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Exclusive video showing a tense standoff between heavily armed police in military gear and a distraught man with a knife who was threatening to harm himself outside North Vancouver Provincial Court on July 10.

Shortly after noon, police swarmed the man who was arrested peacefully under the Mental Health Act. 

Watch the dramatic video below.

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Exclusive video showing a tense standoff between

Bob Mackin

Four days after Vancouver city council rejected a proposal for rental townhouses to replace a mansion in luxurious Shaughnessy, Vancouver Police dealt with a bizarre incident next door.

“Officers were called to the [Vancouver Hospice Society] just before midnight on June 29 for a man banging on the front door,” Sgt. Jason Robillard told “Officers attended and spoke with the man who appeared intoxicated and confused. They walked him to a residence which was close to the hospice building. No charges and no injuries.”

Vancouver Hospice Society

On June 25, city council voted 7-4 against rezoning the single-family property at 4575 Granville St. The majority cited the proximity to the hospice and feared noise from building 21 townhouses and underground parking would distress patients in the last days of their lives. An 11th hour “good neighbour agreement” to minimize construction-related impacts on the hospice was not enough to rescue the staff-recommended proposal.

Asked if the incident involved the rezoning applicants from 4575 Granville, Robillard said: “As there are no charges that have been approved by Crown, I am unable to confirm anyone’s identity and I am unable to share anything further.”

Co-applicant Jagmohan Singh Pabla told a reporter that he was home on June 29, but did not remember if police spoke to him.

“I was upset, I had drink, but I don’t know anything,” Pabla said.

His son, Gurveer Pabla, later said that his father had gone inside the hospice.

“He called the police and he actually called the ambulance as well, because he was having chest pains and went to the hospital,” Gurveer Pabla said.

Said Stephen Roberts, chair of the Vancouver Hospice Society: “His father didn’t call police. Our staff called police.”

Vancouver Hospice Society chair Stephen Roberts (Twitter)

Roberts said that the elder Pabla tried giving his house keys to staff and said he wanted to die in the hospice. “They, of course, declined them and tried to keep him quiet, [that was] what their main objective was.”

“Somebody was upset, it happened to be the neighbour,” Roberts said. “It was disturbing and worrying for staff and we were concerned about residents, of course, in the hospice.”

Meanwhile, WorkSafeBC cited Pabla Development Group Ltd. for violating safety regulations after a subcontractor’s grisly facial injury at a construction site in Squamish on June 5. The company president is Gurveer Pabla.

WorkSafeBC documents obtained by say the project to build a 29-unit commercial and residential complex at 37830 Third Ave. was under a stop work order from June 13-17. It was lifted after Pabla completed a preliminary investigation, hired a consultant and cleaned up most site debris and hazards. Workers were finally given site orientation and written first aid procedures.

Jagmohan (left) and Gurveer Pabla at city hall. (City of Vancouver)

In his June 11 inspection report, WorkSafeBC occupational safety officer Lee Fletcher called the site untidy and unsafe, with boards and nails sticking out and piles of unguarded rebar.

Fletcher wrote that Pabla Development Group failed to make a statutory report to WorkSafeBC after the subcontractor was injured.

“The response was that it was the subcontractor’s responsibility to contact WorkSafeBC,” Fletcher wrote. “I then outlined that it was [censored] that was injured and the expectation would be that the prime contractor needs to assume the responsibility of the investigation and would have been expected to also contact WorkSafeBC in the event of an accident at their work site.”

Fletcher’s June 11 report also said that he advised Pabla in April to have on-site first aid and a safety coordinator, and to register with WorkSafeBC.

Gurveer Pabla said it was the first workplace injury on one of his company’s sites.

“We weren’t registered with WorkSafe, because we’re a private contractor,” Pabla said. “That’s why I didn’t really know.”

The Squamish Chief reported that the subcontractor was airlifted to hospital after rebar entered his lower lip and exited his nose. He is now on the road to recovery.

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Bob Mackin Four days after Vancouver city council

Lava Jato. Operation Car Wash, in English. The massive investigation into billions of embezzled dollars involving Brazil’s national oil and gas company, Petrobras. The scandal that was uncovered at a car wash in the capital Brasilia also implicated construction and engineering giant Odebrecht, which worked on 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics venues. Dozens of politicians and businessmen were caught in bribery schemes. Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Roussef were sent to jail.

Brazilian federal prosecutor Carlos Bruno Ferreira da Silva; credit: ESMPU

The integrated law and order unit has been praised for its attempts to clean up Brazil, but criticized by those who say the anti-corruption campaign is politically motivated. Recognized by the Allard Prize for International Integrity in 2017 at the University of British Columbia, governments around the world are looking at the Operation Car Wash model. Including B.C.’s Attorney General David Eby.

Federal prosecutor Carlos Bruno Ferreira da Silva, the deputy head of Brazil’s international cooperation unit, was a guest speaker at the Trace International Bribery and Economic Crime Summit in Vancouver on June 26. Podcast host Bob Mackin interviewed da Silva, to learn how Operation Car Wash is structured.

“We saw that in Brazil, normally the investigations of bribery reach dead points, so we tried to change things a little,” da Silva said. Operation Car Wash’s strategy, he said, is built on a team of designated prosecutors, coordination with all relevant domestic agencies, collaboration with informants and remediation agreements with companies, and cooperation with international law enforcement partners. 

Car Wash began with Petrobras, but has expanded. For instance, Brazil is busy making corrupt officials of the Rio 2016 Olympics accountable. Last week, Rio de Janeiro’s jailed ex-governor, Sergio Cabral, testified that he helped pay a $2 million bribe to help win the bid for the 2016 Games. The head organizer of the 2016 Games, Carlos Nuzman, is accused in the vote-buying scheme.

Hear the interview with da Silva. Plus Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines and commentaries.

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: Brazilian prosecutor shares crackdown strategies at Vancouver anti-corruption conference

Lava Jato. Operation Car Wash, in English.

Bob Mackin

FIFA did not give its official seal of approval to the artificial turf field where the United States won 2015’s Women’s World Cup until almost four months after the final, has exclusively learned.

Canada 2015 was the first top-level FIFA tournament played entirely on artificial turf, which sparked global media criticism and pre-tournament protests from American players. The France 2019 Women’s World Cup, which ends July 7, is on grass.

FIFA contractors showed-off artificial turf testing equipment at B.C. Place during Canada 2015 (Mackin)

The public-owned company that operates B.C. Place Stadium, British Columbia Pavilion Corporation, said that “inspection and confirmation of compliance was verbally issued on June 6, 2015” in a covering letter for documents released under the freedom of information law. 

That was three days after FIFA contractor Sports Labs demonstrated the artificial turf testing program to reporters on June 3, 2015. Four years later, documents suggest that damage control photo op was just for show.

Montreal-based testing firm Labosport’s June 19, 2015 report was a generic evaluation of the German-made Polytan Ligaturf RS+ CP WCE 260 W ACS 90 Bionic Fibre turf product. The report was not specific to the B.C. Place installation of that product.

Labosport’s followup technical report, titled “Gmax Tests on a synthetic field installed at B.C. Place, Vancouver B.C.,” was dated Nov. 10, 2015 and based on a Nov. 2, 2015 inspection of the field at B.C. Place.

Two days after the test, on Nov. 4, 2015, FIFA finally issued the field certificate. It was signed by then-president Sepp Blatter.

The Blatter-signed field certificate said the Polytan Ligaturf had been “certified according to the FIFA Quality Program for Football Turf – 2 Star” from June 6, 2015 to June 5, 2016.

The timing of the certificate raises more questions. Corruption-plagued Blatter was provisionally suspended by FIFA’s ethics committee on Oct. 7 of that year. He was finally turfed from office before Christmas 2015 and banned from FIFA activities for eight years, a penalty that was eventually reduced to six years.

Neither Sports Labs nor FIFA responded for comment by deadline.

FIFA certified B.C. Place four months after the Canada 2015 final (FIFA/PavCo)

During Canada 2015, FIFA repeatedly told reporters that B.C. Place’s new pitch had been certified to the 2 Star standard for the highest level of international play.

Multiple sources confirmed that the new B.C. Place field had failed ball rebound tests. Organizers brought in high-intensity water sprinklers and a steamroller to compact the sand infill. They also applied blocks of ice to induce hardening of the surface.

FIFA declined to publicly disclose the actual test results during the tournament. It referred a reporter to manufacturer Polytan, whose CEO, Markus Deimling, said the pitch met FIFA requirements. Both Deimling and Sports Labs refused to show proof. Sports Labs cited a confidentiality clause in its contract with FIFA.

The host Canadian Soccer Association chose to stage the tournament on artificial turf in six stadiums, four of which were the home fields of Canadian Football League teams.

The plastic pitches were more trouble than they were worth. At Canada’s opening midday match in Edmonton, field temperature was measured at 50 Celsius.

U.S. captain Abby Wambach complained to reporters that the $1.327 million B.C. Place pitch, which was installed weeks before the tournament’s June 6 kickoff, caused “weird bounces” of the ball. Japanese midfielder Aya Miyama said “dribbling was difficult.”

FIFA’s post-tournament technical report confirmed those observations and found the speed of passes at games across all Canada 2015 venues averaged 6 kilometres-per-hour slower than the 2011 tournament on grass in Germany.

FIFA chose its words carefully in the August 2015-issued technical report. Women’s World Cup committee chair Lydia Nsekera said that all six venues featured “FIFA recommended 2 Star football turf.”

The artificial turf was not the only challenge for players in the July 5, 2015 final. The B.C. Place retractable roof was open on a humid day when smoke from area forest fires filtered the sunshine. Carli Lloyd led the U.S. to a 5-2 win over defending champion Japan. Lloyd and the U.S. are aiming for a repeat on July 7 in France against Netherlands.

Sepp Blatter’s video greeting to Canada 2015 (Mackin)

B.C. Place paid a premium for the 2015-installed Polytan Ligaturf, which cost $500,000 more than the Shaw Sports turf at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium. The Canadian Soccer Association ($400,000) and Rugby Canada ($100,000) contributed to the B.C. Place turf purchase. Documents obtained by showed the bid by Polytan and its affiliated Vancouver-area installer Centaur was priced higher than those submitted by competitors FieldTurf, AstroTurf and Ubu.

PavCo told losing bidders that the Centaur/Polytan bid was the only one compatible with the existing elastic layer at B.C. Place, despite bid evaluators deeming all four proposals to be acceptable.

Canada 2015 was the first FIFA event after late May 2015 police raids in Zurich, Switzerland led to the arrests of various international soccer executives for bribery.

Fearing arrest, Blatter cancelled his trip to Vancouver, where a special office had been constructed for him at B.C. Place. He appeared haggard on a recorded video greeting that was shown to attendees of the FIFA Women’s Football Symposium in Vancouver.

B.C. Place was a candidate to host matches for the United States-led 2026 World Cup, but the B.C. government balked at FIFA’s non-negotiable requirements to pay all security costs, give FIFA a 10-year tax holiday, relax labour laws, and allow the import and export of unlimited sums of foreign cash. 

  • Bob Mackin covered the Canada 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup for The Province and World Football Insider. 

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BCPC 447 BC Place Canada 2015 by Bob Mackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin FIFA did not give its official

Simon Peh

(Editor’s note: Simon Peh is Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption in Hong Kong. He was a featured speaker at the Trace International Bribery and Economic Crime Summit in Vancouver on June 26. Following is a transcript from his speech, lightly edited for brevity.) 

This summit serves as a timely reminder that corruption is still a major threat in a lot of economies. Corruption breeds many evils. It hampers economic growth and distorts competitive capabilities, creating a vicious cycle which impedes the development of a country. Many governments and leaders of strength and foresight make great efforts to  curb corruption by establishing anti-corruption agencies. Yet not every one of them turns out to be successful, not to mention winning a sustainable victory.

Hong Kong anti-corruption commissioner Simon Peh (ICAC)

The corruption situation in Hong Kong underwent a transformation in the past 45 years. Hong Kong today is a renowned financial centre. If you talk to an ordinary citizen in our city, I am confident that he or she will echo my saying that the existing clean public sector, fair business environment and high vigilance against corruption among members of the public are the distinctive and highly treasured features of our society. But the situation was totally different half a century ago when corruption permeated every stratum of the Hong Kong society.

The turning point happened in 1973 when a major corruption case triggered a public outcry for robust action on part of the government to eradicate corruption. The government did make a decisive response of setting up the ICAC, independent from the police and other government departments, to spearhead the war against corruption. It is commonly accepted that the birth of the ICAC is the watershed of the anti-corruption history of Hong Kong. People aptly described that the inception of our institution ushered in a “quiet revolution” in the fight against corruption in our city.

Since its establishment, the ICAC, as the one and only anti-corruption agency in Hong Kong, has been dedicating to enforcing the anti-bribery laws, advising the government and private sector organizations to plug system loopholes, and promoting public awareness to fight corruption and entrench a clean culture in the society.

With the support of the government and the community, our meticulous work in fighting and preventing corruption at all fronts has successfully kept corruption at bay in the past 45 years and brought about a change of culture. Some indicators can help us understand the current clean environment of Hong Kong.

In the latest ICAC Annual Survey conducted by an independent polling agency in 2018, over 98% of the respondents said they had not come across corruption in the past 12 months in Hong Kong. Over 80% of them said they would report corruption if they come across one. Respondents’ average corruption tolerance level was as low as 0.5 on a scale of zero to ten, with zero representing total rejection and ten total acceptance.

The views of the international community are more or less the same. The TRACE Bribery Risk Matrix 2018 ranked Hong Kong the 14th among the 200 countries/territories surveyed. The overall bribery risk level was assessed to be “very low.” Hong Kong, bolstered by a very low risk of bribery and corruption, was rated the second most competitive economy among 63 places by IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook last month. The Heritage Foundation ranks Hong Kong the world’s freest economy for 25 consecutive years in its 2019 Index of Economic Freedom. The think tank applauds Hong Kong for having a high quality legal framework that strongly supports the rule of law, that there is little tolerance of corruption, and that a high degree of transparency serves to enhance government integrity.

The current clean environment can be attributed to a host of enabling factors which are crucial to the successful eradication of corruption in Hong Kong. But to stick to the theme of this panel, I will focus my sharing on what makes the anti-corruption agency works in Hong Kong.

One can easily jump to the viewpoint that for an ACA to be effective, institutional capacity is of utmost importance. It is, but I would like to propose to take a broader view of two external factors first. From Hong Kong’s experience, the first and foremost factor for the success of an ACA is the strong and consistent political commitment to reducing corruption. Political support is essential and the anti-corruption work should not fluctuate with the changing political environment, for example, the change of government. Examples abound around the world that this is easily said than done. In the case of Hong Kong, despite the change of sovereignty, the government, from 1974 till present, has been continuously and strongly committed to fighting graft. Before and after the Reunification of Hong Kong with China in 1997, the ICAC has continued to enjoy vigorous and unquestionable political support without fail. This unwavering and continuous determination is manifested in the government’s non-interfering stance in our work, the allocation of sufficient resources to the ICAC, and the public policy of prioritizing the promotion of integrity management within the government.

The Hong Kong Government has never meddled in our operations. The ICAC is allocated with an annual budget to the tune of US$150 million every year which is around 0.2% of the total annual expenditure of the government. Corruption prevention and integrity culture building are constant priorities in the government’s policy agenda. With the support of the Civil Service Bureau and the ICAC, intra-departmental integrity management is implemented by all governmental units through a network of 160 ethics officers at the directorate level.

Strong rule of law

The second enabling factor is the rule of law which is one of the cornerstones of good governance and an indispensable element of the successful fight against corruption. Rule of law serves to lay a solid foundation of impartiality and equality in the society. Strong rule of law also gives legitimacy to the operation of the ACA and facilitates the growth of public confidence in the agency. In fact, realizing the symbiotic relationship between the rule of law and anti-corruption, the ICAC partnered with the World Justice Project to co-organize an international symposium just last month in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong enjoys a robust rule of law as demonstrated by the Rule of Law Index of the World Justice Project. Underpinned by the principle of “one country, two systems,” the prevailing common law system in HKSAR remains vibrant and firmly unchanged after the reunification of Hong Kong with China in 1997. The Basic Law, which lays down the constitutional framework of our city, clearly delineates the independent powers of the ICAC, the Department of Justice and the Judiciary. While ICAC is responsible for investigation without interference, the decision of whether or not to prosecute a suspect is vested with the Department of Justice, and the accused person is entitled to fair trial by the fiercely independent Judiciary. Such distinctive division of powers upholds the rule of law in our city and serves as a robust checks and balances system on the ICAC so that we can maintain a high credibility. More on that later on.

(Discover Hong Kong)

I will now turn to the institutional capacity of the ICAC. The institutionalization of the capacity of the ACA is important in making sure that the combat against corruption can be sustained without interruption and can evolve with time.

The capacity of the ICAC is well institutionalized on four levels, namely, constitutional and legal, societal, strategic, and corporate levels. On the constitutional and legal level, the independence and statutory mandate of ICAC are guaranteed in Article 57 of the Basic Law and in Section 5 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Ordinance (ICACO). This constitutional and legal safeguards guarantee that the ICAC shall function independently.

Our legal mandate enables us to investigate public sector corruption, as well as private to private corruption and punishing both the bribe-takers and the bribe-givers. Under the ICACO, the ICAC has full-fledged powers of investigation, arrest, search, seizure and making enquiries which are fundamental to ICAC officers for discharging their law enforcement and corruption prevention functions. The Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, the legislation which we rely on to tackle corruption, confers on the ICAC special powers of investigation including powers to obtain bank and other transaction records; power to require suspects to provide details of their assets, income and expenditure, etc. We are also provided with powers to restraint and confiscate the proceeds of bribery offences under the same ordinance. Furthermore, we also enforce a dedicated legislation specifying offences in relation to corrupt and illegal conduct at public elections in Hong Kong. This wide remit of the ICAC enables us to tackle corruption in all its forms and in whichever sector it happens.

On the societal level, the ICAC is an institution highly trusted by the Hong Kong community. In our annual surveys, 97% or more of the respondents have consistently indicated that the ICAC deserves their support over the years. Over 73 % of the complaints we received annually were non-anonymous, indicating high social trust in the ICAC. This is made possible by the Commission’s impartial stance in enforcing the law.

It is also contributed by our capacity in turning anti-corruption strategy into concrete results to meet the high expectation of the society. Of particular significance is our extensive engagement of different community sectors to raise social awareness, foster public support, form partnerships and call for action from the private and civic sectors.

On the strategic level, the ICAC has been adopting a three-pronged strategy combining the deterrent effects of enforcement with system enhancements and value education. This integrated approach helps create a necessary synergy to generate a long-lasting effect in controlling corruption.

Our work for the financial market of Hong Kong is a good demonstration of the seamless integration of the three-pronged strategy. The Operations Department of the ICAC has all along strived to crack down on potential corruption involving listed companies. The Department maintains close cooperation with other authorities including the Securities and Futures Commission to share intelligence and, where appropriate, take joint enforcement action. In tandem with enforcement actions, the Corruption Prevention Department (CPD) has conducted a review on the disclosure of anti-corruption information by listed companies as required by the Stock Exchange thereby strengthening the regulatory regime. The CPD also collaborates with regulators and professional bodies to help listed companies establish and review their anti-bribery management systems. The Community Relations Department reaches out to all listed companies, relevant professional bodies and business chambers and forms partnership with them to provide practical training on ethical governance to board directors, senior corporate executives and members of professional bodies.

In executing our strategies, it is of vital importance to have adequate resources and the right people both in caliber and in character.

Apart from the financial support from the government, ICAC has some 1,400 officers, recruited through a merit-based selection process. All personnel in the ICAC, including me, are required to undergo integrity checks before taking up the appointments. Apart from the checks and balances system which I will elaborate in a minute, we also have to make sure the powers are entrusted in good hands from the start.

And to sustain the success of an established agency like the ICAC, passing on experience to the younger generations is important. The ICAC has devised comprehensive training programmes to enhance ICAC officers’ core competencies required for the effective discharge of duties, prepare them for new professional requirements and develop their potential to cope with organizational development.

Checks and balances

The final factor for success that I want to talk about is “checks and balances.” The effectiveness of an ACA is as only strong as the checks and balances mechanism which the ACA is subject to. The reason is easy to see because power without limits is a leading cause of corruption. While ACAs should be given sufficient powers to carry out its work effectively, it should also be subject to robust scrutiny to prevent abuse.

Alongside with our anti-corruption capability, the ICAC also discharges its duties responsibly and operates within an all-rounded accountability regime. Within the organization, we have an internal unit to investigate complaints against our officers independently. The unit reports to an external and independent complaints committee responsible for reviewing all non-criminal complaints against ICAC officers. An internal audit unit has also been set up to conduct compliance checks, identify system weaknesses and recommend enhancement measures to improve internal controls.

Furthermore, four independent committees, comprising leading citizens from different sectors of the community, have been set up to oversee the work of the ICAC and its three departments. By bringing in outside monitoring, these oversight bodies serve as the eyes and ears of the society to make sure that our operations can measure up to the high public expectation.

Externally, the Legislative Council, the legislature of Hong Kong, is vested with the authorities to approve our annual budget, raise questions on our policies and performance, and review and amend the legislations pertinent to our work and powers. The Commissioner will have to attend meetings of the Legislative Council to explain policy and budgetary matters on an annual basis.

Hong Kong is an open and diverse society. We have an active civil society and free news media who play pivotal roles in scrutinizing the work of the ICAC. In this regard, the ICAC would have to act even more stringently in adhering to the standards that we advocate and be held accountable for any possible missteps.

Hong Kong is also a global metropolis and an active member of the worldwide anti-corruption community. We value the views and contribution of the international community who has an extremely important role to play in ensuring the vibrancy of our city. We have been engaging with different international stakeholders, in particular ranking and survey agencies, so as to take on board their findings to further improve our anti-corruption work.

The ICAC in Hong Kong has fought its way from eradicating widespread corruption in its early years to sustaining the culture of zero tolerance of corruption now. The synergy created by our integrated strategy effectively curbs corruption and enables us to discharge our work to gain the public trust. It also gradually brings about a cultural change in the society, one which does not tolerate corruption and embraces integrity as its core value. This clean culture in turn provides further momentum to the anti-corruption cause thereby generating a virtuous cycle in fighting and preventing corruption. Such virtuous cycle forms the strongest defence against corruption in Hong Kong and enables the anti-corruption war to last and sustain. In the words of Sir Jack Cater, the founding Commissioner of the ICAC, and I quote “there can be no real victory in our fight against corruption unless there are changes of attitude throughout the community.” Faithfully, we have stayed true to this mission.

Academic studies have suggested that the ICAC model has “proven enormously influential.” These studies also estimated that 30 to 40 national level ACAs around the world have drawn on the idea of a single, powerful, centralized anti-corruption agency. However, the result is mixed. If the Hong Kong ICAC’s story can be of use to other parts of the world, it may be that our journey proves there is no quick fix to the problem and piecemeal effort would be counterproductive. The fight against corruption is a long-term endeavour. Hong Kong has gone through 45 years before we can humbly say that corruption is being kept at bay. To build up an effective ACA to tackle corruption effectively, we need a comprehensive approach addressing both the symptoms and root causes of corruption, an institution which operates within robust rule of law and accountability system, and with the support of the government’s strong political will and the backing of the society at large.

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Simon Peh (Editor's note: Simon Peh is Commissioner

Bob Mackin

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has grounded an Air Canada cabin cleaner’s bid to appeal her firing for stealing a handful of almond packages and lotion.

Neena Cheema worked 17 years for the airline, but was fired in February 2016 after she pocketed four unopened packages of almonds and a tube of unused hand lotion left by a passenger in a plane’s first class section. Cheema was in a rush and forgot the items were in her pocket, instead of throwing them in the garbage.

Law Courts Vancouver (Joe Mabel)

While subsequently meeting a supervisor to talk about vacation scheduling, Cheema discovered the items were in her pocket and gave them to the supervisor.

The supervisor then reported the incident to her superior and claimed Cheema offered the items as a bribe. Cheema was called for an investigation hearing that she attended with a shop steward from her union, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers lodge 140. Cheema was suspended pending discharge.

An arbitrator and judge upheld the firing, but the judge referred the case to another arbitrator. This time it was veteran arbitrator Vince Ready who came to the same conclusion.

On June 5, Justice Jasvinder Basran denied Cheema standing to pursue another judicial review. Her only avenue of appeal is to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board.

Basran found that the collective agreement does not make workers individual parties to grievances or arbitrations, because they are contracts between the union and the employer.

“Following certification, the employer loses the right to negotiate directly with the employees, and the union takes on the exclusive responsibility to negotiate on their behalf,” Basran ruled. “Under a collective agreement, administering grievances is one of a union’s essential roles.”

(Air Canada)

Despite that finding, Basran said he sympathized with Cheema’s predicament.

The relatively minor transgressions of removing a few packets of leftover almonds and some lotion, even when combined with the bewildering assertion that she attempted to use these items to bribe a fellow Air Canada employee, does not appear to be a firing offence,” Basran ruled. “The reliance on a purported zero-tolerance test is not determinative because a decision to terminate a long‑term employee requires the application of judgment and some semblance of proportionality.”

Basran was puzzled by Ready’s conclusion that Cheema’s actions merited firing, but accepted that Ready had applied the relevant test to the facts of the case.

“I suspect that over the almost 80 years of labour relations between unions and Air Canada, there have been Air Canada employees who have done far worse things and received much lighter penalties that fall well short of termination.”

There was small relief for Cheema, when Basran exercised discretion not to award costs against her.

”I do not believe such an order is justified in circumstances where a long term, 17‑year employee finds herself confronting both her former employer and union, whose positions are perfectly aligned with one another. She undertook this litigation to do whatever she could to continue her career after being terminated over a few nuts and a tube of lotion.”

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Bob Mackin A B.C. Supreme Court judge has

Bob Mackin (Updated July 4) 

The mayor of the city with the highest proportion of ethnic Chinese in British Columbia says he will not boycott a People’s Republic of China-sponsored reception at September’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie (left) and China’s Consulate-Gen. Tong Xiaoling in 2018 (PRC)

“I think the issue of civil rights in China has always been an issue and there have been protests of many kinds going back over the years,” said Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie in an interview with “From the city’s point of view, we have a very strong business sector, we have a huge number of ties between Richmond and China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, so I think from my point of view it’s just important we communicate. I don’t know that refusing to go to a reception is going to have any measurable effect on the entire issue and, so, from my point of view, if I’m able to, I will attend.”

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West told last week that the UBCM should refuse the Chinese consulate’s $6,000 sponsorship payment and free food and booze reception on the grounds that it is a form of foreign lobbying and that China has a deplorable human rights record. In a May interview, Australian author Clive Hamilton called influence-buying and influence-gathering standard operating procedure for the Chinese Communist Party. 

Two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, were jailed in China last December in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver International Airport. Meng is wanted in the United States on fraud charges. China has since stopped buying Canola and Canadian meat. Meanwhile, a million Uighur Muslims have been interned in Xinjiang on religious grounds and mass-protests in Hong Kong erupted last month against a proposed extradition law with China. China promised to let Hong Kong govern itself for 50 years after the United Kingdom ceded control to Beijing in 1997. 

China’s Vancouver consulate has sponsored the UBCM convention since 2012, when Xi Jinping became president. Brodie said remarks by Chinese consulate officials at the receptions he has attended have been about trade and economic development.

“People will make up their own minds whether they should attend that reception or not, but there has always been a diversity of receptions and other activities in association with UBCM.”

PoCo Mayor Brad West (Twitter)

Brodie said a reception at the convention sponsored by CUPE could also be seen as inappropriate, because Richmond is heading into contract negotiations with the city workers’ union. Brodie conceded that the substance of the lobbying by the consulate and the union cannot be compared.

“If you’re going to start picking and choosing you need to be consistent about it,” Brodie said. “Like everybody else, we have to be fair and balanced in our approach and get past any kind of overt lobbying that may go on. Having been at previous receptions at UBCM hosted by the PRC, I think the idea that we’re being lobbied at those events, other than to open up general lines of communication, I really think may be overemphasized.”

China is B.C.’s second biggest trading partner, behind the U.S. The 2016 Census found 107,080 of Richmond’s 196,660 residents were ethnic Chinese. Nearly 45% reported their mother tongue was Chinese. Cantonese led with 43,295, ahead of Mandarin at 39,540.

Brodie’s Canada Day itinerary included the late afternoon Canadian National Day Multicultural Carnival at King George Park in Richmond, hosted by the pro-Beijing Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations.

In March, CACA chair Chen Yongtao was a guest delegate to the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing. The carnival featured People’s Republic of China Consul Gen. Tong Xiaoling, Deputy Wang Chengjun and senior consul staff Hu Qiquan, Wang Jin and Ding Tian.

Brodie said he was not aware of Chen’s political affiliation and said he did not hear any political discussions at the event. “It was clearly a celebration of Canada, right down to the lion dance, where they had a dragon that went into the shape of a maple leaf,” Brodie said.

Three MPs, four MLAs and a councillor each from Richmond and Burnaby also attended.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie with Burnaby Coun. James Wang (left) and Richmond Coun. Chak Au at a Canada Day event in Richmond hosted by a Chinese Communist Party-related group. (Phoenix TV)

Since West complained to the UBCM, Delta Mayor George Harvie and Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian have said they would boycott the reception. Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart will also not attend China’s reception at the UBCM, said spokesman Alvin Singh. 

“In the Mayor’s experience, these events do not accomplish anything constructive and thus he avoids them no matter who is hosting,” Singh said. He added that Stewart “prefers direct meetings with specific goals,” such as a June 24 meeting he had with Hong Kong’s representative to Canada where Stewart raised the Hong Kong diaspora’s opposition to the extradition bill. 

On Canada Day, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps Tweeted that “China and Canada have a very strong and long relationship. Like all relationships, sometimes there are challenges. UBCM always has a reception hosted by the Chinese Consul and unless Ottawa directs, I think it should continue this year.”

On Twitter, West said he was “appalled at [Helps’s] morally compromised, pathetic rationalization of UBCM taking money from China.” He pointed out that UBCM has not always featured such a reception and the reception began without a membership resolution or direction from Ottawa.

“Ottawa has directed the Trans Mountain pipeline be built and the Mayor fights it tooth and nail. Why do the heinous actions of China get a pass?” West wrote.

Brodie was re-elected for a fifth time in 2018. One of his challengers, Richmond real estate and immigration lawyer Hong Guo, denied that China is a human rights abuser. 

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Bob Mackin (Updated July 4)  The mayor of

Bob Mackin

B.C. Lottery Corporation’s head of security and compliance for almost four years suddenly departed July 2.

A mid-afternoon internal staff memo announced the end of Rob Kroeker’s employment with the Crown corporation. A similar statement published later on the BCLC website said it was “effective today” and thanked Kroeker for his service. No reason was given.

BCLC CEO Jim Lightbody did not respond to a message from

Spokeswoman Lara Gerrits would not say when or if Kroeker gave notice and refused to confirm or deny that Kroeker had been fired. Gerrits cited the employment history clauses of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy laws. Ryan Panton, a spokesman for Attorney General David Eby, said the ministry would not comment for privacy reasons.

Asked about any severance payment to Kroeker, she said that would be in BCLC’s annual Financial Information Act report.

BCLC’s Desmarais (left), Lightbody and Kroeker (BCLC)

It is the fourth high-profile BCLC executive departure since last November, but the most-significant because it comes just over a year since Peter German’s scathing 2018 Dirty Money report on money laundering in B.C. casinos. 

Taking over Kroeker’s job on an interim basis is Brad Desmarais, the vice-president of casinos. The retired RCMP and Vancouver Police officer was Kroeker’s predecessor before his 2015 promotion. Desmarais oversaw the bungled rollout of anti-money laundering software in 2013 when he was then-head of security. Kroeker, Desmarais and Lightbody attended a Macau convention on Asian gambling in 2017 while B.C.’s government was in flux.

Preceding Kroeker out the door at BCLC’s Virtual Way Vancouver office were: 

  • Susan Dolinski, who left last November after more than 11 years  as vice-president of public affairs;
  • and Monica Bohm, who left in May as vice-president of digital and enterprise services. She had been with BCLC for 11 and a half years.

Chief financial officer Amanda Hobson’s resignation was announced in an April 25 news release that included complimentary quotes from Lightbody. She is joining Finning as senior vice-president of investor relations and treasury. Her bio remains this week on the BCLC website. BCLC did not issue news releases when Dolinski and Bohm left.

According to last year’s statement of financial information, BCLC paid Kroeker $241,437 (plus $50,471 in expenses), Bohm $240,672 ($34,753), Dolinski $243,063  ($34,642) and Hobson $256,782 ($62,740).

The Kroeker, Bohm, Dolinski and Hobson departures come under the new NDP-appointed board of directors headed by former JP Morgan investment banker Peter Kappel.

Kroeker changed his LinkedIn profile to call himself a “management consultant” on July 2. By late afternoon, after BCLC confirmed his departure, his bio was finally removed from the BCLC website. Coincidentally, Kroeker left five days after BCLC’s PlayNow website briefly took bets on whether the Vancouver Canucks would extend general manager Jim Benning’s contract or fire him.

Ex-BCLC VP Susan Dolinski (BCLC)

Kroeker, a former RCMP officer, joined BCLC after heading security at Great Canadian Gaming’s River Rock Casino Resort. After the NDP took over in July 2017, British Columbians learned that River Rock had been a magnet for transnational money launderers, peaking in July 2015. Kroeker had boasted in an August 2015 interview with Business in Vancouver that it would be impossible to launder money at River Rock. Meanwhile, BCLC financial reports boasted of the revenue from high stakes Asian gamblers.

Under Premier Christy Clark, the BC Liberals appointed Kroeker to the Justice Institute of B.C. board. He was forced out as chair in October of last year in the wake of the German report, which detailed how money from whale gamblers from China flowed into the illicit drug trade and real estate market.

Last week, Kroeker was on the list of registrants to attend the Trace International Bribery and Economic Crime Summit in Vancouver, where German and Attorney General David Eby were featured speakers. 

Also representing BCLC at the BECS was Kevin deBruyckere, the former RCMP inspector who was the chief investigator of Project Everywhichway, the code name for the probe into the BC Rail privatization. deBruyckere joined BCLC in April after three years as HSBC’s head of anti-money laundering investigations.

Two months ago, the Horgan NDP government announced a judicial public inquiry into money laundering in B.C. Hearings are expected to begin this fall. Justice Austin Cullen has a May 2021 report deadline. 

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Bob Mackin B.C. Lottery Corporation’s head of security

A decade ago this weekend, the King of Ponzi Schemers was sentenced to 150 years in jail.

New Yorker Bernie Madoff pleaded guilty in March 2009. His lawyer wanted only a dozen years, but Judge Denny Chin made sure he would never leave jail alive for bilking $65 billion from tens of thousands of investors.

No reporter knows Madoff better than Diana Henriques, author of The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust. The New York Times bestseller was made into an HBO film starring Robert De Niro.

Investigative reporter Diana Henriques (

Henriques is one of the best in the business at following the money. She was in Vancouver last week to speak at the Trace International Bribery and Economic Crime Summit.

“I actually had known Bernie before you’d ever heard of him,” Henriques told Podcast host Bob Mackin. “He had been a trailblazing innovator in the world of NASDAQ, even before the world of NASDAQ.”

He could buy a stock for $1 a share and sell it for $4 under the radar. He harnessed the potential of technology to further his scheming.

“You could almost say he automated Ponzi schemes, he did for the Ponzi scheme what he did for over the counter stock trading,” Henriques said. 

A decade later, are investors and regulators wiser?

Henriques said there have been steps forward, such as reformation of the SEC whistleblower office. But poorly funded policing of markets and a lack of trained, experienced people mean there is still a long way to go.

“I am hoping it won’t take another giant Ponzi scheme to get to the point where effective regulation is taken,” she said.

Listen to the full interview with Henriques. Plus commentaries and Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines.

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Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: A decade since the Wizard of Lies was sentenced

A decade ago this weekend, the King

Bob Mackin

An SNC-Lavalin executive said he was at a meeting in Montreal with the engineering and construction company’s top global executives on the same day that RCMP officers raided headquarters more than seven years ago.

Hentie Dirker, the company’s chief integrity officer, spoke June 26 at the Trace International Bribery and Economic Crime Summit in Vancouver. Dirker was, on April 13, 2012, still the regional compliance officer for Siemens Canada when he was invited with the CEO of Siemens Canada to speak at the SNC-Lavalin meeting.

SNC-Lavalin chief integrity officer Hentie Dirker

He said they were there to tell the SNC-Lavalin executives from the Siemens experience how the company could still succeed “even if things happened and there were issues and bad people doing bad things.”

“SNC, as a company, was trying to take all the necessary steps to make sure how do we get past this and what can we learn from companies that went through this already,” he said, referring to the Siemens global bribery scandal that exploded in 2005.

Dirker said the execution of a search warrant at SNC-Lavalin headquarters happened while he was on stage. “We had to stop the meeting at the time,” he said.

Police eventually arrested fired SNC-Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime in November of 2012 over allegations of bribery around SNC-Lavalin’s McGill University superhospital contract. Duhaime pleaded guilty to breach of trust earlier this year. The company was charged in 2015 for allegedly paying $48 million in bribes to Libyan officials and defrauding the Libyan government for $130 million between 2001 and 2011.

Dirker joined SNC-Lavalin in 2015 to spearhead its turnaround, which employed the Siemens corporate compliance program as its way forward.

In his presentation, Dirker referred to Neil Bruce, the SNC-Lavalin CEO who suddenly retired earlier this month. Dirker said Bruce likened the trials and tribulations of SNC-Lavalin to an egg with distinct pieces, but the media had “managed to scramble it.”

“They see a scrambled egg, a lot of times there is no timeline to all the issues, people get confused about what has happened, when it happened,” Dirker said.

Dirker said that SNC-Lavalin is counting down to April 2021, when it reaches the eighth anniversary of its debarment from World Bank-funded infrastructure projects. In 2021, SNC-Lavalin can ask for an early release from the suspension, if it can show a viable compliance program.

Dirker said SNC-Lavalin has reached a number of settlements to avoid criminal prosecution, including an administrative agreement with Public Works Canada.

“The odd one out, that we really hope we can still get to, is under the remediation process that Canada recently implemented,” he said. “We were not invited in September, October, when it was launched, we still do not know why.”

SNC-Lavalin’s lobbying of the Trudeau Liberal government, in a bid to avoid the trial, sparked accusations of interference by the Prime Minister’s Office after ex-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould refused to overturn the director of prosecutions’ decision last fall.

In March, the Federal Court of Canada denied SNC-Lavalin’s appeal of the federal director of prosecutions’ decision to proceed with criminal prosecution instead of remediation. At the end of May, a judge in Quebec ruled SNC-Lavalin would stand trial for the Libyan bribery and corruption case. If convicted, SNC-Lavalin would be barred from federally funded infrastructure projects. 

Despite the company’s uncertain future, the Horgan NDP government in British Columbia has shortlisted SNC-Lavalin for the $1.4 billion Pattullo Bridge replacement and the $2.83 billion Broadway SkyTrain subway.

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Bob Mackin An SNC-Lavalin executive said he was