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Bob Mackin

Site C had the highest rate of management and professional resignations in BC Hydro during the last fiscal year, according to a management briefing note.

Site C dam under construction (BC Hydro)

A Feb. 15 briefing note that studying pay increase guidelines, obtained via freedom of information, said there had been 101 resignations out of 2,896 active employees, a 3.5% average across nine business groups that reported resignations. The reasons for leaving the Crown utility corporation were not disclosed in the briefing note. 

At Site C, the $16 billion megaproject, there had been 23 resignations out of 256 active management and professional employees, a 9% rate. That includes 10 leaving the 101-strong engineering group, seven quitting from the 61-person project controls, risks and services, and three exiting the 19-employee division that includes regulatory and communications workers — a rate of 15.8%. 

BC Hydro’s operations department had the lowest resignation rate, at 0.6% (three workers out of 465), followed by safety and compliance’s 2.5% (3/122) and customer and corporate affairs’ 2.9% (8/77). 

The briefing note said the executive team’s Jan. 25 meeting included discussion on how to use the management and professional salary increase budget that was awaiting approval at the people and culture committee the following week. 

There were four options, three of which censored. The briefing note recommended higher common guidelines for all employees and hiking pay for specific jobs that are further behind market rates and/or experiencing more attraction and retention challenges.

BC Hydro headquarters (BC Hydro)

“This option provides higher salary increase guidelines that would be equally applied to all jobs and employees,” the briefing note said. “Salary increase guidelines are shared with employees and managers. A two-tiered salary increase model would generate a negative reaction from employees in the “have not” group.”

The data charts were censored, though one included a preamble that said BC Hydro sought labour market advice from Willis Towers Watson and Morneau Shepell (now LifeWorks).

The briefing note said the pay increases were forecast to reduce the gap between male and female salaries from 2.2% to 1.9%. 

According to the December 2021 annual gender pay report, which only looked at management and professional salaries, there was no difference for unionized workers represented by MoveUp and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers due to fixed wage rates in collective agreements. 

“As there were no salary increases in 2021, we were not able to reduce this gap further compared to the previous year,” the briefing note said.

The briefing note said BC Hydro is committed to equal pay for equal work and its pay structures are set-up as gender neutral. In its annual monitoring report, females in BC Hydro management and professional jobs averaged one year younger than male counterparts and had six months less service.  

“This accounts for part of the pay difference. However, a primary factor continues to be the underrepresentation of females in higher paying jobs, such as in engineering and operations,” the document said. “Until such time that the gender representation is more balanced in these groups or jobs are paid similar salaries, a salary gap will persist when comparing overall average salaries.”

According to Glassdoor.ca, which ranks corporate and government salaries, BC Hydro ranges from $96,678 to $183,559. “When factoring in bonuses and additional compensation, a manager at BC Hydro can expect to make an average total pay of $130,624 per year.”

BC Hydro’s 2021 statement of financial information, said it paid out $781.6 million in remuneration. 

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Bob Mackin Site C had the highest rate

Bob Mackin

Not only did B.C. opposition leader Kevin Falcon miss the deadline to file his leadership campaign financing report, but he blew way past the BC Liberal Party’s $600,000 spending limit. 

Falcon spent $1.078 million to become leader on Feb. 5, according to the Elections BC returns released June 8.

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

Elections BC fined Falcon and fellow contestants Val Litwin and Renee Merrifield $500 each for missing the May 6 deadline and gave them until June 6 to comply. Stan Sipos was also granted an extension, but not fined, due to unspecified extenuating circumstances. 

Falcon’s biggest line item was $519,396.40 for professional services, followed by $282,002.27 for staff expenses, GST, bad debt and net Liberal Party expenditures, and $106,866.38 for social functions. The report does not name suppliers. 

The $1,078,220.32 figure for total contestant expenses appears above a crossed-out total of $3,234.66.96. Falcon did not respond for comment. 

Advertising, normally one of the biggest expenses for a political campaign, came in at $28,226.71, slightly more than the $26,288.75 Falcon reported for personal expenses. 

Falcon’s team claims it spent only $12,000 on research and data, including polling.

As of Feb. 15, Falcon’s leadership campaign owed $100,000 in loans to RBC at a 2.95% interest rate.  

The campaign took in $923,576.18, including $816,796.18 in direct donations and the rest in transfers from the central party. 

Prominent donors included Falcon’s boss at Anthem Properties Eric Carlson ($1,200), developer Rick Ilich ($1,268.07), White Spot and Shato Holdings owner Peter Toigo ($1,268.07), real estate agent Karim Virani ($1,000), political strategist and lobbyist Patrick Kinsella ($1,250) and former B.C. government deputy ministers John Dyble ($1,268.07) and Dan Doyle ($1,268).

Falcon returned $13,669.99 in illegal donations. The largest was $3,804 from Golden Top Financial Services, which bills itself as a non-bank financial institution that focuses on providing home mortgage services for overseas Chinese.

Only individuals are allowed to donate to political campaigns in B.C. 

There were also 43 prohibited individual donations $31.83 each over the individual limit and 10 $31.93 over the limit. All of which were dated at the start of May, but returned at the end of the month. Though the Elections BC donation limit for 2022 is $1,309.09, the BC Liberal leadership race was called in 2021 when the maximum was $1,268.07. 

In total, the seven candidates raised $2.28 million. 

Gavin Dew, Michael Lee and runner-up Ellis Ross filed on time, but the reports released May 11 showed that Lee exceeded the party-imposed $600,000 spending limit by $42,000. 

On Feb. 5, Falcon won the phone and online contest on the fifth ballot with 52.19% of weighted votes (4,541.35 points) to Ross’s 33.65% (2,928.33). Lee was third with 14.14% (1,230.31).

The race was held under a cloud of controversy as Falcon opponents complained about fraudulent memberships. With hours to go in voting on Feb. 5, a BC Supreme judge rejected a petition from BC Liberal member Vikram Bajwa that aimed to delay the release of results by 15 days in order to investigate the allegations.

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

In early January, managers for five of the candidates wrote party brass seeking an audit of party membership sales. An internal party audit found more than 32,000 new memberships were sold B.C.-wide, with much of the growth concentrated in Surrey and Abbotsford riding associations.

Lee’s campaign manager, Diamond Isinger, complained in a Jan. 31 email to the party that contractor Votem did not have basic safeguards to limit the use of multiple IP addresses and virtual private networks, nor was the party allowing real-time scrutineers.

When Lee confronted Falcon at the Jan. 18 candidates’ debate, Falcon dismissed the allegations and accused Lee of “creating a cloud of distrust.”

North Vancouver-resident Falcon handily won an April 30 by-election in Vancouver-Quilchena to fill the seat vacated by ex-leader Andrew Wilkinson. Falcon was sworn-in on May 16, three days after Premier John Horgan announced the controversial $1 billion Royal B.C. Museum replacement. 

The runner-up in the 2011 leadership race to Christy Clark quit politics in 2012 after 11 years in multiple cabinet portfolios and became executive vice-president at developer Anthem Properties.

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Bob Mackin Not only did B.C. opposition leader

Bob Mackin

It is now a three-way race for Mayor of Surrey. 

Jinny Sims, the NDP MLA in Surrey-Panorama, launched her campaign to defeat Mayor Doug McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition on June 8 under the banner of Surrey Forward. She joins Coun. Brenda Locke, who declared her candidacy with the new Surrey Connect party in July 2021.

Stephen Carter (Twitter)

“Surrey city hall is broken,” Sims said in a prepared statement. “There are two factions at city hall fighting with each other instead of fighting for the people of Surrey.”

With just over four months until election day, Sims is playing catch-up, so she imported the strategist behind the last two mayors of Calgary to manage her campaign. 

Stephen Carter helped Naheed Nenshi get elected in 2010 and his successor Jyoti Gondek last fall. Carter was Gondek’s chief of staff until February when he was fired mysteriously with a $104,000 severance. 

“I was dismissed without cause,” Carter said. “I think I’ve spoken to the Calgary media quite extensively.”

Carter also managed Alison Redford’s 2011 Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership campaign and 2012 provincial election win. He became her chief of staff, but left that job after six months with a $130,000 severance. 

Asked if he would follow Sims into a Surrey city hall job if she wins on Oct. 15, Carter said his agreement with Sims is for the campaign only. “That’s what the deals that I always sign are,” he said.

The Punjab-born, England-raised Sims is a former high school teacher who parlayed her profile as president of the B.C. Teachers Federation into a successful run for the NDP in the federal Newton-North Delta riding in 2011. She lost in 2015 to Liberal Sukh Dhaliwal, but went provincial and won Surrey-Panorama for the B.C. NDP in 2017. 

Jinny Sims (Surrey Forward)

Sims resigned as Minister of Citizens’ Services in October 2019 over allegations she hid email and wrote visa support letters for campaign supporters. Special prosecutor Richard Peck did not recommend charges against Sims, who had been in charge of the government’s procurement and freedom of information departments. Peck, coincidentally, is now the defence lawyer in McCallum’s public mischief case, which is scheduled for trial two weeks after election day. 

Sims was re-elected in 2020, but not reappointed to cabinet.

“The relationship between Sims and [Premier John Horgan] has been super strong throughout all of this,” Carter said. “Both of them have tremendous respect for one another. I don’t think that her not being in cabinet was any reflection of those allegations.” 

Carter also worked on Mike Hurley’s 2018 defeat of longtime Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan. Earlier that year, he managed Mike de Jong’s second unsuccessful campaign for the BC Liberal leadership. 

He said Surrey voters are looking for a more predictable and fair mayor than McCallum, and Sims will also stress affordability.  

As for the timing of Sims’s campaign launch, Carter said more than 50% of a candidate’s funds are generally raised and spent in the last four-to-six weeks of a campaign, “right when people are expecting to see a lot.”

“Jinny Sims also has name recognition, whereas Jyoti Gondek, her name recognition was less than 10%,” Carter said. “When we started, we had a totally different task.”

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Bob Mackin It is now a three-way race

Bob Mackin

A Crown prosecutor asked a Provincial Court judge in North Vancouver on June 8 to send a former Canadian national women’s team and Vancouver Whitecaps’ coach to jail for two years less a day.

Bob Birarda in 2005 (CSA)

Robert Steven (Bob) Birarda, 55, pleaded guilty in February to three counts of sexual assault and one count of touching a young person for sexual purpose. 

At the beginning of the sentencing hearing, prosecutor Linda Ostry also asked Judge Deanna Gaffar to put Birarda on probation for three years, entered for life in the sexual offender registry, provide a DNA sample and be banned for 10 years from owning firearms. 

Ostry described how Birarda used his power as a coach and mentor to groom each of his four victims and manipulated and exploited their vulnerability for his own satisfaction. She said he left each of them emotionally scarred, detached from their families and friends, and the game they loved to play. 

“These were young women who did have aspirations in that world, and we see from the victim impact statement, that it became difficult and ultimately impossible for them to continue on in that world,” Ostry told the court. 

Birarda was formally charged in December 2020 with nine offences in Burnaby, North Vancouver and West Vancouver stemming from historical sexual offences between 1988 and 1990, 1995 and 2006 to 2008. A tenth charge was added, but six were dropped under a plea bargain. The court dates were repeatedly postponed throughout 2021 due to the pandemic, scheduling conflicts and negotiations between lawyers.

Names of the victims are covered by a publication ban, but Ostry recounted each of the crimes Birarda committed in the statement of facts agreed with Birarda’s lawyer, William Smart. 

Ostry described the personal circumstances of each of the four victims and how Birarda groomed them. One of the victims told police that “she feared she could lose opportunities to continue in soccer if she challenged him.”

Another victim described how, instead of Birarda taking her to a doctor after a minor car crash in January 1995, he took her back to his basement suite and gave her an unwanted massage. 

CSA and Whitecaps

“She stated to police that she felt trapped, like she ‘had no option to leave’,” Ostry said.

Another said after a game in 1990 in Burnaby, she was alone with Birarda in the middle of the pitch where he suddenly took her in his arms, kissed her passionately and intimately with his tongue. She pulled away, but Birarda said he wanted to have sex with her right there, in the centre of the field. She was scared and told him he should do that with his wife. The victim broke away from Birarda and waited in her car, “shaking, trying to calm down.”

Shen went to the team’s pool party feeling exposed and vulnerable, wanting to tell somebody, but didn’t know how to begin. 

Ostry said Birarda referred to another victim player’s upcoming 18th birthday as “e-day” or ecstasy day and openly fantasized about taking her to Paris for sex. The court heard that she began wearing baggy clothes to practice and asked Birarda if their relationship could return to that of “player-coach.”

That player and her parents complained in 2008 to West Vancouver Police Department and provided copies of email, in which Birarda took an aggressive, dominating tone. No charges were recommended, but in October of 2008, both the Whitecaps and Canadian Soccer Association announced that they mutually split with Birarda “in the best interest of both parties.” Neither the Whitecaps nor CSA mentioned any alleged misconduct in that 2008 media announcement, which happened after they hired a lawyer to investigate. 

Birarda was not supposed to return to coaching girls’ youth soccer. But, in February 2019, former Whitecap and national team player Ciara McCormack revealed that he was coaching Coastal FC in South Surrey. In a viral blog post, McCormack described how Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi breached her confidence in 2007 when she complained to him about Birarda’s bullying and harassment. 

A dozen players from the 2008 Whitecaps and national team issued a public statement, alleging “incidents of abuse, manipulation, or inappropriate behaviour” by Birarda in 2007 and 2008. It sparked the Vancouver Police to investigate. North Vancouver RCMP eventually assumed the file.

North Vancouver Provincial Court (B.C. Courthouse Libraries)

Early in the 2019 Major League Soccer season, Whitecaps supporters grew unhappy with the team’s response to the scandal and organized match boycotts and first half walkouts at Major League Soccer games in B.C. Place. Owners Greg Kerfoot and Jeff Mallett eventually apologized to the players and admitted that Birarda’s contract was cancelled in 2008 due to sexually inappropriate text messages with a player, contrary to policies of both the club and national association. 

They ordered an internal review by a Toronto law firm. In August 2019, Lenarduzzi was demoted from president to club liaison.

A pre-sentencing expert report on Birarda said he acknowledged the harm he did to his victims and that he had experienced anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide. He was briefly hospitalized and sought counselling and medication, but has not been treated for his sexual offences.

Smart did not have a chance to address the judge until the end of the day, so the hearing will continue on a date to be determined.  

He said the author of a psychological report on Birarda misunderstood some facts and he would present letters of support from young women that Birarda coached since 2008. 

“My submission that he doesn’t pose a risk in the future, and he has, over the last 14 years effectively rehabilitated himself,” Smart said. 

Birarda coached the Whitecaps women’s team to the 2006 W-League championship, missed the 2007 playoffs and advanced to the conference finals in 2008. He headed the under-20 national women’s team and assisted on Canada’s team that lost on penalty kicks to the U.S. in the quarter-finals of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.

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Bob Mackin A Crown prosecutor asked a Provincial

Bob Mackin

Three B.C. Place Stadium workers excluded from workplace inclusivity training sessions have accused the public-owned stadium’s management of discrimination. 

Heavy duty mechanic Salim Kesani, who has worked at the stadium since 2004, complained to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal (HRT) in 2020 after being told he was left out for negative comments about management. Technician Bill Bains and ex-mechanic Shane Hussein also filed complaints over the exclusion.

B.C. Place’s retractable roof (Mackin)

“This is a very toxic environment. It’s so toxic, it’s almost nuclear,” Kesani said.

The jobs of all three were reclassified when management merged two departments, a bureaucratic move that the three men say deprived them of pay raises between $2 and $5 per hour.

No hearing date has been set. Bains, Hussein and Kesani say the B.C. Pavilion Corp. (PavCo)-retained lawyer from the labour relations firm Harris and Co. has slowed down their cases. 

Kesani complained to Premier John Horgan and Labour Minister Harry Bains on May 2, but said he received no response. The ministry communications office said Bains had no comment on the letter, because “human rights issues are handled by the independent Human Rights Tribunal.”

Kesani said working conditions have deteriorated since 2010 when the stadium hosted Winter Olympics ceremonies and temporarily closed for a major renovation and roof replacement.

“If it’s not racism, it must be some other kind of discrimination,” Kesani said. “Maybe they don’t like your face, or maybe they don’t like the way you look. But there is a degree of discrimination, in one way or the other.”

In a January 2022 affidavit about Kesani, B.C. Place human resources and labour relations director Wayne Smith said training held in October and November 2019 for approximately 450 employees covered respect, bullying, harassment, diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias. According to Smith, colour or race had nothing to do with deeming four workers unwelcome.

“The decision not to invite the complainant and the other three employees was due to their demonstrated negativity towards B.C. Place management and their behaviour in previous group meetings,” said Smith’s affidavit.

The affidavit said Smith provided Kesani a copy of the materials used in the training session at a meeting in November 2019. It also made a reference to Kesani apologizing at that meeting to Nick Montpetit, the senior facility operations manager, for calling him a liar at a focus group. But no other incidents were mentioned. In Kesani’s response, he maintains that employees were encouraged to speak freely at the specific meeting about an employee engagement survey. 

Inside B.C. Place Stadium (Mackin)

Smith’s affidavit also claimed two of the four excluded workers are Caucasian. 

However, Bains, Hussein and Kesani are South Asian. 

Bains, a B.C. Place worker since 1984, said in his complaint that the exclusion from inclusivity training made him feel unworthy of learning, development, support and safety. He also had complained about someone using his name in workplace graffiti in order to insult him.

On the pay issue, electricians, plumbers and HVAC employees were reclassified from trades to technicians in late November 2019 when maintenance and engineering and facility operations divisions were merged. The stadium and B.C. General Employees’ Union (BCGEU) agreed on five new classifications and wage rates.

“The objective was to build one skilled team with facility operations to work on the preventative maintenance program, including complex and proprietary systems,” said the Smith affidavit. “This team is comprised of the [full-time] conversion specialists and tradespeople. Conversion specialists need to be trained on preventative maintenance, and the tradespeople are responsible for that training.”

Conversion specialists work to change the stadium setup between soccer, football, concert and trade show modes. 

BCGEU spokesperson Erin Sikora said the union would not comment without worker consent. After Selani consented, Sikora said the union could not comment because it was not representing him at the HRT. PavCo CEO Ken Cretney did not respond for comment.

Bains did not seek union help with his human rights complaint, because the BCGEU was involved in the reclassification deal with management. He disputes Smith’s allegations of insubordination and disrespect and has filed multiple grievances over his treatment. 

“They were trying to force me out,” Bains said. 

Hussein worked 15 years at B.C. Place and said he was fired after missing work to care for his ill wife and daughter in January and to work at his other job on SkyTrain. His dispute has gone to arbitration. 

BCGEU workers at the stadium rejected a new contract offer last fall, but reached a new deal in February after mediation. It includes pay increases retroactive to 2020.

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Bob Mackin Three B.C. Place Stadium workers excluded

Bob Mackin

Fingerpointing galore, as long-suffering Canadian soccer fans are caught in the middle of a pay dispute. 

At stake: the present and future of the game almost a year after the women won Olympic gold in Japan and five months before Canadian men play in a World Cup for the first time since 1986.

Canada’s men’s team wins CONCACAF in Panama (CSA)

Negotiations on a new agreement for men’s and women’s teams hit a wall in Vancouver last Friday and led to the cancellation of the June 5 B.C. Place friendly with Panama. Panama was a short-notice stand-in for Iran — an opponent criticized by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau more than two years after Tehran blew up Ukraine Airlines flight 752 and the 85 Canadian citizens and permanent residents aboard.

Economics got in the way of the Panama match and could harm the June 9 CONCACAF Nations League meeting in B.C. Place with tiny Curaçao. 

Canada’s men’s team qualified for Qatar 2022 on March 27 and their Sunday statement said CSA waited until June 2 to make an offer, which fell far shy of expectations. 

CSA is in line for at least $10 million from FIFA. The players want 40% of prize money, travel, accommodation and tickets to Qatar for friends and family, pay equity for the women’s team and more ex-players on the board. 

CSA president Nick Bontis dismissed the players’ demands as “untenable.”

At the heart of the dispute is the way the CSA farmed-out sponsorship and broadcast deals to Canadian Soccer Business, the company behind the 2019-launched Canadian Premier League.

“To have any chance of creating substantial, lasting change for all Canada Soccer programs, we need the terms of this agreement to be disclosed and corrected,” said the men’s team statement. “We want to know who signed this deal that has handcuffed our association. Why have Canada Soccer given up autonomy of the greatest opportunity to grow our program in years?”

CSB is a private company, but CSA reported a $5.3 million surplus on 2021 revenue of $33.4 million. During the year, it spent $11.03 million on men’s programs, more than double the women’s programs. Main revenue streams included $18.3 million in commercial and other fees and $4.7 million in government grants. 

FIFA vice-president Victor Montagliani (Mackin)

CSA previously had a marketing deal with IMG Sports Management, but a former president looked south to the U.S. for inspiration. In 2002, Major League Soccer launched Soccer United Marketing, the exclusive marketing partner of the U.S. Soccer Federation.

In 2014, then-CSA president Victor Montagliani got the ball rolling over lunch with Scott Young, the CEO of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. 

The Ti-Cats needed to find a soccer tenant at their new civic-owned stadium. The CSA needed to become relevant.

Canada was the 22nd biggest country by player participation and 11.3 million Canadians watched Germany win the Brazil 2014 final on CBC. But the men’s team was ranked a dismal 122nd and failed to qualify. 

To Montagliani, bureaucracy was holding Canada back. 

“The CSA, in a lot of ways, was an organization that didn’t have a corporate element to it; it was run in a very – and I use this word loosely – non-profit way, in terms of attitude,” Montagliani said in a 2014 interview with BIV. “I’ve been able to bring more of a corporate mentality, corporate structure in the boardroom to how we run things. I’ve done that not in isolation, I’ve done that with the board.”

Two years later, Montagliani became president of CONCACAF and a vice-president of FIFA. In 2018, CSB opened with the goal of serving “the new and burgeoning soccer economy in Canada” and launched the CPL the following spring, including Pacific FC in Victoria suburb Langford. 

Mitchell said he was disappointed by the cancellation but supports the players’ call for transparency from the CSA. 

“We are prepared to be fully transparent about our agreement which has included an unprecedented amount of revenue to Canada Soccer in the past 18 months in the forms of sponsorship and international media dollars,” said the CSB statement.

The controversy comes in a year when Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton and Gymnastics Canada athletes are also demanding transparency and governance change. It also happens less than a month after the U.S. Soccer Federation reached a new deal with players after the 2019 Women’s World Cup champion had sued for equality. The USSF deal runs through 2028 and includes higher appearance fees and royalties from tickets, merchandise and sponsorship.

But it’s also a case of history repeating. 

A month before Canada debuted in the World Cup at Mexico 1986, the players’ lawyer Ron Perrick reached a deal with the CSA that included training camp per diems, $1,500 per game per player, and a percentage of the CSA’s receipts from FIFA. “If the CSA does well, the players will do well,” Perrick said at the time. Friendlies in Vancouver against Wales and Burnaby against England went ahead.

The issue flared up when Canada was aiming for a spot in the 1994 World Cup in the U.S. In May 1993, CSA secretly sold the rights to its Toronto qualifier against Mexico for $100,000 to Karsten von Wersebe. The CSA let the Toronto Blizzard owner keep the profits from the $300,000 gate receipts. 

CSA executive director Kevan Pipe brushed aside Perrick’s criticism. “The association has the right to do business in the way it sees fit,” he said.

When Canada vied for a wildcard berth, news emerged that the CSA paid goalkeeper Craig Forrest $10,000 to take time-off from the English Premier League’s Ipswich Town to play two qualifiers against Australia.

CSB/CSA

Perrick negotiated for the players to receive $1,750 per game and $250 per point. They would have received a $5,000 had they advanced to the 1994 tournament. 

In 2000, Forrest’s appearance at the CONCACAF Gold Cup cost him pay when he couldn’t return to West Ham on time. He backstopped Canada to the championship. During that tournament, players received $3,000 for a win, $2,500 for a tie, $2,000 for a loss.

The latest CSA controversy happens the week before FIFA announces June 16 how many World Cup matches in 2026 that Vancouver, Toronto and Edmonton will host.

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Bob Mackin Fingerpointing galore, as long-suffering Canadian soccer

Bob Mackin

A Vancouver city councillor seeking re-election on Ken Sim’s ABC Vancouver ticket is also running for the board of an exclusive downtown business club. 

Sarah Kirby-Yung was an NPA candidate when she finished 10th for the last seat available on city council in 2018 by a 1,668-vote margin. That was the same night then-NPA-leader Sim narrowly lost the mayoralty race to Kennedy Stewart.

Sarah Kirby-Yung’s Vancouver Club candidacy flyer.

Kirby-Yung is one of eight people vying for six seats on the Vancouver Club board. Polling closes June 11 and the winners will be announced June 13. 

That is almost four months before the Oct. 15 civic election day. 

John Coupar, the NPA’s 2022 mayoral candidate, said individuals can make their own choices how to spend their free time, but Vancouver city council is a full-time job. 

“I was on the board of VanDusen Botanical Gardens, before I was elected as a park commissioner, but I have to say that even even as a park commissioner you don’t have a lot of extra time to to do that kind of work,” Coupar said. “I think councillors have to be very careful about allocating their time to do those types of things.”

In 2021, Kirby-Yung was the highest-paid city councillor at $103,216 plus $9,232 in local expenses. The remuneration included the $91,879 base pay, $3,048 annual supplement and bonus payments for serving on the deputy mayor and duty councillor rotation. She also received $6,650 as one of the city’s alternate directors to the Metro Vancouver board.

The Vancouver Club board seat is voluntary, but Kirby-Yung’s bio on the city hall website shows she is already busy on behalf of the public. She is council liaison to five city advisory boards and committees, vice-chair of two city council committees, member of two Metro Vancouver committees, and has additional duties on boards overseeing the Vancouver Art Gallery and EasyPark. 

Neither Kirby-Yung nor Sim responded for comment.

Coupar said his philosophy since being elected to park board in 2011 is accessibility. He said that a councillor has a duty to answer questions about their job when a reporter calls.

NPA mayoral candidate John Coupar (NPA)

Kirby-Yung’s Vancouver Club bio says she has been a member since 2005 and promotes her political advocacy for affordable housing, streamlined permitting and small business. 

“Sarah has been a long-time member,” the bio said. “She would love to serve on the board, bringing her energy to helping maintain and build on the club’s rich legacy and traditions, while modernizing events and services to ensure a facility that is welcoming, enjoyable, and sustainable.”

Kirby-Yung is running against lawyers Tim Brown, Shelley-Mae Mitchell and Matthew Swanson, management consultant Matthew Burns, former CBC and Telefilm director Marlie Oden, physician Briar Sexton, and assurance consultant Kristine Simpson.

The private Vancouver Club is housed in a 1913 Heritage A building on West Hastings near the foot of Hornby Street and hosts conferences and meetings, and boasts an athletic club and accommodations. A full membership for a Vancouver resident requires a $7,500 entrance fee and monthly dues payments that add up to $2,268 to $3,012 per year. Members receive access to 300 other exclusive properties in the International Associate Clubs network.

Kirby-Yung quit the NPA with fellow councillors Lisa Dominato and Colleen Hardwick in April 2021 after the party board picked Coupar to run for mayor. Kirby-Young, Dominato and another ex-NPA councillor, Rebecca Bligh, joined Sim’s party in April.

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Bob Mackin A Vancouver city councillor seeking re-election

For the week of June 5, 2022:

In the second part of an exclusive interview, former B.C. Legislature Speaker Darryl Plecas and his chief of staff Alan Mullen reflect on the challenge of exposing corruption and seeking justice.

Darryl Plecas (left) and Alan Mullen in Abbotsford (Mackin)

Eventually, police and prosecutors took on the case and a judge found ex-Clerk Craig James guilty of fraud and breach of public trust. But it wasn’t easy, because of BC Liberal opposition politicians and press gallery naysayers who took James’s side.  

Plecas said he was only doing his job and not seeking any accolades. One thing does surprise him. 

“Not one of those people at the Legislature, not one, not one elected official has come forward and said, you know, thank you for doing what you did. Not even close. Well, you know, some people would say, okay, I might not have agreed with everything you did or how you did it. But that never would have happened, unless Alan and I did what we did.”

Hear more of the exclusive interview with Plecas and Mullen. Plus, a special edition of the Virtual Nanaimo bar, recognizing a British Columbian activist for human rights in Hong Kong and Mainland China.  

Also, a commentary on the end of the spring session of the Legislature, and headlines from the Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest. 

CLICK BELOW to listen or go to TuneIn or Apple Podcasts.

Now on Google Podcasts!

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For the week of June 5, 2022: In

Bob Mackin

An East Vancouver retailer said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau triggered a short-term handgun rush on May 30 when he announced a freeze on pistol transactions is coming later this year.

(TigerArms.ca)

“We’re obviously selling more than we normally would, because everybody wants to beat the legislation they’re trying to push through,” said Victor Camele, general manager of Italian Sporting Goods. “But, on the flip side, it’s going to destroy our business.” 

Trudeau announced the Liberal government would be “capping the market for handguns,” by freezing the importing, buying, selling and transferring firearms. He made the announcement six days after the mass-murder of 19 elementary school students and two of their teachers in a Texas town. But the gunman used assault rifles, not a handgun. 

Camele said his store’s clientele is mainly target and sport shooters and those rushing to purchase are already licensed. In the long-term, he said the federal move will probably mean a 40% hit to his business, which also includes the sale of ammunition, gun cases and accessories. 

Elsewhere, at Lever Arms Service on Vancouver’s West Side, the employee who answered the phone after opening on June 1 put a reporter on hold and was heard telling a customer that transfers are delayed by high volume. He returned to the call and declined an interview because his store was too busy. 

A Port Coquitlam retailer announced on Facebook May 31 that it closed its storefront to in-person, walk-in customers due to the buying frenzy and urged customers to use its website.  

The online catalogue for Tiger Arms Ltd. shows handguns priced from $289.99 for a Norinco CF98 to a $9,299.99 CZ 75B Special Edition. But most handguns are listed as “out of stock.” 

“For context, we have sold approximately 450 handguns in the past 24 hours,” said the posting on Tiger Arms Facebook page. “To clarify, we are not shutting down, just closing the retail storefront.”

(TigerArms.ca)

Another post pleaded with customers to be patient. “In light of the recent announcement, we are swamped with orders! Orders are being processed as fast as humanly possible, calling in to check the status of your order only slows everything down.”

Nobody from the store responded for comment. 

Tiger Arms is named after Rongxiang “Tiger” Yuan, a director of the company from 2013 to 2020 and a veteran of China’s People’s Liberation Army. In July 2016, Yuan made three donations to the Liberal Party, including one to Trudeau’s riding association, totalling $4,300. 

Since March 2020, Hai Yan Avery Chow of Richmond has been listed as the sole director of Tiger Arms.

Canadian handgun buyers are required to hold a Possession and Acquisition Licence under the Firearms Act. Anyone without a valid firearms licence is required to wait at least 28 days to be licensed and must pass the Canadian Firearms Safety Course. Applicants must undergo background checks that include disclosing current and former conjugal partners and whether they have had criminal, emotional or financial problems. 

The federal government said there are 1.1 million registered handguns, a 71% increase from 2010 to 2020. On May 27, the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics released a report looking at firearm-related violent crime from 2009 to 2020. More than six in 10 firearm-related violent crimes in urban areas involved a handgun. In rural areas, the most-common firearm was a rifle or shotgun. 

“Rates of weapons possession offences have been increasing since 2013,” the report said. “Other non-violent weapons offences declined or remained stable over this period, with the exception of weapons trafficking, including unauthorized importing or exporting, which increased in both 2019 and 2020.”

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Bob Mackin An East Vancouver retailer said Prime

Bob Mackin

The agency that oversees provincial elections wants the NDP government to take steps to prevent a Donald Trump-style disinformation campaign aimed at overturning election results. 

In its wish-list for lawmakers published May 30, Elections BC said it needs to be better-equipped to regulate digital campaigning and mitigate risks of cyber threats in order to guard electoral integrity. The agency had already red-flagged potential cyber threats in a 2020 report, but chief electoral officer Anton Boegman found the landscape is rapidly evolving and recommended new restrictions against deliberate false statements about election results. 

“Legislators would need to craft these restrictions in such a way that they do not limit legitimate activities established in the Election Act, such as requesting recount on the basis of an incorrect ballot account,” the report said. “Restrictions should exempt satirical expression, and could also be limited to false statements that were knowingly made with malicious intent.”

Trump’s false claims of voter fraud against his presidential re-election campaign led to the Jan. 6, 2020 riot at the U.S. Capitol and the unsuccessful attempt by his supporters to prevent confirmation of Joe Biden’s legitimate victory.

The Recommendations for Legislative Change report also emphasized the challenge of removing and destroying non-compliant election advertising on digital platforms.

“There is currently no impact on a platform should they fail to act in a timely fashion. Given the size and economic power of the major online platforms, the current penalties in the Act are insufficient to ensure digital platform compliance,” it said.

Though the report does not specifically mention it by name, one of the most-prominent digital platforms used to influence B.C. voters is the Beijing-censored social media and payment app WeChat. Disinformation on WeChat during the 2021 federal election swayed voters in Richmond against Conservative incumbent Kenny Chiu, after he had proposed foreign government agents register before trying to influence government decisions.

The Elections BC report suggests empowering the chief electrical officer with the authority to ban advertisers from sponsoring election ads on certain uncooperative platforms. 

“This would help address the risk of platforms outside of Canada refusing to abide by B.C.’s election advertising rules (by prohibiting political participants from placing ads on any such platform),” said the report. “Such prohibitions could apply to digital and traditional media platforms that repeatedly publish non-compliant advertising and fail to take appropriate steps.”

The report’s main recommendations include improvements to vote-by-mail and to update adjudication for write-in ballots. It also suggests voters be allowed to write the name of a party leader on a write-in ballot, even if the party leader is not running in their constituency. Write-in ballots currently allow only the name of a local candidate or the name of a party running a candidate in a voter’s district. 

Before the 2021 federal election, the federal Communications Security Establishment warned that Canadian voters were likely to encounter some form of foreign cyber interference before and during the election. 

During Alberta’s 2021 civic elections and provincial referendum, social media posts impersonating the province’s election agency appear to have spread false information that was intended to harm the agency’s credibility. 

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Bob Mackin The agency that oversees provincial elections