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Bob Mackin

The B.C. Lottery Corporation’s new chair is a real estate development executive with a company related to a Chinese cigarette printer registered in an offshore tax haven.

Greg Moore on the Great Wall of China (Facebook)

NDP finance minister Selina Robinson named former Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore the new head of the province’s Crown gambling corporation on May 21, exactly a week after the Cullen Commission on money laundering wrapped-up witness testimony.

The 2019-established judicial public inquiry heard evidence of huge currency outflows from China ending up in B.C. casinos and real estate, leading to loan sharking and a housing affordability crisis. Commissioner Austin Cullen’s findings and recommendations are due in December.

Moore replaces 2018-appointed BCLC chair Peter Kappel. His term runs through October 2023. In 2018, Moore retired from 10 years as PoCo mayor and seven years as chair of Metro Vancouver. Then-gambling minister David Eby appointed Moore to the BCLC board in November 2018. He became the interim CEO in 2019 and 2020 while Jim Lightbody battled cancer.

At the start of this year, Moore joined the 2020-incorporated Icona Properties as CEO. He had been seeking real estate opportunities since late in his political career. At a September 2018 Urban Development Institute lunch, Moore and retiring Vision Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie told real estate executives they were looking for work in their industry.

“We want to try to bring value to the development process,” Moore said at the event. “We know what it’s like to sit at this side of the table and what politicians are thinking going through that process.”

Icona’s parent is January 2020-incorporated Icona Holdings Ltd., whose only director is Tony Xiao Xing Cai. The Simon Fraser University graduate is the CEO of Brilliant Circle Group Development Ltd., which changed its name to Gilic Global Developments in 2019.

Gilic bought 232 acres in Ioco from Imperial Oil in 2015 with a vision to build a community from scratch. Gilic also wants to build a 46-storey, flatiron-style condo skyscraper where West Georgia and Pender streets converge in downtown Vancouver.

David Cai (Brilliant Circle Group)

Gilic’s only director is Cai’s older brother, David Xiao Ming Cai. 

David Cai is the former chair of Hong Kong-based Brilliant Circle Group. He resigned in March 2020, but remains the controlling shareholder of the company, which has five locations in Mainland China and is registered in the Cayman Islands.

In 2009, according to the annual report for printing company CT Holdings (International) Ltd., both Cai brothers and their father, Tsoi Tak, were appointees to municipal arms of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. 

Moore did not respond for comment.

BCLC revenue plummeted almost a billion dollars last fiscal year because the pandemic closed casinos. Limited re-opening could begin as soon as July 1. 

A statement from the Ministry of Finance said Moore was required to disclose any actual or perceived conflicts of interest, under BCLC policy.

“As a previous BCLC board member and now chair, Mr. Moore was vetted through the Crown Agencies and Board Resourcing Office (CABRO). CABRO is responsible for establishing best practice guidelines for appointees to public sector organizations like the BCLC,” said the ministry statement.

Greg Moore in China

theBreaker.news wanted to know whether Moore specifically disclosed his connections to Icona and Gilic, or whether the ministry conducted independent due diligence. It did not answer.

In May 2017, Moore traveled to China on a junket co-ordinated by China’s Vancouver consulate and sponsored by businessman James Wu of the Canada China City and Town Friendship Association.

So-called townsmen organizations and sponsored business trips for foreign politicians are part of the playbook of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front foreign influence program.

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Bob Mackin The B.C. Lottery Corporation’s new chair

Bob Mackin

One of the B.C. Supreme Court’s top judges reserved judgment May 27 on whether to quash one of the charges against the disgraced former Clerk of the B.C. Legislature.

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

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes is considering an application from Craig James’s lawyers who want her to drop the first of six counts against their client. Gavin Cameron and Kevin Westell argued count 1 of the Dec. 17, 2020 indictment is too broad and opens up James to being convicted twice for the same offence.

That count specifically says that James, during his career as Clerk from Sept. 10, 2011 and Nov. 21, 2018 “committed breach of trust in connection with the duties of his office by using his position to advance his own personal interests over the public good” contrary to the Criminal Code.

James faces four counts of breach of trust by a public officer and two counts of fraud over $5,000. Counts 2 through 6 on the indictment deal with shorter time periods and allege specific acts were illegal, such as James’s purchase of a wood splitter, his travel expense claims and the crafting of a $258,000 pseudo-pension for himself.

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

Special prosecutor Brock Martland told Holmes that count 1 is necessary to the case, to span the entirety of James’s career and alleged wrongdoing.

“The Crown should be entitled to not only have the close-up, zoom-in shot, but have the broad panoramic shot, to be able to say the cumulative effects of a body, of a pattern of conduct, of a pattern of evidence,” Martland told Holmes.

Holmes halted submissions numerous times to question lawyers for both sides. Though, she had more questions for Martland. She wondered how keeping count 1 would affect the admissibility of evidence on the other five counts. She also wondered how she would instruct the jury at the end of the trial, should James maintain his election for a trial by judge and jury.

“How can count 1 possibly allow for a broader range of evidence be admitted than counts 2 through 6 do?” she said. “If it does, think about this, would that evidence be admissible only in relation to count 1 or rather in relation to all the counts? And then, take it a step further, if the answer is well, it would be admissible only in relation to count 1, but not in relation to the other counts, wouldn’t that allow for a situation where a jury or a judge could convict on count 1 and acquit on all the other counts?”

Cameron told the court that count 1 goes beyond strange to being “fundamentally wrong and contrary to principle.” He worried James would not get a fair trial and said there is greater stigma in being found guilty twice, rather than once, “particularly given the notoriety of this matter.”

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

“When there is no authority in the Crown’s ledger, and the Crown is reduced to saying ‘we have discretion and it’s rare to quash an indictment’ as being the only arguments in their favour, the answer must be plain. The [defence] application ought to be allowed.”

The trial is tentatively set for the first quarter of 2022, though the venue and dates have not been formally reserved.

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 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 on Dec. 18, but the investigation continues.

Trivial pursuit

Almost two weeks before the May 27 hearing, Martland and Cameron were adversaries in another forum: the Cullen Commission on money laundering in B.C.

Commission counsel Martland questioned Cameron client and former BC Liberal Deputy Premier Rich Coleman under oath during the final day of witnesses on May 14.

Holmes, meanwhile, was presiding over the James case on the first anniversary the most-famous ruling of her career: to proceed with the extradition case against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou

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Bob Mackin One of the B.C. Supreme Court’s

Bob Mackin

A B.C. Supreme Court judge denied the operators of the high-end IVY Rosé Lounge in Vancouver’s Trump tower an injunction to stop their landlord from ending its lease.

Justice Gordon Weatherill (LinkedIn)

Defendant TA F&B LP submitted evidence to Justice Gordon Weatherill during a May 20 hearing that the Las Vegas-style nightclub was a magnet for gangsters and frequently violated public health orders meant to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Ivy Lounge West Georgia LP signed a five-year deal with renewal options in December 2019 and has paid $512,229 to use the third-floor space, formerly known as Drai’s.

IVY, which includes a pool and patio, opened for private parties in February 2020 and went full-service on March 9, 2020, just two days before the global pandemic was declared.

IVY reopened in August 2020 after spending $83,000 on equipment, fixtures and additional staff to meet pandemic protocols. But, within the first week, a customer tested positive for the disease and it was closed again for three weeks by Vancouver Coastal Health.

(IVY Rosé Lounge)

The court heard that since June 2020, there had been 43 police calls to the bar: two involving weapons, 32 Barwatch checks and ejections, four public health order violations, two assaults, two fights/disturbances and one breach of the peace. IVY had also been fined $2,300 for allowing more than six patrons at a table and had installed hidden cameras to alert staff of police and liquor inspectors.

The lounge shut down Feb. 25, 2021 after a meeting between the Vancouver Police Department and the landlord. On the same day, IVY posted a “temporarily closed” message on its Instagram account, saying it had technical issues with its commercial kitchen. It also claimed in a March 4 post that building water damage and kitchen equipment issues meant closure until early or mid-March. 

The establishment became a “preferred destination for gang members and people involved in organized crime,” according to the court document. A customer of the lounge not named in Weatherill’s judgment had been killed in a targeted shooting a month after being ejected from IVY. 

“Despite numerous conversations and warnings, operators of the IVY Rosé Lounge continue to host a criminal element including known gang members and their associates in their establishment as well as ignore the provincial health order repeatedly,” said a Feb. 25 email from the VPD quoted by Weatherill.

Donald Trump Jr. (left) and brother Eric at the Vancouver Trump Hotel opening (Mackin)

Said Weatherill: “It takes no more than a modicum of common sense to recognize that the plaintiff’s ongoing, repeated, and flagrant disregard of public health orders, liquor restrictions, as well as its apparent indifference (to put it at its most generous) towards the clientele it allowed to frequent the licensed area would negatively affect the reputation of the property and the hotel.”

Landlord TA demanded and received $53,000 in rent on March 15 for part of February and all of March. Ten days later the lease was cancelled due to the sheer volume of police incidents and regulatory violations since August 2020.

A related company, TA Hotel Management LP, filed for bankruptcy in August 2020, blaming the pandemic-caused closure of the hotel. The complex is owned by a Malaysian family, but has a licence to use the Trump name. Donald Trump Jr. and brother Eric appeared at the grand opening in early 2017. 

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Bob Mackin A B.C. Supreme Court judge denied

Bob Mackin

“Seasons’s greetings for COVID free, low stress holiday to everyone.”

That was how the lab boss at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control signed-off an email on the morning of Dec. 21, when he circulated a colleague’s assessment of the United Kingdom variant of the coronavirus. It is one of several dozen email messages obtained by theBreaker.news under the freedom of information law.

BCCDC’s Natalie Prystajecky and Mel Krajden (BCCDC)

In a nutshell, Dr. Mel Krajden wrote, the U.K. variant “has not yet been identified in B.C. or in Canada.”

But that, along with the stress level, would rapidly change within a matter of days.

Hints of the U.K. variant had been already detected in B.C., specifically three mutations present in the U.K. variant’s 17 mutations. But nothing substantial out of the BCCDC’s 7,000 genome-sequenced COVID-19 samples, wrote environmental microbiology head Dr. Natalie Prystajecky.

“The one limitation is that we only sequence a proportion of B.C. cases (~20%) and could therefore miss it if it is a rare occurrence,” she wrote. “Cases with travel history, international travel or contact with a traveler will be prioritized for sequencing.”

Prystajecky’s assessment came on the heels of Dr. Theresa Tam’s conference call the previous day with the country’s top health and intergovernmental affairs officials. Canada’s top public health official Tam gave a brief tutorial on the variant, which had a “southern England/London locus” and was more transmissible, but not necessarily deadlier. Canada’s PCR testing would likely not be impacted, “though we are not sure whether other tests may be impacted,” she said.

A Public Health Agency of Canada document said 1,108 individuals in the U.K. had been confirmed with the variant by Dec. 13. Cases had been traced back to September, with a rapid November increase.

Little did they know, but someone had already brought the U.K. variant back to B.C. and it would change the course of the pandemic for the worse.

But did they move fast enough to tell the public?

Christmas Day email flurry

“Urgent — heads up — presumptive U.K. strain test result in Alberta,” wrote Michael Spowart, the PHAC director for B.C. and Alberta, to Tam late in the afternoon on Dec. 25.

Email obtained by theBreaker.news via freedom of information

“All we know right now is person came into YVR (connecting to Edmonton) from London Heathrow,” Spowart wrote in an email that he also sent to B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

At 8:21 p.m., Dr. David Patrick, BCCDC’s top research epidemiologist, reported he had been on a call with Alberta’s Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Tam’s deputy Dr. Howard Njoo and others. He learned that the passenger, who flew from London’s Heathrow Airport to Vancouver and then on to Edmonton, was asymptomatic in flight but developed symptoms, tested positive and had gone into isolation.

Another passenger had tested positive between rows 4 and 8. Limited sequencing found two mutations compatible with the U.K. variant. Complete sequencing would probably not be available before Dec. 27.

“We do not know this is U.K. variant for certain, messaging to contacts for now should be that we are being careful around the case originating from U.K.” Patrick wrote.

Henry replied at 8:45 p.m. “Delaying as much as we can is a good aim. Let me know if there are concerns about being able to trace people.

Air Canada 787-9 Dreamliner (Air Canada)

Krajden confirmed less than half an hour later, that the sample had been sequenced and reviewed on Christmas Day. It had 13 of the 17 mutations.

“We have never seen this sequence in B.C. before,” he wrote.

“To add one more detail,” interjected Prystajecky, “This case falls in the B.1.1.7 lineage. First of this lineage observed in B.C.; same as the U.K. variant.”

No Boxing Day rush

On Boxing Day, Ontario reported its first cases of the U.K. variant: a couple from Durham with no known travel history. But B.C. took a slow, methodical approach. 

Just before noon on Dec. 26, Henry told the three BCCDC lab officials and her counterparts at Fraser Health and Island Health that a statement “about the B.C. case(s)” was being planned for the next day. “Details of the quarantine and when [symptoms] developed, contacts, etc. will be needed. I would appreciate if you can send me a synopsis when you get all that.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry on March 25 (BC Gov)

The next morning, Air Canada confirmed to Alberta officials that an ill passenger had exposed rows 12 to 16 on flight AC214, the Calgary-Vancouver route, on Dec. 19.

As B.C. officials prepared to release their statement, an Island Health official anticipated media questions. “The individual had to get from Vancouver to Vancouver Island — either by car, flight or ferry,” Island Health communications vice-president Jamie Braman wrote to the Ministry of Health’s Kirsten Youngs. “The media will most likely ask the question and we will need an answer to that question.”

Those details were omitted, as officials chose to err on the side of privacy in the 1:21 p.m. statement on the first U.K. variant case in B.C.

“The individual, who resides in the Island Health region, returned to B.C. from the U.K. on flight AC855 on Dec. 15, 2020, developed symptoms while in quarantine and was immediately tested. Testing confirmed the positive diagnosis on Dec. 19, 2020; a small number of close contacts have been isolated and public health is following up with them daily.”

Several media outlets had questions. More than three hours after the statement, Youngs told Henry that she was “able to politely/firmly decline some requests today but there five are outstanding [from CBC, Times-Colonist, CHEK TV, Globe and Mail and CHLY radio).”

BCCDC’s Dr. David Patrick (BCCDC)

Youngs recommended to decline all requests, but provide each a brief statement. 

By the start of February, B.C. had officially recorded more than a dozen cases of the U.K. variant. But that would rapidly change.

In mid-April, with case counts exceeding 1,000 daily, Henry admitted the U.K. and Brazil variants accounted for 60% of new cases in B.C. Half of them the U.K. variant, dominant in Surrey, and 49% of them the P1, from Brazil, which dominated the Whistler resort outbreaks.

The spread of variants in B.C., which forced closure of Whistler Blackcomb and put the Vancouver Canucks’ season on hold for three weeks, attracted international media attention. Henry stopped daily reporting and said she assumed all new cases were one of the variants.

Krajden explained on GenomeBC’s May 4 web conference that B.C.’s variant detection was limited by genome sequencing and data analysis, so it changed strategies.

“Our sequencing capacity is pretty high, it’s about 1,900 a week, we’ve done some calculations to sample in an unbiased way from all regions of the province,” Krajden said. “With that sampling strategy we believe we will be able to detect as little as 1 in 200 or 1 in 500 of some variants that might occur.”

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Bob Mackin “Seasons’s greetings for COVID free, low

For the week of May 23, 2021:

British Columbia’s money laundering public inquiry heard its last scheduled witness on May 14, when former BC Liberal Deputy Premier Rich Coleman was recalled after inconsistencies on April 28.

Commission counsel Brock Martland left the door open to accused loan shark Paul King Jin and whistleblower Ross Alderson. Otherwise, participants will make final statements July 6-8. Then, Commissioner Austin Cullen has until mid-December to deliver his findings and recommendations to the NDP cabinet.

Hear highlights of Coleman’s return to the Cullen Commission and host Bob Mackin’s list of people who should have been summoned.

Listen to a commentary on Kevin Falcon, another former BC Liberal Deputy Premier, becoming the presumed frontrunner in the BC Liberal leadership race on May 17. The most-experienced of the field, Falcon was runner-up to Christy Clark in 2011. Falcon also comes with the most baggage. Will his new vision for the BC Liberal Party — including a proposal to find a new name — be enough to win next February?

The 2021 season of Canada’s national summertime sport, lacrosse, is the latest victim of the “one dose summer.”

The country’s slow vaccine rollout means the turnstile-dependent Western Lacrosse Association in B.C. and Major Series Lacrosse in Ontario won’t play for the Mann Cup senior for the second consecutive year. Hear from WLA president Paul Dal Monte. 

Plus Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines.

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theBreaker.news Podcast: Coleman's Cullen Commission comeback
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For the week of May 23, 2021: British

Bob Mackin

A lawyer hired by an opposition Surrey politician says Mayor Doug McCallum was wrong for quashing an opposition councillor’s motion for a referendum on the new Surrey Police Service.

Coun. Brenda Locke of the Surrey Connect party retained Mark Underhill of the Arvay Finlay law firm to provide a legal opinion after McCallum deemed her motion out of order at the April 26 city council meeting.

Coun. Brenda Locke (Surrey Connect)

“Mayor Doug McCallum was clearly wrong to rule my motion to hold a referendum on Surrey policing out of order and the majority on Council were wrong to uphold that ruling,” Locke said in a news release accompanying Underhill’s opinion.

As such, Locke will ask council at the May 31 meeting to release the city’s legal opinion on which McCallum said he relied.

”The police transition has been a very divisive issue in Surrey: it’s time that the public had their say — once and for all,” she said.

In Underhill’s legal opinion, he wrote that the NDP cabinet has jurisdiction to order a referendum, because the issue of policing is a matter of public interest.

“The fact that steps have already been taken to establish the Surrey Police Board and Surrey Police Service would not, without more, establish bad faith or improper purpose. Thus, these circumstances would not make a decision to hold a referendum unlawful, or vulnerable to being overturned by the courts,” according to Underhill.

Underhill also wrote there is no reason why city council cannot ask the province for a referendum.

“We are not aware of any provision in the Community Charter, Local Government Act, or the Surrey city by-laws that would prevent such a request,” he wrote.

“Given that the province has jurisdiction to hold a referendum, and the city may properly request that the Province do so, our opinion is that the motion was within council’s jurisdiction to decide, and did not otherwise violate rules of procedure. Thus, in our view, the motion was not out of order.”

The release of Underhill’s legal opinion comes the week after the widow of a man murdered in 2018 in a case of mistaken identity became the face for a referendum campaign backed by the RCMP officers’ union.

May 2019 photo of Patton (left), Coun. Linda Annis, McCallum, Guerra, Nagra and Elford. (Annis is a member of Surrey First)

Darlene Bennett is the spokeswoman for the Surrey Police Vote petition under the B.C. Referendum Act and B.C. Recall and Initiative Act. Her husband Paul was an innocent victim of the ongoing gang war in Cloverdale in 2018.

Behind the scenes in the Surrey Vote Campaign is Bill Tieleman, the NDP insider who is registered to lobby for the National Police Federation. Tieleman was behind winning campaigns to stop the HST in 2011 and prevent electoral reform in 2018. 

Meanwhile, the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner wrote McCallum on May 18, after Keep the RCMP in Surrey campaigner Paul Daynes complained about the lack of lie detectors in SPS recruitment and that SPS is falsely claiming to be a functioning police force.

Deputy Commissioner Andrea Spindler’s letter ordered McCallum, who chairs the Surrey Police Board, to order an investigation or study of the complaint, dismiss the complaint with reasons or take any other adequate course of action to respond to the complaint.

Daynes wrote in his April 22 complaint that the SPS is “causing great confusion and some distress” because it has not issued a disclaimer that it is not yet a full-service police force. SPS is not advising the public to contact the RCMP with requests for assistance.

SPS has added a small-print disclaimer to the top of its website saying it is not yet in operation. It directs anyone needing police services to call 9-1-1 in case of emergency or the non-emergency line at 604-599-0502. It does not mention the RCMP nor does it link to the Surrey RCMP website.

Daynes also complained May 6 that SPS is failing to meet the B.C. Police Act requirement for screening job applicants. SPS is only using lie detectors on new recruits, not senior officers hoping to transfer from the RCMP or a municipal force. Lie detectors are standard practice for vetting job candidates at other municipal forces in B.C., such as Vancouver. 

McCallum ran on a platform to replace the RCMP with a municipal force and promised the new department would be up and running by April 2021. Instead, it could take until the end of 2023 or start of 2024 for SPS to replace the RCMP. The transition is costing Surrey taxpayers $63.7 million.

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Bob Mackin A lawyer hired by an opposition

Bob Mackin

The box won’t rock for another summer.

Western Lacrosse Association in B.C. and Major Series Lacrosse in Ontario announced May 18 that their 2021 seasons are cancelled by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mann Cup (Mackin)

That means there will be no Mann Cup national senior men’s championship for the second year.

The WLA normally begins in late May, but was planning on an early July start, leading to the Mann Cup series at the home of the MSL champion in September.

“The only logical decision, as regrettable and unfortunate as it was, was to cancel the season,” WLA president Paul Dal Monte told theBreaker.news.

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is expected to maintain a ban on large indoor gatherings through the summer. Adult indoor sports are currently limited to two participants. B.C. is also under a non-essential travel mandate and BC Ferries has reduced sailings between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, home of two of the WLA’s seven teams.

Dal Monte said provincial health officials were “transparent and forthcoming, very honest in their answers,” but the league was unable to conduct an isolated “bubble” format similar to the Western Hockey League or “pods” like the B.C. Hockey League.

“[Lacrosse is] a community, grassroots level sport that has the support of a very large, passionate fan base,” Dal Monte said. “We do also rely on those ticket sales to drive our revenues and to support our teams. When you factor in on top of that a lot of our sponsorship is local and regionally based, those business themselves have been hurting and suffering as a result of the pandemic.”

It will be the second time in the post-1926 modern era of Canadian lacrosse that no national champion will be crowned. Peterborough Lakers went home with the trophy in 2019 after defeating the Victoria Shamrocks in five games.

Western Lacrosse Association president Paul Dal Monte (WLA)

“Our Premier is a season ticket holder for the Shamrocks, he’s a huge lacrosse fan. I’m sure there’s no one else who would love to see lacrosse back as much as him,” Dal Monte said. “At the end of the day there are important things we have to deal with as a society.

The cancellation is another blow to British Columbians suffering through Canada’s slow vaccine rollout.

While American sporting venues gradually fill with fully vaccinated, maskless fans, the Vancouver Whitecaps are forced to play home games in Sandy, Utah home and the Vancouver Canadians in Hillsboro, Ore. The Canadian Football League’s kickoff was delayed to August, but the BC Lions do not know when or if they will welcome fans back to B.C. Place.

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Bob Mackin The box won’t rock for

For the week of May 16, 2021:

British Columbians know more about the coronavirus pandemic this month, but not because of Health Minister Adrian Dix or Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Leaks have revealed the high transmission rate and low vaccination rate in Surrey and the extent of how the virus has spread through schools in the Fraser Health region. 

On this edition of theBreaker.news, hear the fallout from the NDP’s data secrecy scandal and look back to spring 2020, when theBreaker.news was the first to sound the alarm about the lack of transparency in B.C.

Also, hear from Point Roberts, Wash. fire chief Christopher Carleton about his idea to help Canadians get their second doses in his isolated community and Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher after the ethics commissioner cleared Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of conflict of interest over the WE Charity scandal.

Plus commentaries 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.

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

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theBreaker.news Podcast: NDP coronavirus communication breakdown
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For the week of May 16, 2021:

Bob Mackin

The veteran NDP operative who put words in Dr. Bonnie Henry’s mouth has left his job and is now registered to lobby the British Columbia government for a company that makes AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines.

Jean-Marc Prevost registered to lobby for a U.S.-headquartered vaccine maker (Counsel/Emergent)

Jean-Marc Prevost was the strategic communications director for the Ministry of Health, working full-time on Henry’s day-to-day messaging. He wrote the script for Henry’s controversial back-to-school TV ad last summer and received a photo credit in her March-published book. Prevost worked in tandem with Henry’s communications contractor Nicola Lambrechts.

Prevost left the job, which paid $77,330 in 2019-2020, to join former NDP campaign manager Brad Lavigne’s Counsel Public Affairs as a vice-president for Western Canada. The company’s website mentions Henry praised Prevost in her book, for his “powerful ways with words.”

Prevost registered for seven clients between May 11 and 13, including the Canadian division of Emergent BioSolutions.

Emergent shipped 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Canada from its Baltimore factory, which was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration after a case of contamination.

Prevost’s May 12 registration says the topic of his lobbying is to increase access in B.C. to Emergent’s Narcan nasal spray product, which is an emergency remedy for opioid overdoses. The Ministry of Health and Fraser Health are among the public bodies Prevost is targeting.

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s Back to School campaign (BC Gov)

Under the NDP’s 2018 lobbying reforms, deputy ministers and assistant deputy ministers are banned from lobbying for two years after leaving the government. But not so for a communications director, like Prevost.

A lobbying watchdog called Prevost’s career move a conflict of interest nonetheless.

“It’s always unethical for someone to be leaving government in a significant position and starting to lobby right away, especially if they’re lobbying in the same area that they worked in government,” said Duff Conacher, co-founder of DemocracyWatch. “There should be a cooling-off period for everyone, on a sliding scale, based on your connections in government, your relations in government, the access to information you had.”

Neither Health Minister Adrian Dix nor Prevost responded to interview requests from theBreaker.news.

Before working in the B.C. NDP government, Prevost worked for NDP governments in Alberta and Manitoba. His other lobbying clients with Counsel are the B.C. Real Estate Association, Insurance Council of B.C., Toyota Canada, Encorp Pacific, Hello Fresh Canada, and North York Rehabilitation Centre Corp.

Democracy Watch’s Duff Conacher

Conacher said there should be a cooling-off period for Prevost that should last until this government, and the officials he worked with, are out of office.

“When would the conflict of interest ever disappear otherwise?” Conacher said. “He has the relationships with them, he has the inside access and knowledge.”

Prevost is not the first NDP operative to leave a senior communications job in the B.C. government and walk through the loophole into an NDP-friendly lobbying firm. In May 2020, theBreaker.news revealed that Premier John Horgan’s speechwriter, Danielle Dalzell, had quit to join the Earnscliffe lobbying company.

After last fall’s snap election, Horgan rewarded Raj Sihota, the executive director of the B.C. NDP, with a $15,000 no-bid contract to work on his transition team. In January, Sihota joined NDP-aligned lobbying firm Strategies360 and has since registered to lobby the NDP government on behalf of five clients.

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Bob Mackin The veteran NDP operative who put

Bob Mackin

One of two survivors of a shooting outside a Burnaby Cactus Club restaurant on May 13 worked in the RCMP’s provincial headquarters at the highly sensitive fusion centre.

Jaskeert Kalkat, 23, allegedly affiliated with the Brothers Keepers’ gang, was murdered around 8:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the Market Crossing strip mall.

RCMP B.C. headquarters (BC Hydro)

A 23-year-old woman acquainted with Kalkat was injured, but her condition is not known. theBreaker.news is choosing not to publish her name and photograph for the time being.

Her Instagram feed displayed photographs of her at a Granville Mall nightclub and Coal Harbour marina, in the driver’s seat of a BMW SUV, and in Toronto, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. She works as a model and has aspirations of posing in swimsuit photo shoots for Sports Illustrated and Playboy.

The woman is not the first current or former law enforcement employee caught in the crossfire during this spring’s gang war. On May 1, B.C. Corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, was gunned down at North Delta at Scottsdale Mall in an Audi SUV. 

theBreaker.news asked the B.C. RCMP headquarters media office to comment on her employment history with the Real-Time Intelligence Centre-B.C. and whether her father is a current or former senior RCMP officer.

Rather than answering question about the personnel matter, the office forwarded the query to Integrated Homicide Investigation Team spokesman Sgt. Frank Jang, who said: “We have confirmed the identity of the female and her safety and the homicide investigation remains a priority. The female you referred to is not an employee of the RCMP.”

Cactus Club at Market Crossing (Google Maps)

However, two sources told theBreaker.news that she worked in a civilian job in the fusion centre. RTIC-B.C. is a multi-agency, instant crime monitoring, analysis and communications centre located at the B.C. RCMP headquarters in Surrey’s Green Timbers. 

“The centre has a multi-jurisdictional partnership between the RCMP and the province’s municipal police forces, as well as Canada Border Services Agency, Correctional Service Canada, B.C. Corrections and B.C. Sherriff Services,” said a 2019 entry on the RCMP website. “The unit’s 43 staff members, which include permanent RCMP positions and municipal police officers who rotate every four years, have access to the databases of all the partner agencies.”

The May 13 shooting was the latest in a tit-for-tat series of murders in public places since mid-April.

The most-sensational was the Mother’s Day killing of United Nations gangster Karman Grewal, 28, outside Vancouver International Airport. The incident gained international media attention and prompted Solicitor General Mike Farnworth to call a meeting of top police officials in B.C. 

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Bob Mackin One of two survivors of a