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Bob Mackin

The former BC Liberal Premier billed herself “The Honourable Christy Clark,” before ex-speakers and ex-cabinet members were told of the Government House proclamation that purported to allow them to use the title.

ChristyClark.com

As theBreaker.news reported in May 2018, Clark launched her new website a year after the provincial election that led to the end of her political career. In promoting herself as a motivational speaker-for-hire, Clark used “The Honourable” in the headline and throughout her bio. 

Clark was following an April 18, 2018 proclamation by outgoing Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon that gave former speakers, former cabinet members and Clerk Craig James the entitlement under a policy devised by James. Guichon’s term ended six days later when Janet Austin was sworn-in.

In June 2011, three days after Clark was sworn-in as the Vancouver-Point Grey MLA, the BC Liberals used their majority in the Legislature to promote committee clerk James to chief clerk, rather than let an all-party committee decide the successor to George MacMinn.

In July 2017, James met with Clark in Vancouver on her final day as premier. They met at least three times more after she left office, according to receipts released with Speaker Darryl Plecas’s January report on waste and corruption to the Legislative Assembly Management Committee. What Clark and James discussed is not known. Clark did not respond to an email sent by theBreaker.news to her address at Bennett Jones. 

One of those Clark-James meetings was May 2, 2018. Two days later, on May 4, 2018, the registration for ChristyClark.com was updated. The Clark domain had previously forwarded users to her Facebook page.

Four weeks later, on May 30, 2018, a major law firm’s news release heralded “The Honourable Christy Clark joins Bennett Jones in Vancouver” as a senior advisor. Clark is not a lawyer and has only an honorary doctorate from a South Korean women’s university. 

James retired in disgrace last month after being found in misconduct for wrongly taking a $258,000 pension allowance and spending $8,000 on suits and luggage for personal use. James and suspended-with-pay Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz remain under RCMP investigation.

theBreaker.news has learned from the clerk’s office that Clark had a headstart. She marketed herself as “The Honourable” in May 2018, but it was not until June 2018 that the clerk’s office began to send correspondence to notify former speakers and former executive council members that they were eligible to use the title.

Clerk Craig James swore Christy Clark in as Westside-Kelowna MLA in 2013, near Clark’s Vancouver office. (Facebook)

As fate would have it, Clark and the rest were not really allowed to be “The Honourable.”

Why? The proclamation was invalid. 

“The Great Seal of the Province of British Columbia was not affixed to the documents, as stated in the text of each, nor were the documents counter-signed by the Attorney General,” wrote Attorney General David Eby to Plecas on Feb. 6. “These statutory requirements are set out in the Attorney General Act and Ministry of Provincial Secretary and Government Services Act. I am advised that staff in the federal Department of Canadian Heritage have indicated that these documents have no current legal effect.”

Independent watchdog Dermod Travis of IntegrityBC said British Columbians deserve a full explanation for the meetings between the clerk and ex-premier. 

“The fact process was not followed to the letter demonstrates yet again that the former clerk would often bend rules in order to achieve a goal and that’s been particularly the case when it’s a buddy,” Travis said. “I think that one of the potential pitfalls in all of this is, if all of the information people should have is not made available, then these types of things get missed.”

Acting Clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd sent letters to former speakers and cabinet members last month to advise them that they cannot use “The Honourable.”

As of mid-June, the title still precedes Clark’s name on her personal website, law firm bio and on websites for Recipe Unlimited, InterAction Council and the Max Bell School for Public Policy. She is a director of the publicly traded parent company of Keg Restaurants and Swiss Chalet, an associate member of the think-tank for former heads of state and government and co-chairs the advisory board of the public policy school at McGill University. The 2018 news release announcing Clark’s appointment to the Shaw Communications board, however, did not include “The Honourable.”

The Department of Canadian Heritage allows a premier of a province to use the title only while he or she is in office. Those appointed to Privy Council, however, can use the title for life. The largely symbolic federal body includes current and former federal cabinet ministers, former chief judges, speakers and governors general.

The only Clark in the Privy Council is the former Progressive Conservative prime minister Joe Clark. The only ex-B.C. premier in the Privy Council is Ujjal Dosanjh, who received the title because of his time as the federal Liberal health minister.

Travis said the tempest over the title is another reason why British Columbians deserve full transparency, including an explanation for the Clark-James meetings and the release of the transcripts from retired Chief Justice Beverley McClachlin’s administrative probe of James and Lenz.

“This is another example of British Columbia charting a course on its own with no regard for convention, no regard for tradition, no regard for the parliamentary process and is continually out of step on many of these issues with the other nine provinces,” Travis said. “B.C. is a province, it’s not a private club; it should be administered as a province with a government, not a private club with executive meetings behind closed doors.”

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556099 Copy of Final Response by Anonymous WT3KDNpH on Scribd

Bob Mackin The former BC Liberal Premier

Bob Mackin

The year was 1996. Vancouver and Toronto both had expansion teams in the National Basketball Association.

British Columbia was governed by the provincial NDP. Canada had a Liberal federal government.

The latter, under Prime Minister Jean Chretien, decided to shut down the Ports Canada Police to save money. The decision sparked strong words from B.C.’s Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh. The future premier pleaded with Fisheries and Oceans Minister David Anderson to change his mind.

Port Canada Police patch

“The safety of much more than just the port will be compromised if this issue is not resolved immediately,” Dosanjh is quoted in a March 22, 1996 news release, headlined “Province opposes decision to disband ports police.”

As Dosanjh pointed out, there had been $1.25 billion of illegal drugs seized at the port during the previous 10 years. Close to $2 million in luxury cars were seized in the first quarter of 1996, before they could be shipped offshore by smugglers.

The Port of Vancouver police detachment numbered 29 officers, seven civilian staff and eight seasonal employees, responsible for 275 km of coastline from Port Moody to Boundary Bay. 

Anderson and Chretien stuck to the decision, which made no sense. Neighbouring municipalities had to pick up the slack on an as-and-when needed basis. Dosanjh’s words were sadly prophetic.

Fast forward to 2019. The Vancouver Grizzlies went south to Memphis in 2001, but the Toronto Raptors are competing for the NBA championship.

There is a Liberal government in Ottawa and an NDP government in Victoria again.

Anti-money laundering expert and former RCMP Western Canada chief, Peter German, reported on millions of dollars of luxury cars being smuggled out of the Port of Vancouver to China. His Dirty Money report highlighted the lack of police at Canada’s biggest port.

“In the post-9/11 world this is a serious gap in our law enforcement umbrella,” German wrote. “The comparison to Seattle is stark, where the Port of Seattle Police Department has 150 staff to police SeaTac Airport and the Seaport, including numerous specialized units. In addition, U.S. federal authorities are present at the ports, including border patrol, customs officers, and others.”

Blair (left), James, Morneau and Eby on June 13 (Mackin)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are counting down the days to the October election, after waking up last year to B.C.’s calls for help to battle money laundering and organized crime affecting the real estate market.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair were in Vancouver on June 13 for a summit with provincial counterparts, including B.C. Attorney General David Eby and Finance Minister Carole James.

The two Bills headlined the tented meetings at Science World, a geodesic dome built for Expo 86 that was renovated in time to host the Russian Olympic Committee parties during the 2010 Winter Olympics. The Russians flew-in on an Aeroflot charter with a quarter-million U.S. dollars in crates. After the Games, Russian government auditors took a close look at spending in Vancouver by Sochi 2014 organizers and found some of it flowed through shady banks in Cyprus. But I digress. 

With the Parq Casino and foreign-owned and foreign-financed glass condo towers behind him, Morneau announced the feds added another $10 million to the fight against money laundering, to be spread around the country. 

So I asked Blair, the former Toronto Police chief, will the Liberals commit to bring back the Ports Canada Police?

Blair was noncommittal.

“What we will commit to is continue to work to ensure the integrity of our borders. I will tell you I’ve actually visited [Canada Border Services Agency] and watched and witnessed the important work they’re doing at all our ports, including the Port of Vancouver,” Blair said.

“We recognize that ports of entry are significant vulnerabilities that need to be strengthened, and we’re making those investments to maintain security of our borders and to ensure, it’s work we do collaboratively with our provincial and municipal partners to ensure that areas are appropriately resourced for policing, as part of the ongoing discussion that takes place.”

Not until Eby and German went to testify at a Parliamentary committee in March 2018 did the Trudeau Liberals wake-up. In this year’s budget, the Liberals committed $200 million over the next five years to better fund the RCMP and other agencies. Including a new anti-money laundering action and coordination team, with the catchy monicker ACE, that brings together police, prosecutors and regulators.

The B.C. NDP, meanwhile, green-lit a judicial public inquiry last month into money laundering in B.C., with a deadline of May 2021. That announcement from Premier John Horgan came the week after a report estimated $7.4 billion was laundered in B.C. last year, of which $5 billion was in real estate.

But why did the Liberals wait until the end of their mandate to do something? The warning signs were there at the start in 2015 and they did nothing for more than two years. Asleep at the wheel? Soft on crime? Blair relied on the old automatic: blame cuts by the previous government. 

But that doesn’t excuse the relative inaction for the first half of the Trudeau administration.

The Liberals could have looked at the watershed RCMP and CSIS Project Sidewinder report from June 1997 that called money laundering by Chinese intelligence services and triads a threat to national security.

Science World (Mackin)

They could have read Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney’s speech in Vancouver, eight years ago on June 15, 2011.

Carney’s dire forecast said “some pockets of the Canadian housing market are taking on characteristics of financial asset markets.”

“Greed among speculators and investors—and fear among households that getting a foot on the property ladder is a now-or-never proposition,” Carney said, noting that the price of a home in Vancouver is 11 times the average of a Vancouver family’s household income.

Vancouver’s mayor made a half-hearted effort in mid-2017, when he was still entertaining the idea of running for a fourth term, and wrote a letter to Morneau.

Mayor Gregor Robertson complained of high housing prices, and asked for help to combat tax evasion and speculation in Vancouver real estate. 

“While your recent actions to provide greater oversight on issues of capital gains are greatly valued, I often hear from residents who are concerned about fraudulent practices connected to home purchases in Vancouver,” wrote Robertson, who was also the chair of the city’s police board. 

In a July 24, 2017 reply, Morneau mentioned that Canada Revenue Agency increased its compliance and enforcement efforts, but he misspelled the province twice.  

“With regards to housing vulnerabilities and affordability challenges in the GVA [Greater Vancouver Area], I encourage continued engagement of the City of Vancouver with the new provincial government in British Colombia (sic) in the federal-provincial-municipal working group on housing,” Morneau wrote. 

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Bob Mackin The year was 1996. Vancouver and

Bob Mackin

Air Canada’s Jazz is suing the Vancouver International Airport Authority and a to-be-identified company for more than $2 million for engine repairs.

Jazz Aviation Ltd. filed the lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court on June 10, the eve of the second anniversary of a scuttled flight to San Jose.

This Jazz jet suffered engine damage in 2017 at YVR (Alexander Butuc/Planespotters)

One of the two GC CF34-85C engines on the Jazz-operated Bombardier CRJ 705 ingested foreign material debris that was loose on the airside area, according to the statement of claim.

Shortly after takeoff from runway 26L, and during the ascent, the flight crew noticed vibration in the engine. They were forced to return to YVR and the plane underwent a post-flight inspection. The foreign material was identified as having originated from a utility post metal cover in the area of Gate 70.

The cost to repair was pegged at US$1,956,186.40.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Buyer’s remorse? 

Owners of a corner house on Cambie and 38th in Vancouver are suing the buyer who failed to complete the deal.

Charn C. and Monica Ma sued Shao Dong Lin on June 7 in B.C. Supreme Court for breach of contract.

The plaintiffs say the defendant paid the $500,000 deposit as per the April 20, 2018 deal, but did not pay the remaining $8.1 million by the March 28, 2019 completion date.

Lawsuit over collapsed $8.6M real estate deal (BC Assessment)

“The defendant failed to complete the sale and purchase of the property on the completion date,” said the statement of claim filed by the Ma couple. “The defendant’s failure to complete the sale and purchase of the property is a breach of the contract.”

The one-storey, four-bedroom, two bathroom duplex, built in 1952, was assessed at $6.5 million at the time. Its latest value is $7.94 million. None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Technicalities hamper wrongful death lawsuit 

A 75-year-old Vancouver woman who blames Vancouver Coastal Health and a doctor for her spouse’s death suffered another setback in B.C. Supreme Court.

Audrey Jane Laferriere’s spouse, Randy Michael Walker, suffered a traumatic brain injury at age 53 in 2010 and was a patient at George Pearson Centre and Vancouver General Hospital until he died in April 2014. Laferriere sued various defendants in 2015 and 2016, alleging they had “hastened or conspired to hasten” Walker’s death and that he had been unlawfully confined. Laferriere, who was also Walker’s personal representative and executor, also claimed that she had been defamed.

The defendants, including Vancouver Coastal Health and Dr. James Vincent Dunne, denied Laferriere’s claims and sought to have those claims dismissed for contravening Supreme Court Civil Rules.

Justice Nitya Iyer’s May 7 decision said that Laferriere, who was self-represented until last year, did not comply with 2017 court orders to provide lists of documents and witnesses, particularize claims, attend an examination for discovery by Vancouver Coastal Health and complete examinations of discovery of each defendant.

In August 2018, Laferriere told the court that she retained lawyer Manuel Azevedo.

“Unfortunately, little changed,” Iyer wrote. “Mr. Azevedo did not ensure that the Plaintiff complied with the outstanding orders or contact the defendants to discuss a schedule for doing so.”

Laferriere filed an amended notice of claim in March of this year, but the judge said that it did not comply because a vast majority of additions were not underlined, as per court rules.

The number of defendants was reduced from 26 to eight and 110 paragraphs were added, with new factual allegations and legal claims.

At a March hearing, the judge dismissed claims against various parties named in the lawsuit.

In affidavits from last November and March, Laferriere explained that her non-compliance with court rules was caused by suffering from persistent complicated bereavement and post-traumatic stress disorder. She attached doctor’s notes containing the diagnosis to the affidavits. A February note from a doctor said she suffers flashbacks and a relapse of anxiety and depression triggered by reviewing events with her lawyer.

“The defendants say Ms. Laferriere’s health condition does not excuse her conduct,” Iyer wrote. “They say that Justice Abrioux made it clear that, if Ms. Laferriere’s ill-health prevented her from pursuing the litigation, her recourse was to apply for a stay of proceedings. Her failure to do so means that she can no longer claim her health as a lawful excuse.”

Iyer said that Azevedo took no steps to rectify the non-compliance.  She dismissed the 2015 claim and gave Laferriere until May 31 to stay proceedings in her 2016 claim.

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Bob Mackin Air Canada’s Jazz is suing the

Bob Mackin

Dave Basi and Bob Virk aren’t going to Tax Court after all.

The former BC Liberal aides were scheduled to appear at a June 24 hearing in Victoria, to appeal the federal decision that deemed $6.2 million in payments to their lawyers a taxable benefit. theBreaker.news has learned that the federal government agreed June 10 to reverse the tax reassessments against Basi and Virk, in exchange for a waiver of costs.

Basi and Virk pleaded guilty in October 2010 to breach of trust. The province agreed to pay their legal bills, despite a 2005 agreement that stated defence costs were paid in the form of a loan that must be repaid in the event of conviction. The plea bargain suddenly halted their B.C. Supreme Court trial before former BC Liberal finance minister Gary Collins was to testify. Basi and Virk served two years of house arrest and probation.

Bob Virk (left) and Dave Basi (A-Channel)

In May 2012, the BC Liberal government issued T4A slips for Basi and Virk’s 2010 tax year to the Canada Revenue Agency. But Basi and Virk say they did not see the T4A slips until 2014 from CRA which, which reassessed their 2010 returns.

Tax Court filings by Ottawa called the provincial government’s payment of $3,236,933 to Virk’s lawyer Kevin McCullough and $2,945,672 for Basi’s lawyer Michael Bolton taxable benefits and unreported income.

Federal lawyers claimed Basi and Virk received a benefit in the 2010 taxation year by virtue of their employment with the B.C. government.

But they had been fired nearly seven years earlier.

Basi filed a notice of objection in June 2014, denying receipt of any benefit. But the CRA appeals division confirmed the reassessment in May 2015.

“There is no evidence that the province by this agreement in 2010 intended to confer a benefit nor that [Basi] intended to receive a benefit in relation to office or employment,” said Basi’s July 2016 amended notice of appeal by his lawyer, David Mulroney.

“The province was funding a very expensive trial and wanted out from under that cost, which was out of all proportion to any potential recovery and needed an acceptable outcome. Employment had long since ended and was not then relevant to the decision.”

Mulroney declined comment when contacted by theBreaker.news.

The Gordon Campbell-led BC Liberals won the 2001 election on a platform that included a promise not to privatize BC Rail. After gaining power, Campbell switched gears and put the railway on the block. The sale was fraught with controversy. Bidders CP and Burlington Northern Santa Fe both dropped out, both suggesting CN had the inside track. OmniTrax was the only other bidder, which had previously partnered with BNSF.

Basi, an aide to Collins, and Virk, an aide to transportation minister Judith Reid, admitted taking bribes from OmniTrax’s Liberal-aligned lobbyists in exchange for leaking information. Had the trial proceeded, the court would have heard whether Basi and Virk had been following orders from cabinet members. 

CN, chaired by BC Liberal bagman David McLean, eventually paid $1 billion for BC Rail in November 2003. In late December of that year, however, police raided offices at the Legislature and took away numerous banker’s boxes of evidence.

Campbell broke his promise to give British Columbians a full explanation and successor Christy Clark repeated the same line, blaming only Basi and Virk. The Adrian Dix-led NDP ran in 2013 with a promise of a public inquiry into the BC Rail scandal, but Clark and the BC Liberals won the election in an upset.

The promise was omitted from the NDP platform under John Horgan in 2017. As premier, Horgan did green light a public inquiry last month. But the topic is money laundering.

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Bob Mackin Dave Basi and Bob Virk aren’t

More than a week since the spring session of the British Columbia Legislature closed, and B.C. Greens leader Andrew Weaver is still shaking his head at the antics of the BC Liberal opposition.

The BC Liberals spent half the session on a misinformation campaign to blame Premier John Horgan for high gas prices. On May 30, the final day, they renewed their bid to overthrow Speaker Darryl Plecas while he was taking steps to protect information after data and documents had gone missing amid a police investigation of corruption at the Legislature.

BC Liberal house leader Mary Polak released notes from a private meeting she had the night before with Plecas and representatives of the other two parties.

“I don’t know how you rebuild trust when something like that happened,” Weaver said in an interview with theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin.

The Andrew Wilkinson-led party unsuccessfully offered to replace Plecas with one of their own.

Rookie MLA and assistant deputy speaker Joan Isaacs drew NDP jeers for defying Plecas (Hansard)

“As if somehow at this 11th hour the Legislature is going to trust the BC Liberals to do the right thing here, in light of the fact they’ve tried to politicize that position for so long,” Weaver said.

When that didn’t work, 37 BC Liberal MLAs read the same script to denounce Plecas. Four were absent and Penticton’s Dan Ashton ad libbed a plea for all parties to work together to rescue the Legislature.

Assistant Deputy Speaker Joan Isaacs, wearing her official robes, parroted the words first read by Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong.

Weaver has called for Isaacs to resign for disrespecting the office of the speaker. Isaacs did not respond to theBreaker for comment.

“Wearing the robes to essentially say that you’re distancing yourself from your office, leaves only one question: why are you still in that office? Frankly I don’t see how she can continue to serve as assistant deputy speaker.”

Listen to more from Weaver, the leader of the party that helped the NDP put an end to the BC Liberal dynasty almost two years ago. Weaver is also the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head who occupies the same seat in the chamber that the late Rafe Mair occupied in the latter half of the 1970s. 

Plus commentaries and Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines.

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

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theBreaker.news Podcast: Green leader Weaver says Legislature's final day "was a surprise at every turn"
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More than a week since the spring

Bob Mackin

Meng Wanzhou’s extradition hearing will begin Jan. 20, 2020, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled on June 6.

That is where it gets complicated.

Meng Wanzhou leaves her Dunbar house on May 8.

After a Canadian government lawyer outlines the case to extradite the Huawei Technologies chief financial officer to the United States, Meng’s defence quartet will take over. They will spend three days arguing that she should not be sent south to face fraud charges for allegedly deceiving a bank to get around Iran trade sanctions. They say she does not meet the extradition act requirement of “double criminality.”

“The alleged [fraud] offence could only exist in a county that prohibits international financial transactions in relation to Iran. Canada is no longer such a country,” states a June 5 filing by Meng’s lawyers.

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes said the case will return to court June 15, 2020 and sit for two weeks while she hears Meng’s lawyers ask her to quash the case because of abuse of process. Meng’s lawyers say police who arrested her at Vancouver International Airport last Dec. 1 violated her civil rights and President Donald Trump interfered in the case by publicly stating that Meng could be used as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations with China.

Finally, the third phase will be the conclusion of the extradition hearing for two weeks beginning Sept. 28, 2020.

That is, unless Meng’s lawyers succeed on the double criminality or abuse of process applications.

Holmes largely agreed to the case management proposal made by Meng’s lawyer David Martin. He called it the “tightest, most-aggressive schedule we can envisage.”

Federal Crown lawyer John Gibb-Carsley unsuccessfully argued for a quicker, more compact extradition hearing, instead of the two-track procedure conceived by Meng’s lawyers.

“It’s duplicate of the process, as opposed to committal being determined holistically and at one time and completely,” he said about the defence proposal.

The hearing dragged on for more than two-and-a-half hours until Holmes came back from a break and called the defence motion a “workable and rational schedule.”

“I’m told that’s an unusual manner of conducting a committal hearing. it may well be,” Holmes said. “In light of the nature and particular circumstances of this case and in light of the obligation the court has and it’s been increasingly emphasized by [Supreme Court of Canada] to ensure that criminal proceedings and those include extradition proceedings, move along as expeditiously as is appropriate.”

Max Wang protested outside Meng Wanzhou’s March 6 court date (Mackin)

Meng did not attend the June 6 hearing and there were few supporters in court. She is expected back before Holmes on Sept. 23 to begin seven days of hearings on applications about evidence disclosure. Meng’s lawyers are filing access to information requests to federal departments and may take detours to the Federal Court should disclosures be late or overly censored. 

Similar to previous hearings, Meng’s lawyers did not speak with reporters.

Huawei vice-president Benjamin Howes, at a news conference organized by Hill and Knowlton, read substantially the same statement as he did on May 8. Instead of the Law Courts steps, where protesters disrupted proceedings, the company public relations representative read a short statement in a hotel meeting room and left without taking questions.

“Evidence submitted by the U.S. government is insufficient and the allegations against Ms. Meng are baseless,” Howes said.

Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport last Dec. 1 and released on $10 million bail on Dec. 11. She is living under curfew at a $13 million Shaughnessy mansion that is registered under the name of her husband, Liu Xiaozong. Guards from Lions Gate Risk Management were appointed by the court to oversee Meng on a 24-hour, seven-day basis so that she does not flee the country.

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

Meanwhile, the Canadian government responded to Meng’s March civil lawsuit that claimed police breached her constitutional rights when they arrested her.  The June 3 filing said Canada Border Services Agency and RCMP officers acted lawfully and in good faith to execute the extradition warrant on behalf of the United States. The filing denied officers searched Meng’s smartphone, tablet or laptop.

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Bob Mackin Meng Wanzhou’s extradition hearing will begin

Bob Mackin

Meng Wanzhou was planning to briefly leave Vancouver International Airport during a layover to drop-off some belongings at one of her houses last Dec. 1, before authorities surprised her with an extradition warrant. 

That, according to a statement of defence filed June 3 by the Canadian government in B.C. Supreme Court in response to Meng’s March 1 lawsuit that alleges her arrest and detention breached her civil rights.

Meng Wanzhou in Stanley Park (B.C. Supreme Court exhibits)

The Huawei chief financial officer was on her way to Mexico from Hong Kong, when she disembarked in Vancouver and was searched by Canada Border Services Agency officers. They eventually handed her over to RCMP officers who arrested her and took her to the nearby Richmond detachment.

The response to Meng’s amended civil claim names CBSA Officers Sowmith Katragadda and Scott Kirkland and RCMP Const. Winston Yep as defendants. It says that they all acted lawfully and in good faith. The agencies admit they demanded Meng’s phone numbers and passwords to her electronic devices, but they deny examining the contents of those devices.

The court filing says that CBSA officers at YVR were contacted by U.S. law enforcement on Nov. 30 with information that an extradition warrant may need to be executed on Dec. 1. No details of the subject were provided.

The warrant was issued Nov. 30 and Yep met with CBSA officers at the airport and informed them of the warrant. When Yep left the airport, Meng’s flight had not departed Hong Kong, so he was unable to confirm whether she had boarded. But CBSA confirmed the next morning that she was on the flight to Vancouver.

An alert was generated in the CBSA’s automated system that advised CBSA officers of her arrival. It automatically directed her to a secondary examination after the standard primary customs and immigration examination for all travellers.

“The plaintiff’s allegations that her Charter rights were violated, that the defendants acted unlawfully and that she suffered harm are without merit. The claim against the defendants should be dismissed with costs,” the statement of defence says.

Katragadda and Kirkland were among officers who checked passengers as they disembarked the plane. They accompanied Meng  to the customs hall to claim her baggage. She made her declarations at the automated kiosk, which issued a receipt with a coded alert for CBSA officers to divert her too secondary screening.

The $5.6 million 28th Avenue house where Meng Wanzhou must live while she awaits extradition to the United States (Mackin)

Katragadda discovered a laptop, computer tablet and USB storage device. He determined, after x-raying and searching her luggage, that there were no customs issues about the goods. At no time were the electronic devices removed from the counter.

Kirkland asked her to provide phone numbers and passwords, in case he had to examine the contents for customs or immigration purposes. He wrote it down in his notebook.

“At no time did any CBSA officer examine the contents of the electronic devices or the phones.” 

Katragadda and other officers consulted with specialized government units including Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

But they were not immediately available, because it was a Saturday.

But at no time during her customs and immigration examination by CBSA did Meng ask to speak with a lawyer.

Three hours elapsed, but CBSA claims it was “within the normal time range for secondary customs and immigration examinations” and that no RCMP officer was present.

Katragadda informed Meng that another government agency wanted to speak with her and that she was willing. He informed her it was the RCMP.

Const. Yep and another RCMP officer entered the room. He identified himself, informed her of the warrant and arrested her. He also informed her of her Charter rights and asked if she would like to speak with the Chinese consulate. Meng asked to speak with her lawyer in China.

RCMP then took control of her belongings, including a piece of paper containing her phone numbers and passwords, before they took Meng to the Richmond RCMP detachment.

She spent the next week-and-a-half in a women’s prison in a Vancouver suburb before her Dec. 11 release on strict bail conditions. She spent the next five months living under a curfew at her $5 million Dunbar house before moving recently to a $13 million mansion in Shaughnessy, on the same block as the residence of the local United States Consul General. The United States wants to try her on fraud charges, but she has claimed her innocence and is contesting the extradition as an abuse of process by American authorities. 

Meanwhile, Meng’s case is back before a B.C. Supreme Court judge on June 6 to set dates and deal with applications from her lawyers. The actual extradition hearing won’t begin before 2020. 

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Bob Mackin Meng Wanzhou was planning to briefly

Bob Mackin

Pee and Poo were not the number one and number two choices for Metro Vancouver’s new mascots.

Larina Lopez sandwiched between Metro Vancouver’s Pee and Poo mascots (Metro Vancouver)

Documents released under freedom of information show that the regional government originally wanted to buy paper towel roll, disposable wipes and pill bottle costumes to promote its Unflushables anti-pipe-clogging campaign. Shellee Ritzman, communications policy coordinator, told one prospective Delta supplier on Feb. 7 that the priority for the April 1 launch would be the disposable wipe costume.

Ritzman switched gears the next day and proposed Pee, Poo and a walking roll of toilet paper.

In an email to Larina Lopez and Carol Niclas, Ritzman said it would take up to 12 weeks to deliver each costume at a cost of $5,000 to $7,000 per.

“Next year, it’s hair. Do we make a hair mascot? The next year, it’s tampons. Do we make a tampon mascot? (You know I would love that.)” Ritzman wrote.

“The message Pee/Poo/TP tells us what CAN go down. It reinforces the desired behaviour. They’re the good guys. We’d need them smiling and friendly. The pee and poo mascots can hand out our branded toilet paper. It’s perfect.”

Early version of the Metro Vancouver Pee and Poo mascot costumes (Metro Vancouver)

She noted that people are obsessed in a bizarre way on social media with the poop emoji and it would be a more shareable photo than someone wearing a wipe or pill bottle costume. Among the inspirations she named were Victoria’s Mr. Floatie pro-sewage plant protest mascot and South Park’s Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo.

Heather Schoemaker, Metro Vancouver’s general manager of external relations, chimed in.

“People prefer buying from people rather than a faceless brand and these characters will humanize Metro Vancouver while giving visitors a positive experience to remember,” Schoemaker wrote.

After flushing the idea of the other mascots, Metro Vancouver originally wanted the heads of the “brand ambassadors” to be visible, but eventually warmed up to the idea of full-body mascots.

Artist’s design of the Pee and Poo mascots for Metro Vancouver (Loonie Times/Metro Vancouver)

Loonie Times of Mississauga, Ont. eventually supplied the costumes, at a cost of $4,620 for Pee and $4,945 for Poo, plus tax, including interior ventilation systems and storage bags. The company’s clients have included Kellogg’s, Planter’s Peanuts, Kraft, Toronto Raptors and Procter and Gamble.

The mascots raised a stink on social media at an opportune time, diverting attention from Metro Vancouver’s stalled, $778 milllion North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant megaproject.

District of North Vancouver officially halted work on the site on April 10, after several weeks of no site preparation activity.

theBreaker.news finally revealed that subcontractor Tetra Tech was suing builder Acciona for $20 million.

The project is already running at least $70 million over budget and the site remains shut down. No project updates have been published on the project website since last Nov. 29. The vague, original schedule said secondary treatment was supposed to be operational by the end of 2020, with final completion of the project in 2021.

Acciona is blocking the disclosure of cost and construction schedule documents that theBreaker.news requested from Metro Vancouver’s freedom of information office. The Spain-headquartered company has complained to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and could seek a court injunction to hide the true costs of the troubled project from taxpayers.

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Bob Mackin Pee and Poo were not the

Bob Mackin

Lawyers for 19 of the defendants in the college admissions scandal, including Vancouver’s David Sidoo, continue to sift through millions of pages of material as a judge in a Boston federal court on June 2 scheduled another status conference in four months.

David Sidoo

Sidoo has pleaded not guilty to charges of mail and wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. He was not required to attend the June 2 hearing. Of the 50 people charged in the scheme, 22 have either pleaded guilty in court or agreed to plead guilty. 

Sidoo’s name appears at the top of an April indictment.  Prosecutors in Boston accuse Sidoo of paying $200,000 for an impostor to write entrance exams in 2011 and 2012 for sons Dylan and Jordan, the St. George’s students who were admitted to Chapman University and University of California Berkeley, respectively. 

Prosecutors supplied copies of evidence to Sidoo and his legal team in late April. There is so much, that it came on a hard drive and DVD. Sidoo’s Las Vegas lawyer David Chesnoff said the disclosure is being examined in a “very thorough manner.”

“It is the intention of Mr. Sidoo and his lawyers to examine all the discovery in order to study and present facts about the credibility of Mr. Singer,” Chesnoff told theBreaker.news.

David Chesnoff (Chabad of Southern Nevada)

He was referring to Rick Singer, the California consultant who pleaded guilty in March to running what he admitted was a “side door “ scheme that helped rich parents gain access for their sons and daughters to top-notch universities. Singer’s methods involved faking athletic credentials and cheating on entrance exams. Payments were arranged through a charitable foundation that Singer ran.

Sidoo’s Boston lawyer Martin Weinberg was quoted in an NBC story on June 2 as denying allegations that parents paid bribes. “Many of the clients would contend that if payments were made to a charity or sports organization, that is not a bribe,” Weinberg said.

Based on the evidence reviewed over the last month, has Sidoo’s defence team decided its route?

“It’s definitely too early, it’s hard to make a map without being able to study the materials, which is what we’re doing,” Chesnoff said.

Chesnoff declined comment when pressed about the quality of evidence disclosed by investigators.

“I try to do my talking in court,” he said.

Former University of B.C. football star and board member Sidoo, who made a fortune in oil and gas stocks, could face up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

Test taker Mark Riddell and Singer’s corporate accountant, Steven Masera. have pleaded guilty and agreed to help prosecutors in exchange for lesser sentences.

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Bob Mackin Lawyers for 19 of the defendants

Editor’s note: The Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement [VSSDM] held a 30th anniversary memorial to the victims of the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 2. The venue was the University of British Columbia’s replica of the Goddess of Democracy statue that Chinese soldiers destroyed in their deadly crackdown on the peaceful student protests for democracy and free speech in Beijing. Dr. Tom Perry was an NDP MLA from 1986 to 1996, and spent two years as the minister of advanced education, training and technology. In 1989, he represented Vancouver-Point Grey. He could not attend the memorial because of teaching commitments in Tumbler Ridge.

This is Perry’s letter to VSSDM that was read at the June 2 memorial.

I remember clearly how it felt in May and the beginning of June 1989 to observe from afar what appeared to be the stirrings of a progressive democratic movement in China. My entire family was excited, including my parents who had lived through World War II and the Great Depression, and who greatly admired many accomplishments of the Chinese Revolution of 1949. Our family had always considered ourselves friendly to China’s attempt to lift its people out of profound misery, ignorance, war, and starvation – even if we knew little about China.

Encouraged by what appeared to be happening in the spring of 1989, I gave a speech in the Legislative Assembly on Friday, June 2, 1989 – precisely 30 years ago. Of course I had no idea of what was about to happen, and was already being planned by the government.

Ex-NDP MLA Dr. Tom Perry (UBC)

My speech expressed the admiration of Canadians for what most of us may have believed was an inevitable historical progression of human rights. Here is part of what I said in the B.C. Legislature the day before the catastrophic repression of a peaceful demonstration:

“… Now we acknowledge China not only as the inheritor of a proud and ancient culture but often as a world leader in health, education and, increasingly, science and technology.

“Far be it from us to prescribe to any nation, great or small, how to develop its society or govern its citizens. But it is natural and totally appropriate that we Canadians should wish for the Chinese people, if they so wish them for themselves, those same rights to freedom of speech, association, religion and security of person that our society has recognized for hundreds of years, and which the world as a whole accepted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the founding of the United Nations

“The greatest achievements of the human spirit, be it the age-old struggle for self-expression of the Jews, celebrated each year at Passover; be it the slave rebellions in ancient Rome or in nineteenth-century America; be it the Enlightenment in Europe; be it the revolutions in France, the United States, Mexico, South America or Russia: all have been inspired and ultimately won by the synthesis of courageous and creative leadership with the genuine and legitimate aspirations of ordinary people.

“We have seen that democratization seems to be an inevitable and insuppressible tendency of human society. We have seen it recently in the Philippines, in the Soviet Union and Poland, and now in China. In all of these movements students and scholars have played an important part. I think that is why Canadians are so enthralled by the developments in Beijing and elsewhere in China. No wonder that Chinese students studying in Canada, as elsewhere in the world, have expressed their solidarity with compatriots and colleagues back home…”

At a June 2, 2019 UBC memorial, laying a flower on the base of the replica of the military-destroyed Tiananmen Square “Goddess of Democracy” statue (Mackin)

It was disturbing to me at that time that a Government (Social Credit) Member of the Legislative Assembly, Russ Fraser, had criticized Chinese students who were studying in B.C. for having supported their compatriots in China. In retrospect perhaps what Mr. Fraser said was an early warning about becoming complacent about human rights that have been won through centuries, if not millennia of hard struggles.

Think about what has happened since. Not only the very next day when the police, acting on government orders, broke up the Tiananmen demonstrations, killing a very large but still unknown number of protestors. What about Russia, Poland, the Philippines, all of which appeared to be bright examples of democratic reform only thirty years ago? What about the United States, formerly so prominent a beacon of democracy and progress for much of the world? Or Turkey? Or how the relatively advanced societies of Iraq and Syria have been ripped apart by totally unjustified militarism?

The Tiananmen Square repression also taught me something about Canada. It seemed natural to me then, as it does now, to stand at the side of students and others who had hoped for something much better. I soon learned that many of my fellow elected officials were afraid to do so. When Chinese students visited the Legislative Assembly on the following Monday, very few Members of the Legislature wished to meet them.

Why was this? I think the answer was that concern about economic relationships took precedence over concern for human rights. Or that many elected officials considered the struggle for real democracy unlikely to succeed, if not hopeless.

Before we condemn them, perhaps on this 30th anniversary of Tiananmen we should consider our own actions today with respect to democratic participation. How many of those around us on this beautiful UBC campus have consistently voted in elections? Of them, how many have informed themselves well about issues and considered the real merits of candidates – rather than voting by rote, or simply following what their friends or families do? How many are considering in depth the decisions of two Liberal Members of Parliament to contest the 2019 election as Independents, and whether or not political party discipline should remain as suffocating as it has become in Canada?

To me, one of the lessons from Tiananmen Square was that democracy is NOT an inevitable trend. Quite the contrary. Repression and dictatorship may be the inevitable consequences of ignorance, bigotry, and failure by individual citizens to exercise their democratic responsibilities as well as their rights.

In Canada we are still well ahead of the curve compared with most of the world. But for how long? What can we as individuals do both here and abroad to foster universal respect for human dignity, human rights, a compassionate and more just society? What might we change in our own lives?

Something to think about not only on June 2nd, but also as we approach Canada Day on July 1st.

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Editor's note: The Vancouver Society in Support