November 29, 2019

ICBC sues driver in fatal truck crash over fuel spill damage in Kootenay National Park

BIV's lawsuit of the week

Photo: Rob Kruyt

The Insurance Corp. of British Columbia (ICBC) is suing Abbotsford resident Jaswinder Singh Bagri, a trucker convicted of four counts of dangerous driving causing death, over a 2011 crash that also caused a “significant fuel spill” in Kootenay National Park.

ICBC filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on November 21, claiming Bagri is liable for a $100,984 payment made to the national parks authority for the spill. According to the lawsuit, Bagri was behind the wheel of a 2003 Volvo tractor-trailer on July 22, 2011, when he collided with a camper van operated by a California man named Robert Andrew Howard.

“The Collision was caused solely as a result of the negligence of the Defendants,” ICBC’s claim states.

According to a 2016 ruling from the B.C. Court of Appeal, Bagri’s truck jackknifed on a sharp corner in rainy conditions when it hit Howard’s van, which also contained his wife, Anna Maria Dias, and their daughters, Veronica and Samantha Howard, all of whom were killed. Bagri, who suffered minor injuries in the crash, was unsuccessful appealing his criminal convictions, and ICBC now claims that he is in breach of insurance regulations, having “forfeited his right to indemnity” under the insurance policy.

The insurance corporation claims it paid out settlement funds “in good faith.” Bagri is “legally liable to pay for the property damages arising out of the Collision,” the company claims and seeks recovery of monies paid for “environmental services” in 2013.

Bagri has allegedly failed to pay back the sum despite the demand. ICBC’s allegations have not been proven in court and Bagri had not responded to the claim by press time.


Trudeau needs to make a play now in the game of What Do You Do?

The game is called: What Do You Do?

What Do You Do when your largest trading partner says no and your second-largest says yes?

What Do You Do when one of your intelligence agencies says sure and another one says surely not?

What Do You Do when the general public says you’re crazy to do so and two major companies say you’re crazy not to do so?

Yes, you can delay, study, consult, reflect, assess, examine, scrutinize, consider, appraise, confer, ponder, ruminate, contemplate, mull, evaluate, defer, cogitate, brood, weigh, gauge and 20 other things to avoid, sidestep, duck, elude, eschew, avert, dodge, shirk, equivocate, evade, vacillate, dither, waver, dawdle, hem, haw, shun, balk, hesitate and hang.

But you are the federal government, this decision involves some of the world’s largest companies, the economic implications are almost countless, the technology is revolutionary and there is deep, deep division in the land about it.

You have punted the 5G decision so often that the football is deflated and your foot is inflated.

You reluctantly have in custody Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., on Trumped-up allegations. She is enduring the threat of extradition in one of those $13 million Shaughnessy fixer-uppers, just down the street from the U.S. Consulate that would take her possession in a successful court case now destined to stretch into 2021.

Meanwhile, in all gravity, two Canadians are retributively in prison as bargaining chips.  

The Americans have feebly blacklisted Huawei and muse about a cyberwall if Canada gives the all-clear to a company whose country wants to upbraid U.S. tech supremacy. China is expressing ultra-clear displeasure. Our Canadian Security Intelligence Service sides with America and Australia; our Communications Security Establishment says Canada can mitigate any problems.

The sad truth nearly a year hence is that Canada has figured out it was pawned by America in Meng’s mess. China seems to have been, too. The Donald is no amateur.

Huawei as a metaphor for China cannot be overstated, and it is the job of its Canadian executive on government relations to stickhandle the company’s preferred end game in Justin Trudeau’s first major minoritygovernment move.

So: What Do You Do?

Morgan Elliott is Huawei’s vice-president of government affairs, and few would want his job at any price. He concedes he thought long and hard about taking it seven months ago. He concedes his gut guides his belief he knows the truth – that is, the truth about whether Huawei will use its 5G technology to infiltrate our infrastructure and steal our secrets.

Either he is right, he asserts, or China is pulling off one of the all-time capers. There is some money bet on the latter.

Elliott is no stranger to political navigation. He has been an aide to three, count them, deputy prime ministers: Anne McLellan, John Manley and Herb Gray. He was an executive in a Canadian company, BlackBerry, all too versed in protecting and securing our information – to the annoyance of the very security agencies here and elsewhere now fretting about Huawei’s imperialist and interventionist possibilities.

He fielded questions onstage last week at the Canadian Club Vancouver without breaking out in beads of sweat, no matter how I tried. He has that open-book, front-stage behaviour that dispelled many doubters in the crowd about what Huawei portends. He contended that Huawei doesn’t like China’s detention of the two Michaels – Spavor and Kovrig – now in un-Shaughnessy-like surroundings for nearly a year.

His message seems to be: Let them go, let Meng go and let’s go.

But the mousey Trudeau government is caught between two restless elephants and there is no sleep to be had in the perilous bed. Both Telus and Bell Media have bet on Huawei, which, whaddya know, last week produced a report suggesting its economic input exceeded $700 million in Canada in 2018. Some of those funds are part of a $50 million investment in university research this decade at University of British Columbia and elsewhere.

Not that that’s a threat. Not that Huawei would desert us. Not that there aren’t consequences, though, as the Trudeau government offends one superpower and appeases the other.

So Justin: What Do You Do? And how about doing it soon?

Kirk LaPointe is editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and vice-president, editorial, at Glacier Media.


Vancouver’s creative cocktail makers shake things up with vegan drinks

The Empress is a vegan cocktail made by Vancouver bartender Katie Ingram at Elisa. Photo by Leila Kwok

The Pink Lady, Pisco Sour and Ramos Gin Fizz have at least one thing in common: their frothy, silky top. The luscious foam traditionally comes from shaken egg whites, the flavourless, foamy ingredient lending the drinks a smooth and creamy texture.

Bartenders’ use of albumen is nothing new. Alongside the rise of contemporary cocktail culture, however, has been the growing trend of veganism.

What are those who eschew animal products to do when craving a traditional Whisky Flip or Clover Club? The same question applies to drinks containing milk or cream. Grasshoppers may be green, but they certainly don’t cut it for proponents of a strictly plant-based diet.

To meet the dietary needs of more and more consumers, creative cocktail makers have come up with all sorts of vegan adaptations of drinks that typically call for eggs or dairy.

For Claire Wyrostok, offering vegan cocktails is essential at Vancouver’s Black Lodge, the Twin Peaks-themed restaurant and bar she co-owns with Brad Mackinnon.

“The restaurant is vegetarian, but we aim to make everything on menu possible to be vegan, and the whole cocktail menu is vegan,” says Wyrostok, who’s vegetarian herself. “We don’t use any eggs in our cocktails, and aquafaba is a very nice replacer that gives us very fluffy, foamy vegan drinks.”

“Aquafaba” is the name for the water that chickpeas and other legumes are cooked in and the liquid you drain after opening a can of such pulses. Like egg whites, the brine acts as an emulsifier, changing the surface tension of a drink to create foam.


Wonderlust at YEW Seafood + Bar. Photo courtesy YEW

Wyrostok likes using aquafaba not just because it doesn’t come from an animal, but because it’s lower in calories than egg whites, has a lower risk of foodborne illness, is safe for people with egg allergies, and doesn’t have the odour that egg whites can emit. (Wyrostok says the substance can also replace eggs in other recipes too, from meringue to angel food cake to dressings.)

“As a restaurant owner, it’s a dream working with it,” she says. “It’s shelf-stable. It’s an easier, safer product. Taste-wise, I find it undetectable. It’s an odourless, tasteless emulsifier.”

Elisa Steakhouse bar manager Katie Ingram uses aquafaba as a substitute for egg whites on request in cocktails like the Earl Grey Martini 2.0 and Divine Rabbits. She wanted to divert kitchen waste while at the same time create delicious alternatives for diners with dietary preferences.

“We’re delighted to find that many of our guests really enjoy the aquafaba as a substitute in their cocktails,” Ingram says. “When I was competing in the [Diageo] World Class Canada national finals this year, we had a mini Amazing Race challenge where you and a partner would run around Whistler with clues to secure ingredients for a black-box challenge. One of the clues led us to a taste challenge, where they made us two Talisker 10 Sours: one with egg white and one with aquafaba. The judges were impressed at how many of us preferred the aquafaba to the egg white in our drinks.”

Coconut makes for an effective dairy replacement, depending on the drink. The Key Party’s Rachel Zottenburg makes the Mount Pleasant bar’s vegan Grasshopper with coconut cream, while YEW seafood + bar bartender Todd Zimmerman opts for coconut syrup in the tropical Wonderlust (which also contains aquafaba). At Pourhouse, bar manager Adam Domet reinvents a classic milk punch with coconut milk.


The Coconut Grasshopper at Key Party. Photo courtesy Key Party

Angie Quaale, the owner of Langley’s Well Seasoned, A Gourmet Food Store, uses a combination of coconut milk, coconut cream and unsweetened chocolate almond milk for a vegan Irish cream. She says hemp or oat milk are other vegan alternatives to dairy, without the coconutty flavour.

Vancouver-based Ms. Better’s Bitters has been making its eggless Miraculous Foamer since 2016, after operating partner Philip Unger, a food scientist, crafted a plant-based formula for a friend with egg allergies. Brand ambassador Tarquin Melnyk, a local bartender, won’t divulge what makes up the shelf-stable, water-soluble vegan product, other than it consists of three organic botanicals macerated in a neutral spirit.

“It was readily apparent that whether someone had an allergy, is vegan, or is just simply unsure about using egg whites, that this product was sure to find an audience,” Melnyk says. “Bartenders love to be able to innovate. All of the drinks we serve at the Long Table [Distillery] Lounge are completely vegan. Personally, I haven’t used an egg white on a bar in about four years.”

Make these vegan cocktails at home:

Gail Johnson is a Vancouver-based writer and broadcaster, fitness instructor, mom, and former longtime waiter and bartender.

The Alchemist


Enjoy the magic of the season at this long-running Vancouver Christmas event

Sails of Light during Christmas at Canada Place. Photo courtesy Canada Place

One of Vancouver’s longest-running Christmas events gets underway soon at a waterfront landmark.

Christmas at Canada Place is in its 32nd year of delighting locals and visitors alike with all sorts of free family-friendly fun to celebrate the season. The event kicks off on Dec. 6, and runs through Jan. 1, 2020.


Christmoose at Christmas at Canada Place. Photo courtesy Canada Place

Stroll a festive Avenue of Trees, enjoy the twinkling lights of a 15-foot tall moose sculpture aptly named “Christmoose,” and see the iconic sails of Canada Place shine with festive colourful lights.

History buffs will love the chance to go back in time with the charming vintage Woodward’s Windows display that used to enchant Vancouverites visiting the department store many years ago.


See the historic Woodward’s department store Christmas window displays that live on here. Photo courtesy Canada Place

While on site, you may want to purchase tickets to check out FlyOver Canada’s popular Christmas experience. Soar with Santa on a magical ride from Nov. 21 through January 5. More information and tickets are available online.

Christmas at Canada Place

When: Dec. 6, 2019 to Jan. 1, 2020, from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily (including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Eve & New Years Day)
Where: Canadian Trail (west promenade) and North Point of Canada Place
Cost: Free

Vancouver Is Awesome


You can watch Christmas movies and snuggle with cats at Vancouver’s Totoro-themed cat café

Sit back and relax like this cutie, with this cutie, at Catoro’s Christmas movie nights in December | Photo: @alex.the.late via Catoro Cafe/Facebook

It’s not really Christmastime if you’re not curled up and cozy watching a favourite Christmas movie – in fact, for many, that’s the purrfect way to celebrate the season.

This December, cat lovers can head to Vancouver’s Totoro-themed cat café, Catoro, to enjoy weekly Christmas movie nights where you can watch while cuddling with adorable – and adoptable – kitties.

Catoro has upped their game for the holidays, and will be offering movie screenings all month for their Monday community nights. The fun gets underway on Dec. 2 with the Will Ferrell hit Elf. They’ll be showing The Grinch on Dec. 9; Home Alone on Dec. 16; Arthur Christmas on Dec. 23; and will wrap up the month with the movie from which the cat café draws its inspiration, My Neighbor Totoro on Dec. 30.


Just hangin’ out at Catoro Cafe. Photo: Catoro Cafe/Facebook

Admission is $25, which includes the movie, all the cat time you can get your paws on, and a beverage. The movies start at 6:30 p.m. and you must pay in full in advance.

Christmas Movie Community Nights at Catoro

When: Mondays in December at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Catoro – 666 East Broadway St, Vancouver
Cost: $25

Vancouver Is Awesome


What are we reading? November 28, 2019


Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.

Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Happy tin anniversary! The OECD is reporting what it describes as the international community’s “unprecedented success” in using transparency standards to fight offshore tax evasion 10 years after the G20 officially declared the end of banking secrecy. How about EUR100 billion in additional tax revenue identified since 2009? Still, there is probably that and many more billions leaking offshore to legal tax havens. OECD


Norway’s Rystad Energy reports that the United States is only months away from being fully energy independent, which is a monumental shift in global energy realities from the distant 1970s oil crisis prompted by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries’ oil embargo. – Rystad Energy


If you’re interested in weather economics and climate change opportunities, this International Monetary Fund report will make for interesting fireside reading. As long as you’re not burning any fossil fuel. Or wood. – International Monetary Fund Finance and Development Magazine


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

Don’t miss next week’s Business in Vancouver, in which Nelson Bennett takes a close look at the price tag of fighting climate change. In the meantime, Vancouver Island writer Guy Dauncey rebuts stark (“OK Doomer”) assessments by UBC professor William Rees and journalist Andrew Nikiforuk that only a radical economic reformation can save us from what the latter calls the “self-made blitzkrieg” of man-made climate disaster. – the Tyee


A new Angus Reid poll sheds light on the “precarious” position of Canada’s youngest adults as stable, long-term jobs are increasingly replaced by the gig economy. – Bloomberg


Hayley Woodin, reporter:

Who isn’t being blamed for interference in elections? After a historic voter turnout at district council elections in Hong Kong – where pro-democracy, anti-establishment candidates won a majority of seats – Beijing went silent. And then, it blamed the United States. – The New York Times


How does a charity founded by economists effect change? Economic stimulus, Keynesian economics and studying what works. Researchers distributed $10 million to residents in a rural part of Kenya. It also cost nearly $1 million to study the impact of doing so. But the result? A fiscal multiplier of 2.6, and an idea that can potentially be replicated elsewhere. – Vox


Ten years and 50 portfolio companies later, Vancouver-based Version One Ventures is sharing some of the advice it gives the teams it works with. The result is a 49-page startup handbook that covers best practices for building teams, organizations and investor bases. (Version One, by the way, was founded by Boris Wertz, who sold JustBooks to AbeBooks, and AbeBooks to Amazon.) – Version One Ventures