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Bob Mackin

The BC Liberal Opposition Caucus blew an easy chance to one-up the NDP Government Caucus, according to an independent watchdog.

Andrew Wilkinson’s party launched its own taxpayer-funded radio ad on April 8 on CKNW, two weeks after theBreaker.news was first to report how the NDP spent an undisclosed amount of taxpayers’ money on a partisan 30-second radio ad comparing Premier John Horgan to Wilkinson. 

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson (BC Gov)

“The Liberal party had the opportunity to take the high road, they chose to take the low road,” said Dermod Travis of IntegrityBC. “They could’ve been the official opposition, calling for an end to partisan advertising with taxpayer money. They’ve decided just to join the bandwagon.”

The BC Liberal ad, which you can hear below, says that under Horgan and the NDP, British Columbians are “paying more and getting less.” It refers to higher taxes and ICBC premiums and claims that “Andrew Wilkinson and the BC Liberal MLAs are standing up for you. B.C. can do better, for all of us.” A second ad, that aired April 12 on CKNW, blames the NDP for record high gas prices in B.C.

After hearing the ad, Green Party leader Andrew Weaver told theBreaker.news that the BC Liberals have taken partisan caucus ads to an entirely new level.

“I shake my head,” Weaver said. “Am I surprised? No. Do I think it’s right? No. Do I think the BC Liberals should be paying that back? Yes. Just because the BC NDP did this does not mean it’s right to do.

“This has got to stop.”

BC Liberal caucus communications director Carlie Pochynok did not respond to a request from theBreaker.news for information about the costs and contractors. Likewise, BC Liberal house leader Mary Polak did not respond. Polak is a member of the Legislative Assembly Management Committee, which is scheduled to meet April 9. The NDP caucus refused to release the budget for its ads and the names of its contractors. The NDP caucus radio ad broke the party’s 2017 campaign promise to eliminate partisan government advertising.

Weaver said the actions of the two major provincial parties are precisely what fuels public mistrust of politicians, which leads to low voter turnout.

“They say one thing and they do another,” Weaver said. “For the NDP this is particularly troubling, because they were so vocal in their opposition to the BC Liberals doing the same in previous years.”

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver (UBCM)

The parties are already benefitting from a new public-subsidized per-vote allowance administered by Elections BC, part of a program that NDP government says will run out in 2022. It is meant to help the parties transition from relying on the now-banned corporate and union donations. The BC Liberals were initially opposed to the subsidy, but the party took in $1.89 million from taxpayers, the NDP $1.88 million, and the Greens $789,000.

Caucus support services cost taxpayers $7.86 million in the year ended March 31, 2018, but details about spending and contracting by the NDP, BC Liberal and Green caucuses are excluded from the freedom of information law because the money is from Legislative Assembly accounts.

In the wake of Speaker Darryl Plecas’s reports exposing waste and corruption in the office of the clerk and sergeant-at-arms, Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy co-authored an open letter calling for the Legislature to be added to the list of 2,600 public bodies subject to B.C.’s transparency law. That prompted NDP house leader Mike Farnworth to promise in early February that the government would amend the law to finally cover the Legislature.

Even with the absence of rules forbidding taxpayer-funded partisan ads by caucuses, Travis said the NDP and BC Liberals “can rely on something else: it’s called common sense.”

“They don’t have to wait for the law to be amended, they have the freedom to release [caucus ad costs] at any point in time they choose to,” Travis said. “[BC Liberals] could do it proactively and again seize the high road on this file.”

The NDP radio ads began to air after theBreaker.news revealed how Wilkinson has paid more than $44,000 to the Parksville-based Motiontide digital advertising agency from his Vancouver-Quilchena constituency office account and how Skeena BC Liberal MLA Ellis Ross led all MLAs with more than $20,000 in advertising and communications spending.

Ross’s spending included ads in Terrace and Kitimat newspapers that slammed the NDP and Greens, despite rules forbidding the use of constituency funds for partisan messages. In the year ended March 31, 2017, Wilkinson spent $59,000 on advertising and communications, including a series of one-minute ads on CKNW that cost $199 each.

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Bob Mackin The BC Liberal Opposition Caucus blew

Bob Mackin

Two days in April. Two famous Canadian Dicks in Vancouver.

First, Dick Pound. The Canadian who is the International Olympic Committee’s most-senior member. The 77-year-old told the Canadian Club Vancouver on April 1 that the IOC is grappling with perceptions that the Games cost too much and changes in social mores. 

On gender identity issues, he said the IOC is facing legal challenges to be more inclusive and will evolve. “The expression has generally been the problem comes from people who are pale, male and stale trying to deal with an emerging issue.”

IOC member Dick Pound (Mackin)

On Vladimir Putin and the legacy of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics: “Whatever goodwill he had from the Games, which is potentially pretty good, he threw away when he invaded Crimea. Somehow that gets an Olympic rings label on Crimea.”

Montreal lawyer Pound said the IOC also has a challenge to spur a younger audience to both watch the Games and then play sport. 

“I’m not quite sure what the answer to that is. It certainly is not the Youth Olympic Games, which in my respectful point of view, tend to be a very, very, very expensive summer or winter camp for some very nice kids. But they’re not going to move the dial on grassroots participation.”

Without naming video gaming, Pound said “what nobody seems to realize is there is a tsunami of diabetes approaching. Young, sedentary kids with bad diets. We’ve somehow got to get that brought to a level of attention that will result in some action.”

Pound, founder of the World Anti-Doping Agency, rejected the notion that the battle against performance enhancing substances has been a failure. He said letting athletes be free to dope would lead to an arms race mentality and, ultimately, athletes would take toxic or lethal doses in the pursuit of championships. 

He said there will always be outliers, so the job is to persuade 99.9% of athletes that doping is wrong and dangerous and give those ethical athletes reasonable assurance that the bad guys will be caught. “Then you’ll have won the war on drugs,” he said. 

Pound recounted the day in September 1988 when he learned Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was caught doping at the Seoul Olympics, stripped of his 100 metre gold medal and world record and sent home. 

Pound had been at diving, to watch American Greg Louganis, before lunch with the Coca-Cola board of directors. IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch said to him “have you heard the news, have you heard the news?”

Asked Pound: “Someone died?”

Samaranch said: “It’s worse.” 

Pound said that he came to terms with the scandal after a conversation with Johnson’s coach, Charlie Francis.

“[He] had a huge toothache, feeling miserable on both counts,” Pound said.

Francis asked him what the IOC thought Johnson was taking. He told him it was the steroid stanozolol, to which Francis replied: “I don’t want my guys on stanozolol on race day! It tightens them up, I want them loose!”

Pound told the lunch crowd at the Terminal City Club: “Hmm, the question may not be whether. It’s what.”

He said, based on the evidence, it was the right result. 

A day later, it was Richard Fadden’s turn.

The director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service from 2009 to 2013, who warned of foreign interference from China in 2010. He told an audience at Simon Fraser University downtown that China is an adversary that poses a major threat to Canada.

“That’s the one big issue with China, they want to benefit from the rule of law, they want to benefit from all our procedural protections here, but if any of you do business in China, it’s a crapshoot,” Fadden said at an event hosted by the Canadian International Council. “It can go perfectly well, but in the absence of the rule of law and contract law, you’re never assured how things are going to turn out.” 

Fadden said China is a great civilization that has helped improve the standard of living for its citizens, but “I’m not sure we want to sign over the UN, World Bank and IMF, and a whole bunch of other institutions which the west constructed, to the Chinese model.”

Former CSIS director Richard Fadden (Mackin)

China, he said, is a country without the rule of law and without human rights that is trying to export its values to the west. 

“If they want to run their country that way, my view is hunky dory, but they should not be telling us in the west how we’re going to run our part of the planet,” Fadden said.

Canadians should not be lulled into a sense of security because the country is surrounded by three oceans and the United States. He said foreign propaganda is especially worrisome, via social media. 

“It is massive, it contributes to fake news, it weakens our resolve in our institutions and it is going on all the time. Cyber propaganda I’d argue in the long term can do as much harm to our civilization our society as something that’s rather more kinetic.”

China has risen as a world power while the U.S. has declined, but it is not the fault of the Donald Trump administration. Fadden said it would have happened anyway had Barack Obama been, hypothetically, allowed to remain in the White House.

“China is going to continue its rise and in some respects and ways that is going to harm the west.”

Fadden pointed to intellectual property theft, the South China Sea territorial dispute with Philippines and Vietnam, and the trade imbalance. 

“Most Canadian corporations have a limited amount of financial resources, in the case of many Chinese companies they can draw on the full resources of the Chinese state, which means we do not have an even playing field.”

On the most-urgent national security and trade question facing Ottawa, Fadden said it is not in Canada’s interest to let Huawei Technologies build the country’s 5G network. 

“It’s almost beyond rational debate that any Chinese company will respond to request from China to spy on other countries. If we allow them in, we will never get them out, they’re already too far in, in my view.” 

Should Canada choose to snub Huawei, there will be consequences. China could deny Canada preferred tourist destination status or cut back on university students it allows to travel and study in Canada. He said Canada is already facing what amounts to a boycott of its canola by China as retaliation for arresting Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on behalf of the United States last year. Meng awaits an extradition hearing to face fraud charges in New York.  

“We think the best of everybody else until something obvious happens,” Fadden said.

Meanwhile, Fadden said Canada is increasingly alone in the “leaderless west,” while the United Kingdom debates Brexit, Germany prepares for a post-Angela Merkel government, the U.S. further retrenches and Japan and Australia are geographically isolated.

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Bob Mackin Two days in April. Two famous

Bob Mackin

Five months after losing a box of microfiche containing personal and financial information, the B.C. Pension Corporation finally broke the bad news to 8,000 College Pension Plan members last week. 

The breach prompted the Information and Privacy Commissioner to renew his call for the Legislature to make it illegal for government and its branches and agencies to delay or conceal the disclosure of a privacy breach to authorities and affected persons.

“Reporting privacy breaches is not mandatory in B.C. My office has long called on government to add breach notification requirements to B.C.’s privacy laws,” said Commissioner Michael McEvoy. “With mandatory breach notification in place, public bodies and organizations would be required to report breaches or suspected breaches to my office within days of discovery. In this case, B.C. Pension Corporation would have been required by law to report the breach in October.”

Chilliwack MLA John Martin (Facebook)

As it approaches mid-term, the B.C. NDP government has not fulfilled promises to improve privacy laws. In a reply to the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association’s 2017 election questionnaire, John Horgan’s party criticized the BC Liberals after the OIPC found privacy breaches increased 56% over five years. The NDP vowed to take action, if it won power.

“We agree that mandatory breach notification would benefit the public by enhancing accountability and transparency, and helping to mitigate the serious fallouts of privacy breaches and as government we will take action,” read the NDP’s April 27, 2017 letter to B.C. FIPA. “We will consider best practices both across Canada and internationally for breach notifications in both the public and private sectors to determine a made-in-BC policy.

One of those affected by the pension plan breach is John Martin, the BC Liberal MLA for Chilliwack who is on leave from his position as an associate professor of criminology at the University of the Fraser Valley. Martin received a March 29 letter from the B.C. Pension Corporation on April 3 that said his personal information was on the missing microfiche. 

“We believe the risk is low that someone will use your personal information inappropriately as a result of this incident, however, we want to provide you with the details of what happened,” said the form letter.

The form letter said the corporation “declared” the breach on Jan. 28, but it did not notify the province’s information and privacy regulator until March 8. What the letter does not say is that the box went missing in an office move last September. 

“I’m concerned,” Martin told theBreaker.news. ” If you look at those nine variables that are in there [including full name, birthdate and social insurance number], that’s enough to open up credit in someone else’s name.” He wonders if that is what happened last month when a retailer notified him of suspicious activity on his account a day-and-a-half after the transaction. His card was canceled and replaced overnight. 

Martin said he has asked staff to review NDP statements and promises about improving privacy, to “see if there is something there worth pursuing with the minister, Jinny Sims,” Martin said. 

B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy (Mackin)

McEvoy said citizens need to know as soon as possible that their personal information has been lost, stolen or compromised, so that they can take steps to mitigate any harm. He suggested affected individuals check their credit activity since September 2018.

The College Pension Plan told several media outlets that it considered this a low risk incident because microfiche is an outdated medium. However, most libraries still have microfiche readers. Microfiche reading and digitizing devices are also for sale through Amazon and several other e-tailers.

The College Pension Plan is one of five public sector pension plans under the B.C. Pension Corporation, which counts a total 560,000 members. It pays out $4.2 billion a year to over 181,000 retirees. 

Meanwhile, B.C. FIPA slammed the NDP for breaking its election promise to enact a strong duty to document law with fines.

On April 1, the government announced it added 41 agencies to the list of those under the Information Management Act. That is the same law that the NDP called ineffective when it was in opposition. The NDP repeatedly hammered the BC Liberals for their 2015 triple delete scandal, but has been found mass-deleting information since coming to power. Horgan’s office even defended ex-Christy Clark spokesman Ben Chin, who was found mass-deleting his email on the day that the Ombudsperson’s report on the health firings scandal was released in April 2017.

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Bob Mackin Five months after losing a box

From humble beginnings as a child swimmer in Ocean Falls, B.C. to a member of Canada’s Rome 1960 Olympics team, Dick Pound eventually became one of the leaders in world sport as a vice-president of the International Olympic Committee.

The outspoken Montreal lawyer, who recently turned 77, founded the World Anti-Doping Agency. He is now the most-senior member of the IOC. Pound was in Vancouver for the April 1 Canadian Club lunch. On March 28, theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin interviewed Pound.

This is the second of two parts, in which Pound talks about the commercialization and expansion of world sport, a legacy of his negotiation of IOC broadcast and sponsorship deals, and the quandary of escalating costs of Games hosting. 

Click below to listen or go to iTunes (aka Apple Podcasts) and subscribe

Plus the latest on the SNC-Lavalin scandal, and Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim headlines and commentaries.

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

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theBreaker.news Podcast: More from Dick Pound, the Canadian who commercialized world sport and aimed to clean it up
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From humble beginnings as a child swimmer

B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association 

A statement released April 1 by the Ministry of Citizens’ Services, which claims that “new legislative changes improve transparency and accountability for British Columbians,” is a significant misrepresentation of an effective duty to document and is a distraction from the pressing reforms that are necessary for BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Creating a legislated duty to document within FIPPA has been called for by an all-party Special Legislative Committee that reviewed the Act in 2016, and by Information and Privacy Commissioners David Loukidelis and Elizabeth Denham.

Mike de Jong (left) and Jinny Sims

These “new” legislative changes that NDP Minister Jinny Sims is promoting were actually initiated by the BC Liberal party in 2017. At that time, FIPA issued a press release that called the Liberal bill “a sad excuse for action on creating a duty to document government decisions” in the wake of the Triple Delete scandal that revealed an organized campaign to destroy government records.

In fact, the NDP put forward a private member’s bill at that time that proposed an actual duty to document in comparison to the Liberal’s ineffective bill.

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance in 2017, BC Liberal Minister Michael de Jong had claimed that their ineffective bill would “formalize this good practice in legislation while ensuring that British Columbia remains at the forefront of information management with strong oversight and consistent practice across government.”

Now, two years later, NDP Minister Jinny Sims is claiming that the same ineffective legislative change also “formalizes government’s obligation to document decisions and helps ensure records of decisions are available and accessible.”

The statements from the NDP and BC Liberal MLAs, made two years apart, are remarkably similar and entirely misleading. FIPA wants to see the creation of a meaningful duty to document — more in line with what the NDP was proposing two years ago — which would include:

  • The creation of mandatory documentation procedures. A discretionary duty to document is not sufficient.
  • Clear oversight from the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
  • The legislative change should be to the FIPPA, which affects over 2,900 public bodies, not the Information Management Act, which merely affects 41. 
(Note: theBreaker.news unsuccessfully sought an interview with Sims, to ask her why the NDP broke its 2017 election promise.)

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B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association  A

Bob Mackin

Alumni of Canada’s under-20 Women’s World Cup soccer team say they were shocked to learn that their former coach had returned to the sidelines for a youth team in South Surrey/White Rock.

“We all look back at our experience with Canada Soccer and the Vancouver Whitecaps and think the situation should have been handled differently,” reads a statement published online April 1. “During our time as part of the U20’s, we each witnessed incidents of abuse, manipulation, or inappropriate behaviour toward players.”

B.C. Soccer Association called a third-party investigation after former player Ciara McCormack went public on her blog in late February, alleging the CSA and Whitecaps did not conduct a full investigation more than a decade ago and that her confidentiality was breached when she complained about harassment and bullying.

The new statement does not list the players’ names, but a copy of it was sent to theBreaker.news by the group’s spokeswoman Eden Hingwing, who left the national team before the Under-20 Women’s World Cup, because she said she witnessed a toxic environment.

The statement refers to the Oct. 9, 2008 announcement by the Whitecaps and CSA that they had mutually agreed to part ways with coach Bob Birarda. The timing was suspect, because the national team was preparing for the Nov. 19, 2008 kickoff of the Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Chile. The club and the national association’s news releases both used the same line, that Birarda’s departure was “in the best interest of both parties.”

Birarda had coached the W-League Whitecaps for three seasons, including the 2006 championship. By virtue of his U-20 position, he was also an assistant coach of Canada’s Olympic team for Beijing 2008.

The players, some of whom were minors at the time, say they were never informed why Birarda departed, nor were their parents, and, if an investigation took place, they were not interviewed.

“No third-party organization, nor the authorities, stepped in to provide an outlet for these conversations,” the statement reads. “There was never any follow-up to ensure the health and safety of the athletes on our team.”

Birarda has not commented. CSA general secretary Peter Montopoli did not respond.

The Whitecaps issued a quote-less statement late April 1 that said there is “no higher priority” than the safety and well-being of its personnel, who can access an independent ombudsperson on an anonymous basis.  “We are concerned there may be new information related to this matter that did not come forward in 2008 or since.”

The Whitecaps say they contacted the Vancouver Police Department about the new allegations. Sgt. Jason Robillard confirmed that the VPD “has been made aware of the blog,” but did not confirm whether it learned of it first from the Whitecaps. “We have no further information to provide,” Robillard said by email.

The Whitecaps’ W-League home games were in Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium, an RCMP jurisdiction, but the players lived in a Vancouver apartment building owned by team owner Greg Kerfoot.

Diane Voice, who was the team’s manager, told theBreaker.news that she reported her concerns to the front office. 

“[Players] felt they weren’t listened to and, in fact, many of them weren’t heard or listened to,” Voice said in an interview. “The Whitecaps are saying that they knew nothing prior to that time or until they heard this. They did know.” 

“When they gave him an apartment in the same building as the players, I said ‘oh no, you can’t do that, that is not right. It is too close’,” Voice said. “They said so many organizations do it.”

Voice said the players were reluctant to confide in her at the time because she was perceived as Birarda’s assistant. 

“They didn’t know that my being there was for the team. I was the team manager, not Bob’s manager,” she said.

Voice said a player did show her concerning text messages from Birarda. She said the club “guaranteed they were going to protect her and she would not be blackballed from soccer. My understanding now is she never played soccer again.”

The Whitecaps and CSA hired lawyer Anne Chopra in 2008, but she told theBreaker.news that she was bound by confidentiality from discussing her findings which led to Birarda’s departure.

When Chopra began her work, Voice said she was told the situation was under control, but she was never interviewed. 

After McCormack went public, Coastal FC suspended under-17 team coach Birarda pending a review that remains ongoing. The organization has not disclosed who is conducting the review or what the terms of reference are for the review.

Coastal FC’s March 10 statement said the association conducted criminal a standard record background check, reference check, interview and vetting at the committee and board level prior to Birarda’s appointment. The association admitted that it was “aware of a single, unsubstantiated rumour regarding alleged conduct concerning an adult player… at no time were we aware of allegations of inappropriate behaviour with minors. Nor are we aware of any such allegations during his time at Coastal FC.”

The players’ statement says they believe, based on former Whitecaps and senior national team captain Andrea Neil’s late March statement, that the CSA and Vancouver Whitecaps were aware of the misconduct allegations.

The former players want the CSA and Whitecaps to implement best practices policies, like Hockey Canada’s, withdraw coaching licences for inappropriate or abusive behaviour, and to address what happened in 2008.

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Bob Mackin Alumni of Canada’s under-20 Women’s World

Bob Mackin

A judge awarded a former University of British Columbia student $329,000 after the BMW supercar that his mother bought him went missing in China.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Wendy Baker’s April 3 written judgment, the result of last summer’s 11-day trial, said Da Bei (David) Li’s mother, Danna Zhu, bought him a $159,809 BMW i8 luxury car in February 2015 to celebrate his graduation. Li agreed to pay USD$116,645.22 to Harry Piao to pick up the car, prepare customs paperwork, ship the car to China, and arrange for customs clearance.

Li transferred the payment to Piao’s company, Top Car Seller Inc., and the car was picked up. Li had instructed Piao to use his mother as the consignee for the i8, because she would receive the i8 for her son. But he has not seen the car since March 2015 and remains out of pocket for the money transferred to Top Car. 

Baker wrote that what appears to be a straightforward breach of contract “is complicated by a dense web of corporate and personal dealings between Mr. Piao, Top Car, and the defendants and third parties Qun Wang, Maxblue Enterprises Ltd., and Tianjin East China International Trade Co. Ltd.”

Baker found Piao and Top Car jointly liable for $145,288.62, the value in Canadian dollars of the payment in the contract. 

“If the Li Agreement had been performed he would have had possession of the i8 in China since 2015, and would have received the value of his payment for shipping and customs clearance,” reads Baker’s verdict. “The i8 is no longer available to the parties. Therefore, because Mr. Li has received nothing from his payment of the required fees under the Li agreement, and has lost the i8, Mr. Li’s damages are measured by the monies paid under the Li Agreement, and the value of the i8.”

Baker also found Wang liable for conversion in relation to the i8 and Piao and Top Car liable for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. 

Wang, Piao and Top Car were found jointly liable to Li for $183,780.35, the value of the i8, including taxes.

“While I have found Mr. Piao, Top Car and Mr. Wang are jointly liable to Mr. Li for the value of the i8, as between Top Car and Mr. Wang, I find that Mr. Wang is liable to Top Car for the full value of the i8,” Baker wrote. 

Piao converted the remaining funds for his own use, so Baker granted Li a tracing order against Piao and Top Car.

Li, Piao and Wang’s testimony was translated from Mandarin. Baker wrote that while Li’s evidence was credible, Piao was evasive and equivocal and Wang was even more evasive.

“At one point Mr. Wang said that a payment of 210,000 [Chinese renminbi] he received from Mr. Piao was used by Mr. Wang as reimbursement for his losses on an unrelated transaction between him and Mr. Jia. At another point in his testimony Mr. Wang said that the RMB210,000 was spent by Mr. Jia on obtaining a permit for the i8, which was why the money could not be returned. These two explanations are completely inconsistent,” Baker wrote. 

“Mr. Wang explained one of the reasons he changed his evidence from discovery two years earlier was because of the testimony he heard during the trial. In other words, he tailored his evidence in response to what he heard during the testimony of Mr. Li and Mr. Piao.”

The court heard that Piao and Wang had a business relationship since 2013 in which Piao would supply Wang luxury cars to be sold to customers in China. At the same time as they were dealing with the i8 situation, Piao and Wang were in a dispute over shipment of other vehicles. Wang gave Piao a US$100,000 line of credit to buy cars and ship them to China, but Wang demanded the right vehicles or his money back after Piao bought the wrong colour. 

“In July 2015, Mr. Wang used the i8 as leverage in his dispute with Mr. Piao in relation to the other vehicles. For example, on July 29, 2015 Mr. Wang wrote the following messages to Mr. Piao:

2015 BMW i8 (BMW)

  • “If I can’t get the Bill of Lading [referring to other transactions, not the i8] by Friday, I will contact JJ motor myself, arrange for the revocation of the Letter of Credit, and use i8 as a security to exchange for a refund of 100,000 USD commission. Once the money is received, i8 will be shipped back.”
  • “I8 was delivered to me by you. If you don’t return my money to me, I have no choice but to assume that you want to use i8 to pay the debt.”
  • “I don’t care about the i8 matter. I only care about my vehicle.”

There was no written agreement between Piao and Wang which predated the arrival of the i8 in China; the judge found there was an unwritten agreement in advance of the i8 being shipped on April 26, 2015. 

“This agreement was that Mr. Wang would take care of the customs clearance process once the i8 arrived in China. Unfortunately, Mr. Piao did not take steps to formalize the agreement in writing before the car was shipped, leading to the calamity of errors that followed.”

The dispute is eerily similar to another matter heard in B.C. Supreme Court last year and reported exclusively by theBreaker.news last December.

After a 16-day trial, a Lower Mainland real estate investor, whose company supplied steel to the Beijing 2008 Olympics, failed to convince a judge who was responsible for losing the BMW she bought and sent to China. 

Shu E. Liu paid a broker $240,000 for a gently used BMW 750Li to be shipped to China. Liu does not have a licence to drive, though she does have a collection of cars in China, including a Bentley and Porsche. 

“But she had a particular fondness for big BMWs, in which she could be comfortably driven,” the judge wrote.

In that case, the court heard that after July 2010, Chinese authorities restricted importation of cars to government representatives, high-level personnel and specially invited experts.

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Bob Mackin A judge awarded a former University

Bob Mackin

B.C. government officials were vetting applications from companies wanting to build the new $1.4 billion Pattullo Bridge when lobbyists for SNC-Lavalin came calling to Victoria last fall.

Whistler consultant Richard Prokopanko registered with B.C.’s lobbying overseer on behalf of the controversial Montreal engineering and construction firm from Nov. 6 to Dec. 31. A newly minted director of pro-industry public relations campaign Resource Works, Prokopanko proceeded to contact various officials to set-up a meeting with SNC-Lavalin executive vice-president Joseph Lichon and vice-president of government relations Sam Boutziouvis.

SNC-Lavalin lobbyist Sam Boutziouvis (Twitter)

Lichon is the Houston-based head of the company’s oil and gas division. Boutziouvis is the company’s top lobbyist who communicated four times last fall with Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick in a bid to convince the federal Liberal government to negotiate a plea bargain so it could avoid a criminal trial over bribing Libyan officials.

Wrote Prokopanko: “The proposed itinerary of the meeting is: i. introductory overview of SNC-Lavalin’s history and recent projects in Canada; ii. describe SNC-Lavalin’s expertise and other capabilities in the oil and gas projects; iii. understand the status of the LNG and other resource projects in B.C.”

Premier John Horgan’s deputy minister Don Wright, chief of staff Geoff Meggs and energy minister Michelle Mungall were unavailable for the proposed Nov. 26 and 27 dates. Prokopanko pursued transportation minister Claire Trevena.

“Even if we can have a 10 minute stand hand shake and greeting,” Prokopanko wrote Nov. 23, in email obtained by theBreaker.news under the freedom of information laws. “The group is flexible. She would be the only B.C. minister they will meet.”

Trevena aide Charly Leverman responded to say that the minister was unavailable, but “we are still interested in having a meeting.”

“We would like to extend an invitation to hold a meeting on Feb. 6, 3:30 p.m. at the Legislature,” Leverman wrote in a Nov. 27 email.

Trevena spokesman David Crebo told theBreaker.news that the minister did not meet with SNC-Lavalin.

A meeting did take place on Nov. 26. Labour deputy minister Trevor Hughes arranged to have jobs and trade deputy minister Fazil Mihlar, energy deputy minister Dave Nikolejsin and energy assistant deputy minister Les MacLaren meet Lichon and Boutziouvis in-person. Transportation deputy minister Grant Main joined by phone.

Transportation deputy minister Grant Main (BC Gov)

Labour spokeswoman Julianne McCaffrey said it was a “meet-and-greet only.” Main did not respond to theBreaker.news request for comment, but Crebo said SNC-Lavalin officials “presented their credentials with respect to the energy industry.”

“At no time did anything to do with Ministry of Transportation responsibilities come up,” Crebo said. “This includes infrastructure projects, including the Pattullo Bridge replacement project.”

Dermod Travis of watchdog IntegrityBC said SNC-Lavalin has been constantly trying to guarantee its survival in the face of legal problems that jeopardize the company.

“Do we want companies that are bidding on contracts to be lobbying deputy ministers and politicians on areas that overlap with those contracts they may be bidding on?” Travis said. “PartnershipsBC, in the past, was quite clear and quite categorical on this.”

The July 2018-issued request for qualifications, which involved the PartnershipsBC agency, included a standard no-lobbying clause, prohibiting respondents and their team members and contractors from communicating directly or indirectly in relation to the project, with any elected official or staff, except as expressly directed or permitted by the province.

Prokopanko did not respond, but Daniela Pizzuto, director of external communications for SNC-Lavalin, said “at no time was there an attempt” to influence or arrange a policy, program, law or contract, and that SNC-Lavalin did not lobby the B.C. government more than 100 hours last year.

“The purpose of the meeting was to introduce Mr. Lichon to those present and to provide an overview of SNC-Lavalin’s professional capabilities and expertise in the design, engineering, and construction of major oil and gas projects, as well as to provide a brief on SNC-Lavalin in terms of operational structure, distribution of workforce, and broad business priorities,” Pizzuto said.

SNC-Lavalin is no stranger to the B.C. government, yet Prokopanko’s entry is the only one showing for SNC-Lavalin on the Lobbyist Registry website. SNC-Lavalin has a contract for design of major civil components and the generating station for Site C. It built the John Hart Generating Station for BC Hydro and the Evergreen Line SkyTrain extension and Canada Line for TransLink, among other recent B.C. projects. 

Prokopanko forwarded a thank-you note to Hughes on behalf of Lichon on Dec. 10.

Artist’s rendering of the new Pattullo Bridge (BC Gov)

“The opportunity to share SNC-Lavalin’s global and diverse expertise and provide insights to constructing LNG projects on time and within budget was most appreciated. The B.C. government’s efforts to ensure the first major LNG project in B.C. will be a success is admirable and SNC-Lavalin are able and willing to assist where appropriate,” Lichon wrote, referring to LNG Canada’s Oct. 1 decision to green light its Kitimat megaproject.

“I would’t be surprised at all, quite frankly, if they were lobbying numerous provincial governments at the same time on the simple basis of hoping to be able to get those provinces to apply pressure on the federal government for the deferred prosecution agreement,” Travis said. “It would seem to be something logical for a company like SNC-Lavalin to do based on their behaviour in the past. They did, in fact, lobby Quebec’s government on the issue.”

Coincidentally, three days after the SNC-Lavalin meeting, Main’s calendar shows he attended a plenary keynote address by then-Attorney General Wilson-Raybould at the Vancouver Convention Centre during a meeting of First Nations chiefs and the Horgan cabinet. Wilson-Raybould was shuffled to Veterans Affairs in January and she quit cabinet Feb. 12 over pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office to meddle in the SNC-Lavalin prosecution.

On Feb. 14, Trevena’s ministry announced the shortlist for the $1.4 billion, four-lane crossing: SNC-Lavalin Capital and fellow Site C contractor Acciona Infrastructure, Kiewit-led Fraser Community Connectors and Flatiron/Dragados/Carlson joint venture. The bridge that connects key NDP ridings in New Westminster and Surrey is scheduled for a 2023 opening. SNC-Lavalin was shortlisted by the BC Liberal government in fall 2016 for the $3.5 billion Massey Tunnel Replacement Project that was cancelled by the NDP. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Attorney General has refused to disclose all briefing notes related to SNC-Lavalin that were created or updated since Jan. 1 of this year. The NDP government told theBreaker.news that it is withholding the briefing notes in their entirety because they contain legal advice and personal information. 

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Bob Mackin B.C. government officials were vetting applications

Now that ICBC reforms are in place, the NDP government has moved to the next phase of its plan to douse the “dumpster fire” that is the Crown auto insurer’s financial outlook.

A new revenue stream: merchandising.

T-shirts, coffee mugs and bumper stickers are among the initial offerings, playing off social media chatter about the popular N and L decals that novice and learning drivers must display on their rear bumpers. Some of the edgier merchandise actually mentions the dumpster fire phrase that Attorney General David Eby popularized in early 2018 to describe what the BC Liberals left behind. 

According to a business plan leaked to theBreaker.news, the program could be worth $10 million in new revenue within three years.

The summary says that target markets include ironic hipsters, cheeky politicos and disgruntled employees. Prices for T-shirts will start at $20 each and will be delivered in partnership with Amazon.

The products are scheduled to be launched just before noon today, by ICBC’s new vice-president of merchandise, Patti P. Protoprilia.

 

 

Now that ICBC reforms are in place,

Dick Pound, the most-senior member of the International Olympic Committee, is in Vancouver to speak to the Canadian Club on April 1. 

On March 28, theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin sat down with the outspoken Montreal lawyer and author, who negotiated broadcast and sponsorship agreements that led to massive growth in world sport. 

In part I, Mackin asks the 77-year-old Pound about Calgary’s failed 2026 Winter Olympics bid, China’s human rights record as the Beijing 2022 Winter Games approach and whether there should be a body like the World Anti-Doping Agency (which he founded) to protect athletes from abuse and to protect sport from corruption. 

Click below to listen or go to iTunes (aka Apple Podcasts) and subscribe

Plus the latest on the SNC-Lavalin scandal, Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim headlines and commentaries.

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

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theBreaker.news Podcast: The business, politics and integrity of world sport, with the IOC's Dick Pound
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Dick Pound, the most-senior member of the