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Bob Mackin

Sanctions.

It is all about the sanctions, Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers said Jan. 20 in British Columbia Supreme Court.

After a Government of Canada lawyer handed the official extradition application to Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes, Richard Peck began his arguments aimed at freeing the Huawei chief financial officer. Meng, who was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1, 2018, is wanted in the United States, where she faces charges that she defrauded HSBC in order to get around sanctions on Iran.

Richard Peck (Peck and Co.)

“One way that we could begin is by posing a question,” Peck told Holmes. “And that question is this: Would we be here in the absence of U.S. sanctions law?”

Peck said that the sanctions violation is the essence of the allegation against Meng. She is accused of lying to HSBC in 2013 about the relationship between Huawei and an affiliated company, SkyCom, which operated in Iran. That led the HSBC to clear U.S. dollar transactions through the U.S., putting the bank at risk of violating the U.S. sanctions law.

“In that scenario, HSBC is a victim,” Peck said. “Canadian law no longer has sanctions against Iran and Canadian law governs this process… Our laws do not punish innocent victims, hence the HSBC could never be at risk of economic deprivation in Canada.”

If the judge agrees with Peck that the fraud charge would not apply in Canada, then Meng would be freed. But the Canadian government lawyers, who will also make their case during the scheduled four-day hearing, say that the case is about fraud charges, not sanctions, and Meng should remain in Canada on bail, while her extradition case proceeds.

“This extradition has every appearance of the U.S. seeking to enlist Canada to enforce the very sanctions which we have repudiated,” Peck said.

Meng Wanzhou leaving the Law Courts on Sept. 23 (Mackin)

That is where it gets complicated. Canada lifted sanctions in 2016 against Iran, along with the U.S. and other countries, who reached the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Respecting Iran (JCPOA) accord. But, the alleged offence committed by Meng took place in 2013 when both Canada and U.S. had sanctions against Iran that covered the financial services industry.

Eric Gottardi, another of Meng’s lawyers, called HSBC an “unwitting dupe” and said that Canadian fraud law differs from the U.S., because Canada requires an actual loss or risk of deprivation.

The scheduled four-day hearing is in the biggest, most-secure courtroom at the Law Courts in Vancouver. The room, with a 149-seat gallery, was built for $7.2 million in 2001 for the trial of persons accused in bombing an Air India flight in 1985. It was also the scene of a 2007 trial to decide ownership of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena, after a dispute among three real estate tycoons who were originally planning a joint bid.

Meng was in a happy mood throughout the day. During the mid-afternoon recess, she emerged from the glass-encased area of the courtroom to visit with about 20 people in the far left corner. She led them to the hallway outside where they partook in small talk. One of them men in the group told theBreaker.news that they were Huawei workers from the company’s Shenzhen headquarters.

Students protested in favour of freeing Meng Wanzhou. (Mackin)

Before the hearing began, outside the Nelson Street entrance, Uyghur Muslims protested China’s jailing of more than a million people in Xinjiang. Outside the Smithe Street entrance, the one used by Meng to arrive with her court-appointed security guards, a group of local students carried similar signs urging an end to the extradition hearings.

Their signs said “Free Ms. Meng. Bring Michael home. Trump stop bullying us. Equal justice.”

Oddly, the signs mentioned “Michael,” in the singular.

China arrested two Canadian men named Michael, diplomat Kovrig and businessman Spavor, in apparent retaliation for Meng’s detention in December 2018. They languish in jail in China, cut off from their families and lawyers. Meng lives under a curfew in her Shaughnessy mansion which, coincidentally, is mortgaged by HSBC.

The message on the signs echoed a Globe and Mail guest commentary last week by Eddie Goldenberg, a lawyer with the Bennett Jones law firm who was the chief of staff to former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who is now a lawyer with Dentons, an international law firm with offices throughout China. Goldenberg is the latest Liberal Party member to advocate for the Trudeau Liberal government to set a precedent and meddle in the case.

None of the students would tell theBreaker.news their name or affiliation. One of them said he was unaware of the extradition treaty between Canada and the U.S. or the facts of the case. Another would not deny that the group was paid to appear outside the courthouse on the rainy Vancouver Monday morning. 

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Bob Mackin Sanctions. It is all about

Eddie Goldenberg, who was the chief of staff to ex-Prime Minister Jean Chretien, is the latest Liberal voice to suggest Canada release Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou rather than let the rule of law prevail.

Meng’s extradition hearing begins this week in British Columbia Supreme Court. She is wanted in the U.S. on fraud charges for allegedly misleading banks about Huawei’s business in Iran. Unless her legal team succeeds in convincing a judge to release her on a technicality, the case could drag on for years.

Terry Glavin (Twitter)

Terry Glavin, a columnist in the National Post and Maclean’s, tells theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin that there is a simple solution that does not involve Canada kowtowing to China.

“There is an easy way to resolve it,” Glavin said. “That is, if Meng Wanzhou tells her handlers to fire up the limousine and take her to the Peace Arch border crossing so that she can turn her in to American authorities, where she will get the fair trial that her father says he has confidence she will get in the States.”

On this edition, Glavin talks about China and Canada’s other big foreign policy challenge of early 2020: Iran.

Canada was the ultimate destination for most of the 176 innocents killed on a Ukrainian 737 jet by Iranian missiles over Tehran. Iran was forced to admit it shot down the jet, after initially lying, removing evidence from the debris field and preventing foreign investigators immediate access to the country.

Iranian human rights activists have risked their safety and marched against the hardline Islamic regime, angry that their government lied to them. Yet some Canadians, such as Maple Leaf Foods CEO Michael McCain, have directed their anger solely at U.S. president Donald Trump.

McCain’s company is building a meatless foods plant with government subsidies in Indiana, vice-president Mike Pence’s home state. Meanwhile, McCain has lobbied against sanctioning Chinese officials complicit in human rights abuse. Maple Leaf has big ambitions for the Chinese market, where protein is in high demand.

“For this guy to suddenly become a folk hero, he’s this kind of a greasy corporate executive from a family with Liberal credentials,” Glavin said.

“The position he articulated was objectively indistinguishable from what the Iranian foreign ministry is saying, what the office of the supreme leader is saying.”

Anastaia Lin (AnastasiaLin.com)

Also on this edition, Mackin interviews Anastasia Lin, the Chinese-born, Canadian-raised beauty queen who became a human rights activist.

Lin is appearing at the Global Democracies in Retreat conference in Vancouver, to talk about why China poses the greatest threat to free speech around the world.

In her interview, she said she is encouraged by Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and the re-election of Taiwan’s independence-minded president. But the Canadian government’s apathy troubles Lin. February’s two-year countdown to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics could provide another opportunity.

“It would be quite wonderful to boycott, wouldn’t it?” Lin told Mackin.

Listen to Glavin and Lin on this week’s edition of theBreaker.news Podcast.

Plus, commentaries and headlines from the Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest.

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theBreaker.news Podcast: China and Iran, Canada's foreign policy frustrations
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Eddie Goldenberg, who was the chief of

By Florence Mo Han Aw 

Former Liberal Member of the B.C. Legislative Assembly, Richard Lee has disclosed in a recent media interview that, in November 2015, he had been detained for eight hours and refused entry by the Chinese port of entry authorities at Shanghai, when he and his wife went there on tour.

Ex-BC Liberal MLA Richard T. Lee (Mackin)

His personal cell phone as well as the MLA business cell phone were seized and he was required to provide his passwords. Eventually, the Chinese authorities revoked his entry visa on the ground of “endangering the national security,” and he was ordered to directly fly back to Canada with his wife. During the improper detention, he had sought to contact the Canadian Consulate General, the Canadian Ambassador, as well as his travel agency. All such requests had been denied.

In the 16 years from 2001 to 2017, Lee served for four terms as a member of the provincial legislature. He said that during that time he had done a lot of effective work towards the promotion and facilitation of cultural, trade and inter-governmental exchange between Canada and China. So he did not anticipate any problems entering Shanghai. He had no idea that he had been blacklisted by China. Apparently, his record of goodwill meant nothing to the government of China, which routinely ignores individual human rights and international diplomatic protocol.

Lee has served as chairman of the second board of directors of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement. He has regularly attended the annual candlelight vigil in memory of the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre in front of the People’s Republic of China Consulate General’s mansion in Vancouver. He had been cautioned by Liu Fei, then-Consul General in Vancouver, not to participate in such activities or express such opinions which might offend the Chinese government.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie at the farewell for Liu Fei (Facebook)

The Consul General in Vancouver had also pressured Chinese community organizations in Vancouver to alienate him. Lee’s regular attendance at the vigil for those who died in the Tiananmen incident shows that he is a politician who is concerned about justice, freedom and democracy. Because of that, he had been refused entry to China.

Other politicians, such as Teresa Wat, a current BC Liberal MLA, have stated that they have never had any problems entering China, including Shanghai. Obviously, that is because these politicians, in order to curry the favour of the Chinese government, have kept their silence on issues of freedom and democracy. The Chinese government is antagonistic towards universal values, and has banned people, including politicians who hold dissenting opinions. In other words, to be welcome to China, one must not only have goodwill, but also must be willing to keep quiet on issues of freedom, democracy and human rights.

Lee, who was at the time serving as deputy speaker of the B.C. Legislature, did not openly speak about the incidence upon his return to Canada. His explanation is that he was considering the potential damage to the Canada-China relations. It was not until the end of 2018, when China retaliated against Canada’s detention of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s deputy chairwoman, by detaining two Canadians, Michael Kovrig, former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, businessman.

While Canada was acting pursuant to its obligations under the extradition treaty with the U.S., China’s detention of the two Canadians was for allegations of “endangering the national security.” He sympathized with the plight of the two detained Canadians, and decided to speak up about his own experience. He wrote a letter addressed to both Chrystia Freeland, then foreign affairs minister, and Lu Shaye, then Chinese Ambassador to Canada.

The Prime Minister’s Office responded only after inquiry from news media. To avoid jeopardizing Canada-China relations, Lee has endured the humiliating experience in silence for four years. This really tells us about the bind that Canadian politicians are in. And the Canadian government is still keeping its head down and mouth shut. “Canada-China relations” appears to be a behavioural control device that so far has been effectively used by China against Canada.

Clark and Wat with Communist Hu Chunhua (BC Gov)

Many people think that once both sides release their respective detainees, the inter-governmental relations will return to normal. This view is too simplistic. They forget that Canada and China have significant differences in their political systems and fundamental values.

If Canadians stand firm on their fundamental values, and put human rights above trade, then Canada-China relations will not completely return to normal.

  • Florence Mo Han Aw is the author of the 2012 memoir, My Time in Hong Kong’s Underground Communist Party.

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By Florence Mo Han Aw  Former Liberal

Bob Mackin

A B.C. Supreme Court judge upheld a Ministry of Children and Family Development decision against a 2018 Vancouver city council candidate who argued it was his constitutional right to send his five young children on a TransLink bus without him.

Adrian Crook featured his five children in his 2018 city council campaign. (Facebook/Vote Adrian Crook)

In a Nov. 14, 2019 written ruling, which was published Jan. 13, 2020, Justice Stephen Kelleher dismissed Adrian Crook’s court petition. Crook contended that the B.C. government infringed upon his right to life, liberty and security of person.

“Mr. Crook’s constitutional point is this, section 7 of the Charter protects parental decision-making and creates a presumption that parents should make important decisions affecting their children,” Kelleher wrote.

“There is no Charter-related error justifying the intervention of the court,” Kelleher concluded in his verdict, which does not include the names of the children or their mother. (theBreaker.news has chosen to obscure the children’s faces from a Crook campaign ad.)

Crook gained international media attention when he went public about his dispute with the child protection department on his 5 Kids 1 Condo blog on the first day of school in September 2017.

A two-day trial in Vancouver last September heard the other side of the story. 

Kelleher wrote that a social worker found that Crook’s children and their mother, who has joint custody of the children, both had safety concerns despite Crook training the children to take the bus and equipping them with a cell phone and location tracker.

Crook’s children were aged 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 in March 2017 when the Ministry acted on a mandatory report under the Child, Family and Community Service Act that the children were in need of protection. The children were riding public transit alone from Crook’s Yaletown condo to a North Vancouver school near their mother’s home during periods of time when Crook had custody.

“The Ministry, following its policies, assessed the report, interviewed the children and the parents, considered the family’s circumstances and sought to work collaboratively with the petitioner to address safety concerns,” Kelleher wrote.

A child protection social worker phoned Crook’s former wife, the children’s mother and joint guardian, to obtain Crook’s phone number. She learned that Crook’s ex-wife was uncomfortable with the children riding the bus alone.

The social worker relied on the Canada Safety Council Guidelines that recommend parents not allow a child to stay at home alone before age 10 and, even then only if the child is mature enough. Crook agreed with the Ministry to not allow the children to ride the bus without a “responsible and dedicated” adult present until further direction from a social worker. The report found Crook failed to see the safety concerns around letting young children ride the bus on their own. The social worker was otherwise complimentary of Crook’s fathering skills.

“There is evidence of a healthy relationship between Mr. Crook and the children,” the report said. “Mr. Crook is interactive and engaging with the children and the children’s disclosures about him were all positive.”

Adrian Crook (left) and then-Mayor Gregor Robertson in 2014 (Twitter)

Crook sought an administrative review of the June 2017 decision. The original letter was deemed problematic because it precluded further assessment which could lead to more freedom for the children as they mature.

But, Kelleher’s ruling cited a May 9, 2018 letter from the Ministry to Crook that said his seven-year-old daughter told a social worker how she feared riding the bus without an adult.

“During the interview, she also told the social worker she thought it was too much responsibility for her 10-year-old brother,” the letter said. “All four of your older children told the social worker that they get into frequent arguments and fight with one another. Without an adult to intervene, that fighting could escalate and a child could get hurt.”

Moreover, none of the children was able to say what to do in the event of an emergency or unsafe situation on the bus.

That letter also said the Ministry supports building independence in children and conceded there is no law that prevents children being left alone, provided they are not left in danger. But the Ministry also found more concerns about Crook’s choices.

The children’s mother, it said, “reported that she did not agree with your plan for them to ride the bus unsupervised and felt that the children were not able to keep themselves safe on the bus. She also expressed general concern with the lack of supervision of the children while in your care.

“TransLink clarified that on public transit the bus driver does not assume responsibility for supervising any children and cannot account for the actions of other transit passengers who could pose a risk to those children.”

While Kelleher found the first decision flawed, he deemed the Ministry’s May 9, 2018 decision “both reasonable and correct.

“On any standard of review, it is not assailable,” Kelleher ruled.

Crook, a video game and app consultant, ran a GoFundMe campaign that raised $42,501 for the constitutional challenge. He announced his court petition against the government in a news release just in time for advance voting in the October 2018 civic election. The strategy failed to catapult Crook to victory. The independent candidate finished 25th in the race for one of the 10 city council seats, with 17,392 votes.

Crook was a Vision Vancouver campaign volunteer in 2014 but, in early 2018, announced he would seek the NPA nomination for city council. He left the NPA when the party board rejected the mayoral nomination of lobbyist and 2017-elected councillor Hector Bremner.

Crook raised $20,891.65 for his political campaign, including $1,200 donations from high-profile condo developers Ian Gillespie and Ryan Beedie.

Crook is a co-founder of the pro-development industry lobby group Abundant Housing Vancouver. The group of NDP and Liberal-aligned pro-density activists wants city council to abolish single-family housing in favour of apartment blocks and towers, and includes several members who do not live in City of Vancouver. Last November, Crook appeared in Victoria at an Urban Development Institute-sponsored event with Sonja Trauss, leader of the San Francisco pro-density campaign that inspired AHV. 

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Bob Mackin A B.C. Supreme Court judge

Will Premier John Horgan call an early election in 2020?

Who will become the new leader of the B.C. Greens in June?

Is Andrew Wilkinson a viable leader for the slow-to-rejuvenate BC Liberals?

Dermod Travis (Voice of B.C./Shaw)

Many questions to be answered as the young year progresses.

IntegrityBC’s Dermod Travis is the guest on this week’s edition of theBreaker.news Podcast. He thinks there is only a 30%-35% chance Horgan might go to the polls before the fixed October 2021 election date. But the fate of the B.C. Greens’ leadership contest could trigger the next election.

“[Horgan is] obviously going to be in a delicate situation if the new leader of the party is not one of the sitting MLAs,” Travis said.

With Andrew Weaver handing the reins to interim leader Adam Olsen, that leaves Sonia Furstenau. Will she run? Will she win?

Travis tells host Bob Mackin about findings of research into expense claims filed by Wilkinson, Ben Stewart and ex-speaker Linda Reid. The BC Liberals have a knack of traveling to swing ridings.

Wilkinson, Reid and Stewart (BC Leg)

“There seems to be more often than not a direct correlation between an MLA’s travel expenses coming out of their non partisan constituency office budget and the electoral needs of the B.C. Liberal party and this is one of the things the Legislative Assembly Management Committee has to address,” Travis said.

Last year, the BC Liberals had accused the NDP of using riding offices for partisan means. 

“You can’t have it both ways.”

Plus, commentaries and headlines from the Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest.

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theBreaker.news Podcast: Questions of leadership abound in B.C. politics
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Will Premier John Horgan call an early

It’s only 2020 and Vancouver’s mayor is already campaigning for his 2022 re-election. Surrey’s mayor is hoping to keep his majority on city council, to achieve his new municipal police force. B.C.’s premier and Canada’s prime minister govern in minority scenarios. Will they last? Meanwhile, Donald Trump is up for re-election.

Research Co. pollster Mario Canseco (Mackin)

Research Co. pollster Mario Canseco joins host Bob Mackin on the first podcast of the new year to ponder the next 12 months in politics.

Plus, headlines from the Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest and commentaries.

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It's only 2020 and Vancouver's mayor is

Bob Mackin

The mining union leader who returned to Mexico after 12 years in exile in Canada is back in Vancouver, theBreaker.news has exclusively learned.

Sen. Napoleon Gomez Urrutia and wife Oralia Casso on Jan. 2.

Sen. Napoleon Gomez Urrutia traveled with wife Oralia Casso de Gomez on Jan. 2 from Mexico City on Aeromexico flight 696, according to a source who observed them board and disembark. The couple flew in first class seats 3A and 3B and presented dark blue-covered Canadian passports. The couple was photographed standing with a luggage cart.

The couple’s son, Ernesto Gomez Casso, is a restaurateur in Vancouver. The senator has not replied to an email to his senate office seeking information about whether he was traveling on official or personal business. 

Gomez was head of the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic, better known as Los Mineros, when he fled with his family to Vancouver in 2006. He blamed mining company Grupo Mexico and the Mexican government for “industrial homicide” after an explosion at a coal mine earlier that year in Coahuila killed 65 workers. He was charged for allegedly embezzling $55 million from a union trust fund that had been dissolved in 2005. Gomez denied the allegations. In 2014, a Mexican appeal court deemed the charges unconstitutional and cancelled an arrest warrant.

Napoleon Gomez Urrutia at a Whitecaps FC match in B.C. Place Stadium (Facebook)

Gomez continued to run Los Mineros from afar, enjoyed the support of Unifor and the United Steelworkers and even became a Canadian citizen in 2014. Elections BC’s database shows seven donations to the B.C. NDP, from 2009 to 2017, totalling $2,680. Oxford-educated Gomez succeeded his father as the union’s leader in 2000, but never worked in a mine.

In 2018, Gomez triumphantly returned to Mexico when he was appointed a senator under that country’s mixed member proportional representation system after the election of new president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. At the time, Gomez claimed he had renounced his Canadian citizenship in order to lawfully assume his seat in the senate.

Early last year, Gomez formed the International Labour Confederation, an umbrella for 150 Mexican unions.

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Bob Mackin The mining union leader who returned

Bob Mackin

Rain and wind cancelled the new year’s eve fireworks at Grouse Mountain, ending 2019 with a whimper.

But, two days later, Northland Properties Corp. made Canada’s first big business bang of 2020. The privately held Vancouver hospitality company announced the purchase of the four-season North Vancouver resort from the Canadian arm of debt-laden China Minsheng Investment Group (CMIG).

Tom Gaglardi (NHL)

“With our strong family and company roots in Vancouver, we are excited with the opportunity to make this acquisition,” said Northland CEO Tom Gaglardi in a prepared statement. “We look forward to working closely with the existing team and leadership group, as well the community to ensure we maintain and evolve the iconic Grouse Mountain experience for all of our visitors.”

CMIG bought the resort in July 2017 from the McLaughlin family for an undisclosed amount. The McLaughlins had reportedly been asking $200 million.

CMIG holdings included real estate, insurance, leasing and renewable energy. By September 2018, CMIG was reportedly carrying more than $43 billion in debt. In early 2019, CMIG began to aggressively cut costs and unload assets.

Terms of the Northland purchase were not released.

Grouse Mountain Skyride (Mackin)

Northland owns the Revelstoke Mountain Resort in B.C., 50-property Sandman Hotel Group in Canada, U.S. and U.K., high-end Sutton Place hotels in Vancouver, Edmonton, Halifax and Revelstoke and 60 Denny’s restaurants across Canada.

Its highest-profile asset is the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars, who hosted and won the 2020 Winter Classic outdoor game on New Year’s Day at the Cotton Bowl football stadium.

The Northland purchase of Grouse could open the door to the involvement of former Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. CEO David Brownlie in overseeing operations. Brownlie joined Revelstoke in 2018 as its president, to lead mountain operations, heliskiing and real estate development at the resort. 

Not only does the Northland purchase repatriate ownership of Vancouver’s most popular, privately run natural attraction (it averages 1.3 million visitors annually), but it simplifies the ownership.

When China Minsheng’s purchase was announced July 18, 2017, it said CM (Canada) Asset Management Co. Ltd. bought GM Resorts LP, and claimed to be 60% Canadian-owned.

Public records obtained by theBreaker showed that CM (Canada) Asset Management Co. Ltd. was incorporated Nov. 21, 2016 as 1097351 B.C. Ltd. with Kang Yu Canning Zou as the sole director. 

Zou’s address was a $7.6 million-assessed, Shaughnessy mansion near the People’s Republic of China consular compound in South Granville. The property deed was registered in 2009 by businessman Wei Zou and homemaker Xia Yu. 

1097351 B.C. Ltd. became CM (Canada) Asset Management Co. Ltd. on March 8, 2017, when a second director was added: Liao “Laurence” Feng. According to the CMIG website, Liao is the assistant president of CMIG and CEO of CMIG International. Six days later, on March 14, 2017, GM Resorts LP registered. Both GM Resorts LP and CM (Canada) are registered at the Bentall Centre office of law firm Fasken Martineau.

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Bob Mackin Rain and wind cancelled the new

Bob Mackin

It was 20 years ago today, on Dec. 31, 1999, that KISS came to B.C. Place Stadium to rock the world (well, at least the Pacific time zone) out of 1999 and into the year 2000. 

I graciously declined tickets. After racing to finish and print the manuscript for my first book, Record-Breaking Baseball Trivia (Greystone), I drove to a party just across the border in Point Roberts, Wash. instead. There was plenty of beer, candles and a Coleman stove, in case the power went out. 

Why?

Like any 29 year-old, I really did want to rock and roll all day and party all night. But I also didn’t want to be under that inflatable roof if the power went out because of a global computer glitch.

Some experts were fearing data panic in the year zero and I bought what they were selling. What a mistake that was! 

“Depending who you ask, the potential impact of this gargantuan glitch ranges from the trivial to the apocalyptic – from the minor annoyance of malfunctioning VCRs to the complete collapse of information systems governing banks, stock markets, utilities, and government,” reported Quill and Quire.

During a July 1998 speech broadcast on C-SPAN2, U.S. Vice-President Al Gore explained the problem in layman’s language.

“Back in the 1960s and 1970s, managers and programmers tried to save money by saving on memory,” Gore said. “At that stage of the computer revolution, memory was at a premium and they were trying to avoid using any unnecessary space in the memory storage areas. So they came up with a notion of representing the date with only two digits instead of four, so 1965 became just 65 and it saved millions of dollars. But it also created one whale of a problem.”

Jerome and Marilyn Murray were among the first to warn the world in their 1984 book, Computers in Crisis: How to Avert the Coming Worldwide Computer Systems Collapse. Other books followed, including Y2K It’s Not Too Late, by Scott Marks, Karl Kaufman and Patrice Kaufman and Y2K It’s Already Too Late, by Jason Kelly. 

Governments and businesses spent millions upon millions of dollars to reprogram their computer systems or replace them altogether. BC Gas, the province’s natural gas utility, Bank of Montreal and the Canadian Springs water company issued notices to customers. Here they are below. 

As well as a clip of KISS counting down to midnight and the year 2000.  

The roof stayed aloft. KISS came and went.

The beer stayed cold in Point Roberts and life went on. Crisis averted.

Despite what Paul Stanley said, it wasn’t really the start of the new millennium at B.C. Place. Or anywhere, for that matter.

As the late, great Rafe Mair wrote in a 1996 Richmond News column: “If zero were a number, we would start the year with January 0 and Labour Day this year would have been September 1, with the day before being September 0… On December 31, 2000 (God willing) I shall celebrate my birthday and at 12:00 midnight will toast in the incoming new millennium. I will be all alone, of course, because the rest of you turkeys can’t count or are too stubborn to admit that you’ve been taken in by the international media who, rather than be right and miss the party, will insist that somehow the passage of 1999 years means that we should get excited.”

P.S. The B.C. Place roof did eventually fall down, but that was in January 2007 after managers refused to heat the roof and melt falling snow. It led to the $514 million renovation that included installation of a retractable roof in 2011. 

(BC Gas)

(BC Gas)

(Canadian Springs)

 

(BMO)

(BMO)

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Bob Mackin It was 20 years ago today,

Bob Mackin

How fitting.

In the waning weeks of the second decade of the third millennium, luxury real estate developer Ian Gillespie of Westbank unveiled a $4.8 million chandelier beneath the Granville Bridge. Heralded by Mayor Kennedy Stewart as the city’s most important piece of public art. Ever.

The City of Glass suddenly had a new plastic wonder that was supposed to drop and spin on schedule. Twice a day. Lotusland’s newest prop for selfies and a metaphor for excess in the decade after the Great Recession.

What else happened? Glad you asked.

1. First Olympics

Fifty years after the first Winter Games bid was hatched, Vancouver and Whistler (along with West Vancouver and Richmond) finally hosted their first Olympics in 2010.

Vancouver 2010 mascots Miga, Quatchi and Mukmuk (VANOC)

The five-ring circus didn’t start well, with the death of a luge athlete on opening day. Seventeen days later, the first mega-event of the social media age ended with a giant, sociable street party after Canada’s NHLers were better than the American NHLers.

Canuck Roberto Luongo backstopped the home and native land in the most-watched hockey game in history. Sidney Crosby’s golden goal secured the record 14th home team gold medal of the Winter Games.

The Olympics cost $7 billion, give or take a billion. The cost of police and soldiers (some of whom stayed on cruise ships) was $900 million. Auditor General offices in Victoria and Ottawa never did a final report. The organizing committee arranged for the ledgers and board minutes to be hidden from the public eye at the Vancouver Archives until at least 2025.

It was marketed as the ultimate souvenir of the Games, but the $1.1 billion Olympic Village was put in receivership in late 2010 after a slew of bad publicity and poor sales. It took until spring 2014 for city hall to sell the rest of the condos and exit the deal.

2. Second Stanley Cup riot

The year after hockey gold, Vancouver had its second Stanley Cup riot. Unliked 1994, the Canucks were the Game 7 home team and had a chance to win it all.

Luongo was also the home team goalie, but the Boston Bruins, with B.C. boys Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi, skated away with Lord Stanley’s mug.

Police chief Jim Chu’s February 2010 high-fiving didn’t carry over to June 2011 and his prediction of no riot flopped. He blamed “anarchists” for the upheaval.

Oddly, the VPD investigation and an analysis by ex-Vancouver 2010 boss John Furlong didn’t take a magnifying glass to the biggest, loudest indoor drinking establishment in the city on June 15, 2011, Rogers Arena. Four years later, Chu retired from the force and went to work as a vice-president of special projects and partnerships for the Aquilini family.

In 2014, the Aquilinis forged an alliance with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh, three of the Olympics’ four host first nations, to acquire land the BC Liberal government deemed surplus in Vancouver and Burnaby.

3. Gordo’s Games

Soon after winning the 2001 election, Gordon Campbell positioned himself as the Olympic premier. He finally announced his resignation before the end of the Olympic year.

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell in 2010 (Mackin)

A caucus revolt brewed when the father of B.C.’s carbon tax broke a campaign promise and imposed the Harmonized Sales Tax after the 2009 election. Campbell’s former deputy premier Christy Clark quit her talkshow on CKNW and returned to succeed Campbell in a divisive 2011 leadership campaign marred by cheating for the phone-in and online votes.

Campbell left the premier’s office without fulfilling a promise to explain the 2003 BC Rail privatization scandal. He preferred to blame former BC Liberal aides Dave Basi and Bob Virk, whose plea bargain in October 2010 ended the B.C. Supreme Court bribery trial with ex-finance minister Gary Collins waiting to testify.

Voters defeated the HST in a 2011 referendum. Clark served out Campbell’s term and many forecast her defeat in May 2013. Nobody predicted the Adrian Dix-led NDP would go from Question Period pitbulls to campaign trail poodles. So the BC Liberals kept their hold on power for another four years. It wasn’t as if the NDP had a lack of material, after the BC Liberals were caught in the Quick Wins ethnic vote-buying scandal less than three months before voting day.

Over the next four years, it was one scandal after another for Clark and her clique, from the unjust firing of health researchers (which drove one to suicide) to the mass-deleting of emails to the kiboshed yoga class on the Burrard Bridge.

The Clark years were dubious, but nobody can say they were dull.

4. Football follies

Campbell wanted to pay for the $514 million renovation of B.C. Place by selling the name and building a casino next door.

A sponsorship deal with Telus collapsed in 2012 under Clark and the casino’s opening was delayed after city council refused in 2011 to let the Las Vegas company have more slot machines and tables than it had at Edgewater Casino. Parq Casino, and two Marriott hotels, finally opened in fall 2017, just in time for the province’s casino money laundering scandal to erupt.

B.C. Place Stadium was supposed to become Telus Park, but Clark nixed the naming rights deal.

The Whitecaps debuted in 2011 in Major League Soccer at a temporary stadium on the site of Empire Stadium. They joined the B.C. Lions as co-tenants of the renovated B.C. Place Stadium in the fall. The Lions hosted and won the 2011 Grey Cup under the new retractable roof, but the lacklustre Whitecaps have given nobody a reason to revel or riot. David Braley, the Lions owner, often talked to reporters about selling his team to locals willing to pay his price. What about Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot? He still hasn’t talked to reporters.

B.C. Place became a wildly successful annual stop on the Rugby Sevens World Cup tour in 2016, the year after its plastic grass hosted the U.S.-won FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015. They built an office for corrupt FIFA boss Sepp Blatter at B.C. Place, but he skipped the show, afraid he’d be arrested.

U2 began the 30th anniversary Joshua Tree tour at B.C. Place in 2017, two years after beginning an arena tour across the street at Rogers Arena.

Vancouver’s biggest sports success of the decade? Yoga pants. The fashion phenomenon that displaced Levi’s made Lululemon founder Chip Wilson a billionaire.

He built a $35.2 million mansion on Point Grey Road and hired the Red Hot Chili Peppers to play a private concert there in 2013. The mansion eventually ballooned in value to $78 million.

5. LNG and Site C

Christy Clark made natural gas exports and the Site C dam her grand goals. She tried to interest governments in China, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia in building natural gas liquefying plants and terminals on the B.C. coast. Then the market tanked in 2014 and nobody wanted to lay out the billions to build an LNG tank.

She did green light Site C before the end of 2014, the long-pondered BC Hydro dam on the Peace River, with an $8.8 billion price tag. More expensive than the Olympics. 

6. Green Gregor 

Gregor Robertson rose to power as Vancouver’s mayor in 2008 on a promise to solve street homelessness by 2015 and make Vancouver the world’s greenest city by 2020.

Robertson and the Mayor of Shanghai, Ying Yong (PRC)

Instead, his city council-dominating Vision Vancouver party (a coalition of NDP and Liberals) rubber-stamped luxury towers developed and/or marketed by party donors and flogged in Asia.

Robertson also positioned himself as the leader of a crusade against oil pipelines and tankers. Robertson presided over the building of a network of bike lanes and let marijuana stores proliferate across the city, before the feds legalized B.C. bud in 2018. Robertson’s pet causes helped distract from the reality that Vancouver was transitioning into a resort city.

7. Sino of the times

Robertson took Mandarin lessons, became active on Chinese social media platforms, led trade missions to China and even had a well-publicized fling with a Chinese singer, Wanting Qu, that began in the 2014 election year.

As he was racking-up the frequent flyer points to follow Qu to New York, California and Mexico, homelessness increased, gang shootings intensified and the opioid overdose crisis was felt in hospital emergency rooms and the morgue. Even Robertson’s foster son wound-up in jail after the 2011 election.

8. The Happy Warrior

John Horgan was acclaimed in 2014 as the replacement for Dix as NDP leader. In 2017, after voters took their frustration out on Clark and the BC Liberals, Horgan convinced Andrew Weaver and the Greens to help him end 16-years of BC Liberal rule. Clark’s gamble to adopt NDP and Green policies in the post-election throne speech, nicknamed the “clone speech,” was a disaster.

Horgan and Weaver agree to defeat Clark (Twitter)

A week later, the 44-42 result in the June 29, 2017 confidence vote sent Clark and Horgan to Government House where Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon gave Horgan the nod to form a new government. 

The three Greens that had the balance of power failed to stop Site C or start proportional representation. But climate scientist Weaver’s party did succeed in forcing the NDP to adopt a government-wide, climate change adaptation plan in 2018.

Their timing was impeccable. As if 2015’s forest fires that blocked summer sun in Vancouver weren’t enough, the government declared a province-wide state of emergency in 2017.

9. Car-spangled spanners

Congestion became the buzzword as Vancouver became known as the luxury car capital of the continent. Green new driver decals became a common sight on the bumpers of six-figure supercars that plied the roads between Richmond and UBC, which gained the nickname “University of Beautiful Cars.” Burrard Street in Kitsilano became a de facto luxury car auto mall, with Rolls Royce, Porsche, Bentley and Ferrari dealerships.

Former senior RCMP officer Peter German’s 2018 report on money laundering exposed a booming grey market for luxury car exports to China through Vancouver’s port, which hasn’t had a dedicated police force for more than two decades.

10. On time, on budget, yeah right

SkyTrain finally expanded to the Tri-Cities with the $1.4 billion Evergreen Line in 2016 and the Port Mann bridge opened in 2012 for $3 billion and $1.26 billion South Fraser Perimeter Road in 2012-2013. As per usual, the projects weren’t on time or on budget.

Clark at 2012 Port Mann opening (BC Gov)

The NDP took away the Port Mann tolls after the 2017 election. Crews were preparing to build a new bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel when the NDP came to power and scrubbed the project.

TransLink lost a 2015 plebiscite for its $7.7 billion expansion plan on a regional sales tax to fund SkyTrain expansion. But it got the dough through other means when Justin Trudeau led the Liberals back to power later that year.

11. Electric avenue

But 2019 brought two innovations to B.C. A self-driving electric Tesla was caught on smartphone video at Richmond Centre. Weeks later, Harbour Air made worldwide headlines with the first flight of an electric powered commercial airplane.

12. Clark out

Back to provincial politics. Clark didn’t last long as the opposition leader. Re-elected Abbotsford South MLA and criminology professor Darryl Plecas threatened to leave the party if she didn’t step down during a Penticton caucus retreat in late July 2017.

Plecas became speaker of the Legislature in September 2017 and an ex-BC Liberal. Craig James, the clerk that Clark and the BC Liberals appointed in 2011, was escorted out of the Legislature in November 2018. He and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz were suddenly suspended and under RCMP investigation. Plecas revealed some of the reasons why when he tabled a bombshell report in January 2019 to the all-party committee that manages Legislature operations.

James and Lenz had hired lawyers from the BC Liberal-aligned Fasken firm and demanded their jobs back. As 2019 wore on, James was found in misconduct and Lenz in breach of duty, so they both retired in disgrace.

13. Carpetbagger rolls in

After Clark’s fall from power, Robertson and his circle realized the populace was angry. Too angry to re-elect Vision. In early January 2018, Robertson announced he would not stand for a fourth term. His city hall career ended just shy of a decade in office, the longest in Vancouver mayoral history.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart signs the oath of office on Nov. 5 (MackIn)

He handed the reins to independent Kennedy Stewart, who became famous for being arrested at an anti-pipeline protest. The NDP MP for Burnaby South edged the NPA’s Ken Sim by just 957 votes in the October 2018 civic vote. The NPA fell one seat shy of a majority on council, but it did make history with five female councillors.

14. #Whalleypoli

Surrey is B.C.’s second city, forecast to someday eclipse Vancouver. Doug McCallum was twice-elected in 1999 and 2002 and made a mayoral comeback in 2018 on a populist platform. He scrapped the planned light rail transit system in favour of more SkyTrain and pledged to replace the RCMP with a municipal force.

Ironically, the last city council meeting of the decade required help from the RCMP to separate protesters for and against McCallum’s cop swap, which is forecast to deliver fewer officers at a higher price to taxpayers in the sprawling border city burdened by gang crime.

15. Dam it

In December 2017, Horgan vowed to keep building Site C, but the new price tag was $10.7 billion. The referendum to reform the electoral system failed. But he did increase social service spending and end B.C.’s wild west campaign finance scene with limits on the size of donation and bans on corporations and unions funding candidates and parties.

16. Vancouver model

One of Horgan’s signature decisions in May 2019 was to green light a public inquiry into money laundering after the evidence piled up and tipped over. Chinese money had flowed between real estate, casinos and the drug trade, making B.C. notorious for all three.

A bag of cash from a surveillance video at Starlight Casino (BC Gov)

17. Ride hailing saga

Horgan had a soft spot for unions, unlike company-cuddling Clark. But Horgan carried on Clark’s courting of the LNG industry and even announced the $40 billion LNG Canada for Kitimat in 2018. Like Clark, he was a fan of Amazon and Airbnb. He also was in no hurry to open the province to Uber and Lyft, despite promises otherwise.

Why? The NDP won a majority of seats in Surrey, the taxi cartel’s hotbed, during the 2017 election.

Regulators finally gave a licence to a ride-hailing company in Whistler and Tofino before Christmas, pushing the rest of the industry into the next decade.

18. The Huawei Princess

It became Vancouver’s biggest global news event since the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Meng Wanzhou at Prospect Point in Stanley Park, Vancouver (B.C. Courts exhibits)

Meng Wanzhou, daughter of Huawei telecom founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1, 2018. Wanted in the U.S. for fraud, her extradition case could take a decade to wind its way through courts. She lives comfortably in a Shaughnessy mansion on the same block as the U.S. consulate general’s residence.

Few in Vancouver heard of Meng before the first reports of her arrest hit the media on Dec. 5, 2018. But she was no stranger to the city. Meng, who also went by Cathy or Sabrina, had been slipping in and out of Vancouver since 2001. Her husband’s name only was on the deed of their Dunbar house and Shaughnessy mansion.

The Meng case brought new attention to the Chinese money that landed in Vancouver’s real estate and auto industry and to the political influence that Beijing-loyal groups were flexing throughout the province.

Nowhere was it more obvious than Richmond, where Chinese characters on store signs and birth tourism became flashpoints for controversy. The 2016 census showed that it had become the most Chinese city outside of China, with more than half the residents identifying as ethnic Chinese and almost half reporting a Chinese language as their mother tongue.

19. Full circle

Vancouver’s Olympic legacy was slow to materialize, but was clear as the nose on your face by 2015. The tourism and real estate sectors boomed, driven by a flood of money from China.

China’s social, economic and political influence in B.C. is not new; links go back to the 19th century. But the unprecedented migration of wealth from Mainland China was undeniably sparked by the 2010 Winter Olympics, the first after Beijing’s 2008 Games. With the U.S. economy suffering through the Great Recession, China sent its biggest winter team to Vancouver and TV and online viewers in the Middle Kingdom saw more hours of coverage than before. Millions tuned in during Lunar New Year to see what Vancouver had to offer: unseasonably clear, blue skies.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie (left) and China’s Consulate-Gen. Tong Xiaoling in 2018 (PRC)

Urban planner Andy Yan’s research found incomes had decoupled from real estate values; the latter rose and the former fell. His analysis found an uncanny prevalence of “non-Anglicized Chinese names,” and “housewife” and “student” listed as the occupation on the deeds of multimillion-dollar residences on Vancouver’s westside.

Meanwhile, the head of CSIS warned that China was meddling in Canadian affairs. Stories emerged of Chinese government officials being the owners of mysterious empty mansions or construction sites on billionaires’ row. Xi Jinping’s regime even accused some Chinese expats in B.C. of corruption.

A murky Chinese insurance company, Anbang, bought control of the Bentall towers in the heart of Vancouver’s central business district in 2016 while China Minsheng Investment Group bought iconic Grouse Mountain in 2017.

20. Bigly, yuge

Vancouver also became the most-American city outside the U.S. and it prompted New York wheeler dealer Donald Trump to make a splash. Malaysian-owned developer Holborn cut a franchise deal with The Donald and built the Arthur Erickson-designed West Georgia tower that became a destination for mass protests after Trump’s improbable 2016 presidential win.

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

Trump was at the construction site in 2013, but was a tad preoccupied when the tower opened in February 2017. So he sent his two sons and one of his daughters to cut the ribbon with Holborn’s Joo Kim-Tiah.

Oddly, the protesters outside in 2017 weren’t there to criticize Holborn’s failure to replace the 200 social housing units that it demolished at Little Mountain in 2009.

In December 2019, however, activists returned to the site to remind all about one of Vancouver’s defining debacles of the decade.

A decade that ends with a record number of citizens living in sidewalk sleeping bags, camper vans and tents in parks.

So here we are at the end of the 2010s. The decade that was. Sandwiched between the naughty aughties and what might be another version of the roaring ‘20s

May I suggest we call the decade that was the Selfie Decade?

Onward to 2020.

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Bob Mackin How fitting. In the waning weeks