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Bob Mackin

It delivers more than a billion dollars in profits to government coffers each year. The high costs to the health and justice systems have never been fully accounted for.

Victoria Daily Colonist, June 15, 1921

Beer, wine and spirits became a big business in B.C. beginning June 15, 1921. That is the day probation was replaced by government-controlled liquor stores. Customers needed to be 21 and up and fork over $5 for an annual licence to choose from the small selection behind the counter.

Thirsty British Columbians, however, had to deal with the truth from the very start. A June 12, 2021 front page headline in the Victoria Daily Colonist newspaper was blunt.

Official Prices of Liquor Fixed: Under New Government Control System Beverages Will Not Be Cheap

“Under the new dispensation of liquor sales by the Provincial Government there will not be any sale of liquor at cheap rates.”

“It is to be noted that prices of malt liquor have yet to be announced. It is the plan of the board to have deliveries of such made direct by the breweries to purchasers and an arrangement between the government and the breweries. Other liquors will be sold direct by the government to the public — through the government stores or delivered by express or parcel post, the Government, as the Act required, shouldering the cost of transportation.

June 12, 1921 Victoria Daily Colonist

“The prices announced are practically as high as the bootlegger charges for liquor which have of late prevailed. In fact that element, having studied the Government figures, process to believe that so long as the stocks they have in hand and which were cleared prior to the enunciation of the increased federal imports hold out, they can undersell the Government.”

On the historic June 15, 1921, the front page headline was: New Liquor Act Effective Today: System of Government Control and Sale Takes Place of Prohibition Law After Many Months of Preparation

“Today will see the advent of a new regime in the administration of liquor in British Columbia.”

A government store on Yates Street in Victoria and six in Vancouver. Their hours 11 a.m. to noon, closed for lunch, and then open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Daily, except Sunday.

Beer pricing at the fledgling Liquor Distribution Branch was a work in progress, but this is what cabinet decided for other products:

Premier John Horgan

  • French brandies: $4 per imported gallon
  • Pure grain alcohol: $27.50 per gallon, $7 per imperial quart
  • Jameson’s XXX Irish whiskeys: $5 per reputed quart
  • Rum: $26 per imperial gallon for 35 over proof, $7 for imperial quarts, $4.75 for ordinary bottles
  • California port: $5.50 per gallon and $1.25 per bottle
  • Guinness stout $9 per dozen reputed quart bottles or $5 per dozen reputed pints.

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Bob Mackin It delivers more than a billion

For the week of June 13, 2021: 

It was the year after the Vancouver Olympics and the city was on a high.

The Vancouver Canucks had home ice advantage in the 2011 Stanley Cup final. The Boston Bruins would be a formidable opponent in a rough series that saw the home team win through the first six.

The Stanley Cup live site in Vancouver in 2011 (BC Gov)

The dream of winning Game 7 at home turned to nightmare. The Canucks folded 4-0 and a riot broke out just up the street from Rogers Arena.

On this edition of theBreaker.news Podcast, hear highlights of Bob Mackin’s 2012 documentary on June 15, 2011, the night most Vancouverites wish they could forget.

Plus 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: Reliving Vancouver's second Stanley Cup riot
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For the week of June 13, 2021:  It

Bob Mackin

The digital house of cards in the encrypted phone industry began to fall in 2018 when Richmond’s Vincent Ramos was charged in the U.S. with operating Phantom Secure to aid and abet transnational organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering.

Ramos pleaded guilty, was sentenced to nine years in jail and ordered to forfeit $80 million in assets. RCMP national intelligence official Cameron Ortis was charged in 2019 for allegedly leaking files to Ramos. 

Phantom Secure mastermind Vincent Ramos

“In the time since Ramos’ arrest, the FBI has not identified a single legitimate, non-criminal user of Phantom Secure,” said U.S. court documents unsealed June 7.

“The FBI provided opportunities for any user of a Phantom Secure device to come forward and retrieve their data. No request was made by any Phantom Secure user to the FBI.”

In March, Vancouver’s Jean-Francois Eap and Thomas Herdman were also charged in the U.S. over Sky Global, which picked-up customers after Ramos was  busted.

Eap and Herdman are accused of enabling the import, export and distribution of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine in Australia, Asia, Europe and North America.

The FBI claims there are at least 70,000 Sky Global devices and the company has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in profits over a decade. Eap is the CEO and Herdman a distributor. Eap claimed he is innocent and said he would work to clear his name.

On June 7, Operation Trojan Shield was announced: 800 arrests in 16 countries and seizures of drugs, guns, luxury cars and cash and cryptocurrency related to the Anom encryption service, which turned out to be operated by the FBI.

Jean-François Eap (Facebook)

A special agent’s affidavit to obtain a search warrant said that after Ramos was arrested, the FBI recruited an informant who had been developing a next generation device called Anom to fill the void left by Phantom Secure.

The informant, whose name and hometown were not revealed, had previously distributed both Phantom Secure and Sky Global to transnational criminal organizations and agreed to offer Anom to an existing network of distributors with direct links to organized crime.

At the time, the void created by Phantom Secure’s dismantlement provided a new opportunity for criminal users to switch to a new, secure brand of device. The CHS previously distributed both Phantom Secure and Sky Global devices to TCOs [Transnational Criminal Organizations] and had invested a substantial amount of money into the development of a new hardened encrypted device. The CHS offered this next generation device, named “Anom,” to the FBI to use in ongoing and new investigations. The CHS also agreed to offer to distribute Anom devices to some of the CHS’s existing network of distributors of encrypted communications devices, all of whom have direct links to TCOs.

The Trojan Shield investigation has unveiled how criminal organizations compartmentalize their activities with multiple brands of hardened encrypted devices. For example, some users assign different types of devices to different parts of a drug trafficking transaction. For example, I have seen conversations where Anom is used for the logistics of the drug shipments, but Ciphr or Sky were used to coordinate the concealment of the illicit proceeds. This compartmentalization shows the inter-connectivity of the encrypted communications device industry.

The interconnectedness was also apparent in the increase in demand when two major platforms were dismantled during the Trojan Shield investigation.

First, in July 2020, European investigators announced an investigation into EncroChat which led to its dismantlement. Demand for Anom devices from criminal groups increased after this announcement. Additionally, in March 2021, the announcement of charges against Jean Francois Eap and the dismantlement of Sky Global resulted in a massive increase in demand for Anom devices by criminal organizations.

Before Sky’s dismantlement, there were approximately 3,000 active Anom users. Since March 12, 2021, as a direct result of the Sky Global charges, there are now close to 9,000 active Anom users.

The criminals who use hardened encrypted devices are constantly searching for the next secure device, and the distributors of these devices have enabled criminals’ impenetrable communications on these devices for years.

A goal of the Trojan Shield investigation is to shake the confidence in this entire industry because the FBI is willing and able to enter this space and monitor messages.

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Bob Mackin The digital house of cards in

Bob Mackin

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced June 2 that schools would remain closed for the remainder of the school year.

Doug Ford and John Horgan (Flickr)

The Progressive Conservative premier’s decision to continue online classes was based on polling commissioned from the right-leaning Campaign Research. According to CTV News, the poll found 1,624 people surveyed feared reopening schools would jeopardize the economic reopening.

How many of the B.C. NDP government’s decisions were influenced by its publicly-paid party pollster, Strategic Communications?

The secret is in thousands of pages of polling results that the NDP refuses to show to theBreaker.news.

theBreaker.news learned that the government contracted the Vancouver firm, aka Stratcom, to conduct daily polling about the pandemic on a no-bid contract worth $94,986.

In 2019-2020, Stratcom billed taxpayers $358,375. Company founder and CEO Bob Penner is a fellow with the Broadbent Institute, the NDP think-tank behind the Press Progress website that reports on NDP opponents.

Stratcom boss Bob Penner and a Vision campaign sign (Penner)

After a freedom of information request last October, representatives of Government Communications and Public Engagement sent theBreaker.news a $150 invoice.

They claimed it would take five hours to prepare the records, but did not give any hint about the amount of pages. theBreaker.news successfully applied for a public interest fee waiver. But, three weeks later, the department sent a denial letter, claiming all the records were protected by cabinet secrecy.

According to internal email obtained under a separate FOI request, Stratcom generated as many as 7,000 pages from its polling.

“The material being requested on this file will hold approximately 6,200-7,000 pages,” wrote FOI lead Justin Smith on Nov. 3. “The material is digitized and was prepared by the supplier for GCPE. The findings of this material were presented to cabinet as a whole, not a committee of cabinet. GCPE will be recommending the entirety of this material be redacted under section 12 [the cabinet confidences exception under the FOI law].”

Assistant Deputy Minister Nammi Poorooshasb suggested Nov. 4 to Smith that the fee would be eliminated by reducing the scope to the final survey and top line results, but he still recommended severing due to cabinet confidences.

Smith co-worker Lise Mino suggested two options on Nov. 24: waive the fee and issue an access denied letter or provide options to narrow if a portion of the records could be released.

(Information Access Operations)

On Dec. 7, the day before theBreaker.news received the fee waiver, NDP appointee Liam Iliffe, the  the director of special projects and coordination in the GCPE deputy minister’s office weighed-in.

“I have spoken to Don [Zadravec, deputy minister], and we are settled on option 1. I’ll await Nammi’s thoughts to seal the deal,” Iliffe wrote.

Three weeks later, on Dec. 30, the denial letter was sent.

Key questions.

What do the 6,200 to 7,000 pages say and how did Stratcom’s findings influence the NDP’s pandemic response?

How did the first wave polling inform Horgan’s decision to call a snap election in September? 

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner is investigating.

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Bob Mackin Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced June

For the week of June 6, 2021:

The Tk’emlups (Kamloops Indian Band) shocked Canada when it said ground-penetrating radar found evidence of 215 children buried at the former Kamloops residential school.

Forensic anthropology Prof. Erin Kimmerle led the investigation of unmarked graves in Marianna, Fla. (USFChannel/YouTube)

Band leaders are keeping the expert report under wraps until later in June. 

The investigation will take tens of millions of dollars and several years to learn the children’s names and why they never made it home.

Those were facts that Erin Kimmerle sought to answer about unmarked graves at a former reform school for boys in the Florida panhandle.

The forensic anthropologist and head of the University of South Florida’s institute of forensic anthropology and applied science is the featured guest on this edition of theBreaker.news Podcast.

Hear Kimmerle recount the ups and downs of the investigation at the former Dozier School, where boys deemed juvenile delinquents died from a dormitory fire, flu epidemics, neglect and abuse and were buried in secret on the grounds of the 1900-opened facility.

“Everyone deserves access to the justice system and this is about providing that access, so that whatever that problem is — time or jurisdiction or something else — is an obstacle that can be overcome,” Kimmerle told theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin. “[Victims’ families] deserve the truth, they have a right to have those remains returned to them.”

Also Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim 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: Florida boys school probe a roadmap for Tk'emlups
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For the week of June 6, 2021:

Bob Mackin

Three Lower Mainland sports franchises that haven’t played in front of their fans during the pandemic scored lucrative Ministry of Health contracts worth a combined $3.3 million to operate vaccination clinics, theBreaker.news has learned.

Bandits, Giants and Canucks scored Ministry of Health contracts

On March 24, Premier John Horgan announced 1,400 tourism and hospitality workers would be employed in non-medical jobs at the coronavirus mass-jab sites, but he did not provide budget details. Some of the costs were finally revealed June 4 in a government spending report obtained by theBreaker.news.

The Vancouver Canucks skated away with a $1.018 million deal for staffing the Italian Cultural Centre coronavirus vaccination clinic. 

The list of no-bid contracts let by the Ministry of Health for March shows an Aquilini-owned company, Vancouver Arena LP, was hired from March 15 to Sept. 30 for “non-clinical support services” at the clinic, under the direction and support of Vancouver Coastal Health.

“Our participation in the program has led to employment for approximately 105 part-time employees from Canucks Sports and Entertainment’s event staff who have experience with complex event and crowd flow management and who would otherwise be out of work,” said a prepared statement sent from Chris Brumwell, the club’s communications and community partnerships vice-president.

The $1.018 million, he said, is the maximum estimated wage cost for all employees over the duration of the contract, Brumwell said. 

Ironically, the Canucks’ season was marred by a coronavirus outbreak that infected most of the roster and coaching staff. It was the worst outbreak of the pandemic in North American pro sports.

The parent company of Abbotsford’s minor league basketball team was paid even more.

Canadian Basketball Ventures LP (the corporate name for the Canadian Elite Basketball League) got a contract for the same period of time worth $1,442,000 for its Fraser Valley Bandits to staff the Chilliwack Mall and the Abbotsford Agriculture Recreation Centre clinics.

Vancouver Giants senior VP Dale Saip

A CEBL lobbyist registered early this year with the stated goals of asking the NDP government about a gradual return to play and to seek funding from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. The Bandits debuted in 2019, but were the runner-up in a closed-doors tournament last summer in St. Catharines, Ont.

The Vancouver Giants recently played an abbreviated Western Hockey League season behind closed doors in Kamloops. Their parent company has a $900,000 contract to run the vaccine clinic at the Langley Event Centre.

Giants senior vice-president Dale Saip told theBreaker.news that the clinic is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and employs 120 people who do “everything except putting the needle in people’s arms.”

“This is a pretty nice facility and it needs to be kept proper, too,” Saip said. “I was very impressed with the fact that they reached out to us. One thing we know how to do is run events and handle crowds, so it made a lot of sense for us to activate. Without this happening, we don’t get to play hockey in the fall.”

B.C. Pavilion Corp., the Crown corporation that operates B.C. Place Stadium and vaccine clinic venue Vancouver Convention Centre, has a $200,000 contract through July 30.

Penny Ballem (left) and Premier John Horgan (BC Gov)

Event producer Pacific Destination Services Inc. was contracted for $1.1 million through Sept. 30 to operate clinics at West Vancouver Recreation Centre, Brennan Park in Squamish and Pemberton Community Centre.

The government’s no-bid contracts list for the Ministry of Health, released a week late, does not mention contract details for seven other entities that are providing staff to the program: Air Canada, Ceres Terminals Canada, Canadian Red Cross, Pacific National Exhibition, Tourism Whistler, Vancouver International Airport and WestJet.

Meanwhile, the report shows more former executives of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics organizing committee were hired on big, no-bid contracts to work under Vancouver Coastal Health chair Penny Ballem for the vaccine rollout.

Former VANOC and Concert Properties chief financial officer John McLaughlin’s Feb. 20-April 30 contract to assist the coordination and implementation of the vaccination strategy is worth $140,000 — a rate of more than $2,000-per-day.

Former VANOC and Trans Mountain Pipeline communications executive Lizette Parsons Bell’s contract is for the same amount and time period as McLaughlin.

Lizette Parsons Bell and John McLaughlin

Ballem was a Vancouver 2010 director while she was Vancouver’s city manager. On April 29, theBreaker.news exclusively reported that Ballem received a $220,000 no-bid contract from January until October to lead the mass-vaccination program. She suddenly took over the program on Jan. 13, more than a month after Dr. Ross Brown was appointed its leader.

The Ministry of Health’s February no-bid contract report showed that Ballem hired former VANOC executives Terry Wright, Mary Conibear and Dena Coward and former city hall Olympic communications rep Marnie McGregor.

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Bob Mackin Three Lower Mainland sports franchises that

Bob Mackin

Premier John Horgan is spending more than $15,000 a month on a custom studio inspired by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Premier John Horgan in the $15,000-a-month virtual studio (BC Gov)

Since March, Horgan has shifted most of his news conferences away from the Legislature’s press theatre to a newly-built studio. The so-called virtual studio is fully outfitted for broadcasts and doubles as a venue to make Zoom calls.

Documents obtained by theBreaker.news via freedom of information include correspondence from NDP government communications staff with an audio visual production company.

On Feb. 16, events and corporate planning director Rick Devereux sent contractor SW Audio & Visual links to photographs of Biden during pre-inauguration media events on a stage, surrounded by video screens.

“We can discuss,” Devereux wrote. “I don’t want to copy this exactly or anything, but the elements I like are: Pro look; multiple approaches to events that all look nice — speech, meeting, meeting and speech, etc.; flexibility in styles; everything is set up for a nice shot.”

On Feb. 23, SW general manager Mike McFadyen provided a quote to Devereux: An initial $15,000-a-month, three-month term, plus labour and operational costs per event.

“This is a true and fully functional broadcast studio that can be configured as needed depending on event or message,” McFadyen wrote. “Podiums, flags, backline drape, carpet or hard floor and furniture for town halls will also be included,”

SW proposed set-up by March 1, with the high definition video wall, four LED video pillars, teleprompter and a multiple camera package, including a main camera feed to Global TV’s Dejero mobile transmitter.

SW Audio & Visual concept for John Horgan’s virtual studio

“This is great to see. Nicely spec’d out,” said Stephen Hargreaves, the government’s video production manager, to Devereux on Feb. 25.

The documents show SW invoiced the Government Communications and Public Engagement department $19,650 for the March 8-April 8 studio rental and two events, including Horgan’s announcement about hiring staff from the tourism industry to work at coronavirus vaccination clinics.

Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said Premiers need to communicate their messages clearly and, sometimes, quickly. But Horgan already has a press conference facility at the Legislature and B.C. is facing a record deficit and debt.

“They’re not rock stars, they don’t need super fancy space age technology, changing backgrounds,” Sims said. “They certainly don’t need the taxpayer to pay for it.

“This looks like caviar taste, when we should be on a canned tuna budget.”

theBreaker.news wanted to know the long-term plan for the virtual studio, when Horgan would resume travel and when he would end his year-long prohibition on in-person media access. Horgan press secretary Lindsay Byers confirmed she received the request, but she did not respond with answers.

Even before the pandemic, Horgan had a baptism by fire web conference moment on Jan. 13, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was stuck in Vancouver due to a snowstorm and unable to visit Victoria, so they met via the B.C. government’s Telepresence teleconference system. In addition to hybrid sittings of the B.C. Legislature, Horgan appeared at a virtual swearing-in ceremony to announce his new cabinet last November. He was on-stage at the University of Victoria auditorium, while ministers took their oath of office via Zoom.

During the pandemic, Horgan has not traveled outside the Capital and Vancouver areas, except for last fall’s snap election campaign. Horgan has not hosted reporters in-person at a news conference in almost a year, except for the Sept. 21 to Oct. 24 campaign. The day after he won a 57-seat majority, he said he planned to resume travel to rural areas. However, that desire to travel was delayed because the second wave of the pandemic was already underway.

Premier John Horgan in the $15,000-a-month virtual studio (BC Gov)

“Having a majority government will allow me to get out of Victoria,” Horgan told reporters. “I’ve been tied in the legislature for big chunks of the year, and I’ll be able to travel now more freely to other prats of British Columbia and be the spokesperson for the issues that we’re bringing forward that will benefit rural British Columbia.”

In this year’s budget, Horgan’s office is getting a $3.3 million increase for his new planning and priorities department.

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s portfolio includes GCPE. Asked by theBreaker.news on the April 20 budget day to explain Horgan’s huge increase, Robinson suggested it is for a boost to travel and technology spending. 

“It’s really important that the premier hears from British Columbians from all regions of the province, that he’s able to engage with all stakeholders and that he talks to regular British Columbians, who are very focused on taking care of their families, they need to hear from him,” Robinson said. “That’s absolutely critical, we’re attempting to make sure that he has access to British Columbians.”

Horgan told the Legislature earlier this week that he plans to travel for the June 21 National Aboriginal Day ceremony in Lower Post, near the Yukon border. A former Indian residential school is scheduled to be demolished for the building of a memorial community centre.

In opposition, Horgan slammed then-Premier Christy Clark for her use of taxpayer-funded charter jets to fly around the province for photo ops, campaign-style events and party fundraisers. The NDP even turned the Air Christy scandal into an animated attack ad during the 2017 election.

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Bob Mackin Premier John Horgan is spending more

Bob Mackin

Email obtained by theBreaker.news is further evidence of how the lobbyist for B.C.’s salmon farming industry influences North Island mayors.

John Paul Fraser (BC Gov)

In April, theBreaker.news showed examples of B.C. Salmon Farmers executive director John Paul Fraser advising mayors of Port McNeill, Gold River, Port Hardy and Campbell River to oppose the federal Liberals’ plan to phase-out aquaculture in the Broughton Archipelago. Fraser claimed Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan’s pre-Christmas announcement would threaten an industry that employs 1,500 and is worth $1.6 billion.

In a new batch of email, obtained under freedom of information, Fraser shared the mayors an advance copy of his organization’s letter to Jordan.

“One idea, for consideration of course, is for Mayors to ‘greet the letter’ with a joint call for governments of all levels to convene in January for the purpose of discussing and deliberating the fallout and ‘what now’ consequences of the federal minister’s decision,” Fraser wrote Dec. 22, 2020. “This would make the letter and its impact on our communities much more powerful – and might actually lead somewhere.”

On Dec. 28, Fraser coached the mayors on dealing with local reporters when he suggested sending a letter to MP Rachelle Blaney (NDP, North Island-Powell River) the next day.

“Then ‘tip off’ a reporter at Black Press, Zoe [Ducklow] and Binny [Paul] (not fans of ours… but we did land a good story with them on Friday and they are aware of how this is going to be a story to follow), are back at their desks tomorrow and will definitely want to write about this one, even if it just for the online edition,” Fraser wrote.

Letter from salmon farming lobbyist to mayors (Campbell River FOI)

On Jan. 12, Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams forwarded a link to a Campbell River Mirror story by Paul about Blaney’s call with Jordan.

“JP, so is this reporter attached at the hip with the NDP??? The other reporter that I had been dealing with Scott Stanfield seems a lot more unbiased.”

Fraser replied: “I’m hoping the story is updated, but Binny is a tough read.”

On Jan. 14, Fraser circulated a screenshot of a Grieg Seafoods employee in a Facebook post aimed at a prominent local wild salmon advocate.

“Your condescending tone to the North Island mayors is both insulting and unsubstantiated. They are doing what they were elected to do: represent the hard working citizens in their home towns,” wrote Tina Gonsky. “Hard working citizens by the thousands, who stand to lose their livelihoods because of bogus science and a self serving agenda. I challenge you Alexandra Morton to leave my comment for all to see.”

Further discussion about Morton, their nemesis, ensued. Adams said to the mayors and Fraser: “We have stood up, but we are taking a pounding and need those directly affected to back us up.”

Alexandra Morton

“By all means! A thought might be to remind readers that ‘this person was ‘pounded’ when she, very recently, ran for office to represent our communities,” Fraser said, referring to Morton. “Still bitter at finishing 12 out of 14 Green Party candidates on Vancouver Island? Number 13, and only barely, was the poor guy who ran against the Premier in his riding.”

The war of words continues between the farmed versus wild salmon advocates.

In early April, a Federal Court judge ruled two of the companies, Mowi and Saltstream, be allowed to restock farms in three locations, because the economic harms would outweigh any environmental harms.

Fraser was the BC Liberal government’s deputy minister of communications under ex-Premier Christy Clark. He is also the son of Paul Fraser, the late conflict of interest commissioner who never found an MLA broke the law during his more than a decade in office.

At the end of the BC Liberal dynasty in July 2017, John Paul Fraser scored a $396,000 golden parachute when the incoming NDP government replaced BC Liberal political staff.

Last September, the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists fined John Paul Fraser $500 for failing to report that he had been the assistant deputy minister of labour, citizens’ services and open government.

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Bob Mackin Email obtained by theBreaker.news is further

Bob Mackin

A nasty feud between two 53-year-old women originally from China exploded into a vicious, bloody fight in courtroom 32 of Vancouver’s Law Courts on May 25.

Jing Lu was rushed to hospital with numerous stab wounds. Catherine Shen was handcuffed and jailed. She faces a charge of attempted murder.

Law Courts Vancouver (Joe Mabel)

The Ministry of the Attorney General was quick to say that security at the Robson Square complex would be reviewed.

But will anything change?

More than 30 years ago, in courtroom 30, one of B.C.’s best-known lawyers was the victim of a pocket knife attack during a custody dispute. Despite that, anyone can still enter the building and proceed to almost every courtroom without walking through a metal detector.

On Nov. 28, 1990, the mother of a 19-year-old man with cerebral palsy and her lawyer were stabbed when the father went berserk, just after Justice Anne Rowles left the bench.

This reporter was a young freelancer for the Whistler Question newspaper, covering the criminal contempt case against 62 Lil’wat Nation members and their supporters. RCMP officers arrested them for the four-month Duffey Lake Road blockade, a Pemberton Valley land dispute that began in the same summer as the armed Mohawk roadblock near a disputed golf course Oka, Quebec. The sheriffs were kept busy as Justice Bruce Macdonald struggled to keep decorum.

Ex-Deputy Attorney General David Vickers

I happened to be at the right place, at the right time, in the third floor corridor when paramedics wheeled a man past me on a stretcher. The patient was David Vickers, who had been Deputy Attorney General under one-term NDP Premier Dave Barrett. Vickers was runner-up to Bob Skelly for the NDP leadership in 1984 and failed to win a seat in Saanich and the Islands in the 1986 provincial election.

I rushed to the payphone to call the news desk at Canadian Press, where I worked on the weekend sports desk during journalism school.

Vickers was treated for an arm injury and released. His client was hospitalized with serious wounds. Social Credit Attorney General Russ Fraser vowed to review security. But not much happened until 2002. That is when $7.2 million of construction was finished to create the high-security courtroom 20 for the Air India terrorism trial. Included in the package was airport-style security machinery.

More than a decade ago, officials spent $2.2 million to secure courtroom 67 for the trial of United Nations gangsters. But the walk-through metal detectors are used on an as-and-when-needed basis.

New Westminster courthouse (B.C. Courts)

The entrances to the courthouse remain unencumbered. Criminal matters are a priority assignment for sheriffs. Not civil appearances, like Lu versus Shen.

A year after I witnessed Vickers being wheeled away, a jury acquitted the assailant, Oakville, Ontario’s Thomas Sawyer, of attempted murder and aggravated assault. A psychiatrist testified Sawyer had been in a disassociated state when he stabbed his ex-wife and Vickers, who tried to protect his client.

There are metal detectors, however, at the B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster and Provincial Courthouses in Vancouver and Surrey, after a deadly incident in mid-1990.

Pak Chee Wu, 38, brought a handgun with him to the New Westminster courthouse on June 11, 1990 for the appeal of a three-month sentence for illegal crab fishing.

Wu took five people hostage and demanded a sum of money. The emergency response team arrived. A shootout ensued. Three officers were injured. Wu was severely wounded.

The immigrant from China succumbed in Royal Columbian Hospital almost two weeks later, on June 24, 1990.

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Bob Mackin A nasty feud between two 53-year-old

For the week of May 30, 2021: 

Should the Tokyo Olympics be postponed or cancelled?

Should the Beijing Winter Olympics be moved or boycotted?

The future is now for the five-ring circus. On this edition, host Bob Mackin ponders the pandemic in Japan and China’s human rights abuses. Guests Dave Olson in Okayama, Japan and Ivy Li of the Canadian Friends of Hong Kong.

Plus 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.

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

theBreaker.news Podcast
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theBreaker.news Podcast: Five-ring circus controversy in Japan and China
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For the week of May 30, 2021:  Should