Living/Working May 28, 2021

Living/Working

May 28, 2021

Lawsuit of the week: Mining executive claims Yukon’s chief mine engineer berated her with slanderous comments at conference

Rob Kruyt/BIV files

Mining executive Janet Lee-Sheriff and Golden Predator Mining Corp. are suing the Government of Yukon and its chief mining engineer Paul Christman over allegedly slanderous and defamatory comments made at the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference in January 2020.

Lee-Sheriff and Golden Predator filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on May 14. The company’s CEO since 2015, Lee-Sheriff claims the conference is widely attended by mining company insiders and “has been described as the bellwether of the junior mining market for the last twenty-five years, and the number one source of information for investments [sic] trends and ideas.”

She claims that during and after a presentation she made about the company’s quartz mining license and water license for its Brewery Creek mine just east of Dawson City, Christman “loudly and publicly” called her a liar, accusing her of “spreading misinformation about Golden Predator’s license status.”  According to the lawsuit, Christman then told the plaintiff’s husband, Golden Predator executive chairman Bill Sheriff, to “get your f------ wife under control.”

“The statement is demeaning and impugned the board’s and executive leadership’s governance of Golden Predator as a public corporation that has allegedly failed to apply good corporate governance in the selection and oversight of its CEO,” the claim states. “Ms. Lee-Sheriff is a female CEO of a Canadian Mining company. The vast majority of executive roles at Canadian mining companies are occupied by men. Ms. Lee-Sheriff serves as Golden Predator’s CEO in a male-dominated business environment.”

Lee-Sheriff further claims that Christman came to Golden Predator’s booth at the industry conference and “yelled at and publicly berated Ms. Lee-Sheriff, using his large frame to intimidate her, invaded her personal space, and with aggressive gestures, yelled at her ‘who do you think you are’?”

The plaintiffs claim the company holds valid licenses for the Brewery Creek project, and that Lee-Sheriff “both personally and as CEO of and on behalf of Golden Predator, comports herself and Golden Predator honestly and forthrightly vis a vis the public, Golden Predator employees, the Yukon mining industry, investors and potential investors in Golden Predator, and the Government of Yukon.”

Lee-Sheriff and Golden Predator seek damages for defamation and an injunction precluding Christman from dealing with matters involving the company’s licensing. The allegations have not been proven or tested in court and the defendants had not responded to the lawsuit by press time.

 

 
Leading

B.C. taxpayers need InBC investment information to be out in the open

Last time we checked in on governments – any of them, not just the BC NDP one – they were considerably less gifted at industrial investment and picking winners than were venture capitalists.

Still, that doesn’t stop governments – including one of them, specifically the BC NDP one – in the strategic quest to outsmart the people whose six- and seven-figure livelihoods arise from years of putting funds at some risk to reap regular returns.

Which is not to say it can’t happen, nor that it hasn’t happened before, nor that it isn’t even tried elsewhere with provincial funds, only that there are clear public interest considerations when any government decides to place corporate bets with tax dollars.

Such is the case as we greet the newly legislated InBC Crown corporation, vested with $500 million over three years to pursue the “social, economic and environmental policy objectives of the government.” Policy objectives aren’t always aligned with economic performance excellence.

In any other recent time, the notion of a half-billion-dollar government instrument to invest in industries aligned with an ideological program would be a focal and fairly foul point of public discussion. We would call into question its need, purpose and accountability. We would wonder how government wandered into territory typically for the market to determine. We might even be suspicious or cynical, no matter that the emphasis of InBC is on “patient capital” eventually yielding 5% returns instead of swift and significant wins.

But these are pandemic times. The window is wide open, and the breeze each day seems to more briskly blow through it for an expansion of the public sector. Deficits are devil-may-care. Other agendas are in play under the “building back stronger” umbrella, too, particularly in the broad field of economic opportunity.

Given the billions that appear to be suddenly growing on trees, it can feel that the allocation of $500 million over three years is a rounding error on the provincial books, pandemic edition.

Sorry, though, it’s not chump change. And if the public isn’t going to emerge as chumps in this exercise, InBC has a duty to “show the work,” as John Horgan has often described his elementary teacher’s influential request. Instead, cards are close to the chest.

The impact of InBC will take ages to evaluate. The funds will be slow in supply when they emerge later this year, glacial in effecting results, and the public understanding of its deliberations and decisions will be opaque and delayed.

It is sad to report that this latter quality has become an NDP modus operandi, where the mantra of “putting people first” often translates into “keeping secrets first.” This government is rapidly vying for the country’s most furtive – a hard race to win, but not for lack of effort, as the miserly disclosures of data during the pandemic have attested.

So it is that InBC, as a Crown corporation spending our dollars, will have a meagre method of answering for its operations. It will produce an annual report, surely bland because it will be framed by cabinet regulatory directive, and an every-five-year audit, surely untimely around 2026 or 2027 so as not to inconvenience this government.

Most significantly, its legislation passed earlier this month exempts it from the province’s limp Freedom of Information Act – not that it would be much of a leash, given how it’s routinely abused. Its business plan is considered a cabinet confidence. Its operational “scorecards” to grade investment proposals will be considered a commercial confidence.

Confidence conferred everywhere, it seems, but in the public’s right to know and capacity to judge.

If this is how one instils trust in an entity that has to build credibility, it is a novel take.

Michael McEvoy, the provincial information commissioner, has made clear his displeasure with InBC’s exclusion from the disclosure law and is trying to persuade the government to change course. He disabuses the argument that commercially sensitive material will be divulged. There are ways to stickhandle this, he and we and even the government knows.

As for the government’s other argument – that the BC Immigrant Investment Fund, the organization that morphed into InBC through the legislation, wasn’t covered by the information freedom law – well, we all know non-sequiturs when we hear them. This is a vastly different animal at a different altitude in the economic atmosphere.

Nor should the calls for transparency be inferred as personal or professional criticism of its new and experienced board, or any reflection on the premise of a chief investment officer who will have considerable independence under the legislation from political meddling. These are generally positive features to, in principle, keep InBC from treating the treasury like play money.

But it may grate the well-meaning who wish to reduce inequity and accelerate and capitalize on the climate change commitment that the InBC concept is not by default the ideal vehicle to achieve policy goals. There are many skeptics to be won over. InBC needs to produce the equivalent of a proof of concept, and visibly so and soon.

It cannot join the club of other Crown corporations reticent to trust the public with timely information. If InBC is designed to help modernize our economic priorities, it looks silly sticking with old-school secrecy as a foundational value. •

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

 

 
Spending

How this Vancouver grocery store and café pivoted to pandemic life (VIDEO)

Landmark neighbourhood business is nestled in the heart of Mount Pleasant

The Federal Store co-owner Christopher Allen | Thor Diakow

You might not be able to step inside The Federal Store these days, but that isn't affecting business.

The popular Mount Pleasant destination, located at Quebec Street and 10th Avenue, has found several ways to adapt during the pandemic.

The historic building has served the neighbourhood for decades, beginning as a bakery in the early 1920s.

Over the years it has transformed to suit the changing times, evolving from a simple convenience store in the 1960s into a local grocer, bakery, and café.

Today The Federal Store provides locally sourced food products, an assortment of baked goods and sandwiches (made in-house), and, of course, lots of coffee.

Although the inside of the store is still temporarily closed to shoppers, due to COVID-19 health protocols, walk-up door service is available for pick-up. Groceries can also be ordered online for pick-up or delivery.

A newly-constructed outdoor patio even provides a spot for people to sit and enjoy a cup of joe or slice of cake.

Co-owner Christopher Allen looks forward to eventually welcoming customers back inside.

"Really looking forward to having people back in the store. It might be a slightly different format than it was before, of course. We're gonna figure something out."

Allen also appreciates the community support during the past year.

"We wouldn't have the door open right now if the neighbourhood hadn't been behind us in the way that they have; it's really meant a lot."

 
Spending

New initiative launching rookie Indigenous stunt actors into Vancouver film industry

It's being run by veteran stunt actors with credits in things like Godzilla, Arrow and The Cabin in the Woods

Someone is 'shot' and flies backwards in a practice stunt.delvalle_films_inc / Instagram

Indigenous people interested in a career in film and TV stunts have an opportunity coming up to learn from two long-time professionals.

The second round of the Indigenous Action Artist Mentorship Program (IAAMP) is happening May 29 and 30; the program has 20 slots for Indigenous people (18-years-old or older) with an athletic background. The program, created and run by Lauro Chartrand Delvalle and Bruce Crawford, had its first session in February.

Delvalle, a veteran stunt actor with credits in films like The Last Samurai, Deadpool 2 and even the original MacGyver TV show, has thought something was missing in the Vancouver film industry.

"I’ve always noticed, especially here in B.C., a huge lack of Indigenous cast and crew. I always thought to myself, this is their land, their home, why aren’t they participating and working more in film and television?” he says in a press release.

At the same time Bruce Crawford, who has his own impressive list of credits (like Elysium, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and pretty much all the DC shows shot here) has been working with his wife to include Indigenous people in the local film and TV industry. They worked with the Musqueum Employment and Training program to find funding for the IAAMP.

The IAAMP also receives support from the Squamish First Nations Band, the Tsleil-Waututh First Nations Band and Stunts Canada.

Even though the first session only happened a few months ago, participants have been picked up by local productions, the new Kung Fu series from Netflix.

"There is so much talent, it is simply a matter of harnessing it, not only to work in film and TV, but also to carve out a space for more Indigenous roles to be created for the talent pool," states a press release.

Anyone interested is asked to email Jesse Blue at the Ancient Fire Dojo (ancientfiredojo@gmail.com). Participation is open to any Indigenous person (not just from Vancouver or B.C.).

 
Spending

'Lets make a beer for drinking at the beach': Three Kitsilano friends launch local brew for the neighbourhood

25 beer companies operate in Vancouver, but none in the west

From left: James Boileau, Dana Barnaby and Andrew Lavigne.| Kits Beach Beer

In a city as beer crazy as Vancouver, it's maybe surprising there are no breweries or brewpubs in Kitsilano.

Three friends and long-time residents of the west side Vancouver neighbourhood are rectifying that.

James Boileau, Andrew Lavigne, and Dana Barnaby are launching Kits Beach Beer, a beer that can be a rallying point for the neighbourhood.

Boileau tells Vancouver Is Awesome that while the Kitsilano neighbourhood is well known, the beach is the only thing the whole community can get behind.

"Kits is all about the beach, all about the lifestyle," he says.

So they decided to focus on that.

"We said 'Let's make a beer for drinking at the beach,'" he says. "We wanted something that was easy, refreshing and synonymous with summertime and having fun with friends outside in the sun."

To that end they've made Kits Beach Beer Summer Ale, which he describes as a "really easy drinking beach beer that has lots of flavour."

"Simple ideas are hard to execute when they're done well," he adds.

Three other styles are on the horizon, Kits Grapefruit Ale, Kits Summer Radler and Kits Winter all planned. A ginger beer is also in the works.

The idea first got bandied about around five years ago, suggested by Lavigne, the beer connoisseur of the group (who's also a business coach and author). Barnaby, a documentary filmmaker is interested in the production side of things and making the beer, while Boileau wants to build a brand that encapsulates the neighbourhood (last year he opened Kits Beach Coffee).

“Vancouver has over 25 beer companies but we’re the only one on the west side,” says Lavigne in a release.

Kitsilano itself is has a history of brewing already, Boileau notes, though the beer isn't being brewed there. Vine Street and West 11 Avenue used to house the headquarters for Vancouver Breweries more than a century ago; more recently there was the Molson Brewery on Burrard Street.

Unfortunately, the city's zoning bylaw means there's no place for a brewery (which requires a light industrial designation) in Kitsilano.

"The fact there is no brewery allowed through city zoning in Kits is fascinating because there is such a history of it," Boileau says.

Long term the hope and the dream is to open some sort of production facility in the neighbourhood, Boileau adds, but for now they're getting into the market, launching Kits Beach Beer, which is brewed at Settlement Brewing's facility, May 21 (online orders can be delivered within Kitsilano for free). They're also launching merch, with hats, t-shirts, tote bags, beach blankets and biodegradable sunglasses.

"Nobody takes you seriously until you exist," he says. "Now we exist."

 

 
Exploring

What are we reading? May 27, 2021

Steve West/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor

Persistent COVID-19 outbreaks at B.C. care-home facilities have raised questions about whether gaps in the vaccination of staff have contributed to the problem. – CTV

https://bc.ctvnews.ca/few-details-on-staff-vaccination-rates-as-b-c-care-home-outbreaks-continue-1.5439264

 

A U.S. park ranger on patrol in the Sierra Nevada has discovered a 10-million-year-old petrified forest, and fossilized remains of the area’s Miocene-era inhabitants, including an extinct species of camel, a four-tusked mastodon and a 200 kilogram salmon with sharp teeth. – Smithsonian

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/treasure-trove-fossils-unearthed-california-watershed-180977796/

 

Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Friends syndication money machine keeps cranking out multimillions in a world with a low bar for what constitutes quality entertainment  – Yahoo Finance

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/much-jennifer-aniston-other-actors-220000357.html

 

HIstory pop quiz: How old was Cleopatra's first brother when she married him? Which pope ordered a purge of black cats? Who is the all-time richest person in the world? What was the loudest sound recorded in history [aside from the Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes December 1974 concert at Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom]? Answers to these and more courtesy of Newsweek 

https://www.newsweek.com/history-facts-impress-friends-1594925?

 

New uses for old cabbage: durable building material – CNET

https://www.cnet.com/news/scientists-turn-cabbage-into-construction-material-stronger-than-concrete/?

 

New uses for old or new buildings: energy storage – Anthropocene

https://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2021/05/74784/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=74784

 

Nelson Bennett, reporter

A prevailing climate change zeitgeist wind blew back a lot of hair in the board rooms of big oil companies on May 26. In a single day, a Dutch court sided with climate change activists and ordered Royal Dutch Shell to reduce its GHG emissions by 45% by 2030, activist shareholders managed to install two climate hawks on Exxon Mobil’s board of directors, and Chevron’s investors voted in favour of pushing the company to cut the emissions of its customers. Forbes sums up what happened, and delves into the challenge these companies face in explaining to their own shareholders the realities of what they are demanding. -- Forbes

https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielmarkind/2021/05/27/the-day-the-energy-world-changed/?sh=7d5543d16ea2

 

Oman has a lot of oil, but it also has a lot of sun, which it plans to harness to become a major green hydrogen producer. Oman has ambitions of becoming the world’s first large scale green hydrogen producer with a $30 billion plan to build 25 gigawatts of wind and solar energy to produce hydrogen from water and electricity. -- The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/27/oman-plans-to-build-worlds-largest-green-hydrogen-plant