleashed $15.4 million of spending by B.C.’s big three political parties.

Almost half that was by Horgan’s NDP, which reported to Elections BC that its campaign cost $7.64 million. The NDP finished with a party record 57 seats. The BC Liberals had their worst result since 1991 and spent $6.36 million while the BC Greens were third with $1.41 million, according to the spending returns released Feb. 1.

The campaigns were directly subsidized for the first time after the NDP government banned corporate and union donations in 2017. The BC Liberals and NDP got roughly $1.59 million each in 2020 allowance payments, under a per vote formula based on the results of the 2017 election.

Boegman’s report said the new funding formula meant reimbursements of election expenses to the three main parties and 240 candidates. The NDP received $2.15 million, BC Liberals $1.5 million and Greens $301,000.

Parties needed at least 5% of votes province wide to qualify. For candidates, it was 10% in their riding.

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Bob Mackin Premier John Horgan’s pandemic election

For the week of July 25, 2021:

The Tokyo Olympics are on, albeit a year late. Will they finish on schedule, Aug. 8?

The global coronavirus pandemic hangs over the biggest, riskiest sport event in history.

On this edition, hear from mega-events critic/author Jules Boykoff, IOC president Thomas Bach, Canadian Olympic team Dr. Michael Wilkinson, chef de mission Marnie McBean and IOC vice-president John Coates. 

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.

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theBreaker.news Podcast: The Games of the Great Pandemic
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For the week of July 25, 2021:

Bob Mackin

The co-founder of Democracy Watch is disappointed, but not surprised, that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau disobeyed rules and regulations for restaurants and film and TV productions during his July 8, campaign-style trip to Metro Vancouver.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau July 8 in Coquitlam (PMO)

“Trudeau has shown again and again that he doesn’t think laws apply to him,” said Duff Conacher. “So it’s not surprising to see this kind of action by him, now in the lead-up to what many think will be a snap election call, which will also violate the federal fixed election date law.”

Before lunching on one of the famous burgers with Premier John Horgan outside a White Spot in Coquitlam, Trudeau made the rounds inside the dining room, hopping between at least three tables. He was accompanied by Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam Liberal MP Ron McKinnon.

Even with the mask, he ran afoul of one of Dr. Bonnie Henry’s ongoing rules.

“Socializing between tables at restaurants and bars remains prohibited under the provincial health officer’s orders until further notice,” Fraser Health Authority spokesman Curtis Harling told theBreaker.news.

“Everyone must follow these orders,” Harling said. But he refused to say whether Fraser Health had received any complaints about Trudeau or White Spot, or whether it was investigating on its own.

The B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association’s COVID-19 Best Front of House Service Practices brochure recommends open pathways to enable clear access for both servers and bussers.  

White Spot marketing vice-president Cathy Tostenson did not respond for comment.

“The Prime Minister stopped in at White Spot to pick up a takeout lunch order. He was not dining at the location,” Trudeau press secretary Alex Wellstead told theBreaker.news. “While there, he had a few brief conversations with other restaurant-goers and staff. Following local public health guidelines, he had his mask on the entire time.”

Later that afternoon, Trudeau created a buzz in North Vancouver’s Deep Cove village, where witnesses on social media reported he appeared to be starring in a campaign ad shoot at the waterfront park.

Trudeau is expected to call an election in mid-August, more than two years sooner than the October 2023 legislated date. He is aiming to turn the Liberal minority in the House of Commons into a Liberal majority. 

theBreaker.news sought a copy of the production application and permit, but the freedom of information office at District of North Vancouver hall said those do not exist.

“Our film department was not made aware of the visit/production and we did not receive an application for a filming permit for this event,” said FOI clerk Kim Wasson.

The only record provided was a single-page, handwritten note in the communications department about the 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. “PM visit.”

The note said RCMP Protective Services and District park rangers were on-site at 2 p.m. for a private event for “25 Liberal supporters, shooting video.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in North Vancouver’s Deep Cove on July 8 (Twitter/@sdeedeeduke)

A 27-second Twitter video shot by a kayaker shows a masked man who appears to be directing the shoot, running back and forth clutching a clipboard or pad of paper in his left hand. Party senior director of communications Braeden Caley is visible near Prime Minister’s Office staff photographer Adam Scotti, who captured images of Trudeau presenting a trophy to Burnaby-North Seymour MP Terry Beech.

Neither the PMO nor Beech’s office would comment. Both referred theBreaker.news to Liberal Party headquarters.

Liberal Party spokesman Matteo Rossi would not explain the lack of permit or give any details about the production.

“As a party leader, it is also not uncommon for Mr. Trudeau to have photos or video taken by the Liberal Party or others while he is in outdoor public spaces,” Rossi said by email.

District of North Vancouver requires film, TV, commercial and photography productions to apply for a permit five or more working days before filming dates and notify area merchants and residents at least three business days before the shoot. District of North Vancouver also requires a $2,500 security deposit for a commercial or photo shoot and proof of liability insurance. Additional costs apply under the Fees and Charges Bylaw.

Democracy Watch’s Duff Conacher

Based on District of North Vancouver filming policy and guidelines, Trudeau and his entourage would likely have been denied a permit for the location had they applied. Filming is not allowed in Deep Cove, Panorama Park and Quarry Rock between Victoria Day and Labour Day long weekends due to a high volume of tourists.

“Trudeau keeps violating the law: federal ethics laws, he has been a rampant violator of the federal Access to Information Act and his own conflict of interest — Open and Accountable Government code is what it’s called — he’s violated several times, and several of his cabinet ministers,” Conacher said. “It’s just part of the same ongoing attitude, that his belief that he gets to do whatever he wants no matter what the laws say.”

During his last pre-election trip to Metro Vancouver in 2019, Trudeau followed a meal at White Spot with a trip to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to shoot a campaign ad. The next day, he shot another campaign ad on the Grouse Grind in North Vancouver, which did have a permit. Trudeau dinged taxpayers $54,000 for the round trip cost of a military jet, less than two weeks before the 2019 campaign officially began.

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Bob Mackin The co-founder of Democracy Watch

Bob Mackin

The former Clerk of the British Columbia Legislature will stand beginning Jan. 24, 2022 at the Law Courts in Vancouver trial on charges that he committed fraud and breach of trust.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the B.C. Supreme Court.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes set the trial to run through March 4, 2022 during a telephone hearing on July 22 with the special prosecutors and James’s defence lawyers.

Gavin Cameron and Kevin Westell appeared on behalf of James. They entered a not guilty plea and elected for trial by judge alone. 

James was charged last December in Victoria, where he spent 2011 to 2018 as Clerk. Cameron and Westell were successful in the choice of Vancouver. Special prosecutors Brock Martland and David Butcher took no position on the venue. The two sides had already agreed they needed six weeks in the first quarter of 2022.

Cameron said Vancouver would be the best venue because both legal duos are based in Vancouver and it would be more costly for the case to be tried in Victoria.

“Taxpayers of B.C., generally, have an interest in the matter,” Cameron said. “Obviously a substantial amount of media and public interest in this matter and the centre of the national and provincial press is in Vancouver. Of course, there are some legislative branches in Victoria, but the centre of gravity is Vancouver.”

When it was Butcher’s turn, he sought to correct Cameron on one point.

“Taxpayers of B.C. have generally been a victim of crime,” Butcher said. 

Holmes agreed that Vancouver is best because the Victoria courthouse already has several trials scheduled next January and may not be flexible if the pandemic continues into 2022.

Gary Lenz (left), ex-speaker Linda Reid and Craig James (Commonwealth Parliamentary Association)

Martland said the provisional list of 70 witnesses would be reduced to fewer than 20 by submitting sworn statements admitting certain facts and evidence.

The case management conference happened three days after Holmes decided July 19 to quash the first of the six counts against James.

James’s lawyers applied May 27 to drop the first, so-called “global count” that alleged James committed breach of trust by using his position to advance personal interests from his first day on the job, Sept. 10, 2011, to Nov. 21, 2018, the day after he was suddenly suspended by MLAs and escorted from the Parliament Buildings by a police officer.

Holmes agreed with James’s lawyers, that count 1 was too broad.  

“The allegation may apply to an almost infinite range of acts or omissions over more than seven years, Mr. James’s entire career in the position of Clerk,” she wrote.

Count 2 alleges improperly obtaining and keeping a long service award in the amount of $257,988.38. Count 3 alleges obtaining benefit from the purchase and use of a trailer and wood splitter paid for with public funds. Count 5 alleges submitting claims and receiving reimbursement for personal (not job-related) travel expenses. Each of these types of conduct is alleged to have taken place during a specified period, the longest of these being the period in count 5, which spans almost five years. Count 1, by contrast, makes the general allegation that Mr. James used his position to advance his own personal interests over the public good, and that count does not specify the type of conduct by which he is alleged to have done so.”

Speaker Darryl Plecas (left) and chief of staff Alan Mullen (Mackin)

Holmes was not satisfied that count 1 would mean a smooth or fair trial, “in the sense of presenting the jury with a clear and manageable task.”

That point was proven moot when Cameron began the July 22 case management hearing by instructing Holmes that James was choosing trial by judge alone.

The judge and lawyers will confer again on Oct. 6 for a pre-trial hearing.

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 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 in 2019 after separate reports found they committed wrongdoing. They kept their pension entitlements, but they were not forced to repay taxpayers.

No charges were announced for Lenz last December, but the investigation continues.

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Bob Mackin The former Clerk of the British

Bob Mackin

One hundred and fifty years ago, on July 20, 1871, British Columbia became Canada’s sixth province.

There is no pomp and circumstance in the capital Victoria, or elsewhere, on July 20, 2021.

The pandemic has put a damper on public events of any size. So has the prevailing political mood, which revolves around recognition of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the unmet goals of Canada’s 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report.

The name of the first Lieutenant Governor, Joseph Trutch, is being removed from a street on Vancouver’s Westside, for his hostile views towards aboriginals. The Mayor of Vancouver, Kennedy Stewart, branded Trutch a racist.

April 12, 1970 Victoria Colonist newspaper

Today’s discourse also includes talk of decolonization, which was also part of the discourse 150 years ago.

The July 20, 1871 edition of the ironically named British Colonist and Victoria Chronicle newspaper proudly proclaimed that day “British Columbia ceased to be a colony of the British Crown by becoming a Province of the Dominion of Canada.”

Many vestiges of the British empire remain. In June 1960, under then Premier W.A.C. Bennett, British Columbia adopted a new flag to replace the colonial one. Since then, it has featured a Union Jack over blue and white waves and a golden sunset.

A decade later, and a year before 1971’s centennial of B.C. joining Confederation, a subversive display of decolonization in a most unlikely place.

A photograph and story in the April 12, 1970 edition of Victoria’s Daily Colonist newspaper about first nations student pride at the Kamloops Indian Student Residence, which was the Kamloops Indian Residential School until 1969.

The same place that has prompted an outpouring of national grief in 2021. Where ground-penetrating radar detected 200 anomalies under an apple orchard on Victoria Day weekend that the Tk’emlups believe are the remains of children from the brutal, government-mandated, Catholic-operated boarding school that opened in 1893. 

In the photograph, five smiling students surrounding their proposed redesign of the flag of British Columbia.

They replaced the Union Jack with a thunderbird, the supernatural protector that figures so prominently in aboriginal culture.

British Columbia wasn’t then and isn’t now all British. Neither were they.

The photograph under the page 38 headline “Designs on Recognition,” shows student flag-designers Rose Marie Sampson, Sonia Edmonds, Gerry Denault, Johnny Jules and Delphine Ned.

Students at Kamloops Indian Student Residence aim to put Indians in the history books by getting a thunderbird on B.C.’s flag.

Brother J.J. Heysel, a teacher at the residence, said Thursday in Victoria that the students will submit a flag design to Premier Bennett next week that shows a thunderbird over the B.C. flag’s setting sun.

The students feel it is time the Indian’s place in the history of B.C., and of Canada, was recognized. “Even on the centennial flag,” Heysel said,” The Indian wasn’t mentioned.”

About Canada’s flag Heysel said, “Most people don’t realize that the maple leaf is an Indian symbol. The Indians were the first ones to give us maple syrup, weren’t they, and this is where the symbol originated.”

The students are currently working on a flag design for Alberta, which will include Indian symbols — perhaps a silhouette of a famous chief — and Heysel said by summer the students should be ready to submit a series of four Indian-oriented stamps to the federal government.

Kamloops Indian Residence students’ B.C. flag concept in 1970 (Daily Colonist)

Last year, Heysel said Czechoslovakia issued postage stamps with totem pols and Indian dancers on them, “and there isn’t an Indian within 3,000 miles of there. And we don’t have an Indian stamp in Canada yet.”

Kamloops Indian Student Residence is a hostel for 239 students, Grades one to 12, who attend integrated schools in Kamloops. At the residence, Heysel gives extracurricular classes on Indian culture.

Sometimes the students visit white schools and lecture on Indian culture.

“It’s the Indian student’s time to say, ‘See we had heroes too’,” Heysel said. “You can see it in their faces.”

How was it received by Bennett? I contacted the B.C. Archives and was told the files from Bennett’s office are not easily searchable, in-person or online. Some are still restricted. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate said Heysel died in January 2015.

In 2021, the flag remains the same as the 1960 version. 

Maybe it’s time in 2021 to take another look at the Kamloops students’ 1970 concept for a decolonized B.C. flag.

  • If you can help shed more light on the 1970 students’ flag project, please contact me.

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Bob Mackin One hundred and fifty years ago,

Bob Mackin

A Vancouver city councillor will keep his seat for the remainder of his term, after a B.C. Supreme Court judge dismissed a conflict of interest petition.

Justice John Steeves ruled July 19 that Vancouver Green Party Coun. Michael Wiebe committed conflict of interest when he lobbied for and voted on a temporary measure to expand patio licences to restaurants, including his Eight 1/2 bistro in Mount Pleasant, early in the pandemic.

Coun. Michael Wiebe (Twitter)

But, since Wiebe’s pecuniary interest was the same as more than 3,000 competitors, the case was thrown out after four days of hearings in February and June.

“I find that the petitioners have established that, at the material times, the respondent had a pecuniary interest in the opening/expansion of patio use via the temporary patio program,” Steeves wrote. “That pecuniary interest was his ownership stake in a restaurant and pub that potentially stood to benefit from the program. Despite having this interest, there is no evidence that the respondent disclosed it at the meetings on May 13 and May 27, 2020 (his business interests were disclosed as required by legislation and were a matter of public record).”

Instead, Wiebe stayed and participated in meetings, contrary to the conflict of interest sections in the Vancouver Charter.  However, Wiebe successfully argued he was among 3,127 restaurateurs and bar owners licenced in 2019. The fact that Wiebe was among the first 14 licences announced under the program did not harm his case.

“Overall, I conclude that the respondent did have a pecuniary interest in common with the owners of restaurants and bars in Vancouver in May 2020. This included during the meetings on May 13, 2020 and May 27, 2020. All members of this group benefitted from the decision of council to expand patio seating.”

Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Vancouver’s new city council on Nov. 5 (Mackin)

Since Wiebe is “entitled to an exception from the restrictions on conflicts of interest” under the Vancouver Charter, Steeves wrote, “that is the end of the matter and there is no need to proceed to consider whether the respondent acted inadvertently or made an error in judgment in good faith.”

The 14 petitioners were represented by lawyer and NPA board member Wes Mussio.

“While my clients are disappointed in the final outcome, the Judge did make some key findings against Councillor Wiebe,” Mussio said by email.

The petitioners argued that Wiebe’s interest was in common with the wider pool of voters from the 2018 election, not the smaller pool of liquor licence holders that figured in the judge’s reasons.

“That interpretation of the law seems to widen the ability of City Councillors in the future to participate and vote on Motions even where they will see an economic benefit personally. As a result, my clients are reviewing this broad interpretation of the Charter to determine if an Appeal of the decision is warranted.”  

Michael Redmond, one of the petitioners, originally filed a conflict of interest complaint under the city’s code of conduct. Lawyer Raymond Young was retained by the mayor’s office to investigate.

Vancouver city hall (Mackin)

Young found in September 2020 that Wiebe had direct and pecuniary interest in the motion and bylaw and violated the Vancouver Charter. Young recommended Wiebe be disqualified from office and resign his seat.

“His conflict of interest actions cannot be viewed as an error in judgment made in good faith,” Young wrote.

Since the October 2020 filing of the case against Wiebe, three of the four remaining NPA councillors went independent in protest of the board’s closed-doors naming of Park Board Commissioner John Coupar as the party’s mayoral candidate in 2022.

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Bob Mackin A Vancouver city councillor will keep

For the week of July 18, 2021:

Despite the law saying the next election is in October 2023, the Trudeau Liberals are planning to head to the polls more than two years early.

Research Co. pollster Mario Canseco (Mackin)

In between Coquitlam and Surrey spending photo ops, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in North Vancouver shooting a campaign video.

Pollster Mario Canseco says the Liberals will try to turn a campaign into a referendum on the pandemic, in which they unleashed billions of dollars on social and economic spending. They are also hoping to capitalize on Conservative Erin O’Toole’s lack of profile. Could O’Toole’s only hope be a campaign prosecuting the litany of Liberal scandals?

In B.C. ridings, can NDP leader Jagmeet Singh overcome a softening of support for B.C. NDP Premier John Horgan? Where will Green votes go while the party implodes?

Hear Mario’s thoughts on the above issues as the clock ticks toward a snap election.

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.

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theBreaker.news Podcast: Federal election nearing
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For the week of July 18, 2021:

Bob Mackin

An injured indigenous woman was forced to wait almost an hour and 20 minutes on a SkyTrain for an ambulance to arrive, theBreaker.news has learned.

Clockwise, from upper left, SkyTrain surveillance images of a woman injured June 1 (TransLink/FOI)

An accident/incident report obtained from TransLink under freedom of information by theBreaker.news shows that SkyTrain attendants were alerted to trouble aboard car 340 at 3:25 p.m. on June 1.

When the train entered Metrotown station, an attendant found “an indigenous female was laying on her side crying.”

A medical emergency was declared at 3:29 p.m., the train offloaded and routed into a pocket area at the station with the injured passenger remaining on board. An ambulance was dispatched at 3:33 p.m. but SkyTrain staff were “unable to get an ETA.”

Burnaby Fire Department crews arrived at 4:12 p.m. They believed the woman had a broken hip from falling out of her mobility scooter and decided to wait for the B.C. Emergency Health Services paramedics to arrive and remove her.

SkyTrain attendant Sue-Ann Cameron’s incident report said the passenger had fallen off the scooter, hit her head and body on the plexiglas divider by a door, and ended up under the scooter. Surveillance images released to theBreaker.news by TransLink show the passenger on her scooter near a door, tipping over on her left side and then another passenger coming to her aid.

“Passenger complained of pain in her head, cervical, spine, ribs, hips, collar bone and left arm,” said the incident report.

By 4:30 p.m., the ambulance had still not arrived, so another call was made to 9-1-1 “to see if the ambulance could move this incident up in priority.”

Finally, paramedics were on-scene at 4:44 p.m and took the passenger off the train at 4:55 p.m.

Paramedics stretcher a woman out of Metrotown SkyTrain station on June 1 (TransLink/FOI)

A fourth image shows the passenger on a stretcher being led away by two paramedics through the station fare gates at 4:57 p.m., en route to Burnaby General Hospital.

In June, theBreaker.news exclusively reported on a Dec. 5, 2020 fall by a man on a mobility scooter into the tracks at Rupert SkyTrain station. The man was found bleeding heavily from the nose by the edge of the platform and his scooter in the guideway. He had also been electrocuted after contacting the power rail upon his fall.

On July 14, after record ambulance waits contributed to mass-deaths in the late June heat wave, Health Minister Adrian Dix said chief operating officer Darlene MacKinnon would keep her job. But, Providence Health COO Leanne Heppell would become “chief ambulance officer” on an interim basis.

Dix named former Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu, now an executive with Aquilini Investment Group, as the new BCEHS chair, with Telus CEO Darren Entwistle becoming a special advisor.

Dix also announced 85 more paramedics and 35 dispatchers would be hired full-time and another 22 ambulances would be purchased. 

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Bob Mackin An injured indigenous woman was forced