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Bob Mackin

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was hands-on with the West Point Grey Academy yearbook.

Justin Trudeau as James Bond (West Point Grey Academy)

Literally.

The future Prime Minister of Canada is infamous for painting his face, neck, arms and hands black and wearing a turban at an Arabian Nights-themed fundraiser in 2001, as revealed by Time Magazine 18 years later.

Trudeau could not have easily forgotten the incident, for which he apologized, because he features so prominently in editions of the yearbook during his three years at the school. He even trained students to produce the hardcover annual at the co-ed Vancouver private school.

“A yearbook elective was taught by Mr. Trudeau to Grade 10 and 11 students,” said the entry in the 1999-2000 edition of The View. “These students began the process of turning The View into a completely student-created book – our ultimate goal. Ms. Oliver oversaw the editing and completion of the book. Teachers, staff and students contributed writing, art and photography.”

Justin Trudeau in blackface, getting cozy with Mariam Matossian in 2001 at West Point Grey Academy’s Arabian Nights.

Trudeau’s painted right hand and forearm in the 2001 yearbook rests around the shoulder of fellow teacher Mariam Matossian in the infamous Arabian Nights photograph, which has no cutline attached. Matossian, who also served as a staff liaison to student council, is now an Armenian folk singer based in Greenville, S.C. and married to a real estate agency owner who doubles as her music manager. Matossian did not respond for comment. The 2001 yearbook was a milestone for the private school, because it was West Point Grey Academy’s first Grade 12 graduating class, with just 31 members.

The year before Arabian Nights, in 2000, the fundraiser was 007 night. Self-proclaimed feminist Trudeau portrayed the movie franchise’s womanizing main character.

A photograph shows Trudeau surrounded by six women at the gala, brandishing a weapon with his right hand and wearing a tuxedo. Two women appear to grasp his legs.

Justin Trudeau in the West Point Grey Academy yearbooks.

“The theme was James Bond and who better to fit the role, none other than Mr. Trudeau, who came equipped with a tux, martini glass (shaken not stirred), and plastic squirt gun. His archrival for the evening was the evil Blowfeld, who was played by [headmaster] Mr. Austin,” reads the caption.

There are two photos of Trudeau wearing a kilt: one in a French class for kindergarten children, the other on the ultimate frisbee field, where players on the school’s team painted their faces a la Braveheart and other characters. Trudeau wore sunglasses, but no face paint.

In the 1998-1999 edition, the drama and math teacher revealed his idol was fighter and poet Cyrano de Bergerac, his favourite movies are Star Wars and Leonard Cohen his favourite singer.

“His worst fear is betrayal of trust,” it said.

Two decades later, several opinion polls have suggested many Canadians feel Trudeau betrayed their trust.

Since leading the Liberals to the 2015 election win, Trudeau backed-off from promised electoral reform, bought the Trans Mountain pipeline, approved an LNG plant for Howe Sound, broke a promise to run a transparent, “disclosure by default” government, committed conflict of interest over the SNC-Lavalin scandal and a trip to the Aga Khan’s private island, and was caught hiding three, racist blackface incidents from Canadians.

Election day is Oct. 21.

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Bob Mackin Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was hands-on

Bob Mackin

Is Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou a fan of a Disney character with Canadian roots?

Or was she silently and privately poking fun at Xi Jinping before her arrest last year?

Copies of evidence released by British Columbia Supreme Court on Sept. 23 include photographs of Meng’s devices that Canada Border Services Agency officers seized from her last Dec. 1 at Vancouver International Airport when they nabbed her on a United States warrant.

Two photos of Meng Wanzhou’s iPad, bearing a sticker of Winnie-the-Pooh, which is enlarged for the inset. (BC Courts)

One of them is an iPad Pro, sporting a Winnie-the-Pooh sticker in the upper left corner of the screen.

The world’s most-famous honey-loving bear originated in Canada, a country where Meng has two luxury houses and once held permanent resident status. An orphaned Ontario bear cub, that was named after Winnipeg, became an attraction at the London Zoo and the inspiration for A.A. Milne’s 1926-launched character.

In China, critics adopted Winnie-the-Pooh as a satirical symbol of China’s president after a 2013 photograph of Xi with U.S. president Barack Obama was likened to Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger. Another meme compared Xi to Pooh and Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam to Piglet. As such, censors have taken aim at the Disneyfied version of the Pooh Bear on Chinese social media.

Meng is the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the founder of China’s controversial “national champion” technology giant, and supportive officials from the local People’s Republic of China consulate never miss her court appearances. During last December’s bail hearing, her lawyer, David Martin, called her a “social leader and role model in China” and that “she would not embarrass China itself.” So the former scenario is more likely than the latter.  

Whatever Meng’s motivation, she was not talking to reporters on Sept. 23, as her lawyers appeared before Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes to argue for more evidence disclosure. They are preparing for January hearings where they will make their case to block her extradition to face fraud charges.

Popular memes in China compare Xi Jinping with Winnie-the-Pooh.

Crown prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley says Meng’s lawyers are on a fishing expedition. But Meng’s lawyers say she was arrested under fishy circumstances.

Documents filed by Gibb-Carsley say Meng’s application is “based on speculation and wishful thinking.”

The bid by Meng’s lawyers, Gibb-Carsley submitted, “can only be characterized as a fishing expedition for materials she hopes will reveal the speculative conspiracy she alleges. Courts have repeatedly held that fishing expeditions are not permitted when an applicant seeks disclosure in extradition.”

Meng lawyer Richard Peck told the court that CBSA and RCMP “collaborated and arranged a plan to deal with Ms. Meng in a way that violated the [Nov. 30, 2018 provisional arrest warrant] order of Justice Fleming, that this plan delayed the implementation of Ms. Meng’s rights and afforded the CBSA an opportunity to interrogate her and that such information was arranged to be shared with the RCMP and the FBI.”

Peck said the CBSA compelled her to provide passwords for her electronic devices and it handed those passwords over to the RCMP. He also said the CBSA omitted details in documents, including statutory declarations.

“We refer to this as a covert criminal investigation under the pretext of an admissibility examination for immigration purposes,” Peck alleged.

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

Peck said that the CBSA and RCMP’s original plan to detain Meng on the plane, Cathay Pacific flight 838 from Hong Kong, “went awry.” The flight arrived 20 minutes earlier than scheduled and officers detained her on the jetway instead before bringing her to the secondary inspection area at the airport. Meng waited in the secondary screening area of the customs department for several hours with her eight pieces of luggage. She was interrogated, arrest and transferred to the cells at the Richmond RCMP detachment. Officers seized her Macbook Air, iPad Pro, iPhone 7 Plus, Huawei Mate 20 RS (Porsche design), Scandisk Cruzer Glide, and two SIM cards.

It was the seventh time in 2018 that Meng had traveled to Vancouver. She was en route to Mexico for business meetings and had planned to visit her house in Dunbar during the layover. Both of her Vancouver properties are in the name of her second husband, investor Liu “Carlos” Xiaozong, who joined her in courtroom 55.

Meng was freed on $10 million bail with curfew and geographic conditions on Dec. 11. She lives in a Shaughnessy mansion with round-the-clock security guards ordered by a judge, but paid by her.

Meng arrived at the Law Courts on Sept. 23 wearing glittering high-heeled shoes and a purple dress under a rust-coloured jacket, with her hair tied back. She did nothing to hide the GPS monitor that she must wear on her ankle as part of her bail conditions. The device ensures she remains within City of Vancouver, the North Shore and parts of Richmond, away from the airport, and that she adheres to an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.

Meng’s Dec. 1 arrest sparked a diplomatic row between Canada and China, which retaliated by arresting diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor. The two Michaels are cut-off from their families and lawyers. They are only allowed a monthly visit from a Canadian embassy official, but can’t enjoy sunlight in daytime or turn off lights at night.

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Bob Mackin Is Huawei Technologies' chief financial officer

Bob Mackin

The ex-clerk of the B.C. Legislature, Craig James, said last November when he was suspended that he did nothing wrong and he wanted his job back.

He suddenly changed his tune in May when he retired the night before he was going to be fired by lawmakers for misconduct. 

Darryl Plecas, Sept. 20 (Mackin)

Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz maintained his innocence after he was suspended on the same day as James, but he now faces an investigation under the Police Act by former Vancouver Police deputy chief Doug LePard. Legislature financial reports show that Lenz’s department saddled taxpayers with $1.7 million in overtime costs over five years.

RCMP detectives, overseen by two special prosecutors, have been investigating allegations of corruption for the last year. Some of the first charges being considered relate to the infamous wood splitter and purchases of liquor for personal use, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

So Speaker Darryl Plecas and his Chief of Staff Alan Mullen are puzzled why they are still the focus of critical media reports.

“I have no doubt where all of this is going to land because, as I’ve said before, I’m not able to say everything I know, but I do know where it’s going,” Plecas said in the second part of an exclusive interview with theBreaker.news, his first since the release of Auditor General Carol Bellringer’s Sept. 19 report. (Watch the video below.)

“There will be a day of accountability, the taxpayers can be assured of that. It’s a rough ride now, it’s a rough ride for my family, it’s the non-stop beating all of the time, it’s the pointing of the finger to the speaker, the ‘big, bad speaker.’ I guess I would ask, too, when all of that happens, can they identify one single thing that the speaker has done wrong? Is there something, did the auditor find I did something wrong? Has anybody else got reason to confirm that I’ve done something wrong? Let’s hear it, let’s get it out there. But that hasn’t happened. I’m hoping we can get past this set of circumstances we’ve had up until now.”

Suspended Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz (BC Leg)

For example, he points to an unsigned, July 19 Times Colonist editorial, that claimed Mullen’s fact-finding tour of legislatures in Canada and the U.S. was an effort to investigate Lenz.

“I’m wondering where they got that information from, because nothing could be further from the truth,” Plecas said. “What on earth would site visits enable you to learn anything to do with Mr. Lenz’s behaviour at the [Legislature]?”

Plecas called Auditor General Carol Bellringer’s Sept. 19-released audit “a disappointment.” He listed the reasons in part one.  There are other investigations to come, such as LePard’s about Lenz, a forensic expert’s analysis of forgery of Plecas’s signature and Plecas’s own report about the whistleblowers who suffered under James and Lenz’s management.

“I want them to know they can take it to the bank, I will not rest until their stories get out there and justice is done,” Plecas said.

Plecas said he would also demand an independent IT audit, after evidence went missing from Legislature computers.

He said the RCMP and special prosecutors are doing a careful, diligent job, but he hopes the process will not take as long as it did to lay charges after a theft from Chilliwack BC Liberal MLA John Martin’s office. Charges of fraud over $5,000 and breach of public trust were finally announced last week, two-and-a-half years after Martin aide Desmond Michael Devnich was fired.

“It’s disturbing, really, how the wheels of justice move so slowly,” Plecas said. “This is not helpful to taxpayers either.”

The wheels of legislative change can move quicker. The NDP government promised in last February’s throne speech to let the ombudsperson, merit commissioner and the information and privacy commissioner have jurisdiction at the Legislature. The latter is key, as the Legislature is an anomaly because it was excluded from the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

“Even on the matter of financial controls, a cleverly deceptive person can even find a way around policy, so it requires more than that, it requires an eagle eye. It requires people to be digging and my point would be that since I started this thing, at every point people said quit digging, quit digging, you’re wrong in the manner you did it, and it’s disheartening,” Plecas said.

“For taxpayers, boy are they getting cheated. They are hardly well-served. I wish it could be different, but lots has to happen. I think before I leave, and I know there are lots of people who had hoped that’s yesterday, and if I wasn’t so concerned about getting this fixed, I would agree with them. I do want to see it through to legislative change and I’m hoping that can happen in the next year.”

WATCH and SHARE Part 2 of theBreaker.news exclusive interview with Darryl Plecas below. 

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Bob Mackin The ex-clerk of the B.C. Legislature,

Never before has a cocktail party at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention sparked so much controversy.

But this is not your ordinary cocktail party.

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West (Mackin)

The People’s Republic of China is celebrating 70 years of Communist Party rule. The local consulate paid $6,000 to be a sponsor so that it could host a reception on Sept. 25 at the Fairmont Waterfront Centre hotel for politicians and bureaucrats. 

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West is outspoken in opposition and is leading a boycott. Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart will not be there, but Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie will, if his schedule permits.

West said elected officials, first and foremost, owe a duty to their citizens to not be lobbied by foreign interests. That the only foreign government doing so at the UBCM convention is China is the tipping point. 

Speaker Darryl Plecas (Mackin)

“We have an organization that is comprised of mayors and city councillors from across the province of British Columbia, and that organization takes a cheque from the government of China in exchange for providing the government of China access to B.C. mayors and city councillors, I think what we have there is a gross violation of what our responsibilities and duties are,” West said in an interview with theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin.

“China is engaged in a number of actions that are completely hostile to Canadian national interests, the interests of our citizens. And beyond that China is without rival the worst human rights abuser in the world.”

Listen to the full interview with West. Also an excerpt from theBreaker.news exclusive, in-depth interview with Darryl Plecas, the Speaker of the B.C. Legislature, in reaction to the first report by Auditor General Carol Bellringer into the scandal at the Legislature.

Plus, on this special 100th edition, highlights of the Nov. 5, 2017 debut and hear how the world media reacted last week to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s shocking 2001 blackface incident.

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

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

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theBreaker.news Podcast
theBreaker.news Podcast
theBreaker.news Podcast: Special 100th edition, featuring Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West and B.C. Speaker Darryl Plecas
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Never before has a cocktail party at

Bob Mackin

In part one of his first interview since the auditor general’s Sept. 19 report on the B.C. Legislature scandal, Speaker Darryl Plecas said he was “astounded” that Carol Bellringer did not conduct a forensic review or find any evidence of fraud.

Speaker Darryl Plecas (Mackin)

“I was a bit surprised that she explicitly stated that the clerk and sergeant-at-arms were cleared of wrongdoing in the McLachlin investigation, they’d already been cleared. I thought, whoa, for an auditor general to say that is a bit surprising. The auditor general is taking a cue from someone who is not an auditor,” Plecas told theBreaker.news on Sept. 20 [watch the video below]. “ I’m not worried where it is going to land, at the end of the day. I come back to knowing absolutely there was fraud and it’s gone unnoticed, I don’t blame [retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley] McLachlin for that. It absolutely boggles me that the auditor general wouldn’t have picked that up. I guess we’ll have to wait now until the police do their thing.”

The interview was exactly 10 months after the day when Clerk Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz were immediately suspended indefinitely with pay and ejected from the Legislature because of an RCMP investigation, with two special prosecutors, into corruption. The two men claimed they did no wrong and wanted their jobs back, but James retired in disgrace in May instead of facing certain firing after McLachlin found he committed misconduct in purchasing goods for personal use with taxpayer funds. Lenz remains on the public payroll, but is facing an investigation under the Police Act by former Transit Police chief and Vancouver Police deputy chief Doug LePard.

Bellringer found policies either did not exist or were not followed, and there was no violation reporting mechanism to the Legislative Assembly Management Committee, the all-party oversight committee. LAMC had originally endorsed Plecas’s proposal to find an auditor general from another province, but the committee did an about-face to let Bellringer handle the task.

Plecas said he was surprised by what ended up being Bellringer’s report, because he was under the impression right from the beginning that it would be a forensic audit. Plecas was also disappointed that Bellringer’s report looked only at 2016 to 2018, rather than going back to 2012 to pick-up where previous Auditor General John Doyle left-off; Doyle blasted the Legislative Assembly for secrecy and financial incompetence.

Auditor General Carol Bellringer

“I had meetings with the auditor and her staff where I called attention to matters which I thought were criminal, had specific discussions about that,” he said. “I had lots of reason, some of which is indicated in my first report, I had lots of reason to think there was untoward activity, unusual. I think the auditor general was quoted as saying she found nothing unusual and nothing which would indicate any kind of criminal wrongdoing and any kind of fraud. I just have to say that boggles me. I’ve seen what I describe as full-blown fraud, with my own two eyes, discussed it with other people and ultimately turned it over to police. I’m just astounded there was no wrongdoing found there.”

As theBreaker.news reported exclusively, Bellringer did not consider the allegation in Plecas’s January report that James did not declare the purchase of goods or pay duty and taxes on them when he traveled. The lack of receipts from Canada Border Services Agency tends to confirm that and James and Lenz were both silent on that allegation when they submitted rebuttals to Plecas’s report in February. James and Lenz’s lawyers also did not respond to queries on the issue from theBreaker.news. 

Plecas did, however, agree with Bellringer’s finding about lack of policies and procedures. He wondered why such a gap that existed over seven years under James was rapidly filled within months by his interim replacement, acting clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd.

“I would say that finding is worse than any other finding we could’ve come up with. Anybody who understands corruption and corruption in organizations would say that is nothing short of a candy store for corruption,” Plecas said.

Speaker Darryl Plecas (Mackin)

“If you want to facilitate, enable, allow people to do things, engage in untoward behaviour, what better way to do it than have no policies at all, so that one can say, at the end of the day, there’s certainly no criminal behaviour here because there’s been no violation of policy.

“Remarkably the minute the leadership changes, the minute we have a new clerk literally with in a matter of a few months, we have a whole series of policies and I have to commend the acting clerk [Ryan-Lloyd] on the spectacular job she’s done in putting that all together so quickly. How is it possible to do that so fast literally in a  couple of months when you could go seven years and not have one, with all the oversight. Where were the people who should’ve been saying excuse me, you don’t have any policies, excuse me, you don’t have any safeguards?”

Plecas said his chief of staff, Alan Mullen, is working on a report after touring various provincial and state legislatures during the summer. The trip, budgeted for $10,000, went $3,000 over and that caused a media furore. Plecas said Mullen’s trip would have cost more by air, instead of rental car, or if it had been contracted to one of the Big Four accounting firms. Its value for money will be self-evident when it is released, he said.

Plecas wonders why there was not equal, if not greater, outrage among members of the press gallery over policing overtime waste at the Legislature.

Gary Lenz (left), ex-speaker Linda Reid and Craig James (Commonwealth Parliamentary Association)

“The concern was not about this overtime situation, which, by the way, will be told through Mr. Mullen’s report, is remarkably different than most places. How different is it? We spent $1.7 million [on overtime in the last five years]. Most other legislatures didn’t spend a dime.”

Meanwhile, Plecas said he will be asking for an audit of the Legislature’s IT system, which has hindered RCMP detectives gathering evidence against James and Lenz.

“One of the things I was wildly criticized for was wanting images of hard drives, well I did that because we had numerous instances where we couldn’t access information. We had information stolen from the legislature, I don’t get into the details of that, it’s been turned over to the police. Information stolen: We were not able to fully fill production order requests from the police. This is disturbing,” Plecas sad.

“On the last day of the [spring session of the] house [May 30], almost every member of the opposition stood up, one after another and said I was wrong. At some point we have to ask, what is the goal here? My goal is to say I want to make sure that the legislature, the administrative side of the legislature, runs as efficiently and effectively as possible. That’s one task. The other task is asking well, how on earth did it ever get to a place where it’s not? If you put it all together collectively and say gee, you have problems with your IT system, you have no policies, I think a person ought to be saying what is going on here?”

WATCH and SHARE Part 1 of theBreaker.news exclusive interview with Darryl Plecas below. 

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Bob Mackin In part one of his first

Bob Mackin

The British Columbia Auditor General’s first report on the Legislative Assembly spending scandal was not the forensic audit that Speaker Darryl Plecas asked for.

Carol Bellringer also did not consider a key allegation of fraud contained in Plecas’s bombshell January report on corruption in the offices of the clerk and sergeant-at-arms.

Auditor General Carol Bellringer

Instead, her office focused on policies and procedures when it examined 4,700 transactions worth $2.2 million. Bellringer concluded there were no “unusually or potentially fraudulent transactions that needed to be referred to police.”

“When the word forensic audit is used in conversation, I’m not always sure what people are meaning by it, because it is a specific term used when you’re putting those sorts of files together,” Bellringer told reporters in a conference call. “You have to have something to look into before you do so.”

But, as theBreaker.news pointed out, there really was something to look into.

In his report, Plecas wrote about a December 2017 conversation that he had with Clerk Craig James. James suddenly retired in May after former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin found he had used taxpayers’ money to buy personal items.

“When we were preparing to fly home [from the United Kingdom], I commented that I had bought quite a bit of scotch and that it was likely to cost me a fair sum in duties,” Plecas wrote. “Mr. James replied along the lines of, ‘do as I do — don’t declare anything’. I didn’t take that advice, and I was struck by the brazenness of that comment.”

In their February reply, both James and Sgt.-at-Arms Gary Lenz were silent on the issue of their lack of declaration of imported goods and payment of related duties and taxes. In March, Canada Border Services Agency would neither confirm nor deny it is investigating the duo.

Clerk Craig James (right) and Speaker Darryl Plecas (left) meeting in London with Akbar Khan of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in 2017 (BC Leg/Twitter)

Asked about the omission from her performance audit, Bellringer replied: “Is that in the original speaker’s report?”

“Anything that was included in the Speaker’s report we left into the context of whatever they were choosing to do with the investigation by Beverley McLachlin and her team, so that was the first reason we didn’t,” Bellringer said. “We have not gone back to the Speaker’s report to see if there are additional items when we were doing this work. It doesn’t mean we would not consider doing it, but there is also a police investigation underway, the RCMP looking at certain matters as well as the Police Act [investigation of Lenz]. I’m not privy to, I know some things about that, but I do not know what they’re looking at or until those reports come out I don’t know if the matters you’re referring to have been covered or not.”

Bellringer admitted that Ken Ryan-Lloyd, husband of acting clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd, still works in the Office of the Auditor General, where he is manager of compliance, controls and research. Bellringer said she took efforts to avoid a conflict of interest.

“It is so broad and so open-ended the we needed to start somewhere and figure out what we needed to understand as to what was going on at the assembly. This is the first in a series of reports, we didn’t decide to do this and stop.”

The all-party Legislative Assembly Management Committee, Bellringer said, dropped the ball in overseeing the speaker, clerk and sergeant-at-arms. Policies that were in place were not always followed, documentation was unclear, and spending often happened without appropriate approval or a clear business purpose. She said her next reports on the Legislature will focus on purchasing cards, fixed assets, compensation and benefits and governance. 

Bellringer successfully lobbied LAMC for the assignment, after the committee had originally planned to seek an out-of-province forensic audit.

In a prepared statement, Plecas expressed surprise that Bellringer did not conduct a forensic audit. While satisfied that she found “failure of leadership and trust by senior non-elected leadership of the Legislative Assembly,” Plecas was unhappy that she did not examine spending all the way back to 2011, the year when the BC Liberals appointed James. Nonetheless, he said, the Legislative Assembly accepted all nine recommendations.

Suspended Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz (BC Leg)

On my instructions, new policies on employee travel, uniforms and gifts and honoraria have been explicitly extended to my office,” Plecas wrote. “The full implementation of all audit report recommendations will be completed in the months ahead.

“More work is needed to address the remaining issues in my January 21 report, but we are on the right track as we work toward a new governance framework, more effective oversight of Assembly administration and further reforms to administrative policies.

Lenz remains suspended-with-pay pending the results of a Police Act investigation by former Vancouver Police deputy chief Doug LePard.

On Nov. 20, 2018, James and Lenz were suddenly and unanimously suspended with pay by lawmakers and escorted out of the building. The public quickly learned that the RCMP and two special prosecutors were investigating evidence gathered by Plecas. James and Lenz claimed they did no wrong.

A source familiar with the RCMP investigation, but not authorized to comment publicly, exclusively told theBreaker.news that reports have been forwarded to special prosecutor David Butcher for potential charge approval regarding James’s purchase of a wood splitter that he took home and various liquor transactions.

Meanwhile, a former constituency office aide to Chilliwack BC Liberal MLA John Martin was charged Sept. 19 with two counts of fraud over $5,000 and two counts of breach of public trust.

Desmond Michael Devnich is scheduled to appear Oct. 8 in Chilliwack Provincial Court, accused of offences between June 25, 2013 and Feb. 27, 2017. Special prosecutor Robin McFee has been on the case for two-and-a-half years.

In March 2017, Martin said that an employee had admitted to theft of tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money and was fired. 

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Bob Mackin The British Columbia Auditor General’s first

Bob Mackin 

The day after the anniversary of Justin Trudeau’s attempt to convince then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to quash a corruption prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, the Liberal leader was facing crisis on the campaign trail.

Justin Trudeau’s yearbook embarrassments (Brebeuf/West Point Grey)

Yearbook photographs had emerged earlier on Sept. 18 of Trudeau in blackface at a Montreal high school talent show and in brownface under a turban as a high school drama teacher in Vancouver.

“I was extremely disappointed, it’s awful,” Wilson-Raybould told reporters after a campaign rally at the Hellenic auditorium in her Vancouver-Granville riding. “When I first saw it I didn’t think it was real. But I would say that I am incredibly proud to be an indigenous person in this country, one that has experienced racism and discrimination and it’s completely unacceptable for anybody in a position of authority or power to do something like that.”

The brownface photograph from 2001 was the year after filmmaker Spike Lee’s feature Bamboozled sparked a debate over blackface and the portrayal of people of colour in pop culture. 

In 2000, the year before Trudeau’s Vancouver yearbook photograph, a debate raged in the U.S. and Canada over blackface in the history of popular entertainment after filmmaker Spike Lee explored the topic in his feature Bamboozled.

Wilson-Raybould was joined at the rally by another independent, her former Liberal caucus-mate Jane Philpott. Philpott, who is running in Markham-Stouffville, called the image of Trudeau “highly disturbing.”

“The act of racism as well as the fact it’s been hidden all these years, those were concerning things. the position of prime minister is a position of high esteem and we expect the versify best of our leaders,” Philpott said. 

Ex-Liberal Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould (waving) joined fellow independent candidate Jane Philpott and Green Party leader Elizabeth May at a Sept. 18 Vancouver rally (Mackin)

Green Party leader Elizabeth May was a surprise guest at Wilson-Raybould’s rally, billed a Night of Independents. May said if the photographs had portrayed a candidate other than the party leader, the Liberals would have ejected the candidate.

“The distraction value of this worries me in a democracy, we should be talking about the issues,” May said. “It’s a different matter when it is the prime minister who is in a photo that is clearly racist and offensive at every level. I hope that he can demonstrate, not just contrition, but explain how anyone already a high school teacher could fail to see that was racist.”

Asked if Trudeau is a racist, May replied: “He, at that point in his life, I think you’d have to say he was unconsciously racist. I would not say today the man I know is a racist, but I could not have imagined that photo either.”

On the Liberal campaign charter jet, Trudeau told reporters that he should not have painted his face and should have known better. “I’m really sorry,” he said.

For May, that was not enough. 

“He’s apologized now for a photo taken a stone’s throw from here at West Point Grey Academy. He’s not apologized for pressuring the attorney general and committing an ethical breach that is a significant and serious offence this year,” May said. “I’d like to hear an apology for that.”

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Bob Mackin  The day after the anniversary of

Bob Mackin (Updated Sept. 18)

A Surrey, B.C. woman has been arrested in Spain on fraud charges related to the ongoing U.S. college admissions scandal.

Xiaoning Sui, 48, is accused of paying a $400,000 bribe to have her tennis-playing son recruited to the University of California Los Angeles soccer team so that he could study there. He had no prior competitive soccer experience, but was billed as a top player on two private teams in Canada.

(UCLA)

Sui is the 52nd person charged, but not the first from B.C. David Sidoo pleaded not guilty to paying $200,000 for an imposter to write his sons’ college admissions tests. U.S. authorities referred to Sui as a Chinese woman and said that she was arrested Sept. 16 in Spain and that they will begin extradition proceedings in Spain to bring Sui to Massachusetts to face the charges. The U.S. Department of Justice did not disclose where in Spain she was arrested and where she is being held.

“Global Affairs is aware of a detention of a Canadian citizen in Spain. Consular officials are in contact,” said Global Affairs Canada spokesman John Babcock by email to theBreaker.news.

Sui could face 20 years in jail, three years of probation and a $250,000 fine if convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. 

An unsealed March indictment alleges that the scheme’s ringleader, Rick Singer, a Chinese translator and a recruiter who is not named held a conference call on Oct. 24 of last year with Sui. Singer allegedly told Sui to wire $100,000 to Singer’s bank account for payment to the coach at UCLA, Jorge Salcedo, in exchange for a recruitment letter.

“The translator translated what Singer said into Chinese, telling Sui: ‘Your son is admitted to this school through UCLA’s soccer team. That $100,000 is directly transferred to that soccer coach. So, although your son is a tennis player, because there is a place in soccer team, so it is the soccer team that takes your son.’ SUI responded, “OK,” according to the indictment.

Jorge Salcedo (UCLA)

In September of last year, the indictment says, Sui sent pictures of her son playing tennis to the recruiter, who forwarded the photographs to Singer. Laura Janke, an assistant women’s soccer coach at the University of Southern California, sent a faked soccer profile of Sui’s son to Singer, that included a photograph of a different person playing competitive soccer.

Sui wired the sum two days after the conference call to a Key Worldwide Foundation account in Massachusetts. On Nov. 5, UCLA approved her son for admission and also awarded him a 25% scholarship.

On Feb. 15 of this year, Sui wired $300,000 from Canada to a KWF account in Massachusetts as final payment for her son’s admission to UCLA.

Singer pleaded guilty to racketeering, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud and obstruction of justice and has agreed to cooperate with investigators. Janke pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge and will be sentenced in January. Salcedo has an Oct. 1 case conference as he contests the racketeering charge.

theBreaker.news previously reported on Sui’s Surrey connection and that British Columbia small claims court records indicate Sui was sued by a Vancouver high-end luxury car subscription service. DK Conquest Luxury Rentals Inc. filed a claim last September for $22,920.11 in repairs and loss of use against Sui and husband Qiran Li. Li allegedly significantly damaged the front end of a 2014 BMW M5. Sui and Li paid a $7,500 damage deposit, but the insurance that Li bought from DK was void “due to reckless use of the vehicle.”

Sui and Li are listed on the small claims action at different South Surrey addresses. One property is worth $2.99 million, the other $1.31 million. They do, however, have a common phone number listed on the statement of claim.

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

Sidoo, a former CFL player who became a wealthy stock market player, tops a list of 19 people named in an April 9 indictment. Sidoo pleaded not guilty on April 29 to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy.

He is accused of paying more than $200,000 for Harvard-educated tennis coach Mark Riddell to write college entrance exams for sons Dylan and Jordan Sidoo, neither of whom are charged.

If convicted, David Sidoo could face up to 20 years in prison. His next court date is Oct. 2.

Riddell pleaded guilty on April 12 to fraud and money laundering in the scheme hatched by mastermind Singer, who admitted that he “created a side door that would guarantee families would get in.”

Prosecutors allege Riddell traveled from Tampa, Fla. to Vancouver and used false identification to pose as Dylan Sidoo to write an SAT [Scholastic Aptitude Test] test on Dec. 3, 2011 at a venue that has not been disclosed.

Riddell allegedly traveled to Vancouver again, to write a test on June 9, 2012 that is described in the indictment as a “Canadian high school graduation exam.”

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Bob Mackin (Updated Sept. 18) A Surrey, B.C.

Bob Mackin

An incumbent Trudeau Liberal MP’s campaign team includes a prominent member of the Chinese nationalist group that demonstrated outside a Vancouver transit station last month.

Eileen Chen (right) at Joe Peschisolido’s campaign office opening on Sept. 15, as the Liberal incumbent hugs a supporter.

theBreaker.news has confirmed that Eileen Chen is the events assistant in the Chinese community for Steveston-East Richmond candidate Joe Peschisolido. Chen attended Peschisolido’s Sept. 15 Liberal campaign office opening where she coordinated photographs of Peschisolido and supporters.

On Aug. 17, outside the Broadway-City Hall Canada Line station, Chen stood in the front row of the mob that sang the People’s Republic of China’s national anthem, waved brand new flags and professionally printed signs, and hurled insults at local supporters of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests.

Chen is the chief executive of a Richmond event production and advertising company called CYC Royal International Culture Group Co. (aka Haoyu International), which also has offices in Hangzhou and Liaoning, China. Haoyu’s Chinese-only website includes photographs of Chen with officials from China’s Vancouver consulate. An English translation of the Haoyu website says the company’s services include cultural exchanges, project planning, business exhibitions, film and TV shoots and advertising.

Chen did not respond to theBreaker.news request for comment. Likewise, Peschisolido did not reply to queries on Aug. 24 and Sept. 16.

Eileen Chen (right) and Adamas Kou, supporting China’s Communist regime on Aug. 17 in Vancouver (Mackin)

theBreaker.news independently confirmed that Peschisolido’s assistant, Michael Wong, was aware that Chen participated in the Aug. 17 protest. On that day, Chen was joined by Haoyu’s chief technology officer, Adamas Kou.

The website for the Shanxi Province branch of the Communist Party’s Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese credited the Canada Vancouver Shanxi Natives Society and director Cao Zhen Yu for coordinating what it called a “solidarity gathering.”

Independent watchdog Dermod Travis of IntegrityBC called the situation irregular and inappropriate.

“Individuals who want to participate in Canadian political affairs need to follow Canada’s foreign policy line, not their own individual foreign policy lines,” Travis said. “And there has been too much interference by [People’s Republic of China]-backed organizations in B.C. and Toronto. If the U.S. were doing it, we would be in an uproar. It’s time that Canadians be in an uproar when the P.R.C. does it.”

Peschisolido has been a magnet for controversy since his 2015 election in Steveston-Richmond East. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not appoint him to cabinet, but he does co-chair the Canada-China Legislative Association.

It took until December 2017, more than two years since he won the riding, for Peschisolido to decide to wind-down his law firm. In August, Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion confirmed that he was investigating a Conservative complaint alleging that Peschisolido failed to disclose that the B.C. Law Society had appointed a custodian in April.

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

Last month, Peschisolido filed papers in B.C. Supreme Court in an attempt to distance himself from a lawsuit involving a former client of his law firm. The B.C. Securities Commission found in 2017 that Paul Oei had defrauded investors for $5 million.

In July, Peschisolido denied that his law firm helped mask an alleged gangster’s $7.8 million stake in a Coquitlam property through a bare trust, claiming he did not deal with Kwok Chung Tam in any capacity.

Last year, Peschisolido was photographed at social events with People’s Liberation Army veteran Rongxiang “Tiger” Yuan and Paul King Jin, the banned-from-B.C.-casinos Richmond man accused of money laundering. In a July statement, Peschisolido denied knowing Yuan and Jin.

“In all my duties, I have always conducted myself with utmost integrity and professionalism,” Peschisolido said in a July statement.

In September 2016, Peschisolido apologized for wearing a Communist Young Pioneers scarf at a Vancouver city hall celebration of China’s national day. He later said he regretted wearing the symbol of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.

Peschisolido’s main challenger in the Oct. 21 election is Conservative Kenny Chiu, the 2015 runner-up by 2,856 votes.

“I’m astounded that the Liberal Party of Canada has allowed him to run for re-election under their banner,” he said. “Nominations aren’t closed [until month-end]. They still have an opportunity to put that right.”

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Bob Mackin An incumbent Trudeau Liberal MP’s campaign

Bob Mackin (Updated)

A student who published a threatening message about West Vancouver’s Rockridge Secondary on Snapchat has been suspended from the school until further notice, according to the school’s principal. 

Judy Duncan said in a one-paragraph email to parents on Sept. 16 that the West Vancouver Police conducted a thorough investigation and decided that the school would open as usual.

Rockridge Secondary (WVSD)

“We are confident that all measures have been taken and that there is no threat to student safety. We look forward to a regular school day [Monday],” Duncan wrote.

In an update later in the day, Duncan wrote, “The school can also confirm that the student involved in the post will not be attending Rockridge Secondary until further notice.”

The image circulated on Snapchat shows a photograph of the suspect, a downcast boy wearing rose-coloured glasses, under the words: “I will be there distinction thought fighting by my side. This pitifully ruled school of ours, will come to an end tomorrow. This is a threat. Not some rant so TAKE ACTION NOW.” (theBreaker.news is choosing not to publish the image for the time being.)

“Officers have met with the student responsible and have determined there is no credibility to the threat,” said West Vancouver Police spokesman Const. Kevin Goodmurphy. Currently, he said, no criminal charges are being considered. 

School board chair Carolyn Broady said she had been briefed, but would not comment because of protocol and referred a reporter’s query to the school board’s communications office.

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Bob Mackin (Updated) A student who published a