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Bob Mackin

Until Premier John Horgan called a snap election, Dr. Bonnie Henry was British Columbia’s highest-profile public official of 2020.

Behind the scenes, the folk song-inspiring, Fluevog-wearing provincial health officer has her own spin doctor, who billed taxpayers more than $84,000 during four months earlier this year.

Nicola Lambrechts (NLK Strategies)

Nicola Lambrechts of NLK Strategies in North Vancouver was originally contracted by the Ministry of Health on an $8,000, no-bid contract to assist Henry with media relations, issues management, strategy, writing and messaging related to the coronavirus outbreak. The contract was awarded under emergency provisions of government procurement rules, but later increased to a maximum $149,900 through March 2021. 

Documents obtained by under the freedom of information law show NLK billed $8,400 for 40 hours in February and then averaged more than $25,000 a month from March through May. The government was supposed to release more-recent invoices on Oct. 6, but decided to delay until after the election.

Lambrechts is a former executive at National Public Relations and Longview Communications who was registered as a lobbyist for clients such as B.C. Maritime Employers Association, Coal Alliance and Westshore Terminals. Her public relations clients have also included Blackcomb Helicopters and developer Wall Financial.

Neither Henry nor Lambrechts responded for comment. Likewise, the Ministry of Health communications office did not reply to questions about the amount billed since June, why NLK was chosen for the assignment and why the job was not handled in-house.

Dr. Bonnie Henry (CPRS/YouTube)

In February’s budget, the NDP government allocated $28.3 million to Government Communications and Public Engagement, the arm of the Finance Ministry that plans, coordinates and delivers communications programs, policies, research and services across government.

The Ministry of Health communications office inside GCPE boasts a roster of 16 employees, including three managers, a director, a coordinator and 11 public affairs officers.

The fact that Henry sought assistance is not a surprise, based on what she told the B.C. Medical Journal’s October 2018 edition.

Asked for her biggest regret, Henry answered: “Not being a better communicator to my patients, colleagues, family, and friends.”

In July, the Canadian Public Relations Society gave Henry its 2020 President’s award for outstanding public relations and communications management. Oddly, Henry’s YouTube acceptance speech did not include credit to Lambrechts.

Henry’s Back to School campaign ad (BC Gov)

Since July, however, Henry’s communications strategy has come under fire from various corners.

The Nuu-chah-nulth, Heiltsuk and Tsilhqot’in first nations, the B.C. Teachers Federation, B.C. Nurses Union and parents at Caulfield Elementary school in West Vancouver have gone public, demanding better, quicker and more transparent public health communication.

An Oct. 5 report for the Canadian Federation of Nurses singled out B.C.’s NDP government for hiding too much information and putting the health of frontline nurses at risk. 

“The most problematic jurisdiction may be British Columbia. Its publicly disclosed data has been incomplete, inconsistent and on occasion, seemingly contradictory,” wrote Mario Possamai in A Time of Fear: How Canada Failed Our Health Care Workers and Mismanaged Covid‐19.

On Oct. 19, Henry declared B.C. is in the second wave of the pandemic. Two days later, the government announced a record single-day new case count of 203. More than a third of all new B.C. cases have been announced since Horgan called the snap election on Sept. 21.

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Bob Mackin Until Premier John Horgan called a

Bob Mackin

It is not going away.

The question about the propriety of Premier John Horgan’s snap election in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic state of emergency was predicted by Horgan’s inner circle to have a one-week shelf life.

Green leader Sonia Furstenau with West Vancouver-Sea-to-Sky candidate Jeremy Valeriote (Mackin)

It subsided in the middle of the campaign, but it is back again just days before Oct. 24 election day, driven by DemocracyWatch, which is going to B.C. Supreme Court to ask a judge to declare the election illegal.

The watchdog’s intent is not to cancel the election, but to prevent another Premier of B.C., or any other province, from ignoring fixed election date laws in order to call an unjustified snap election. Horgan did not seek a confidence vote before going to Lt. Gov. Janet Austin on Sept. 21 and he broke the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Greens.

DemocracyWatch co-founder Duff Conacher says Horgan’s action is more like an old dictator than a new democrat. Horgan has stuck with the same talking points, but never denied that he broke the NDP-amended law that set Oct. 16, 2021 as the date of the next election.

When Horgan was in North Vancouver, I asked if taxpayers, instead of the NDP, would be dinged with the cost to defend against the DemocracyWatch lawsuit.

“I don’t believe that this case is warranted,” Horgan said. “And I don’t believe that the cost will be significant. I’ll certainly take a look at that when it concludes, but it would be premature to talk about a case that’s not before the courts.”

BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau, at ta campaign stop in the Troller Ale House in Horseshoe Bay, said it is important that we limit the capacity for political parties to act this way.

“As DemocracyWatch is pointing out, what their hope is is that no government will do this again in the future,” Furstenau said. “They recognize that this election is underway, the choices were made by the NDP to contravene our agreement, the Confidence and Supply Agreement, and also to break the fixed election date legislation that they themselves amended and brought forward and passed in 2017.”

Would the Greens seek intervenor status?

“I think right now we’re very much focused on this election campaign, that would be a decision we would make after the election,” Furstenau said, standing beside West Vancouver-Sea-to-Sky candidate Jeremy Valeriote.

Meanwhile, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson was in Surrey at a farm and alleged the NDP designed the election during the pandemic to decrease turnout.

“They’re taking a very passive approach. In an election, everybody’s task is to encourage voting,” Wilkinson said.

NDP HQ at 34 W. 7th (Colliers)

The BC Liberals have complained to Elections BC, asking for an investigation into the NDP-controlled shell company that owns the party’s headquarters.

West 7th Avenue Property Society bought strata units in Chard Developments’ 34 W. 7th last year for $5.2 million. Directors include officials from BC Federation of Labour (Sussane Skidmore), BC Building Trades (Brynn Bourke), CUPE BC (Paul Faoro), Health Sciences Association (Jaime Matten) and the Broadbent Institute (Maria Dobrinkskaya).

The BC Liberals suggest the investigation could begin by looking at whether the mortgage from Community Savings Credit Union is a permissible loan or guarantee under the Election Act.

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Bob Mackin It is not going away. The question

Bob Mackin

The BC Liberal candidate hoping to succeed the retiring Ralph Sultan in the Oct. 24 election was at the centre of a conflict of interest scandal when she headed a Crown corporation during Christy Clark’s premiership.

Karin Kirkpatrick and Murray Campbell (BC Liberals)

From 2011 to 2014, West Vancouver-Capilano candidate Karin Kirkpatrick was the CEO and registrar of the Private Career Training Institutions Agency of B.C. The now-defunct agency regulated private colleges on behalf of the Ministry of Advanced Education.

In 2012, PCTIA hired the downtown law firm where Kirkpatrick’s husband was partner. Lawson Lundell was chosen without competition to represent PCTIA against companies that ran afoul of their licences to offer career training courses. Only after an adjudicator’s order did Kirkpatrick reveal how much Lawson Lundell billed PCTIA. 

Kirkpatrick did not respond to interview requests. When contacted her campaign manager, Jack Welsh initially said by email “unfortunately we won’t be able to accommodate the interview in the schedule.”

When emphasized the nature of the query was about Kirkpatrick’s background with PCTIA, Welsh changed his tune: “It’s not something we’re interested in participating in.”

At the time of the controversy, David Eby was the NDP’s critic for advanced education.

“This is the way that people hire lawyers in their private lives, somebody is related to a lawyer, knows somebody who works at a law firm,” Eby told The Tyee in February 2014. “That’s not an acceptable process for a public agency, because it does raise questions of conflict of interest and who benefits from that contract.”

Kirkpatrick claimed PCTIA was not required to seek competitive bids, but would only seek quotes or issue a formal tender call for contracts $30,000 and up. PCTIA paid Lawson Lundell $39,631.57 during the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2013. Kirkpatrick kept that sum secret until she was ordered to disclose it after an inquiry by an Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner adjudicator.

Kirkpatrick claimed that she verbally disclosed her relationship to Lawson Lundell partner Murray Campbell at a board meeting, but “it was not formally documented,” she said by email. The only relevant email that PCTIA did release under the freedom of information law was a February 2012 message from Kirkpatrick to board chair Kelly Rainsforth.

BC Liberal candidate Kirkpatrick (BC Liberals)

″[PCTIA in-house lawyer] Luce (Lafontaine) has found another lawyer with regulatory and board experience,” Kirkpatrick wrote in the email. “I let her make this selection using her own experience and judgment. She has gone with a fellow named Michael Lee (unless I hear otherwise) whom she has worked with previously and from Lawson Lundell,” she wrote.

“Now — just in case there is a perception of conflict — I wanted you to be aware that my soon-to-be husband is a partner at Lawson Lundell. Let me know if you have any concerns.”

(Lee, coincidentally, is the 2017-elected, BC Liberal incumbent in Vancouver-Langara. Lafontaine was a Kirkpatrick hire in 2011.)

The Advanced Education ministry conducted an internal review of PCTIA legal procurement practices in February 2013. Acting assistant deputy minister Joe Thompson’s report was heavily censored and only two of three recommendations were visible in the version released: formalize-in-writing the procurement and purchasing policies “to reflect an open, fair and transparent process” and to “ensure clear guidelines are available to the board and staff.”

PCTIA logo

“The Crown Agency Resource Office, the organization responsible for providing ongoing expertise, advice, information and support to ministries and Crown corporations to promote good governance, accountability and continuous improvement, has advised that Crown corporations, such as PCTIA, are encouraged but not required to follow government’s procurement policies and procedures on (request for proposals) or (requests for quotes). PCTIA uses RFPs and RFQs to solicit competitive bids on larger projects,” Thompson wrote.

Said Eby: “I’m concerned that a government agency like this could fail to see the importance of this issue and the need to be fully transparent about what they’ve done to fix what appears to be a serious problem with procurement.”

PCTIA amended its policy to require annual board approval for the list of legal vendors.

Kirkpatrick’s years at PCTIA were also the subject of an investigation by Ombudsperson Kim Carter. In 2015, after Kirkpatrick had resigned and PCTIA dissolved, Carter called for a students’ bill of rights because PCTIA failed to protect students and failed to properly enforce regulations and laws. PCTIA’s successor is the Private Training Institutions Branch.

Carter also found systemic conflict of interest, because the cabinet-appointed board members came from private training institutions that PCTIA was supposed to regulate.

Kirkpatrick was a volunteer and $500 donor to Clark’s winning 2011 leadership campaign. She was rewarded with a patronage appointment to the Judicial Council of the Provincial Court.

Jane Thornthwaite amused Karin Kirkpatrick during Sultan roast (BC Liberals/Zoom)

Last July, she was appointed to run for the BC Liberals in West Vancouver-Capilano without a competitive process. The last time the seat was up for grabs was March 2001, when almost 1,700 members signed-up to decide the replacement for Jeremy Dalton. Economist Sultan beat six others in a hotly contested, six-round vote in March 2001. Sultan, 87, was elected four more times.

Kirkpatrick was CEO of the Family Services of Greater Vancouver for the past three years. Prior to PCTIA, she was CEO of the Real Estate Foundation of B.C. and assistant dean at the Sauder School of Business. During the 2015 federal election, she was North Vancouver winner Jonathan Wilkinson’s financial agent.

Kirkpatrick’s introduction to many local voters was in the scandalous Zoom roast of Sultan, which was leaked Oct. 10. While North Vancouver-Seymour incumbent Jane Thornthwaite insulted the NDP’s Bowinn Ma in the Sept. 17 fundraiser, Kirkpatrick was seen violently laughing in the top row centre square.

Kirkpatrick claimed in a series of apologetic Tweets on Oct. 13 that she was surprised and caught off-guard, despite appearing to be very amused by Thornthwaite’s zingers that critics labelled sexist.

“Frankly, in the moment, I didn’t know what to say or do,” Kirkpatrick Tweeted, nearly a month after the leaked Zoom fundraiser took place.

“To anybody that feels I let them down by staying silent during the event, I sincerely apologize and will do better.”

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Bob Mackin The BC Liberal candidate hoping to

Bob Mackin

The NDP’s Minister of State for Trade continues to enjoy Premier John Horgan’s full support, despite questions about George Chow’s links to allies of China’s government.

A campaign by a coalition of pro-Hong Kong, Uyghur and Tibetan groups against Chinese Communist Party infiltration of B.C. politics, called #NoBCforXi, considers Vancouver-Fraserview incumbent Chow to be “CCP leaning.”

NDP minister of state George Chow (WeChat)

Chow is a frequent attendee of People’s Republic of China consulate events and has used taxpayers’ money to advertise in newspapers friendly with the CCP’s United Front Work Department foreign influence program.

“George Chow supports the BC NDP, George Chow supports the constituents of Vancouver-Fraserview,” Horgan said during an Oct. 16 campaign stop in Pitt Meadows. “I’m glad to have him on the team. He’s made sacrifices and contributions for people of B.C. for a long time, and I stand by George under all circumstances. With respect to advertising in newspapers, this is news to me, I’ll have a look at it and perhaps I’ll get back to you.”

Chow did not respond to repeated interview requests from

Jody Chan, a volunteer with #NoBCforXi, said Chow has not responded to the questionnaire sent to election candidates across the province. Chow’s ranking is based on objective research, she said.

“George’s past record is quite alarming to us, in terms of how many times he’s met with PRC officials,” Chan said. “A lot of his actions don’t seem like he’s naive to what the CCP is doing. Our community is quite scared of the fact that our elected officials are in any way influenced by the CCP.”

Chow’s first, full calendar year in office was heavy on engagement with Chinese government officials. He traveled on the Horgan-led trade mission to China in January 2018, appeared at a May 2018 Guangdong business convention attended by United Front vice-minister Su Bo, and welcomed Wang Chen, from President Xi Jinping’s Politburo, during a June 2018 visit to Vancouver.

NDP’s George Chow at Swangard Stadium in July 2019 with Tiger Yuan, a People’s Liberation Army veteran who owns a Port Coquitlam gun shop (Ina Mitchell)

Chow met in Guangdong with CCP officials in December 2018, almost a week after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on behalf of the U.S., which later charged Meng with fraud.

During a meeting with the Guangzhou Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, Chow was photographed in a boardroom where both the CCP flag and national flag were displayed. Chow’s hosts briefed him on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese characteristics and the Belt and Road infrastructure program. Chow briefed the officials about B.C.’s plans for a Canadian Chinese history museum.

A spokesman for Chow said at the time that his trip was “personal.”

In July 2019, Chow was photographed with People’s Liberation Army veteran Tiger Yuan at a festival in Burnaby and sported the Chinese government’s official pin for the 70th anniversary of CCP rule during Vancouver events in fall 2019.

One was a gala banquet that Horgan and other politicians skipped because China took Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor hostage in retaliation for the arrest of Meng. Chow declined to answer questions from both before and after the gala at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Chow has also supported pro-CCP media outlets with taxpayers’ funds.

B.C. NDP trade minister George Chow (right) and Consul-Gen. Tong Xiaoling on April 24 (PRC)

Legislative Assembly receipts show payments to Dawa Business Group Inc. ($735 on Feb. 5, 2020), Global Chinese Press ($787.50 x 2 on Jan. 31, 2020) and $38 for the Chinese Benevolent Association’s Sept. 22, 2019 banquet celebrating 70 years of the PRC.

“Our governments should be defending our democracy, human rights and Canadian values,” said Ivy Li of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong. “For the NDP government to place advertisements in those obviously pro-CCP media is a real mocking of British Columbians’ beliefs of free speech and freedom of press. It is a slap on our face.”

China-born Chow had a 30-year career at BC Hydro and is a former president of the pro-Beijing Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver. He served two terms on the Vision Vancouver city council majority from 2005 to 2011.

Chow’s 2017 political comeback as an NDP MLA ended BC Liberal Attorney General Suzanne Anton’s term in the South Vancouver riding. He is facing a challenge on Oct. 24 from David Grewal, a BC Liberal candidate who ran for city council with the NPA in 2018.

However, Chow does not live in the riding he represents. Instead, he is the resident of a $3.725 million-assessed house in the Fairview riding. Chow’s house [which hit a peak $5.08 million value in 2017] is 1.5 kilometres from the Chinese consulate mansion. That is where Chow appeared last April to receive a shipment of masks donated to B.C. by the Guangdong government.

An Australian think tank report, called The Party Speaks For You: Foreign Interference and the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front System, describes how United Front affiliates in several western countries, including Canada, hoarded PPE for export to China early this year and later donated supplies to promote the CCP’s pandemic narratives.

B.C. NDP minster of state George Chow (third from left) meeting Guangzhou Communist officials (Guangzhou government)

“The United Front system’s reach beyond the borders of the People’s Republic of China—such as into foreign political parties, diaspora communities and multinational corporations—is an exportation of the CCP’s political system,” said the report by Alex Joske. “This undermines social cohesion, exacerbates racial tension, influences politics, harms media integrity, facilitates espionage, and increases unsupervised technology transfer.”

In 2010, then-Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Richard Fadden warned that China was influencing unidentified B.C. municipal politicians and cabinet ministers in at least two provinces.

Horgan said he condemns human rights abuses anywhere in the world. He said he was aware of the #NoBCforXi campaign, but had yet to respond. “I will take a look at it and ask staff where my response is, and will work on that,” Horgan said.

I’m focussed on getting us all safely through the pandemic. That’s not to say we turn a blind eye to abuses in any corner of the world. Largely a federal responsibility, as you know, but I believe leaders have a responsibility to speak up when these issues arise.”

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Bob Mackin The NDP’s Minister of State for

For the week of Oct. 18, 2020:

On this edition of Podcast, the week on the campaign trail.

BC Liberals Zoom scandals sandwiched the TV debate, where Green leader Sonia Furstenau grilled NDP leader John Horgan for calling a snap election in the middle of the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

“You’re willing to break your word, you’re willing to break agreements and you’re willing to break legislation that you yourself passed in the Legislature,” Furstenau said.

Bryce Casavant (

Joining host Bob Mackin is guest Bryce Casavant, the former NDP candidate and former conservation service officer.

Casavant complained to B.C.’s chief elections officer about the use of emergency powers without input from the Legislature. Casavant said the election should have been held in October 2021 according to law. Instead, the Oct. 24 vote is “a cookbook for a modern coup d’etat, it is a recipe for a disaster.”

Listen to the interview to find out why. Plus commentary and Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines. 

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

Now on Spotify!

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

Support for as low as $2 a month on Patreon. Find out how. Click here. Podcast Podcast Podcast: Horgan's snap election a "cookbook for a modern coup d'etat," says ex-NDP candidate

For the week of Oct. 18, 2020:

Bob Mackin

By now, you should have received your official Elections BC voting card, telling you the addresses for the nearest polling stations in the snap election.

You may have also received an official-looking envelope branded “BC Votes Decision 2020.”

NDP direct mail letter sent to False Creek voters

You are forgiven if you mistook it for a letter from Elections BC, due to the font of the logo.

Look closely at the small print on the letter. It is from the NDP.

A reader in Vancouver-False Creek, where Brenda Bailey hopes to knock-off BC Liberal incumbent Sam Sullivan, forwarded the direct mail envelope and letter, which is signed by NDP field director Jordan Reid.

Reid is a former aide to the late Jack Layton and a B.C. NDP campaign worker since 2016.

According to Elections BC, there is nothing wrong with the envelope or letter.

“Voters with concerns about this letter should contact the BC NDP,” said spokeswoman Melanie Hull. “The letter does include an authorization statement as required by the Election Act. The Act does not regulate the content or branding of election advertising apart from requiring an authorization statement.”

Elections BC logo.

The letter is a get out the vote strategy indicating the NDP is confident of victory, if it can get out the vote. In 2017, Sullivan stayed in office by a narrow 415-vote margin over NDP challenger Morgane Oger. Oger was hampered by a smear campaign that drew the condemnation of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. 

Bailey is on leave from her job as executive director with DigiBC, the Interactive and Digital Media Industry Association of B.C.

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Bob Mackin By now, you should have received

Bob Mackin

The Surrey-Guildford BC Liberal candidate is denying allegations he committed fraud, extortion and forgery in a botched 2017 real estate deal.

Dave Hans (BC Liberals)

Dave Hans, aka Baldev Singh Hans, is one of two defendants in a B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit filed January 2019 by a businessman and a numbered company over a $12.75 million deal to buy seven lots from Apolla Development on Ravine Road near King George Highway and 132 Street.

Hans, a professional engineer appointed to Surrey’s board of variance, is running against NDP incumbent Garry Begg in the Oct. 24 election. Hans said he disclosed the lawsuit to party headquarters before his candidacy was green-lit.

“I’m a law-abiding citizen and I believe in the Canadian court system, Canadian law, I don’t think anybody can cheat with me,” Hans told “I sued [Aditya Sood] because he was trying to cheat with me.”

In December 2018, Hans filed a lawsuit and certificate of pending litigation in New Westminster Supreme Court against businessman Sood, alleging Sood violated a joint venture, assigned the land contract to a third party and kept the profit. A Supreme Court master agreed to remove the CPL and ordered $800,000 from the sale to be held in trust.

Then, the following month, Sood and 1139314 B.C. Ltd. filed a claim in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver against real estate agent Karamvir “Kam” Pawar and Hans.

Ravine Road lands (Cushman Wakefield)

Sood’s trial brief, filed last April, said he and the numbered company ultimately proceeded to buy the property after text messages and oral communications with the defendants about a partnership or joint venture never resulted in a binding agreement.

“[Hans and Pawar] never put up any of their own funds toward the purchase of the investment property and never participated in developing it, but when they learned that the plaintiffs had sold it for a profit, they developed and executed a plan to have Mr. Hans file a suit and CPL against it only days before the closing of the transaction, for the intended purpose of causing the plaintiffs to fear losing the sale and therefore hastily pay him a large and unjust sum in settlement,” reads the trial brief.

“As part of their plan, the defendants forged the signatures of the plaintiffs on an assignment agreement, dating back to the original purchase of the investment property, which purported to assign the purchase for $1.”

None of the allegations has been proven in court. 

Dave Hans and Andrew Wilkinson (Twitter)

In his response filed in February 2019, Hans denied allegations that he made threats and denied he created a draft assignment with forged signatures.

“As far as the details are concerned,” Hans said in an interview, “the matter is in front of the court and I’m looking forward to the court proceeding and determinations.”

Pawar denied Hans filed the December 2018 lawsuit “to extort or otherwise unlawfully pressure the plaintiffs into making concessions based on false allegations or forged documents and, in any event, the defendant Pawar did not participate in any such conduct.”

Pawar also claimed that Sood abruptly terminated communications with Hans as a result of a personal dispute with Hans.

Sood’s case against Hans includes a report from a handwriting expert. He has also filed a complaint with the Surrey RCMP. Sood appeared Oct. 7 on KPPI Sher E Punjab Radio, which prompted a cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer acting on Hans’s behalf.

What became of the land?

The Bowra Group was appointed receiver last July for Conian Developments’ partially completed, six-storey La Voda condominium project on Ravine Road. A numbered company incorporated by Quadra Homes successfully bid $27 million to real estate firm Cushman Wakefield, pending court approval. 

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Bob Mackin The Surrey-Guildford BC Liberal candidate is

Bob Mackin

Familiar Wall

The BC Liberals released their platform Oct. 13 at Wall Centre Hotel, site of millions of dollars worth of party fundraisers, conventions and the party’s most-spectacular victory parties in 2001 and 2013. Leader Andrew Wilkinson’s set appeared to be a socially distanced version of Jeopardy, with three podiums equipped with blue screens.


The platform reveal was also Wilkinson’s first public appearance since the Saturday night surprise, the clip of Jane Thornthwaite’s gossip at the Ralph Sultan virtual roast. Wilkinson condemned Thornthwaite and offered to apologize directly to NDP MLA Bowinn Ma. Wilkinson justified his non-action on the Sept. 17 fundraising Zoom event by saying that it’s “hard to stop the train at a social event.”

Promises, promises

The BC Liberals platorm included: A one-year Provincial Sales Tax holiday, ending the ICBC monopoly, the George Massey bridge and $10-a-day daycare were already exposed planks. One new surprise: “Launch and ensure a truly independent review of the response to COVID-19 in our seniors’ long-term care and assisted living homes.” John Horgan has resisted calls for an investigation into the more than 100 deaths. 

Bad timing

Wilkinson has kept up the pressure on Horgan, after calling an election when one wasn’t needed. The BC Liberals gave the province fixed election dates and promise to restore them. “Prepare legislation to strengthen BC’s fixed election date legislation, and limit the Premier’s ability to manipulate election dates for partisan benefit, by banning early elections during provincial emergencies.”

Weird timing

While the BC Liberals were criticized for releasing their platform about eight hours before the televised leaders debate on Oct. 13, the BC Greens waited until the morning after. Leader Sonia Furstenau went to New Westminster to issue the “green print.”

Green platform for the 2020 snap election.

Where’s Sonia?

“The BC Greens’ Plan for a More Equitable and Sustainable BC” may be the first party platform in the history of party platforms without the name and face of the leader.

Information rights

The Greens are the only Big Three party to mention anything in the platform about the right to know. Under a made-in-B.C. environmental charter, the Greens promise “Information rights that ensure we all have the access to all the information relevant to decisions that affect the environment.”

And the winner is…

Furstenau had the least to lose and most to gain in the Chan Centre-hosted debate on Oct. 13. She was clearly the most-relaxed and delivered barbs to Wilkinson on her right and Horgan on her left.


First blooper: Horgan forgot the election date that he chose. He said Oct. 26, then quickly corrected himself to Oct. 24. Horgan also mixed up the GST with the PST. Wilkinson mentioned multiple times his past as a doctor and lawyer, though he is licensed to practice neither profession. Horgan inexplicably missed a chance to remind British Columbians that Wilkinson was a doctor first and then lawyer who defended Big Tobacco against governments seeking damages for cancer patients.


Wilkinson said “of course” he would commit to continuing the Cullen Commission into money laundering. Under Furstenau grilling about Site C, Horgan pivoted to blaming the BC Liberals, despite shuffling the board and green lighting the project in late 2017. Horgan hinted that the Peter Milburn report on the troubled project’s budget and scheduling could lead to a reconsideration of the project.

John Horgan (B.C.
Broadcast Consortium)

Quote of the night

In an exchange with Horgan, Furstenau said: “Astonishing to hear you say that you needed to put politics behind us by putting us into politics front and centre in a campaign election when we didn’t need it, and what we had in the legislature, what British Columbians were counting on and so grateful for, was we actually put a scientist out in front, we put politics behind us. All three parties indicated and acted on ensuring that we were putting people first, we were putting the needs people had to have met in a global pandemic first, that’s what we should be doing right now. That’s what we’re not doing. We’re here on a stage debating things when we should be in the legislature making sure people are getting what they need.”


Furstenau was the only one that properly pronounced moderator Shachi Kurl’s first name. It’s more like the Happy Days character (“Chachi”) than the U.K. ad agency (“Saatchi and Saatchi”). Angus Reid Institute’s Kurl said questions were developed by the “province’s top political journalists and observers,” but she did not name them.

There was a glaring lack of questions about B.C.’s spot in the world, so heavily reliant on U.S. and China trade. Former is an ally in turmoil. Latter a totalitarian adversary, interfering in B.C. governance.

At the end of the night, Kurl thanked the leaders for their respectful decorum and said “y’all get a cookie.” That may become B.C.’s newest. election catchphrase.

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Bob Mackin Familiar Wall The BC Liberals released their

Bob Mackin

A key policy change aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus is being watered-down on Vancouver Island.

An April order from Dr. Bonnie Henry limited long-term care workers to one facility, after outbreaks at two dozen facilities around Southwestern B.C. represented half the province’s cases at the time. The single-site order was estimated to cost taxpayers an extra $10 million a month, but it appears to be single-site in name only.

Sharon Torgerson (VIHA)

Dr. Richard Stanwick (VIHA)

A Sept. 22 Vancouver Island Health Authority memo from chief medical officer Richard Stanwick and human resources vice-president Sharon Torgerson aims to recruit hospital workers for shifts at long term care and assisted living facilities.

“The single site order put in place to protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19 is severely challenging staffing levels in our long-term care and assisted living sector at Island Health owned and operated facilities, affiliate and private sites across the region,” said the memo, to part-time workers with no restricted single-site affiliation.

“We are asking if you would pick up work in a long-term care or assisted living facility.

“There are many opportunities across the sector, and every shift that you can help with will make a tremendous difference to the residents who need care during our COVID-19 pandemic response.”

How many workers are moving from site to site, even with a single-site order? Neither VIHA nor the Ministry of Health responded Oct. 14 to On Oct. 16, the Ministry of Health responded with a prepared statement about the policy only. 

“The [Provincial Health Officer’s] order allows staff working in acute care, home and community care and other work areas to be assigned to a facility covered under the single site order; people can work at a dentist’s office and a long-term care facility – but they cannot work at multiple long term care facilities,” said the statement.

The Ministry later clarified for that a hospital worker can also take shifts at one long-term care centre, but that hospital worker cannot take shifts at more than one long-term care centre.

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Bob Mackin A key policy change aimed at

Bob Mackin

B.C.’s NDP government was so unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic that Premier John Horgan’s deputy minister urgently ordered staff to search under desks to find N95 masks for frontline doctors and nurses.

3M N95 mask

Internal email, obtained under freedom of information by, shows Don Wright issued a bulletin to all deputy ministers on March 27, ordering the collection of N95 masks from office earthquake kits “as soon as possible for redistribution to health authorities.”

The government failed to replenish B.C.’s disappearing post-SARS stockpiles before 2020. The pandemic caused unprecedented global demand for personal protective equipment.

“Where practical, I would appreciate this being done today,” Wright wrote.

“For those of you located in Victoria, please bring any N95 masks to my office. We will collect them here and work with Health and [Emergency Management B.C.] to have them delivered to health authorities. I expect the Premier will be very interested in seeing how many masks are collected, which is why I would ask that they come here.”

Earlier that day, some top officials told Wright that earthquake preparedness kits under workers’ desks contained sealed N95 masks.

Wright’s plea for help came just two days after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said March 25 that supplies were “on a tenuous level.” Henry had previously denied any supply issues.

Don Wright, Premier John Horgan’s deputy minister (BC Gov)

Sunny Dhaliwal, an assistant deputy minister of the real property division, coordinated the search mission.

“Focus on those buildings which will yield us the maximum inventory and then continue to collect the masks from all other locations,” Dhaliwal wrote.

The precise number of N95s collected was not released, but masks were found in offices at the Ministries of Transportation, Health, Education, Citizens Services, Environment and Finance. A Ministry of Health facilities manager said 1,265 masks and five boxes of latex gloves were found at its offices. 

Assistant deputy minister Philip Twyford sent an April 7 memo to ministry staff about the “cross-government effort which provided thousands of masks to front-line health workers.”

The earthquake kits, he wrote, would be replenished “when a supply is available for this purpose.”

In July, reported that B.C.’s pandemic stockpiles had lost two-thirds of their value since 2013. Medical supplies buyers in the Provincial Health Services Authority [PHSA] finally took action in February, less than a month before the World Health Organization declared the pandemic. They were particularly alarmed about the Interior, which reported $0 value, and the North, which had less than $16,000 of goods on hand.

“Health authorities’ pandemic supply levels have dwindled or been eliminated on many items across the province,” said a Feb. 13 briefing note. “Should a widespread pandemic occur in B.C., the current level of pandemic supplies will likely not meet B.C.’s requirements which may lead to public safety risk.”

In the wake of story on the PHSA documents, Dix said the B.C. health system had spent more than $114 million on PPE during the first six months of 2020, including $29.55 million on N95 or equivalent respirators.

Dr. Bonnie Henry (left), Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix (Mackin)

During a campaign stop Oct. 10 in Richmond, asked Dix why the NDP government was not better prepared. He pointed to 2020’s dramatic increase in domestic PPE use and global market demand. “I think we’ve done well,” Dix said.

Dix refused, however, to answer questions about why the NDP failed to properly manage the stockpiles during its first two-and-a-half years in office.

The government has been similarly evasive about how much it spent in 2019. In May, applied for the total dollar amount spent on PPE in 2019, including N95 masks, versus 2020 to-date.

Disclosure was delayed to Sept. 15 and then to Oct. 28, which is four days after the snap election. The government’s central FOI office claims the delay is because it is “working to balance vital priorities.”

A scathing Oct. 6 report for the Canadian Federation of Nurses called “Time of Fear: How Canada Failed Our Health Care Workers and Mismanaged COVID-19,” said Canada was woefully unprepared and largely ignored the lessons of SARS.

“We will never know how many of the more than 21,000 Canadian health care workers infected with COVID‐19 might have been kept safe had there been sufficient stockpiles at a precautionary level,” the report said. “What we do know, as outlined earlier in this report, is that jurisdictions like China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, that took a precautionary approach to worker safety, have significantly lower levels of health worker infections.”

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Bob Mackin B.C.’s NDP government was so unprepared