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Talk Minus Action Equals Zero.

The trademark credo of punk legend Joe Keithley.

D.O.A.’s Joe Keithley (Mackin)

Last year, after multiple attempts, the D.O.A. singer/guitarist was finally elected to public office: city council in his hometown, Burnaby, B.C., with the Green Party.

He is getting involved in the federal election, with his non-partisan Punk the Vote Festival on Sept. 21 at the WISE Hall in Vancouver.

“I know people do take all sorts of points of view when they consider who to vote for, but this is what I’m pushing: vote for the candidate that would try and fight climate change,” Keithley said in conversation with Podcast host Bob Mackin.

Keithley grew up near the Trans Mountain Pipeline tank farm at Burnaby Mountain. He is an outspoken opponent of the pipeline expansion, which the Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the day after declaring a climate emergency.

“When you sell yourself as the harbinger of truth and virtue and you’re going to do things differently and then you turn around and do things exactly the same way that politics has been done forever, then you kind of lose that credibility with people,” Keithley says of Trudeau.

Keithley reflects on his first year on city council, says he will boycott the Chinese government reception at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention later this month (“The People’s Republic of China is not interested in helping anybody but themselves”) and boldly predicts the Vancouver Canucks will return to the Stanley Cup playoffs next year.

Plus commentaries and headlines from the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim and host Mackin awards a virtual Nanaimo bar to a B.C. charity that is making a difference.

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: D.O.A.'s Joe Keithley talks pipeline, politics, punk and puck

Talk Minus Action Equals Zero. The trademark credo

Bob Mackin

A colleague of the senior RCMP intelligence director accused of leaking federal government secrets says the charges against Cameron Jay Ortis are totally out of character.

“Nothing in my experience with Cameron would lead me to suspect he would be any way involved in activities that would lead to such charges,” Paul Evans, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s school of Public Policy and Global Affairs, told by email. “Like others who know him well, I was shocked by the news of the arrest of a very fine Canadian.  While the matter is under investigation, I have no further comment.”

University of B.C. professor Paul Evans (UBC)

Abbotsford, B.C.-raised Ortis, a 47-year-old cybersecurity expert fluent in Mandarin, was charged Sept. 13 under three sections of the Security of Information Act and two sections of the Criminal Code. The accusations include unauthorized communication of special operation information, breach of trust by a public officer and unauthorized use of a computer. Offences allegedly took place in 2015 and 2018.

John MacFarlane, a spokesman for the Public Prosecution Service, said outside an Ottawa courthouse where Ortis made an appearance by video that the civilian is alleged to have “obtained, stored, processed sensitive information.” The Crown wants a judge to deny Ortis bail.

“The Crown believes that he intended to communicate that information to people he shouldn’t be communicating to,” MacFarlane told reporters.

Ortis completed his doctorate in philosophy in political science in August 2006 at UBC and held a postdoctoral appointment at UBC’s Centre for International Relations. Evans was on Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee and worked with him on training programs for junior researchers from Asian policy institutes. They also co-published essays on ways the Internet was being used for positive and negative purposes in the Asia-Pacific region, Evans said. 

“After taking up his role in Ottawa we met socially from time to time,” Evans said. “He did not discuss the details of his work and throughout was an exemplar of discretion and integrity in our interactions.”  

Evans was co-chair with Yuen Pau Woo, a Justin Trudeau-appointed senator, of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada from 2005 to 2008 and authored 2014’s “Engaging China: Myth, Aspiration, and Strategy in Canadian Policy from Trudeau to Harper.” One of the papers that Evans and Ortis produced was “The Internet and Asia-Pacific security: Old conflicts and new behaviour” in 2011. 

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Bob Mackin A colleague of the senior RCMP

Bob Mackin

A former right-hand man to ex-Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson scored a $22,000 no-bid contract from Premier John Horgan’s office, has learned.

Kevin Quinlan (Twitter)

Kevin Quinlan got the gig on May 31 for “coordination services for Food Security Task Force Project.” Horgan spokeswoman Sage Aaron said Quinlan was hired for project management, not policy analysis.

“Costs will be vouchered to the Ministries of Agriculture and Jobs, Technology and Trade,” Aaron said. The government launched a food security survey website in July on ways to boost agritech and reduce food waste. The survey closes Oct. 15.

Quinlan’s contract is below the $25,000 threshold for competitive procurement. If a ministry can prove only one contractor is qualified or there is urgent and confidential need, it can award a contract of any size without competition. Quinlan’s contract falls under the confidential category.

Quinlan began as Robertson’s executive assistant in 2008 and ultimately became chief of staff in 2016 when Robertson’s longtime right-hand man Mike Magee quit to become a lobbyist. Quinlan was also deputy communications director on Vision re-election campaigns in 2011 and 2014.

Amid declining popularity in 2018, Robertson chose not to run for re-election after new campaign finance laws that banned corporate and union donations. revealed in 2018 that Quinlan and Robertson used Gmail to hide their email from freedom of information requests. Among Quinlan’s duties revealed in the trove of hidden email was to ghostwrite Robertson’s Tweets.

Cardona (left) and Robertson (Vision)

Quinlan took a Simon Fraser University night school course in real estate development in 2015. After Kennedy Stewart won the mayoralty, Quinlan took a course at Harvard University in finance for senior executives.

In April, he opened Quinlan Consulting to provide climate change, infrastructure and finance strategy and public policy analysis to businesses, governments and non-profits. Quinlan also joined Toronto consultancy Mantle314 Inc. as senior advisor in July.

The Geoff Meggs effect

Quinlan is no stranger to Horgan’s chief of staff, former Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs.

Since Meggs quit city council in July 2017 to join the Premier’s office, cabinet has appointed numerous ex-Vancouver city hall bureaucrats and politicos to provincial boards or jobs.

Health board appointees include: ex-city manager Penny Ballem and ex-assistant city manager Wendy Au (Vancouver Coastal Health), ex-Vision Coun. Kerry Jang and Vision donor Gary Pooni (Provincial Health Services Authority), ex-Vision treasurer Opreet Kang (Fraser Health) and Trout Lake community centre president Kate Perkins (Providence Health). Perkins worked in the city elections office in 2011 and as Pride coordinator in 2012. In leaked 2012 email, she described herself as Ballem’s “mole” during the contentious operating agreement negotiations between community centres and the Vision-dominated Park Board.

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

Vision-hired general manager of buildings and permits, Kaye Matheny Krishna, went to work in Victoria as deputy minister of municipal affairs and housing last March. Ex-Vision park board commissioner Niki Sharma is an aide to Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen, while twice-defeated Vision city council candidate Diego Cardona is an aide to Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark.

Cabinet named ex-Vision city councillor Raymond Louie to the province’s Medal of Good Citizenship Committee and ex-Vision city councillor Heather Deal to the Council of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia. Cabinet appointed ex-Vision park board commissioner Catherine Evans to the B.C. Society of Landscape Architects’ board of examiners.

Former Robertson aide Mira Oreck worked for two years in Horgan’s office as director of stakeholder relations. Another former Robertson aide, Naveen Girn, joined Horgan’s office in May as director of strategic outreach and stakeholder relations.

Horgan’s office has also hired Suzanne Hawkes of Convergence Communications to run cabinet retreats. Hawkes is Magee’s wife and Convergence is their company.

Last, but not least, Vision Vancouver’s godfather and chair of the Hollyhock resort on Cortes Island, Joel Solomon, is an NDP-appointee to the University of British Columbia’s board of governors.

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Bob Mackin A former right-hand man to ex-Vision

Bob Mackin

Let the promise-making, bellyaching, navel-gazing, fibbing, fabricating, shaming, advertising, door-knocking, burma-shaving and robocalling… intensify.

You thought I was going to say begin, didn’t you?

Canada’s 43rd federal election campaign unofficially began with the end of last spring’s sitting of the House of Commons. You might say it unofficially began the day after the last election, in 2015.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits Rideau Hall to ask Gov. Gen. Julie Payette to dissolve the house on Sept. 11 and proceed with the fixed Oct. 21 election. Trudeau had until Sept. 15 to do so. No word on why Sept. 11 was chosen. It did raise a few eyebrows, as it is a solemn occasion: the 18th anniversary of the day 26 Canadians died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.

Trudeau begins the campaign enveloped by the stench of corruption, as the Globe and Mail reports his appointees in the Privy Council Office are blocking the RCMP from investigating cabinet documents. Trudeau enters the election with two, count ’em, two conflict of interests and an active RCMP investigation, after promising an ethical government in 2015. Can Conservative opposition leader Andrew Scheer capitalize? 

Bookmark for daily news and listen to Podcast every week (also subscribe via Apple Podcasts).

Got a news tip or document to leak? Contact here.

Meanwhile, on the eve of writ day, a Conservative-aligned company is robocalling. Joseph Ben-Ami’s Ditchley Research is seeking answers to its four-question survey. Ben-Ami is a former aide to Stephen Harper and Stockwell Day. (The call was actually from “Theresa from Ditchley Research,” not Joseph.)

The four questions?

  1. Are you a Canadian citizen, 18 years of age or older?
  2. Do you approve of the job Justin Trudeau is doing as Prime Minister?
  3. Do you support the construction to expand the Trans-Mountain Pipeline from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver?
  4. Tomorrow Justin Trudeau will ask the Governor General to call an election for Oct. 21, as you consider how you will vote, what issue is most important to you in deciding which party you will support?
  • Carbon Tax
  • Seniors Benefits
  • Federal Deficit and Debt
  • Legalization of Cannabis
  • Families and Children
  • Other
  • Undecided

Click below to listen. 

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Bob Mackin Let the promise-making, bellyaching, navel-gazing, fibbing,

The calm before the storm.

The awkward wait is on, before the Prime Minister asks the Governor General to dissolve Parliament for the 43rd general election. Justin Trudeau must go to Julie Payette no later than Sept. 15. Election day is fixed for Oct. 21.

The campaign unofficially began the day that Parliament closed for the summer. Some say it really began the day after the Liberals won a majority in 2015.

Research Co. pollster Mario Canseco (Mackin)

On this edition of Podcast, host Bob Mackin welcomes pollster Mario Canseco back to talk about the post-Labour Day headlines.

The NDP and Green Party — not the Liberals and Conservatives — were in a heated battle in New Brunswick after some NDP members unhappy with the leadership of Jagmeet Singh defected to the Greens. Some suggested racism was the root problem.

The People’s Party’s Maxime Bernier took aim not at Trudeau, but Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and her climate change crusade. Meanwhile, the Conservatives released a back to school-themed ad showing a version of what it is like in Andrew Scheer’s kitchen on the first day of school.

Trudeau was skewered by a comedian on the Netflix Patriot Act show. People were laughing at Trudeau, not laughing with Trudeau, who may appear at only two of the five federal leaders’ debates.

“It’s a tactic that we’ve seen with other incumbents, is to stay as far away as possible from those debates unless you absolutely have to,” Canseco said. “It’s quite ironic that it happened in the same week, the reaction to Justin Trudeau’s showing wasn’t that great on the Netflix show and now they’re deciding that they want to keep him under a much tighter leash than they probably thought about this two weeks ago.”

Plus commentaries and headlines from the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim and host Mackin awards a virtual Nanaimo bar to a B.C. charity that is making a difference.

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: The calm before the storm

The calm before the storm. The awkward wait

Bob Mackin

United States authorities say they arrested 13 people on Sept. 5 accused in a transnational cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine operation run out of Vancouver.

(City of Vancouver)

Two key defendants among the 30 named in the unsealed grand jury documents are connected to Vancouver: Tenny Guon Lim (aka “The Goat,” “Max Power,” “Wild,” “Bruce” and “Phil”) and Vincent Yen Tek Chiu (whose nicknames include “El Chino,” “Tiger,” and “Auctioned”).

In a news release, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles said the operation also included Australia, Mexico and Southern California and involved members of Canadian, Mexican, Serbian, Chinese, and Sudanese gangs, some of whom used coded language and military-grade, end-to-end encrypted devices to communicate. Police seized nearly 1,000 pounds of cocaine, nine kilograms of heroin, 46 kg of methamphetamine and 46 kg of ecstasy, as well as more than $800,000 in Canadian cash.

Authorities allege in one of the grand jury indictments that the 1980-born Lim was one of three who arranged to buy and transport bulk cocaine and methamphetamine from the U.S. for importation to Canada and other locations for re-sale, in exchange for ecstasy or cash.

The indictment said that on June 2, 2017, Lim used coded language in a series of text messages that defendant Saysana Luangkhamdeng would leave Vancouver to deliver ecstasy and pick up cocaine in Long Beach, Calif. Luangkhamdeng tried crossing the U.S.-Canada border at Blaine, Wash. with 24.2 kilograms of ecstasy in his vehicle. Documents from a separate case indicate he was arrested in a 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe allegedly en route to see the Toronto Blue Jays play the Mariners in Seattle.

Lim had been arrested in the Canada Border Services Agency’s largest Pacific region drug bust in May 2014 — a 35 kg haul of heroin from Laos that had been shipped to Vancouver. Lim pleaded guilty to possession for the purpose of trafficking and was sentenced to eight years in jail earlier this year. His co-conspirator, Randy Norman Per, was a corrupt Air Canada employee.

The 1978-born Chiu allegedly arranged bulk purchases of cocaine in the U.S. for importation into Canada for resale in exchange for cash or bulk ecstasy.

In January 2018, he allegedly arranged to meet someone that he thought was a money courier, but was actually an undercover agent, in Langley about a 50 kg cocaine delivery deal. The next day, the indictment says, Chiu agreed to provide $963,000 for the drugs. There were also meetings in Burnaby on Feb. 1 of that year, when a co-conspirator, acting on Chiu’s behalf, gave an undercover agent almost $100,000 down payment for the cocaine. The indictment says he later offered to pay almost $1.4 million for 55 kg.

The Chiu indictment also says that a defendant named Orange Tang told an undercover agent that defendant Dario Baruca was his “partner” who operated the drug trafficking business in Vancouver.

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Bob Mackin United States authorities say they arrested

Bob Mackin

A former Vancouver International Airport Authority vice-president says he was fired without cause after a flawed investigation of a whistleblower’s complaint.

Vancouver International Airport control tower (YVR)

Stephen Hankinson’s Sept. 3-filed wrongful dismissal lawsuit seeks a B.C. Supreme Court judgment against YVR for breach of contract. Hankinson, 57, alleges he was fired after YVR hired a lawyer to investigate a complaint against him. He denied any misconduct and called the investigation improper and “wholly flawed.”

According to his lawsuit, YVR acted in bad faith and refused to provide him a copy of the investigation results. His July 5 termination letter included a list of alleged breaches.

Hankinson claimed he “provided effective and faithful service” to YVR since 2007.

“The manner of the plaintiff’s dismissal was unduly insensitive, callous, and exhibited bad faith by the defendant,” said Hankinson’s statement of claim. “The manner of dismissal has caused the plaintiff medical and other damage that will be proven at trial.”

Hankinson’s statement of claim said he advised the airport-hired lawyer that he had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following an emergency on an aircraft. The court document said that he told YVR and the lawyer that if he had made any mistakes at work, then any such mistakes could have been the result of the PTSD. Hankinson’s lawsuit said YVR and the investigator “failed to consider the PTSD as a mitigating circumstance.”

Stephen Hankinson (YVR)

The lawsuit does not disclose what kind of mistakes were made. Hankinson has been unable to find comparable employment elsewhere. None of the allegations has been proven in court and YVR has yet to file a statement of defence.

From 2011 to 2018, Hankinson was the vice-president of operations and maintenance until Robyn McVicker was promoted from director of marketing. He spent the last year as vice-president of planning and innovation.

The lawsuit offers a rare glimpse into the high executive compensation paid at the secretive airport authority, which is a not-for-profit company without shareholders that manages YVR on a lease from Transport Canada.

Hankinson’s annual base salary was $267,300, plus annual short-term incentive up to $120,285 and annual long-term incentive up to $147,000. He also received $9,900-a-year for a car allowance plus insurance and fuel payments, employer RRSP/pension contributions and employer payment of MSP premiums.

Hankinson reported a total $494,745.02 compensation from YVR on his 2018 tax return.

Hankinson’s firing came a week-and-a-half before the airport authority launched a social media campaign to draft Vancouver actor Ryan “Deadpool” Reynolds as the airport spokesman.

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Bob Mackin A former Vancouver International Airport Authority

Bob Mackin

Rugby Canada wants a B.C. Supreme Court judge to quash the provincial ruling to unionize players from the national men’s sevens team.

Canada in action at the 2019 Canada Sevens in B.C. Place Stadium (Mackin)

The national governing body for rugby filed a petition Sept. 3, the day after Labour Day and just four days before Canada’s 15-aside plays a Rugby World Cup send-off match at B.C. Place Stadium.

In January, the B.C. Labour Relations Board made history when it certified the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 as the bargaining agent for players on the senior men’s national sevens team, whose training base is in the Victoria suburb of Langford. Rugby Canada lost a bid for the LRB to reconsider the decision.

In its petition, Rugby Canada claims the ruling jeopardizes the structure of amateur athletics in Canada and could mean a Canadian team may someday miss an international tournament over a labour dispute.

“This is fundamentally contrary to the notion of amateur athletics, and inconsistent with the concept of employee as it is understood in labour relations statutes,” said the petition, filed by lawyer Peter Gall.

Gall wants a four-day hearing before a judge to argue that the labour board set a precedent whereby any amateur sports organization can become unionized and be governed by one the country’s 10 provincial labour boards.

Rugby Canada says it is established under federal law as a single national amateur sports organization, of which the sevens team is one part, and that the players are drawn from provincial member organizations. The team trains for part of the year in B.C., with players spending the rest of the year training or playing at national or international tournaments or in their home provinces. The one exception is the Canada Sevens tournament in March at B.C. Place, part of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

Rugby Canada president Allen Vansen (Mackin)

“The regulation of the relationship between amateur athletes and national sports organizations like Rugby Canada is federal, by virtue of them being involved in trade and commerce that extends beyond the limits of a single province under [the Constitution Act of 1867],” the petition says.

Players receive $5,000 for appearing at the Canada Sevens, but only $400 for each international World Series stop and the Sevens World Cup and $250 for the Rugby Americas North and Rugby 7s World Cup qualifiers. For 2017-2018, Rugby Canada was allocated $288,000 from Sport Canada to the Men’s team, players received $900 or $1,500 monthly.

The financial support players receive from Sport Canada is not taxable, because they are not employees and are not subject to employment insurance, workers’ compensation or employment standards laws, the petition says. Rugby Canada receives funding from World Rugby, Sport Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee, provincial and municipal grants, sponsorships, donations and player registrations, as well as tickets and merchandise and rugby courses.

Rugby Canada has 30,000 registered participants and 45 people on the payroll in administrative, management or coaching positions.

Canada hosts the U.S. on Sept. 7 at B.C. Place Stadium in the final match before the World Cup in Japan, which begins Sept. 20.

The 2020 Canada Sevens is March 7 and 8 at B.C. Place.

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Bob Mackin Rugby Canada wants a B.C. Supreme

Bob Mackin

The month before Vancouver social media management company Hootsuite laid-off more than 100 workers, the CEO agreed to buy a British Properties mansion for more than $7 million.

Ryan Holmes (Hootsuite)

However, the transaction fell through and Ryan Holmes is suing the real estate agency and seller for full payment of the deposit.

The seller repudiated the contract, the purchaser accepted that repudiation,” according to the Sept. 3-filed B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit against Team 3000 Realty and seller Guo Zhu He. “Pursuant to the contract and the addendum, the full amount of the deposit is due and owing to the purchaser.”

The court filing alleges the March 9 contract said Guo agreed to sell 915 Groveland in West Vancouver for $7.08 million and Holmes paid a $354,000 deposit to Team 3000. The completion date was set for May 4 and the contract called for Guo to deliver to Holmes a statutory declaration of residency status as defined in the Income Tax Act.

“Thereafter whether the seller was or was not a non-resident pursuant to the Act became an issue,” said the court filing.  

915 Groveland (REW)

Completion was changed to July 30 and a clause required the seller to provide the buyer’s lawyer a clearance certificate or notarized declaration from the Canada Revenue Agency that the seller is a resident of Canada.

By July 23, seven days before closing, Guo did not provide the agreed documentation. A day later, Holmes considered the contract repudiated.

Team 3000 returned $226,335.50 of the deposit. Now Holmes wants a judge to order Team 3000 to release the remaining $87,664.50 and for Guo to pay the sum, plus interest and costs.

None of the allegations has been proven in court. The defendants have yet to file replies.

The property was assessed last year at $6.495 million, after reaching $8.083 million in 2017. The six-bedroom, seven-bathroom, custom-built mansion with an outdoor pool is now listed for $6.99 million.

Hootsuite laid-off 10% of its workforce at the end of April. In a statement at the time, Hootsuite said the changes were “in order to drive greater alignment with our growing company’s strategic priorities that best serve our customers.”

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Bob Mackin The month before Vancouver social media

Florence Mo Han Aw

Port Coquitlam city council voted unanimously to support Mayor Brad West’s efforts to stop the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ continual acceptance of the $6,000 sponsorship of the meeting by Vancouver’s Chinese consulate, and to host a “meeting and greeting” cocktail party during the convention on Sept. 25.

Scene from the 2017 UBCM party sponsored by China (Mackin)

West indicates that with Canada’s current tension over diplomacy and trade, as well as China’s atrocious human rights record, it would not be appropriate for Canadian politicians to take part in such exchanges, and that UBCM should maintain a discreet distance with the Chinese government. However, UBCM chair Arjun Singh states that the Chinese consulate-sponsored reception is to take place as scheduled.

As a citizen of Canada, I support Mayor West’s decision, for the following reasons.

Canada is a nation that operates on democratic principles, and lives by the principles of democracy, freedom, equality and the rule of law. China is one-party dictatorship that operates on principles contrary to universally accepted values. Activities hosted by the Canadian government should not accept sponsorship by governments that have opposing values.

Because of worsening relationship between Canada and China over the Meng Wanzhou (Huawei) incident, China has now illegally detained three Canadian citizens, British Columbia politicians should maintain a stance that maintains the dignity of our country, and decline to participate in such activities sponsored by the Chinese government.

The Chinese government’s $6,000 sponsorship of the aforementioned event, is part of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front (“Tong Zhan”) tactic. This tactic operates upon cultivating friendly voices, exchanges and contacts, sponsoring events, offering special interest, as well as providing funding to host foreign government officials, all in order to “soften” the will of such politicians, so that they would abandon their own principles and aid in any exchange with China. Canadian officials and politicians must understand that this is a political trap, and refuse to be a party to China’s United Front activities.

I am heartened by Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart’s decision not to participate in the aforementioned reception. I sincerely hope that many of UBCM, the mayors and council members of our municipalities would understand the real situation and motives of China, and turn down the $6,000 sponsorship.

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

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Florence Mo Han Aw Port Coquitlam city council