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Bob Mackin

Half a world away, on March 11, the Geneva-based World Health Organization was declaring the Wuhan-originated novel coronavirus a pandemic. A worldwide emergency.

Horgan’s swearing-in July 18, 2017 (BC Gov)

In British Columbia, Premier John Horgan was meeting with his cabinet in a 90-minute session about the COVID-19 health and economic crises.

After he gave the customary First Nations land acknowledgment, Horgan ceded the floor to Health Minister Adrian Dix, who proceeded with verbal updates on the approach to communications and plans to minimize the spread of the virus, economic impacts and impact on workers. The deputy ministers of health and emergency management were on hand.

But no minutes were kept from the verbal briefing.

Same for the March 19 COVID Committee, the day after B.C.’s state of emergency had been declared. Education Minister Rob Fleming, Deputy Health Minister Stephen Brown, Cabinet Secretary Don Wright and Horgan spoke.

Manager of cabinet operations Zita Baumann’s note confirming no minutes were taken is also attached to the agendas released to under the freedom of information law.

Historians in 2035, the year when today’s cabinet records automatically become public domain, will be puzzled.

Two of the most-important meetings for any B.C. cabinet since World War II were not documented. To whom do we assign credit or blame for big decisions? 

Horgan was sworn-in as B.C.’s 36th premier three years ago, on July 18, 2017, after an inconclusive election led to the Green-supported NDP defeating the BC Liberals on the June 29, 2017 confidence vote. Judith Guichon, the lieutenant-governor, asked Horgan to form a new government instead of accepting Christy Clark’s pitch for another election. 

Fast forward to 2020. In February, the NDP projected a third straight balanced budget. In July, a whole different story. Brace yourselves for a $12.5 billion deficit. 

Horgan ran on a platform in 2017 that included a promise to enact a duty to document law. He sold voters on the accountability plan to require the government to record decision-making and punish unauthorized destruction of records, with fines up to $50,000.

It was a popular idea after Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham found mass triple-deleting in Clark’s own office and the offices of several cabinet ministers. After Denham’s scathing report in October 2015, Horgan justifiably attacked the BC Liberals for their secrecy and pledged the NDP would be both different and better.

“A culture of deception, a culture of deceit, a culture of delete, delete, delete,” said Horgan in Question Period on Oct. 22, 2015.

“I thought, most people on this side of the house and the independents on this side of the house, felt that we came here to do public service, not to cover up for misdeeds in the government of British Columbia.” 

Premier John Horgan with chief of staff Geoff Meggs on a February 2019 trip to Washington State (BC Gov)

A lot of voters took Horgan for his word. But he has not fulfilled the promised duty to document law. No bill introduced in the Legislature. And now proof that no minutes were kept at two pivotal cabinet meetings.

His party gave B.C. the freedom of information law in 1993 but has done nothing to reform B.C.’s aging information and privacy code, despite grand plans to do so while occupying the opposition benches.

The first hint Horgan would break his promise came two weeks before swearing-in, when he made Geoff Meggs his chief of staff. Meggs was the former card-carrying communist and ex-communications director for NDP Premier Glen Clark. More recently, Meggs was an architect of Vancouver city hall’s descent into diabolical secrecy as a three-term Vision Vancouver city councillor. 

On March 18, current information and privacy commissioner Michael McEvoy (who has an NDP pedigree) bowed to the government’s request to effectively suspend the FOI law until the end of April. McEvoy renewed the extraordinary state of emergency measure until mid-May. Bureaucrats and their political masters, all seduced by secrecy, have asked for more time to delay disclosures, on a case-by-case basis. To their delight, McEvoy’s staff have said yes.

Now has proof that Horgan and his cabinet did not take minutes at two crucial meetings. Maybe the most-important meetings of Horgan’s career. Certainly in the costliest year in B.C. history.

A cover up.

We can only pray there were no misdeeds.

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OOP-2020-03324 by Bob Mackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin Half a world away, on March

Bob Mackin

Almost two-thirds of British Columbia’s pandemic supplies were never replenished before the novel coronavirus hit the West Coast. 

A supply chain memo from the Provincial Health Services Authority, obtained by under the freedom of information law and shared with CTV News Vancouver, shows that medical equipment stockpiles totalled more than $5.7 million in July 2013.

3M N95 mask

But, by January 2020, they had dwindled to $2.07 million.

Supplies range from syringes, needles and bandages to surgical masks, N95 respirators, gloves, eye goggles, gowns and hand sanitizer. The briefing note quantified the inventory by dollar value, rather than units.

Over the course of six-and-a-half years, almost $2.76 million of supplies owned by B.C.’s five regional health authorities had expired, become obsolete or been donated to anti-Ebola efforts in Africa, while $896,000 of goods had been absorbed into working inventory.

“Most of the expired/donated inventory was not replaced resulting in the current lower level of pandemic supplies,” said the Feb. 13 document, submitted by Melinda Mui, the interim vice-president of PHSA’s supply chain department, to a leadership council meeting.

“Health authorities’ pandemic supply levels have dwindled or been eliminated on many items across the province. Should a widespread pandemic occur in B.C., the current level of pandemic supplies will likely not meet B.C.’s requirements which may lead to public safety risk.”

The agency that spends $2 billion a year on medical supplies for B.C. hospitals and ambulances recommended a centralized provincial pandemic supply chain and plan to return stock to 2013 levels.

Less than a month after Mui’s document, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11.

“There wasn’t really pandemic preparedness going on there,” B.C. Nurses Union president Christine Sorenson said in an interview with CTV News Vancouver reporter Jon Woodward.

Sorenson said personal protective equipment scarcity is one of the biggest concerns for nurses. She said 100 have filed WorkSafeBC claims due to infection in the workplace.

She agreed it was reasonable, for legal reasons, to get rid of supplies that expired or were no longer manufacturer-approved. But that does not excuse complacent officials, who should have maintained stock while avoiding financial loss. 

“What should have been taking place is replacement,” Sorenson said. “There should have been a normal sort of turnover of personal protective equipment, supplies.”

The only health authority with more supplies in 2020 than 2013 was Vancouver Island Health, which had $416,000 versus $375,000 in 2013.

Interior Health’s stockpile value had shrunk from $435,000 to $0 over seven years. Northern Health had just $15,768 remaining. Back in 2013, it had $377,000.

Melinda Mui of PHSA

Vancouver Coastal Health’s stockpile dropped $1 million to $426,000. Fraser Health had $611,855 on hand, down from $1.56 million in July 2013.

Another document acknowledged the risk of each health authority managing its own stock.

“This individual approach leads to an inconsistent approach to managing these critical supplies as they are not currently under centralized direction nor consistent,” according to a Feb. 4 briefing note.

Titled “Health Authority Owned Pandemic Inventory for British Columbia,” it stated centralized supply management would allow the province to reduce costs associated with waste and obsolescence.

Feb. 4 was the week after B.C. announced its first confirmed case of 2019-nCoV. A person who had travelled from Wuhan, China tested positive on Jan. 27 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. 

Even with a way forward, PPE usage rates were reaching beyond historical norms. A February 27 inventory report showed that Northern Health had no supplies of four surgical mask types and only one day’s supply of another. Island Health was out of six surgical mask types and down to a month’s supply of two N95 mask types. The federal government came to the rescue for B.C. and other provinces in March when it chartered CargoJet to bring emergency plane loads of PPE back to Canada from Shanghai.

The stockpiles were originally built under the BC Liberal government. By January 2020, the NDP had been in power for two-and-a-half years. At a July 14 news conference, Health Minister Adrian Dix said B.C. now has adequate PPE on hand as hospitals work to clear the massive backlog of delayed surgeries.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said during the same session that officials conducted a “rapid inventory” in January.

“We never had a shortage,” Henry said. “We did have to keep it managed centrally so there wasn’t hoarding in certain areas. We had a dramatic increase of respirators and masks related primarily to people’s concerns about being exposed. We don’t want to be in that position again. This has made it every clear how challenging it is.”

B.C. Nurses Union president Christine Sorenson

Henry offered conflicting messages four months ago.

On March 23, she said she was unaware of PPE shortages in B.C.

Just two days later, on March 25, a 180-degree pivot: Henry revealed that hospitals were “going through way more personal protective equipment than we expected, so we are on a tenuous level.”

Dr. Roland Orfaly, CEO of the B.C. Anesthesiologists Society, told that the PPE supply challenge would have been disastrous for his members and patients had the virus spread in B.C. like it did in Quebec.

“It was anesthesiologists who were putting themselves right there, inches from the face of a COVID patient when they were most ill and most infectious,” Orfaly said. “We could be unknowingly intubating a COVID patient for surgery. So having the appropriate type and amount of PPE available is absolutely critical, not just for our safety as anesthesiologists, but for the entire team of healthcare workers around us.”

Global shortage was preventable 

The first of the two PHSA briefing notes came three days before the head of the World Health Organization made an alarming announcement at a news conference.

On Feb. 7, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned of a global PPE crisis. Demand had skyrocketed 100 times higher than normal and prices were up to 20 times more expensive.

“This situation has been exacerbated by widespread, inappropriate use of PPE outside patient care. As a result, there are now depleted stockpiles and backlogs of four to six months,” Adhanom said. “Global stocks of masks and respirators are now insufficient to meet the needs of WHO and our partners.”

Medication, supplies and equipment are provincial and territorial responsibilities. The federal government maintains a National Emergency Strategic Stockpile, but that is for provinces to request in emergencies when their own resources are not enough. It is from that inventory that China received a 16-tonne donation in early February, sparking a firestorm of controversy as Canada’s healthcare system began to run out.

Dr. Bonnie Henry (left) and Health Minister Adrian Dix (Mackin)

B.C. built its stockpile after a watershed 2006 report from a committee of top officials, including Dr. Theresa Tam, called Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan for the Health Sector.

Dr. Danuta Skowronski represented the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, where Henry worked. Henry and Vancouver Coastal Health’s Dr. Patty Daly were involved in subcommittees.

The document warned that a pandemic would likely result in supply shortages and that Canadian governments should not rely heavily on outside assistance. Interrupted transportation lines, lack of inventory and embargoes would complicate procurement.

“Provinces/territories and local health authorities may wish to review the possibility of rotating stockpiles of critical supplies for health care facilities within their own jurisdictions,” the report said.

Governments got another reminder last fall. The 2019 annual report of the WHO’s Global Preparedness Monitoring Board Annual said pandemics from natural pathogens or disease-causing microorganisms from a laboratory posed a major threat. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore hosted the Event 201 pandemic simulation last November. The table top exercise concluded scarcity of medical supplies was a major weakness.

Two months after the PHSA stockpile report, revealed how desperate the B.C. government had become.

Mui went to the People’s Republic of China consulate to accept a donation of 56 boxes of PPE from Guangdong province, the week after Premier John Horgan spoke to China’s ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu. 

Staff in government offices across B.C. received an April 7 memo from Ministry of Health assistant deputy minister Philip Twyford. While bureaucrats were working from home, Twyford wrote that staff went hunting for unused N95 masks in earthquake kits at ministry and agency locations across B.C.

This was a cross-government effort which provided thousands of masks to front-line health workers,” Twyford  wrote in an email obtained by “Facilities staff went to each workspace and removed the earthquake kits to check for masks. As a result, some workspaces may have been slightly disturbed when the masks were retrieved. Staff placed the earthquake kits on the floor, and did not reattach them to desks and other surfaces, so we can replenish the kits when a supply is available for this purpose.”

Said anesthesiologist Orfaly: “It’s concerning that there may have been a shortage of PPE going into the pandemic earlier this year. And certainly concerning that if there is a second wave coming up. We need to have enough supplies available.” originally sought the documents on April 14, but that was during a two-month period in which Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy granted B.C. public bodies a temporary holiday from disclosing records under the FOI law. The PHSA records were finally delivered July 9.

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Bob Mackin Almost two-thirds of British Columbia's pandemic

Bob Mackin (Updated July 16)

David Sidoo starred on the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds’ first Vanier Cup champion football team in 1982.

After becoming a successful stock promoter in his post-Canadian Football League career, Sidoo raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the university and the football team, helping recruit players for the fourth national championship squad in 2015. They put his name on the field and the scoreboard at Thunderbird Stadium. The BC Liberal government, to which he donated, put him on UBC’s board of governors for three years.

David Sidoo (left) and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with the Vanier Cup in 2016 (PMO)

You would think David Sidoo bleeds the blue and gold of his alma mater, UBC.

Not so fast.

On July 15, just five days after his 61st birthday, Sidoo appeared by Zoom in front of an American judge, who sentenced him to 90 days in jail for his role in the college admissions scandal.

The crime? Conspiracy to commit mail fraud. In 2011 and 2012, Sidoo paid $200,000 to consultant Rick Singer’s “side door” scheme that saw tennis pro Mark Riddell use false identification to pose as Sidoo’s sons and ace their college entry exams. On two occasions, the Floridian flew to B.C. to write exams.

Dylan Sidoo was accepted to Chapman University, later transferring to University of Southern California. Jordan entered University of California Berkeley. They both graduated but now their diplomas are suspect.

David Sidoo had paid $200,000 so that his sons did not have to follow in his footsteps, so that they could avoid UBC.

A university that is mere minutes by care from their posh $31 million Point Grey mansion.

“I am appalled as to how you find yourself about to be sentenced for a felony,” said Judge Nathaniel Gorton on Zoom, as Sidoo stared blankly at his computer screen, with his mouth wide open. “You are quite evidently an intelligent, hardworking very successful businessman who overcame many hardships in your life, in fact a pillar of your community, and yet you have committed a crime that displays an unbelievable lack of integrity, morality and common sense.

“You have let your selfish desire, your pride, and your enormous wealth overcome all of what you apparently want to stand for by your works of charity.”

After his March 2019 arrest in San Jose, Calif., Sidoo pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. In late January, he negotiated the plea deal, admitting guilt on one charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud to avoid a trial and a potential jail sentence of 20 years.

In addition to the jail sentence, he will pay a $250,000 fine.

Jordan (left) and Dylan Sidoo ( Inc.)

Gorton said Sidoo’s crime warrants more than three months, but noted he was remorseful and had no prior criminal record.

Sidoo will surrender to U.S. authorities by Sept. 23 at a minimum security prison to be determined, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. His first two weeks will be in solitary confinement quarantine, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Said Gorton: “You need to serve at least some time in jail however to demonstrate that the rule of law applies to everyone, rich and poor, educated and uneducated. you need to pay a significant and conspicuous price for your criminal conduct in order to deter you and others from the blatant misuse of your great fortune.”

Minutes earlier, Sidoo tearfully delivered a prepared statement. He paused, took a deep breath and bowed his head at one point, as he wore a checked, Burberry-like blazer in a wood-pannelled room, with a trophy case behind him.

“I’m very sorry,” Sidoo started. “The last several  months have been the hardest of my entire life. Today, I accept the court’s decision without reservation. No words can express how sorry I am for my decisions and actions that have led to this day, I make no excuses, you’re honour, I broke the law, I pled guilty to a crime and I now must pay for my actions.”

Sidoo called it a “terrible mistake that has deeply affected our family.” He apologized to his former teammates and those that he said look up to him.

“I wish to apologize for my actions, I will serve my sentence and am committed to returning to my community and doing everything possible to making a positive impact,” he said. “I hope that in time people will not judge me based on the worst moment in my life.”

It was more than a moment. Sidoo was involved in the scheme over a number of months in 2011 and 2012 and again several years later.

In 2018, on a wiretapped phone call, Singer tried to sell Sidoo on hiring Riddell to write another exam, so that his son could attend graduate school.

Thunderbird Stadium’s field was named for David Sidoo (Mackin)

“Yes they had conversations, but when it came to action, Mr. Sidoo did not repeat the errors of 2011 and 2012 in 2018 and in 2019,” said Sidoo’s lawyer Martin Weinberg. “Instead he turned Singer down and his son didn’t get into the school that he and mr singer were talking about.”

Weinberg reminded the court that Sidoo is eligible for four days credit, for being in the Oakland County Jail for a weekend in March 2019 after his arrest. He also said the charges caused Sidoo emotional and physical deteroriation and submitted letters from doctors at Vancouver’s Copeman Clinic to back that up. The letters in the public file were censored.

“Mr. Sidoo survived a brutal childhood with an alcoholic, violent father,” Weinberg said. “Because he was a South Indian minority, he transcended that through athletics and worked hard to build his reputation and that of his family, he’s never forgotten his roots.”

Gorton said he was impressed by Sidoo’s remorse and desire to make up for “what you called mistakes.”

But he corrected his word use.

“I would call it a crime, not a mistake,” Gorton said.

After his relatively short period of time behind bars, Gorton said Sidoo will be challenged to spend the rest of his life working hard at convincing people that this was a “one-off.”

Sidoo’s name no longer graces signage at Thunderbird Stadium and his Order of B.C. was revoked in June. He remains listed on the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame website as a member, inducted in 2017. The B.C. Place Stadium provincial sports shrine is reviewing the matter, according to a prepared statement from CEO Nicholas Cartmell.

“As an organization committed to fair process, we will proceed carefully and respectfully under the rules and regulations governing the status of any honoured member who has been convicted of a criminal offence or has brought harm, dishonour or disrepute to sport in British Columbia or to the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame,” Cartmell said. “The final decision on Mr. Sidoo’s status will be determined by a full vote of the Board of Trustees after the matter has been properly deliberated in the coming weeks.”

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Bob Mackin (Updated July 16) David Sidoo starred

Bob Mackin 

The mystery continues about the relationship between Surrey’s mayor and the councillor he appointed last year to the Metro Vancouver board.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum on July 12 outside Coun. Allison Patton’s naturopathic clinic.

At the end of June, a reader of spotted Mayor Doug McCallum at the Big Ridge brewpub with Coun. Allison Patton.

On July 11, McCallum was spotted outside Patton’s naturopathic clinic, Ardour Wellness.

Just four days earlier, on July 7, contacted McCallum’s spokesman, Oliver Lum, after several sources said that McCallum had been hospitalized. Lum did not deny that McCallum had suffered symptoms of a stroke. He issued this vague three-sentence statement attributed to McCallum.

“I had a health concern over the weekend that required medical attention. While the issue has been addressed, on the advice of my doctor, I will be taking a few days off to rest and recuperate. I am glad to say that I will be returning to my duties in time for the regular council meeting [on July 13]. I appreciate the concern and well wishes expressed by all.”

McCallum has more than two years left in his term. He relies on Patton’s vote to continue the Safe Surrey Coalition’s slim majority on council and to proceed with next year’s replacement of the RCMP with a municipal force. Patton is paid $397 per Metro Vancouver board meeting. If meetings exceed four hours, she is paid $794.

McCallum and Patton have refused to respond to, which began asking questions about their relationship in January. 

Doug McCallum’s car parked outside the South Surrey clinic of Allison Patton’s ex-partner, Caleb Ng.

As exclusively reported May 6, RCMP officers were called to Patton’s Mountainview Wellness Centre in South Surrey on April 30 due to an alleged breach of peace. reported that both Patton’s business partnership and marriage broke down. Husband Caleb Ng opened the competing West Coast Center for Regenerative Medicine across the parking lot in the Semiahmoo Shopping Centre complex. In an odd twist, McCallum’s Buick was photographed last week parked outside Ng’s clinic, instead of in front of Patton’s.

McCallum was spotted inside Mountainview on May 1, when he opened the door and popped his head inside a room where Patton was on a Zoom conference call with members of the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce. 

Last December, Patton moved from White Rock into a Surrey condo. Neighbours have told that McCallum frequently visits Patton’s residence. 

On May 22, the Vancouver Sun reported that McCallum told Mounties on April 30 that “we just signed a lease here.”

McCallum and Patton at Big Ridge brewpub.

McCallum said those words while one of Mountainview’s other ex-naturopaths, Galina Bogatch, recorded the scene outside Mountainview with her smartphone. CTV News Vancouver reported that a locksmith had changed the locks at the clinic on April 30 and that McCallum accepted the new keys on behalf of Patton. 

Mountainview is no more, it is now called Ardour Wellness.

A month-and-a-half before the police were called, Patton quietly incorporated Ardour on March 13, using the services of Paperclip Law Corp. in North Vancouver as the registered office. She is the only officer of the company. 

March 13 was, coincidentally, two days after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus pandemic emergency.

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Bob Mackin  The mystery continues about the relationship

For the week of July 12, 2020.

Research Co. pollster Mario Canseco joins host Bob Mackin to ponder the pandemic, presidential race and a prime minister in a pickle.

Research Co. pollster Mario Canseco (Mackin)

Plus Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines and commentary.

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

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

Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: Pollster ponders the pandemic, presidency and a prime minister in a pickle

For the week of July 12, 2020.

Bob Mackin

The lead prosecutor in the U.S. college admissions scandal said Vancouver oil and gas investor David Sidoo stole two college admissions slots for his sons in a $200,000 fraud scheme.

Dylan (left), David and Jordan Sidoo

“By cheating on his son’s admissions test and fabricating his application essay, Sidoo deprived a deserving student of the opportunity to attend that elite school. In addition, Sidoo’s conduct was not just limited to paying money,” wrote U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling in a scathing sentencing memorandum filed on July 10. “Rather, Sidoo took an active role in facilitating the fraudulent scheme by sending [ringleader Rick] Singer documents and biographical information that allowed Singer to create multiple fake identification cards that [proctor Mark] Riddell used to pose as Sidoo’s sons for the exams.”

July 10 is, coincidentally, Sidoo’s birthday. He is scheduled to be sentenced July 15 for one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. His plea bargain was reached at the end of January, and made public in March. Pending a judge’s approval, Sidoo will serve 90 days in a minimum security prison and pay a $250,000 fine. A 12-month probation term is expected to be waived, because the court cannot enforce it outside the U.S.

Lelling’s sentencing memorandum also states that Riddell flew to Vancouver to pose as Dylan Sidoo for a December 2011 SAT exam. He returned in summer 2012 to take Dylan Sidoo’s high school exam. In fall 2013, David Sidoo and Singer crafted a college application essay that falsely claimed Sidoo’s oldest son had been held-up at gunpoint by a Los Angeles street gang and rescued by a rival gangster named “Nugget.” In 2015 and 2016, Riddell, Singer and David Sidoo explored cheating on other graduate school admissions tests, but abandoned their plan.

David Sidoo (left), Blake Nill (second from right) and Amrik Virk (third from right) celebrating UBC’s Vanier Cup win in 2015. (BC Gov)

Dylan Sidoo eventually entered Chapman University, but transferred to the University of Southern California.

Riddell also wrote the SAT on behalf of Jordan Sidoo in December 2012, who gained admission to and enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley.

“Sidoo engaged in serious criminal conduct involving fraud and deception that stretched over multiple years. His crimes warrant significant punishment,” Lelling wrote.

In the defence submission, Sidoo’s lawyer calls the guilty Vancouver investor and philanthropist a first-time offender without a criminal past who will continue to suffer after he serves his sentence.

“Mr. Sidoo is a 61-year-old man who made a tremendous mistake, out of misplaced love for his sons, that is inconsistent with his entire personal life story,” wrote Martin Weinberg in his July 10 submission. “Mr. Sidoo has and will pay a significant price for his conduct in this case. He will serve a period of incarceration, he will be excluded from the United States, and his reputation in the community that he has supported for many years is now significantly tarnished. Furthermore, Mr. Sidoo has suffered both physically and mentally.”

Until Sidoo negotiated the plea bargain, he had steadfastly maintained his innocence.

Sidoo posted a photo on his website in April, preparing to donate masks and sanitizer to Downtown Eastside homeless.

He was arrested in San Jose in March 2019, released after three days in jail on a $1 million bond and charged for paying more than $200,000 to have an impostor write exams for his sons, both St. George’s boys school alumni.

If the case went to trial, Sidoo could have been jailed up to 20 years.

Former Canadian Football League player Sidoo lives in a $31.7 million mansion on Belmont in Point Grey, a Vancouver neighbourhood often called “Billionaires’ Row.” Massachusetts Judge Nathaniel Gorton is allowing Sidoo to appear July 15 via Zoom videoconferencing, due to coronavirus pandemic travel restrictions.

Neither of the sons has been charged. Neither of the two California universities where they graduated has disclosed whether the diplomas tainted by their father’s fraud will be cancelled. 

“Mr. Sidoo is not accused of funnelling money through Key Worldwide Foundation to be provided to the schools, nor is he accused of having [ringleader Rick] Singer create false sports accolades,” Weinberg wrote.

“Mr. Sidoo has pled guilty to providing funds to Key Worldwide Foundation in exchange for Mark Riddell writing the SAT exam for his sons. In fact [Dylan Sidoo] transferred to [USC] without Mr. Sidoo seeking any assistance of Mr. Singer or anyone in the Athletics Department. Accordingly, the sentence of 90 days in custody is consistent with the above stated sentences when the relative conduct is contrasted.”

David Sidoo accepting the Order of B.C. from Premier Christy Clark and Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon in 2016 (BC Gov)

Weinberg also wrote that Sidoo is no danger to the public, is remorseful and has remained compliant while on bail. Details of Sidoo’s alleged physical and emotional deterioration were censored from the public document.

Weinberg pointed to some of Sidoo’s recent losses. In March, University of B.C. said it would remove Sidoo’s name from the scoreboard and field at Thunderbird Stadium, where Sidoo starred with the 1982 Vanier Cup-winning football team.

In June, Sidoo lost his 2016-awarded Order of British Columbia.

The Ministry of Education told that it has not been involved in this case and there has been no internal investigation into the exam cheating in B.C.

Sidoo’s submission to the court includes 18 character reference letters from many prominent individuals.

In an April 27 letter, former B.C. Supreme Court judge and former BC Liberal. Attorney General Wally Oppal said his 35-year acquaintance Sidoo is a “person of impeccable character and has an excellent reputation in this province.”

Former federal Liberal cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal called him “an individual who fulfils his commitments.”

Thunderbird Stadium’s field was named for David Sidoo (Mackin)

Another letter came from Amrik Virk, the former Mountie who was the Advanced Education Minister when BC Liberal donor Sidoo was appointed to the UBC board of governors in 2014. Virk, a one-term BC Liberal MLA from Surrey, wrote that Sidoo has “repeated expressed remorse privately and publicly,” though he did not mention where and when Sidoo did so publicly.

“While I am in no way competent to offer a medical diagnosis, I am privy to and witnessed the deterioration in his physical and mental health,” Virk wrote. “While the media may portray the resilient, successful businessman facing judgement I have observed the effects on his spouse and children. I do not intend to paint him as a victim but merely to highlight the obvious impacts observed.”

Virk’s letter does not mention that he joined the Sidoo family’s Meridius Resources junior mining company as a director in 2019.

Other letters came from CFL and NFL hall of fame quarterback Warren Moon, Michael O’Connor, a 2019 Toronto Argonauts rookie drafted from UBC, Bobby Singh, the only player with Super Bowl, Grey Cup and XFL championship rings, former UBC head coach Frank Smith, and current UBC head coach Blake Nill.

Sidoo’s 13th Man Foundation booster club recruited O’Connor to join the UBC Thunderbirds in 2015 from Penn State and helped fund the program toward its Vanier Cup title that year.

TSN 1040 host Bob Marjanovich and TSN football reporter Farhan Lalji also chimed in.

Lalji, who coaches the New Westminster Secondary varsity football team, wrote on the team’s letterhead that Sidoo has donated $100,000 to the school and football program over 17 years. Lalji wrote that “inaccurate narratives have been created well outside the bounds of this case and many people have rushed to judgment.”

David Sidoo’s defence filings include a letter from one NDP cabinet minister and a certificate from another.

Marjanovich, who first met Sidoo during their high school days in 1978, wrote: “His improper actions have hurt the ones he loves the most and nothing can ever change that.”

The Sidoo file also includes a 2012 letter from now-NDP Energy and Mines minister Bruce Ralston congratulating Sidoo for a philanthropy award and a 2016 certificate of achievement from now-Attorney General David Eby, the NDP MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey, for receiving the Order of B.C.

Sidoo was the first person from British Columbia to be charged in the U.S. college admissions scandal, but the second to be sentenced.

A Surrey woman who is a Chinese citizen was sentenced to time already served in a Spanish jail. Xiaoning Sui, 48, admitted guilt in February and was fined $250,000 fine after five months behind bars.

Sui paid Singer a $400,000 bribe to have her tennis-playing son recruited to the University of California Los Angeles soccer team so that he could study there. He had no prior competitive soccer experience, but was falsely billed as a top player on two private teams in Canada.

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Bob Mackin The lead prosecutor in the U.S.

The first Vancouver pro sport back in business since the coronavirus pandemic was declared in March is thoroughbred horse racing.

Hastings Racecourse reopened on July 6 for its 131st anniversary meet. was there on July 7.

Race fans must watch online for now, because of the ban on mass-gatherings in B.C.

Click below and watch at the races. 

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The first Vancouver pro sport back in

Bob Mackin

There were 84 ambulance calls to Stanley Park during the first five months of 2020.

But how many involved bicycles?

B.C. Emergency Health Services data provided to shows total ambulance calls to the park increased 266% from April to May.

Stanley Park Drive in late June 2020.

There were 11 in January, 16 in February and 15 in March. Emergency calls fell to nine in April, the first full month of the coronavirus state of emergency. Then it spiked in May with 33.

“It’s a difficult request to narrow down in terms of paramedic response,” said EHS spokeswoman Shannon Miller. “A bicycle incident may be categorized as traffic incident or a fall, or someone unconscious. It depends on how the 9-1-1 call information was transmitted to us.” 

The leading causes for calls in May were falls (9), traumatic injuries (8), unconscious (4), traffic/transportation (2), potential overdoses (2) and other/unknown (8).

The Vancouver Park Board banned vehicles from Stanley Park Drive in March to give cyclists a monopoly. The COPE/Green alliance that forms the board’s majority initially refused to reopen Stanley Park Drive to vehicles, but relented after a public outcry. It allowed one lane for vehicles on June 22, but did not restore full parking and continues to block access from the Causeway to the park’s northern area.

Park Board bureaucrats continue to study a permanent closure, while opponents have threatened a lawsuit because seniors and people with disabilities who rely on vehicles for transportation are unable to enjoy full access to the park as they did for decades.

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Bob Mackin There were 84 ambulance calls to

For the week of July 5, 2020.

It is the year that feels like a decade.

It began with the United States and Iran seemingly headed for war, until Iran shot down a passenger jet and killed all on board.

Anti-pipeline protesters closed highways and railways across Canada in sympathy with Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, who opposed the Coastal GasLink pipeline in Northern B.C.

Shut Down Canada activists also disrupted operations at the B.C. Legislature.

Tensions rose between the West and China. Meng Wanzhou’s extradition will continue. As will China’s hostage-taking of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

The United States presidential election approaches. 

Then the coronavirus pandemic spread from Wuhan to the rest of the world. Entire economies were put on pause, sparking a recession. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics were postponed to 2021. 

The Black Lives Matter movement erupted with violent protests after shocking incidents of police brutality.

The year is only half over.

Take a time out and relive the highlights so far on this week’s edition of Podcast with host Bob Mackin.

Hear clips from Mario Canseco of ResearchCo., Australian anti-CCP activist Drew Pavlou, Green interim leader Adam Olsen, Speaker Darryl Plecas’s chief of staff Alan Mullen, Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, Sean Holman and the late Dermod Travis. 

Plus Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines and commentary.

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Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: It's only half over? Looking back at 2020's first six months

For the week of July 5, 2020. It

Joint statement from a group of concerned Canadians of Chinese descent

Not long after the arrest of Meng Wanzhou for extradition to the U.S., two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, were detained by the Chinese government, now for over 560 days.

Following Meng’s loss in her first bid to avoid extradition, and the court ruling that her extradition hearings will proceed, the Chinese government announced that the two Michaels are charged with the serious felony of espionage. A top spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs even suggested that the two Canadians could be released if Ottawa intervenes in Meng’s extradition case and sets her free.

Louis Huang protested outside Meng Wanzhou’s March 6 court date (Mackin)

“Such options are within the rule of law and could open up space for resolution to the situation of the two Canadians,” the same spokesperson said.

The case of Meng and the two Michaels illustrates how the Chinese government uses the rhetoric of “the rule of law” to advance its political agenda, while engaging in hostage diplomacy and toying with human lives.  

When the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) speaks of upholding “the rule of law,” it is not referring to the democratic idea of separation of powers within a government which ensures the restraint of power for the protection of the rights and liberties of its citizens. Instead, the “rule of law,” as invoked by the CCP, is merely a political buzz word to cover up the “co-operation” of the three powers under its one-party rule. This stands in direct contradiction to the legal system in Hong Kong and other democratic countries with judicial independence. This difference is precisely the problem with CCP’s imposition of the “National Security Law” on Hong Kong in the name of national security. 

The move also contravenes the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a legally-binding international treaty registered with the United Nations, as well as in direct contradiction with the Hong Kong Basic Law.

The CCP’s argument is that national security is a greater priority than maintaining the “one country two systems” principle, and since democratic countries also have national security laws, they don’t have the right to interfere in China’s internal need for the same.

Although Canada and many democratic countries indeed have their own national security laws, such laws do not criminalize people for applying political pressure on the government, expressing criticism of the head of state, or even calling for the governing party to step down. Quebecers’ or Californians’ sovereignty movements, for example, are not illegal; as freedom of speech and the freedom to protest and demonstrate are guaranteed constitutional rights.

Such are not the case in Mainland China, where expressing opposition to officials’ corruption, critiquing government officials and the CCP, advocating for democracy, freedom, and rights protection can all be deemed as subversive actions or treason against the state, and any citizens so charged are subject to secret trial and indefinite imprisonment.  

When the Chinese government talks about national security, it is primarily concerned with the protection of the security of the Chinese Community Party and its leaders, and not the security of its citizens’ rights as set out in its constitution. Therefore, CCP’s so-called “National Security Law” is really a “CCP Security Law” in disguise.

Fearing that Hong Kong’s freedoms of speech and assembly may destabilize the regime, the CCP introduced the “National Security Law” to override Hong Kong’s judicial independence, thereby extending its practice of suppression of such freedoms to Hong Kong.

After such Law’s implementation, both residents and non-residents in Hong Kong will lose their basic human rights and freedoms. The Chinese government and its lackeys will crackdown on dissidents who have raised criticisms of the Hong Kong and Beijing administrations, or those who have been in communication with (and therefore deemed to be conspiring with) foreign governments. 

Sadly, the unlawful detention of the two Canadian Michaels is just a prelude to the fate of many Hong Kong people now that the National Security Law has come into effect.

Pro-Hong Kong protest at Robson Square in Vancouver in September 2019 (Mackin)

With article 38 of Hong Kong’s National Security Law incriminating those critical of CCP even if they are non-residents outside of Hong Kong, Canada and the international community can no longer be bystanders. In the face of brutal human rights abuses in Hong Kong, Canada must not limit its action to statements of concern or verbal condemnations.

We hereby call on the Canadian government to:

  1. Develop a comprehensive strategic policy towards China and share that with all levels of government;
  2. Take strong actions to repatriate the two Michaels back to Canada without yielding to the CCP’s hostage diplomacy and other bullying tactics;
  3. Extend assistance including asylum to Hong Kong democracy activists facing   persecution;
  4. Take punitive actions against Chinese and Hong Kong government officials and their accomplices who have committed human rights abuses.

A group of concerned Canadians of Chinese descent (in alphabetical order, organizational titles are for identification purpose only and do not represent the opinion of the respective named organization)

  • Bill Chu, Founder of Canadians for Reconciliation Society
  • Gloria Fung President of Canada-Hong Kong Link
  • Victor L.M. Ho, Co-founder of Vancouver-based Media Analytica Inc.
  • Liane Lee, Former HK student union delegate in Beijing 1989, Tiananmen Massacre eyewitness & Vice-Chair of Toronto Association for Democracy in China
  • Eric Li, Past President of Canada-Hong Kong Link
  • Ivy Li, Retired design professor
  • Mabel Li, Chair of Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement
  • Thekla Lit, Founder and President of B.C. Association for Learning & Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (ALPHA). 
  • Thomas Lou, Retired journalist
  • Dora Ng, LGBTQ activist
  • Stanley Ng, President of Institute for Christian Action  & Contemplation 
  • Winnie Ng, Chair of Toronto Association for Democracy in China
  • Fenella Sung Core Member of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong
  • Tommy Tao, Retired lawyer
  • Ken Tung, Past Chairperson of S.U.C.C.E.S.S.
  • Anna Victoria Wong, Doctor of Speech-Language Pathology
  • Yan Chun Kau, Writer
  • Gabriel Yiu, Former Chair of Hong Kong Forum
  • Eleanor Yuen Former Head of Asian Library, UBC
  • Rev. Howard Yeung, Spiritual Director of Institute for Christian Action  & Contemplation

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Joint statement from a group of concerned