Vancouver Sports News

Recycling depots want milk containers in B.C.'s deposit-return system

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 09:56

Recycling depot operators want to see milk jugs included in the province’s deposit-return system as a way to increase the number recovered for recycling.

The move would remove milk jugs from the curbside recycling system, but add a financial incentive for consumers that would encourage people to save and return them in rural areas, according to B.C. Bottle and Recycling Depot Association.

“People in small communities might have to drive 30 minutes each way with their plastics and cans, and so a lot of material ends up in the landfill,” said association executive director Corinne Atwood. 

It would also mean more money for depot operators, who receive handling fees on each item they process in the deposit-return system, which is mainly applied to beverage containers for soft drinks and liquor.

Milk is not considered a beverage under the current regulation, so those containers are collected in curbside programs or at recycling depots, if people drop them off.

Rather than getting a handling fee for every item as they do for liquor and pop containers, operators are paid by the kilogram by Recycle B.C.

Recycle B.C. is a not-for-profit organization funded by manufacturers who are required by law to recover and recycle packaging from consumer products, from printed paper and cartons to steel, aluminum and glass containers.

The cost of that service is built into the price of consumer goods, about 50 cents a kilo for plastic milk jugs.

“This is a really surprising idea,” said Recycle B.C. managing director Allen Langdon. “I can’t imagine why we would want to pull that material out of the curbside system and have people drive it to a depot.”

Doing so would drive up the cost of providing curbside programs, he said.

Roughly 98 per cent of households have access to recycling services, according to the Recycle B.C. annual report.

About 1.27 million households have access to curbside and multi-family recycling, while another 500,000 households have access to depot service only. 

Common four-litre milk jugs are made of relatively valuable high-density polyethylene, “so they are a cash cow for whoever is handling them,” said Atwood.

Right now, that money is flowing back to Recycle B.C., helping fund a cash reserve of $50 million.

But commodity markets can be volatile.

“The market for mixed paper recently collapsed, so this year we will probably run a deficit. But our reserve will allow us to keep funding recycling services in 155 communities across the province,” said Langdon.

He was unable to give a specific recovery rate for milk containers, but considers the curbside program to be very effective. Both milk jugs and milk cartons are accepted for recycling.

“The recovery rate for material collected by Recycle B.C. is about 78 per cent, and given the level of convenience I can’t see milk jugs being below that,” he said. 

In Alberta, where a 25-cent deposit is applied to milk jugs, the recovery rate for plastic containers larger than 1 litre is 88.7 per cent, according to government figures. Alberta has no industry-funded recycling programs.

“From a zero-waste perspective, everything should have a deposit on it,” said Buddy Boyd, former owner of the Gibsons Recycling Depot and a director of Zero Waste Canada. “This corporate stewardship system allows the manufacturers to pay a pittance to the (depots) for handling the containers.”

“What we want is for the industry to make more durable, reusable packaging,” he said. “This system encourages single-use packaging.”

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Vancouver Weather: Showers, hail and thunderstorm all part of Friday's forecast

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 09:31

VANCOUVER, B.C.: March 23, 2018 – The weather forecast for Metro Vancouver today is all wet — with showers beginning this morning.  In a special weather alert, Environment Canada says there is also risk of a thunderstorm later this morning and this afternoon.  It might even hail.

So that’s fun. 

“A cool and very unsettled airmass has settled over the south coast this morning. Widespread showers will occur today along with the possibility of thunderstorms and small hail,” said Environment Canada.

Those raindrops will be mixed with snowflakes in the mountains as wet flurries are expected in higher elevations.  Local snowfall accumulations of 2 to 4 cm are possible above 200 metres. 

Parts of the south coast will be battered by some high winds Friday. B.C. Ferries has cancelled two of morning runs from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo due to the weather.

#ServiceNotice #QofOakBay #HorseshoeBay#DepartureBay 6:15am cancelled and #DepartureBay#HorseshoeBay 8:25am cancelled due to weather: ^jp

— BC Ferries (@BCFerries) March 23, 2018


Weather: Vancouver, B.C.

Today: Cloudy with showers beginning this morning. Risk of a thunderstorm late this morning and this afternoon. Local snowfall amount 2 cm over higher terrain. Windy near the water. High 8.

Tonight:  There is a 30 per cent chance of showers tonight with a risk of a thunderstorm early this evening. 30 percent chance of wet flurries over higher terrain overnight. Low plus 1

Tomorrow: A little sun and a little cloud with a 30 percent chance of showers. Areas higher up have a 30 percent chance of wet flurries in the morning. High 9.

Traffic: Lower Mainland

Drivers are reminded that Vancouver’s Georgia Street viaduct will be closed to traffic this weekend so that it can become the red carpet walk for the 2018 Juno Awards.

The viaduct will be closed beginning Friday at 9 p.m. and reopen Monday at 3 a.m.

Here’s a live traffic map of what’s happening across the region’s roads. Use command + scroll to zoom in and out.


Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Style Q&A: Meet Vancouver-based accessories brand Mary Rich

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 09:00

If you’ve ever searched for a handbag that seamlessly merges fashion and function, you’ve likely noted it can feel like an impossible task. 

Some bags can be stylish, but too cavernous, while others can boast all the functionality of a Swiss Army Knife, but look too — utilitarian.

Thankfully, a Vancouver-based accessories brand called Mary Rich is looking to create products that provide the perfect balance between good style and usability. 

We caught up with the brand’s founders, Jana Macova and Shanli Najafy, to learn more about the line, their mission and more:

Q: For those who aren’t familiar, what is Mary Rich? 

Jana Macova and Shanli Najafy of the Vancouver-based brand, Mary Rich.

A: Mary Rich is a contemporary West Coast company that designs and develops a line of sleek and exaggerated high-quality, oversized-leather handbags and lifestyle accessories with the purpose of elevating your daily necessities. Ethically made in the USA and Canada, designed in Vancouver. 

Q: When and why did you first start the brand?

A: Jana started Mary Rich in 2013 with custom bags and small capsule collections of exaggerated and oversized clutches. At the time, she sought to find a void in the handbag industry by creating uniquely proportioned informal clutches, at an accessible price, with quality top of mind. Jana began to make these oversized clutches, that quickly gained a cult following. Shanli was initially a customer and friend who came on-board as a partner in early 2017 with a vision of building on the brand and taking it to the global market. 

Q: Did either of you have a background in design? 

A: Yes! Jana graduated from the Fashion Design program at Blanche Macdonald in 2003, as well as coming from a family of designers and fabricators. Shanli attained her business degree at SFU and continued onto building her career in the fashion and retail industry, working with numerous Canadian retail giants.

Q: What makes Mary Rich designs different from those of other brands? 

A: The size of our bags are on average 40-per-cent larger than those available from other bag lines. Our customer fits a lot into her day, she should be able to fit it all in her bag as well. Apart from their unique size, the other important differentiator are the materials used — Mary Rich is resolute on using everyday, repurposed materials (in addition to leather), like marine-grade plastic and rescue-grade climbing rope to enhance the product life cycle and wear. 

Q: Who is the target Mary Rich customer? 

A: For the female living a full life and wants a quality, one-fits-all handbag that takes her from work to the gym to dinner and drinks — without sacrificing sex appeal and edge. She’s unafraid and confident. A polished rock star, a sophisticated rebel. She is an early adopter and a trendsetter. She lives a global-citizen lifestyle and demands versatility in her wardrobe. 

Q: Which product is proving to be the most popular so far? 

A: Our simple but bold Clutch No. 107, as well as our sleek and sturdy Tote No. 211.

Q: What is the price range for the products? 

A: Our core products range from US$295-$695, though we also offer add-ons and seasonal accessories at lower price points. 

Q: Where can people check them out? 

A: At the present time, we are vertically integrated, offering our products exclusively online at, but several times each season, you can get the real-life experience at our pop-ups in different cities. Next up NYC from April 6-19.

Q: Lastly, what’s next? 

A: World tour of pop-ups in major cities.

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Sous-vide cooking technique is back in food spotlight

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 09:00

There’s admittedly not much that’s new when it comes to cooking foods using the sous-vide style. 

The technique, which translates in English to ‘under vacuum,’ involves placing food in a vacuum-sealed package, then cooking it in a water bath using what chefs refer to as a “very specific” temperature.

Unlike other cooking techniques for finicky food products — meats, mostly — such as grilling and frying, sous vide basically breaks down the proper preparation process into a simpler, easier-to-digest (if you will) style. 

“In simplest terms, it takes the guesswork out of cooking certain items,” Adam Meade, the executive chef of The Teahouse in Vancouver, says. “You choose what you are cooking — for example, pork belly — and you choose the temperature at which you wish to cook it, so 68-degrees Celsius.”

Meade says you then set your proper cooking time. And then, you just let it go. 

Starbucks introduced sous vide egg bites earlier this year.

“It’s really that easy,” he says. “It allows anyone to cook anything, from the perfect medium-rare steak to your own yogurt — perfectly!”

So, does this mean we’ve been needlessly charring cuts of meat and trashing prospective suppers after failed cooking attempts all these years? Not quite. Its relative ease, according to Meade, doesn’t mean cooking dishes sous vide is entirely foolproof. 

“Knowing the fundamentals of classic cooking, with all of its techniques, will only benefit you when using the sous-vide method,” he cautions. “I wholeheartedly believe that knowing how to cook a steak or blanch veg in the traditional or classic methods is paramount in the proper growth of cooks in this industry.”

But, the fact remains, sous-vide-style cooking has long been a popular way certain foods are prepared in professional kitchens, well, everywhere. 

“Chefs have been slow-cooking at specific temperatures for a very long time, through poaching and braising,” Meade says of the technique.

So, why does it seem like we’re seeing “sous vide” as a buzzword, with it popping up on cookbook shelves and social-media feeds more lately than seemingly ever before?

“I think we are seeing a resurgence of sous vide because companies have now made it more accessible, affordable and approachable for the average home cook,” Meade says. 

And, the purported health benefits of the cooking style are also likely further fuelling the movement, especially as home cooks become both more advanced, technically — and more health conscious. 

“When you cook with the sous-vide technique you seal the product in an air-tight bag, which means you seal in all the naturally occurring nutrients in, as well,” Meade explains of the benefits of the bathing technique. “So, those nutrients have nowhere to go. so the majority of them end up staying in the product you are cooking.”

That nutrition angle was a major motivation for Starbucks to introduce Sous Vide Egg Bites to the U.S. in 2017 — followed by Canada in January 2018. 

“People are more conscious of what they’re eating,” Peter Furnish, vice-president of Starbucks Canada, says. “Many are skipping out on bread and focusing on nutritious protein to fuel their increasingly busy days, making our Sous Vide Egg Bites an appealing option.” 

With the new egg bites, latte fans can get a whopping double-digit grams of protein per serving, which includes two orbs of pillowy eggs.

“We wanted to offer customers a bread-free breakfast or snack that was high in protein that they would enjoy,” Furnish says. “The Bacon & Gruyere Sous Vide Egg Bites contain 19 grams of protein, and the Egg White & Roasted Red Pepper Egg Bites contain 13 grams of protein.”

Since launching the bites across Canada, Furnish says the sous-vide eggs have proven to be far more popular than the coffee giant could have ever imagined. 

“The reaction has been tremendous,” he says. “To date, we’ve more than doubled our sales expectations.”

In addition to offering a healthy alternative to certain cooking techniques, sous vide can create a new taste and texture for tried-and-true dietary staples. Yes, even for eggs. 

“Sous-vide cooking offers an unbelievable texture to food,” Furnish says. “It makes eggs velvety and creamy – almost like you’re eating something indulgent, but you’re not.”

The tendency for the style to switch-up simple ingredients may be another factor behind the sous-vide buzz.

“Believe it or not, soft cheeses and yogurt,” Meade replies, when asked what dishes he’s seen cooked with this technique that caught him by surprise. “Once I saw it and thought about it, it made complete sense! So, I tried it and, what do you know it worked really well.”  

The experience — and edible outcome — of Meade’s sous-vide experiment has prompted him to push the technique further in his own kitchen. 

“I’m still relatively new to this technique — I’ve been using it for four years — so I plan on experimenting and learning how to use it to its full potential,” he explains. “It keeps me engaged and excited, which I believe incites creativity and quality.”

And produces delicious results, too. 

Sous Vide Steak from The Teahouse in Vancouver.

RECIPE: Sous Vide Steak

From: Adam Meade, executive chef of The Teahouse 


6 oz. flatiron steak (other cuts can be used) 

Salt and pepper to taste


Start your sous vide machine and set temperature for preferred-steak heat (Rare 52-55, medium rare 56-60, medium 61-65, medium well 66-69, well done 70-100°C).

Make sure your steak is dry. Season to taste.

Place your seasoned steak in a vacuum-sealable bag, seal the bag. Place the vacuum-sealed bag and steak in the sous vide and leave it for 2-6 hours. The longer you leave the steak in, the tenderer it will get. 

When the steak is done, remove it from the bag and grill or sear it for two minutes per side or until caramelized. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes. Serve. 

RECIPE: Filipino Pork Belly Adobo 

From:  The Complete Sous Vide Cookbook, by Chris McDonald


1 batch Essential Char Siu–Style Pork Belly (*recipe below) 

1⁄4 cup (60 mL) cider vinegar

2 tbsp. (30 mL) finely chopped garlic

1 onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 tbsp. (30 mL) grated piloncillo sugar     

1 1⁄2 tsp (7.5 mL) black pepper

4 bay leaves


Cut Char Sui into 1-inch (2.5 cm) chunks. Set aside. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, combine pork belly, vinegar, garlic, onion, sugar, pepper and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain a slow simmer and stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes, until juices are reduced to a sticky caramelized glaze and pork is very tender, but not falling apart. To prevent burning, check the mixture constantly as the juices reduce.

Makes 6 servings.

*Ingredients: (for Char Siu–Style Pork Belly)

2 lbs. (907 g) fresh pork belly

6 tbsp. (90 mL) soy sauce                                                                  

6 tbsp. (90 mL) sake rice wine

1 tbsp. (15 mL) liquid honey

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 tbsp. (15 mL) finely chopped ginger

Preheat hot-water bath to 155°F (68.3°C)

Method: (for Char Siu–Style Pork Belly)

Score pork rind at 1-inch (2.5 cm) intervals across the belly. Repeat in the opposite direction. In a small saucepan, stir together soy sauce, sake and honey. Bring to a boil on stove over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in green onions and ginger. Refrigerate until chilled. Transfer pork belly and soy-sauce mixture to freezer bag. Seal bag and immerse in preheated hot-water bath. Cook for 10 to 12 hours. Remove bag from hot-water bath, transfer to an ice bath and chill for 30 minutes. Remove pork belly from bag, reserving cooking liquid.

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Vancouver Aquarium gave their new octopus a GoPro – because why not?

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 08:34

Giant Pacific octopus have a lifespan of three to five years. So seeing that the young cephalopod at the Vancouver Aquarium is part of the ‘selfie generation’ then why not hand her a GoPro? Heck, give her eight.

Aquarium staff recently let their octopus experiment with cinematography in the Treasures Of The B.C. Coast gallery.

Give an infinite number of octopuses and infinite number of GoPros and they will produce Gone With The Wind — or at least Waterworld.

Anyway, we’re suckers for a good octopus video.

On March 16, a team from Vancouver Aquarium transferred a female Giant Pacific octopus to the ocean off the coast of Bowen Island.

Last Friday, the aquarium, in partnership with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, transferred another female Giant Pacific octopus to the ocean off the coast of Bowen Island after noticing the octopus had become reproductively active.

“We first observed the octopus spending more and more time outside her den which is a behaviour associated with looking for a mate,” said Ruby Banwait, senior aquarium biologist at Vancouver Aquarium. “We knew she was fully grown and seeing eggs in her mantle confirmed that it was her time to reproduce.”

Female octopuses have an ovary-like tissue in their mantle, the large cavity that is attached to their arms, which produces an egg mass.

When staff recently noticed eggs, they received permission from DFO to transfer the octopus to the ocean.

“We wanted to give the octopus the best chance and that included diving with her to the ocean floor, limiting her exposure to open water where octopuses are most vulnerable to predation, and finding a suitable habitat for her,” said Banwait. “We couldn’t be happier with the outcome from this mission. While at the Aquarium, this octopus fascinated countless visitors who caught an up-close glimpse of this incredible animal. Now, with this next step, she is back in the ocean where she can find a mate, lay eggs, and contribute to our local Giant Pacific octopus population.”


Categories: Vancouver Sports News

B.C.: 15 bestselling books of the week, March 17

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 08:00

1. Whitewater Cooks: More Beautiful Food — Shelley Adams (Alicon Holdings Ltd.).

2. The Inner Life of Animals: Love, Grief and Compassion — Surprising Observations of a Hidden World — Peter Wohlleben (Greystone Books). 

3. As a Dog Thinketh: Daily Words of Wisdom — Monique Anstee (TouchWood Editions).

4. On Island: Life Among the Coast DwellersPat Carney (TouchWood Editions).

5. The Spitfire Luck of Skeets Ogilvie: From the Battle of Britain to the Great Escape — Keith C. Oglivie (Heritage House Publishers).

6. Grizzlies, Gales, and Giant Salmon: Life at a Rivers Inlet Fishing Lodge — Pat Ardley (Harbour Publishing).

7. First, We Brunch: Recipes and Stories from Victoria’s Best-Loved Breakfast Joints — Rebecca Wellman (TouchWood Editions). 

8. Chilcotin Chronicles: Stories of Adventure and Intrigue from British Columbia’s Central Interior — Sage Birchwater (Caitlin Press).

9. Canadian Ginger: An Anthology of Poems & Prose by and about Redheads — Dawn Marie Kresan; edited by Kim Clark (Oolichan Books).

10. Chasing Smoke: A Wildfire Memoir — Aaron Williams (Harbour Publishing).

11. Harry: A Wilderness Dog Saga — Chris Czajkowski (Harbour Publishing).

12. Backyard Bounty: The Complete Guide to Year-Round Organic Gardening in the Pacific Northwest — Linda Gilkeson (New Society Publishers).

13. Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation — Monique Gray Smith (Orca Book Publishers).  

14. You Hold Me Up — Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel (Orca Book Publishers).  

15. The World’s Most Travelled Man: A Twenty-Three-Year Odyssey to and through Every Country on the Planet — Mike Spencer Bown (Douglas & McIntyre). 

— Compiled by the Association of Book Publishers of B.C.

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Douglas Todd: Canadian Hindus struggling with Sikh activism

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 07:34

What do Canada’s more than 500,000 Hindus think about recent Sikh political activism in India and across this country?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s problem-prone trip with Sikh MPs to the world’s second most populous country, combined with revelations about federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s links to activists who want a separate Sikh homeland in India, have been front-and-centre in the news for almost two months.

Canada’s mainstream media, as well as social media, are alive with the testy and diverse views of the country’s almost 500,000 Sikhs. A popular Twitter hashtag, #AskCanadianSikhs, urges the world to find out more about the real attitudes of orthodox and unbaptized Sikhs.

But few are asking what Canada’s Hindus think.

That’s despite how Hindus have been intimately affected by the painful political, historical and religious strains that are being exposed, which date back more than three decades, to when peaceful relations in India were suddenly broken by bloody violence among Hindus, Sikhs and others.

Certain tensions from the 1980s, which had been dying down, are returning.

Vancouver Hindu Suresh Kurl, a former member of the Canadian parole board and a professor at the University of B.C., said Sikh militants “assassinated” his wife’s fruit-selling relatives in the streets of India in the early 1980s.

It was a terrible time for all concerned, with thousands losing their lives in armed battles, as well as in frenzied riots. So Kurl calls on Singh, the new NDP leader, to draw more non-Sikhs into his tent, adding that many Canadians have been “one-sided” in their portrayal of past conflicts in India.

Singh has emphasized repeatedly that he feels called to heal the collective “pain and trauma” that Sikhs suffered in India during the 1980s and since. But, as leader of a national centre-left party, many say he risks being seen as overly concerned about decades-old affairs in faraway India.


The National Alliance of Indo-Canadians, which largely consists of Hindus and other non-Sikhs, has blasted Singh for sewing division by trying to have the 1984 anti-Sikh riots declared a “genocide.” The alliance said it “expects Canadian leaders like Jagmeet Singh to focus on matters that concern Canadians and not to hurt relations between Canada and India.”

A Vancouver-based commentator with Sikh origins, Arshy Mann, a staff writer at Xtra, also says Singh is “going to have to find a way to articulate the pain of the victims of violence perpetrated by Sikhs — or risk his leadership being overrun by the politics of the 1980s.”

Just as Kurl believes Trudeau’s team acted “disgracefully” in inviting a former Sikh terrorist to attend Liberal Party functions in India, the retired UBC professor of South Asian literature believes the NDP leader looks “immature” by concentrating on Punjabi politics. “Why are you poking your nose in it? You’ve living in Canada.”

Both Kurl, an advocate of inter-faith dialogue, and Canadian Hindu businessman Prem Singhmar said they feel regret for the way in 1984 that the government of India, which is a  predominantly Hindu country, launched a military attack on Sikhs’ main temple in Amritsar.

FILE PHOTO – Paromita Naidu, of Vancouver, believes many young South Asians, Sikhs, Hindus and others, endorse the federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s style of politics, including his criticisms of the Indian government.

“The summer raid on the Golden Temple in 1984, and the assassination of (Prime Minister) Indira Gandhi that followed in the fall, make all the Indian diaspora very sad and full of remorse,” said Singhmar, a hotel developer and philanthropist.

“We all consider this to be a very shameful chapter in the history of an independent India. There was nobody I know who did not condemn these horrific (events). But things really seem to have changed in the United Kingdom, U.S. and Canada after 1984; it created a deep wedge between Sikhs and Hindus,” Singhmar said.

“It is unfortunate that a small number of extremist Sikhs in the U.K. and North America find topics of separatism and militancy very dear to their heart …. I know a lot of well-meaning Sikhs in Canada who feel pained by such activities of an extreme element. It is unfortunate that our federal governments (caters) to this fringe and disruptive Sikh element in Canada.”

Paromita Naidu, a Hindu who works in social services in Vancouver, offers a different view. She doesn’t believe Canada is becoming a hotbed of Sikh militancy. She believes many young South Asians, Sikhs, Hindus and others, endorse the NDP leader’s style of politics, including his attacks on the Indian government.

“It is really the younger generation of South Asians who are vocalizing a true alliance with him and his ideas,” Naidu said. “They are the ones voicing their disappointment with his characterization (by the media). They are the ones starting the hashtag movements and visibly coming to his defence.”

Anirudh Bhattacharyya, Canadian correspondent for India’s mass-circulation Hindustan Times, said this nation’s Hindus are not nearly as politically active as Canada’s Sikhs, who currently have four cabinet ministers in Trudeau’s government. That’s in part because they don’t want to be “pigeonholed” by their religion, he said, since they come from a secular country.

Anirudh Bhattacharyya, Canadian correspondent for India’s mass-circulation Hindustan Times, said Canada’s Hindus are not nearly as politically active as Canada’s Sikhs.

“But Hindus and other Indo-Canadians have expressed concerns about a resurgence of the pro-Khalistan movement in Canada,” Bhattacharyya said. “Many young Sikhs are very passionate about Khalistan on social media. And some older Sikhs in Canada who support Khalistan are hardcore.”

Despite underlying stresses, Bhattacharyya said the last thing most Indo-Canadians want, whether Hindu, Sikh or Muslim, is open hostilities over affairs in India. The Khalistan movement basically “doesn’t exist” in India, he said. Noting the vast country recently had a prime minister who was Sikh, Bhattacharyya said, “Sikhs are mainstream in India.”




















Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Vancouver-raised Tom Rachman travels to 1950s Italy for his latest novel

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 07:00

Vancouver raised, award-winning author Tom Rachman, the author behind the best-selling 2010 novel The Imperfectionists, is back with his fourth literary offering – The Italian Teacher.

Released March 24 the new novel tells the story of the son of a great painter who tries to get out of his larger-than-life father’s shadow and create his own story. Beginning in 1950s Rome and travelling ahead decades to London the novel is a crisp, bright read of family dynamics that is both melancholy and fun.

Rachman, who calls London home, will be in Vancouver on March 26 for a Vancouver Writers Fest Incite event at 7:30 p.m. at Vancouver Public Library’s main branch.

Postmedia caught up with Rachman and asked him a few questions.

Tom Rachman’s new book is set in the art scene of 1950s Rome.

Q: Your past novels had the newspaper and book worlds as backdrops. What attracted you to the art world for this one?

A: The lives of creative types have long fascinated me. What do they do all day? Why do so many end up with chaotic lives? Are the greats a different breed than the rest of us? Or do they simply get away with outrageous behaviour? With this novel, I wanted to offer a glimpse into the secret lives of artists.

Q: What is your experience with this world?

A: I spent the past few years infiltrating corners of the art world. I studied drawing and painting, had a potter in France teach me how to throw, interviewed successful artists and unsuccessful ones too, attended gallery openings, chatted with professional art advisers, read countless bios of famed artists. What I discovered was intriguing – and hair-raising too.

Q: The expat experience looms large in this story, what is it about that reality that is so rich for authors?

A: Writers thrive as outsiders. Or maybe it’s that outsiders long to put their thoughts into written words. Anyway, expat life is by nature detached. You’ll never belong to the foreign land where you reside. Nor, in time, do you fit in your home country. So you become a rootless observer – a most fruitful perspective for authors (and for artists too).

Q: Speaking of expats, Bear reminded me of Ernest Hemingway, large in stature and appetites. Is that fair?

A: Bear definitely shares that old-fashioned bluster and bullish (or bearish) machismo. I didn’t model Bear on Hemingway, but I could see the two boozing together – and probably ending the night in fisticuffs.

Q: The father and son relationship between Bear and Pinch is further complicated by Bear’s success. Why did you want to explore this dynamic?

A: Those who attain glory in the arts – I mean at the highest level of renown – are treated as a sanctified class, supposedly with access to divine inspiration, as if they were secular saints. I’m suspicious of this, and the book reveals why. But idolatry of great artists, whether justified or not, can expand their egos to frightening levels. Many of them (and their families, above all) suffer the consequences.

Q: It’s hard to not feel bad for Pinch every time he is let down by his father or can’t live up to the myth of his father. When you were writing this did you every want to make it easier for Pinch?

A: On the contrary, I made it harder! I think that’s part of storytelling. You conjure up a fraught situation – then make it tenser still.

Q: Did anything surprise you about these characters when you were writing them, giving them a story?

A: It’s in the telling that a story and its characters take form. If you’re not sometimes startled and churned up by what’s transpiring on the page before you, you’re not doing it right.

Q: The book begins in the 1950s with Bear already famous. Do you think the concept of fame has changed since then?

A: Fame has become the most desirable condition for so many people. It’s also increasingly detached from merit. Indeed, those with fame in greatest measure (Kim Kardashian, say) have often contributed nothing of note. In any era, a society that reveres the unaccomplished is a corrupted place.

Q: The story spans a few decades. Is there a period you most enjoyed writing about?

A: My two favourites were the Fifties and the late-hippie period. The Fifties because I grew up devoted to old movies, so enjoyed writing its language and buttoned-up ways. The early Seventies because my generation (I was born in 1974) grew up in the hippies’ shaggy shadow – it was sweet revenge to skewer their sillier aspects.

Q: Did The Imperfectionists get made into a TV series?

A: It’s “in development,” which translates as: Nobody has yet hollered “Action!” but entertainment types keep promising to do so. The producers are aiming to start shooting in the next couple of years; we’ll see. But I think it’ll appear someday.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Sorry – I’m always secretive about ongoing work.

Q: When you get a chance to come back to Vancouver are there any things that you must do when here?

A: I try to visit Irori, a favourite sushi restaurant in Kitsilano run by a most delightful staff. If possible, I eat at Miku downtown too, get dimsum, and buy warm bagels from Siegel’s at Granville Island Market. (I’m realizing that my every response is food – you can tell I’m answering around meal time.) Above all, I look forward to my parents’ company. Oh, and did I mention my mother’s unbeatable cooking?

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Ian Mulgrew: K-a-a-ching! Seven-figure legal bill upheld

Vancouver Sun - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 04:00

A legal bill in excess of $1.4 million in a dispute reminiscent of the Thirty Years War has been upheld by the B.C. Supreme Court, even though the lawyer took annual pay hikes beyond the retainer’s range.

In reasons for judgment a decade ago, on May 2, 2008 now-retired Justice Elizabeth Arnold-Bailey wrote that “this matter has a somewhat protracted history before the court.”

“Nine and a half years later, that protracted history continues,” Master Robert McDiarmid said in a ruling published Tuesday.

Still, when the Zora Grewal and his wife Harinderpal received a consolidated legal bill last year from Jenkins Marzban Logan LLP and lawyer Guy Holeksa they were shocked.

Zora, who doesn’t speak English and used a mark rather than a signature, was one of eight children in a family of Punjabi immigrants who came to Canada in the 1980s and established several businesses and bought property together.

The law firm — retained in March 2008 in connection with litigation resulting from a bitter family fight and on Aug. 31, 2008 — rendered two bills totalling $105,286.38.

“Nothing has been paid on those bills, the entire amount of the certificate remains outstanding,” McDiarmid said, though the law firm and client have apparently agreed about those invoices.

The family also paid $181,829.94 rendered in an interim bill.

Still, McDiarmid was reviewing five separate invoices submitted last year for work performed between February 2009 and June 26, 2017, totalling $1,508,794.86 — one for $1,214,293.30 for matters relating to Zora’s brother Harbans, $7,543.68 on a Canada Revenue Agency file, $225,309.63 for matters relating to disputes with Zora’s brother Harminder, $23,915.45 for a foreclosure by the Bank of Montreal and $37,732.80 for a foreclosure by Farm Credit Canada.

After the 2o08 bills went unpaid, the law firm and Grewals agreed to a retainer that stated their legal bills would be submitted when the Grewals had the ability to pay. 

With deductions for inadvertent duplication and a minor reduction of some charges in the actions involving the brothers, McDiarmid approved $1,419,191.93.

A veteran lawyer who did the bulk of the work, Holeksa testified that at times the effort required was complex, novel and difficult.

He had to slog through banking records and unravel complicated money shuffles — detailed, grinding work that was needed to determine the facts in a case riddled with inconsistencies.

The retainer agreement said: “Hourly rates are adjusted annually on or about January 1 of each year. You will be charged at the hourly rates from time to time in effect. The annual increases are generally between 0 and 5%.”

Holeksa’s hourly rate started at $375, went to $400 in 2010, $435 in 2011, $450 in 2012, $465 in 2013, $480 in 2014, $490 in 2015, $515 in 2016, and $525 in 2017.

“I charge regular hourly rate for my travel time,” he added. “This is standard of course, because if I wasn’t travelling, I would be working on other matters.”

The Grewals deposed that they did “not agree” they signed the retainer letter on or about Feb. 19, 2009 but that the signatures “looked like” their signatures.

McDiarmid dismissed that as “cute;” he did not believe them and found Holeksa to be the more credible witness.

“I am satisfied that the law firm, through Mr. Holeksa fully and fairly advised the clients regarding the terms of the retainer, including giving the clients full opportunity to discuss the retainer,” he said.

Stil McDiarmid had some “difficulty” with how Holeksa had proceeded.

“Although the average of all annual increases was less than 5%, in Mr. Holeksa’s reply submissions he concedes that the increases were 6.7% from 2009 to 2010, 8.7% from 2010 to 2011, and 5.1% from 2015 to 2016,” the master wrote.

“In hindsight, it would have been preferable for the law firm to render interim accounts, even if they were not payable, at the conclusion of each year. It would have been preferable to advise the clients of the new fee rate.”

McDiarmid explained that travel time was usually charged at half the usual rate because “here is a limited amount of time a lawyer can productively put in during a day.”

Still, he concluded “all of the work done was reasonably necessary and proper.”

There was no bonus billing, McDiarmid emphasized:

“Most significantly, this was also not a case where the law firm attempted to charge any interest, even though under the terms of the retainer agreement it might have been able to do so. It carried the entire cost of the litigation throughout.”

Making some adjustments for inadvertent duplication, and adding applicable taxes, he said the law firm’s bill for the work on Harbans’ matters should have been rendered as $1,150,000.00.

As for the invoice for matters related to Harminder, presented at $225,309.63: “That is not justified given the amount in issue. However, the work was done and success achieved. I allow that bill at $200,000.”

McDiarmid allowed the bills as presented for the Canada Revenue Agency, the Bank of Montreal and Farm Credit work.

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Opinion: Letter to Premier Horgan from ex-CEO of Canadian Western Bank

Vancouver Sun - Thu, 03/22/2018 - 23:30

Subject: Proposed foreign speculation tax

Dear Mr. Horgan,

Having read much of the back-and-forth from both sides on this tax, and giving consideration to the macro-consequences of its potential, I felt compelled to share my views on your proposed “speculation” tax with the government before finalization of details and/or implementation of the tax (or some derivation of it).

I have worked all across Canada throughout my career, and most recently retired in 2013 as CEO of Canadian Western Bank after 23 years at the helm. From my discussions with individuals in most of the larger financial institutions doing business in B.C. it appears they have significant concerns about the potential negative consequences of the tax. However, given that those institutions are more reactive than proactive in driving legislation, I suspect you likely won’t hear much from them during your consultation period as they prefer not to wade into politics, but rather will simply react to their effects once implemented.

When presented with such potentially deleterious legislation affecting their businesses, banks must undertake a full review of their current mortgage-loan portfolios to determine how many may be offside the loan-to-value ratios once the tax is implemented and property values fall as anticipated. As you are aware, becoming offside those loan ratios has significant and real consequences to a financial institution, requiring them to take certain steps to make sure they’re in compliance with the legislation.  

In addition, the banks will be undertaking a review of their construction loan book of business, both current and proposed, in an effort to determine (1) how many of these projects will have misstated revenue numbers (innocently mind you, as they couldn’t have predicted the negative effect the tax was going to have on their retail prices); (2) what percentage will lose their pre-sales that collapse after implementation of the tax; and (3) which are offside of their loan covenants due to the impact of the tax on property values and borrowers’ abilities to repay their loans. Further, any loans that have been approved, but not yet drawn, will most likely be frozen until a further and better understanding of the tax’s impact is known. These projects will end up suffering significant losses due to this uncertainty and delay, resulting in many simply not proceeding, which causes a trickle-down negative effect on contractors, trades people, realtors and others in the economic chain.

In addition, the government should appreciate that all appraisals conducted by the banks in respect of future or pending mortgage applications will be of no use, as the banks will not be able to rely on them since they would be conducted before the implementation of the tax and thus wouldn’t have the impact of the tax built in to them. The true effect of the fall in prices may not be known until later this fall or next spring as the markets will need time to settle out after the negative impact of the tax. It’s likely that appraisals won’t become reliable for the purpose of approving loans until that time.

A regressive and punitive tax like the one proposed will immediately drain business confidence in the province, and make investors reluctant to consider B.C. as a place to invest their capital. Investors and business people have options as to where and when to invest their money, and the more B.C. is made to be a difficult and expensive jurisdiction to invest in, the less capital that will flow in, and the fewer jobs that will be created for the very people you’re trying to help in the province.  

In closing, based on my knowledge of the banking industry and its propensity to be cautious and defensive in times of patent uncertainty such as will be the case with this new tax, my advice would be to withdraw from this regressive and potentially disastrous new tax and instead look for a policy that will achieve the desired result, being a significant and meaningful increase in the number of affordable-housing units in the province. Whether that be by way of incentives, subsidies, regulations, or restrictions, is entirely up to your government.

But to try to solve the problem by taxing unsuspecting Canadian owners is patently un-Canadian and ill-conceived, and in the end will be to nobody’s best interest. There is a tremendous amount of innovation and creativity available out there so why not tap into it.

Yours truly,

Larry Pollock, Retired CEO, Canadian Western Bank

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Anger grows over proposed Aquilini homes in Beverly Hills

Vancouver Sun - Thu, 03/22/2018 - 04:00

Beverly Hills residents angered over a pair of proposed large homes linked to Francesco Aquilini are now asking whether the Vancouver Canucks owner has any connection to an ongoing petition to loosen local zoning laws.

The petition seeks to strike a basement ordinance set to take effect in April that would constrain the ability to build large homes in the tony hillside community. Loma Linda Holdings recently sought a court injunction to prohibit the city from applying the incoming ordinance to 1184 Loma Linda Drive, a property Postmedia News has previously reported to be owned by Aquilini.

Aquilini did not respond to requests for comment. Richard Jackson, counsel to the Aquilini Investment Group and the listed director of Loma Linda Holdings, provided Postmedia Wednesday with a letter sent that day from Aquilini and Loma Linda’s lawyers in Los Angeles to the Beverly Hills Courier, a newspaper that first reported the story. In it, the lawyers found fault with portions of the article and sought a retraction. 

“The article’s false assertions … offensively depict our clients as having knowingly engaged in unlawful criminal conduct in the manner of the Russians when they illegally interfered in the 2016 presidential election,”” stated the letter, signed by Jerry Kay of De Castro, West, Chodorow, Mendler & Glickfield, Inc.

“Instead of objectively reporting that our clients are working through ordinary legal channels … the article falsely describes our clients as unprincipled and ruthless builders,” Kay continued.

Postmedia could not find any documents that connected Aquilini or Loma Linda Holdings to the petition. The letter from Kay stated his clients were “not paying for signatures on petitions” — though that was not a claim made by the Courier.

Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini is linked to a controversial proposal to build two large homes in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Ronald Richards, a Beverly Hills lawyer who lives near the proposed building site and whose strong opposition to the project can be found in several city documents, said there is a lot of anger among neighbours over the Loma Linda project and he did not have kind words for Aquilini.

“He’s the worst ambassador of Canada I’ve ever dealt with and I represent presently many, many Canadians,” he said in an interview. 

“And he’s bulldozing people that are lawyers, doctors (and) businesspeople that aren’t exactly pushovers. It doesn’t matter that he has a billion dollars. You don’t need a billion dollars to fight him.”

A few years ago, Aquilini’s plans for the site included a 26,000 square-foot home (10,000 square feet larger than Chip Wilson’s Point Grey bunker) with an indoor basketball court, bowling alley, a pair of bars, two swimming pools and underground parking for 10 vehicles.

The hill where the proposed Francesco Aquilini development is to be built in Beverly Hills, Calif., offers views of the Los Angeles area.


Neighbours on that drive — who live in homes that average 6,200 square feet — balked at the project, then Aquilini retracted the proposal “so that I can sit down with them to redesign my home in a way that best addresses their concerns,” as he put it in a 2015 statement issued to Postmedia News via a public relations firm.

The Loma Linda Holdings project now calls for buildings on two lots at 1184 and 1193 Loma Linda Drive. As of March 6, the proposed development on the former property had gone through 10 rounds of review through the city’s plan review process, according to city documents. The latter had gone through 11 rounds. Neither had yet been approved. 

Loma Linda Holdings claimed in recent court documents that “the city’s refusal to issue a building permit is intentional, and is designed to delay the 1184 project such that it will be subject to the basement ordinance, in which case a building permit cannot be issued.” Its injunction bid was denied this week, the Courier reported.

However, the ordinance in question could be suspended and ultimately recalled by way of referendum if 2,049 people sign the ongoing petition, according to the Courier.

Richards said he has not seen anyone solicit petitions in his neighbourhood. Instead, he believes the signature gatherers are working the flats south of Sunset Boulevard, where people are dispassionate about the issue, he said. 

Richards said his interest in the project and that of his neighbours is simple. 

“It’s totally uncourteous to build a house that big.”

— With research from Postmedia librarian Carolyn Soltau.

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2018 Juno Awards: Five things to watch for

Vancouver Sun - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 23:06

Vancouver will take centre stage — or at least provide it — at the 2018 Junos, as Canada’s Music Awards take place at Rogers Arena this weekend. 

The broadcast will return to the CBC, its original broadcaster, after airing on CTV since 2002. It’s a great year for the network to reclaim the event, as the 2018 ceremony promises to be full of special moments. Here are five you definitely won’t want to miss:

Michael Buble as host

Juno Awards 2018 host Michael Buble.

Metro Vancouver is providing the host as well. Burnaby-born crooner Michael Buble is scheduled to handle the proceedings, a year after having to bow out from the hosting gig due to his son’s cancer diagnosis.

But Buble’s delayed, highly-anticipated turn as emcee is just one of many things to watch for at this year’s ceremony, which 

Barenaked Ladies reunion

Members of the band The Barenaked Ladies Tyler Stewart, Kevin Hearn, Ed Robertson, Steven Page, and Jim Creeggan read the nominees for the 2002 Juno Awards at a press conference in Toronto on February 11, 2002.

Steven Page isn’t officially back with the Barenaked Ladies, but he will reunite with the classic Canadian rock band for one night only, joining his former group after nearly a decade away as they’re inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Billed as a one-time special appearance, Page was originally scheduled to stand alongside the group for the honour. But in March we learned that it’s actually a one-time special performance, as the group will be among the evening’s performers — a roster that includes Diana Krall, Shawn Hook, and Daniel Caesar.

Gord Downie tribute

The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie performs during the first stop of the Man Machine Poem Tour at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, B.C., Friday, July 22, 2016.

One member of the Barenaked Ladies, keyboardist Kevin Hearn, will be pulling double duty as a performer, joining Sarah Harmer and Dallas Green in a tribute to the late Gord Downie. The Tragically Hip frontman, who died of brain cancer on October 17, 2017,  is posthumously nominated for three awards for his solo album, Introduce Yerself. 

Most details of the tribute have been kept under wraps, but it promises to be another emotional moment as the Canadian music industry says goodbye to a true legend. 

Green is a fitting choice to perform the tribute, as he last performed at the Junos alongside Downie.

“The last time I performed at the Juno Awards in Vancouver, Gord was standing by my side singing with me,” Green said in a news release in February. “This performance will be with a heavy heart, but also a very proud and honoured one. Gord was the gold standard and everything that I hope to be.” 

Arcade Fire performance

Tim Kingsbury, Win Butler and Regine Chassagne (left to right) of Arcade Fire perform during the band’s concert at The Forum on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, in Inglewood, Calif. 

A late but very welcome addition to the Junos lineup, Montreal indie rockers the Arcade Fire will be performing at the ceremony. They will also be receiving an international achievement award, putting them alongside the likes of Bryan Adams, Alanis Morissette, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Sarah McLachlan and Drake.

Known for their spirited, joyous shows, the group, who just performed on SNL this past weekend, is sure to bring the house down, especially as they’re gearing up for an extended tour immediately after the ceremony, which means they’ll be very well-rehearsed. 

But even if they just do something from their last tour, it’s likely to impress — that tour left an impression on just about everybody who saw it.

“One of the best live shows that travelled across North America last year was Arcade Fire’s Infinite Content tour and we are excited to have them bring it to the Juno stage,” said CARAS president and CEO Allan Reid in a news release.

Arcade Fire are nominated for four Junos — for best group, single, album and alternative album for their 2017 release, Everything Now.

No Hedley

Jacob Hoggard, singer of pop-rock band Hedley sings at Revolution Place as part of the Cageless Tour on Friday, Feb. 9 2018 in Grande Prairie.

And finally, one thing you shouldn’t expect to see is a performance by Hedley, the B.C. pop-rockers who withdrew from Juno consideration in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations. (It was shortly after that announcement that Arcade Fire was added to the lineup.) The group has been dropped by their management team and blacklisted by numerous radio stations, including the CBC, so it stands to reason that they’ll be scrubbed from the show entirely.

But will the show come and go without the group being mentioned? It’s hard to imagine a condemnation of Hedley will be in the official script, but it’s certainly possible that the scandal will be alluded to during a particularly incendiary acceptance speech. It is, after all, much easier to talk about someone that isn’t in the room — especially if it’s the elephant there.

And in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which has seen many women speaking out against sexual harassment and assault, awards ceremonies such as this one have become a popular platform for just such a condemnation — at least in America. We’ll have to wait and see if Canada’s music awards have such a moment as well.

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Lions greats Barron Miles, Brent Johnson headed to Canadian Football Hall of Fame

Vancouver Sun - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 22:18

Two former B.C. Lions greats are headed to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

Vancouver’s football club announced Wednesday that defensive lineman Brent Johnson and cornerback and special teams standout Barron Miles will be inducted into the Hall later this year, alongside a roster of 2018 inductees that also includes Hank Ilesic, Scott Flory and the late Tommy Hugo.

“Nothing brings a coach more pride and happiness than to see his former players honoured in this manner,” said Lions VP of football operations and head coach Wally Buono. “Brent and Barron will be forever recognized for their accomplishments on the field, but they should be equally honoured for the outstanding qualities they exhibited away from the game.

“They are exceptional husbands and fathers who not only provide a career blueprint for the young men in our league today, but continue to serve as shining examples that each of us should aspire to in our own lives.” 

Johnson, who retired in 2011, was drafted out of Ohio State by the Lions in 2000. He played all 11 of his CFL seasons with the club, making 185 career appearances, including 184 consecutive games. Johnson also established a team record for quarterback sacks with 89 and was the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian in 2005.

B.C. Lions defensive end Brent Johnson in action against the Blue Bombers in 2011.

A three-time CFL All-Star (2008, 2006 and 2005), a five-time West Division All-Star (2010, 2008, 2006, 2005 and 2004), Johnson won Grey Cups with the Lions in 2006 and 2011. Following the 2011 Grey Cup title season, the Kingston, Ontario native had his number 97 retired by the Lions.  

Barron Miles played in the CFL for 12 seasons, joining the Lions in 2005 after seven seasons with the Montreal Alouettes which included a Grey Cup win in 2002. He won Grey Cups with the Lions as a player in 2006 and 2011. He was the CFL’s Outstanding Rookie in 1998, a three-time CFL All-star (1999, 2000, 2002) 

Miles finished his career as the CFL’s all-time leader in blocked kicks with 13, and tied for second all-time in career interceptions with 66. He earned five straight West Division All-Star nods and three CFL All-Star Nods (2002, 2008, 2009).

Following the 2009 seasons, Miles retired and joined the Lions’ coaching staff, winning his third Grey Cup on the sidelines in 2011 and his fourth as part of the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ coaching staff in 2013.

The Canadian Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will take place in Hamilton on Friday, Sept. 14th.

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Lauren Brown Hornor: Reconnecting with our local waterways

Vancouver Sun - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 21:00

As British Columbians, we are privileged to live in a region blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. So much of our life is shaped by our relationship with B.C.’s waters. All British Columbians, whether they live along our sprawling coastline, on one of our picturesque islands or high atop the mountains, can relate to this deep connection to water. Unfortunately, the current state of our waters is at an all-time low.

Our connections to water have been broken after years of hearing “don’t drink this,” “don’t swim there” and “don’t eat those fish.” We have been pushed away from our waters and they — and the life that depends on them — have suffered. Even when most people say they want our waters protected, they don’t know what to do.

Fraser Riverkeeper, a registered Canadian charity, and its national partner, Swim Drink Fish Canada, are working to change this. We are empowering millions of people to know and safeguard their waters by building a movement of folks who spend time on the water, such as boaters, paddlers, swimmers and anglers. Restoring this personal connection helps people to become more informed and more engaged or, as we call it, “water literate.”

Today we are celebrating World Water Day, which promotes sustainable management of freshwater resources and universal access to clean, “swimmable, drinkable, fishable” water (water that can be safely touched, is pure enough to drink, and is clean and wild enough that you can toss in a line anywhere and pull out a fish) — concepts that should resonate strongly with British Columbians. The occasion not only offers the opportunity to reflect on the importance of water, but our personal connection to this vital resource as well.

We work to protect and foster personal connections to water by engaging in innovative programs such as the Watermark Project. is a national story bank for people’s water tales that helps to promote increased understanding and action at the community level to protect swimmable, drinkable, fishable waters for everyone. To date, we’ve collected thousands of Watermarks, recounting personal connections to bodies of water spanning the country.

We also organize regular events, such as regional beach cleanups, which have successfully removed more than 112 tonnes of garbage from the Fraser River. This coming Saturday, March 24, is the 11th annual Fraser River Cleanup, our largest event of the year. With 500-600 volunteers expected, this is a perfect opportunity for residents to become more involved.

While there is no replacement for community-based action, there is also no denying that the protection of our water systems has become increasingly complex and multi-dimensional. In addition to non-profit organizations, the private and public sectors are also essential partners in addressing water-quality issues and driving forward sustainable usage of our waterways.

Take, for instance, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, which, in 2013, launched its five-year, $2-million Fraser River Improvement Initiative. The goal of this program is to clean up derelict vessels and structures throughout the river, which not only block navigation channels, but can also harm wildlife and habitat by leaching toxic chemicals, such as fuel, oil and paint, into the surrounding environment. To date, the port authority has cleaned up nearly 150 sites along the Fraser. 

Or consider that just last week the federal government took this idea one step further, announcing funding for a nationwide effort aimed at removing abandoned boats through the Oceans Protection Plan — a $1.5-billion program that marks the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways.

B.C.’s coastlines and waterways are among our most valuables resources, and they come with a collective responsibility to protect them. Swimmable, drinkable, fishable water is necessary for the things people value most in life — family, friendship, culture, freedom and opportunity. We all have a role to play and possess a deeper connection to water than we often realize. So, this World Water Day, consider your own personal connection to water. Because when water is protected, communities can prosper.

Lauren Brown Hornor is the former executive director of Fraser Riverkeeper, where she now sits on the board of directors. She is currently the partnership lead for Western Canada with Swim Drink Fish Canada, a national group connecting people to water.

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B.C. court ruling foreshadows flood of litigation, forced sales involving Chinese home ownerships, lawyer says

Vancouver Sun - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 20:13

A student who owned a multi-million dollar Vancouver home has won a B.C. Supreme Court judgment forcing the sale of up to four Vancouver properties, in a complex case that foreshadows a flood of sales and litigation in Vancouver’s wild market, a real estate lawyer says.

In 2016 Angela An-Chi Chang — who owned a home on the 3300-block West 14th Avenue according to legal filings — sued a man who allegedly failed to complete his purchase of Chang’s home. After a court battle, a judge has now ordered the sale of up to four properties owned by the defendant, in a ruling that could lead to further court battles between multiple bank and private lenders who already have mortgages secured by the defendant’s Vancouver real estate assets.

Ron Usher, a lawyer involved in making recommendations for reform in B.C.’s real estate industry, told Postmedia that given the NDP government’s new measures to crack down on speculative investment, he can envision “a mountain” of similar cases coming through B.C. courts.

“We are seeing these court actions because there are so many of these private arrangements, where people have to turn to others for financing,” Usher said. “Or, they might have debts coming due in another country.”

Usher said B.C. judges are increasingly being asked in civil cases to unwind complex property ownership disputes.

“We really don’t know the ownership of property in B.C., and now we have judges commenting,” Usher said. “It is inevitable that these cases will start to impact the market place.”

Chang’s claim says that defendant Xing Xua Hua agreed to buy her Kitsilano home in June 2016, for $3.9 million. Hua, who currently owns four homes in Vancouver, paid Chang a deposit of $190,000. Hua was to complete the purchase of Chang’s home by the end of September 2016. But he asked Chang to extend the closing into October 2016, and offered an additional $500,000 deposit.

Chang agreed to the sale extension, her claim says, but she never received the additional deposit funds, and determined the sale had collapsed.

In November 2016, she sued Hua, claiming losses and damages from the collapsed deal.

In a response, Hua claimed that after he did not complete the agreed deal in October 2016 his son Hua Wang offered in his place to buy Chang’s home for $3.9 million. But Chang did not accept the offer from Hua Wang, filings say.

In June 2017, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled in Chang’s favour. The judge ordered Hua to pay Chang damages of $583,000, plus legal costs for the case. Chang was also given a mortgage against a Shaughnessy home on the 2000-block West 19th Ave owned by Hua to secure the judgment.

The judge then ordered the sale of that Shaughnessy home and further ordered that three other properties owned by Hua, including a second Shaughnessy home valued at $3.1 million, and two Vancouver condos, could be sold. The judge said Chang could set the prices of Hua’s four properties and sell them successively, until she received her full court ordered payment.

The 2000-block West 19th Avenue property was listed in January 2018 for a “court order” sale at $5.58 million. The price was reduced to $5.38 million, and has been reduced further to $5.18 million, an MLS listing says.

A review by Postmedia of land title and mortgage documents connected to Hua’s four Vancouver properties show that he was involved in a number of real estate deals in 2016, and that multiple bank and private lenders have issued loans to Hua. These successive loans are secured against his properties. This suggests that multiple lenders could become involved in a complicated B.C. court battle involving Hua’s properties, in order to seek repayment of Hua’s real estate-backed debts. The issue being triggered by the forced sale of his properties.

One private lender with loans against several of Hua’s homes, according to documents, is named Su Cheng Chen. CIBC has issued multiple mortgage loans to Hua, as has Reliable Mortgage Investments Corp., according to property documents.

This court case resembles a number of Vancouver cases involving private lenders, and property purchases that appear to be financed with real-estate collateral and not backed by traditional income flow.

In some cases, real estate investors with roots in Mainland China have been contesting properties that are tied up in complex chains of community-based private loans, Postmedia has reported recently. Vancouver lawyers are also seeing a substantial increase in B.C. court cases filed by Chinese companies seeking to seize real estate assets from Chinese immigrants in B.C. Many of these cases involve allegations of opaque ownership, and lenders seeking to enforce debt judgments from Chinese courts.

In a 2016 study, global anti-corruption agency Transparency International pointed to the rising use of opaque ownership structures in Vancouver real estate, including shell companies, legal trusts, and so-called nominee owners with occupations such as “student” and “housewife.” The study’s author, Adam Ross, said these occupations are unlikely to produce the income needed to buy a house in Metro Vancouver, which is why housewives and students are considered by some to be opaque buyers.

Title documents show that the student Chang bought her West 14th Ave. home for $1.47 million in 2011, and sold it for $3.33 million in May 2017, following the collapse of the deal with Hua.

Mortgage documents for Hua’s 2000-block West 19th property, show that he lists his occupation as “general manage” and that he bought the home in 2011 with a mortgage from CIBC. At about the time he was to buy Chang’s home for $3.9 million, Hua bought a Shaughnessy home for $3.1 million and a Mount Pleasant area condo and condo on the UBC lands, worth $2.5 million in total.

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Former boss of B.C.'s Fraser Health region faces fraud investigation in New Zealand

Vancouver Sun - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 19:55

The former CEO of Fraser Health, who in 2014 resigned under threat of dismissal and took a similar job in New Zealand, will be investigated by that country’s serious fraud office over more than $120,608 ($112,427 Canadian) in “unjustified” travel and hotel expense claims.

The action against Dr. Nigel Murray, who worked in B.C. for seven years, was announced Wednesday by an inquiry in New Zealand. In a damning, 57-page report, Murray is found to have billed, and been reimbursed by, the Waikato District Health Board for numerous unauthorized, personal trips to places like Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Montreal and Moncton. He often cited “professional development” as the purpose of the trips when filing expense claims.

The report said Murray was hired in New Zealand without due diligence, as key leaders like the chair of the Fraser Health board were not contacted. If they had been, according to the New Zealand report, recruiters would have learned about problems with Murray’s leadership style and that would have explained why, in May, 2014, he was being pushed out of Fraser Health and hunting for a new job.  

“If they had checked with his current employer in Canada, it would have raised a red flag. That did not mean Dr. Murray would not have been employed, but the Board should have the fullest information in making an appointment,” the inquiry report says.

The report was released the same week that a forensic audit on Murray’s spending while at Fraser Health was made public. It revealed Murray’s profligate spending when he worked in B.C. starting in 2007. Unlike the situation in New Zealand, however, there is no suggestion Murray should repay anything here.

High-profile Vancouver businessman Wynne Powell, who was brought in by then health minister Terry Lake to take over as chair of the Fraser Health board in 2014, said in an interview Wednesday that one of the first things he did was commission the forensic audit by KPMG so he could learn if everyone, including the CEO, was “playing by the rule book.”

Wynne Powell, former chair of the Fraser Health board

“Were there issues with some of Nigel Murray’s expenses? Some minor ones. Did he protect himself? Yes. But it wasn’t in the realm of what they are talking about in New Zealand.

“What we found out through the process was that we had to improve transparency and tighten up the rule book. There’s a phrase in accounting — ‘trust, but verify.’ And that’s really important when spending public money,” Powell said.

After the KPMG report, rules were changed so health region executives could no longer file expenses for both mileage and car allowances. The KPMG audit, which covered five of the seven years Murray worked in B.C., showed he claimed car expenses of about $60,000 in that period.

Both reports show a surprising lack of rigour in B.C. and New Zealand in scrutinizing expense claims, many of which were paid without receipts. Fraser Health board chair Jim Sinclair said expenses are no longer paid without receipts. And expenses of the CEO can now be viewed by the public online. 

While New Zealand authorities have collected about three-quarters of the money Murray is said to owe, Fraser Health has not sought any repayment because, as spokeswoman Jacqueline Blackwell said, “every expense incurred by the previous CEO, including expenses related to relocation, would have been approved by the then sitting board chair.” Murray moved to B.C. from New Zealand and his relocation costs were $103,502, much higher than the $40,000 Fraser Health anticipated.

Once he moved back to New Zealand, Murray racked up $218,209 in travel hotel and related expenses while he headed one of 20 district health boards from July, 2014 to October, 2017, when he resigned because of the controversy over his expenses.

The investigation found that there were 129 items for travel; 59 of them did not meet standards for appropriate authorization and 45 were unjustified. Indeed, $74,265.04 of the expenses he billed the health district were for personal purposes, according to the report. So far, Murray has repaid $54,831.98, but $19,434.06 remains in dispute.

“The investigation report shows Dr. Murray spent public monies on private travel and made claims for the reimbursement of expenses he was not entitled to claim for. As the chief executive, he should have known better. He was supposed to be setting an example for his organization,” said State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes, whose agency ordered the New Zealand report.

“While (his) conduct did not meet the standards expected in the state sector, it is not the role of this inquiry to determine whether there was any criminal wrongdoing. This is why I have referred the investigation report to the serious fraud office,” said Hughes.

The New Zealand inquiry was launched last November after the country’s minister of health requested an investigation of Murray’s expenditures. Dozens of media reports have documented his problematic leadership. “The inquiry found Dr. Murray’s conduct fell well short of what is required of a state sector leader,” said Hughes.

The inquiry report details how Powell was contacted late last year to offer insights into Murray’s performance in Fraser Health. Murray’s resignation was always framed by the B.C. government as a decision Murray made, not that he was squeezed out.

But the New Zealand report says that because of widespread problems in Fraser Health, Powell had told Murray that his job would be terminated in November, 2015, and that in May, 2014, he would be stripped of his title as CEO of Fraser Health. His new title would become “provincial senior executive lead.” That infuriated Murray and he announced on the spot that he would resign. 

The details of the resignation were not known to the Waikato District Health Board and the report makes it clear that if such information had been obtained, Murray may not have been offered the New Zealand job.

“The nominated referees (references) spoken to did not include Dr. Murray’s current boss (Powell), the chair of Fraser Health. I believe best practice should include a broader catchment of referees than those nominated by a candidate and a reference check with a candidate’s current employer, for the most up to date commentary about the candidate’s performance,” Hughes said.

Murray and his lawyer have not spoken to the media. But the report attaches a letter from Murray’s lawyer, Peter Cullen, to inquiry head John Ombler, contending the investigation has been “unfair” and “seriously flawed” because they have not been given full disclosure of information in the possession of investigators.

“We simply do not understand why Mr. Ombler has chosen to deny Dr. Murray access to this information,” said Cullen, adding that he has filed a complaint to the privacy commission about the matter.

“It is our advice to Dr. Murray that the processes of the (State Services Commission) investigation are not fair and are, in our view, not lawful. Dr. Murray has accepted that advice, and for that reason believes that participating in this investigation at this stage will place him in unknown jeopardy.”

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

How to make your Facebook more secure

Vancouver Sun - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 19:54

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica-Facebook data scandal, the rise of the #deleteFacebook movement has been gaining steam.

Cambridge Analytica used data from 50 million Facebook users as part of its efforts to assist the Trump campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The data was collected by an independent researcher, using an approved app, that properly requested permission from users. The researcher then turned around and sold the data to Cambridge, something the terms of service did not allow.

The app the researcher built asked users to give a whole bunch of permissions in a manner that Facebook no longer allows. Still, the damage has been done and users seem to be feeling very wary about the situation, with some even pondering removing their page all together. (If you do, you can download your old photos and other data into a zip file.)

“Originally you could create an app that could collect everything,” digital marketing and technology expert Tod Maffin explained to Postmedia on Wednesday. “In the last couple of years, Facebook has really limited that.

“What they do instead is if you just want to collect names and email address (with your app), that’s fine but if (a developer) wants more — such as your interests or your friends list — they’ve got to make a business case.”

And so, here’s how to take back control of much of your Facebook data.

1. Be aware of what data apps are after

Apps which might be looking to collect hefty amounts of personal data often come in the form of fun quizzes or games.

“Apps can get access to your interests and your demographic information and your birthday and that sort of thing when you install them,” he went on.

The key is to take note of what they say they’d like to collect. If it’s anything more than your name and your email address, pause a moment and look harder.

“They pop up a little dialogue box that reads ‘this app is requesting the following information’ — there is a little link where you can change those permissions,” Maffin pointed out. Click that, he said, and remove anything you don’t want to give away.

2. Secure your old posts (and your new ones too)

The other thing to secure is your page itself. If you’ve had an account for many years, it’s likely many of your old posts are open to public scrutiny.

To close that off, go to your privacy settings page. There you’ll find an option to “Limit The Audience for Old Posts on Your Timeline.” If you click the Limit Past Posts, that will make your old posts default to friends-only.

3. Consider how much of your page you want available to the public

“Facebook actually has quite a number of tools that make it fairly easy (to secure your account),” he said. That’s a change from the early days, when Facebook had all posts available to everyone’s view.

Adding granular controls for users to restrict individual posts has greatly increased the ability of users to protect themselves from wandering eyes.

“Restricting (your settings) so posts can only go to your friends, that’s for human beings who are looking at your profile.”

That will also work to limit what advertisers or otherwise can find out about you. (You should also turn off location services and consider your ad preferences.

4. Get control of your demographic information

The power of a person’s interests and demography still form the backbone of Facebook’s advertising business. Advertisers may be restricted from matching your interests to your name — that’s at the core of the Cambridge Analytica controversy, by buying the data set they were able to do so — but they can still buy ads which target everyone within a certain demographic or interest group. They don’t know who you are, but they know you’re out there.

And so, remove that information which tells others where you work, or where you went to school, or many of the fun other bits of demographic information that once might have seemed a fun thing to share.

The final note: “everyone has to be responsible for their own information. They cannot get that information if you don’t post it to your Facebook.”

Maffin believes Facebook still has plenty of utility and people shouldn’t delete their account on a whim.

Stil, he closes with an old caution: “if you’re not paying to use it, you are the product.”

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Vaughn Palmer: A lesson in respect, but no pay hike talk for B.C. teachers

Vancouver Sun - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 19:53

VICTORIA — Premier John Horgan marked a turning of the page in the B.C. government relationship with teachers in an address this week to the annual convention of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

“For the past 16 years, the people in this room have not been respected by their government,” he told delegates. “That changed on the 18th of July last year and I commit to respecting you each and every day for the value that you bring to human beings’ lives. Nothing — nothing — is more important that that.”

But at least one other thing is almost as important to repairing the relationship, given the pointed messaging from BCTF president Glen Hansman that teachers need a significant wage increase in their coming contract talks with the province.

“We have the worst starting wages in Canada, other than Quebec,” Hansman told host Stephen Quinn during an interview on CBC Radio on the morning of Horgan’s address to delegates.

“Salaries, overall, are nowhere near what teachers in other parts of Canada get paid. This isn’t a teacher-specific problem. The same is true with principals and vice-principals.”

The wage gap has already proven to be a problem in hiring enough teachers to meet the Supreme Court of Canada dictated staffing levels after the previous government’s contract-breaking debacle.

“We need more bodies, from Manitoba, Ontario, and Alberta (and) that’s a problem,” said Hansman, quoting union research showing that teachers in those provinces earn thousands of dollars more every year than their B.C. counterparts.

The current BCTF contract expires at the end of June 2019, but there was nothing premature about Hansman’s warning that teachers will be looking for a substantial wage increase.

By summer of this year, the New Democrats will have commenced the process for the next three-year budget and fiscal plan. With contracts for all unionized public sector workers, not just teachers, expiring next year, the cabinet will also establish a mandate for the next round of bargaining across the broad public sector.

But no question that teachers will be at the forefront of those pressuring for a catch-up increase after a decade of wage restraints under the B.C. Liberals.

The union Wednesday released the latest version of its nationwide survey of pay grades for qualified teachers with a bachelor of arts or science degree, showing that B.C. ranked ninth among Canadian provinces for starting salaries and seventh for teachers at the 10-year mark of their careers.

The most dramatic gap was with Alberta, which was the gold standard for public sector pay in Canada even before the New Democrats took power there three years ago.

The BCTF report has Alberta teachers starting out at $63,000 and hitting $97,000 at the 10-year mark.  For B.C. the equivalent range is said to be $50,000 to $78,000. To close that gap would entail an across-the-board increase in the order of 25 per cent.

“Obviously, no one is expecting a leap like that to occur right away,” says Hansman. “But the province has to get real in terms of if we want qualified, certified French immersion teachers, senior secondary teachers in some of those hard-to-fill areas, speech language pathologists, all the other people who are BCTF members providing the work to students — there needs to be some sort of plan over the next little while to close that gap.”

Horgan, in promising Tuesday to consult with the union on a more flexible funding formula for school districts, was careful to avoid being trapped into an impromptu round of wage negotiations.

“I know what you’re saying,” he told delegates. “But what about the bargaining? That’s not in there, that’s somewhere else, and I’ll leave it at that.”

He also reminded teachers the government had already boosted funding for the K-12 system by $1.2 billion in the current three-year budget and fiscal plan. The New Democrats have also stepped up construction of new schools and seismic upgrading of old ones.

The premier noted, too, that he and his NDP colleagues face some major financial challenges in addition to next year’s contract talks.

“Every time I turn over a rock or lift up a piece of carpet, I find another problem that was pushed down the road. I think that’s a challenge not just for people in this room, but for people across British Columbia.

“We had a very ambitious election platform, we want to make sure we have universal quality child care in B.C. and that’s why we are investing $1 billion over the next three years.”

What he didn’t mention was that the teachers’ demands in terms of a wage increase will drive expectations and costs for the tens of thousands of other public sector workers whose contracts expire next year.

Already there’s talk of unions seeking 10 per cent, maybe more, over a preferred three-year deal. As noted here recently, with contracts for 300,000 public sector workers up next year, an across-the-board increase of even one per cent in wages and benefits for one year would add $300 million ever year to the overall cost of government. Ten per cent over three years would cost billions.

No wonder the New Democrats are delicately trying to talk down expectations, hoping to survive next year’s bargaining round with their balanced budget intact and their relationship with teachers and other public sector workers still grounded in mutual respect.


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The Happenings: Three things to do in Vancouver on Thursday, Mar. 22

Vancouver Sun - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 19:26

Looking for something to do in Metro Vancouver? Here are three suggestions for Thursday, Mar. 22.

JUNO Cup Jam

The JUNO awards go this Saturday and Sunday in Vancouver, but the party actually starts far earlier. There are a handful of JUNO events in the city this week, but the one that stands out best to me is the JUNO Cap Jam, a “hockey hootenanny” held Thursday night at the Imperial in support of MusiCounts, Canada’s music education charity associated with the JUNOS. The event will feature several one of a kind musical collaborations and covers by some of Canada’s most talented artists.

Performers include Aaron Pritchett, Barney Bentall, Brad Dalgarno, Chad Brownlee, Chuck Keeping, Cosmo Ferraro, Dallas Smith, Darryl James, Devin Cuddy, Dustin Bentall, Gary Nylund, Grant Lawrence, Jay Bodner, JJ Shiplett, Matt Sobb, Odds, Sam Polley, and Shawn Hook. That’s an incredible lineup for an evening that only costs $20 a head.   

Where: The Imperial, 319 Main St., Vancouver
When: Doors open at 8 p.m.
Cost: $20

Ella Vos

If you’re a fan of Imogen Heap, Frou Frou, Jessie Ware or early Sia, you’ll love Ella Vos and her brand of sweet, electronic-influenced power-pop. The L.A.-based singer/songwriter had her first breakout hit with the single White Noise, and she’s sure to have several more. Her music is eminently listenable — her voice is honey, and her lyrics are lovely. Vos performs Thursday night at Fortune Sound Club

Where: Fortune Sound Club, 147 E. Pender St., Vancouver
When: 8:30 p.m.
Cost: $17.50

Mack Gordon’s Game Show Night

Local artist Mack Gordon has a hit on his hands with the plainly-titled Mack Gordon’s Game Show Night. The writer and actor is in his element as a game show host, and his Family Feud nights are always popular events. But this particular Game Show Night has a twist: in addition to another round of the Feud, Gordon will also be doing the Newlywed Game. Disclosure: a newlywed myself, I was almost a contestant this week. My wife and I would have won in a rout. But I’m sure the other couples are just fine. Get down to the Biltmore for what’s sure to be a fun and rowdy night.

Where: Biltmore Cabaret, 2755 Prince Edward Ave., Vancouver
When: 7 p.m.

See more events around Vancouver on our weekly calendar.

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Categories: Vancouver Sports News

Author Timothy Taylor tackles survival in new novel The Rule of Stephens

Vancouver Sun - Wed, 03/21/2018 - 19:00

Writers Fest Incite: Timothy Taylor

When: March 26, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Vancouver Public Library 
main branch

Tickets: Free but registration is required

Vancouver writer Timothy Taylor’s new novel The Rule of Stephens is about survival of both the physical and emotional kind.

At the centre of the thriller is 30-something Catherine Bach. Bach has survived a major airline disaster and now has to survive life after that fact.

Taylor will be reading from the new novel at a Writers Fest Incite event on March 26 at the Vancouver Public Library main branch.

Taylor’s protagonist is the brilliant mind behind a Vancouver-based biotech startup that is creating an ingestible diagnostic device. Her life is the 24/7 world of tests, deadlines and in this case an angel investor who isn’t all that angelic.

Then a phone call in the middle of the night from one of the other handful of survivors of the plane crash jolts her awake and jolts her emotionally as the caller on the other end quickly becomes a dark cloud dispensing cryptic warnings — warnings that lead her down the rabbit hole of survivor’s guilt.

“You survived, get over yourself. That is a really complicated thing for survivors to do,” said Taylor over the phone recently.

Taylor said that survivors of trauma have a lot in common when it comes to life after-the-fact.

“The literature on survivors guilt is amazing for its consistency,” said Taylor, who’s previous novel Stanley Park was a national bestseller and a finalist for the Giller Prize.

 “People tell similar stories. They agonize over similar things. They encounter similar existential moments of doubt.”

The Rule of Stephens author Timothy Taylor will read an excerpt from the book at the Vancouver Public Library main branch on March 26. Photo: David Middleton

A big part of that doubt here is whether Bach has lost her mojo, used up all her luck. But for a woman deeply involved in the world of science the mere concept of luck is not really a thing.

“When she was young and certain she used to lecture her rather romantic-minded sister about the Rule of Stephens, the world either works according to Stephen Hawking which is to say by the cosmology of physics or it works by spookier paranormal rules like that of the world of Stephen King,” said Taylor, explaining the title and Bach’s subsequent outlook. “You kind of have to choose. You can’t believe both.”

Well, you can’t until you fall from thousands of metres out of a burning, blown-apart airplane.

“Her own faith in a sort of (Hawking-esque) view of the universe is sort of shaken, because weird things start to happen to her,” said Taylor.

Those weird things include the strange and dark force of the former cancer researcher and fellow flight survivor who tells Catherine about his terrible post-crash life: a life he feels has been destroyed by a doppelgänger.

Bach of course thinks the good doctor has gone mad. That is until things get complicated and strange as a hostile takeover of her company appears to be spearheaded by another red-headed woman who bears a close resemblance to Bach herself.

In Bach, Taylor has created an interesting character that you really do pull for as she stutters and then steadies herself and ultimately secures her destiny. While Bach is bang on in this new era of #TimesUp and #MeToo, Taylor said about a year into writing The Rule of Stephens he suffered “a crisis of confidence about putting a woman through the wringer.”

“I thought oh my God what am I doing? Am I going to get shy and uncertain at the moment of truth so I tried to convert her into a guy and I re-wrote quite a bit of the early stuff with her as a male character and it was like the whole train came off the rails,” said Taylor. “I just didn’t like it anymore. It wasn’t working. It wasn’t the person I had originally met in my imagination so I took an early draft out of a drawer and I read it again and said ‘you haven’t written anything in six months that convinces you as much as this does,’ so I went right back to Catherine.

“I had blinked and created a whole bunch of problems for myself. It took me several months of working away at that to realize no, but that just speaks strongly to where she came from. She came very vividly and very strongly into my imagination as a character and she came back,” added Taylor.

Bach is not the first female to take centre stage in the award-winning writer and UBC creative writing professor’s works so it wasn’t her gender that made him blink but the rather the level of anxiety she was living with. That all changed for him when tragedy struck and Taylor’s father Richard, his mother-in-law Jill McDougall and close friend Kent Ennsall died within three months of each other.

“Low and behold shit started happening to me in 2016 and I had no problem accessing anxiety or accessing that staggering sense of doubt that comes with wondering what the hell is going wrong with the world,” said Taylor.

Bach it turned out was just what he needed at that stage in his life. She suddenly was helping him survive. So in the end finishing this book was indeed bittersweet.

“This one I was almost a little sad,” said Taylor. “Through a process that I could have never predicted and that I would not recommend anybody try to duplicate I ended up kind of going through a real horrible period personally around the time I was putting Catherine through the most horrible period. Yeah, the book is dedicated to three people who passed in three months. So that was a bad time for me and I just happened to be putting the book together right at that time. Finishing the draft, getting her into the most awkward spots that she gets into psychologically and otherwise. I ended up feeling that I empathized with her more than any other protagonist I have ever created so yeah letting that go was sort of interesting. I felt like I was pretty close to that character.”

Categories: Vancouver Sports News

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