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Bob Mackin

The promoter of the cancelled July 2 electric car race in Vancouver says it is up to the ticketing contractor to refund ticket holders. 

OSS Group CEO Matthew Carter also disputes reports that Formula E has split with his company, which is planning to try again for 2023.

OSS Group’s Matthew Carter (LinkedIn)

“We’re clearly not doing a race this year, so the contract needs to be terminated,” Carter said.

On June 17, Formula E said it was ending its contract with Montreal-based OSS and Vancouver would not be on the soon-to-be-released 2023 calendar. 

City of Vancouver said it learned via media reports about the contract termination and would be seeking confirmation.

“To date, the City has had some preliminary conversations with the OSS Group and the Formula E Group concerning steps toward permitting a 2023 event, with no date yet ascertained and no host city contract currently in place,” said the city hall statement.

“The city released the statement without speaking to me,” Carter said. “They didn’t know about that, they were just confused. They thought that we had a contract in place for 2023 and that that had been terminated.”

On April 21, OSS and Vancouver city hall separately announced the 2022 Canadian E-Fest cancelation. OSS claimed it had sold 33,000 tickets to the June 30-July 2 event, including the ABB Formula E World Championship tour race. It did not have all required permits from the city and private landowners to stage the race and related activities around eastern False Creek.

Holders of tickets, which started at $150 each, have been in limbo since then. In a May interview, Carter said: “Our preferred way forward would obviously be for the tickets to be valid for next year. But right now, as I say, we’re waiting for Formula E to confirm the date for next year.”

Now OSS says that the ticketing company, ATPI Sports Events, will contact ticket holders to begin the process in July. Carter refused to provide a definite timeline. 

Last December, ATPI announced it would be the exclusive travel, hospitality and ticketing partner of Canadian E-Fest for a five-year term. Nobody at the Montreal company could be immediately reached.

(Formula E/Twitter)

“So there’s a process that the ticketing company needs to go through exactly how it works. But I think after the event date has to be passed before we can start the process,” Carter said. “I’m not an expert, so don’t quote me on that. I have no idea. Our ticketing company are dealing with the ticket holders directly.”

Carter was asked why OSS can’t simply begin the process now, since it contracted the ticketing company. 

“The ticketing company contracted with the customer,” he said. 

Later, he said: “With the greatest of respect, it’s a question for the ticketing company not for me.”

The three-day festival was also supposed to include a celebrity electric car race, electric vehicle test drives, a concert by Nickelback and a business conference headlined by environmental activist and consumer advocate Erin Brockovich and former Mexican president Felipe Calderon.

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Bob Mackin The promoter of the cancelled July

Bob Mackin 

Former B.C. Solicitor General Kash Heed said the two key recommendations of the Cullen Commission final report would add more bureaucracy and not curb money laundering.

Kash Heed (Mackin)

Commissioner Austin Cullen’s 1,800-page report, released June 15, proposed the NDP government hire an anti-money laundering commissioner and create a new anti-money laundering squad. Heed said it would take expertise, such as dedicated prosecutors or accountants, away from other enforcement units with associated agencies. 

“Where are you going to get the resources from, when you look at the fact that 30% of our police agencies just here in British Columbia are carrying vacancies right now?” Heed said in an interview. “They do not have a large pool of candidates that want to be police officers.”

Heed was in the BC Liberal government from 2009 to 2013 after serving as deputy chief of the Vancouver Police and chief of the West Vancouver Police. 

He said there needs to be proper resourcing and accountability for existing agencies, including the RCMP and FINTRAC, the federal financial intelligence agency.

One of Cullen’s key findings was that BC Liberal ex-Premier Christy Clark and cabinet ministers, including Rich Coleman, did not act in a corrupt manner. They just failed to do their jobs to properly regulate casinos. Cullen’s final report said Heed testified that money laundering was not brought to his attention in any formal document or briefing during his time in cabinet or as an MLA.

“The important thing to remember here, a lot of those elected officials take their information from the bureaucrats,” Heed said. “And this is the part that really bothers me, if you’ve had so many different enforcement agencies, whether it’s [Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch], [Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit], or even the local law enforcement or the [Federal Serious and Organized Crime unit] of the RCMP looking at these particular matters, you would think they would advise the bureaucracy, who would advise politicians with respect to what was going on.”

Heed said B.C.’s money laundering problem could have been tackled quicker with a judicial review, since the provincial law that enables public inquiries does’t require government to accept and implement recommendations. Cullen made 101 recommendations, but focused 538 pages of the report — almost 30% — on the gambling sector alone. Heed said that was a missed opportunity and it shows elsewhere in the report.

“[Casinos] are what I would call the low-hanging fruit, if not the fruit that’s already fallen to the ground,” he said. “When you look at the bulk of the laundering of money, illicit proceeds, it’s through other venues, whether you want to look at the real estate or whether you want to look at the stock market.”

River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond (Mackin)

There was no chapter on stock markets, but the real estate sector got 199 pages and was inconclusive about the role of money laundering or foreign investment as the primary cause of high real estate prices in B.C. Cullen suggested it needed further study. Indeed, the inquiry heavily investigated the casino sector, but did not hear from real estate or construction movers and shakers. 

Heed was also disappointed that there was not more accountability and pointed to the weakness in B.C.’s law compared to Quebec’s. The four-year Charbonneau Commission on construction corruption led to charges for various public officials and businessmen. 

“There’s nothing that ensures that the government actually implements recommendations or follows through on the recommendations,” he said. 

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Bob Mackin  Former B.C. Solicitor General Kash Heed

Bob Mackin

The 2026 World Cup is coming to Vancouver, Seattle and Toronto.

But not Edmonton.

West Vancouver’s Victor Montagliani announces Vancouver will host 2026 World Cup matches (FIFA/YouTube)

During a televised special on June 16 in New York, soccer’s world governing body unveiled the 16 cities that will host the world’s biggest tournament in four years. 

Twenty-two cities were in the running after FIFA awarded the expanded, 48-nation event to the U.S.-led, three-nation bid in 2018. Mexico previously hosted in 1970 and 1986, while the U.S. was 1994’s host. It will be Canada’s first time. 

Seventy games are scheduled to be spread out around U.S. markets Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, Seattle and San Francisco.

Vancouver and Toronto will split 10. Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey will split the other 10. B.C. Place Stadium, site of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, is likely to see first and second round matches only. 

Where will the opening match and final take place? 

“We’ll take our time with that decision,” said FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

For Vancouver and Toronto taxpayers, it won’t be cheap. 

The B.C. NDP government said it could cost taxpayers up to $260 million. In 2018, Premier John Horgan said FIFA’s demands were too much and he didn’t want to give the Zurich-based organization a “blank cheque.” Last July, Montreal withdrew, citing high costs, so Vancouver was back in the running. 

B.C. Tourism Minister Melanie Mark expects the federal government to contribute to the costs. City of Vancouver has pledged $5 million for a live site. 

Mayor Kennedy Stewart, in a prepared statement, said he was thrilled. 

B.C. Place Stadium’s Polytan Ligaturf synthetic pitch installed for the Canada 2015 Women’s World Cup (Mackin)

“This is a once in a generation opportunity for soccer fans, for our tourism sector, and for all British Columbians,” Stewart said.

Vancouver city hall staff have not provided a breakdown, but staff at Toronto city hall did. Mayor John Tory is asking the federal and Ontario governments to pay two-thirds of the expected $290 million bill, or $177 million. FIFA is expected to pay just $12.7 million of the cost in Toronto. 

Back in 2018, Toronto bureaucrats estimated the cost to be a relatively small $30 million to $45 million, but the Canadian Soccer Association and FIFA have since shifted more hosting requirements onto city hall, Exhibition Place, Destination Toronto and the owners of Toronto FC.

“This exercise – which considered the full breadth of the host city agreement – saw a rise in costs in several areas such as security, stadium adaptation and expansion, and preparation of training sites,” said a report to staff in March. “City staff anticipate that there are areas where savings can be secured given that there is time available for lower cost alternatives to be identified and for FIFA requirements to be negotiated.”

Toronto has committed to providing FIFA with BMO Field, training sites, a 34-day FanFest and transportation and safety and security services. FIFA is also demanding an addendum to the 2018 agreement for upgrades and rental costs at BMO Field.

In return for spending $290 million, Toronto estimates a $307 million economic impact, with 3,300 jobs and 174,000 overnight visitors, resulting in $3.5 million municipal accommodation tax revenue.

Few details are available about Vancouver’s bid, beyond B.C. Place. The 1983-opened stadium underwent a $563 million renovation in 2011 and could be in line for further upgrades by 2026. During the hosting of nine Women’s World Cup matches in 2015, additional temporary space was required to fulfil hospitality commitments and a broadcast compound was set-up across Pacific Boulevard, beside the Plaza of Nations.

The B.C. government claims that Destination B.C. and B.C. Stats estimate the west coast tourism industry could attract more than $1 billion in new revenue “during and in the five years following the event.” The Ministry did not release the methodology. 

Prof. Victor Matheson, a sports economist at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., has studied mega-events. While there can be benefits, they don’t live up to the hype generated by the organizers who benefit from the subsidies. 

Large sporting events like World Cups and Olympics supplant, rather than supplement, the regular tourist economy, Matheson said.

“There’s no reason that again, taxpayers in Vancouver or in Boston, where I am, should be subsidizing a private entity run by millionaires generating billions of dollars,” Matheson said.

After Russia hosted the 2018 World Cup, FIFA reported that US$5.35 billion revenue from the tournament contributed to its record US$6.42 billion, four-year haul. Its 2021 financial statements boast US$3.4 billion assets and US$1.6 billion in reserves.

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Bob Mackin The 2026 World Cup is coming

Bob Mackin

The author of two NDP government-commissioned reports that set the stage for B.C.’s public inquiry into money laundering is not surprised that Commissioner Austin Cullen ruled that former BC Liberal government officials were not corrupt.

Despite accepting political donations from casino companies, Cullen found witnesses ex-Premier Christy Clark, and ex-Ministers Shirley Bond, Rich Coleman and Mike de Jong simply failed to do their jobs to properly oversee casinos.

Peter German’s Dirty Money report was released June 27 (Mackin)

“My sense is that, Mr. Justice Cullen is saying that there is nothing that led him to believe that there is criminal corruption, which means bribery, and the particular, specific provisions of our Criminal Code that apply to corruption,” said Peter German, the former RCMP Commissioner for Western Canada in 2011 and 2012. “But, you know, some people will say conflict of interest is a form of corruption, even though it doesn’t lead to criminal charges and that sort of thing. So, yes, I can see people arguing that point, but I don’t disagree with his finding.”

In Cullen’s June 15-published final report, he made two marquee recommendations: to hire an anti-money laundering commissioner and create a dedicated, provincial money laundering intelligence and investigation unit.

German, whose Dirty Money I and II reports were published in 2018 and 2019, said an oversight czar is innovative, but a full-fledged squad is not easy to build from scratch. He had recommended a new, dedicated casino police in his first report and points to the slow set-up of the Surrey Police Service as an example of the complexity. 

“But the things you want to consider when starting a whole new unit is what about the others that are in this space, the RCMP, local police, and so forth?” he said. 

Cullen’s report was critical of the RCMP and FINTRAC, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada. It noted that implementation of German’s recommendations had “significantly curtailed the prevalence of illicit cash in B.C. casinos.”

German got his first report done in six months and released a sequel a year later. It helped trigger the launch of the Cullen Commission in May 2019 with an original two-year mandate. The pandemic and snap 2020 election led to extensions. 

The Cullen Commission was inspired by the Charbonneau Commission, Quebec’s four-year inquiry into construction corruption that heard testimony from organized crime figures and provincial and municipal politicians. The Cullen Commission did not call any current or former mayors or bureaucrats from Vancouver or Richmond, for instance. Nor did it hear testimony from real estate developers, construction executives, luxury car dealers or stock brokers or promoters.  

“The approach taken was quite different,” German said. “Charbonneau was really trying to put the bad guys on the witness stand and see where it took you and the suspects, etc. We didn’t see that sort of approach here, it is much more of a civil litigation approach. It was a different approach that Mr. Justice Cullen took, not necessarily better or worse, but a different approach.”

Justice Austin Cullen (left) and commission counsel Brock Martland (Mackin)

At a news conference, Commission Counsel Brock Martland said decisions were made to prioritize subjects and witnesses based on the level of risk. 

“I don’t think we pretended ever that we’d be perfectly comprehensive and without taking in decades, and costing much, much more,” Martland said. 

Cullen said his recommendation for an anti-money laundering commissioner is intended to tackle any issues that were not explored during the hearings.

“One of the reasons that I recommended the anti-money laundering commissioner is really to serve that purpose on an ongoing basis,” he said.

Regardless of any gaps, the issue of money laundering is on the public agenda and government has been forced to take action. German has set-up his own legacy at the University of B.C.’s law school.

“The ‘Vancouver model’ came up a lot during the last few years, it was a phrase coined by a professor in Australia, John Langdale, looking at what was taking place in our casinos and the movement of money from China,” German said. 

“Well, why don’t we change? Turn that around and create an anti-corruption institute, and call it the Vancouver Anti-Corruption Institute and really attempt to do good things with respect to this fight against corruption and money laundering.”

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Bob Mackin The author of two NDP government-commissioned

Bob Mackin

The judge in the fraud cause of a former Squamish Nation council member adjourned sentencing June 15 and ordered a psychiatric report. 

Krisandra Jacobs, 57, was convicted last November of fraud over $5,000 for cashing more than 400 cheques worth almost $1 million between April 2011 and May 2014 from the band’s emergency accounts.

Former Squamish Nation councillor Krisandra Jacobs

In North Vancouver Provincial Court last month, Judge Lyndsay Smith heard Crown lawyer Jim Bird wants Jacobs to pay back $856,695.23 and serve a four-year sentence in prison, while her defence lawyer asked for a two-year sentence.

At the May 4 hearing, Jacobs’s lawyer John Turner said the root of his client’s trouble was depression from a marriage breakup and gambling addition. 

On June 15, however, Smith adjourned sentencing until the end of August, because she said she needed more facts about Jacobs. 

Jacobs did not testify in her own defence at the trial, but witnesses for the Crown testified they heard rumours of Jacobs gambling. That was deemed hearsay and not admissible. 

Smith said cheques were drawn from financial institutions and an expert said Jacobs had no drug or alcohol addictions, though she did suffer depression at times. 

But, Smith said, a 17-page spreadsheet of Jacobs’s bank machine transactions from 2011 to 2014 showed dozens of withdrawals at or near a casino in Burnaby, Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver, and one near the Squamish Chances casino. 

“Sentencing is an individualized process, a judge must craft the appropriate sentence for the offender before them taking all relevant characteristics and factors into account,” Smith said.

The judge cited a section of the Criminal Code that, after hearing prosecution and defence arguments, requires the production of evidence to assist in determining the appropriate sentence.

She ordered a psychiatric assessment to be “prepared with particular focus on whether it was Jacobs had a medically recognized [gambling] disorder and, if so, whether that disorder caused or contributed to the commission of the offence.”

“I am aware of the attendant delay and the inevitable stress that it will create, but on balance, concluded that it is the right thing to do.”

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Bob Mackin The judge in the fraud cause

Bob Mackin

The Canadian Olympic Committee’s proposal for another Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2030 contains no cost estimate and officials say wait until the middle of summer for details.

Vancouver 2030 proposed venues map (COC)

“It’s quite a complex calculation, and so we’ll just provide a briefing on that in July,” said Mary Conibear, managing director of Games operations for Vancouver 2010. She is part of the team behind the 26-page, Games Engagement draft hosting concept released June 14 at the Squamish-Lil’wat Cultural Centre. 

July is when the COC and leaders of the Four Host First Nations (FHFN) want City of Vancouver and Resort Municipality of Whistler councils to support crafting a formal proposal to the International Olympic Committee. Salt Lake City, the 2002 host, and Sapporo, Japan, the 1972 host are also pondering bids. The IOC wants to choose the 2030 host by the time it meets in Mumbai at the end of May 2023. 

The COC, the de facto bid committee, has discouraged all six parties from holding a referendum this year, for fear it would ruin the chance for “targeted dialogue” negotiations with the IOC. 

“We still haven’t seen the books from 2010,” said Coun. Colleen Hardwick, the mayoral candidate for TEAM for a Liveable Vancouver. “Most concerning is the democratic deficit, despite the desire to have a vote that the city will press ahead.”

In April, Hardwick unsuccessfully proposed adding a yes or no question on the 2030 bid to the Oct. 15 civic election ballot, noting that 64% of voters passed a 2003 plebiscite before the IOC chose Vancouver to host the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics. 

No one else on city council seconded her motion. Hardwick is also concerned because board minutes and financial ledgers from the Vancouver 2010 organizing committee (VANOC) are locked from public view until October 2025.

Vancouver 2030 bid logo

“We do not move forward without one another,” said feasibility team member Tewanee Joseph, who was the FHFN executive director in 2010. “That’s what’s important when we talk about indigenous values and processes.”

One of the councillors who did not support Hardwick’s motion was COPE Coun. Jean Swanson. The Downtown Eastside anti-poverty activist who organized protests against the 2010 Games is now having second thoughts. 

“The Host Nations still need to discuss with their folks and we need more details on [costs],” Swanson said. “I am torn on this one cause want to support [Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh first nations], but also am aware of issues with past Olympics such as land cost escalation, massive expenditure on things with no lasting value like security, police activity in DTES.”

The 2030 bid does not have support from the provincial government, which recently announced the $1 billion Royal B.C. Museum project for 2030 and is hoping FIFA chooses Vancouver on June 16 to host up to five matches in the 2026 World Cup. That could cost $260 million. 

Should the councils continue with the bid, the COC plans to make formal proposals to the federal Liberal and B.C. NDP treasury boards this fall.

Last December, Vancouver, Whistler and the reunited FHFN agreed to explore a bid. In February, the COC began the feasibility study. The concept plan said the 2030 Olympics would run Feb. 8-24, 2030 and the Paralympics from March 8-17, 2030. 

In May, revealed the proposed venues. Most 2010 venues would reprise their roles, except snowboarding and freestyle skiing would go to Sun Peaks near Kamloops, curling at the Agrodome, and the new big air skiing and snowboarding events on a temporary ramp at Hastings Racecourse. The latter would be the biggest sporting venue of the Games, by spectator capacity, with room for 20,000 people. 

Whereas False Creek was the focal point in 2010, it would be Hastings Park in 2030 with nightly medal awards concerts at the PNE Amphitheatre, the official merchandise superstore, a daytime live site, cultural village and sponsor pavilions.  

Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith (left) and Four Host First Nations executive director Tewanee Joseph (second from left) at the Dec. 10 bid exploration announcement (Twitter/Tewanee Joseph)

Tim Gayda, the vice-president of sport for VANOC, said it would be the “place to go even if you don’t have a ticket to go into see an event.”

“We really see Hastings Park as a real centrepiece for our games,” said Gayda, the 2030 feasibility team’s master planner.

A new Vancouver Olympic Village would be built at either the Jericho Lands or Heather Lands, both co-owned by MST Development.

West Vancouver’s Cypress turned into a weather nightmare for organizers in 2010, so they’re looking 400 kilometres away to Sun Peaks. Gayda said all six courses for freestyle skiing and snowboarding would fit in two stadiums at the resort near Kamloops, which boasts a north-facing slope. 

“It was one of those mountains that we were able to find everything that we wanted,” Gayda said. 

The bid’s Indigenous-led strategy has not been fully defined to the satisfaction of staff at the two municipal governments involved. Joseph, who chairs the Squamish Nation’s Nch’kay, the Squamish Nation’s economic development agency, called the 2030 bid model “co-leadership” and said it would involve governance, planning and hosting policies that correspond with recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

The Games Engagement document also talks of 2030 being the first Games to be “climate positive,” but it does not detail how that can achieved when the Olympics always rely on international air travel and inter-city buses to shuttle athletes, media, workers and spectators around the region. The document does not include any long-range forecast for inventory of electric vehicles or supply of lesser-polluting jet fuel.

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Bob Mackin The Canadian Olympic Committee’s proposal

Bob Mackin

The Canadian Olympic Committee has privately warned partners exploring the Vancouver 2030 Winter Olympics bid that the International Olympic Committee will walk away if any of them hold a referendum before next January. 

The COC released its 2030 Games concept plan in Whistler on June 14. City of Vancouver, Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Four Host First Nations are expected to each decide whether to proceed with the bid in July.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart on Dec. 10 (City of Vancouver)

But sources say that a referendum is heavily discouraged because the COC, which is acting as the de facto bid committee, told the six councils that it would ruin the COC’s potential negotiations with the IOC under the new “targeted dialogue” method of awarding the Games.

In April, Coun. Colleen Hardwick unsuccessfully proposed a yes or no question about the 2030 bid for Vancouver’s Oct. 15 civic election ballot. No one else on city council seconded the motion.

Neither the IOC nor COC have responded for comment. The 2002 host, Salt Lake City, and the 1972 host, Sapporo, Japan, are preparing formal bids. Summer 1992 host Barcelona is also considering. The 2030 host city is expected to be announced when the IOC meets in Mumbai next May.

A Portland, Ore. political science professor and author of several books on the politics and economics of the Olympics said the IOC suffers a “democracy deficit.”

“The International Olympic Committee likes to tell the prospective cities for the Olympics, that the Olympics are going to be this really big deal when you get them,” said Jules Boykoff of Pacific University. “And yet, they’re apparently not big enough of a deal to let everyday people in the Olympic city or the Olympic province get a chance to actually vote and have their say.”

In 2019, the IOC studied whether cities should hold a referendum before they become official hosting candidates, but stopped short of making it a requirement. 

“So it’s a total U-turn from that position,” Boykoff said. “Of course, at that time, what we were seeing was this spate of cities staying ‘no thank-you’ to the Olympics, some dozen or so cities between 2013 and 2018.”

Jules Boykoff (Brian Lee)

One of those was Calgary, which gave up on a 2026 bid after more than 56% of voters in the 1988 host city said no in a plebiscite. 

When COPE’s Larry Campbell won the Vancouver mayoralty in 2002, he promised to hold a plebiscite on Vancouver’s 2010 bid. It passed with support of 64% of voters in February 2003. Four months later, the IOC chose Vancouver as the 2010 host.  

Many questions remain about the 2010 Games, which may have cost up to $8 billion including necessary transportation infrastructure. The biggest item was the RCMP-led security operation at nearly $1 billion. The Vancouver 2010 organizing committee (VANOC) never held a public meeting and said in 2014, when it wound down two years late, that it broke-even on a $1.9 billion operating budget. B.C.’s auditor general did not conduct a post-Games audit, VANOC was incorporated beyond reach of the freedom of information law and its files were transferred to the City of Vancouver Archives with restrictions. The public is not allowed to see the board minutes and financials until fall 2025. 

Boykoff said the IOC’s resistance to a 2030 referendum has a lot to do with Vancouverites being more sophisticated than they were in 2003 and because of the many post-Games social, economic and environmental challenges. 

“I view what happened before, during and even after the Vancouver Olympics of 2010 as part of this crucial pivot point, where the general population of the world is becoming more informed about some of those downsides of the Olympics, the negative externalities, the opportunity cost,” Boykoff said. 

The COC’s 2030 Games concept will include its proposed venues list, which Glacier already revealed in May. Most 2010 venues would reprise their roles, except snowboarding and freestyle skiing is proposed for Sun Peaks near Kamloops (instead of Cypress Mountain), curling would be at the Agrodome (instead of Hillcrest Community Centre), the new big air skiing and snowboarding events on a temporary ramp at Hastings Racecourse and nightly medals awards concerts at the PNE Amphitheatre (instead of B.C. Place Stadium). A new Olympic Village would be built at either the Jericho Lands or Heather Lands, both co-owned by three of the four host first nations, the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh.

Though the bid has been touted as “Indigneous-led,” sources say that has not actually been defined. Every first nation and municipality involved would need to go one step beyond a memorandum of understanding with a legally-binding multiparty agreement that spells-out details of hosting rights and responsibilities. The number of signatories could be as high as 17 and could take the rest of the year to negotiate.

Snowboarding at Sun Peaks near Kamloops (Sun Peaks Resort)

The B.C. NDP government said in May that it has not agreed to support the bid, leaving the municipalities and first nations on their own for now. If the bid proceeds after July, sources say the COC plans to make formal proposals this fall to treasury boards in Victoria and Ottawa. Federal policy says it will fund up to 35% of a major event, but it is up to the host province to be the guarantor. For 2010, the B.C. government also diverted resources from healthcare and education budgets and made BC Hydro, B.C. Lottery Corporation and ICBC sponsors, suppliers and even providers of free labour.

The NDP has expressed its two major tourism and event priorities so far: The $1 billion rebuild of the Royal B.C. Museum by 2030 and the 2026 FIFA World Cup. 

On June 16, Vancouver is expected to be named as host of up to five World Cup matches, along with Toronto. The total cost to taxpayers could be $550 million. 

Staff at 12th and Cambie already have a busy major event schedule. Vancouver’s Formula E race was scheduled for July 2, but cancelled due to lack of permits. It could happen in 2023. Meanwhile, Vancouver is expected to host the Grey Cup in 2024, before Prince Harry’s Invictus Games for wounded military veterans in early 2025. 

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Bob Mackin The Canadian Olympic Committee has

Bob Mackin

The BC Liberal Party says Kevin Falcon’s late disclosure that his winning leadership campaign overspent by almost $500,000 didn’t break the rules. 

On June 9, Elections BC released Falcon’s campaign finance report that showed it cost $1.078 million to win the race on Feb. 5. Falcon’s biggest line item was $519,396.40 for professional services, followed by $282,002.27 for staff expenses, GST, bad debt and net Liberal Party expenditures and $106,866.38 for social functions. The report does not name suppliers.

Kevin Falcon and BC Liberal leadership candidates except Val Litwin (BC Liberals/Facebook)

The Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC) February 2021 rules included a $600,000 limit on contestant expenses and requirements to meet both party and Elections BC deadlines for campaign financing reports. The party threatened fines of up to $50,000 or disqualification for non-compliance.  

In a prepared statement on June 10, the party’s communications director, David Wasyluk, said Falcon missed the original May 5 deadline because his financial agent was out of the country. Elections BC fined him $500 and granted an extension to June 6.

“The Falcon campaign has provided the party with a detailed breakdown of its expenses, and those expenses have been thoroughly reviewed and audited by party staff,” Wasyluk said. “The BC Liberal Party is confident that the Falcon campaign followed all appropriate guidelines and that their spending did not violate the leadership election rules.”

The statement said various costs are not considered expenses subject to the party’s limit, but are still required to be reported, such as fundraising costs, legal or accounting required to comply with the Election Act, personal expenses and fees related to the leadership contest. 

Wasyluk did not provide a breakdown of Falcon costs that the party considers to be compliant with the leadership contest rules. 

Falcon’s report did not show any cost of fundraising functions on the Elections BC summary of leadership contestant expenses page, but it showed accounting and audit cost $16,424.71 and Falcon’s personal expenses were $26,288.75. The $519,396.40 professional services sum does not indicate how much went to legal fees. 

The summary of expenses shows a crossed-out total $3,234,660.96 below the figure of $1,078,220.32. Falcon’s independent auditor, David Pel, blamed a software glitch. “Every time we made a change and posted the change, it doubled up on the number,” Pel said.

Falcon did not respond to interview requests. Neither did outgoing party president Cameron Stolz or LEOC co-chairs Colin Hansen and Roxanne Helme. 

Falcon’s campaign took in $923,576.18, including $816,796.18 in direct donations and the rest in transfers from the central party. As of Feb. 15, Falcon’s leadership campaign owed $100,000 in loans to RBC at a 2.95% interest rate. 

Kevin Falcon enters the Wall Centre ballroom on Feb. 5 (BC Liberals/Facebook)

He won the Feb. 5 phone and online election on the fifth ballot with 52.19% of weighted votes over runner-up Ellis Ross, the Skeena MLA who had 33.65%. 

The race was held under a cloud of controversy as Falcon’s six opponents complained about thousands of fraudulent memberships sold by Falcon’s team. A B.C. Supreme Court judge rejected a party member’s petition that aimed to delay the release of results by 15 days in order to investigate the allegations.

North Vancouver-resident Falcon handily won an April 30 by-election in Vancouver-Quilchena to fill the seat vacated by ex-leader Andrew Wilkinson. Falcon was sworn-in and took his seat in the Legislature on May 16.

The highlight of the party’s Penticton convention last weekend was the decision to study a complete renaming and rebranding of the party before the 2024 provincial election.

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Bob Mackin The BC Liberal Party says

Bob Mackin

Lawyers for two organizers of a protest group that resumed blockading B.C. highways and bridges on June 13 say their clients are not guilty of mischief from an October protest in Richmond and want to stand trial.

Muhammad Zain Ul Haq (left) and Timothy Christopher Brazier of Eco Mobilization Canada, dba Save Old Growth (SOG/YouTube)

Muhammad Zain Ul Haq and Timothy Christopher Brazier were among 18 people arrested Oct. 25, 2021 when Extinction Rebellion members filled an intersection near Vancouver International Airport.

During the pre-trial hearing on June 10 at Richmond Provincial Court, a lawyer for a third protester, Kathleen Elisabeth Higgins, said she would present novel arguments at trial that her client is not guilty on constitutional grounds. 

A trial date is to be determined, but the court heard that the Crown case is expected to last five days. As many as 14 police officers could be called to testify and there are four hours of video evidence. 

Lawyers for two other protesters, Shy-Anne Gunville and Patti Lula Hirschberg, also appeared, but their clients have not decided their next steps. 

Earlier this year, Haq, a student from Pakistan, and Brazier, a website and clothing designer from England, formed the Extinction Rebellion splinter group Save Old Growth that demands the NDP government ban all old-growth logging. 

Federal records show Haq and Brazier federally incorporated a not-for-profit company called Eco-Mobilization Canada on Jan. 27 with fellow protesters Ian Shigeaki Weber, Hannah Campbell and Olivia Mary Howe. They finance their activities by crowdfunding and grants from the U.S.-based Climate Emergency Fund (CEF), which has doled-out $1.7 million to 23 groups in 2022. CEF co-founder Trevor Neilson of Beverly Hills, Calif. is the chair and CEO of Wasteful, which converts trash and agricultural waste to fuel. The board includes documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy, and Aileen Getty, daughter of oil baron Jean Paul Getty II.

Save Old Growth’s highway and bridge blockade tactics, that are intended to disrupt the economy, have angered commuters throughout the Lower Mainland and Southern Vancouver Island and led to numerous arrests and mischief charges. The group has also been involved in hunger strikes, threatened a citizen’s arrest of NDP Forests Minister Katrine Conroy, dumped manure at Premier John Horgan’s Langford riding office and sent a topless protester to attach herself to a goalpost at B.C. Place Stadium during Canada’s men’s soccer match with Curaçao. 

The group predicts environmental breakdown will occur in March 2025.

A member of an associated campaign in Ontario, Stop the Project, recently threw buckets of paint on the exterior of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office in Ottawa. 

On Feb. 15 in B.C. Supreme Court, Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick sentenced Haq to 14 days in jail for contempt after his September 2021 arrest for blocking tree-clearing for the construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. 

Fitzpatrick acknowledged Haq said members of Extinction Rebellion are non-violent, but she said aspects relating to Haq were “concerning,” including comments he made to the Vancouver Sun about the potential for violence stemming from the pipeline. 

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick

“He refers to ‘forcing government change’. He refers to the government actions as being ‘treason’. These are very troubling comments, in my view,” Fitzpatrick said. 

Haq was released after nine days from the North Fraser Pretrial Centre and joked in an Instagram video outside the facility about spending his time watching Seinfeld reruns in jail.

Meanwhile, a campaign backed by the pro-development Resource Works Society is urging British Columbians affected by Save Old Growth roadblocks to gather evidence and join a proposed class-action lawsuit. 

Tamara Meggitt of Clear the Road cited the successful court action by Ottawa residents against the so-called freedom convoy trucker blockades earlier this year. 

“Freedom of expression is protected by Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but expressing a point of view about an issue does not confer the right to commit criminal acts,” Meggitt said in a news release. 

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Bob Mackin Lawyers for two organizers of a

For the week of June 12, 2022:

The long-awaited report from the B.C. Coroners Service, released June 7, said 619 people died due to excessive heat from June 25 to July 1, 2021. 

The heat dome was the worst natural disaster in Canadian history. But it didn’t have to be.

Meteorologist David Jones

A legacy of the deadly July 2009 heat wave was a new, two-step system to warn British Columbians developed in 2012 by David Jones. He was the coastal warning preparedness meteorologist at Environment Canada’s Pacific storm prediction centre until he retired in 2017. 

“Meteorologists actually have an opportunity to prevent death,” Jones told Podcast host Bob Mackin. 

Late afternoon June 23, 2021 came and the weather office forecast a dangerous, long-lasting heat wave. Provincial health and public safety officials did nothing to warn the public or muster resources on June 24. 

“It would’ve been the perfect time to launch that deadly heat alert,” Jones said. 

It was too little, too late, when the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health authorities issued their extreme heat warning before supper hour on June 25. 

Hear more from Jones on the report by the Coroner and the B.C. government’s response. 

Also, a commentary on how the NDP government buried a report recommending changes to the freedom of information laws, and headlines from the Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest. 

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For the week of June 12, 2022: The