Living/Working December 20, 2019

Living/Working

December 20, 2019

Fraudster’s wife claims BC Securities Commission lawsuits tying up properties worth $20 million caused ‘mental distress’ and ‘financial hardship’

BIV's lawsuit of the week

File photo, Rob Kruyt

The wife of securities fraudster Earle Pasquill is suing the BC Securities Commission (BCSC) for abuse of process, claiming the regulator filed “frivolous” legal claims that ensnared $20 million in property she claims she acquired before her husband ran afoul of the law.

Vicki Pasquill and her company, Vicker Holdings Ltd., filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on December 12. Pasquill claims the BCSC brought lawsuits against her and the company in 2018 “which it had no authority to bring and which were based on frivolous factual and legal pretexts.”

According to the claim, the commission brought the lawsuits to put pressure on Earle Pasquill to satisfy a $21.7 million judgment for a 2008 securities fraud related to Earle Pasquill’s Freedom Investment Club. The lawsuits, Vicki Pasquill claims, were an attempt to “mitigate public image damage resulting from adverse media coverage” after the Vancouver Sun revealed that the commission had not collected more than $500 million in fines and penalties between 2007 and 2017.

Vicki Pasquill and her company claim the properties targeted by the BCSC were obtained “long before” her husband’s fraud. Assessed at more than $20 million in 2018, Pasquill’s properties include the couple’s primary residence on 27th Avenue; her childhood home on 40th Avenue, which she inherited in 1998; two properties jointly owned with her daughters; a property inherited from her aunt on 7th Avenue; and two properties Vicker Holdings bought in 1981.

Pasquill, a retired teacher, claims the BCSC filed the lawsuits while “aware of the limited income and economic vulnerability” of Pasquill and Vicker.

“The Commission’s frivolous and highly publicized claim that the plaintiffs knowingly received the ‘proceeds of fraud’ and used it to acquire and maintain their properties has caused severe mental distress to Vicki Pasquill,” the claim states. “This distress has resulted in severe mental fatigue due to the inability to sleep. Most recently, this mental fatigue led to a serious fall resulting in a broken arm and cracked bones in her ankle and wrist.”

Moreover, she claims, the BCSC’s certificates of pending litigation against her properties have caused her “financial hardship” as a 74-year-old retiree on a fixed income.

“She is unable to cover her daily expenses without the help of her children and also has more significant expenses … that she is unable to pay,” the claim states.

Pasquill and Vicker Holdings seek damages for abuse of process and misfeasance in public office. The allegations have not been tested or proven in court and the BCSC had not responded to the claim by press time.

 
Leading

Spare some pity for the incompetence that gave us our latest property tax outrage

The most predictable response to Vancouver council’s decision to raise property taxes 7% next year (nearly 8% if utilities are included) is visceral infuriation. After all, how many of us will experience that growth in income, that leapfrogging over inflation, or that easy access to revenue to slake our thirst for spending?

Then there is the typically Canadian, sorry-to-quarrel, happy-to-be-relieved-of-a-worse-fate response. Fine with the toes being amputated because we still have our fingers. This is the reaction our council would like us to experience and seems eager to trot out: yes, it could have been 8.3% (9.2% with utilities), but we went to the mat to bring it down, down, down on behalf of you, the taxpayers. Happy holidays.

Along the way amid the justification for the triple-inflation-rate whammy has come the explanation that the city needs to compensate for its languid approach to, say, the climate emergency – even though the mantra of the city for a decade has been to boast an ambition and bestow the funds to be the world’s greenest. Was that just fake news?

And, naturally, when someone like Coun. Pete Fry says it’s clear our infrastructure needs an upgrade, we could just as easily say it would have been clear to any would-be councillor that said infrastructure was in disrepair in, oh, September 2018, during the heat of the last election campaign. Funny, can’t recall any of them campaigning to spend a lot of money to meet said need.

But no, infuriation and relief are not the most appropriate responses. To me, the situation deserves a combination of pity and compassion.

Pity for the incompetence of ferreting through a $1.6 billion budget and not finding material savings before layering on the new council’s pet projects. It takes inherent unskillfulness to do so – that is, to do nothing, to be oblivious to the obvious, to lack the savvy to age out some of the city’s spending so it can usher in youthful initiative. It is akin to hoarding tried and trodden shoes as you open boxes of new kicks.

Thus the council deserves our pity, as does it deserve compassion in this piteous state. For who among us hasn’t been an utter failure in a pivotal moment? When the call came, who hasn’t fumbled? Who dares say it was one’s spontaneous reflex to assert leadership when a vexing situation arose and public clamour was apparent?

It is true, as Coun. Colleen Hardwick asserted, that people did not cast ballots last year with the expectation of being socked with a 7% solution. It wouldn’t have gotten anyone elected, of course, and it seems council is now of the view it won’t get anyone unelected. Hold that thought.

For some time now, our mayor has not had to worry about where the money would come from – in academia, in Parliament, and now in municipal office. He has a generous salary, a terrific MP’s pension in the wings, and a tenured job to return to at Simon Fraser University when he so chooses. In my examination of his contribution to the discussion on the proposed municipal budget, I did not sense ingrained lament of the imminent impact on property owners or of any concern about downstream effects.

We can now expect a spate of evictions of tenants and miserly maintenance of their residences, now that cumulative increases have reached nearly 16% over three years. And it is true: taxes have been suppressed for political purpose, needs have built up under the skin and we are now into a protracted lancing of the boil. But the greater quality of leadership needed at our city hall is to dispense with outmoded spending, with the same diligence that it applied to the concoction of new programs and staffing, no matter how worthy. We need scrupulousness and scruples. But no, that’s not how this council rolls – at least, not a majority of it, not to this point.

Weaker beings would have wilted in the outcry, sought refuge in risk aversion, and pandered to the masses. Let the record show: this council stood firm in the face of widespread hostility, and for that we should acknowledge and remember its unique talent.

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

 
Spending

There's a brand-new modern doughnut shop and cafe now open in Vancouver

Mello has opened up at 223 E. Pender St. in Chinatown, specializing in doughnuts. Photo: @diannna.k/Instagram

Calling all doughnut fans: There's a brand-new modern doughnut shop that's just opened its doors in Vancouver's Chinatown. 

Mello welcomed their first customers this weekend at their small, minimalist space at 223 E Pender Street (at Main).

The shop serves doughnuts (they spell it "donuts"), as well as housemade soft serve ice cream, baked goods like cookies and bars, as well as coffee and beverages.

The doughnut shop/cafe has some seating in their space. They're located just a couple of doors down from another popular treat spot, Umaluma, which sells dairy-free ice cream.

Mello is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Vancouver Is Awesome

 
Spending

Vancouver's 2020 Polar Bear Swim will mark 100 years of a chilly New Year's Day tradition

Polar Bear Swim in Vancouver, 2016 Photo: phase5pdx/Flickr

It's not only one of the world's biggest Polar Bear Swims, it's also one of the oldest, and on January 1, 2020 the event marks a century of chilly New Year's Day fun in Vancouver.

The tradition finds brave souls hitting the bracing cold waters of English Bay to ring in the new year in Vancouver.

For 2020 and the centennial celebration, The Vancouver Park Board says they'll be hosting "the largest event ever."

New this year will be family and wheelchair-accessible zones, so that all ages and all bodies can take part in the merriment. 

The event will run from noon to 4 p.m. and will feature live musical entertainment, roving performers, and food trucks on site. At 2:30 p.m., swimmers will take the plunge. 

Pre-registration is encouraged, and is the only way you can get yourself a commemorative certificate proving you actually did it. Sign up online here

What's the deal with Vancouver's Polar Bear Swim? Well, we have a man named Peter (Pete) Pantages to thank for the tradition. Pantages was a Greek immigrant with showbiz in his family tree, a popular restaurant of his own, and the charm to have talked some buddies into plunging into the frigid Vancouver waters on January 1, 1920, essentially inaugurating the Polar Bear Swim.

polar bear swim

The Polar Bear Swimmers get ready to go in, January 1, 1939. Vancouver Archives

Various members of the Pantages family, including Pete's children and grandchildren, have continued to participate in the annual chilly plunge. On January 1, 2016, you would have seen Pantages' granddaughter Lisa participating, wearing her grandfather's wool swim suit, to boot.

On Jan. 1, 2020,  Lisa Pantages will be doing her 58th Polar Bear Swim, along with at least three generations of her family.

You can read more about Peter Pantages and the Polar Bear Swim here

Vancouver Polar Bear Swim

When: Jan. 1, 2020 from noon-4 p.m. Swim is at 2:30 p.m.

Where: English Bay Beach, Vancouver

Vancouver Is Awesome

 
Spending

A week-long celebration of poutine returns to B.C. in February

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The week-long celebration of one of Canada's most beloved - and iconic - dishes returns this November to restaurants across the country, including right here in B.C.

La Poutine Week is set to return February 1-7, 2020, promising a "cheese, gravy and fries extravaganza" from coast to coast.

The premise is pretty simple: Eat poutine during La Poutine Week and go online and vote for your favourites.

This glorious event celebrating Canada’s unofficial national drunk food takes place the first week of February each year, and features poutine dishes submitted by restaurants and bars nationwide. 

For 2020, La Poutine Week is raising the stakes for one lucky poutine-eater in each city. They are now accepting applications for the position of Official Judge, who will receive some swag and their name listed on the website as a judge - bragging rights included. The deadline to submit your intent to be such an illustrious eater and evaluator of Canada's best and most unique poutine dishes is Jan. 15, 2020, and the application can be done online here

In the meantime, prime your tastebuds for all the gravy, cheese curds, and fries to come in February. Participating restaurants will be announced later in January.

La Poutine Week B.C. 

When: Feb. 1-7, 2020

Where: Participating B.C. restaurants TBD

Vancouver Is Awesome

 
Exploring

What are we reading? December 19, 2019

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

 

Nelson Bennett, reporter:

IBM is claiming to have made a significant breakthrough in new battery materials – derived from seawater. IBM claims that its new battery technology uses no heavy metals, which pose “tremendous environmental and humanitarian risks” in mining them. IBM says three proprietary materials are derived from seawater. The company claims: “In initial tests, it proved it can be optimized to surpass the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries in a number of individual categories including lower costs, faster charging time, higher power and energy density, strong energy efficiency and low flammability.” – IBM Research Blog

https://www.ibm.com/blogs/research/2019/12/heavy-metal-free-battery

 

One year ago, UBC marine mammal scientist Andrew Trites told Business in Vancouver that he thought a decline in chinook salmon, and subsequent decline in the Southern Resident Killer Whale population, might have more to do with Northern Resident Killer Whales than fishing, which would suggest that new marine conservation areas might not fix the fundamental problem. A new study by University of Washington scientists seems to confirm Trites’ suspicion that northern orcas are thriving at the expense of their southern cousins. Orcas are thriving -- they’re just not thriving in the southern ranges. – PNAS

https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/12/10/1910930116

 

It may not be the hypersleep of science fiction yet, but physicians in the U.S. have succeeded in putting patients into a brief state of suspended animation, called hypothermic preservation, for the first time. Putting patients into a near frozen state would allow physicians to do life-saving surgery on patients who otherwise would suffer brain damage. – Science Focus

 

https://www.sciencefocus.com/news/doctors-put-a-patient-into-suspended-animation-for-first-time

 

Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor: 

An Angus Reid poll suggests Canadian public opinion is hardening against a bid by China’s Huawei Technologies to bring its 5G mobile network to Canada. The survey found 69% of respondents think the federal government should reject Huawei’s plan. - Canada.com

https://beta.canada.com/news/growing-number-of-canadians-oppose-huaweis-5g-bid-as-china-hardens-foreign-policy-stance-poll/wcm/1d370d3f-06fb-4ee7-b2a2-639139da724a/amp/

 

Canadians have forked over almost $800 million this year to Netflix, according to figures released this week by the U.S. streaming supergiant. That number is likely to hand ammunition to critics who charge that Netflix isn’t paying a reasonable share of domestic taxes, and that it is unfairly swamping Canadian media with U.S. programming. - CBC

https://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/netflix-revenue-canada-taxes-1.5398579?cmp=rss

 

Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Are Canadians getting enough fibre – the internet variety, that is. Picodi.com recently released a report comparing 100 Mbps [megabits per second] prices in 62 countries. Canada is No. 5 with a bullet.

https://www.picodi.com/ca/bargain-hunting/prices-of-the-internet-around-the-world

 

Breaking up might still be hard to do, but the U.S. Census Bureau has gathered some numbers that shed a brighter light on divorce outcomes

https://census.gov/library/stories/2019/12/the-upside-of-divorce.html?

 

Glen Korstrom, reporter:

When I met Pleasant DeSpain in Chiang Mai, Thailand earlier this month he described himself to me as a storyteller. We had several chats, as the American ex-patriot has an annual membership to swim in the pool at the hotel where I was staying. 

While Pleasant has at least 18 books to his name, the 76-year-old told me that he thought his current book is his best ever. He gave me a copy and I finished it cover to cover in less than a week.

Vagabond Tales is a mix of autobiography, a book of parables and a book about spirituality.

His openness about his rough relationship with his father, his coming out as a gay man in the 1970s and his struggles to make ends meat as a storyteller who held public hearings is when the book is at its best.

Chapters are structured around themes such as Karma, Nature, Work, Courage and Soul, and he structures his recollections and parables around those themes.

Highly recommend.

His website has details on ways to buy the e-book or paperback – 

https://pleasant-despain.com/