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The Green wave did not happen and there was no Orange Crush. The People’s Party fizzled, while the Bloc Quebecois had a resurgence. The Conservatives won the popular vote. The Liberals lost their majority, but retained the most seats and control of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Research Co. pollster Mario Canseco (Mackin)

The Oct. 21 federal election contained no grand vision for the country’s future and often sank to mudslinging.

On this edition of Podcast, host Bob Mackin asks pollster Mario Canseco of ResearchCo to analyze the results.

Justin Trudeau has already shut the door on a coalition with the NDP, but will govern on a case by case basis. Trudeau is still likely to need the NDP votes to pass some of its legislation.

“They are trying to do this the Scandinavian way, I’ll get some of the parties to vote for me on issues they care about and I’ll get some of the parties to support me on things the major party may not care about, which is the way it’s been done in Denmark and Sweden,” Canseco said in a feature interview.  “I think it’s a difficult situation particularly because of the animosity that we’ve seen come out of… Alberta and Saskatchewan and also the fact that he Bloc almost tied the Liberals when it came to the actual popular vote in Quebec.”

The Conservatives increased their popular vote, but could not defeat a weakened Liberal Party because of the “lack of emotional connection by Andrew Scheer with voters.”

There were low expectations for the NDP and high expectations for the Greens. Elizabeth May’s party was predicted in summer to eclipse the NDP.

“The largest disappointment, aside from what happened with the Conservatives,” Canseco said. “You had a summer that was definitely full of news related to climate change, the campaign happens at the same time as Greta Thunberg was crossing the Atlantic. You had plenty of opportunity to try and connect on that issue and it just didn’t materialize for them.”

Both the Greens and the PPC could have won more if they had stopped focussing on a national campaign and pinpointed five to 10 ridings where they could concentrate resources.

Listen to Canseco’s full interview. Plus commentaries, headlines and Trudeau’s last bozo eruption of the election campaign. 

Click below to listen or go to Apple Podcasts and subscribe. 

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

Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: Losses outweighed gains in Canada's 43rd federal election

The Green wave did not happen and

Bob Mackin

The B.C. NDP government is refusing to show how bureaucrats scored and ranked shortlisted bidders for the $2.83 billion Broadway Subway, according to documents obtained under the freedom of information laws.

The June report of the four-person evaluation committee includes a chart, but the evaluation scores and rankings for four bidders were censored to allegedly protect government finances and the companies’ trade secrets.

SNC-Lavalin’s Vancouver office (Mackin)

The committee recommended a shortlist of three: Acciona-Ghella Joint Venture, Broadway Connect (Dragados/Aecon) and West 9th Partners (SNC-Lavalin). Urban Transit (Salini Impreglio/Astaldi) did not make the cut.

The announcement came a month before SNC-Lavalin withdrew its bids among a major reorganization as the company faces a trial on corruption and bribery charges. On Sept. 11, which was, coincidentally, the same day the federal election began, the B.C. government formally announced Urban Transit had replaced SNC-Lavalin on the shortlist. A decision on the preferred bidder is expected by late spring 2020. The 5.7 kilometre SkyTrain extension to Arbutus is expected to be operating by 2025.

Scoring of bidders on major transit projects became a major story in Ottawa, where CBC revealed that SNC-Lavalin failed to reach the technical threshold for a $1.6 billion LRT extension contract. The company got the contract based on its low bid. Ottawa’s city clerk eventually confirmed that SNC-Lavalin scored 67.27%, below the 70% threshold, in the technical evaluation. Competitors were in the mid-80s.

Nanaimo SkyTrain Station (Google)

The Trudeau Liberals’ SNC-Lavalin scandal cast a cloud over the Broadway Subway process, but was not enough to keep the company off the shortlist, as proven by a scripted answer in a presentation for Transportation Minister Claire Trevena.

In bold letters, it said: “If asked: Why is SNC-Lavalin shortlisted for major projects in British Columbia given the corruption allegations against the company?”

“All shortlisted respondents were evaluated against the criteria in the publicly available request for qualifications. All respondents declared litigation or other material adverse proceedings that may affect their ability to deliver the project. The evaluation determined that the shortlisted teams were capable of delivering the project.”

The report said the evaluation committee was comprised of PartnershipsBC vice-president David Hubner and PartnershipsBC project director George Kyriakelis, who is a former Kiewit engineer, and the transport ministry’s executive director of major projects finance Dave Stewart and executive project director Lisa Gow.

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TRA-2019-93776.pdf by Bob Mackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin The B.C. NDP government is refusing

Bob Mackin

British Columbia’s tax on foreign real estate buyers is not racist and it does not breach the Canadian constitution according to a B.C. Supreme Court judge’s Oct. 25-released ruling.

Jing Li, a Chinese citizen living in Burnaby, agreed to pay $559,000 plus $27,995 GST for a condo in Langley on July 13, 2016, two weeks before the BC Liberal government-imposed 15% tax on foreign buyers in Metro Vancouver went into effect. The new tax amounted to an extra $83,850 on her condo. Li completed the purchase, including all applicable taxes, on Nov. 18, 2016.

Law Courts Vancouver (Joe Mabel)

The plaintiff says that the main deleterious effects of the tax are, firstly, the reinforcement and perpetuation of the widely held view that foreign nationals and especially Chinese buyers are the cause of housing affordability and, secondly, the impediment to foreign nationals, especial Chinese persons, to immigrate and reside in the [Greater Vancouver Regional District],” wrote Justice Gregory Bowden. “I accept the defendant’s response to those arguments. The view that foreign nationals significantly contributed to the escalation of prices of housing in the GVRD is neither a stereotype nor a continuation of racist policies from the past. The experts have agreed that the inflow of foreign capital has significantly contributed to price increases in the GVRD.”

In her case against the B.C. government, Li was represented by four lawyers, including Joseph Arvay. Bowden heard arguments over 21 court days between June 2018 and April 2019.

Bowden’s Oct. 24 ruling found that behind the B.C. government tax measure was “a pressing and substantial objective, namely, the reduction of the demand by foreign buyers for housing of all types in the GVRD so as to make housing more affordable.”

Andy Yan (SFU)

Li failed to establish the tax breached section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which says every individual is equal under the law and is legally protected from racial or national discrimination. She had argued that foreign buyers from Asian countries, particularly China, were disproportionately affected because they are the largest group of immigrants in the region and more likely to purchase real estate than others.

“The plaintiff has not established that the tax impedes the ability of someone, whether a Chinese national or other nationality, to immigrate and reside in the GVRD,” Bowden wrote. He relied on expert evidence from Simon Fraser University Prof. Andy Yan.

“It is also notable that there was overwhelming support for the Tax among Asians living in Greater Vancouver. Prof. Yan states that Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Vancouver of Chinese descent are equally impacted by housing unaffordability and equally will benefit from any measures that improve affordability. He states that, in opinion polls taken after the announcement of the tax, 89% of Asian residents in Greater Vancouver indicated support for it. In this context, it cannot be said that the tax perpetuates an Asian disadvantage.”

The B.C. NDP government, which succeeded the BC Liberals in July 2017, increased the foreign buyers’ tax to 20% in February 2018 and expanded it to cover the Capital Regional District, Central Okanagan Regional District, Fraser Valley Regional District and Regional District of Nanaimo.

British Columbia is not alone. Taxes on the inflow of foreign capital have been imposed in other jurisdictions. Bowden noted Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel and three states in Australia that introduced higher property transfer taxes or stamp duties. New York City and the State of Florida also imposed different rates based on citizenship. Switzerland has restricted the number of homes that can be owned by non-Swiss persons, while Mexico, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan have restricted purchases by non-residents of certain types of property such as oceanfront or farmland. Ontario imposed a 15% additional property tax on foreign nationals and foreign corporations within the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Bowden ruled that the benefits of the tax outweighed any of the suggested harms of the tax, and are “proportionate to the objectives” of the government. Even if it had breached the constitution, Bowden wrote, “it is a reasonable limit justifiable in a free and democratic society.”

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Bob Mackin British Columbia’s tax on foreign real

Bob Mackin (Updated Oct. 25)

A whistleblower who sparked B.C.’s public inquiry into money laundering says the lawyer for B.C. Lottery Corporation’s chief executive officer contradicted evidence from Peter German’s 2018 Dirty Money report.

Ex-BCLC anti-money laundering director Ross Alderson (LinkedIn)

During an Oct. 18 application hearing before the public inquiry’s head, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen, Jim Lightbody’s lawyer Robin McFee quoted German’s Failed Strategy chapter. In that chapter, German mentioned an unnamed BCLC investigator said that “no transaction was refused before 2015” and that a senior official within the Crown corporation told him in 2012 that his job was “not to investigate money laundering” at casinos.

“He pointed out that nobody was investigating money laundering despite copies of suspicious transaction reports being provided to [Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch] and to the RCMP. In his view, nobody showed any interest in the issue,” German wrote.

McFee told Cullen: “Now, that’s an important aspect of evidence that Mr. German relies upon that, one expects, will come before you as the commissioner. Mr. Lightbody — the buck stopped with him. He takes great issue with that. He says that’s incorrect.”

BCLC CEO Jim Lightbody

Ross Alderson was the BCLC anti-money laundering director until fall of 2017. When he went public last January on CTV’s W5, Alderson described a 2012 incident of refining at River Rock Casino, in which a gambler came in with $100,000 in $20 bills and left with $100,000 in $100 bills. Alderson reported the incident to his superiors.

“I escalated that to senior management and I was told categorically that it was not my job to investigate money laundering,” Alderson said on W5.

Alderson declined an interview, but provided a written statement to

I am somewhat perplexed by the statement by Mr. McFee regarding comments made to me stemming from a meeting in 2012 being incorrect,” Alderson wrote. “Particularly, as his client was neither present at the meeting, nor likely had any knowledge of it until this year. In addition there are multiple references in the Dirty Money report including an interview with the previous BCLC chairman of the board and BCLC director of compliance where they both state that BCLC’s role is not to investigate money laundering.” 

Robin McFee (Mackin)

In 2015, BCLC began to stop gamblers from buying-in with cash unless they could disclose the source of their funds. Since April 2015, 600 players have been added to a cash conditions list. An internal report by Alderson in September of 2015 warned that high rollers from China were engaged in transnational money laundering at B.C. casinos. 

On Oct. 25, Cullen granted Lightbody’s application for participant status in the inquiry, which means Lightbody’s lawyer can cross-examine other witnesses. Cullen specifically cited the same section of German’s report as an example of potential for conflict between BCLC’s corporate interests and Lightbody’s personal or reputational interests.

Lightbody, he wrote, “may be subject personally to adverse comment or criticism arising from an adverse assessment of BCLC’s corporate actions.”

In the same ruling, Cullen denied an application from Fred Pinnock, who was commander of the RCMP’s Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team from 2005 to 2008. Pinnock’s application said the inquiry would not exist without him and other whistleblowers. He had warned that casinos were becoming a haven for organized crime, but the BC Liberal government disbanded the team anyway in 2009. He said his unsuccessful efforts to expand the mandate of IIGET harmed his working relationships with the RCMP and Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, and led to his early retirement. 

“Mr. Pinnock submits that he was right and that others within the RCMP, BCLC, government and GPEB knew or were willfully blind about this. In that sense, he submits his reputational interests may be engaged as the Inquiry may vindicate him,” Cullen wrote.

Cullen decided Pinnock did not meet criteria for participant status because the thrust of his submission was that “he was attempting to overcome the apathy of those charged with the relevant responsibility; not that he was a part of it.”

Former BCLC and Great Canadian Gaming security executive Rob Kroeker is the only individual other than Lightbody that has been granted participant status so far. The application by BCLC casinos and security vice-president Brad Desmarais is adjourned until November. Alderson withdrew his application, but is expected to be a witness. Sixteen government, corporate and society entities already have standing. 

Justice Austin Cullen (Mackin)

At the Oct. 18 hearing, Pinnock’s lawyer, Paul Jaffe, referred to delays in accessing documents under the freedom of information law.

“It’s interesting that for four years, efforts have been made for the Lottery Corp. and Fintrac to provide disclosure of documents relative to the observations of Mr. Pinnock and his concerns about organized crime in the gaming venues,” Jaffe said. “And for years those efforts have been unsuccessful.”

Jaffe suggested Cullen could have jurisdiction to “fast-track the FOI process and make an order” for material to be disclosed.

Although the chair of the BCLC board is considered head of the public body for the purpose of the FOI law, the BCLC executive who decides day-to-day on which documents are released to FOI requesters is the CEO.

Until he went on cancer leave in September, that was Lightbody.

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Bob Mackin (Updated Oct. 25) A whistleblower who

Bob Mackin

A new indictment filed Oct. 22 against Vancouver’s David Sidoo says college admissions scandal ringleader Rick Singer drafted a false application essay that claimed Sidoo’s son Jordan worked as an intern with an anti-gang violence organization in Los Angeles.

Dylan (left), David and Jordan Sidoo

Sidoo was arrested in March in San Jose and released on bail. He pleaded not guilty to charges that he paid Singer $200,000 to have someone else write U.S. college entrance exams for his two sons. If convicted, Sidoo could spend 20 years in jail.

The October 2013 essay falsely claimed that Jordan Sidoo had been held up at gunpoint by gang members in Los Angeles. After Singer emailed a draft to David Sidoo, he wrote back to Singer with minor changes.

“Can we lessen the interaction with the gangs. Guns …? That’s scary stuff. Your call you know what they look for,” the indictment alleges Sidoo wrote.

“The essay, without the reference to guns, was later submitted as part of Sidoo’s younger son’s application for admission to multiple universities.”

David Sidoo remains charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. Neither of Sidoo’s sons is charged. His lawyer, David Chesnoff of Las Vegas, says Sidoo maintains his not guilty plea and is preparing for trial.

“These are mere allegations from the mouths of admitted fraudsters,” Chesnoff said by email. “Mr. Sidoo looks forward to his day in court.” 

The new indictment adds charges to other defendants, but not Sidoo, as prosecutors are increasing pressure on them in order to secure plea bargains or trial dates. Fifty-one people have been charged, with approximately half pleading guilty or agreeing to plead guilty.

The indictment also alleges that Sidoo asked Singer if professional test-taking impostor Mark Riddell could take either the Graduate Management Admission Test or Law School Admission Test on behalf of his oldest son, Dylan. Riddell agreed to pay Singer and Singer agreed to pay Riddell $100,000. But the plan went awry.

“Singer and Riddell researched the security measures in place for both exams. On or about April 28, 2015, Singer told Sidoo that their plan to have Riddell take the LSAT in place of Sidoo’s son was ‘[n]ot happening due to fingerprinting’ requirements on the exam,” the indictment says.

The indictment says that in mid-December 2016, Riddell wired $520 through Western Union to China to buy fraudulent drivers’ licences so he could pose as Dylan Sidoo for the GMAT. Riddell ultimately decided not to take the exam, because the fake ID was “not of high quality.”

David Sidoo (left) and Justin Trudeau in 2016 (PMO)

Singer, Riddell and Steven Masera, the accountant at Singer’s bogus charity, The Key World Foundation, have all pleaded guilty and agreed to co-operate with prosecutors.

Other new information in the indictment states that, on Dec. 7, 2011, Singer e-mailed Masera receipts from Riddell’s trip to Vancouver. Singer told Masera that the receipts were “[ejxpenses to pay back “mark riddell” and that he should “bill david sidoo” for the expenses, as well as for Riddell’s airfare from Tampa to Vancouver.

The indictment reiterates the allegation that Riddell flew to Vancouver on June 8, 2012 and posed as Dylan Sidoo on June 9, 2012 “in order to secretly take the Canadian high school graduation exam in his place.”

The indictment does not include the proper name for the test or the venue that Riddell attended in June 2012.

Dylan Sidoo was accepted at Chapman University in Los Angeles, but transferred to University of Southern California from where he graduated. Jordan Sidoo graduated from University of California Berkeley. Both also attended the posh St. George’s private school in Dunbar and they co-founded the Vanish encrypted messaging app.  

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Bob Mackin A new indictment filed Oct. 22

Bob Mackin

On June 26, 2018, reported that the name of Matthew G. Watson, the chair and chief executive officer of Victoria, B.C. company SendtoNews, was on a Province of British Columbia Registry Services Statement of Registration of General Partnership or Sole Proprietorship form for Adreach Networks. 

The statement of registration for Adreach, a supplier to AggregateIQ, the Victoria company associated with Cambridge Analytica, was filed May 26, 2015.

The original story published June 26, 2018 contained factual errors and did not meet standards of quality. As such, it has been replaced with this statement of clarification and apology to Watson.

The story was connected to the May 16, 2018 testimony of AggregateIQ principal Jeff Silvester to the United Kingdom Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, in which Silvester said: “Adreach is a company in Victoria. They are folks that we work with frequently to run ads.”

There is no evidence that Watson had any other involvement with Adreach beyond the filing of the registration form. There is also no evidence that Watson did anything improper. apologizes for any misunderstanding.

Watson was appointed, by order of Minister Mike de Jong, as a director of the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA), under Ministerial Order M030, on Feb. 1, 2012. Also, by Order in Council 747, on Dec. 4, 2015, Watson was appointed to the board of British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) by recommendation of Minister Mike de Jong.

Watson remained a member in good standing of both public bodies. Watson left both public bodies on good terms. In a Sept. 22, 2017 news release, he was thanked for his service to VIHA by Health Minister Adrian Dix. His appointment to the BCLC board expired on Dec. 31, 2017. There is no evidence that Watson’s appointment to the boards of public bodies or attendance to observe a sitting of the Legislature on June 27, 2013 was related in any way to personal donations totalling $510 in 2011 to the BC Liberal Party. apologizes for any misunderstanding.

In testimony to the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, on Sept. 27, 2018, AggregateIQ principal Zack Massingham described Watson as “just a mentor of mine,” but he was not part of the corporate structure of AggregateIQ.

Massingham later testified that Watson had been an AggregateIQ shareholder and that his son had been a co-op employee. At the hearing, Massingham did not specify the start and finish dates for either relationship.

In February 2017, campaign disclosure statements showed that Vote Leave had paid AggregateIQ GBP£3.5 million ($5.75 million) for services in the campaign for the June 23, 2016 referendum on the U.K.’s membership in the European Union, better known as Brexit. unsuccessfully sought comment from Watson, Massingham and Silvester in May and June 2018 and continues to extend an invitation to them for an interview.

In June 2019, Watson and SendtoNews were profiled by the Canadian Press wire service, under the headline “SendtoNews is the biggest sports video service you’ve never heard of.” Here is a link to the Canadian Press story.

In September 2019, SendtoNews was recognized by Canadian Business and Maclean’s magazines as the fastest-growing company in the marketing and media sector, and fourth overall, on its ranking of 500 Canadian companies, with 13,898% growth between 2013 and 2018. Here are links to the Canadian Business story and the ranking.

Bob Mackin On June 26, 2018, reported

Bob Mackin

The 43rd general election is over and the Prime Minister’s Office is still occupied by Justin Trudeau, despite so many broken promises and scandals. The Andrew Scheer-led Conservatives missed a chance to beat a weakened Liberal Party, but scored a moral victory by winning the popular vote. The NDP’s Jagmeet Singh failed to match the party’s 2015 numbers, but he is now a potential ally for the minority Liberal government. What else happened on Oct. 21 in British Columbia?

What B.C. looked like in 2015 (left) vs. 2019. Conservative blue eroded Liberal red and NDP orange. (Elections Canada)

Overall numbers

The Liberals lost 1.01 million votes and 27 seats nationally since 2015. The Conservatives gained 500,000 and 22 seats. In B.C., the party with 17 seats in 2019 is the Conservatives. The Liberals lost six since 2015, one of them was Jody Wilson-Raybould, who went independent and kept Vancouver-Granville.

Liberals and NDP both have 11, though the Liberals had the popular vote edge. Conservatives had 799,239 votes to the Liberals’ 612,098. B.C. turnout was just over 65%.

Electoral reform debate reignited

The 2015 election was supposed to be the last under first-past-the-post, Trudeau said. His supporters are happy he didn’t fulfil that promise.

Under a different system, based on popular vote, the NDP could have more than one seat in Quebec and Conservative Andrew Scheer could have become prime minister. We already know where the Greens stand, staunchly for electoral reform. At a news conference in Burnaby on Oct. 22, Singh reiterated his support for proportional representation.

“The results show a broken electoral system,” Singh told reporters.

Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec ponder independence, what about Vancouver Island?

Jason Kenney runs a province with but one Liberal MP. Scott Moe runs another with none, now that Ralph Goodale is good as gone. They’re Conservative strongholds that want support for the oil industry.

Bloc-leader Yves-Francois Blanchet led a resurgent nationalist party that won 32 seats. Could the regionalism cause some in British Columbia to think of forging closer ties with Washington and Oregon?

JWR did A-OK

Jody Wilson-Raybould (right) gives her Oct. 21 victory speech (Mackin)

Jody Wilson-Raybould supporters were biting their nails, as the former Liberal attorney general trailed the Liberal and Conservative challengers early in the ballot count in Vancouver-Granville. Then a turnaround and the party gained steam in the Hellenic Community Centre.

Wilson-Raybould received the most media attention, beyond the leaders of the main four national parties. She thanked Jane Philpott, who joined her in the same place on Sept. 18 but was not lucky enough to be re-elected in Markham. Both Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were thrown out of the Liberal caucus over Trudeau’s SNC-Lavalin scandal. In August, Trudeau was found in breach of the conflict of interest law.

“I believe strongly that Vancouver-Granville sent a message that independent voices do matter, and that there is a different way that we can engage in political discussions,” Wilson-Raybould said in her victory speech.

“This win means that it’s okay to stand up for what you believe, to speak in truth, to act with integrity even with implications that might be set on you. That if you believe in public service and believe in contributing to the country and helping raising your voice to address issues that that matters.”

Wilson-Raybould’s career as a parliamentarian continues. With Trudeau remaining in the PMO, will the RCMP investigation of the SNC-Lavalin scandal continue?

Conservative recycling program

Andrew Scheer at Prospect Point in Stanley Park on Oct. 20 (Mackin)

North Vancouver’s Andrew Saxton and Vancouver South’s Wai Young lost bids to unseat those that unseated them in 2015. But Kerry Lynne-Findlay had better luck in a rematch with Liberal by-election winner Gordie Hogg in South Surrey-White Rock.

Fisheries and oceans minster Jonathan Wilkinson beat Saxton again, by almost 10,000 votes. Defence minister Harjit Sajjan had a 6,700-vote margin in 2015, which was cut in half to almost 3,000 in 2019’s win over former Vancouver South MP Young.

Dippers vs. Greens

The Green wave didn’t happen, despite climate change hysteria at a fever pitch with Greta Thunberg on tour and Extinction Rebellion protests throughout the country .

Leader Elizabeth May kept Saanich and Gulf Islands while by-election winner Paul Manly was re-elected in Nanaimo. In popular vote, May’s party tallied 290,629 votes in B.C. The NDP, meanwhile, won 11 seats with 572,063 votes. The only other Green elected across the country was Jenica Atwin in Fredericton.

The Green campaign hit a roadblock in the last two weeks of the campaign when the NDP made a concerted effort to portray May’s party as non-progressives with kooks in their midst who might just prop-up Conservatives in a minority scenario.

Justin Trudeau on July 29 at Kitsilano Coast Guard base (Mackin)

“It was a one way nastiness, it was lies and smears from the NDP against us and I have to say it was disappointing especially since we helped Jagmeet Singh win his seat in Burnaby by not running anyone against him,” May said on Global. “It will be a very hard relationship to work through because of the fact that they really didn’t care they were lying, they had no shame.”

Will the animosity spill over into the provincial arena, where the three-member Green caucus is supporting John Horgan’s NDP minority government?

Clark Clique

Hogg was one of three former members of Christy Clark’s BC Liberal caucus. The other ex-BC Liberal loser was Terry Lake in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo. Lake fell by almost 13,000 votes to Conservative Cathy McLeod. Former BC Liberal backbencher Marc Dalton won Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, defeating incumbent Dan Ruimy by more than 3,500 votes. 

Say it ain’t so, Joe

Steveston-Richmond East Liberal incumbent Joe Peschisolido is out.

One too many scandals involving clients of his law firm, his embarrassing photographs at social events with suspects under police investigation and the pro-China protester that was found working in his campaign office on opening day. Conservative Kenny Chiu, a former Peschisolido aide, is going to Ottawa with almost 2,800 more votes. Scheer signalled that this riding was in play, when he campaigned in Richmond with Chiu and also held his last campaign rally in a Richmond Sheraton hotel.

Chen (left) and Peschisolido at the Sino-Canadian Geographical Indication Development Association launch in August 2018 (Wow TV)

Star candidate loses

Ex-CTV anchorwoman Tamara Taggart won’t be going to Ottawa to read Justin Trudeau’s script. NDP’s Don Davies kept his Vancouver Kingsay seat with a comfortable 11,000 margin.

Singh’s days numbered?

Burnaby South parachute candidate and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh lost veteran MPs Murray Rankin in Victoria, Nathan Cullen up north and Fin Donnelly in Metro Vancouver who decided not to run again. Nationally, the party lost 15 seats, to 24. It had 59 two elections ago in Quebec, but now just one.

In B.C., the NDP tied for 11 seats with the Liberals. The Trudeau Liberals will need help from the NDP to keep governing in Ottawa, so Singh holds some cards.

But how long before the ambitious rear their heads? If the minority government lasts until 2021, that still could give Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart an opening (the next civic election is 2022). Stewart made national news with a strong anti-Scheer statement last week, even though the Conservatives were not a threat to win a seat inside City of Vancouver. 

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Bob Mackin The 43rd general election is over

Bob Mackin

The $7.7 million Shaughnessy mansion that hosted Justin Trudeau for a private Liberal Party fundraiser in 2016 is now the subject of a Vancouver Police Department investigation, has learned.

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services referred to VPD Sgt. Aaron Roed, who said the major crimes section is now involved. An early morning fire on Sept. 21 destroyed a garage detached from the house on Churchill Street near 47th Avenue.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited with Miaofei Pan (left) and Wen Huan Yang in November 2016 (Mackin)

Owner Miaofei Pan showed a reporter surveillance footage of the fire. He also pointed to broken windows on the front of the house that he said were caused by gun shots more than an hour after the police left the fire scene. The fire, he said, cut the camera feed from the front of the house.

“We want to go back to China just for safety, but the children are studying and living here, so we have no choice, we have to accompany the children,” Pan said through a translator.

By coincidence, no cars were parked in the detached garage that night.

It was the second fire to tear through a Pan-owned property in less than two years. In October 2017, the 1911-built heritage mansion Pan owns with wife Wen Huan Yang at 3737 Angus in Shaughnessy suffered a devastating fire that was later ruled arson. Nobody has been charged.

Pan said that, before the Angus fire, he had planned to repair and renovate the heritage mansion, also known as Rounsefell House, after a tenant caused extensive water damage. He wanted to move his family from the Churchill house to Angus, because his daughters were complaining they needed more space.

“We already made the repair plan, we signed a contract with developers and construction companies. All documents have been done to repair the water damage,” he said.

Miaofei Pan outside the fire-destroyed garage (Ina Mitchell)

City hall filed a B.C. Supreme Court petition against Pan, alleging he did not follow an order after the fire to maintain the Angus mansion so as to prevent further weather damage and decay. The September 2018 response from Pan said the house could not be repaired because of hazards presented by the chimneys and hazardous materials inside the house. The structure is so fragile that WorkSafeBC issued a temporary stop work order that has since been lifted.

No court date has been set for the dispute with city hall. Pan has another court matter on the horizon, as he is appealing the late 2018 award of only $1 after a judge ruled he had been defamed by journalist Bing Chen Gao. In the verdict, the B.C. Supreme Court judge criticized Pan for being an uncooperative witness.

Pan is a past chair of the Beijing-aligned Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations and was a donor to the Canada Wenzhou Friendship Society’s clubhouse near Aberdeen Centre in Richmond. Pan hails from the Zhejiang province coastal city Wenzhou, where he was in the real estate development business. The Richmond-based society gained attention during the 2018 civic elections for endorsing a slate of candidates in Richmond, Burnaby and Vancouver and offering a $20 transportation subsidy via WeChat. Richmond RCMP did not recommend vote buying charges.

Pan said the 2016 Liberal event attended by 80 people at his house was organized by the party, which had been trying to recruit his son to be a member. He said nobody made donations on-site, on the night of the event. The Liberal Party, he said, returned his $1,500 donation and paid for tea and cookies.

Pan said he was familiar with Raymond Chan, the former Richmond MP who became a party fundraiser in the Chinese community and is in one of the photographs, but said it was a woman from the Liberal Party office that called to ask if Pan’s house could be used as a venue. Pan said he was in China at the time, so he flew back to host the event. Police did come to the house for a security sweep before the event and that he spoke briefly with Trudeau, but the conversation was “very limited” due to the language barrier.

Miaofei Pan said someone shot a window at his house multiple times, hours after a fire destroyed a detached garage (Mackin)

According to The Tyee, Pan decided to hold the Nov. 7, 2016 fundraiser at his house after Trudeau invited him to a dinner in September of that year with China’s visiting Premier Li Keqiang. That was denied by the Liberal Party. In a Dec. 2, 2016, Globe and Mail story, Pan was quoted as saying he asked Trudeau to make it easier for rich investors from China to invest and stay in Canada.

Trudeau was in Vancouver for an earlier announcement of funding to help Department of Fisheries and Oceans deal with more South Coast oil tanker traffic.

The fundraiser was not advertised and Canadian media only found out from Wenzhou government and media websites. The ripple effects were felt across Canada.

By April of 2017, the Liberal Party buckled to pressure and announced reforms, including proactive disclosure of fundraising events and attendee lists. Elections Canada later began an online registry of major fundraising events involving party leaders and cabinet ministers. In B.C., it helped hasten campaign finance reforms after the 2017 provincial election. The Green-supported NDP government eventually adopted caps on donations and banned corporate and union financing of provincial and municipal elections.

Miaofei Pan’s photograph with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2011 (Mackin)

Pan said he met Trudeau again in Ottawa and jokingly told him that he would invite him to the other mansion, after it is repaired.

Pan said he believes Trudeau will win re-election on Oct. 21, but not with as many votes as in 2015. He considers Trudeau a “good guy and with enough capability to be a prime minister in Canada. Of course [Stephen] Harper was also a good guy as well.”

A photograph of Pan with Harper, shot in 2011, is displayed above golf trophies, at the opposite end of a room from a group photo with Trudeau from Nov. 7, 2016.

Elections Canada shows donations by Pan of $1,478.96 and $1,420 to the Liberal Party on Nov. 24, 2016 and $1,100 to the Abbotsford Conservative Association in September 2011. He also gave $1,000 and $1,450 to MP Jenny Kwan’s Vancouver East NDP association in 2016 and 2018.

His wife, Wen, donated $1,478.96 and $1,420 on the same November day in 2016 to the Liberals. Last December, she gave $1,550 to the Don Valley North Federal Liberal Association in Ontario. Han Dong is running instead of Geng Tan, the first Mainland China-born Member of Parliament when he was elected in 2015.

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Bob Mackin The $7.7 million Shaughnessy mansion that

Bob Mackin

Despite scandals and broken promises that have tarnished his term as Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau is well-positioned to remain in power beyond Oct. 21.

Thanks to a campaign that includes veterans of Vision Vancouver and BC Liberal war rooms, whose specialty is diverting attention from a baggage-laden incumbent and defining the opponent as undesirable.

A June 2016 photo of Christy Clark (left), Gregor Robertson and Justin Trudeau at Microsoft in Vancouver (BC Gov)

In 2019, the Liberals defined Conservative Andrew Scheer as a dual Canada/U.S. citizen who had a short career as a junior insurance salesman before he enjoyed big paycheques as a politician. The Liberals have painted him as a social conservative friendly with the alt-right who would adopt Doug Ford’s Ontario cost-cutting on a national scale — despite both evidence and Scheer’s emphatic statements otherwise.

Trudeau spoke the word “progressive” 20 times in the last seven minutes of his last Lower Mainland campaign rally on Oct. 20. The Liberals are banking on voters choosing the devil they know, rather than the devil they don’t. 

Nevermind Trudeau’s SNC-Lavalin scandal, the purchase of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the broken promise to balance the budget in 2019, the broken promise to end first past the post elections, the comedic India trade mission, the lack of backbone against Xi Jinping’s China, revelations of Trudeau’s penchant for racist blackface costumes and the notorious “Kokanee grope” sexual assault allegation of 2000. His only major achievement was last year’s cannabis legalization. Because of the black market, it may never be the tax revenue goldmine that pot proponents promised. All items that the Conservatives should have kept reminding voters about on each of the 40 campaign days. 

“It’s up to a political party to define itself, it’s up to candidates for that political party to define themselves to do it first and do it better than their opponents,” said Dermod Travis of IntegrityBC. “If they don’t do it better than opponents, you end up with the campaign that we’ve just witnessed. It’s been a horrid campaign in that regard.”  

The Scheer Conservatives have peddled their “It’s Time For You To Get Ahead” slogan, promising to “put more money in your pocket,” rather than a sustained attack against the litany of Liberal corruption and broken promises.

Ben Chin with Christy Clark on B.C. election day in 2017 (Twitter)

A key member of Trudeau’s war room is Ben Chin, the former TV news anchor and Ontario Liberal who helped Christy Clark turn around her fortunes and score a BC Liberal upset over the NDP’s Adrian Dix in the 2013 B.C. election.

The BC Liberals and their proxies took the spotlight off unpopular Clark and demonized Dix, who was a top aide of Glen Clark when that NDP premier was forced to quit over conflict of interest scandal involving an applicant for a gambling licence repairing his deck. The BC Liberals didn’t want to run on their record since 2001, so they made the campaign about Dix and the 1990s NDP.

Rather than running a negative campaign about the contemporary BC Liberals, like he had led his caucus in question period, Dix went positive and lost. John Horgan did not repeat that mistake in 2017.

Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver won a third majority at city hall in 2014, facing the NPA’s Kirk LaPointe. The veteran newspaperman and broadcaster took a thoughtful platform to voters and attacked Vision’s backroom deal with the outside workers union. The union made a big donation after the party pledged it would not privatize any services.

Andrew Scheer at Prospect Point in Stanley Park on Oct. 20 (Mackin)

In that campaign, Vision Vancouver exploited LaPointe’s only major sin. He worked in North Vancouver and lived at the University of British Columbia.

Nevermind that Robertson broke up with his wife and never answered questions about his downtown condominium that had been arranged by a donor. Or that Robertson kept secret his affair with a pop singer whose mother turned out to be a corrupt Chinese government official. Vision Vancouver attack ads focused on LaPointe’s residence at UBC, which meant he didn’t pay taxes in Vancouver. Robertson won.

Chin wasn’t there when Trudeau led several Liberals up the Grouse Grind on Aug. 30, but Gabe Garfinkel (B.C. director), Brittney Kerr (national campaign committee); Braeden Caley (communications director) and Ange Valentini (regional director) were. Garfinkel was a Clark aide who ran unsuccessfully for the BC Liberals in 2017. Kerr is a veteran of BC Liberal and Vision campaigns and a lobbyist at Earnscliffe, the shop where veteran Liberal organizer Bruce Young is listed as principal. Valentini co-chaired Vision’s 2018 campaign. Caley was Robertson’s spokesman after working for Ujjal Dosanjh and Raymond Chan.

Liberal backroomers Gabe Garfinkel (left), Braeden Caley (facing camera), Brittney Kerr (back to camera) and Ange Valentini in North Vancouver on Aug. 30 (Mackin)

Clark’s former deputy chief of staff Kim Haakstad and developer Peter Wall’s lawyer David Gruber endorsed Vancouver Granville candidate Taleeb Noormohamed, who is running against Jody Wilson-Raybould the year after he withdrew a bid for Vision’s mayoral nomination for what he said were health reasons. Jonah Gowans, an aide to the BC Liberal caucus, is running in Courtenay-Alberni. Former cabinet ministers Terry Lake (health) and Gord Hogg (children and family development) are running in Kamloops and White Rock, respectively.

Another key element to the Liberal campaign is on social media. That also has a west coast connection. Mark Marissen, Clark’s ex-husband, pioneered the BC Liberal “digital influencers” before the 2013 election. It is even one of the product offerings advertised by his Burrard Strategy company, which has produced campaign promotional videos for Surrey-Newton Liberal incumbent Sukh Dhaliwal, among others.

You can see elements of the B.C.-developed Digital Influencers at play in this campaign, whether it’s Steven Joel Kerzner’s Ed the Sock or Neil “Before Zod” Waytowich, the former civil servant exposed by Blacklock’s Reporter, to others with handles like the purported broadcast, web and advertising professional G.T. Lem and “Suburban Voyeur,” whose bio identifies the user as an editor. There is also an army of virulent anti-Conservative, Ontario-centric tech industry workers, hockey moms, soccer moms and grandmothers smitten with Trudeau.

So if Andrew Scheer loses his bid to become Saskatchewan’s first Prime Minister since John Diefenbaker, look to the west coast where the playbook was perfected.

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Bob Mackin Despite scandals and broken promises that

Bob Mackin

Voters punished the BC Liberals at the ballot box in 2017 when they blamed Christy Clark for the housing crisis in Metro Vancouver. The foreign buyer tax was too little, too late, and the NDP exploited the most-famous Dunbar resident/Kelowna MLA’s penchant for taking big money donations from real estate tycoons.

A June 2016 photo of Christy Clark (left), Gregor Robertson and Justin Trudeau at Microsoft in Vancouver (BC Gov)

In early 2018, Gregor Robertson decided not to run for a fourth term as mayor of Vancouver. The public blamed “Highrise Robertson” for rubber-stamping too many luxury condo towers developed by donors who sold units for big profits to offshore investors that kept them empty.

What about Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberal Party? Why should those that rule British Columbians in Ottawa escape accountability?

Through various departments, the feds control or regulate immigration, foreign investment, banking, taxation and federal policing and prosecution. Trudeau raised funds for his campaign war chest with help from some of the same bagmen who kept Clark and Robertson in power. He has even started a first-time homebuyer incentive eerily similar to the BC Liberals’ 2016-announced program that was slammed by the head of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and promised to tax foreign buyers.

In May, after a photo op to announce more new Coast Guard vessels, Trudeau headlined a $25o to $1,500 per-plate cash-for-access Yaletown lunch and a South Vancouver Chinese banquet, where the price was $750 to $1,500 per-plate. Condo marketer Bob Rennie was on the donors’ list for the lunch. At the evening event, Ian Gillespie of Westbank was front and centre.

Gillespie’s Fairmont Pacific Rim is Trudeau’s preferred hotel when in Vancouver. Gillespie’s Woodward’s Atrium was the site of a Trudeau rally on the last day of the campaign.

Ian Gillespie (left) shows Justin Trudeau a coffee table book (Westbank/Facebook)

In 2017, Robertson could feel the tide turning against him, so he reached out to finance minister Bill Morneau. Morneau’s reply misspelled British Columbia and indicated there was little appetite for the federal government to crack down on money laundering in the real estate market. It took until the 2019 budget for the Liberals to acknowledge the problem. B.C.’s attorney general, David Eby, complained in late August that the funds had not yet arrived and Trudeau offered nothing definite.

As investment from China flooded into the Vancouver real estate market after Trudeau’s 2015 election win, the value of residences of high-profile Liberal MPs ballooned.

“If they benefited from the market, I think they had greater responsibility to make certain that people weren’t left behind while they were benefiting,” said independent watchdog Dermod Travis of IntegrityBC. “That was one of the lessons of the Christy Clark government learned, you saw too many of the BC Liberal caucus benefitting from these gigantic price jumps that were taking place in the Vancouver real estate market while, at the same time, sitting on their hands when it came to ensure there was affordable housing for those who were not as fortunate to be able to buy or inherit and, in many cases, are left to rent.”

Justin Trudeau (centre) standing at a Vancouver Chinese new year banquet in 2019.

Vancouver Centre incumbent Hedy Fry actually lives in the Arbutus Ridge area of the Vancouver Granville riding. She endorsed the nomination of Taleeb Noormohamed against ex-Liberal attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould. Fry’s house was valued at $2.624 million this year, almost a million more than the $1.795 million it was in 2015.

Joyce Murray became president of treasury board and minister of digital government last March, when the cabinet was shuffled amid the SNC-Lavalin scandal. The incumbent in Vancouver Quadra lives in a West Point Grey neighbourhood north of the Jericho Garrison, which will eventually be redeveloped by a company owned by three local First Nations. The value of Murray’s house, which she shares with husband and tree-planting tycoon Dirk Brinkman, topped out at almost $4.26 million last year, but fell to $3.77 million this year. It was $2.697 million when Trudeau came to power in 2015.

Just a few blocks west of Murray is the home of Harjit Sajjan, the defence minister who represents Vancouver South. Sajjan’s property was worth $1.5 million in 2015, reached $4.113 million last year and is $3.65 million this year.

Vancouver Kingsway candidate Tamara Taggart is the party’s star candidate in the Lower Mainland. But the former CTV anchorwoman lives in Vancouver Granville in a house she owns with husband and 54-40 guitarist Dave Genn. It was $1.54 million in 2015. This year, $2.315 million.

Like Fry, Taggart endorsed Noormohamed, whose condo near the Plaza of Nations and Parq Casino was $864,000 in 2015 and $1.478 million this year. His tax bill goes to a North Vancouver architecture firm owned by his parents.

West Point Grey Academy’s 2001 yearbook featured then-teacher Justin Trudeau in blackface. Vancouver South incumbent Harjit Sajjan is a neighbour of the school in Vancouver Quadra.

Meanwhile, Steveston-Richmond East incumbent Joe Peschisolido, the embattled real estate and immigration lawyer, lives just outside the riding’s boundary. He reported in his Elections BC nomination papers that he lives in a modest two-bedroom condominium assessed at $621,000 in Richmond Centre. The Richmond Centre Liberal candidate, Steven Kou, lives in a $1.93 million house near Crescent Beach in Surrey.

That means Murray is the only one of the above seven Liberal candidates in the Oct. 21 election who is eligible to vote for herself.

MPs got a $3,300 pay raise on April 1, putting their basic salary at $178,900. Cabinet ministers are paid $264,400.

There is no law that mandates politicians must live in the jurisdiction to which they are elected. But voters on Oct. 21 might want to consider that, as well as the federal government’s role in allowing a housing crisis.

Travis said candidates should make a firm, public commitment to move into the riding at the very first opportunity.

“The idea that you’re going to spend the bulk of your time socializing with neighbours that don’t necessarily have the same interests, the same policy concerns as your constituents might, raises a concern about how representative you can be of those who you are actually their voice in Ottawa for.”

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Bob Mackin Voters punished the BC Liberals at