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Bob Mackin

You have probably heard of the Georgie Awards, the annual Canadian Home Builders’ Association gala for the residential construction and renovation industry, named for Capt. George Vancouver.

Notorious Marine Crescent empty mansion (Judy Rudin)

theBreaker.news is planning an alternative called the Gregor Awards, to recognize outstanding achievement in dilapidated and empty housing.

The Gregors will be to the Georgies what the Razzies are to the Oscars. The namesake is the man who spent more consecutive years in the mayor’s office than anyone else, Gregor Robertson.

Remember him? Vision Vancouver’s cycling juice huckster who sold out the city to China. 

The first nominee in the category of best sign on the gate on the gate of a $7.05 million, 1937-built tudor-style mansion is the Judy Rudin-discovered “Disgraceful maintenance. This owner has no respect for his neighbours and even less for the neighbourhood.”

City hall most recently issued an “untidy premises order” in July of this year for the boarded-up 6570 Marine Crescent house and garden-gone-wild that is registered to absentee landlord Su Qun Mao.

Less than a kilometre away, two more Gregor Awards nominees.

In the category of most-expensive pile of year-old charred debris behind a fence, the nominee is 2250 Southwest Marine Drive.

The incident report from the July 29, 2018 fire, released by the Office of the Fire Commissioner after a freedom of information request by theBreaker.news, said the vacant, two-storey wood-framed house collapsed onto itself after heavy fire and smoke poured from all openings.

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

“Due to the intensity and progression of this fire it is determined to be an incendiary fire and suspicious in nature,” the report said.

As firefighters put-out hot spots, a city demolition company and building inspector were called. It was listed for $4.66 million by Sutton Group West Coast Realty’s Naomi Wang at the time of the fire. The property value dropped to $4.193 million, but Wang is now listing it for $4.388 million. Bargain!

Richmond is the home of the property’s registered owner Sihan Guo, whose No. 4 Road house is in the name of Yu Kuan Wang.

2250 SW Marine (Mackin)

More than a year later, according to a statement from Neal Wells of the city’s communications department, the city issued an order for the property owners to apply for a demolition permit to remove the debris and the building foundation.

“The city is in the process of reviewing the application and issuing the permit,” Wells said.

The house two doors down at 2230 Southwest Marine Dr. is a Gregor Awards dual nominee for most-expensive graffiti decoration and most-expensive wild urban blackberry farm.

The $5.47 million property is registered to Cheng Yu Li and Jian Ying Zhang, who are connected to an $8.2 million property on White Rock’s Marine Drive.

2230 SW Marine (Mackin)

“In August 2018 the city issued a 10-day notice to clean-up the property and remove debris from the yard,” Wells said. “With no response received from the owner, the city hired a contractor to board-up and clean the vacant property, which was completed on Sept. 12, 2018. In July 2019, the city issued an untidy premises order due to an overgrowth of vegetation and accumulation of debris in the yard. With no response received from the owner, the city has hired a contractor to clean the vacant property, which was completed on Aug. 27, 2019.”

Last month, the city also sent a letter to the property owner, requiring repair of a broken construction fence within a month.

“Should the property owner not comply, the city will hire a contractor to complete the work.” Contractor costs, Wells said, are billed back to the property owner.

Due to privacy concerns, the city doesn’t comment on individual Empty Homes Tax files, he said.

Do you have a nominee for the Gregor Awards? Click here and send photographs, descriptions and street addresses to theBreaker.news.
(Date and venue for the Gregor Awards ceremony is to be announced.)

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Bob Mackin You have probably heard of the

Surrey is forecast to someday overtake Vancouver as British Columbia’s most-populous city. It is the size of Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond combined. It is a place of contrasts, where the industrial and agricultural thrive and citizens live, work and play by the oceanfront and riverfront. 

Nestled among the lush, green farmland of Surrey, Peter Young is growing a revolution in portable and mobile broadcasting. Hubcast Media Productions is one of the modern companies that the Surrey Board of Trade showcased on a tour earlier this year.

Krown Gridiron Nation on TSN, produced at Hubcast Media in Surrey (Mackin)

Hubcast began from the demise of Shaw Media’s community access studio in Vancouver (which closed two years ago because of cutbacks) and is based on using the latest technology to cut costs and complexity. For example, Hubcast produces Vancouver Canadians game broadcasts for Sportsnet without a bulky production truck at Nat Bailey Stadium. It is also home of TSN’s Krown Gridiron Nation weekly college football show.

“We feel that we’re really using technology to give content access to more people, more producers, more independent creators,” Young said.

Take an audio tour through Hubcast on this edition of theBreaker.news Podcast. Plus commentaries and headlines from the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim. Compare what B.C. Attorney General David Eby said Aug. 27 with what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Aug. 29 about money laundering in B.C. And host Bob Mackin awards a virtual Nanaimo bar to a Downtown Eastside charity and its East Coast donor who are making a difference.

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theBreaker.news Podcast: A surprise in Surrey, cutting-edge broadcast studio hidden among farms
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Surrey is forecast to someday overtake Vancouver

Bob Mackin

Attorney General David Eby said Aug. 27 that he is concerned a corrupt B.C. government employee exploited Mexicans at Hastings Racecourse who are facing deportation after working illegally in the barns.

Hastings Racecourse backstretch, June 2018 (Mackin)

“For a lot of us when we think about people coming from countries where there are not a lot of opportunities, people are living in poverty, they’re coming to Canada and looking for a way to support families at home, they are extremely vulnerable,” Eby told reporters.

More than two dozen were arrested in a Canada Border Services Agency-led dawn raid at the Hastings Racecourse stables on Aug. 19. Seven were eventually sent to the Immigration and Refugee Board for hearings. Documents released by the IRB show that one came to Canada for boxing and wound-up at the East Vancouver track, despite no prior horse-minding experience. Another was a machinery design manager looking to make better money. Most of them lived in dorms at the stables.

All seven were paid low by Canadian standards to clean and feed horses. Several reported that they paid a crooked official from the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch in a scheme to hide the fact they were not legally allowed to work in Canada. That worker, Eby said, is suspended with pay, pending the investigation. Eby said he was concerned with corruption at Hastings while in opposition; BC Liberal minister Mike de Jong didn’t act on his concerns. The current investigation stems from a whistleblower who contacted Eby last fall.

According to CBSA documents examined by theBreaker.news, only one of the seven had a serious prior run-in with the law.

The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch licence for Adan Cruz Villegas (GPEB/IRB)

Adan Cruz Villegas, 27, arrived at Vancouver International Airport on Feb. 13 and applied for a GPEB licence as an owner on March 10 — even though he would work in the stables on horses owned by others. Villegas sought to extend his stay in Canada on July 23. He was paid $500 to $700 cash every two weeks, but claimed to not know his employer.

In his interview with a CBSA officer, Villegas admitted to spending approximately three months in a Mexican jail after a robbery arrest. He claimed to have been released with no charge. The CBSA officer asked him about visible tattoos — three small dots on his left hand and a crown behind his right ear. He denied gang significance and stated he had never been affiliated with a gang. The customs officer’s report said the three small dots mean “mi vida loca” [my crazy life] and the five-point crown is often associated with the Almighty Latin Kings Nation gang. 

Oscar David Tapia Fernandez, 33, did have a valid work permit under trainer Craig McPherson through the end of the year. But to be a jockey, not a groom. He admitted he had come to Canada since 2013 under the guise of being a jockey in order to obtain a work permit and had been a jockey in Mexico, but “now I am too big,” Tapia said.

Jose De Jesus Gonzalez Vazquez, 25, and Oscar Miguel Navarro Caravantes, 34, both worked for trainer Phil Hall. Caravantes said he was paid by cheque every 15 days at a rate of $80 per day. He worked six-to-seven hours a day, six-to-seven days a week and shared an apartment in the West End with friends, including another undocumented worker. Caravantes had entered Canada in March, declaring he would stay 20 days as a visitor. Vasquez was also paid by cheque every two weeks, at a rate of $75 a day, for working five hours a day, seven days a week at Hastings.

Back home in Mexico, Vazquez was a machinery designer in charge of production workers.

“I was thinking about going back to Mexico to my job, but when I saw the opportunity here to make more money than in Mexico,” said Vazquez, who came north in April, in a CBSA interview transcript. “I make good money in my job but not like here.”

Hastings Racecourse backstretch, June 2018 (Mackin)

Juan Daniel Bedolla Orozco, 26, also known as “El Tornado,” entered in April in Montreal and had plans to box in Montreal and Edmonton. He got a job as a groomer at Hastings for $80 a day, six days a week.

“When asked why he wanted to stay in Canada, subject stated that he really likes it here and decided to stay, despite having a good job and wife in Mexico,” said the CBSA report.

Brandon Daniel Carrion Gomez, 25, came in June and had been working as a groom for trainer Pat Jarvis, for $70-a-day, five days a week. He had paid $1,000 for his GPEB licence to the person who took his photograph, the testimony said. Gomez said a friend in Mexico, named Moises, offered him the job.

Another Jarvis employee, Javier Olalde Angel, was celebrating his 58th birthday on the day of the raid. He had been coming to Canada since 2007 as a groom. His latest stint began after he arrived in April with an invitation letter from his son’s Port Coquitlam fiancé. Angel was paid $1,100 every two weeks in cash after paying $600 for this GPEB identification card that bore the name of his son, a permanent resident of Canada.

The scheme was described by one of the agents, inland enforcement officer Danielle Jensen. In her notes, she wrote that GPEB identified nine registrations in which the GPEB inspector had subbed photographs on registration cards so that the person whose face appears on the registration card is not registered with GPEB at all.

She found that a trainer at the race track paid $1,500 for two Mexicans to be registered by GPEB and that they suspect the GPEB inspector was receiving remuneration for the fraud.

“Through their investigation, GPEB identified an inspector at Hastings Racecourse who they believe is engaging in fraud,” Jensen wrote. “Specifically, foreign workers are presenting themselves to this GPEB inspector as horse owners [which exempts them from work permit requirements] on their applications for registration.”

“The GPEB inspector submits their application for registration via GOS [gaming online system] and they are being approved as owners. Upon receipt of approval, the GPEB inspector prints them a registration card that lists the foreign worker’s job title as an owner. On a subsequent day, that same GPEB inspector is going back into GOS and changing the foreign worker’s job title from owner to the job title that actually reflects the work they are going to be doing at the racetrack, such as groom, which is a job that requires a work permit.”

David Milburn, president of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of B.C., said not all trainers employ foreign workers and some would have been employing foreign workers for the first time.

theBreaker.news asked Milburn whether the trainers should have done due diligence to determine whether the Mexicans were permitted to work in Canada, rather than deferring to GPEB. He said the application for a gaming worker licence is a private matter between any potential employee and GPEB.

Hastings Racecourse, June 2018 (Mackin)

“We rely on the regulator and the regulator has a job to do and the regulator determines solely who should and shouldn’t be licensed,” Milburn said. “Going forward we’ll respond as we learn more about this. We don’t have all the facts right now.”

In a chapter from his second report about money laundering in B.C., Peter German acknowledged the sport of kings has attracted an eclectic audience and unsavoury criminal element at Hastings — from petty criminals who find menial work to corrupt race course employees and officials to criminals engaged in sophisticated money making schemes. Hastings is city-owned and also includes a casino, but it is leased to Great Canadian Gaming Corp. The trainers are not Great Canadian employees. 

In 2017, the GPEB Racing Unit registered 679 horse racing workers and made 104 rulings, including infractions committed during a race (50), inappropriate behaviour in the back stretch (20) and drug or alcohol violations involving a horse or worker (14). German’s report described the 2002 murder of a Hastings horse trainer and his girlfriend, whose bodies were found in the trunk of a car. Five years later, a former jockey’s agent was convicted of two counts of first degree murder related to a drug operation.

Over the last decade, German’s report said, Vancouver Police Department investigated 61 incidents, including three fraud complaints, “in which suspects presented fake identification, or identification in another person’s name.”

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Bob Mackin Attorney General David Eby said Aug.

Bob Mackin (Updated Sept. 1)

Representatives of British Columbia’s head of state and head of government tell theBreaker.news that they will be no-shows when the Chinese consulate hosts events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China in September.

China consul general Tong Xiaoling, left, and Premier John Horgan on Feb. 4, 2019 in Richmond (BC Gov)

Staff of Consul General Tong Xiaoling have organized a Sept. 20 dinner at the Westin Bayshore in Vancouver and reception on Sept. 24 at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria. Lt. Gov. Janet Austin and Premier John Horgan were invited in July to be the Chinese government’s “guests of honour,” according to email obtained under freedom of information. Various municipal officials have also been invited.

The events are scheduled for the lead-up to China’s Oct. 1 National Day, amid the diplomatic rift between China and Canada sparked by last December’s arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver International Airport and the retaliatory jailing of diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor in China. Meng was released on $10 million bail and lives under curfew at her posh Shaughnessy mansion. The two Canadian Michaels are in a Chinese jail, isolated from lawyers and relatives.

In email obtained by theBreaker.news, Manjit Khaira in the B.C. government protocol office told Chinese consular official Xintao Zheng that Horgan would be unavailable Sept. 24 because of the UBCM convention in Vancouver. Khaira suggested it would be more feasible for the consulate to invite Horgan for Sept. 20 and Austin for Sept. 24.

NDP trade minister Bruce Ralston (right) and Chinese diplomat Kong Weiwei at the 2017 UBCM cocktail party sponsored by China (Mackin)

Rachel Rilkoff, the communications and events officer at Government House, said by email to theBreaker.news that Austin would not attend either of the events. “Her Honour is not able to attend due to prior commitments in her ceremonial and constitutional calendar,” Rilkoff said.

George Smith, spokesman for the Office of the Premier, said Horgan is not attending for scheduling reasons. Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology Bruce Ralston and Minister of State for Trade George Chow are slated to attend the Vancouver event on the government’s behalf.

Forests minister Doug Donaldson cancelled the China leg of his trade mission last December after news broke about Meng’s arrest; Chow was already in China on what was officially called a personal visit, although he met with Communist Party officials in Guangzhou and discussed plans for a Chinese-Canadian museum in the Vancouver area.

Horgan did not visit China on his March 2019 Asian trade mission, but he did celebrate Lunar New Year at a Richmond banquet with Tong on Feb. 4. Prior to her November 2017 appointment as Xi Jinping’s Vancouver-based envoy, Tong was the deputy commissioner in China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs office in Hong Kong.

The consulate’s events are planned for the same week that Meng’s extradition case is in B.C. Supreme Court and the Union of B.C. Municipalities meets at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

PoCo Mayor Brad West (Twitter)

The consulate has paid $6,000 to sponsor a Sept. 25 cocktail party for local government officials at the UBCM meeting, immediately after the B.C. government reception. Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West has led a campaign against the UBCM selling sponsorship to the government of China.

“I have an issue with the UBCM accepting cash for access from any foreign government, period,” West said in a June interview. “The fact that it’s happening with the government of China is in many respects even worse because of that government’s atrocious human rights record. We’re talking about a government that has up to a million of its people interned [in Xinjiang] for being Muslims, you have the Canadians [Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor] being detained, and to me that makes it even worse.”

Among those who have said they are not attending China’s UBCM reception are Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, Delta Mayor George Harvie and Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie plan to attend. 

Since West spoke out in June, the Hong Kong pro-democracy mass protests became a dominant international news story. Supporters in Vancouver were taunted by mobs of flag and sign-waving and luxury car-driving pro-China counter-protesters in mid-August, including outside a church near city hall

Austin and Horgan are hosting their own reception during a Sept. 29-Oct. 2 tour of Southern Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland for the heads of B.C. consular posts. Ralston is to be involved in various components of the mission, which will promote B.C.’s technology, energy, seafood, aerospace and forestry industries.

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Bob Mackin (Updated Sept. 1) Representatives of British

Bob Mackin

British Columbia’s tourism minister held a news conference Aug. 27 at a business managed by a Richmond man facing a high-profile lawsuit from the province’s Civil Forfeiture Office.

theBreaker.news asked NDP Minister Lisa Beare whether she was aware that Paul King Jin was involved with the World Champion Club in Richmond and whether her office had assessed the venue for security reasons.

Paul King Jin (second from right) and Tourism Minister Lisa Beare (second from left) on Aug. 27 at World Champion Club in Richmond (Mackin)

“This was a venue chosen through the athletic commissioner’s office as a possible venue, and that is news to me,” Beare said.

Jin was present at the boxing and MMA gym near the south foot of No. 5 Road while Beare announced legalization of professional kickboxing in B.C. Jin appeared in a group photo with Beare beside one of the rings.

The government sued Jin on March 15 in a bid to seize more than $5 million in cash and assets that it claims are the proceeds of money laundering and loan sharking. In a brief interview, Jin said he is an innocent and hard-working man, but said his lawyer advised him not to discuss his case.

None of the allegations against Jin have been proven in court. He filed a defence statement on July 31 that denied every allegation made by the Civil Forfeiture Office. Jin also claimed the RCMP infringed his and others Charter rights during various investigations.

Tourism Minister Lisa Beare at World Champion Club

“Jin has been a citizen of Canada for over 25 years. He has been engaged in the sports of boxing and martial arts for most of his life, and has been a participant and coach in these sports at the international and national levels, both in Canada and abroad,” said his defence statement. “Mr. Jin has engaged in numerous forms of lawful employment over the course of his life, including while in Canada, and has been successful in lawfully producing income for himself and his family in the process.”

Jin’s defence statement also stated that the money, casino chips and miscellaneous personal property previously seized from him were acquired lawfully and legitimately.

theBreaker.news asked Jin for comment on the allegations.

“Nobody who charged me, nothing, four years already,” Jin said. “I work hard and teach young people to work hard in Canada.”

Jin said he came to Canada 30 years ago after meeting a Canadian boxing coach in East Germany. He said he enjoys the weather and multiculturalism. “Otherwise, I don’t want to talk anything besides that,” he said.

Paul King Jin speaking to Bob Mackin at World Champion Club in Richmond. Tourism Minister Lisa Beare is in background. (Ina Mitchell)

“I love the country, Canada is a better country, I travel to over 50 countries. I want to give the young kids Olympic dreams.” A sign in the lobby says World Champion Club is the North American training base for the Chinese boxing federation. 

The government’s lawsuit alleges RCMP officers watched Jin, during a period of several months in 2015, as he shuttled boxes and bags of cash between the Silver International underground bank, his Water Cube massage parlour and residences in Richmond. The government alleges that Jin and associates are connected to 140 casino transactions totalling $23.5 million and that he ran illegal gambling houses on No. 4 Road and Brighouse Way in Richmond. He was banned from B.C. casinos in 2015.

Award in the lobby at World Champion Club in Richmond

“Mr. Jin has a criminal record with convictions for aggravated assault, sexual assault and sexual exploitation,” said the government’s court filing. “Mr. Jin had been identified by BCLC as being involved in cash deliveries to high-stakes gamblers at casinos in the Lower Mainland.”

The criminal case against Silver International and its principals, Caixuan Qin and Jian Jun Zhu, collapsed last November and the charges were stayed when federal prosecutors errantly exposed the name of an informant. A trial had been scheduled to begin in January.

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Bob Mackin British Columbia’s tourism minister held a

There is more to East Vancouver’s beloved summertime Pacific National Exhibition Fair than mini-donuts.

There are cheezy ramen corn dogs. Dill pickle pizzas. And a candidate for the world’s longest, flavoured french fries.

PNE’s exhibits manager Faizzal Fatehali at Game Changers (Mackin)

On this edition, theBreaker.news Podcast introduces you to the sounds of the purveyors of deep-fried chicken skin, rice burgers and an East Vancouver-brewed Mexican-style lager called NeFAIRious. Warning: You might drool on your device. Plus, get an audio tour of the featured exhibit, Game Changers, with PNE exhibit space manager Faizzal Fatehali.

Game Changers is all about the evolution of video games and it is free with fair admission at the Garden Auditorium. The 109th PNE Fair is open through Labour Day, Sept. 2.

Plus commentaries and headlines from the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim — including highlights from the trailer for the upcoming drama based on the Meng Wanzhou/Huawei controversy, Claws of the Red Dragon. The executive producer is Steve Bannon, the man who helped Trump win the White House, and the film is slated for a September release. Just in time for Canada’s federal election campaign.  

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theBreaker.news Podcast: PNE Fair tantalizes and tickles the tastebuds and gathers the gamers
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There is more to East Vancouver's beloved

Bob Mackin

The co-founder of Vancouver Chinese Human Rights Watch Group said he is disappointed, but not surprised, that an advertisement critical of China was defaced in Richmond.

A bus shelter ad marking the 30th anniversary year of the Tiananmen Square Massacre (left) was defaced on Aug. 23 (right) in Richmond (Mackin)

“Our goal is to let many immigrants from China know, especially Mainland China, to remind them that democracy, freedom is very important,” said Louis Huang. “This is where we live, this is why leave our country and come to Canada.”

The ad, which mentions this year’s 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, is on a No. 3 Road Coast Mountain Bus Co. shelter near Westminster Highway. On Aug. 23, someone plastered ripped pages of newspapers overtop the poster, which contains images of the iconic “tank man” from 1989, the Goddess of Democracy and China surrounded by flames. Crews cleaned-up the mess later in the day.

The poster debuted at a bus shelter on No. 3 Road near Blundell last winter and Huang said it prompted angry phone calls from supporters of the Chinese government. He suggests the timing of the vandalism is not coincidental, after last weekend’s sudden display of nationalism by a well-organized, pro-China mob that aimed to counter protests in Vancouver by supporters of Hong Kong’s democracy movement. 

Louis Huang outside a court appearance in the case of Meng Wanzhou at the Law Courts in Vancouver on March 8 (Mackin)

“Many things happen in Vancouver, you can see so many national flags, the red wave on our streets, which is, from my point of view, a direct threat to our country,” Huang said. “A direct threat to our democracy and freedom and human rights.”

One of those protests took place outside a church near Vancouver city hall on Aug. 18 where people came to pray for peace and justice in Hong Kong. Vancouver Police officers were called to guard the doors and escort worshippers. Meanwhile, the pro-China activists showed their new flags and manufactured signs while photographing prayer meeting attendees.

Most of the nationalists appeared to be students in their 20s and 30s. The worshippers were middle aged and senior citizens.

“This is the direct proof of their influence,” Huang said. “Not only on our economy, but more dangerously our politicians.”

While mass-protests continue in Hong Kong, China is gearing-up to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Huang said he left China for Australia in 1998 and has lived in Canada since 2002. He has protested in support of jailed Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor to the steps of the Law Courts in Vancouver during court appearances by Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

The United States wants Meng extradited to face fraud charges. Kovrig and Spavor were arrested in China last December in retaliation for Meng’s Dec. 1 arrest at Vancouver International Airport. Meng lives on $10 million bail at a Shaughnessy mansion. 

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Bob Mackin The co-founder of Vancouver Chinese Human

Bob Mackin

The organizer of a prayer meeting at a Vancouver church that was surrounded by a mob of pro-Chinese government protesters on Aug. 18 said his group will meet again to pray for peace and justice in Hong Kong, but he does not know when and where.

Pro-China group surrounded Tenth Church in Vancouver on Aug. 18 while worshippers prayed for Hong Kong (Mackin)

Around 100 people left a pro-China demonstration on the sidewalk outside the Chinese consulate on Granville Street in mid-afternoon and descended upon the Tenth Church near city hall. The group was countering a protest by supporters of Hong Kong’s democracy movement.

Up to 20 Vancouver Police officers closed the street, guarded the church’s doors and escorted the 70 worshippers out the back door while the Mainland Chinese group held flags and signs and took photographs of the departing worshippers.

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“I would never have thought they would actually come to the church to hold a counter protest,” Chris Chiu of Vancouver Christians for Peace, Love and Justice told theBreaker.news. “We were not even doing a protest, we were praying. I was kind of shocked. I was glad to know the [Vancouver Police] was out there, otherwise we’d be in a very vulnerable position.”

Tenth Church senior pastor Ken Shigematsu (tenth.ca)

The prayer meeting had been mentioned on the Vancouver Christians for Peace, Love and Justice Facebook page. Chiu said the pro-China groups that suddenly countered gatherings by supporters of Hong Kong’s democracy movement on Aug. 17-18 in various cities appeared to be well co-ordinated and perhaps even related to the consulate. He wondered whether the photographs of his fellow worshippers would be shared online or even with the Chinese government.

“It is an act of bullying,” Chiu said. “We have freedom of religion. If we encounter people like this outside the church every time we have a prayer meeting, are people going to come? If people are going to be afraid to come to a religious gathering, our freedom of religion is being trampled on.” 

Tenth Church’s senior pastor Ken Shigematsu said Chiu’s group remains welcome and he stands, in a non-partisan fashion, with those who advocate for the freedom to worship whatever faith they choose, without fear.

“I am supportive of such prayer meetings as they’re helpful in the future,” Shigematsu said. “I thought of the words of Martin Luther King Jr., that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere and we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. As a Christian church, we’ve had a long tradition of standing in solidarity with people who are vulnerable and we want to continue to do what we can to pray for peace and justice in Hong Kong.”

Chinese government supporters photograph Hong Kong democracy movement supporters outside an Aug. 18 prayer meeting in Vancouver (Mackin)

China does not enjoy the same freedom to protest and freedom to practice religion as Canada does.

In its annual report last year, Amnesty International noted how China’s State Council passed new regulations on religious affairs that “codified far-reaching state control over every aspect of religious practice, and extended power to authorities at all levels of the government to monitor, control and potentially punish religious practice.

“The revised law, which emphasized national security with a goal of curbing ‘infiltration and extremism’, could be used to further suppress the right to freedom of religion and belief, especially for Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims and unrecognized churches,” said the Amnesty International report.

“We pray for China, and we pray for people who are practising Christians who are being persecuted under the Chinese government,” Chiu said. “I find it very perplexing that people, somehow, they’re in support of tyranny and in support of a regime that basically has no regards for human rights and religious freedom. We’re in a free country and they want to stop people from praying. It’s just mind boggling for me to see.”

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Bob Mackin The organizer of a prayer meeting

Bob Mackin

A woman implicated in the United States college admissions scandal may be a Surrey resident.

The Los Angeles Times reported Aug. 19 that Xiaoning Sui “who lives in the Vancouver area” allegedly paid a US$100,000 bribe to the University of California Los Angeles soccer coach, Jorge Salcedo, via the scheme’s mastermind Rick Singer. Salcedo recruited Sui’s son to the Bruins’ soccer team, even though he had not played competitive soccer, according to charging papers against Salcedo. Sui, however, has not been charged.

Soccer coach Jorge Salcedo (UCLA)

British Columbia small claims court records indicate there is a woman with a Surrey residence who has the same name. The 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 Xiaoning 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.

Repeated calls to that phone number were greeted with a recording that said the user was unavailable.

David Sidoo (left) and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with the Vanier Cup in 2016 (PMO)

Vancouverite David 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 A woman implicated in the United

Bob Mackin (Updated Aug. 20 and Aug. 21)

More than two dozen Canada Border Services Agency and Gaming Policy and Enforcement officers descended upon Hastings Racecourse and arrested at least seven track workers on Aug. 19.

Hastings Racecourse’s tote board awaits connection to a new system (Mackin)

A source, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said uniformed officers “swarmed onto the backstretch” before 6:30 a.m. They were looking for more than two dozen people to arrest, but only nabbed five grooms at the time. Grooms clean, brush and feed racehorses, prepare them for races and care for them afterward.

Another source who works at the track told theBreaker.news that 30 were arrested, but 13 were not released. The Immigration and Refugee Board had yet to receive any referrals for detention reviews from CBSA related to the raid. On Aug. 21, the Immigration and Refugee Board released a list of hearings for seven people: Adan Cruz Villegas; Javier Olade Angel; Brandon Daniel Carrion Gomez; Oscar Miguel Navarro Caravantes; Juan Daniel Bedolla Orozco; Oscar David Tapia Fernandez; and Jose De Jesus Gonzalez Vazquez. The hearings in Vancouver will determine whether their detention is justified. 

The source described the action as a disruptive “U.S. style raid” at a time of day when horses and jockeys were practising. They were handcuffed in front of their co-workers. The officers had a map of where to find each one of the targets, some of whom live in on track accommodation, but were all apparently GPEB registered.

The grooms arrested are believed to be all Latino, but none employed by Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which leases the facility from City of Vancouver. Great Canadian said it had no further information and referred reporters to CBSA.

CBSA spokesperson Rebecca Purdy would not answer questions about the number of arrests, charges or where the persons in custody are being held. “As the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to provide any further details at this time,” Purdy wrote.

GPEB’s director of racing Bill McNeill referred questions to the Attorney-General’s press office, which referred questions to CBSA. GPEB “has worked co-operatively with the CBSA in the course of their investigation and will continue to do so as needed.”

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Bob Mackin (Updated Aug. 20 and Aug.