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For the week of May 29, 2022:

Premier John Horgan said a sad chapter in the B.C. Legislature’s history is closed. 

But don’t tell that to former Speaker Darryl Plecas and his ex-chief of staff, Alan Mullen.

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

A judge’s May 19 ruling that ex-Clerk Craig James committed fraud and breach of public trust needs to be the catalyst to force the NDP to implement freedom of information and whistleblower protection at the seat of government. 

“People ask us, you know, how we feel about it,” Plecas said. “Well, in one sense, of course, we’re somewhat relieved.”

“I say it doesn’t close anything,” Mullen said. “It does not close until these policies and procedures are in place. That place should be a glass house, where everybody can look in and say that’s our house, we know what’s going on.”

Hear an exclusive interview with Plecas and Mullen, who exposed corruption at the B.C. Legislature, as the July 4 sentencing approaches for James. 

Also, commentary and Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines. 

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For the week of May 29, 2022: Premier

Bob Mackin (Updated: 11 a.m., May 30)

A Punjabi gangster rapper was killed by gunfire May 29 in India, the day after he lost police protection and two days after the Pacific National Exhibition postponed ticket sales for an upcoming Vancouver concert.

Sidhu Moosewala (Twitter)

Sidhu Moosewala, 28, was born Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu. He moved to Brampton, Ont. in 2016 and is known for songs such as “Mafia Style” and “Homicide” and brandishing handguns and AK-47 assault rifles in his viral YouTube music videos. His latest video, “The Last Ride,” featured a hearse.  

According to India Today, Moosewala was gunned down in a village in Punjab’s Mansa district. Video from the crime scene shows onlookers surrounding an SUV and Moosewala’s lifeless body in the driver seat. Just a day earlier, Punjab Police withdrew security protection for 424 current and former politicians and religious leaders. Moosewala had unsuccessfully run for the Punjab assembly. 

Amarinder Singh, a former Indian army veteran and former chief minister of Punjab, tweeted condolences to Moosewala’s family. “Law and order has completely collapsed in Punjab. Criminals have no fear of law,” Singh wrote.

On May 27, the PNE delayed ticket sales for Moosewala’s July 23 Pacific Coliseum concert while it consulted the Vancouver Police Department. It was supposed to be the first stop of an eight-city, Canada and U.S. summer tour. The PNE’s Ticketleader sales website said the $75 to $200 (plus service charge) tickets were scheduled to go on sale June 6. Other Back 2 Business Tour venues went on sale this weekend. 

PNE spokeswoman Laura Ballance said it was very tight timing between the contract and pre-sale period, so the venue decided to conduct the risk assessment in parallel. 

Pacific Coliseum (Mackin)

“As of this afternoon, we are not able to fully ascertain the full level of public safety risks with this particular event,” Ballance said on May 27. “So out of an abundance of caution, through our conversations that we’ve had today, with our public safety stakeholders, we are not going to go on sale tomorrow until we complete the public safety risk assessment.”

Three years ago, Moosewala’s slot on the 5X Block Party Festival in Surrey’s Central City Plaza was cancelled after the Surrey RCMP deemed him a security risk. In February 2019, a man was stabbed during Moosewala’s appearance at the Bollywood Banquet Halls and Convention Centre. In May of that year, shots were fired at a Calgary banquet hall where Moosewala was performing.

Ballance said the PNE is very proud of its events, including those involving the South Asian community, but needs to conduct due diligence, regardless of whether it’s a family skating event or a concert.

Moosewala also has a well-publicized rivalry with another rapper, Karan Aujla, who is scheduled to play the Coliseum on Sept. 10.  

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Bob Mackin (Updated: 11 a.m., May 30) A

Bob Mackin

An Iranian government official has threatened to sue the Canadian Soccer Association for $10 million after it cancelled a June 5 World Cup tune-up match at B.C. Place Stadium. 

The CSA announced the cancellation early May 26 without reasons, but it had faced a firestorm of complaints from human rights advocates and senior politicians after scheduling the match featuring two squads that have qualified for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Tweet by Iranian deputy sports minister Sina Kalhor (Twitter)

A translated version of a Tweet from Sina Kalhor, Iran’s Deputy Minister of Culture and Public Sports in the Ministry of Sports and Youth, said that the CSA’s unilateral cancellation “once again showed that the slogan of non-political sport is a cover for the interests of Western countries.

“According to the contract, the Iranian Football Federation will pursue a $10 million compensation claim for the unilateral cancellation of the game through legal channels,” Kalhor wrote.

The CSA has not immediately responded for comment on whether there was any such clause in the contract that would entitle the Iranian national team to such compensation. An official with the Iranian national team told a state media outlet that the CSA had agreed to pay a $400,000 fee, which would have meant a $200,000 profit after expenses. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier John Horgan and Mayor Kennedy Stewart had all criticized the CSA’s choice of Iran, all sympathizing with families of the victims of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps deadly missile attack on Ukraine Airlines flight 752 in Tehran more than two years ago. All 176 people aboard, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents, were killed. 

On May 24, Trudeau said it was ultimately up to the Canada Border Services Agency whether the Iranian national team would be allowed into Canada. 

“I’ve expressed my concern that I think this game was a bad idea. I can assure you that Sport Canada has not delivered any funding for this game,” Trudeau said during a photo op in Vancouver.

B.C.’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport said it did not provide any standalone funding to the planned June 5 match. It did not say whether public-owned B.C. Place Stadium would lose money on the cancellation. 

Iranian deputy sports minister Sina Kalhor (Twitter)

“The attack on flight PS752 was a tragic event and our hearts continue to go out to the victims and their families,” said the ministry’s statement. “The government of B.C. condemns the use of violence in any form and is committed to upholding human rights and equality through the B.C. Human Rights Code.”

In an afternoon statement, the CSA acknowledged that the “untenable geopolitical situation of hosting Iran became significantly divisive.”

It said it would conduct a thorough review of processes for hosting international matches to consider off-field factors. “We are committed to creating respectful and inclusive environments for teams, players, and fans.”

The CSA had previously justified its matchup with Iran because “the power of sport and its ability to bring people from different backgrounds and political beliefs together for a common purpose.”

But it also needs hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to be approved from the same politicians who criticized the choice of opponent. 

Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto are in the running to host a combined total 10 matches in the 2026 World Cup, which is primarily hosted by the United States Soccer Federation. The 16 host cities will be announced June 16. 

In April, the B.C. government revealed that it could cost $260 million to host up to five matches at B.C. Place in 2026. In 2018, Horgan had scoffed at FIFA for wanting a “blank cheque” from B.C. taxpayers, but he changed his tune last summer. 

Staff at Toronto city hall, however, have been more transparent about the risks. In a March report to council, it indicated a decision on federal funding is still months away.

Inside B.C. Place Stadium (Mackin)

“Sport Canada has indicated that hosting the 2026 World Cup in Canada qualifies for this program, but has not yet declared how much funding they would provide beyond the parameters of the policy (up to 35% of total eligible event expenditures by all parties up to a maximum federal contributions of 50% of all public sector funding),” said the Toronto civic report. 

The federal government indicated a decision on how much it is prepared to fund will come after it has completed a national safety and security concept as part of the federal essential services portion of the hosting agreement. “Full security costing is not likely to be available until late 2022.”

Toronto projects the cost of hosting five games could be as high as $290 million, with FIFA picking up only $12.7 million of the tab. City taxpayers would be on the hook for $74 million in direct cash and in-kind costs. 

The report further said that FIFA’s new operating model means no rights fees are paid by cities and they won’t assume the financial risk. 

“FIFA will assume significant delivery costs and also retain the main sources of revenue, such as media rights and ticket sales. Host cities will be limited to covering local hosting costs, which includes providing a stadium and infrastructure for support activities; training facilities; a location, staffing and infrastructure for a FanFest; and local safety and security coverage – all in compliance with FIFA’s requirements.” 

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Bob Mackin An Iranian government official has threatened

Bob Mackin 

A former private school that became the B.C. headquarters of the RCMP could stay standing for more than a decade, but Vancouver city council heard May 24 that nobody is willing to pay the hefty price to move it from the Heather Lands.

Fairmont Academy Building in Vancouver (Heritage Vancouver)

Vancouver city council voted unanimously to rezone the 21 acres owned by Canada Lands Company CLC Ltd. and the Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation Partnership. They are planning 2,600 units in buildings ranging in height from three to 28 storeys. They also want to replace the 1912-built, heritage-listed Fairmont Academy Building with an Indigenous cultural centre in the last phase of development, some 10 to 15 years from now. 

General manager of planning Theresa O’Donnell said the cost of moving and restoring the building could be $47 million and city staff have failed to find someone to take it off the site. 

“The decision will be dependent on the [development permit],” O’Donnell said. “But it is my recommendation that we go ahead and plan for demolition of that building.”

The 27,000-square-foot, two-storey building was originally a private school that operated during the First World War before being converted to military hospital use from 1918 to 1920. The RCMP acquired the Fairmont Barracks/Stables in 1920 and it remained the provincial headquarters building until 1950. The RCMP left the Heather Lands campus in 2012 for a new provincial headquarters in Surrey. 

Several councillors said they did not want the city to stand in the way of the First Nations’ desire to remove the building due to their historical grievances with the Mounties. 

“We need to be clear about whose heritage we’re prioritizing,” said Coun. Jean Swanson. “And I want to prioritize Indigenous heritage.”

“This is actually causing us to all think differently about what heritage is, and it means different things to different people,” said Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung. “But I see a lot of hanging on to something that has done a lot of harm to a lot of people.”

Coun. Colleen Hardwick said the Heather Lands as a whole are “moving in the exact right direction that I think reconciliation was intended to be,” but she opposes the potential demolition of the building. She unsuccessfully proposed an amendment aimed at preventing the Fairmont case from setting a citywide precedent.

“My one reservation had been the treatment of this heritage property,” Hardwick said. “It has historical significance that predates it becoming an RCMP station. And, as the representative on the heritage commission of this council, I would be remiss if I did not draw attention to that. I understand the desire to make things go away that have negative feelings associated with them. But I remain hopeful that there may be a way to resuscitate it in some way.”

Supt. Joe Atherton

City council had received letters from two former Mounties against demolition. They said in their letters that the building should remain for historical purposes and that the remains of at least one Mountie are buried on the property. 

RCMP Veterans’ Association Vancouver governor Donna Morse is co-editing a book called Duty Done: Memories of the Fairmont Barracks that includes the story of a 79-year-old RCMP officer’s wishes for his ashes to be placed on-site. 

“Supt. Joe Atherton’s remains were buried under that flagpole in 1988 and remain there today,” Morse wrote. “Whatever happens in reference to development of the lands, it is hoped that this site will be handled with the dignity and respect as it deserves. It is important that Supt Atherton’s remains will be reinterred and the Vancouver Veterans look forward to working with the city and MST in this regard.”

Morse suggested that the Fairmont Building be saved as a facility that shows the good and bad of B.C.’s history, to promote reconciliation. 

“It is felt that the Fairmont Building could be used as a catalyst to ensure that uncomfortable history is not rewritten but is understood by those generations that follow,” she wrote. 

Like Morse, Peter German does not oppose redevelopment of the land. But he wants the Fairmont saved.

German is the former commander of the RCMP in Western Canada, known better in recent years as the author of reports on money laundering in B.C. Last year, he spearheaded the establishment of the Vancouver Anti-Corruption Institute at the University of B.C. 

Anti-money laundering expert Peter German.

German said Atherton joined the RCMP in 1932 and worked his entire career while based in the Fairmont.

“It is unknown if other members of the force were buried on the Fairmont grounds and, if so, how many,” German wrote. “It is of the utmost importance that Supt. Atherton’s remains and those of any other members of the force be located and preserved.”

The Heather Lands are the first major proposal to city council from the three first nations who are also owners of the Jericho Lands and the former Liquor Distribution Branch centre. The latter is a partnership with the Aquilini family. 

The Jericho Lands are the Canadian Olympic Committee’s first choice for an Olympic Village site should Vancouver be chosen as host of the 2030 Winter Olympics. 

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Bob Mackin  A former private school that became

Bob Mackin 

The Vancouver Non-Partisan Association is going with a law and order theme for its slate unveiled during a May 24 Italian Cultural Centre fundraiser. 

The John Coupar-led party has recruited three candidates for city council from the policing sphere: Ex-Canadian Border Services Agency intelligence officer Cinnamon Bhayani, South Vancouver Community Policing Centre executive director Mauro Francis, and Vancouver Police Department crime analyst Arezo Zarrabian.

NPA mayoral candidate John Coupar at the party’s May 24 fundraiser (NPA/Twitter)

They join lone incumbent Melissa De Genova on the NPA’s Oct. 15 ticket. De Genova is seeking her third term at 12th and Cambie and is married to a Vancouver Police officer. Three of the other four elected in 2018 left the party in April 2021 when Coupar was appointed the mayoral candidate last year by the party board. 

Other NPA candidates running for city council are Skills Canada-B.C. CEO Elaine Allan and Dunbar Theatre operator Ken Charko.

Incumbent Tricia Barker is one of four candidates for Park Board. Sports management consultant Ray Goldenchild, InTech Environmental president Dave Pasin and photographer and travel consultant Matt Pregent round out the team. 

NPA candidates for school board are to be announced. 

In a prepared statement, Coupar says incumbent Mayor Kennedy Stewart has put Vancouver in trouble.

“It has become unaffordable for too many young people and new arrivals,” Coupar said. “Homelessness is worse than ever and so is crime. The city is dirty and doesn’t work for our residents. And meantime, the Mayor and his allies on council seem clueless about what to do on any of these issues.” 

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Bob Mackin  The Vancouver Non-Partisan Association is going

Bob Mackin

Details are emerging of the 2030 Winter Olympics bid by Vancouver, and there are some significant changes coming for venues and – at least for now – the province’s financial role.

Sources have provided documentation on the bid at this stage. A decision on the location of the 2030 Games is expected in a year. It reveals the extent of new and revised facilities a successful bid would use, although there are no price tags applied for the time being.

Snowboarding at Sun Peaks near Kamloops (Sun Peaks Resort)

The most politically significant is what isn’t said by the province. For the 2010 Games, the B.C. government was the guarantor and a large player in building infrastructure. So far, the John Horgan government is indicating these Games are to be borne by municipalities and the federal government; it has not proposed any support at this stage.

One of the most embarrassing venues in 2010 was Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver, where snow turned to slush and officials scrambled to make snowboarding and freestyle skiing happen. Even though there is a new resort planned for Brohm Ridge near Squamish, a venue that would have strong connections to the Indigenous leadership involved in the bid, the plan is to move the Cypress events to Sun Peaks, north of Kamloops, according to a venue concept map shown confidentially to

There would be sizeable upgrades to Vancouver’s Hastings Park in order to accommodate big air snowboarding and skiing. Curling would come to the 1963-built Agrodome.

The Canadian Olympic Committee’s bid feasibility team doesn’t have detailed cost estimates or government funding commitments. The B.C. NDP government’s 2030 tourism priority is a new provincial museum in the capital. But the COC does have a map that it plans to reveal in June.

Alpine skiing would remain at Whistler-Blackcomb. Bobsledding, skeleton and luge at the Whistler Sliding Centre. Nordic sports at the Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley. 

No surprise, the Vancouver Convention Centre would be the media hub again and B.C. Place Stadium the site of opening and closing ceremonies, with hockey games at Rogers Arena and UBC Thunderbird Arena and practices at Killarney and Britannia community rinks. A new community rink in Northeast False Creek could be added. 

The Richmond Olympic Oval would be retrofitted to bring back the speed skating track. It is not possible to return the Hillcrest Curling Centre to its original use as the Vancouver Olympic Centre curling arena. Instead, the rocks would be thrown and swept inside the Agrodome, one element of a Hastings Park cluster that would see figure skating and short-track speed skating return to the Pacific Coliseum.

Big air snowboarding and skiing fans would giddy-up to the city’s oldest sporting venue, Hastings Racecourse. Big air debuted this year in Beijing, but the North Shore mountains would provide a more pleasant backdrop than the concrete cooling towers at the Chinese capital’s former steel mill.

Hastings Racecourse (Mackin)

The fourth component of the Hastings Park cluster is the Pacific National Exhibition Amphitheatre for nightly medals ceremonies and concerts. That was B.C. Place’s other job in 2010. The venue beside Playland is already proposed for a major $64.8 million upgrade by 2026, with a covered stage and covered floor seats, bleachers and suites for as many as 9,300 fans. 

Athletes’ housing

The most-troublesome indoor venue of 2010 was Vancouver’s $1.1 billion Olympic Village in Southeast False Creek. It needed a pre-Games bailout to get finished and went into receivership after the Games, when condo sales stalled. It is obviously populated, so a new complex would be required for 2,000 athletes. 

The Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations — three-quarters of 2010’s Four Host First Nations (FHFN) — have a solution. Their Jericho Lands in Point Grey is the preferred site for the 2030 Olympic Village. They also co-own the Heather Lands near Little Mountain. 

From May 2-4, a trio of IOC technical experts toured proposed venues. The IOC and COC have refused to say who they were and won’t comment on their itinerary. The visit was part of the IOC’s new “continuous dialogue” approach with potential hosts. Not enough cities can afford the Games anymore. Costly bidding wars are out, closed-door negotiations are in. 

The IOC trio visited 2002 host Salt Lake City before Vancouver and is also expected in Sapporo, Japan, site of the 1972 Winter Games. A bid led by 1992 summer host Barcelona is also in the mix. Bidders for 2030 are expected to have observer status when Beijing 2022 officials debrief Milano Cortina 2026 organizers at late-June meetings in Italy.  

The 2030 host is expected to be named when the IOC meets at the end of May 2023 in Mumbai, India. That doesn’t allow much time to write a bid book and secure public and government support. 

The bid was born at a Greater Vancouver Board of Trade breakfast on Feb. 20, 2020 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Ex-Vancouver 2010 organizing committee (VANOC) CEO John Furlong used the 10th anniversary celebration to say another Games in 2030 would be the best way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first.

But, the pandemic put lobbying on hold for a year. 

Furlong met on March 17, 2021 with Asha Bhat, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, according to documents obtained under freedom of information.

BC 2030 Olympic bid logo (BC Gov/FOI)

The B.C. 2030-branded presentation floated three options: reusing 2010 venues, except for Hillcrest and the Olympic Village; reusing most 2010 venues, plus ones in Victoria and Burnaby; or a regional/provincial Games with venues across the province. 

It would cost roughly $2 billion to operate another Games, not including an Olympic Village, renovation or expansion of existing venues, and Games-time security. In 2010, the RCMP and Canadian military spent $900 million.

The fine print said: “Excludes choices governments may make to leverage the Games to invest in infrastructure, community and/or legacy initiatives.”

A series of slides outlining the early-stage thinking about the 2030 bid cited “very positive” initial conversations with First Nations and “measured and positive early conversations with federal government, Whistler, Richmond, Burnaby, Vancouver.” 

To that end, it mentioned opportunities for housing and transportation mega-projects, specifically extending the SkyTrain to UBC. It is possible the Four Hosts First Nations (FHFN) could reunite in 2030 and use the Games to meet goals of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA).

“Opportunity to achieve preferred candidate status; 2034 will have increased competition,” said the presentation. “The timing may never again be this favourable for Canada to win.”

Last December, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton and leaders of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Lil’wat nations signed a memorandum of understanding for an “Indigenous-led” bid. 

Furlong is not part of the new bid. Instead, the inner circle comprises COC president Tricia Smith and international relations vice-president Andrew Baker, ex-VANOC operations manager/COC lobbyist Mary Conibear, ex-VANOC sport vice-president Tim Gayda, former Squamish Nation councillor Tewanee Joseph and Skwah First Nation Chief Lara Mussell Savage. Joseph and Savage also worked in VANOC — Joseph as the FHFN executive director and Savage as an Aboriginal and youth sport manager. 

A big question mark: provincial support 

For 2010, Premier Gordon Campbell made B.C. the legally binding guarantor, promising, among other things, to absorb any losses. Campbell deftly parlayed Olympic sod turnings and ribbon cuttings into two BC Liberal re-election victories. A Games with recycled venues would mean fewer big ticket photo ops for Premier John Horgan or whoever is premier during that pre-Olympic period. 

Premier John Horgan (centre) at the Royal B.C. Museum on May 13 (BC Gov)

In late-April, Conibear registered to lobby the NDP government for help in creating the bid concept. But he governing party is showing it has other priorities on the road to 2030. 

On May 13, Horgan and Tourism Minister Melanie Mark made a reconciliation-themed announcement of the second phase of the $1 billion project to rebuild the Royal B.C. Museum in time for 2030. 

Officials have met with the COC and Canadian Paralympic Committee, but the Ministry said in a prepared statement that there is no financial support for the bid. 

“Events of this magnitude require detailed plans regarding operations; infrastructure feasibility and requirements; support service requirements; local participation and inclusion of Indigenous communities; and a full assessment of potential risks and mitigation strategies,” read the statement. “The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport look forward to receiving more information from the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee on the feasibility of the games so we can make a decision that is in the best interest of British Columbians. At this time the province is still receiving information on the process and has committed no funds to the project.”

Appetite for another Games in Vancouver has fallen. Last October, a ResearchCo poll for Glacier Media found only 43% of respondents supported another bid, down 17 points from early 2020. The IOC’s decision to go ahead with the Beijing Games in the face of the pandemic and an international diplomatic boycott over China’s human rights abuses was unpopular in ResearchCo’s February poll that found almost half of respondents weren’t going to watch this year’s Winter Games. Indeed, TV ratings were dismal.

Pitching a multibillion-dollar mega-event right now could be like trying to ski uphill.

Metro Vancouver has a long list of social challenges, including the lingering pandemic, homelessness, addiction and lack of middle-class housing supply. There is increased economic pressure on inflation-weary taxpayers, who are already on the hook for transportation, hospital, sewage and climate-related infrastructure projects.

Vancouver City Hall staff have a busy events calendar that will require white collar and blue collar assistance. Promoters of the canceled 2022 Formula E race say they’ll try again for 2023. Prince Harry’s Invictus Games for wounded warriors are coming in 2025 to Vancouver and Whistler. Vancouver awaits FIFA’s decision on whether B.C. Place will host as many as five games during the 2026 World Cup — expected to cost taxpayers $260 million. 

Coun. Colleen Hardwick is running against Stewart for the mayoralty. She tabled a motion in April proposing that voters decide the fate of the bid in October’s civic election, just like they did in a standalone vote in 2003. Hardwick said it is premature to bid on another Olympics, when the VANOC board minutes and finances are sealed from the public at the Vancouver City Archives until 2025. Hardwick’s motion did not proceed when no one else on council stepped forward to second her motion. 

The door on democracy is closed for now, but it is not locked. In an April statement, Stewart’s office said City Hall was waiting for June’s submission of the Games concept, which would trigger a staff report to council on whether to move forward with the bid. “At that time, council may decide to schedule a community vote or other engagements with residents.” 

An important venue change

Sun Peaks is more than 400 kilometres from Vancouver and doesn’t fit the goal of a compact Games.

PNE Agrodome (Mackin)

The home mountain of Grenoble 1968 skiing gold medallist Nancy Greene-Raine hosted the 2010 training camp for the Austrian ski team and would give 2030 organizers two types of certainty.

Crews were already having difficulty in late 2009 building a temporary stadium on the hillside at Cypress Mountain to accommodate spectators for the snowboard halfpipe. Then, a month before the opening ceremony, an El Niño weather pattern turned snow to slush. Helicopters moved snow from elsewhere in the mountains. A fleet of heavy duty trucks was dispatched to deliver loads of snow from Allison Pass near Manning Park, more than 200 kilometres away. 

During the Games, fog and rain played havoc with competition schedules and the long and winding road to the venue was trouble for the buses chartered from American companies. IOC members thought Cypress was cursed. They even gave it a nickname that many Canadians would find even more offensive today than in 2010: “Indian burial ground.”

More than a week after the Games, when the athletes, IOC bigwigs and world media were long gone, winter weather resumed. 

Nonetheless, it had been the most-successful snow venue for Team Canada, beginning with Alex Bilodeau in moguls, the first Olympic gold medal won by a Canadian at home, and continuing with championships for Ashleigh McIvor (ski cross), Maelle Ricker (snowboardcross) and Jasey-Jay Anderson (snowboard parallel giant slalom). 

The other type of certainty is history. Sun Peaks is celebrating 60 years of going downhill. 

A more convenient option would be the Garibaldi at Squamish Resort planned for Brohm Ridge, 13 kilometres from Squamish. But it’s still a matter of “if and when.” 

The Aquilini Development/Northland Properties project, of which the Squamish Nation holds 10% interest, wants to open by late 2028. Last year, the Environmental Assessment Office extended the deadline to satisfy all regulatory conditions and begin construction to January 2026.

For the Pacific National Exhibition, the 2030 Games would be the ultimate winter fair. 

The 2030 Games would be the Agrodome’s second chance to be an Olympic venue. It was supposed to be renovated as a 2010 training venue, but was the victim of cutbacks when VANOC caught budget overruns after 2006. 

Mark Twain said history doesn’t repeat, it rhymes. Big air at the racetrack would be a short walk from where a temporary ski jump was built in 1958 for a B.C. centennial  tournament at Empire Stadium. Four years earlier, in 1954, that was the site of B.C.’s first mega-event, the British Empire and Commonwealth Games, known for Roger Bannister and John Landy’s Miracle Mile.

Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith (left) and Four Host First Nations executive director Tewanee Joseph (second from left) and Canadian Olympic speedster and cyclist Clara Hughes (third from left)  at the Dec. 10 bid exploration announcement (Twitter/Tewanee Joseph)

Worth the effort? 

Salt Lake City stands in the way of Vancouver 2030. Its bid boosters got started more than a year earlier, after Calgarians voted against a 2026 bid. 

In late 2018, the United States Olympic Committee named Salt Lake City to bid for a future winter games. Fraser Bullock, who was second-in-command for the 2002 organizing committee, is leading the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, which is actively campaigning for community support. A report from the University of Utah’s business school released May 17 estimated the 2030 Games would bring the state US$3.9 billion in economic activity spread over seven years.

Bullock, who was part of the IOC subcommittee that oversaw Vancouver 2010, has already said Salt Lake 2030 would cost US$2.2 billion, including US$23.15 million for venue upgrades. The Deseret News in Salt Lake City reported that the bid committee is negotiating to secure 17,000 hotel rooms and plans to accommodate athletes at the University of Utah. 

The biggest hurdle for Salt Lake City might be Los Angeles hosting the 2028 Summer Games. But the IOC’s geographic rotation is no longer strict, as evidenced by holding three Games in Asia from 2018 to 2022. U.S. broadcast giant NBC is the IOC’s biggest single source of funding and the Peacock Network’s current $7.75 billion contract ends in 2032 — 30 years after Salt Lake City held the last Winter Games on U.S. ice and snow.

“Yes, we aspire to 2030 but we recognize that everything has to line up for that to happen,” Bullock said in the Deseret News. “And if that doesn’t happen, we certainly would aggressively pursue 2034.”

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Bob Mackin Details are emerging of the 2030

For the week of May 22, 2022:

Craig James: Guilty of fraud and breach of trust by a public official.

The disgraced former clerk of British Columbia’s Legislative Assembly bought a suit and dress shirts from upscale boutiques in London, England and Vancouver and charged taxpayers $1,900. 

“His premise was a dishonest one to benefit himself,” ruled Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes on May 19 in B.C. Supreme Court. 

James escaped guilty findings for taking a $258,000 retirement allowance and storing a $13,000 woodsplitter and trailer on his Saanich property. But Holmes said he was in conflict of interest and called into question his ability to act as the de facto CEO of the seat of government. 

On this edition of Podcast, host Bob Mackin rewinds to late 2018 and early 2019 when then-Speaker Darryl Plecas and his chief of staff Alan Mullen had exposed corruption by James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz.  

PLUS: Hear Joe Keithley of DOA and Burnaby city council on his June 4 Rock Against Racism benefit concert at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver. Joe is this week’s recipient of the Virtual Nanaimo Bar.

Also, commentary 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: Corrupt clerk Craig James convicted

For the week of May 22, 2022:

Bob Mackin

The former clerk of British Columbia’s Legislative Assembly was found guilty of fraud and breach of trust in B.C. Supreme Court on May 19.

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

Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes ruled that Craig James spent almost $1,900 of taxpayers’ money to buy a custom suit and dress shirts from luxury boutiques for personal use. James, she said, “dishonestly described them as for chamber attire when he knew they were not, and received reimbursement on that false basis.”

Said Holmes: “His premise was a dishonest one to benefit himself.”

James was the BC Liberal caucus-appointed chief executive of the seat of government in 2011, but was suddenly suspended in November 2018 after then-Speaker Darryl Plecas and chief of staff Alan Mullen called in the RCMP to investigate corruption. Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz was suspended at the same time.

The top two permanent officers of the Legislature both claimed they did no wrong and demanded their jobs back, but retired in disgrace in 2019 without reimbursing taxpayers. In May of that year, James was found to have committed four types of misconduct. Lenz quit five months later to avoid discipline under the Police Act for breaching his oath.

James, but not Lenz, was charged under the Criminal Code in late 2020 and pleaded not guilty to three charges of breach of trust by a public official and two charges of fraud over $5,000. He stood trial before Holmes alone from Jan. 24 to March 3 at the Law Courts in Vancouver, but did not testify in his own defence.

Though Holmes found him guilty on two charges, James is officially convicted on one. Special Prosecutor David Butcher asked for a conditional stay on the fraud conviction because a person cannot be convicted more than once on the same facts from the same criminal act, known in Canadian law as the Kienapple principle. 

Holmes found James not guilty for his roles in creating and keeping a $258,000 retirement allowance and purchasing a $13,000 wood splitter and trailer combo that he kept at his home. 

On the retirement allowance, Holmes agreed with the Crown that James breached the standard of conduct expected of him in a serious and marked way by putting himself in a conflict of interest. “The potential benefit to him personally was extremely large and he should have disengaged entirely and stepped away from any further involvement.” 

Craig James (left) and Gary Lenz (Commonwealth Parliamentary Association)

“Mr. James always received substantial employee benefits throughout his employment as a table officer, and the 1984 memoranda in my view made clear that the award was created to substitute for benefits that the table officers were not receiving at that time,” Holmes said.

She found it possible that James was selective in what he provided lawyer Don Farquhar and that he was opportunistic and self-serving, but strong suspicion is not sufficient to establish criminality. Though she ruled he was likely not entitled to the long service award, Holmes concluded that James was not acting criminally, because Farquhar’s advice may have led him to sincerely believe that he was entitled. 

She called the purchase of the woodsplitter and trailer ill-advised or unnecessarily extravagant and unusual for a person in James’s position, but the evidence did not establish he was dishonest or self-serving. The purchases went through appropriate approvals and nothing showed that James or other senior staff used the equipment as “toys for personal use.”

“It is true that as the senior [B.C. Legislature] official Mr. James could have insisted that a suitable parking spot be identified and prepared more quickly. And, if he wanted to participate in the decision-making process, or even to make the decision himself, he could have done so much earlier than he did. Mr. James’s failure to do these things may not speak well of his management of LABC staff and its operations, but, on all the evidence I cannot conclude that it indicates that he was deliberately trying to delay the delivery of the wood splitter and trailer to the LABC precinct for improper reasons.” 

As for travel expenses, Holmes called James’s purchase of $11,500 worth of clothing, luggage, books and souvenirs over five years to be astonishing and questionable and the purpose to be “less than clear or convincing.”

Speaker Darryl Plecas (left) and chief of staff Alan Mullen (Mackin)

“Equally, Mr. James’s failure, as clerk, to introduce policies to more clearly guide the bases for reimbursement, particularly in light of the blistering [2012] reports of the Auditor General, may well indicate a poor attitude toward his responsibilities and a disinclination to bring rigour to the financial management of the LABC, but those failures too do not of themselves mean he was dishonest.”

She did, however, find James committed both breach of trust and fraud when he spent a total $1,886.72 on a dress shirt and a tie at Brooks Brothers in Vancouver in January and August 2018 and a suit from Ede and Ravenscroft in London in August 2018. 

“He knew it would deprive the LABC of funds he ought not to have been reimbursed. His purpose was a dishonest one, to benefit himself at the public’s expense. The elements of breach of trust by a public official and fraud are proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Lawyers for the Crown and defence will appear before Holmes on May 26 to schedule a sentencing hearing. 

In closing statements in March, Special Prosecutor Brock Martland said that James took steps that were “strange and unconventional for the equivalent of a CEO.”

“We trust leaders to lead, we trust the people on the public payroll will not embezzle or steal or misappropriate money or things,” Martland told the court. 

Speaker Bill Barisoff in 2012 with then-Clerk Craig James (BC Gov)

James’s lawyer Gavin Cameron said the case was one of negligence, rather than corruption.

“He’s guilty of bureaucratic ineptitude. That’s not a crime,” Cameron said. 

In an interview after the verdict, Plecas said he was pleased justice was served, but regretted the resistance felt every step of the way. 

From Lenz’s reluctance to investigate James to the indifference of Auditor General Carol Bellringer, who did not conduct a promised audit. From BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson and house leader Mary Polak’s attempts to stifle the investigation to certain members of the press gallery who defended James and criticized Plecas instead. Taxpayers weren’t made whole and James negotiated an exit three years ago that included banning Legislature employees from being criticizing him publicly.

“Breach of trust is breach of trust, fraud is fraud. It isn’t that one is more serious than another,” Plecas said. “He was, as the judge said, acting in a dishonest manner, abusing the public trust, the taxpayer.”

“The fact that he didn’t get convicted of them all doesn’t change anything. But the principle is the same. We have an individual who was in a position of trust, he abused that trust, he was found guilty of that.”

Holmes’s reasons for judgment effectively debunked the statement James made at a press conference in his lawyer’s office in late 2018, when he claimed innocence and demanded his job back. 

“I have established processes in the Legislative Assembly that are essentially bulletproof,” James boasted on Nov. 26, 2018.

Mullen said the system was far from bulletproof. It was actually prone to manipulation. 

“He didn’t create anything,” Mullen said. “And, furthermore, I would suggest that those those checks and balances have yet to be implemented. We need to have transparency in the ‘people’s house’ and that’s all the former speaker and I have been saying from day one. It was never about the individual that is Craig James or Gary Lenz or anybody else. There is something fundamentally flawed and we’ve got to do better.”

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2022 Bcsc 854 r. v. James by Bob Mackin on Scribd

Bob Mackin The former clerk of British Columbia’s

For the week of May 15, 2022:

How to stop the rise of violent extremism in Canada? 

That’s what’s on the mind of the all-party Public Safety and National Security Committee at the House of Commons.

Former CSIS director Richard Fadden (Mackin)

Former Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Richard Fadden testified at the May 12 meeting about ideologically motivated violent extremism. More than a decade ago, Fadden famously warned Canadians that China and Russia were meddling in Canadian politics. 

Along with religious and poetically motivated violent extremism, “IMVE” is a national security threat. It involves actors on the far right and the far left, fuelled by online radicalization, conspiracy theories and foreign influence. It is also corrosive to democracy.

Listen to highlights of the meeting, including Fadden’s thoughts on Canada’s partisan political environment and his idea to combat IMVE. 

Also, commentary and Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines. 

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

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Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: How to stop violent extremism in polarized Canada

For the week of May 15, 2022:

Bob Mackin

Another NDP insider has passed through the revolving door from the John Horgan government into a lobbying company.

Amanda Van Baarsen (left) and Adrian Dix in 2016 (Twitter/van Baarsen)

Amanda van Baarsen, who was Minister of Health Adrian Dix’s senior aide at more than $97,000-a-year, joined Counsel Public Affairs Inc. She is the associate vice-president for Western Canada at a firm boasting several pharmaceutical industry clients.

Since van Baarsen worked in Dix’s office, she is defined by the Lobbyists Transparency Act as a former public office holder and must wait two years before registering to communicate or arrange a meeting with a public office holder for the purpose of influencing lawmaking or spending.

“Amanda knows how this B.C. government works,” said Counsel’s Western Canada practice lead Brad Lavigne in the firm’s May 6 announcement. “She will apply that expertise to helping our clients succeed, not only for those in the health care sector, but for other priorities of this government as well.” 

Counsel clients include Innovative Medicines Canada, HumanisRx, CareRx, and the Canadian division of AstraZeneca vaccine maker Emergent BioSolutions Inc. Counsel also represents the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of B.C., B.C. Real Estate Association and the Insurance Council of B.C.

Van Baarsen declined an interview request and did not respond to questions, including whether she might apply to the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists (ORL) for an exemption to the two-year cooling-off period. She sent a statement attributed to Lavigne that said she would offer clients “important strategic advice and a wide array of services outside of registerable activities.”

Lobbying watchdog Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch said that even with the two-year prohibition, someone can still find a way to cash-in on the relationships and knowledge they gained while working in a minister’s office. He pointed to the ORL checklist for the 50-hour threshold to register, which includes activities such as negotiating lobbying service contracts, hiring and training staff and monitoring a lobbying strategy — none of which includes communicating with a public office holder.

“The law and the cooling-off period are really a charade, more loopholes than they are solid rules,” Conacher said. “They need to be turned into solid rules that prohibit people from giving an advantage and essentially selling access and information that they learned while they were supposedly serving the public.”

Premier John Horgan (left), Minister Sheila Malcolmson and ex-party president Craig Keating (Horgan/Twitter)

At Counsel, van Baarsen is reunited with another NDP operative who was involved in pandemic response. Jean-Marc Prevost was Dr. Bonnie Henry’s scriptwriter until he quit in early 2021 to join the firm and represent Emergent. The two-year rule did not apply to Prevost, because he worked in the Government Communications and Public Engagement (GCPE) department, instead of Dix’s office.

Same goes for former GCPE employees Jeffrey Ferrier and Danielle Dalzell. Ferrier was the Ministry of Health’s executive director of communications for almost a year, but joined Hill and Knowlton and registered for AstraZeneca in April. Dalzell has worked at Earnscliffe Strategies for two years since leaving GCPE, where her job included writing Horgan’s speeches. 

Also in April, ex-B.C. NDP president Craig Keating registered to lobby the NDP government for marijuana farmer Tantalus Labs. Keating ended his second term in December and joined Strategies 360, a firm that employs former B.C. NDP executive directors, Raj Sihota and Michael Gardiner. Gardiner, Horgan’s former leadership campaign manager, runs the Canadian office for the Seattle firm and his clients include one of the government’s biggest suppliers, Telus.

Ex-NDP corporate fundraiser Rob Nagai with John Horgan. (Twitter)

The revolving door trend began shortly after the NDP came to power in 2017. The Horgan government banned corporate and union donations and capped individuals to $1,200-a-year. The NDP’s corporate fundraiser, Rob Nagai, left the party to join Bluestone Group, the firm run by veteran BC Liberal lobbyist Mark Jiles. Nagai had boasted of raising $7 million for NDP campaigns over a seven-year period. 

Expert Daniel Gold analyzed the evolution of campaign financing and lobbying in his 2020 University of Ottawa doctoral thesis, “Lobbying Regulation in Canada and the United States: Political Influence, Democratic Norms and Charter Rights.”

“We’ve regulated campaign finance fairly strictly, which is great, but we’ve left the door wide open on lobbying with really minimal restrictions,” Gold said. “So corporate money has moved that way.”

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Bob Mackin Another NDP insider has passed through