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Bob Mackin

The B.C. NDP paid a private charter flight company $73,000 during last fall’s snap election campaign.

Elections BC expense filings, released Feb. 1, show Mondial Aviation Corp. of Victoria billed the party $73,374.36, including $19,336.03 on Sept. 18.

The Sept. 18 payment was three days before Premier John Horgan called the controversial snap election, which was a year before the NDP’s own fixed election date law required.

John Horgan promising B.C. will be net zero by 2050 (NDP/Flickr)

But party president Craig Keating did not explain where they flew and who they carried during the campaign.

The NDP spent a total $7.64 million en route to victory, but the coronavirus pandemic’s second wave began before the Oct. 24 election day. Dr. Bonnie Henry admitted last month that more could have been done in October to battle the virus.

Horgan’s campaign was centred mainly in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island, areas where the NDP won 50 of its 57 seats. Horgan relied upon a motorcoach from Wilson’s Transport to get around Southwestern B.C., costing the party $56,747.30. Because of the pandemic, there was no media entourage.

Horgan’s only excursions outside the region were to Terrace on Sept. 25, Revelstoke Oct. 3 and Kamloops, Merritt, Penticton and Oliver on Oct. 16.

Premier John Horgan in Terrace (NDP/Flickr)

When theBreaker.news asked Keating for details about the charter flight spending, he said “I’m sorry I don’t have any answers for those questions.” Keating referred theBreaker.news back to the Elections BC disclosure forms which show payment dates, supplier names and dollar amounts.

theBreaker.news pointed out that the details of the purchases were not shown on the forms.

“I’m sorry about the character of the disclosures, but I don’t really have any answers for your questions,” Keating said.

During the 2017 election campaign, the NDP produced a TV ad about then-Premier Christy Clark’s costly use of private jets. This reporter broke a series of stories about the BC Liberal leader’s charter jet spending that cost taxpayers more than $600,000 during her first five years in office.

Since becoming premier in July 2017, Horgan’s flights have been few and far between, compared to Clark. He has mostly flown on commercial carriers.

NDP president Craig Keating (Langara College)

The NDP’s spending on commercial airlines paled in comparison to the charter cost, totalling just over $4,300 for the campaign: $1,737.99 on Helijet, $1,547.17 on Air Canada, $448 on Harbour Air, $426.43 on Westjet, and $166.92 on Pacific Coastal Airline.

The party’s Elections BC returns also show $7,157.66 paid to National Car Rental.

theBreaker.news wanted to know whether the NDP rented standard gas and diesel-fuelled vehicles or electric models. The party’s platform promised to make B.C. carbon neutral by 2050, in part by switching the province to electric vehicles.

NDP 2017 campaign ad skewered Christy Clark’s taxpayer-funded private jet trips (BC NDP)

When Keating repeated his previous answers, theBreaker.news asked whether he could find someone else in the party who knew. “I’m not sure if I could,” he replied.

The NDP also reported spending $143,684.13 on Hilton Hotels and $63,564.80 at the Pinnacle Hotel. The latter was the site of the platform reveal and election night events.

Since the NDP banned corporate and union donations in 2017, it has collected $5.36 million in taxpayer subsidies under a per-vote formula. Parties are also eligible for a 50% reimbursement for election expenses. NDP also issues tax receipts for individual donations, which are capped at $1,268.

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Bob Mackin The B.C. NDP paid a private

Bob Mackin

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

John Horgan (Twitter)

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.

The NDP outspent the BC Liberals by more than $600,000 in the ad war: $2.87 million vs. $2.26 million. The BC Greens spent $408,704.65 on advertising.

A lion’s share of the NDP spending was $1.78 million through Now Communications Group, the shop formed by members of Mike Harcourt’s campaign team in 1991.

Now billed taxpayers $970,063 for the 13 months ended April 30, 2020 for central government advertising contracts and $90,930 to the Legislature for work on NDP caucus ads.

(NDP)

Multicultural specialist Captus Advertising came second in the NDP spending spree, with $498,757. That is less than what the company billed taxpayers for central government contracts in 2019-2020 ($513,623).

Point Blank Creative billed government $195,931 in the last fiscal year and it billed the party $180,959.13 for the campaign. 

Other suppliers included event producer Project X Productions ($178,074.27),  printer Thunderbird Press Ltd. ($161,923.27) and Public Outreach Consultancy Inc. ($137,624.26).

The disclosure does not show how much the party paid B.C. media companies. That would be embedded in the payments to the ad agencies. But it did include $8,750 to Google, $6,644.06 fo Facebook and $1,093.81 for the Slack app, which includes private messaging functions.

The pattern of spending in the NDP disclosures suggests months of planning went into Horgan’s decision on Sept. 21. He claimed that he decided on the snap election two days earlier, but the NDP had already pinpointed the second last Saturday of October earlier in the summer.

For the BC Liberals, Mike Wilson’s In Language Advertising was the primary shop, which billed almost $1.04 million.

Almost 1,000 British Columbians have died from the coronavirus since Sept. 21, 2020. 

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Bob Mackin Premier John Horgan’s decision to fight

For the week of Jan. 31, 2021:

The Trudeau Liberal government’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy was a key measure to save jobs during the pandemic downturn.

PNE president Shelley Frost (Mackin)

More than $59 billion has been paid to employers of all sorts whose revenue fell 15% or more on a year-over-year basis.

Some of the recipients of B.C.’s $6.8 billion are Ferrari Maserati of Vancouver, Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and LeHomes Realty. Even Lions Gate Risk Management, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s security contractor, got the CEWS.

theBreaker.news found recipients reluctant to disclose the subsidy received or jobs they saved. 

Vancouver International Airport Authority told theBreaker.news it received $15.7 million to cover payroll. Great Canadian Gaming and Wall Financial told shareholders they received millions.

But the Pacific National Exhibition is left out in the cold because it is owned by Vancouver city hall. The fair did its best in 2020 to cut its losses to $10.5 million amid the myriad of public health restrictions. The PNE’s president says if it can’t get CEWS, the East Vancouver fairgrounds could go silent in 2022. 

“We have 110 years of history and tradition and I’m not willing to, in any way, step back and jeopardize that by being too quiet,” Frost told theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin. “We need to be able to offset some of those losses by recouping the wage subsidy, that will make or break us staying in business.”

Listen to Frost make the case for the PNE.

Also, highlights from the Cullen Commission on money laundering in B.C.

Plus headlines from the Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest.

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

Now on Spotify!

Have you missed an edition of theBreaker.news Podcast? Go to the archive.

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theBreaker.news Podcast
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theBreaker.news Podcast: Vancouver's fair seeks federal wage subsidy fairness
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For the week of Jan. 31, 2021:

Bob Mackin

A year after they announced British Columbia’s first coronavirus patient, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry appeared for a live TV interview on Jan. 28. 

Global BC anchor Chris Gailus asked Henry what she would have done differently.

China consul general Tong Xiaoling, left, and Premier John Horgan on Feb. 4, 2019 in Richmond (BC Gov)

“If I knew then what I know now, focusing on supporting China and taking measures globally to prevent this virus from spreading,” Henry said. 

A jaw-dropping statement, after the Chinese Communist Party’s initial response.

China had been slow to notify the World Health Organization about the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak and denied WHO officials immediate entry to investigate. The WHO famously Tweeted that the virus was not contagious for humans. China even sent police to crack down on doctors blowing the whistle about the SARS-like illness spreading in their city and beyond. Dr. Li Wenliang was one of them. He succumbed to the disease on Feb. 7, 2020.

What could British Columbia have done, if Henry could go back in time?

Documents obtained by theBreaker.news via Freedom of Information show Xi Jinping’s top west coast diplomat wanted millions of pieces of personal protective equipment. B.C.’s stockpiles were already depleted because of NDP government neglect. 

Consul-General Tong Xiaoling wrote Premier John Horgan on Jan. 27, 2020, about the “all out efforts to contain and control the epidemic.”

Tong Xiaoling’s letter to Premier John Horgan (BC Gov/FOI)

“Medical staffs from all over China are mobilized to Wuhan for the treatment of the patients and the front line medical staffs are in extremely urgent need of professional disposable (single use) protective equipment including, respirators of or above the level of N95 masks, isolation gowns, goggles and face shields,” Tong wrote.

“My office is instructed to liaise purchase of the above equipment. I would really appreciate if you could kindly refer my office to the relative provincial authorities and contact information.”

Tong included a wish list. She asked for 2,250,000 medical protective masks, 6,000,000 surgical masks, 1,500,000 disposable medical isolation suits and 270,000 medical isolation masks.

Horgan replied three days later on Jan. 30, 2020. “I wish to extend my sincere sympathy and support to the government and the citizens of the Republic of China affected by the virus.

“These circumstances require a coordinated approach from governments to support China in containing this outbreak. The Government of Canada is working with provinces and territories to effectively plan for domestic public health management requirements in this evolving situation, including assessing our domestic needs for protective equipment.”

A senior official from the B.C. government provided Tong’s office with names and contact information for PPE manufacturers.

China’s PPE wish list, sent to B.C.’s Premier (BC Gov/FOI)

“Further, representatives of the Canadian government will contact you if it is determined that protective equipment in excess of domestic requirements is identified,” Horgan wrote.

Just over a week later, on Feb. 7, 2020, Dr. Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, warned that PPE demand was 100 times normal and prices 20 times higher because of the widespread non-medical use of PPE.

Allies of the Chinese Communist Party in Vancouver and Toronto were already buying as much bulk PPE as they could in order to fulfil CCP wishes.

The federal government went ahead anyway with a 16-tonne donation shipment to China that was quietly announced Feb. 9.

It would come back to haunt Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Hospitals across Canada ran out of PPE, frontline healthcare workers were infected and Trudeau sent cargo jets to China on costly emergency buying missions. 

Some of the same groups involved with the CCP’s United Front buying spree in Canada held photo ops two months later, donating hundreds of thousands of masks to hospitals in Vancouver. 

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Bob Mackin A year after they announced

Bob Mackin

One of Vancouver’s top real estate developers is listed in the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy database after reporting almost $3.2 million in government assistance during 2020.

Shannon Wall Centre Kerrisdale (Rennie)

Wall Financial’s quarterly report, through Oct. 31, disclosed $2.8 million during the first nine months of the year, $392,000 after the quarter and it was waiting for an additional $360,000 to be approved.

The Trudeau Liberal government’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy was the country’s main pool of pandemic payroll relief. More than $59 billion has been paid out since last spring, including $6.8 billion in B.C. Eligible employers can receive up to $847-per employee, per-week if revenue fell 15% or more on a year-over-year basis.

In December, Canada Revenue Agency launched a database listing names (but not the dollar amounts received) of most of the 386,000 successful applicants, including Wall Financial.

Wall Financial told shareholders that revenue for the period plummeted from 2019’s $443 million to $83.57 million. It sold only two units at Shannon Wall Centre Kerrisdale through the end of October 2020, after closing 240 sales a year earlier. President Bruno Wall did not respond for comment. 

Other local real estate companies in the CEWS database include:

  • Angell, Hasman and Associates Realty Ltd. and Angell, Hasman and Associates (Malcolm Hasman) Realty Ltd.

    West Vancouver seaside mansion with a helipad (Malcolm Hasman)

  • CondominiumsOnly.com division of Rennie and Associates Realty Ltd.
  • Dracco Holdings Ltd. (Dracco Pacific Realty)
  • Pan Pacific Platinum Real Estate Services Inc. (LeHomes Realty)
  • 1135233 B.C. Ltd. (LeHomes Realty Premier)
  • Nu Stream Realty Inc.
  • Oakwyn Realty Ltd.
  • Team 3000 Realty Inc.

None of the above responded to theBreaker.news, which wanted to know how many jobs each company saved and the dollar figures for the subsidies they received.

Despite the economy hitting a sudden wall in the springtime, the region’s real estate industry rebounded in spectacular fashion by Christmas.

The website for West Vancouver luxury specialist Angell, Hasman and Associates (Malcolm Hasman) Realty Ltd. heralds “over $200 million listed and sold in 2020.”

The British Columbia Real Estate Association reported almost 94,000 residential unit sales in 2020, up 21.5% from 2019’s 77,350. B.C.’s average residential price rose 11.7% to $782,000 and total sales volume jumped 35.6% to $73.5 billion.

“Housing markets across the province staged a remarkable recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic and recession,” said BCREA chief economist Brendon Ogmundson.

Dracco’s Layla Yang (Twitter)

Andrew Carros, COO of Engel and Völkers Vancouver, did not say how many jobs were subsidized or how much his Kerrisdale firm received.

“That subsidy probably saved everybody’s job,” Carros said. “The dominos could’ve fallen quite differently if things didn’t bounce back. We were fortunately a lot luckier than a lot of other industries out there. I feel pretty blessed, but I feel bad for those other businesses that are struggling today.”

It was a different story in the rental side of the business. Wallis Lee, managing broker of Sutton Max Realty and Property Management, said the $78,000 received over three months kept the eight-person property rental office working. She said the company became busier because it unfortunately shifted toward collections.

“When people cannot pay the rent it’s affecting us too. When we don’t receive the rent, we don’t have the commission,” Lee said. “Tough for our tenant, tough for our landlord, it’s not easy for us.”

Richmond real estate and immigration lawyer Hong Guo.

Guo Law Corporation, the Richmond real estate and immigration firm run by Hong Guo, is in the database. The 2018 Richmond mayoral candidate did not provide information about the jobs saved or money received.

Guo said she had 20 employees on staff in 2016 before a theft from her clients’ trust account, which is ultimately why she has a Law Society of B.C. misconduct disciplinary hearing in March. Guo said she now employs three.

“If the government can help the business to survive, I think the circle is good,” Guo said. “If the business can run, the employees can receive wages and salaries, they can then buy food, so their children can be fed. That is a healthy circle. We should encourage people to stay in work, and work hard.”

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Bob Mackin One of Vancouver’s top real estate

Bob Mackin

Deputy Minister of Health Stephen Brown and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry delivered a pandemic update to BC Green Party staff on the same day Ernst and Young completed a $197,000 review of long term care.

Adrian Dix (right) and Dr. Bonnie Henry (BC Gov)

But the party’s leader said officials made no mention of the Oct. 22 report, which was kept secret until this week — three months after the NDP won the Oct. 24 snap election.

“I find it very concerning that this report was withheld during a critical and evolving public health emergency,” said BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. “Information is not a ‘nice to have’ during a pandemic, it is a core aspect of the government’s responsibility to the public. There are issues highlighted in this report  — from the disjointed communications to the limited access to PPE for certain homes — that are incredibly important, requiring immediate action so we can ensure the safety of our elders and their caretakers.”

Had the finished report or even a draft been leaked, it could have been an October surprise and changed the course of an election campaign that was not required by law until October 2021. 

The report, titled B.C. Ministry of Health Long-term care COVID-19 response review, said emergency coordination decisions were sometimes made in silos, health authority-owned seniors care homes got priority over private and affiliate sites, and provincial health orders were sometimes interpreted differently by various medical health officers. Around two-thirds of B.C.’s 1,168 coronavirus deaths are connected to long term care. 

The NDP government did not acknowledge the existence of the report until reporters from CTV and the Vancouver Sun interviewed some of the review participants.

Cover of the Oct. 22, 2020 Ernst and Young report hidden for three months after the election (BC Gov)

The NDP government cancelled the scheduled Jan. 21 pandemic briefing rather than take questions about the growing controversy.

At a Jan. 22 briefing on the vaccine rollout, Health Minister Adrian Dix downplayed Ernst and Young’s work as a “minor report designed to assist ministry staff in addressing issues” and said the result was “favourable to the performance of the government in the first phase” of the pandemic.

Dix vaguely said the report was prepared in the “end of October, beginning of November.” But the cover and metadata both show it was completed two days before the Oct. 24 election day.

The report said one unnamed Health Authority “provided personal protective equipment to private providers with three days notice, where others only provided supplies to Health Authority owned and operated facilities. This discrepancy was later resolved through coordinated central supply chain access.

“Messaging and communication was sometimes inconsistent across HA owned and operated versus private and affiliates, which caused confusion and led to inconsistent practices from staff and providers.”

The report said there were gaps in provincial PPE supply and oversight and a lack in centralized supply coordination caused delays. Private and affiliate care operators were left to source their own PPE supplies through non-traditional suppliers, such as hardware stores, counterfeiters, private individuals and private manufacturers.

“Procured supplies sometimes did not meet clinical safety standards due to gaps in infection prevention and control knowledge,” the report said.

The report recommended Provincial Health Services Authority “create a centralized repository of emergency stock for pandemic supply of PPE which would allow for full oversight across the system to mitigate any challenges for HA or operators to obtain supply in an emergency or pandemic response.”

Green leader Sonia Furstenau (CPAC)

theBreaker.news reported in July 2020 that B.C. ended 2019 behind the eight-ball. Medical equipment stockpiles held by the five regional health authorities worth $5.7 million in 2013 were allowed to dwindle to $2.07 million. Masks, gloves, goggles, gowns and sanitizer had expired or not been replenished. Officials suddenly decided to play catch-up in early February 2020 as global demand forced prices to record highs.

Restrictions on visitors and outings helped reduce infections, but the precautions harmed residents’ autonomy, mental health and wellbeing. Staff stress, anxiety and burnout led to staff shortages. The single-site staffing order, which was supposed to stop facility to facility transmission of the virus, was not enforced.

“The single site staffing order did not restrict staff from working in acute care or other occupational settings (i.e. other care homes or non-care related organizations),” the report said. “This sometimes caused discomfort for staff and operators, who were concerned that staff working in other settings could be a source of infection.”

Furstenau said the report’s delay is the latest case of damage to the public trust.

The snap election on the eve of the second wave, the cancellation of the full fall legislative sitting, the delay of the spring sitting, the reduced media availabilities are all resulting in reduced transparency and accountability from government. Trust and buy-in from the public cannot be taken for granted. It requires constant honesty and information.”

The EY report was released almost a week after B.C.’s Auditor General slammed the Ministry of Health and four other ministries for mismanaging IT assets in a report that was completed in November.

Auditor General Michael Pickup and his staff looked at the Ministry’s IT services branch, business management office, health information privacy, security and legislation branch, data management stewardships branch, HealthLinkBC and Vital Statistics Agency.

He found the Ministry failed to maintain an inventory of physical devices and systems, has not maintained an inventory of software platforms and applications, did not maintain an inventory of information systems used in business operations or prioritize IT assets based on classification, criticality and business value.

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Bob Mackin Deputy Minister of Health Stephen

Bob Mackin (Updated Jan. 27)

For much of his career atop Great Canadian Gaming Corp., Rod Baker depended on the public for highly profitable casino licences.

When the pandemic hit, and casinos were closed, he relied on the public again, by going cap in hand to the federal government for subsidy payments to prop up the company. Meanwhile, he stickhandled its $2.5 billion sale to a Wall Street private equity firm.

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker (Facebook)

Early in 2021, and in the most unlikely way, Baker finally lost a gamble.

The Yukon News revealed that the 55-year-old and his 32-year-old Fatman and Chick Fight starlet wife Ekaterina were caught jumping the coronavirus vaccine queue in a remote Yukon Territory community. Baker resigned in disgrace as CEO of Great Canadian Gaming on Jan. 24.

Locals in Beaver Creek, Canada’s westernmost community, thought something was off when a stranger claiming to work at a local motel lined up for the Moderna shot last week, rather than wait their turn for tentative summertime mass-vaccination dates in B.C.

Word traveled to Whitehorse faster than the Bakers could. Officials cited them $1,150 each on Jan. 21 for failing to quarantine and failing to follow their signed quarantine declaration. A stay of proceedings was entered Jan. 26 by prosecutor Kelly McGill, but the charges were re-issued and are pending. 

“The penalty upon conviction for each offence is a fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment for a term of up to 6 months, or to both a fine and imprisonment,” said Yukon Justice Ministry spokeswoman Fiona Azizaj.

“They should be ashamed of themselves,” B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters on Jan. 25. “They put a community at risk for their own benefit, and that to me is appalling.”

The Bakers will have to wait their turn in B.C. for their second shot in summer when people in their age brackets become eligible.

Financially, the fine is chump change for Rod Baker. Reputation-wise, it is devastating for someone who tried to avoid the spotlight.

Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory (Yukon Government)

Baker was the teflon boss for a decade of the company at the centre of British Columbia’s casino money laundering scandal.

When the sale was announced in November, shareholders scoffed at the original $39-a-share offer. The pot was sweetened to $45-a-share and a judge in Vancouver approved Apollo Global Management’s acquisition on the last day of 2020.

That was also the anniversary of Baker’s $34.8 million payday after selling 950,000 shares to end 2019. He exercised 500,000 stock options on the final day of 2020 and netted $11 million in his latest insider transaction.

The Bakers’ address on documents obtained from the Whitehorse court registry is a $2.6 million-assessed, 43rd floor luxury suite at the Shangri-La Hotel tower in downtown Vancouver.

Last September, Great Canadian reported to shareholders that the company received $11.6 million in payroll subsidies, which it preferred to call “government assistance” in corporate documents.

GCG’s internal “Thank You and Farewell” to Rod Baker

The December-launched Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy database lists Great Canadian Gaming Corp., Great Canadian Casinos (Casino Nanaimo), Great Canadian Gaming (New Brunswick) Ltd., Great Canadian Entertainment Centres and Hastings Entertainment Inc. (Hastings Racecourse and Casino) as recipients of the Trudeau Liberal job subsidy payments for companies that saw revenue fall 15% or more on a year-over-year basis.

Vice-president Chuck Keeling did not respond to a query on Jan. 25 about the precise amounts.

Baker was enthusiastic about the subsidies during an August call with stock analysts.

“We are very much appreciative of that support. It’s enabled us to mitigate our losses and to have more people back to work on things to get us back up and running sooner as opposed to later, so that we can reintroduce our thousands of other team members that unfortunately are not able to work right now,” Baker said. “So I think it’s a great initiative that’s helped us get through this period for sure.”

There was no indication that Baker suffered while the company received the subsidies.

A couple of weeks after that call, theBreaker.news learned of mass layoffs at the company and asked Keeling how deep the cutbacks went.

River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond (Mackin)

As a matter of policy, we don’t comment on personnel matters,” Keeling said on Aug. 25.

Baker could be held accountable in another forum. The Cullen Commission on Money Laundering in B.C. has not announced whether he will be called as a witness. The company’s River Rock Casino Resort became notorious for loan sharks delivering overflowing bags of bundled $20 bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to whale gamblers visiting from China. Witnesses have testified that police were discouraged from patrolling the casino and workers feared for their lives.

Baker took over as CEO after the death of founder Ross McLeod in 2011. Chief compliance officer Terrance Doyle is the interim chief executive after Baker’s resignation.

Baker’s name is on 17 GCG donations worth $12,050 to the BC NDP from 2011 to 2015, including more than $7,400 in 2012, according to the Elections BC database. 

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Bob Mackin (Updated Jan. 27) For much of

Bob Mackin

What do Meng Wanzhou’s security contractor, a high-end Swiss watch boutique, bespoke Italian tailor, Euro supercar dealerships, luxury parka retailer and a yacht club have in common?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2018 at Canada Goose in Winnipeg (Instagram)

They all received the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

The Trudeau Liberal government has approved $59 billion in payments through its pandemic job saving program to employers whose revenue fell 15% or more on a year-over-year basis. More than $6.8 billion of that went to B.C. employers, who can claim up to $847 per week, per eligible employee.

In December, Canada Revenue Agency launched a database listing names (but not the dollar amounts received) of most of the 386,000 successful applicants, including:

  • Luxury car dealers Brian Ross Motorsports LLC (Ferrari Maserati of Vancouver), 1187937 BC Ltd. Mercedes-Benz North Vancouver, 1187938 B.C. Ltd. Mercedes-Benz Vancouver, 1187939 B.C. Ltd. Mercedes-Benz Richmond and 2346519 Ontario Ltd. McLaren Vancouver;
  • Arbutus Club, Hollyburn Country Club, Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Vancouver Club and Vancouver Rowing Club;

    Royal Vancouver Yacht Club headquarters (RVYC)

  • Vancouver International Airport outlet mall owner McArthurGlen Management Vancouver Ltd., Nordstrom Canada Retail, Luxury Vancouver SR Retail Ltd. (Stefano Ricci Vancouver) and West Coast Luxury Brands Inc. (Hublot Vancouver).

How much did they receive? How many jobs were saved?

McLaren Vancouver (Instagram)

theBreaker.news asked the above companies, but none replied with answers to those questions.

Almost 2.09 million approved applications were for less than $100,000. Only 4,500 nationwide are in the $1 million-plus subsidy club.

One of the latter is Toronto-headquartered Canada Goose Inc. The publicly traded parka maker and retailer told shareholders in November that it received $20.7 million worth of payroll subsidies under CEWS and “similar plans in other jurisdictions” during the fiscal year’s first half. Canada Goose reported $10.4 million net income on $194.8 million gross revenue in the second quarter.

In April, Canada Goose announced it would put 900 employees to work at eight factories to make 1.5 million gowns for doctors and nurses at cost. 

B.C. Supreme Court heard that Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is charged $170,000 a month for “close protection services” from executive security specialist Lions Gate Risk Management Group.

In December 2018, a judge approved the company, which is run by several ex-RCMP officers, to monitor and protect Meng around-the-clock during her extradition proceedings.

Hublot Vancouver sponsored a controversial luxury car rally to Whistler last summer. (Instagram)

Lions Gate CEO Scot Filer referred theBreaker.news’ query about its CEWS claims to the company’s CFO Richard Moss, but Moss did not respond.

Lions Gate employs 225 people (including 20-25 full-timers), according to COO Doug Maynard’s court testimony earlier this month.

Meng awaits a judge’s Jan. 29 ruling on whether she can move about the city without Lions Gate bodyguards between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., when she is not under curfew at her Shaughnessy mansion.

A company called Huawei Trading Limited is in the CEWS database. However, Huawei Canada’s corporate affairs vice-president Alykhan Velshi said that CEWS recipient is neither an affiliate nor a subsidiary of the Shenzhen, China tech giant founded by Meng’s father, Ren Zhengfei.

Meng Wanzhou and one of her Lions Gate security bodyguards. (Bob Mackin)

“Huawei Technologies Canada did not apply for the CEWS,” Velshi said by email. “The entity you referred to is not related to us, though the names are similar. We have no knowledge of nor relationship with that entity.”

On Jan. 19, Trudeau told reporters that Canada Revenue Agency and others are checking to ensure companies and workers that received benefits under the CEWS program met the qualifications. He said anyone found breaking the law “will face severe penalties.”

“We knew we had to move quickly to support workers in jobs right across the country,” Trudeau said. “Obviously that meant sending help immediately to families and to individuals when this pandemic hit back in March, so that people could keep food on the table, could continue to pay their rent regardless of the job or organization they worked for.”

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Bob Mackin What do Meng Wanzhou’s security contractor,

For the week of Jan. 24, 2021:

Whatever success British Columbia had in minimizing coronavirus cases and deaths in the first wave evaporated after Premier John Horgan called a snap election last September.

Since then, infections skyrocketed 667%. Deaths, mainly in seniors care homes, are up 393%.

Veteran investigative reporter Salim Jiwa has cast a critical eye on the B.C. NDP government’s response to the public health emergency, since a Metro Vancouver man brought the illness home from Wuhan, China one year ago this week.

Salim Jiwa (Twitter @realreporter)

“WHO emphasized that part of any program to counter this virus has to be test, trace, isolate and treat every case, which we have not done,” said Jiwa, who spent 25 years at The Province and now publishes Vancouverite.com.

Jiwa is the guest on this week’s edition of theBreaker.news Podcast and has plenty to say about the bumpy vaccine rollout and poor communication about the pandemic’s impacts on seniors care homes and schools.

“It is concealment, it’s obfuscation of data,” Jiwa told host Bob Mackin. “We’ve had significant problems getting facts out of this government, they like to turn off the lights so that we can’t see. But we’ve managed to extract information out of them… through communications with Ministry of Health I’m constantly asking uncomfortable questions that the mainstream media seems to be missing because they’re weakening, the mainstream media is considerably weaker than when I was part of it.”

Plus headlines from the Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest. 

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For the week of Jan. 24, 2021:

Bob Mackin (updated Jan. 22)

Two-dozen inmates at Surrey Pretrial Services Centre have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Ministry of Health has confirmed to theBreaker.news.

The provincial remand centre, which holds as many as 750 inmates, is connected to the Surrey Provincial courthouse. The ministry has not disclosed whether guards or other staff have caught the virus. The existence of an outbreak was announced in the B.C. pandemic update on Jan. 20, but Dr. Bonnie Henry did not mention the number of infected.

Surrey Pretrial Services Centre (BC Gov)

Fraser Health Authority, B.C. Corrections and the Provincial Health Services Authority are working to manage the outbreak and trace anyone who has been in contact with infected inmates, the ministry said. No guards have been infected.

“Fraser Health Public Health is working with BC Corrections and the Provincial Health Services Authority to identify any individuals who may have had contact with any of the inmates who tested positive,” according to a prepared statement sent to theBreaker.news. “Following provincial health guidelines, Public Health will contact these individuals directly to determine if they are symptomatic and that appropriate self-isolation measures are being taken.”

To avoid a repeat of an outbreak late last fall at Surrey Provincial Court, the transfer of in-custody individuals between Surrey Pretrial and the courthouse is temporarily on hold. All court proceedings involving Surrey Pretrial inmates are being conducted by webconference. 

Meanwhile, on Jan. 22, Fraser Health announced an outbreak at North Fraser Pretrial Services Centre, where 20 inmates tested positive.

Coincidentally, the man accused of causing chaos at Lynn Valley Care Centre in March remains in custody after being unsuccessful in his bid for release from Surrey Pretrial.

On Christmas Eve, a Richmond Provincial Court judge denied bail to Taymour Aghtai, who is facing a charge of conveying a false message with intent to harm. Details are protected by a publication ban. The North Vancouver seniors care home received a hoax phone call before the weekend of Canada’s first death from coronavirus.

Obviously I’m worried and it’s concerning to hear when we hear that there’s been an outbreak, ii’s not exactly surprising I would say,” Aghtai’s lawyer, Josh Oppal, said in an interview.

Surrey Pretrial Services Centre (BC Gov)

Oppal declined to comment on Aghtai’s health, but said “I have no information at this time to indicate he specifically has been infected or has contracted COVID-19.”

“The vast majority of people who are in pretrial facilities are presumed innocent, they’re awaiting trial, it obviously impacts the health and safety of the staff, which is something everyone rightly is concerned about.”

B.C. Corrections pandemic procedures include screening anyone entering custody for symptoms and a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Those who remain asymptomatic are integrated with the general population. Anyone who develops symptoms is supposed to be immediately isolated. There is active screening at entrances for staff and contractors. In-person visits are not allowed unless urgent or exceptional circumstances.

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Bob Mackin (updated Jan. 22) Two-dozen inmates at