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Bob Mackin

After Darryl Plecas challenged Christy Clark to quit as BC Liberal leader during the Penticton caucus retreat in July 2017, he prepared a news release that he eventually cancelled when she did resign. 

theBreaker.news was first to report in August 2017 that Plecas was the catalyst for Clark’s departure after he threatened to quit the party and sit as an independent over the ex-premier’s leadership.

Darryl Plecas (left) and Christy Clark at the January 2016 opening of the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford. (BC Gov)

Now, the week before the Speaker is scheduled to tell an all-party committee he chairs the concerns he has about two suspended Legislature officials, theBreaker.news can exclusively reveal what was in that news release. 

Specifically, that the Abbotsford South MLA objected to Clark’s plan to politicize every BC Liberal MLA’s constituency office. 

A draft, six-paragraph version, dated July 27, 2017 — the day before Clark resigned — said the ex-premier’s decision to stay as leader was “focused solely on personal interests and not what is best for the Liberal Party and the people of B.C.”

The “final straw” for Plecas was Clark’s idea for all BC Liberal MLAs to fire their non-partisan constituency assistants and replace them with personnel “who would willingly engage in political activities to bring down the NDP.” 

The plan had been discussed at a post-election caucus meeting. Plecas called that an “inappropriate view of public service employees’ independence and the disrespect for public resources.”

“My constituents expect me to represent their interests in an honest and forthright manner, and I cannot do that if my leader is calling on me to compromise my values and my integrity,” said the unpublished news release, obtained by theBreaker.news. 

Constituency offices, according to B.C. Legislature rules, “must be operated on a strictly non-partisan basis and cannot be used to engage in or host partisan, political activities.”

Plecas declined comment when contacted by theBreaker.news. 

Plecas aired his grievances on July 26, 2017 in a caucus meeting at the Penticton Lakeside Resort. Clark then left the room and the rest of caucus spent several hours debating the election campaign and discussing next steps. 

Plecas had planned to publicly resign from the BC Liberals on July 27, 2017 by issuing the six-paragraph news release, but was convinced to give caucus a 24-hour reprieve. Clark dispatched Chilliwack MLA John Martin to act as a go-between in a bid to convince Plecas to ditch his plan. Martin, like Plecas, was a criminology professor before politics, the two are friends and they represent neighbouring ridings. Clark’s strategy didn’t work.

A source said that, on the morning of July 28, 2017, Plecas notified the Clerk’s office at the Legislature that he was resigning from the BC Liberals. A version of the news release, minus the paragraph mentioning the mass-firing of constituency assistants, was ready to be sent to reporters at midday.

Plecas’s resignation email was, coincidentally, followed minutes later by Clark’s own resignation to the Clerk’s office. So he rescinded his resignation from the party and cancelled the news release, agreeing to stay in the party if Clark did not say publicly that her caucus support was unanimous.

Clark, however, told reporters at a July 31, 2017 Vancouver news conference that none of her fellow MLAs wanted her to go. She said she made the decision on her own volition, after taking a walk on a beach.

“I talked to the caucus the day before, I asked them all, did they want me to stay, did they want me to go?” Clark told reporters at her final news conference. “Every single person in the room asked me to stay.”

That was not true.

From star candidate to demoted expert 

Plecas was a star BC Liberal candidate in the 2013 electionn, recruited by Deputy Premier Rich Coleman. He defeated John van Dongen, the former cabinet minister and incumbent Abbotsford South MLA who defected to the B.C. Conservatives in 2012 over Clark’s ethics. 

Speaker Darryl Plecas (UFV)

After the BC Liberals’ upset win over the Adrian Dix-led NDP, Clark named Plecas the parliamentary secretary for crime reduction, under Attorney General Suzanne Anton. A natural fit for the acclaimed criminology professor from the University of the Fraser Valley. 

At the September 2013 Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver, Clark announced Plecas would chair a Blue Ribbon Crime Reduction Panel that included ex-RCMP Western Canada Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, ex-RCMP Commissioner Bev Busson and ex-federal deputy solicitor general Jean Fournier. 

Plecas’s final report, “Getting Serious About Crime Reduction,” was released a week before Christmas in 2014, but it got scant media attention. The Clark cabinet’s approval for the Site C dam megaproject was the focus of government communications. 

The 90-page report included six recommendations, such as more and better services for offenders who have addictions and mental health issues. Clark aides had wanted Plecas to cut back his report and delete the recommendations. Plecas stubbornly refused.

Just over a month later, on Jan. 30, 2015, Clark announced the elimination of Plecas’s parliamentary secretary for crime reduction role. She named him parliamentary secretary for seniors, under health minister Terry Lake. 

On election night in 2017, Plecas told the Abbotsford News that the party needed to learn a lesson after losing its majority. It needed to become more humble and respectful of constituents.

“I think we have to speak to a broader group of people,” Plecas said. “It comes across sometimes that we are a very arrogant group of people. That’s not the case, but it sometimes seems like that.”

Darryl Plecas (upper right), isolated from the rest of the BC Liberal caucus in the B.C. Legislature on June 22, 2017 (Hansard)

The frank comments did not sit well within the party. When the BC Liberals reconvened the Legislature after the 2017 election, Plecas was isolated from the rest of caucus in a seat beside the door. 

The government eventually fell in the June 29 confidence vote, as the NDP and Greens defeated the Liberals 44-42 and Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon asked John Horgan to form the next government. 

Plecas initially said he wouldn’t run for speaker, but was the only candidate on Sept. 8, 2017. He left caucus and the BC Liberals cancelled his membership in retaliation. 

The first independent speaker in modern Canadian history does not rely on a party leader to sign his nomination papers, should he run in the next election. Nor has he been faced with casting a tie-breaking vote, as had been feared before Clark’s exit.

Early in his tenure as speaker, Plecas discovered improprieties at the Legislature that led him to call the RCMP who, in turn, asked for a special prosecutor to be appointed. 

In an apparently unprecedented move, the assistant deputy attorney general, Peter Juk, retained two special prosecutors because of the potential size and scope of the investigation.

On Nov. 20, 2018, the Legislature voted unanimously to suspend clerk Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz indefinitely with pay. They denied wrongdoing at a news conference the next week. Plecas vowed to reveal some of what he learned, without compromising the criminal investigation, when the Legislative Assembly Management Committee meets on Jan. 21.

“When I learned of this information, I felt a great duty to safeguard the integrity of this institution and be very mindful about why we’re all here,” Plecas told LAMC on Dec. 6. “That’s to make sure that public dollars are spent appropriately.”

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Bob Mackin After Darryl Plecas challenged Christy Clark

On Jan. 7, it was “30” for Jim Taylor: the end of the life story of a great author, newspaper columnist and broadcaster. 

Taylor died at home in Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island after a lengthy illness. The 82-year-old was a friend and mentor to many. 

His legacy includes 7,500 columns for the Victoria Times-Colonist, Vancouver Sun, The Province and Sun Media and 16 books, including seven released since 2005 by Harbour Publishing.

Jim Taylor (Harbour Publishing)

Taylor didn’t think of himself as a sports writer, but a writer whose subjects happened to play sports. 

“Sports, you don’t know who’s going to win, you don’t know how much time is going to be left, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Taylor said in a 2010 interview with Fred Cawsey for the Jack Webster Awards. “In sports there is so much to laugh at.”

That, said collaborator and friend Greg Douglas, is what defined Taylor. 

“He expressed his wit through the electronic media, the print media,” Douglas told theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin. “One in a thousand, one in a million, really, because he just had that gift where he didn’t take himself too seriously, he didn’t take the athletes that he covered too seriously, he just had a lot of fun doing what he did.”

Taylor was a childhood soccer coach to Adrian Dix, who grew up a rabid sports fan and became B.C.’s Minister of Health. To Dix, Taylor was as humble as he was funny. Taylor was as skilful a sports humorist as anyone in the business. 

“Jim’s columns always had a beginning and an end, not only were they funny, but they were well thought through,” Dix said. “I think a lot of modern sports writing is in point-form these days. Jim wrote mini-essays. They were great and readable and connected with people.” 

On this edition, hear more from Douglas and Dix, as well as Taylor’s 2010 acceptance speech at the Jack Webster Awards, which he described as the pinnacle of his career. 

Plus Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim headlines and commentaries.

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theBreaker.news Podcast: Remembering Jim Taylor
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On Jan. 7, it was “30” for

Bob Mackin

Police in two Surreys almost 7,600 kilometres apart combined to save a woman’s life on Christmas Day.

British news website Your Local Guardian reported on Jan. 4 that a distraught person trying to contact Surrey RCMP errantly contacted Surrey Police in England. 

Flags of Surrey, U.K. (top) and Surrey, B.C.

Contact centre operator Ellie Benson received a message via social media from a person in distress in Surrey, B.C. A Toronto Police officer originally from the U.K. was, coincidentally, visiting the department and assisted in the call from afar. 

“Once the Surrey RCMP Operational Communications Centre received the call from the Surrey (U.K.) Police Department, we were able to dispatch our Frontline officers to attend to the female’s address and locate the female,” RCMP spokesman Sgt. Chad Greig told theBreaker.news. “She was then taken to hospital.”

Surrey Police Asst. Chief Nev Kemp told Your Local Guardian that “It’s a lucky coincidence that PC Rowe was on attachment at the time and was able to provide assistance by speaking to their colleagues in Canada that we were able to reach the woman quickly,” Kemp said. “This just goes to show that where saving a life is concerned, borders and time zones don’t matter and we will do what we can to help our friends in blue around the world.”

The 1879-incorporated Surrey, B.C., across the Fraser River from New Westminster, was named for the historic U.K. county by H.J. Brewer.  

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Bob Mackin Police in two Surreys almost 7,600

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in the last year of his mandate. The countdown is on to the Oct. 21 federal election. Can Conservative Andrew Scheer find a way to beat the incumbent Liberals or will Maxime Bernier and his People’s Party of Canada split the vote? 

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart is in his first calendar year in office. Can Stewart find a solution to the city’s housing crisis?

The partnership between Premier John Horgan and Green Party leader Andrew Weaver is nearing its halfway point. But voters in the Jan. 30 Nanaimo by-election could shake it up. 

Research Co. pollster Mario Canseco (Mackin)

“It’s definitely going to be difficult for the Liberals to take a seat in Nanaimo,” said Research Co. pollster Mario Canseco in an interview with theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin. “They might be feeling a little more confident because of the defeat of the proportional representation referendum, but I wouldn’t read too much into that.” 

Even if the BC Liberals score an upset in the “Hub City,” Canseco said, it is more likely that Horgan and the NDP would seek a majority rather than give the BC Liberals the satisfaction of sparking an early provincial election. Opposition leader Andrew Wilkinson has not connected with voters, fears of the NDP ruining the economy have not come to fruition and voters may be fatigued after the fall’s municipal election and electoral reform referendum.

“I just don’t think it’s going to happen unless something really drastic takes place,” Canseco said. “Let’s say,  something related to the investigation into the Legislature or something related to money laundering. Something that helps the NDP say ‘give us a majority mandate and nothing like this is going to happen again’.”

The wildcard truly is the investigation into alleged corruption at the Legislature, after clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz were suspended in late November. Speaker Darryl Plecas promises to deliver details on Jan. 21 that won’t compromise the criminal investigation by the RCMP and two special prosecutors.

Listen to the full interview, as Canseco looks at the 12 months to come in politics. Plus Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim headlines and commentaries. 

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theBreaker.news Podcast: Pollster ponders the panoply of politics in 2019
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in the

Bob Mackin

Scene from a $70M dog playground in Vancouver (Mackin)

A parking lot smaller than a hockey rink that was converted into a fenced, gravel playground for dogs rose from $46.756 million to $70.032 million last July, according to the Jan. 1-released property assessment.

The canine corner is adjacent to the White Spot restaurant on West Georgia, which saw its value rise from $104.296 million to $156.408 million. The popular eatery’s new assessment is the equivalent of 19.575 million Pirate Paks.

Both parcels were sold for $245 million in 2017 to Champion Rainbow Holdings Ltd., a division of Hong Kong’s Carnival International Holdings. Assessments are based on market value (including size, location and area sales) and highest-and-best-use potential. 

The former Chevron station site on the west end of that block is now $98.251 million, up from $65.517 million. Developer Anthem paid $72 million for the land. Add the parking lot west of White Spot ($24.525 million) and the entire block is valued at just below $350 million.

Ex-Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s penthouse near Alexandra Park in the West End has almost doubled in value to $3.273 million since he bought in 2015. The unit rose from $3.125 million in 2017. 

Robertson’s successor at 12th and Cambie, Kennedy Stewart, rents in a Concord Pacific-built tower near David Lam Park. That condo unit increased from $1.832 million to $1.919 million year-over-year. 

Speaking of Concord, it owns the Molson Brewery ($164.963 million in 2017; $188.007 million in 2018) and Westin Bayshore ($227.913 million in 2017; $283.285 million in 2018). 

Oakridge Centre is owned by Quadreal, a division of B.C.’s public sector pension fund. Westbank is selling condos in a forest of towers set to be built there. The property was worth $917.751 million in 2017. Last year, it reached more than $1.062 billion. 

In 2015, the shopping centre had been reassessed at $500.54 million after the original $867.75 million had been appealed. Glen Chernen, a twice-failed city council candidate, argued unsuccessfully in 2016 to an assessment appeal panel that Oakridge should have been pegged between $750 million and $1.1 billion after the 2014 rezoning by the Vision Vancouver city council to allow for 11 new towers. 

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s husband, Liu Xiaozong, is the only person listed on the registrations for Vancouver mansions on Matthews (upper) and West 28th (lower). (Mackin)

One of Oakridge’s tenants is Lululemon. Its founder, Chip Wilson, lives in the province’s most-expensive property on West Point Grey Road. The house that yoga pants built was $73.12 million as of last July 1, down $5.717 million from the previous year’s high of $78.837 million, but more than double its 2013 assessment. Last fall, Wilson authored Little Black Stretchy Pants, a book billed as the unauthorized story of Lululemon. Even at $73.12 million, you could easily afford to buy 746,122 pairs of Lululemon’s Wunder Under Super High-Rise Tight Full-On Luon or 2.93 million copies of Wilson’s paperback. 

There is no house that comes close on Lulu Island. Richmond’s most-valuable is the Milan Ilich-built Ivy Manor, now owned by Sun Commercial Real Estate tycoon Kevin Sun and worth $9.89 million. The 18.46 acre property fell from $12.392 million the previous year. 

FIFA vice-president Vic Montagliani paid $6.925 million in 2017 for a West Vancouver mansion that is now worth $5.615 million, down more than $300,000. Crooner Michael Buble’s seven-bedroom, 15-bathroom Burnaby mansion zoomed from $11.746 million to $21.666 million in a year after its completion. It is rumoured to include a hockey rink. Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot built a hockey rink in his Whistler chalet in 2002, which rose from $16.652 million to $17.606 million. 

Properties in the name of Meng Wanzhou’s husband, Liu Xiaozong, also dropped in value. The Huawei chief financial officer, who was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on a U.S.-issued warrant Dec. 1 and freed on bail Dec. 11, lives in a Dunbar house assessed at $5.017 million, down from $5.609 million. Their under-renovation Shaughnessy mansion, on the same block as the U.S. Consul General’s residence, plummeted $3.033 million from $16.327 million to $13.29 million.

Still, the two properties are worth the equivalent of 13,921 Huawei Mate 20 Pro phones (which Telus sells for $1,315 apiece).

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Bob Mackin [caption id="attachment_7702" align="alignright" width="557"] Scene from

Another summer of wildfires across British Columbia, another province-wide state of emergency. We all became owners of the Trans Mountain pipeline project, thanks to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Will he be “one-and-done” or re-elected next October?

Unprecedented political turnover at municipal halls across the province, with new mayors in Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby. The B.C. Legislature was rocked with the sudden suspensions of the clerk and sergeant-at-arms, who are the subjects of an RCMP corruption investigation. B.C.’s third electoral reform referendum failed, to the delight of hardcore BC Liberal and NDP supporters.

Premier John Horgan and Wang Chen, a member of the Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo (Rich Lam photo)

There were barge fires and runaway barges. Even a river otter that raided the koi pond at the Sun Yat-Sen garden in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

The world of mega-events changed in 2018. The successful joint United States/Mexico/Canada bid for FIFA’s 2026 World Cup didn’t include Vancouver’s B.C. Place Stadium, after FIFA refused to negotiate with the NDP B.C. government. Premier John Horgan balked at giving the scandal-plagued soccer governing body a “blank cheque.” Meanwhile, Calgary voters rejected a bid for for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

A data scientist from Victoria, B.C. blew the whistle on Facebook’s role in murky digital political campaigns and exposed widespread, shoddy privacy protection.

Above all, China had the biggest influence on British Columbia, earning newsmaker of the year honours.

Hours before PyeongChang 2018 Olympic organizers handed over the flag to Beijing 2022, China announced that its president, Xi Jinping, would no longer be subject to term limits. It cemented his reputation as the most-powerful leader in the Middle Kingdom since Mao. Donald Trump’s rollercoaster presidency could end as late as January 2025, while there is no end in sight for Xi. The Chinese leader may be the most-powerful in the world.

China is the second-biggest economy in the world and the second-biggest trade partner with British Columbia, where more than half-a-million ethnic Chinese call home. Investment from China in luxury housing and automobiles continued to fuel Vancouver’s evolution into a resort city. Horgan led a B.C. government mission to China. China reciprocated. In May, the 9th International Congress of the Guangdong Community Federation met at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Su Bo, the vice-minister of the Communist Party’s United Front foreign influence program, was the senior official from the Chinese side. The next month, Horgan received a visit from Politburo member Wang Chen, who led a delegation of two dozen officials. It was the highest-ranking delegation to visit B.C. since the 2005 state visit of then-president Hu Jintao.

While Horgan forged closer ties with China to boost B.C.’s LNG dreams, a war of words erupted with Alberta’s NDP Premier, Rachel Notley. She is frustrated with B.C.’s role in delaying pipeline expansion and wants to export more Alberta oil to China. Notley briefly stopped B.C. wine at the Rockies before shifting gears with a heavy national ad campaign to sell pipeline expansion and prepare for her 2019 re-election bid.

The Chinese central government took over Anbang Insurance and sent its chairman, Wu Xiahui, to jail for 18 years for fraud. Anbang owns the Bentall towers complex in downtown Vancouver and the Retirement Concepts chain of seniors homes. Bentall is now for sale, but will it fetch anywhere near the record $1.06 billion that Anbang paid in 2016? Meanwhile, citing national security, Ottawa thwarted the $1.5 billion takeover of Site C generating station and spillways builder Aecon by a subsidiary of the state-owned China Communications Construction Co. Ltd. 

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

The long-awaited report into dirty money at B.C. casinos was released at the end of June. Anti-money laundering expert Peter German detailed how Chinese gangs used B.C. casinos and real estate to launder drug money.

The pro-Beijing Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations tried to mobilize Chinese voters in the Oct. 20 municipal elections. Richmond immigration and real estate lawyer Hong Guo briefly gave six-term incumbent Malcolm Brodie a scare for the mayoralty. Guo was cited by the Law Society of B.C. for professional misconduct in early September. In early October, she sat down with theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin for an interview in which she denied China has any human rights problem — despite overwhelming evidence about human rights abuse in the world’s most-populous nation. Guo finished a distant fourth place in a campaign that was also rocked by allegations of vote-buying through WeChat by the Canada Wenzhou Friendship Society. RCMP didn’t find enough evidence to recommend charges before voting day.

The birth tourism phenomenon at Richmond Hospital gained national attention. Vancouver Coastal Health sued a Chinese mother for an unpaid maternity bill worth more than $1 million. Nearly 22% of Richmond Hospital births last year were to foreign mothers, almost exclusively from China. The federal Liberal government responded to activist Kerry Starchuk’s petition with a warning for those who abuse Canada’s generous immigration laws, but stopped short of a ban on birthright citizenship. New statistics show non-resident births have been underestimated and are growing in major cities. 

Ultimately, the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver International Airport on Dec. 1 and the bail hearing that followed became the biggest global news story from Vancouver of 2018. The U.S. wants her extradited to face fraud charges. The process could take years. Before Meng was freed on bail to live in her Dunbar house under curfew, Guo held a news conference with a Richmond group that claimed Guo’s human rights were infringed. Meanwhile, China retaliated by jailing Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian businessman Michael Spavor. Canada and its allies condemned China for its treatment of the two innocent men. Chinese propaganda organs threatened further action.

On this edition, hear highlights of 2018 appearances on theBreaker.news Podcast, including Attorney General David Eby, unsuccessful Richmond mayoral candidate Hong Guo, human rights activist Fenella Sung, investigative journalist Andrew Jennings, sports economist Victor Matheson, and whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

And look back at some of theBreaker’s 2018 predictions which came true. Will the 2019 crystal ball be as reliable?

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theBreaker.news Podcast: China is B.C.'s newsmaker of 2018
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Another summer of wildfires across British Columbia,

Season’s Greetings from theBreaker.news Podcast.

On this yuletide edition, cuddle up by the fire with some egg nog and enjoy  a special made-in-British Columbia version of the classic, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, plus regular commentary and headline features.

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A special Christmas thank-you to supporters Barbara May, Darryl Greer, Elvio Chies, James Plett, John Kennedy, Mondee Redman, Quan Lee, Randy Saugstad and Sprucehill Contracting. Find out how you can join them. 

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Merry Christmas from theBreaker.news Podcast
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Season's Greetings from theBreaker.news Podcast. On this yuletide

Bob Mackin

Former BC Liberal international trade minister Teresa Wat disclosed in her annual conflict of interest filing that she went on a nearly $8,000 junket to a Hong Kong convention. 

According to her public disclosure statement, obtained by theBreaker, the opposition multiculturalism critic received a round-trip from Vancouver to Hong Kong and spent two nights in a hotel while attending  the Belt and Road Agrifood and Trade Summit from organizer FMC Exhibition Company Ltd. Wat was a featured speaker, along with Chinese Communist Party apparatchiks Tam Yiu-chung of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and Chan Chai of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. The total disclosed on her public disclosure summary was $7,890. Wat has been an emphatic proponent of the Belt and Road initiative, Chinese president-for-life Xi Jinping’s massive highways and ports construction program in Asia, Africa and Europe. 

Finance Minister Carole James and Tourism Minister Lisa Beare both reported pairs of tickets to the Juno Awards at Rogers Arena from the event organizers at $589.26 per pair. Labour minister Harry Bains and backbencher Bowinn Ma both received $310 commemorative paddles from Seaspan. The four BC Liberal Richmond MLAs received $500 tickets to the Richmond Hospital Foundation annual gala. 

Conflict of interest commissioner Paul Fraser, sitting behind Premier John Horgan on May 30 (BC Leg)

Premier John Horgan reported owning a residence in Victoria and one-third interest in a Victoria investment property. He also disclosed the gift of two tickets to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s speech by former first lady Michelle Obama, valued at $1,538.40. 

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson reported a $1,953 guest membership from the Union Club of B.C. and a $500 dinner ticket for the Global Reporting Centre fundraising banquet, featuring guest speaker Bill Browder, from Promerita Group.

Green leader Andrew Weaver disclosed no gifts. He has rental income from investment properties in Victoria and Parksville and holds residential properties in Victoria and Parksville. 

Three Surrey MLAs reported residential property holdings in places other than their ridings: BC Liberal Tracy Redies and NDP’s Garry Begg in Langley and NDP’s Jinny Sims in Nanaimo. Richmond MLAs Wat (Burnaby) and Jas Johal (Delta) also have residences elsewhere. 

Michelle Mungall, the NDP minister responsible for BC Hydro, has a residential property in Nelson and in Victoria and two investment properties in Nelson and two more in Castlegar.

NDP backbencher Jagrup Brar has shares in TransCanada, Loblaw, Google, and Apple, and is half-owner of a development company called Frejno Holding Ltd. He has interest in 10 properties in Western Canada: one in Peace River, Alta., two in North Battleford, Sask., one-third shares in four Prince George Properties on Highway 16 and three on Western Road in Prince George. 

By quantity, Brar has a bigger portfolio than former finance minister Mike de Jong, who reported interest in six Abbotsford properties. 

Transportation minister Trevena has an investment property on Heriot Bay Road, Quadra Island, and shares in Walt Disney Co., Brookfield Infrastructure and Gildan Activewear. The NDP’s Judy Darcy and Janet Routledge both reported holdings in recreational properties in Mayne Island.

BC Liberal MLA Peter Milobar holds shares in Hydropothecary, the marijuana company where ex-health minister Terry Lake became a vice-president after leaving politics. BC Liberal Ian Paton controls Paton Holsteins Ltd. and I. Paton & Associates, an auctioneering company. 

Meanwhile, 19 MLAs from ridings outside Victoria reported residences in the Capital Region. 

Begg, Mungall, Trevena, Shane Simpson, Rachna Singh, Selina Robinson, David Eby, Ravi Kahlon and Spencer Chandra Herbert of the NDP and Jordan Sturdy, Ralph Sultan, John Yap and Marvin Hunt of the BC Liberals have residential property holdings in the Victoria area. NDP’s Scott Fraser and Janet Routledge have half interests in Victoria property. Doug Routley has a leasehold and Shirley Bond a tenancy. 

MLAs based outside of Victoria who rent or own in the capital can claim a $19,000 allowance per year. If they stay in hotels, they can claim up to $17,000. Those who make other arrangements are eligible for a flat $1,000 monthly rate. 

The disclosure statements must be filed annually with the office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Paul Fraser. Fraser, however, does not allow the completed disclosure forms to be published, only the edited summaries. 

  • Read the annual disclosure summaries for every MLA, in order by riding names. Click on MLA names below to read the summaries.

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Darryl Plecas Abbotsford South
Ind.
Mike de Jong Liberal Abbotsford West
Simon Gibson Liberal Abbotsford-Mission
Linda Larson Liberal Boundary-Similkameen
Anne Kang NDP Burnaby-Deer Lake
Raj Chouhan NDP Burnaby-Edmonds
Katrina Chen NDP Burnaby-Lougheed
JanetRoutledge NDP Burnaby North
Donna Barnett Liberal Cariboo-Chilcotin
Coralee Oakes Liberal Cariboo North
John Martin Liberal Chilliwack
Laurie Throness Liberal Chilliwack-Kent
Doug Clovechok Liberal Columbia River-Revelstoke
Joan Isaacs Liberal Coquitlam-Burke Mountain
Selina Robinson NDP Coquitlam-Maillardville
Ronna-Rae Leonard NDP Courtenay-Comox
Sonia Furstenau Green Cowichan Valley
Ravi Kahlon NDP Delta North
Ian Paton Liberal Delta South
Mitzi Dean NDP Esquimalt-Metchosin
Jackie Tegart Liberal Fraser-Nicola
Peter Milobar Liberal Kamloops-North Thompson
Todd Stone Liberal Kamloops-South Thompson
Norm Letnick Liberal Kelowna-Lake Country
Steve Thomson Liberal Kelowna-Mission
Kelowna West
Ben Stewart Liberal
Tom Shypitka Liberal Kootenay East
Katrine Conroy NDP Kootenay West
John Horgan NDP Langford-Juan de Fuca
Mary Polak Liberal Langley
Rich Coleman Liberal Langley East
Bob D’Eith NDP Maple Ridge-Mission
Lisa Beare NDP Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows
Scott Fraser NDP Mid Island-Pacific Rim
Leonard Krog NDP Nanaimo
Doug Routley NDP Nanaimo-North Cowichan
John Rustad Liberal Nechako Lakes
MichelleMungall NDP Nelson-Creston
Judy Darcy NDP New Westminster
Jennifer Rice NDP North Coast
Claire Trevena NDP North Island
Bowinn Ma NDP North Vancouver-Lonsdale
Jane Thornthwaite Liberal North Vancouver-Seymour
Andrew Weaver Green Oak Bay-Gordon Head
Michelle Stilwell Liberal Parksville-Qualicum
Dan Davies Liberal Peace River North
Mike Bernier Liberal Peace River South
Dan Ashton Liberal Penticton
Mike Farnworth NDP Port Coquitlam
Rick Glumac NDP Port Moody-Coquitlam
Nicholas Simons NDP Powell River-Sunshine Coast
Mike Morris Liberal Prince George-Mackenzie
Shirley Bond Liberal Prince George-Valemount
Teresa Wat Liberal Richmond North Centre
Linda Reid Liberal Richmond South Centre
Jas Johal Liberal Richmond-Queensborough
John Yap Liberal Richmond-Steveston
Adam Olsen Green Saanich North and the Islands
Lana Popham NDP Saanich South
Greg Kyllo Liberal Shuswap
Ellis Ross Liberal Skeena
Doug Donaldson NDP Stikine
Marvin Hunt Liberal Surrey-Cloverdale
Jagrup Brar NDP Surrey-Fleetwood
Rachna Singh NDP Surrey-Green Timbers
Garry Begg NDP Surrey-Guildford
Harry Bains NDP Surrey-Newton
Jinny Sims NDP Surrey-Panorama
Stephanie Cadieux Liberal Surrey South
Bruce Ralston NDP Surrey-Whalley
Tracy Redies Liberal Surrey-White Rock
George Heyman NDP Vancouver-Fairview
Sam Sullivan Liberal Vancouver-False Creek
George Chow NDP Vancouver-Fraserview
Shane Simpson NDP Vancouver-Hastings
Mable Elmore NDP Vancouver-Kensington
Adrian Dix NDP Vancouver-Kingsway
Michael Lee Liberal Vancouver-Langara
Melanie Mark NDP Vancouver-Mount Pleasant
David Eby NDP Vancouver-Point Grey
Andrew Wilkinson Liberal Vancouver-Quilchena
Spencer Chandra Herbert NDP Vancouver-West End
Eric Foster Liberal Vernon-Monashee
Carole James NDP Victoria-Beacon Hill
Rob Fleming NDP Victoria-Swan Lake
Ralph Sultan Liberal West Vancouver-Capilano
Jordan Sturdy  Liberal West Vancouver-Sea to Sky

 

Bob Mackin Former BC Liberal international trade minister

Bob Mackin

For Gregor Robertson, his last official appointment as Mayor of Vancouver was spent in the city hall departments that benefitted most. 

Robertson’s calendar, released to theBreaker under freedom of information, shows a “Comms and Sustainability visit” at 2 p.m. on Nov. 2. 

During Vision Vancouver rule at 12th and Cambie, which began in December 2008, the communications and sustainability departments went from single digits to double digits in staff and they spent millions on crafting the thrice-elected mayor’s image as a champion of environmental causes. 

Gregor Robertson (right) and several ex-Vision politicians at the party’s Nov. 2 farewell. (Mackin)

That Nov. 2 calendar did not mention his nighttime engagement, Vision Vancouver’s invitation-only farewell gala at the Seaforth Armoury. 

Earlier that day, Robertson attended his last photo ops/news conferences: announcing an agreement for 650 non-market units to be built on Concord Pacific’s long vacant six False Creek sites and the FuturePLAY IT education partnership at the Lord Strathcona Elementary School library. The latter featured BroadBandTV CEO Shahrzad Rafati. Rafati was seen with Robertson at a voting station on Oct. 20, more than two months after Robertson proclaimed her birthday as Shahrzad Rafati day in Vancouver. 

Robertson’s last official interview was with Frances Bula of the Globe and Mail on Nov. 1, the day after a “thank-you tour” of 288 East Hastings. B.C. Housing paid $7.07 million for the land from Wall Financial in 2016 and loaned the Vision Vancouver and BC Liberal donor almost $36 million to develop 104 subsidized and 68 market rentals on the edge of Chinatown.

Robertson held a “VMO (Vancouver Mayor’s Office)” Vet Party on Oct. 30 and team photo after his last city council meeting. 

On Oct. 19, election eve, he met with cycling marketer Chris Bruntlett and hosted the “city manager’s performance review results” in the mayor’s office. 

I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that Bruntlett said “thank you for building so many bike lanes” (or words to that effect) and that Johnston passed his performance review. With flying colours.

Robertson met Telus CEO Darren Entwistle on Oct. 18 before attending a “Southeast False Creek and Olympic Village celebration,” hosted by Bob Rennie at the Tap and Barrel. Rennie, a former fundraiser for Vision and the BC Liberals, was the marketer for the Millennium Development project that went into receivership in November 2010. Two years earlier, leaked city council documents outlined the $100 million bailout for Millennium after Wall Street financier Fortress was shocked by the global credit crunch. The 2008 scandal paved the way for the  first Vision Vancouver majority. 

City hall’s real estate general manager Bill Aujla quit last summer to join the Aquilini Investment Group. Aujla’s Sept. 21 farewell party was hosted by Terra Breads in the Olympic Village, across the street from the remaining condo units scooped-up by the Aquilinis in 2014. 

Robertson also met Jim Pattison and his right-hand man, former B.C. Premier Glen Clark, on Oct. 15. The pro-Beijing mayor attended the Sept. 28 People’s Republic of China consulate’s national day reception at the Westin Bayshore. 

In with the new

After Stewart’s Nov. 5 swearing-in and inaugural council meeting, he joined council cohorts for more orientation sessions the next day and sat down for a formal meeting on Nov. 7 with Robertson-hired city manager Sadhu Johnston before dropping-in at the Chinatown Foundation’s Autumn Gala. 

Stewart flew to Victoria Nov. 8 to meet with B.C. NDP cabinet ministers Judy Darcy (mental health and addictions), Katrina Chen (childcare), Selina Robinson (municipal affairs and housing), Carole James (finance) and Claire Trevena (transportation). 

Back in Vancouver Nov. 9, an interview with RedFM, caucus meetings with NPA, Green and OneCity councillors and congratulatory calls to North Vancouver City Mayor Linda Buchanan and Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie. 

Mayor Kennedy Stewart (Mackin)

Nov. 10 included social engagements: Telus Night of a Thousand Stars Gala at Parq casino and a Floata Restaurant gala celebrating Jenny Kwan’s 25 years in politics. Nov. 11 was Remembrance Day, with observations at the Victory Square cenotaph and Chinatown monument, as well as a tour of Royal Canadian Legions. 

Stewart had a Nov. 16 phone call with Desmond Cole, the Toronto activist who alleged racism when he was stopped and asked for identification by a Vancouver Police officer while smoking near Stanley Park.

Nov. 18 was the grand reopening of the fire damaged Ross Street Sikh temple, speaking engagement at the Housing Central Conference in the Wall Centre, phone call with Johnston and the ceremonial tipoff at the Vancouver Showcase NCAA basketball tournament. 

He lunched Nov. 19 with city councillors from 1986, which included ex-mayor Mike Harcourt and Libby Davies, met with Musqueam Chief Wayne Sparrow and attended a meeting about the Berkeley Towers renoviction. 

Stewart spoke to Unifor on Nov. 21 and the WE Day charity concert at Rogers Arena. Two days later, on Nov. 23, he met with Barrett-era NDP cabinet minister Bob Williams, Coromandel Properties’ Jerry Zhong and Ed May and Jameson Developments’ Anthony and Tom Pappajohn. 

Another day, another congratulations for a mayor of a neighbouring municipality. Nov. 28 was for North Vancouver District’s Mike Little. Stewart also met with Vancouver Board of Trade CEO Iain Black and stakeholder relations director David van Hemmen and, surprise, former Coun. Raymond Louie. 

Sources have told theBreaker that Louie was spotted several times at city hall and is acting as a transition advisor to the new mayor. 

Nov. 28 also included an interview and photo shoot for Monocle Magazine and a meeting with Bhalwinder S. Waraich, Carol Both and Don Munton of Sunset Community Association. 

Former Simon Fraser University professor Stewart met with his former boss, SFU president Andrew Petter and Joanne Curry, before a meeting with a familiar face from his days in Parliament, Liberal Transport minister Marc Garneau.

Stewart’s chief of staff, Neil Monckton, did not respond for comment. 

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2018-581 – res by on Scribd

2018-594 – res by on Scribd

Bob Mackin For Gregor Robertson, his last official

Bob Mackin

Gary Lenz, the Sergeant-at-Arms of the British Columbia Legislature, charged taxpayers almost as much for travel expenses for six months of 2018 as he did for the entire 2017 fiscal year. 

But the interim replacement for Clerk Craig James is refusing to provide details.

Lenz and James were suspended with pay on Nov. 20 by the Legislature, pending an investigation by the RCMP and two special prosecutors. Both men deny any wrongdoing and have hired lawyers and a public relations agency to demand their jobs back. 

Lenz filed claims for $20,248 during the first six months of the 2018 fiscal year, compared to $23,606 for all of last year, when he was paid $218,167 in salary.

James was on track to meeting or beating his 2017 expense tally before Nov. 20. For the period of April 1-Sept. 30, he claimed $33,892 for domestic and international travel, accommodation, meals and per diems. In 2017, he racked-up $51,649 in expenses on top of his $347,090 salary. 

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

A lion’s share of James’s expenses for the first and second quarters of 2018 were in the category of out-of-province/out-of-country travel ($23,719). Lenz billed $14,396 for travel outside B.C.

They also claimed a combined $6,587 in per diems. The standard daily expense allowance is $61, but per diems for travel outside Canada and the continental U.S. are reimbursed based on the National Joint Council federal public sector formula, which can be double or triple the daily domestic allowance, depending on the destination. 

The Legislature is not covered by the freedom of information law, unlike government ministries and agencies. It publishes a basic summary of expenses for the top four officials. The report for the second quarter was published Dec. 14.

At the Dec. 6 Legislative Assembly Management Committee meeting, Speaker Darryl Plecas said that, shortly after his September 2017 appointment, serious concerns about the integrity of the Legislature were brought to him. He called for a forensic audit of the offices of James and Lenz.

“You will get every detail of how much I spent. You want full disclosure. The public deserves full disclosure. Boy, are they going to get it,” Plecas told the committee. “I would say this — one more point I want to make to emphasize how important this is. I am completely confident — completely confident — that those audits will show that we have a lot of work to do here. If the outcome of those audits did not outrage the public, did not outrage taxpayers, did not make them throw up, I will resign as Speaker, and [aide Alan] Mullen will resign as well.”

Dermod Travis of IntegrityBC said a forensic audit is not going to be fast. “We’re into something that’s going to be a long road.” The committee’s next meeting is Dec. 19.

Spending questions unanswered

theBreaker sent a series of questions about James and Lenz’s travel expenses to Acting Clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd on Dec. 17. Several times in her reply, Ryan-Lloyd repeated the phrase “I am not in a position to provide the details that you are seeking.” She pointed theBreaker to generic expense policies on the Legislature’s website. 

Kate Ryan-Lloyd (left) and Darryl Plecas (Twitter)

Ryan-Lloyd also said she was “not able to confirm” if a spouse or child accompanied James or Lenz during their trips in 2018. She said it is not the Legislature’s policy to reimburse travel costs for any accompanying persons. 

Ryan-Lloyd also refused to answer questions about the $1,168 in Lenz’s miscellaneous expenses column for the second quarter. The miscellaneous expense category is supposed to cover conference fees, medical insurance, immunizations and business meeting expenses. 

“I can confirm that those expenses may not necessarily be for goods and services,” she wrote. 

Ryan-Lloyd, however, admitted that the Clerk’s office does not have a policy about collecting frequent flyer points. By contrast, MLAs cannot collect Air Miles or other airline bonus points on government-issued credit cards. The rule for MLAs states that when they accumulate bonus points on their personal cards from business travel, the points must not be used for any purpose other than legislative business, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association travel or as a donation to a recognized charity. 

In response to follow-up questions, including one about what policy allowed her to avoid answering questions, Ryan-Lloyd said she is committed to transparency and accountability of public spending. “Due to recent circumstances, I am in the process of seeking legal advice regarding matters related to some of your questions,” she wrote. “I will certainly have a second look at your request once I am in a position to do so.”

Travis said the scandal at the Legislature only serves as a reminder why the freedom of information law must be expanded. 

“It’s a problem that a number of legislatures have had in Canada, not to this degree, but the common lesson learned was you cannot have a legislature operation that has no accountability in it,” he said. 

“The moment you leave that idea of having accountability behind, you end up ultimately, over time, with people feeling they’re entitled to their entitlements.”

London calling, Guangdong goodwill

Calls and email to James and Lenz’s lawyers, Mark Andrews and Gavin Cameron of the Vancouver firm Fasken, were not answered.

Ryan-Lloyd refused to break-down the costs for James and Lenz’s trips, but said their costs were similar to those for independent Abbotsford South MLA Plecas and deputy speaker Raj Chouhan, the NDP MLA in Burnaby-Edmonds. Unlike Legislature executives, MLAs’ receipts are published quarterly. For the first half of 2018, Plecas claimed $26,425 in expenses and Chouhan $11,852 under the column titled speaker-authorized travel. Their travel was commonly booked from James’s office.

James, Plecas and Chouhan travelled business class June 9-18 from Vancouver to Hong Kong to visit Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Dongguan, China. The purpose of the trip was to sign a letter of intent to conduct goodwill exchanges between the B.C. Legislature and the Standing Committee of Guangdong Provincial People’s Congress. 

Guangdong government official Yan Jingping visited Plecas at the Legislature on May 29 after the 9th Conference of the World Guangdong Community Federation at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

B.C. Legislature clerk Craig James from Instagram family photographs at Windsor Castle (left, 2016) and Buckingham Palace (2015).

Plecas also traveled with James and Lenz Aug. 1-13 to London, England for a business continuity, cybersecurity and disaster preparedness conference involving the United Kingdom’s MI5 Security Service. [A photograph of James’s wife Christine and her son from a previous relationship, shot on London’s Oxford Street, was published Aug. 12 on an Instagram account that shows James on 2015 and 2016 trips to London.]

Plecas’s other trip, Aug. 26-Sept. 2, took him to the National Legislative Services and Security Association training conference at the Virginia state capitol in Richmond, Va. Plecas was a speaker on Aug. 30, the fifth and final day of the conference, about government leadership. 

theBreaker began asking questions about spending by Legislature officers before the scandal erupted. On Nov. 19, Plecas referred questions about costs of the China trip to James, who theBreaker had already asked for comment. James did not respond. 

James was escorted out of the Legislature during the middle of the next day.

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Bob Mackin Gary Lenz, the Sergeant-at-Arms of the