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Bob Mackin (Updated Feb. 3, 2021)

Four months ago, Premier John Horgan called a snap election.

When it was over, his party’s grip on power got better: 13% more votes than in 2017 translated into a 57-seat majority. The best result in B.C. NDP history.

But British Columbia’s battle with the coronavirus pandemic only got worse.

John Horgan announces the election in a Langford cul-de-sac (CPAC)

Since Sept. 21, a 667% increase in infections and 393% increase in deaths from coronavirus across B.C.

When the death toll reached 1,234 on Feb. 3, B.C. surpassed the 1,000 fatalities mark since Horgan called the election that was not required by law until October 2021.

On Feb. 2, the eve of the tragic milestone, theBreaker.news wanted to know whether NDP president Craig Keating had any regrets over holding the election that coincided with the second wave of the pandemic. Keating refused to answer the question during a phone call that lasted 25 minutes.

Citizens, especially those in the pandemic’s epicentre Surrey, are left to wonder “what if?”

What if Horgan and the NDP opted to fight the virus day-in, day-out, all autumn instead of take a 32-day break from governing to fight for votes?

Would there have been an earlier mask mandate? Would Thanksgiving dinners and Hallowe’en parties, the source of many outbreaks, have been outlawed?

How many lives would have been saved?

Horgan might not have taken the gamble on Sept. 21 had he followed the thoughtful advice of citizens who took time to send him email earlier in September.

theBreaker.news filed a freedom of information request for the days after a Sept. 9 news conference where Horgan floated a trial balloon about a fall election. Horgan claimed the minority government’s confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party no longer applied.

The file finally arrived early in the new year. All but two messages, both dated Sept. 12, opposed a snap election.

I would love to see the B.C. NDP remain in power. Whenever the election takes place, I will vote for the NDP,” wrote one (the government withheld all correspondents’ names for privacy).

“It’s great timing,” said another. “I agree with what is reported as your view that the agreement with the Greens is no longer valid due to the circumstances of Covid, etc. You have my support. Good job so far, let’s get another mandate for the NDP.”

The rest, covering more than 80 pages, included messages from longtime NDP supporters and recent converts alike. The consensus: wait until the fixed Oct. 16, 2021 date.

As a proud NDP member for nearly ten years now, I am strongly urging you to not call for an early election,” said a Sept. 12, 9:04 a.m. message. “Even with the B.C. NDP polling within reach of a majority government recently,  the act of calling an election in the midst of a deadly global pandemic is not one I can support. Especially when our province’s COVID cases have risen to record levels over the last two months, you would be putting the health and safety of British Columbians at risk for the sake of political points.”

(NDP)

A Sept. 11, 10:40 p.m. writer said other parties were unprepared.

“So I think you should take the high ground and publicly denounce a snap election as not being what is best for B.C. now, even though it might be best for your party. I think this position will gain you even more votes in the next election.”

The writer of a Sept. 10, 4:57 p.m. message expressed support for the fixed election cycle, because “it brings stability and predictability to our governmental  structures and processes, and lends a sense of fairness to the political arena.

So, in the absence of show- stopping no-confidence votes or other instances of legislative deadlock, no government, whether majority or minority, serves the people well by calling an early election. No matter what reasons are given for such a call, they appear to be rooted in partisan political opportunism, rather than in pursuit of good government.”

Here are excerpts from the top 20 messages to the Office of the Premier:

Sept. 11, 6:58 p.m.: “I beg you… don’t call an election now. I’m one of the few NDP among family and friends who all acknowledge you’re doing a good job, even if they don’t want to say that out loud. Calling an election now will seem so politically self-serving that you’ll lose all that good will.”

Sept. 14, 10:21 a.m.: “Let us vote a year from now based on how the government performs over the next 12 months.”

Sept. 14, 9 a.m.: “I heard you discussing a possible early election and this was what really frightened me… with a chuckle in your voice! This might be fun for you, but the rest of us have our lives dependent on who is in government… it is not a game to us! It is not a laughing matter… This is NOT the time to ask us to take our eye off the Covid 19 situation.”

Sept. 14, 5:22 p.m.: “Calling an election as covid cases begin to climb again and the back-to-school plans are still being tested and adjusted introduces too great a level of uncertainty for the general public. Opposition parties will attack you for being opportunistic (and it’ll be hard to disagree) and the public will be disillusioned with a political party that is choosing to hold a snap election rather than govern.”

Sept. 14, 5:45 p.m.: “The last thing the province needs right now is an election. People have enough to deal with now, the economy, Covid-19, forest fires, the implications of the U.S. presidential election, etc. WE DO NOT NOW NEED AN ELECTION!”

Sept. 12, 9:44 a.m.: “Just keep on doing the good job you are doing. Leave the election date as you had initially agreed for 2021.”

(BC Gov)

Sept. 14, 11:14 p.m.: “I am an NDP supporter, but agree with the Greens perspective about a call for an election — not at this time.”

Sept. 13, 3:58 p.m.: “I hope to vote to re-elect my NDP MLA in the provincial elections that are scheduled for next year and thus show my approval of your government.”

Sept. 14, 3:58 p.m.: “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should is a quote that applies to the NDP Party thinking of calling an election.”

Sept. 11, 5:16 p.m.: “Mr. Horgan this would be a total waste of $!!”

Sept. 10, 9:23 a.m.: “Adding an unnecessary election to all this is unconscionable. Cooperation, conciliation and working together or the good of the province, its citizens and its future should be the order of the day.”

Sept. 14, 2:59 p.m.: “Why would voters choose another party now or next year? What are you afraid of? Don’t be cynical. Do politics differently.”

Sept. 14, 6:14 p.m.: “I am a long-time NDP member, donor and election worker. I think a snap election at this time is completely ill-advised… if an election is called, I will not donate, nor will I work on the election.”

Sept. 13, 6:15 p.m.: “I support you now but I will not be able to if you call a fall election. Do it in the spring.”

Sept. 14, 1:03 p.m.: “If things continue in this vein I will find myself voting NDP in fall 2021 for the first time in my life. That is, UNLESS you decide to call an election before the mandated time.”

Sept. 12, 10:26 a.m.: “Our Covid numbers are at an all time high and you just closed banquet halls, bars and reduced hours of other bars/restaurants (which by the way I fully support). After putting in more restrictions, I’m not sure how it can be justified to call an election which would force groups of people to the polls.”

Sept. 14, 7:50 p.m.: “There are much bigger needs to meet than political egos at the moment. As a retired public health professional, my recommendation is to put the greater need for public health safety as the priority.”

Sept. 9, 2:19 p.m.: “I’m not willing to exhaust myself and/or risk my health for anything non-essential. Even my patients have seen very little of me since March 13th.”

Sept. 14, 9:31 a.m.: “The imperative of leadership (to save lives!) trumps any need for re-election. Re-election will take care of itself at a later date.”

Sept. 14, 12:38 p.m.: “I ask you please park your writ in a nice and secure spot. Maybe put the writ under your USS Voyager model for safe keeping.”

DID YOU KNOW?
  • On Sept. 21, B.C. reported 8,208 cases since the start of the pandemic, including 1,987 active, 60 hospitalized and 21 in intensive care. There were 3,233 people exposed and monitored for symptoms. The death toll since March 8 was 227.
  • Oct. 26, the first post-election report, showed 13,371 cases and 259 deaths.
  • A month later, on Nov. 26, when the new cabinet was sworn-in, B.C. had 29,973 cases (7,899 active) and 384 deaths.
  • On Jan. 21, 2021, four months since the election was called, B.C.’s case count reached 62,976 and death toll 1,119.
  • On Feb. 3, the death toll reached 1,234, which meant more than 1,000 people died in B.C. since the Legislature dissolved Sept. 21 for Horgan’s snap election. 

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READ citizens’ email to Premier John Horgan

OOP-2020-05821 Horgan Email by Bob Mackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin (Updated Feb. 3, 2021) Four months

Bob Mackin

Access to Premier John Horgan’s swearing-in ceremony at the University of Victoria auditorium was so restricted due to pandemic protocols, that even his wife wasn’t invited to attend.

A copy of the invitation list, obtained under freedom of information and posted below, shows Ellie Horgan was among the more than 1,100 people invited to watch the Nov. 26 event on Zoom. Her husband led the NDP to a 57-seat majority in the snap Oct. 24 election and flashed a Star Trek Vulcan salute on stage as he took the oath of office for the second time as premier.

The election was not required by law until October 2021, but Horgan gambled on a strong mail-in vote and weak performance by BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson to parlay his Green-supported minority government into a four-year majority mandate. Horgan’s celebration was dampened by the second wave of the pandemic, which coincided with the latter half of the campaign.

Premier John Horgan (BC Legislature)

Horgan was joined for the ceremony by Attorney General David Eby. Lt. Gov. Janet Austin presided over the oath of office for the 20-member cabinet. She was accompanied by her secretary Jerymy Brownridge and Deputy Minister Bobbi Plecas. There were two audio-visual technicians, Richard Blais and Stephen Hargreaves, government photographer Don Craig and media pool cameraman Heron Hanuman. The event was carried on Hansard TV and on Zoom.

There were, however, four officials from the NDP provincial council: Rick Devereux, Talieh Samedi, Amy Miller and Briana Fougere. Except for Devereux, who is also the government’s director of events and corporate planning, the other three were listed as backstage attendees.

The rest of the attendees were invited to watch online, including ex-Prime Minister Kim Campbell and Sen. Larry Campbell, but not ex-Premier Gordon Campbell.

Campbell and his successor Christy Clark were both omitted. Ex-Premiers that were invited included Mike Harcourt, Glen Clark, Dan Miller, Ujjal Dosanjh and Bill Vander Zalm.

Invitation to the Horgan cabinet swearing-in (BC Gov)

The Auditor General, Ombudsperson and other officers of the Legislature, senior military officers, Senators, Members of Parliament, mayors, diplomats, university chancellors, judges, police chiefs, clergy, First Nations chiefs and deputy ministers.

Invited to watch, but not attend, was Grand Chief Ed John. The former minister of children and family development was instrumental in the NDP’s adoption of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People in late 2018. Last July, John pleaded not guilty to charges that he raped a woman in 1974 in Prince George.

In 2017, when the NDP returned to power after a 16-year absence, almost 700 people were invited to the ceremony at Government House.

On the same afternoon, B.C. public health officials reported 887 new cases of the coronavirus and 7,899 active cases, including 294 people hospitalized. There had been 13 more deaths in the previous 24 hours, for a total 384.

On Sept. 21, the day Horgan called a snap election, officials reported 1,987 active cases and 227 dead.

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READ the guest list below for the Nov. 26, 2020 Horgan cabinet swearing-in.

OOP-2020-07060-Horgan.pdf by Bob Mackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Access to Premier John Horgan’s swearing-in

A month after it began, British Columbia’s coronavirus vaccination program hit a roadblock last week.

A sudden change of leadership. The December-announced Dr. Ross Brown was demoted. Dr. Penny Ballem, the chair of Vancouver Coastal Health, was anointed the executive lead for the mass-vaccination program.

Todd Hauptman

B.C. is vaccinating more than 2,000 people a day, but will need to increase exponentially in order to reach herd immunity by the end of September. Officials expect bulk shipments in the spring. In the meantime, B.C.’s health authorities ran out of Pfizer doses and federal officials revealed that Pfizer shipments would be temporarily delayed in the weeks to come while the company expands a factory in Belgium.

This week’s guest is Todd Hauptman, a higher education communications professional who received a kidney transplant in 2010. Hauptman, who is on the board of the Transplant Research Foundation of B.C., is reaching out to government officials and health authorities. He advocates for priority immunization for those who have received new organs and/or live with compromised immunity. 

“It’s a very nerve-wracking time, in some ways I’d say this period of waiting is much similar to how I felt in the final months before I had my transplant,” Hauptman told theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin. “I saw that light at the end of the tunnel, but I wasn’t quite there yet.”

Hear the full interview with Hauptman and learn more about the challenges of being a transplant patient in the pandemic.

Plus headlines from the Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest. 

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A month after it began, British Columbia's

Bob Mackin

Could a case be made that Meng Wanzhou violated her bail conditions by disobeying the British Columbia government’s COVID-19 prevention measures?

When the wanted-in-the-U.S. daughter of Huawei’s founder was freed Dec. 11, 2018 on $10 million bail, Meng agreed to respect the law at all times while under round-the-clock surveillance and an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in Vancouver.

Xiaozong Liu, Meng Wanzhou’s husband, outside the Law Courts (Mackin)

On Jan. 12, she went before the same judge, B.C. Supreme Court Justice William Ehrcke, asking for the surveillance requirement to be relaxed. She no longer wants security guards from Lions Gate Risk Management to shadow her when she is not under curfew.

Her husband Liu Xiaozong testified that the security entourage attracts too much attention when they are out in public, often attracting people who want to take photos of his famous wife. He said that makes their 12 and 18-year-old children feel uneasy, so they avoid being with their parents.

Much of the day in courtroom 55, however, was spent considering Liu’s fear that someone from Lions Gate would transmit the virus to them.

Canadian government lawyer John Gibb-Carsley, acting on behalf of the U.S., carefully poked holes in that argument. Under cross-examination, Liu admitted he did not follow all public health directives when he returned to Canada in October from Hong Kong.

Liu had claimed to be concerned about the risk of Meng catching the virus, because she had suffered thyroid cancer seven years ago. Gibb-Carsley noted that Liu flew on a commercial airline with other passengers from Hong Kong to Vancouver. Liu said he quarantined for two weeks before traveling and wore a mask on the flight, except when he drank. Gibb-Carsley contended that was not good enough.

“I talk to Sabrina if I could quarantine in the hotel, but she prefer me to stay home and quarantine together with me,” Liu told the court, referring to his wife by her English name.

Doug Maynard (Lions Gate Risk Management)

Said Gibb-Carsley: “If you truly had a concern that your wife was at a higher risk of COVID-19, you wouldn’t have arrived and quarantined with her from international travel.”

“I’m not agree,” Liu said.

Liu admitted going with Meng to private group meals at a restaurant in Richmond and private downtown shopping trips with Meng at a time when non-essential travel outside home is discouraged.

Lions Gate president Doug Maynard defended his company’s pandemic safety work plan, use of personal protective equipment and sanitizing the vehicles used to chauffeur Meng around the city. But Maynard conceded there had been moments of frustration with his famous client and her entourage.

“We have had to have conversations with Ms. Meng and her staff when we’ve made some observations or there have been occurrences where the occasion appears to have not adhered to those guidelines,” Maynard said.

Maynard said Meng has sometimes mixed her household bubble with support staff and legal advisors. He described an occasion at an unnamed location in Vancouver in December when the nine or 10 attendees took food from a common platter on a table and shared sips from the same cup of coffee. 

“I would consider that not very good practices when you’re trying to consider the spread of COVID,” said Maynard, who chose his words carefully.

Liu said the owner of the establishment introduced Meng to a special kind of coffee beans and she made a cup of coffee herself.

“The coffee smelled like stinky Chinese tofu and smelled very strong, so I didn’t drink it,” he testified.

Consul-General Tong Xiaoling visiting Meng Wanzhou and Liu Xiaozong on Dec. 1. (Phoenix TV)

Maynard said Lions Gate is paid through the Gowlings law firm, though Meng is ultimately responsible. He called it a “tricky situation.”

“My duty is to the court. The only point of conflict is discussion around the numbers of resources that we believe it takes to perform that function the way the court expects it to be done, compared to what other representatives under Ms. Meng feel is reasonable,” he said.

The court heard there had been only a few minor security incidents.

Maynard said someone in a hotel gym wanted to take a photo of Meng, so Lions Gate conferred with hotel security staff who removed the shutterbug.

Liu complained that Lions Gate was quick to point out when Meng was on her back porch after the start of her 11 p.m. curfew late last October. He said the couple was trying to fix an outdoor heating device and thought Lions Gate overreacted.

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Bob Mackin Could a case be made that

Bob Mackin

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou had a getaway plan, hoping that a judge would throw the United States extradition bid out of court last May so she could make a triumphant return to Shenzhen, China.

It involved a Chinese diplomat waiting for her arrival at near-empty Vancouver International Airport.

Vancouver International Airport (Ina Mitchell)

Two jumbo jets not listed on the departures board inside the international terminal, but destined for different cities in the same region of China. Both briefly appearing on flight monitoring websites. One of the flights chartered by the Chinese Communist government.

And a detailed security plan crafted by the former Mountie who is second in command at the court appointed company Meng paid since she was freed on bail in December 2018.

Could Meng have been ushered onto the plane before Canadian government lawyers had a chance to file an appeal?

We will never know, because Assoc. Chief Justice Heather Holmes decided on May 27 that the highest-profile extradition case in the world could proceed because it met a key legal test within Canadian law.

Vice-consul Wang Chengjun (right) with Consul-General Tong Xiaoling at a CCP 70th anniversary event in Vancouver (Ina Mitchell)

Doug Maynard of Lions Gate Risk Management testified in B.C. Supreme Court on Jan. 12 that the Chinese government chartered a China Southern Airlines jet to take her home. He said he was heavily involved in the plan.

“Being very familiar with the operations of Vancouver International Airport and policing in that environment, there’s a number of subtleties that kick in, it’s a Transport Canada environment,” said Maynard, who retired after 31 years as a Mountie before joining Lions Gate in 2016.

Maynard said he liaised with airport authority managers, security staff and RCMP officers before he knew what type of plane would be available and at which terminal. So he created several scenarios to get Meng from the courthouse to the airport and onto the plane.

“On several occasions I did (go to the airport), I met with Ms. Meng’s staff, as well as some of the People’s Republic of China consular resources, at the airport to brief them on what the final plan was,” he said. “That couldn’t be determined until the aircraft was determined. The missing piece of information was the aircraft and where it was going to be parked.”

On May 27, theBreaker.news learned there were two China Southern Airlines jets at YVR scheduled to depart for Guangzhou and Shenzhen three hours apart in the afternoon. The two jets were photographed at the terminal and on the runway. Shenzhen is the hometown of Huawei, the biggest smartphone company in the world that wants to dominate the world’s fifth generation mobile technology.

China Southern Airlines 787-9 at YVR on May 27 (Ina Mitchell)

It was highly unusual last spring for two Chinese passenger jets to be at Vancouver International Airport on the same day because of pandemic air travel restrictions for both Chinese and Canadian carriers. The few flights allowed were for cargo carrying and essential workers only. No tourists allowed. As such, the airport’s international terminal was a ghost town.

Crown lawyer John Gibb-Carsley and Maynard both referred in court to a Boeing 777. One of the planes photographed was China Southern’s Boeing 787-9 decorated with a special livery denoting it was the American manufacturer’s 787th Dreamliner off the production line.

“We had agreement that we would be escorted through security, to provide her some comfort and safety moving through the airport right to the terminal, the finger and check-in at the aircraft,” Maynard said.

The operation was so detailed that even the PRC’s Vancouver vice-consul, Wang Chengjun, spent the morning at the airport waiting for Meng to arrive. Some of her personal effects, for use on the flight, had been packed and waiting for her to pick-up at a neutral location.

Meng Wanzhou leaves her Vancouver mansion on May 27. (@InaMitchellFilm)

But the verdict on the issue of double-criminality was released to her defence lawyers at 9 a.m. and they were allowed to share it with her before she left her $13.6 million Shaughnessy mansion for the courthouse at 10:30 a.m.

Liu testified that he was aware of the plan, but claimed he did not know it was a jumbo jet scheduled to take his wife home. He said he was unaware that members of the consulate staff were involved in arranging the flight.

Meng continues to fight the U.S. charges, claiming Canadian border guards and federal police infringed her constitutional rights and the U.S. case is motivated by politics. In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that Meng’s lawyers are talking to U.S. officials about a possible plea bargain. 

Meng appeared in court Jan. 12 in a bid to relax her bail conditions.

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Bob Mackin Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou had

For the week of Jan. 10, 2021:

One of the ugliest days in America history.

A riot at the Capitol after President Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 “Save America” rally outside the White House, two weeks before the inauguration of Joe Biden.

Prof. John Horgan (Georgia State University)

The world was shocked. But John Horgan was not surprised.

Prof. John Horgan of Georgia State University, that is.

The Ireland-born, Atlanta-based Horgan shares his name with B.C. Premier John Horgan. (“Let’s just hope I never run for office in B.C., and I’ll cause utter confusion.”)

He is one of the world’s top experts in the psychology of politically motivated violence and extremism and is a special guest on this edition of theBreaker.news Podcast.

Premier John Horgan (BC Legislature)

Trump and his allies did “nothing less than whip up an already radical fringe to the point of mobilization,” Horgan said. 

“This is extraordinary, this is the kind of thing I see time and time again in a terrorism context,” Horgan told host Bob Mackin. “If you remove the names and the labels and these little catchy phrases, we have for this group or that group, we’re talking about the same fundamental dynamics.”

Is the U.S. slowly inching toward a new Civil War?

Hear what Horgan has to say.

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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For the week of Jan. 10, 2021: One

Bob Mackin

The organizer of an anti-mask protest and evangelical church pastors want a judge to overturn Dr. Bonnie Henry’s public health orders on constitutional grounds.

Dr. Bonnie Henry on March 25 (BC Gov)

The Justice Centre for Canadian Freedoms-backed petition to B.C. Supreme Court seeks a two-day hearing where the petitioners will argue Henry’s orders banning or unduly restricting gatherings and events breach three sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protect freedom of peaceful assembly, thought and religion; life, liberty and pursuit of happiness; and equality.

The Alberta-based JCCF published a copy of the Jan. 7 petition with the plaintiffs’ names censored. It is unclear whether it received approval from a judge to redact the names. The lawsuit aims for eight violation tickets to be cancelled.

One petitioner is described as “a patriotic Canadian” who is the offspring of Canadian Armed Forced members. The court filing says that he organized public protests against what he believes to be an abuse of government power in the present COVID-19 pandemic by imposing unnecessary and draconian restrictions in the name of safety.

Other petitioners are pastors of an evangelical church. One claimed that he stopped in-person worship services during the first wave of the pandemic, but negative effects followed, including “extreme loneliness, depression, anxiety sense of not belonging.” Some parishioners could not access the online worship sessions.

Another petitioner took issue with Walmart and Best Buy being open for hundreds of people at a time every day of the week, while his church only holds services for a few hours on Sundays for a smaller group of people.

Since March, B.C. has banned gatherings of 50 or more people. In November, Henry imposed a ban on gatherings for religious reasons, except groups of 10 or fewer at weddings and funerals.

A $2,300 violation ticket was issued by RCMP at a protest in Kelowna on Dec. 12. However, Vancouver Police Department have not done the same. Officers stood idly by on New Year’s Eve as the Toronto-headquartered Hugs Over Masks group held a dance party on the Vancouver Art Gallery steps for hundreds of people. A woman was arrested for climbing on a statue and biting an officer.

None of the claims has been tested in court and the B.C. government has yet to file a reply.

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2020 01 07 Filed Petition for Judicial Review by Bob Mackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin The organizer of an anti-mask

Bob Mackin (Updated Jan. 8)

Say it ain’t so, Dubow.

The Somalian refugee who became a Victoria city councillor in 2018, Sharmarke Dubow, is apologizing after he disobeyed public health orders and jetted to his homeland for a late-2020 vacation.

Sharmarke Dubow in 2019 in Ethiopia (Twitter)

Dubow unofficially leads all other Canadian politicians for longest distance traveled for a non-essential holiday during the second wave of the pandemic: Victoria to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, is almost 18,000 miles, round trip. 

The Times-Colonist reported Dubow admitted it was a “poor choice” to fly to East Africa. He claimed to now be a in a 14-day quarantine at a Vancouver hotel after returning Jan. 3 to Canada. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned against all travel to Somalia because of the very high risk of catching the deadly virus. 

“I understand that many people made the difficult decision not to visit their families over the past number of months. I know now that I should have made the same decision,” wrote Dubow, whose given name means “see no evil.”

Dubow was seventh in voting for the eight city council seats in the 2018 election. He ran for election in Victoria, though he lived in neighbouring Esquimalt.

Dubow is on the board of the NDP-aligned Broadbent Institute, whose PressProgress arm has published hard-hitting stories critical of conservative politicians who flouted the rules. theBreaker.news has sought comment from the Broadbent Institute about Dubow’s leisure travel. Likewise, theBreaker.news has sought comment from BC Transit chair Susan Brice, because Dubow is on the public transit agency’s board.

PressProgress/Twitter

Dubow claimed the trip was his first to East Africa since fleeing civil war in Somalia in 1992. But he Tweeted in December 2019 about visiting Ethiopia, and said at the time it was his first visit there since 2001.

In addition to Dubow, Metchosin Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila traveled to Mexico for a friend’s wedding.

On Jan. 6, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps called Dubow’s choice “both disappointing and irresponsible.”

“As community leaders, we should be held to a higher standard,” Helps told reporters at city hall. “We should be exemplary role models, following the public health advice that we’ve all received.”

North Saanich Coun. Heather Gartshore told the Times Colonist she had traveled to Seattle before the travel advisory, but gave no details.

Meanwhile, Gil Kelley is the Lower Mainland’s leading contestant for a similar dubious distinction. 

theBreaker.news was first to report Jan. 4 that the City of Vancouver general manager of planning had disobeyed orders to avoid non-essential travel.

Kelley left the city sometime after being spotted at a Nov. 22 coffee meeting with Coromandel developer and ex-city councillor Raymond Louie.

Unlike globetrotting, disgraced provincial cabinet ministers Rod Phillips of Ontario (St. Bart’s) and Tracy Allard of Alberta (Hawaii), Kelley stayed in the rainy Pacific Northwest.

Kelley, a former top planning official in San Francisco and Portland, did not respond to theBreaker.news.

City of Vancouver’s Gil Kelley (EGA Talks/YouTube)

City hall spokeswoman Gail Pickard initially refused to comment and referred theBreaker.news to the freedom of information department. Later, Pickard delivered a statement on behalf of Kelley saying that he left to attend to personal, family affairs at his Oregon property in late November. He is planning to return to Vancouver Jan. 8 and pledges to abide by quarantine orders upon his return.

theBreaker.news is still waiting for reaction from Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s office. Stewart’s chief of staff, Neil Monckton, said Stewart stayed home in Vancouver during the holidays. 

West Vancouver Coun. Peter Lambur told the North Shore News he left after the last council meeting of 2020, on Dec. 16, to Big Sur, Calif. to see his six-month-old granddaughter for the first time. The trip included Los Angeles County, one of the virus hot spots in the U.S. He is back home in the middle of a 14-day quarantine.

“While I planned my travels with safety as my uppermost concern, I neglected to consider how, in my role as a local government elected official, my actions might be viewed by you, West Van residents, particularly given a worsening environment fraught with frustration as pandemic metrics continue to stubbornly resist improvement,” Lambur said in a prepared statement on Jan. 8. “In retrospect, I see this as a lapse of judgement and apologize to those who are upset and angered by my decision to travel when many of you put your own plans on hold.  I am sincerely sorry.” 

Meanwhile, West Vancouver’s mayor wants more clarity from the provincial health officer after realizing she may have skied into a grey area by visiting Whistler over the holidays.

There are no laws banning travel within the province during the pandemic state of emergency. On Nov. 7, Dr. Bonnie Henry did recommend B.C. residents avoid non-essential travel outside their region.

Mayor Mary-Ann Booth told theBreaker.news she went with her husband, two daughters and dog and cat to their Whistler cabin from Dec. 20-Jan. 2. She went skiing at Whistler Blackcomb on three of those days.

West Vancouver Mayor Mary-Ann Booth (Twitter)

West Vancouver and Whistler are both within the Vancouver Coastal Health region. Upon return, Booth said she found this line on the provincial health officer’s website under the headline Travel for mountain sports: “Ski and snowboard at your local mountains. For example, if you live in Vancouver, you should ski at Cypress, Grouse or Mt. Seymour.” 

“It didn’t cross my mind that it was covered by a travel restriction, we do treat it like our second home, we didn’t have any visitors,” Booth said. “When I reviewed it, I just reviewed it yesterday, it is grey. For example, people that live in Burnaby, could they come to the North Shore? So Surrey, could they come to the North Shore, are those their local mountains. It is confusing.”

Judging from traffic jams on the Upper Levels Highway, and congested parking lots at Seymour, Grouse and Cypress in the days before and after Christmas, it looked like the North Shore mountains drew many visitors from places like Burnaby and Surrey.

Booth said she hasn’t otherwise traveled. She cancelled a Palm Springs trip right when the pandemic was declared back in March. While she said she supports Dr. Bonnie Henry’s orders Booth told theBreaker.news that she plans to bring up the need for more clarity at the next Metro Vancouver meeting and her next conference calls with provincial officials. Most recently, she discussed the vaccine rollout with new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne and Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Brian Emerson.

“My motto in life is ‘making it easy for people to do the right thing, is being really clear on why you’re doing it’,” Booth said.

Booth appears to have an ally in a B.C. Supreme Court judge. 

In a divorce case ruling on Dec. 22, Justice Nigel Kent decided the defendant, who entered a polyamorous relationship, was not in breach of public health orders when his girlfriend and her husband visited his home. (theBreaker.news is not referring to the parties by name to protect their children.)

Kent referred to the orders made since Nov. 7 by Dr. Bonnie Henry, which have been regularly amended, repealed and replaced. 

The messaging accompanying these orders, and indeed the language of the orders themselves, is fraught with inconsistency and ambiguity and it is not surprising that reasonable people can reasonably disagree about their interpretation and application in any given circumstance,” Kent ruled.

“Such confusion was graphically demonstrated this past weekend when the premier of British Columbia himself, relying on advice provided by his Minister of Health, announced his intention of spending Christmas Day at home with his wife, his son, and his daughter-in-law, and was obliged to change his plans when it was pointed out to him that such a gathering was actually a breach of one or more of the PHOs currently in force.”

What other mayors said

In the wake of the Ontario and Alberta scandals, Port Coquitlam’s Brad West Tweeted Jan. 2: “Not surprised at all by the # of politicians caught far from home. Elitism permeates the political class, they think they’re better, rules are for the people they ‘govern’. The examples of this are many, policy & otherwise, but this has hit public nerve. Don’t stop here.”

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West (Mackin)

Delta’s George Harvie told theBreaker.news: “I have not travelled. Cancelled my scheduled vacation in Maui. Did ask our City Manager the question, we do not know of any Delta elected officials or exec. staff that travelled out of the country since Nov. 7, 2020. Shame on those other elected officials who did.”

Abbotsford’s Henry Braun: “As far as I know, none of our senior staff or council members have travelled outside of B.C. since November 7,  2020. With respect to myself, I have not left B.C. since December of 2019.  My wife and I were scheduled to go to Hawaii for 2 weeks in late March of 2020 but cancelled due to my concerns about COVID-19… I haven’t hugged my 90 year old mother since early March, although we visit often (outside and masked – she’s in a care home in Abbotsford).”

Lions Bay’s Ron McLaughlin: “It is unfortunate that you even have to ask this question. The disregard across the country for health orders by some puts us all at risk. Elected officials and senior staff should be held to the highest standard.”

Port Moody’s Rob Vagramov: “All in all, I think I’m up to six cancelled trips, including longstanding Hawaii plans with family for NYE. But I know it’s for the best. Counting down to 2021 with my spouse on our deck in quiet Port Moody beat any countdowns abroad, or parties I’ve been at, in the past.”

Mike Hurley (Burnaby), Mike Little (North Vancouver District), Linda Buchanan (North Vancouver City), Richard Stewart (Coquitlam), Jonathan Cote (New Westminster), and John McEwen (Anmore), responded directly to say they had not traveled. Ditto for representatives of Doug McCallum (Surrey) and Malcolm Brodie (Richmond).

A representatives of Metro Vancouver commissioner Jerry Dobrovolny said he has not traveled, nor has his executives. Chair Sav Dhaliwal said the same.

Also denying travel, school board chairs Carolyn Broady (West Vancouver), Carmen Cho (Vancouver), Jordan Watters (Greater Victoria) and George Tsiakos (North Vancouver).

Staff of B.C. Senators Yonah Martin, Larry Campbell and Bev Busson said they have not traveled. Sen. Mobina Jaffer said she has not traveled anywhere since Nov. 7. Sen. Yuen Pau Woo said he has been in Ottawa since August and has not traveled to B.C.

On the provincial scene, the NDP Government caucus said none of its MLAs holidayed outside B.C.

Deputy Solicitor General Mark Sieben went away three weeks and Deputy Health Minister Stephen Brown did not respond.

Don Zadravec (LinkedIn)

But Don Zadravec, the assistant deputy minister of Government Communications and Public Engagement, said by email: “On behalf of the Deputy Ministers’ Council, I can advise you that no Deputy Minister has travelled outside the country since November 7.”

He did not respond to a followup question about the whereabouts of Deputy Environment Minister Kevin Jardine, three-week absence auto-reply says he will be back Jan. 11.“I will not have Internet access during this time and am unable to answer your email until my return,” Jardine wrote.

BC Hydro CEO Chris O’Riley has not replied. Neither has the power utility’s media relations department.

Do you know of any politicians, senior bureaucrats, executives with public institutions, judges, CEOs or anyone else in power who vacationed in spite of public health orders? Contact theBreaker.news in confidence. CLICK HERE.

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Bob Mackin (Updated Jan. 8) Say it ain't

For the week of Jan. 3, 2021: 

Host Bob Mackin is joined for a special roundtable discussion with ex-Solicitor General Kash Heed, B.C. Care Providers and Vancouver Overcast’s Michael Klassen, Sauder School of Business’s Aziz Rajwani and former broadcaster/blogger Alex G. Tsakumis.

Who will be Canada’s Prime Minister at the end of 2021? Should Canada boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics, which are just over a year away? 

Plus, the first virtual Nanaimo Bar of 2021 for a British Columbian differencemaker.

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

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theBreaker.news Podcast: Welcome 2021
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For the week of Jan. 3, 2021:  Host

Bob Mackin

What follows below is Dr. Theresa Tam’s first memo about an “undiagnosed viral pneumonia in China” to provincial and territorial health officers, obtained by theBreaker.news via Freedom of Information.

Tam’s Jan. 2, 2020 email claimed “authorities in Wuhan/China [are] being transparent in reporting and WHO is engaged,” yet “there is no evidence of human to human transmission, and importantly no cases among healthcare worker contacts reported to date.” 

The latter changed within days. Wuhan Central Hospital ophthalmologist Dr. Li Wenliang, who had circulated a reporter of a new case of SARS to colleagues on Dec. 30, 2019, was infected. He had apparently been treating a patient who had a stall at the Huanan Seafood Market, the presumed epicentre. The 33-year-old Li, hailed as a whistleblower, died Feb. 7.

As of Dec. 30, 2020, there had been 572,982 total cases reported in Canada, of which 15,472 people had died. 

 

(theBreaker.news/BC Gov FOI)

 

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Bob Mackin What follows below is Dr.