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Bob Mackin

A security company that the NDP government licenced in July, despite its links to an accused money launderer, is allowed to operate while under a code of conduct review ordered in August.

Blackcore Security and Investigations is headquartered in the same Richmond gym that the government wants to seize in a civil forfeiture court action because it claims the true landlord is Paul King Jin. One of the three directors of May-incorporated Blackcore is Jin’s son, Jesse Jia.

Blackcore Security licence (PSSG)

“The review is ongoing and a decision will be made once it is complete. It is not possible at this stage to provide a timeline for completion,” reads a statement from the ministry provided to theBreaker.news. “The business has maintained its licence to operate a security business, pending outcome of the review.”

NDP Port Coquitlam incumbent Mike Farnworth, the most-recent Solicitor General, declined to directly comment on the Aug. 7 case against Jin and the subsequent review of Blackcore’s licence. The government alleges Jin used proceeds of crime to buy the property at the south end of No. 5 Road in 2016. It was assessed at $7.7 million last year.

“The [Blackcore] application, what happened, is under review,” Farnworth told theBreaker.news on Oct. 8. “You need to wait until that review is done. The procedures and policies have been in there are quite comprehensive. This is the first time I’ve heard of an issue and that’s why it’s being reviewed, to see what happened.”

Jia’s fellow directors are Battlefield Fight League COO Trevor Carroll and Jamie Flynn, a former British Special Forces paratrooper who is now a Squamish BASE jumper and mixed martial arts athlete.

Documents obtained by theBreaker.news, under the freedom of information law, show Flynn began the application to the security programs division of Farnworth’s ministry on May 26. Bureaucrats initially deemed the application incomplete and demanded more paperwork. Flynn later provided a copy of Jia’s passport and his signed consent to conduct a criminal record check. The file released to theBreaker.news is heavily censored.

Internal email indicated a fourth person, with a private investigator and security guard licence, was involved as an employee of Blackcore. The person’s name was withheld by the government.

Paul King Jin (second from right) and Tourism Minister Lisa Beare (second from left) in 2019 at World Champion Club in Richmond (Mackin)

The company was already attracting attention before it got the licence. On June 29, registrar Heather Stewart emailed a co-worker, mentioning there was a media request for information. “Is there an application in the queue right now? Status?” Stewart wrote.

The next day, Stewart wrote in another message: “We are reviewing some principles (sic) of Blackcore Security in relation to their security business licence.”

The licence was granted July 3 in the categories of private investigator, security consultant and security guard service. The official letter to Blackcore said an inspector would contact the company within 60 days to discuss future inspections and review requirements under the Security Services Act. Conditions of licence included abiding by the code of conduct in section 14 of the Security Services Regulation, the section under which the review was called.

theBreaker.news called Blackcore’s phone number listed on its website during business hours, but there was no answer or voice mail. Flynn wrote in an email: “Blackcore is under review by the B.C. Security Programs, so no one from Blackcore will be making a comment until the investigation is over.”

Carroll also works with Kaban Protective Services Inc., according to proprietor Ozzie Kaban, who became Vancouver’s go-to security guy in the 1970s for visiting world leaders, Hollywood stars and aristocrats.

Kaban said he is not involved with Blackcore, but “put it this way, if [Carroll] needs advice, we’ll give him advice.”

Blackcore director Jamie Flynn in the company’s YouTube ad (Blackcore.ca)

 

Policy improvements needed

An industry veteran said B.C.’s licensing regime needs beefing-up, because the government conducts minimal due diligence on applicants.

Essentially, they do a criminal record check and that’s it,” said Leo Knight, former chief operating officer of Paladin Security.

“As a security company, I have access to virtually everything my client has, regardless of client size or whatever. I can access their databases, their building, their property, I know who their employees are. I have an incredible amount of private information, just by holding a security contract.”

It remains a mystery how the government overlooked Jin’s family ties to Blackcore.

In March 2019, it sued Jin in a bid to seize more than $5 million in cash and assets that it claims are the proceeds of money laundering and loan sharking.

In August 2019, theBreaker.news exclusively reported that Tourism Minister Lisa Beare attended Jin’s World Champion Club for a photo op to announce legalization of professional kickboxing. Jin was there and joined Beare for a group photo. Beare told theBreaker.news that she was unaware of his connection to the venue or that he was there. As for Jin, he told theBreaker.news that he is an innocent and hard-working man, but said his lawyer advised him not to discuss the case against him.

Mike Farnworth announces $2,000 fines on April 19 (BC Gov)

Beare said the event had been arranged by the province’s athletic commissioner. Nobody in Government Communications and Public Engagement ever answered theBreaker.news queries about whether it conducts a security or reputation assessment prior to holding cabinet minister events on private property.

The director of civil forfeiture’s Aug. 7 claim in B.C. Supreme Court says Jin is the true owner and directing mind of Warrior Fighting Dream Ltd., parent company of World Champion Club. The government accuses Jin of laundering $23.5 million at licensed casinos from 2012 to 2015, generating $32 million in profits at two illegal gambling houses in 2015 and laundering the proceeds through the Silver International underground bank.

On Sept. 18, Jin, 51, suffered facial cuts from bullet-shattered glass when a gunman killed Silver International kingpin Jian Jun Zhu, 44, at the Manzo Japanese restaurant in Richmond.

One of the vehicles at the crime scene was a black van that matched one in Blackcore’s YouTube ad. The ad features a Mandarin voice over and English subtitles that declare Blackcore “#1 Security Company in Canada.”

According to a 2016 transcript obtained by the Vancouver Sun, Jin admitted being a loan shark during an interview with police. Jin offered to help police and said he came to Canada in 1989 as a boxing coach and owns a mine in Mongolia and hotel in China. 

The documents obtained by theBreaker.news also show that a government security licensing employee named Gary Flynn handled the Blackcore application and dealt directly with Blackcore director Flynn.

Don Zadravec (LinkedIn)

Gary Flynn refused to respond to theBreaker.news’ query asking whether he is related to the applicant with the same last name. He referred phone and email messages to the communications department.

“We will not and cannot comment on the lives of public servants,” said Assistant Deputy Minister of Government Communications Don Zadravec, who said government workers are subject to a code of conduct and conflict of interest rules. 

Asked whether they are related, Jamie Flynn initially replied: “I have no idea who Gary Flynn is.”

In a later message, after being reminded that he communicated with Gary Flynn in June, Jamie Flynn wrote: “I am not related to him and do not know him personally.”

theBreaker.news asked Farnworth to clarify, but he said he was precluded from answering due to privacy laws and human resources policies.

Without violating those, I can tell you, or I would tell you, that I do not have a concern in that area,” Farnworth said.

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Bob Mackin A security company that the NDP

Bob Mackin

John Horgan released the NDP platform, “Working For You: John Horgan’s Commitments too B.C.,” on Oct. 6 in a ballroom at party headquarters in the the Pinnacle Harbourfront Hotel.

It’s 54 pages (the 55th is blank). Here are 10 highlights:

1. Four main themes

Pandemic, healthcare, housing and affordability, jobs and clean energy.

John Horgan at the Oct. 6 platform release (NDP/YouTube)

2. Shots

Free COVID-19 vaccines, when available. “Anyone who wants the vaccine will receive it.” But not universally free flu vaccine now (which the BC Liberals promise). NDP says it will be preparing B.C. “for the next one.”

Evidence so far is the NDP wasn’t prepared for this one, after its two-and-a-half years in office under Horgan. 

3. More, more, more!

The word more appears 170 times on 44 pages, less just eight times. The word green three times, but no reference to the Green Party. There are, however, 26 critical references to the BC Liberals on 19 pages.

4. Why not now?

That’ll be the question on minds of beleaguered residents of Yaletown and Strathcona when they read: “We’ll free up police to focus on serious crime in B.C. communities, including cracking down on those who distribute toxic drugs on the streets.”

5. Vote buying?

The Election Act states nobody is allowed to induce or reward anyone for voting.

But the NDP platform does just that, promising a “recovery benefit.”

Families with less than $125,000 annual household income would receive a one-time, $1,000 direct deposit. Singles earning less than $62,000 would get $500, with a sliding scale up to $87,000.

6. ICBC for condos?

If skyrocketing strata insurance rates are not corrected by the end of 2021, NDP promises:“we will develop a public strata insurance option, similar to Saskatchewan.”

7. Wrong highway

The platform promises by 2026: “Widening the Fraser Highway to ease congestion: This is a critical transportation link for people from Abbotsford to Surrey.”

Highway 1, the transportation and trade backbone of the Fraser Valley, is the correct highway. The party later corrected the platform. 

8. You say BIPOC, we say IBPOC

Black, Indigenous and People of Colour is the rallying cry, but the NDP platform uses IBPOC (Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour) in a promise to increase representation from those groups in government and the public sector.

9. Museum musing

NDP hasn’t fulfilled the BC Liberal promise of building a Chinese museum (there was a Chinatown pop-up opened last summer). Now it promises to build a South Asian-Canadian museum.

10. Bottom line?

Pre-election deficit: $12.792 billion; election platform deficit $15.035 billion.

For the next two fiscal years? “Not projected.”

No details on how it will be paid, what taxes or fees would increase. But a promise to not increase taxes on middle class families, privatize public services, make wage cuts or rollback contracts.

Quote of the day:

Is the $1.4 billion in one-time payments vote buying?

Horgan: “We’re not just throwing money to try and buy votes, we’re throwing money at people to stimulate economic activity, to keep them safe…”

Tweet of the day:

From the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. 

Anyone else find any commitments to improving your personal privacy, access to information, or Government transparency? Did we miss something?

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Bob Mackin John Horgan released the NDP platform,

Bob Mackin

Horgan aide Don Bain’s Tweet from May 16.

Vancouver Police are closing the investigation of an alleged assault on the daughter of an aide to Premier John Horgan.

Dakota Holmes said she was walking her dog in Grays Park on May 16 when a white man, triggered by her sneeze, told her to go back to Asia before punching her in the face and knocking her down. Holmes is a 27-year-old Indigenous woman who was suffering seasonal allergies on top of a throat infection.

VPD public information officer Const. Tania Visintin said the victim described the suspect as a white man, over six-foot-two, with a muscular build, wearing a jacket and cap. But there is no composite drawing or other image of the attacker.

“The suspect in this incident has not been identified,” Visintin said. “There was no video and no witnesses to the incident. There were two tips from the public that were investigated but did not lead to identifying the suspect.”

Visintin said the investigation would be reopened if new information is received to help identify the suspect.

Holmes’s father is Don Bain, a special advisor to Horgan and former executive director of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. The incident prompted Horgan to issue a statement condemning the trend of pandemic-related racism the next day. The Oct. 6 NDP platform for the snap election includes a promise to study anti-racism laws elsewhere with a view to tabling a B.C. Anti-Racism Act.

Meanwhile, a man is charged with assault causing bodily harm for the April 12 attack on an Asian woman near a bus stop on Granville and West Pender.

April 12 Granville Mall assault  (VPD)

Richard Edward Howse, born in 1993, will appear in the Downtown Community Court on Oct. 15.

Howse, also known as Richie, is in custody after being found guilty Aug. 31 of mischief under $5,000. His lengthy rap sheet includes convictions for breaching probation last March and theft of a motor vehicle and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle from 2018.

Elsewhere, VPD has recommended charges of advocating genocide, willful promotion of hatred and mischief from the April 2 graffiti and vandalism incident at the Chinese Cultural Centre.  Crown counsel is seeking further details from VPD.

“That information is being processed and will be reviewed in the coming weeks,” said Dan McLaughlin of the B.C. Prosecution Service. “We do not have a timeline for the completion of the charge assessment process in this case. There will be no further comment or information provided while the matter is under charge assessment.”

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Bob Mackin [caption id="attachment_10427" align="alignright" width="395"] Horgan aide

Bob Mackin

Look what landed in my email box.

The B.C. NDP’s us and them message box for the campaign leading to the Oct. 24 snap election.

It is less than 1,000 words over 11 pages and contains the key talking points for the hustings. For John Horgan, candidates, proxies and social media influencers.

(NDP)

“What do we want people to be thinking about at the end of the day? John Horgan and the BCNDP are working hard to make life better for people. He’s protecting our province through COVID-19, and I know he’s going to look out for me and my family as the economy recovers.”
“Key contrast: Andrew Wilkinson is working for people at the top. John Horgan is working for you.

Summary slogan: Let’s keep BC moving forward – for all of us.”

No surprise, COVID-19 figures prominently. When the pandemic is the topic, these are the lines:

“We are all worried and uncertain about the future. Our lives have been transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic. People are worried about their loved ones and a future that looks different than we had ever imagined. We get what your’e going through.”

Further lines, when talking about the NDP’s COVID-19 response: “Protecting people’s health and working to provide financial security and stability for families. Looking out for people during this crisis.”

The talking points blame the BC Liberals for cutting services to healthcare and seniors care, privatizing seniors homes while cutting staff and forcing them to work at multiple facilities. Can’t be trusted to fix the problems they created.”

(NDP)

There is a Green Party reference, charging that Sonia Furstenau’s party can’t stop the BC Liberals, because “They’re not focused on the challenges families face.”

The message box is focused on two themes: healthcare and education.

There is even “Us” and “Them” language ideas for drawing key contrasts.

NDP are “people,” “everyday people,” “working people,” “the middle class.” BC Liberals are “Those at the top,” “Those who have a lot,” “B.C.’s richest 2%,” and “People who need help the least.”

NDP are “everyone else,” while the BC Liberals are “rich and powerful.”

All of this is simple marketing 101. The kind you can read about in Susan Delacourt’s 2013 primer, Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them. A must-read, about how politicians and their agents turned citizens into consumers, how candidates and parties adopted the techniques of soup and soap salesmen, and how big data and the Internet became so vital. 

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MessageGuide Fall2020 Copy by Bob Mackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Look what landed in my email

Bob Mackin

The list of those angered by secretive British Columbia government health officials is getting longer.

Three First Nations, the B.C. Teachers Federation, parents at a West Vancouver elementary school and the B.C. Nurses Union have gone public, to demand coronavirus transparency from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix (BC Gov)

An Oct. 5 report for the Canadian Federation of Nurses by the seniors advisor to Ontario’s SARS commission singled out B.C.’s NDP government for hiding too much information and putting the health of frontline nurses at risk.

“The most problematic jurisdiction may be British Columbia. Its publicly disclosed data has been incomplete, inconsistent and on occasion, seemingly contradictory,” wrote Mario Possamai in A Time of Fear: How Canada Failed Our Health Care Workers and Mismanaged Covid‐19.

Possamai’s report said B.C. stopped publishing the number of healthcare workers infected by the virus and did not explain why. Possamai cited theBreaker.news July exclusive on how B.C.’s government left healthcare workers scrambling to get personal protective equipment after the stockpiles of gloves, masks and other gear were allowed to dwindle to dangerously low levels before 2020.

“This report is pretty damning,” said Jason Woywada, executive director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. “This is exactly the time when more transparency is needed, for people to have faith and understand why and how decisions are being made. We don’t think that releasing this information is going to cause undue concern in the public, it’s going to help them have faith in the decisions.”

Possamai wrote that healthcare workers paid the price for Canada’s failure to learn from the 2003 SARS pandemic. Governments failed to stockpile enough PPE, putting healthcare workers at greater risk. An estimated 20% of COVID-19 cases in Canada are healthcare workers, more than double the international rate.

“Under‐resourced, overworked and under-appreciated health workers were the glue that held together this dysfunctional health sector with their courage and dedication,” Possamai wrote. “But even their courage and dedication could not hold back the tsunami of COVID‐19. The result is that far too many health workers and far too many residents of the long‐term care sector have been infected and died.”

The report said Canada failed to take a precautionary approach to pandemic management and followed the World Health Organization too closely, especially the reluctance to adopt public masking and close borders. The report criticized Dr. Theresa Tam for highlighting “potential negative aspects of wearing masks” and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for calling border closures a “knee jerk reaction that isn’t keeping people safe.” 

Justin Trudeau, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and Xi Jinping (PMO)

Possamai recommended federal and provincial governments iron out their differences on public health data sharing, give more power and resources to Statistics Canada to track healthcare worker data and be open and transparent about PPE stockpiles.

Federal and provincial chief medical officers should be required by law to report annually to their legislatures and the public on the state of public health emergency preparedness with recommendations to address any shortcomings. They should also be barred from serving on WHO committees.

Tam is a member of a committee that oversees and advises WHO’s health emergencies program. Henry is a member of a subcommittee on mass-gatherings and events with doctors from FIFA and the International Olympic Committee.

Last month, BCTF president Teri Mooring complained to the Labour Relations Board over the government’s back-to-school plan and poor communication of school outbreaks. Mooring was troubled that Fraser Health was providing more information than Vancouver Coastal Health.

We understand the negative impacts of rumours and speculation especially in the context of a pandemic, this is the reason we take the position that information regarding schools needs to be shared in an open, transparent, and timely manner by the local health authorities,” Mooring wrote. “In the absence of this openness the public sharing of information will continue, and we are concerned this could lead to an undermining of public confidence in both the education system and in the health authorities.”

Parents at West Vancouver’s Caulfeild Elementary went public Oct. 5 with their letter, revealing that nine members of a class of 16, five parents, two siblings and two grandparents were infected with the virus.

3M N95 mask

“We believe the cluster at Caulfeild Elementary has exposed significant gaps in the cohort system. In particular, lag time in contact tracing that could potentially allow for the spread of COVID while parents wait for guidance from public health or case confirmation,” wrote parent Coralynn Gehl.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner will hear an appeal from Nuu-chah-nulth, Heiltsuk and Tsilhquot’in first nations. They want Henry ordered to release anonymized case information under the rarely used public interest override section of the freedom of information law.

In 2017, the NDP promised to reform B.C.’s FOI laws, including simplification of the public interest override in order to release more information about health and environmental risks to the public. In a recent report, Commissioner Michael McEvoy found the Health Ministry the most-prone to late responses to FOI applicants.

McEvoy doesn’t escape scrutiny for his own decisions. Last spring he gave the government an unprecedented two-month blanket disclosure holiday to adapt to the pandemic. He invited applications for more extensions on a case-by-case basis.

The province’s six health authorities took advantage and received 60-business day deadline extensions, pushing the disclosure dates for many files about pandemic spending and operations beyond the Oct. 24 snap election.

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Bob Mackin The list of those angered by

The second week of British Columbia’s Coronavirus Pandemic State of Emergency Snap Election 2020 is over and things are heating up.

NDP’s John Horgan and Green Sonia Furstenau traded barbs over LNG. BC Liberal Andrew Wilkinson promised a provincial sales tax holiday for a year, held a honkin’ rally in Merritt and accused the NDP of lying. Wilkinson has been known to tell a fib or two. Hear highlights from the campaign trail.

Plus commentary and headlines from the Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest.

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The second week of British Columbia's Coronavirus

Bob Mackin

An internal probe is underway to find out what went wrong at the Cleveland Dam on Oct. 1, but Metro Vancouver’s top official did not explain why an independent investigator is not involved.

The drum gate on the 91-metre dam unexpectedly opened and a torrent of water gushed down the “ski jump” spillway on Oct. 1. One man is dead and another missing and presumed drowned in the Capilano River, which suddenly rose four metres around 2 p.m.

Diagram showing the Cleveland Dam drum gate allowing water on the spillway.
(Metro Vancouver)

The North Vancouver RCMP is assisting the B.C. Coroners Service, but the Mounties have not opened a criminal file, said Sgt. Peter DeVries.

“If information comes to light that leads us to a reasonable suspicion that there may have been a crime that may have been committed, then we will assert our jurisdiction as the investigating body,” DeVries said.

Regional district commissioner Jerry Dobrovolny pledged to release information incrementally and eventually publish a final report. When he spoke to reporters more than 24 hours after the incident, Dobrovolny was evasive when repeatedly asked about the precise nature of work being performed at the time of the disaster.

“The Metro staff were doing work on the gate and the controls for the gate, I don’t have the specific details, but the work was being done on the equipment and the gate,” Dobrovolny said.

The drum gate is raised and lowered remotely from a control room at the Seymour Dam, elsewhere in North Vancouver. Were workers were testing new software?

“I don’t have the details at this point of what exactly the work they were doing,” Dobrovolny said. “I will release that, we’re collecting that information now.”

He also said he did not know how long the gate was open or how much water escaped. “I don’t know exactly what the work was and whether it was completed or not. That will be part of the investigation.”

The Capilano River is a popular autumn destination for anglers and kayakers. Apart from warning signs on the shore, there is no public address warning system for when the dam releases water.

Worker reviewing the control panel for the Cleveland Dam (Metro Vancouver)

The 21-metre long, seven-metre high drum gate is a triangular, hollow steel structure with a hinge in one corner. It normally floats on a pool of water at the top of the spillway, which allows the height to be controlled by varying the amount of water.

“The drum gate is operated remotely from our control room; we have instrumentation at the dam that allows us to communicate with this equipment so we are always aware of where the drum gate is and can make operational changes as needed,” according to notes from an April 2016 meeting about the dam hosted by District of North Vancouver.

The meeting heard the drum gate could last another 40 to 50 years. Work to apply an epoxy coating to the drum gate was completed three years ago this month at the 1955-built dam that holds part of the region’s drinking water.

The dam is due for a safety review in 2023. The Metro Vancouver 2020 capital budget included $800,000 for power resiliency improvements, $100,000 for elevator decommissioning and ladder replacement and $50,000 for minor spillway concrete repairs to the outside face of one wall. Another $1 million is budgeted for 2021-2022 to replace the drum gate seal.

The Seymour Dam control room was built for the $820 million Seymour-Capilano filtration project. A division of SNC-Lavalin was the project consultant.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans said the rapid increase and reduction in river flows stranded some adult salmon. DFO was unable to say how many of the salmon were recovered by staff at the Capilano Fish Hatchery. 

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Bob Mackin An internal probe is underway to

Bob Mackin

The first corrupt voting scandal (allegedly) of the 2020 campaign is on.

The NDP wants Elections BC to investigate a BC Liberal candidate for a ballot registration harvesting scheme.

NDP lawyer Rachel Roy of Allevato Quail and Roy complained Sept. 29 to Elections BC about Surrey-Fleetwood hopeful Garry Thind’s campaign using WhatsApp to request bulk mail-in voting packages and gather votes.

(WhatsApp)

“This [WhatsApp] group of nearly 100 people are purportedly applying for as many mail-in packages as they can by collecting, using and disclosing the personal information required to request these packages, including government-issued ID numbers,” Roy wrote in her complaint letter.

Voter fraud carries fines up to $20,000, up to two years in jail or both. The Election Act prohibits an individual from requesting a ballot for someone else.

“We want to know from Andrew Wilkinson whether he thinks this is acceptable behaviour and whether he is going to stand by his candidates,” incumbent North Delta NDP candidate Ravi Kahlon said on Sept. 30.

Thind did not respond to theBreaker.news, but BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson told reporters in Port Moody that he had just heard about the allegations a half-hour before his daily appearance.

“Of course as this mail-in ballot phenomenon gets the attention of the public and voters, there is going to be some confusion,” Wilkinson said. “But we have to be clear, it’s the obligation of candidates to follow the law, we expect that of them. As this unfolds we’ll see if Elections BC has a position that we of course will respect.”

The allegations are the first of the campaign, which will rely heavily upon mail-in voting. There were fewer than 7,000 votes cast by post in 2017. So far, 454,000 British Columbians have requested mail-in ballots. Elections BC does not have a riding-by-riding breakdown available.

The sheer volume opens the door to ballot harvesting, which is not illegal in B.C.

Ravi Kahlon (Twitter)

“The Election Act does not prevent someone from returning a voter’s vote-by-mail package on their behalf. We expect some voters will need help from friends or family to return their vote-by-mail package during the pandemic,” said Elections BC spokesman Andrew Watson. “While there is no evidence of fraudulent voting by mail in provincial elections, we recommend voters return their own package by mail or in-person to minimize the risk of a ballot being tampered with during transit. Mail tampering is a federal criminal offence, and Canada Post has robust procedures and checks to prevent it.”

Third-party ballot collecting is illegal in Texas. A North Carolina Republican operative was charged for his role in 2016 and 2018 ballot harvesting. Minnesota law caps the number of absentee ballots that can be collected by a third-party at three. Minneapolis Police are investigating after Republican-aligned Project Veritas published undercover video of a ballot harvester involved in the Democratic campaign of congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Kahlon did not fully explain why he, instead of  Surrey-Fleetwood incumbent Jagrup Brar, was the NDP spokesman on the issue.

“I am passionate about this issue, especially our democracy and our elections. it is a cornerstone of our society, people have fought and died,” Kahlon said.

Filling out the dance card

A riding office aide to the retiring Shane Simpson was chosen behind closed doors Sept. 26 by NDP provincial council to run in West Vancouver-Capilano.

Amelia Hill (Twitter)

An urgent request for signatures to formally register Hill with Elections BC went out from North Vancouver-Seymour riding president Michael Charrois on Sept. 30.

Hill worked most recently in Simpson’s Vancouver-Hastings office. Her resume includes stints with Vision Vancouver and Hollyhock, the new age retreat on Cortes Island that has hosted many political training events.

BC Liberal Ralph Sultan is retiring after more than 19 years in office. Former Christy Clark supporter Karin Kirkpatrick is the BC Liberal candidate on Oct. 24. 

A name that had been tossed around in NDP circles was Ian Tostenson, the voice of the B.C. Restaurants and Foodservices Association. He is staying put with the industry lobby group.

“I would love to do something, but I just feel that it’s so convoluted and hard to get anything done,” Tostenson told theBreaker.news “I thought about this election to be honest, and I just believe I can get more done and help an industry way better by being on the outside, and working with government.”

Tostenson was pleased to hear about the BC Liberals’ marquee promise to mothball the Provincial Sales Tax for a year. Restaurants and bars would save the 10% PST on buying liquor and customers would save 10% on their booze tabs, for instance. Losing the tax for a year would leave a $6.88 billion hole in the province’s budget, however.

“As far as the deficit is concerned, it is a big number, but I think it has a potential to stimulate our industry form a consumer spending point of view, because we are against the ropes,” Tostenson said. 

Mayors with hands out

The new B.C. Urban Mayors’ Caucus, representing 13 of the biggest cities, held a Zoom conference on Sept. 30 to call on the parties address mental health and substance use, and spend more on housing and transit, in their platforms. The group includes mayors of Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, New Westminster, Prince George, Richmond, Saanich, Vancouver and Victoria.

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Bob Mackin The first corrupt voting scandal

Bob Mackin

During the 2017 election campaign, the BC Liberals announced bridge toll discounts for the Port Mann Bridge. Hours later, the NDP one-upped the BC Liberals, promising to end the toll altogether.

It was a strategy that paved the way for the NDP to win six of the nine Surrey ridings, which resulted in the end of the BC Liberal 16-year majority.

Richmond Coun. Carol Day joined John Horgan in a Minoru Park photo op, but not as a candidate.

So BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson made a big, bold promise on Sept. 28 to cut the provincial sales tax to 0% for a year and then 3% for the next. That’s a $6.88 billion budget hole in the first year. He made the announcement outside the London Drugs warehouse loading bays in Richmond.

Wilkinson was vague on how a BC Liberal government would make-up the shortfall.

“Everyone knows that we’re in a big economic crisis and this is not a time to worry about the details so much as to get people back to work,” Wilkinson said. “One of the ways to get people back to work is to stimulate the economy by reducing taxes.”

When Wilkinson was a deputy minister in the first BC Liberal government, the PST rose from 7% to 7.5% in February 2002, the year after winning an election. BC Liberals dropped it back to 7% in 2004, the year before winning re-election.

Five years later, fresh from winning a third majority, the 2009 HST debacle was eventually undone by the 2011 referendum.

The sales tax holiday promise came on the heels of a BC Liberal promise for universal free flu shots. B.C. and Quebec are the only provinces that still charge for flu shots, despite a long list of exemptions.

The BC Liberals scored their first points of the campaign with the PST and flu shots promises, as the NDP and its supporters awkwardly argued against both proposals. The NDP is the party of medicare champion Tommy Douglas and it rallied against the HST. 

Day of Richmond

John Horgan went to Minoru Park in Richmond for a picnic table talk in front of cameras with Richmond Coun. Carol Day.

The 2013 BC Conservative candidate in Steveston is endorsing the NDP. Despite the photo op, she is not running with the party.

“I have a very sick mother right now and it’s just not a good time in my life,” Day told theBreaker.news. “I never say no to anything until I’ve had a chance to think it over. it’s a different kind of job being an MLA.”

An hour after Day’s no-questions from reporters sit-down with Horgan, the NDP announced Coun. Kelly Greene would vie for Steveston again, now that incumbent BC Liberal John Yap is not running.

During the noon hour, Greene told theBreaker.news that she was attending Horgan’s Minoru stop, laughed at a question about running (but did not deny) and said she would call back. Instead, she texted a message to say she would be attending an emergency city council meeting instead of Minoru.

Elsewhere for the NDP, Henry Yao is running in Richmond-South Centre and Aman Singh, the 2017 runner-up, in Queensborough. The North Centre candidate is to be announced, but Day said it will not be her.

“I was looking at all of them, to keep an open mind. I couldn’t make the time commitment. If I can’t do it 100,000%, I can’t do it at all.”

Day said she was an ally of Horgan in the campaign against a bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel. In July, Horgan announced a plan to build a new tower at Richmond Hospital.

“I’m very impressed with what they’ve done in the last three years, in particular with the finally deciding to have a new hospital,” Day said. “Over the last 16 years we’d had one announcement after announcement with the BC Liberal candidates.”

Abbotsford apology

When Bruce Banman was mayor of Abbotsford in 2012, he was outspoken about social issues under his watch.

“You are, if you are a drug user, a criminal,” he said at the time. “You’re not a helpless victim. You are, and choose to be, a criminal. It is an illegal activity that you are doing. If you are a pedophile, you are a criminal. And how we deal with criminals is we lock ‘em up.”

Banman is running for the BC Liberals in Abbotsford South and said he no longer subscribes to those views.

“Mental health issues are a medical problem,” Wilkinson said. “Addictions are similarly a medical disorder of various causes, and the causes needed to be treated.”

While Wilkinson took the day off Sunday, Horgan made his first Sunday stop in the Cowichan Valley riding of Sonia Furstenau. Furstenau accused Horgan of giving her the cold shoulder, because she had a big role in advocating for a new area hospital.

Keeping track

A week into the election and there are 1,302 active cases of coronavirus after 267 were added since Sept. 25. Sixty-nine individuals hospitalized. Total 8,908 cases and 233 dead, after three more succumbed. 

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Bob Mackin During the 2017 election campaign, the

For the week of Sept. 27, 2020:

An election like no other is happening in British Columbia, as Premier John Horgan made the ultimate gamble to go to the polls on Oct. 24.

The NDP leader spent much of the first week trying to sell the idea of an early election to voters, while BC Liberal Andrew Wilkinson and Green Sonia Furstenau said Horgan could not be trusted because of the power grab. They both accused Horgan of putting the health of B.C. at risk. 

This happens six months after unprecedented teamwork in the Legislature.

Hear the highlights of the initial days of the campaign. Plus the thoughts of ResearchCo pollster Mario Canseco, who breaks down the first public opinion poll of the campaign. 

Plus commentary and headlines from the Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest.

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

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

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theBreaker.news Podcast: B.C.'s State of Emergency Coronavirus Pandemic Snap Election 2020 is on
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For the week of Sept. 27, 2020: An