Living/Working November 22, 2019

Living/Working

November 22, 2019

Lawsuit targets hazardous-waste company owners

BIV's lawsuit of the week

Photo: Rob Kruyt

A trio of investment companies is suing the owners of a hazardous-waste company in China charged with illegal dumping, claiming West Vancouver residents Bing Bai, Sapphire Ma and Mu Qing Bai wrongfully used investment funds to buy or maintain several properties in the Lower Mainland.

Shanghai Zhong Jia Xing Hua Chuang Ye Investment LLP, Yangzhou Jia Hua Chuang Ye Investment Ltd. and Nantong Jian Hua Chuang Ye Investment LLP filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on November 13. They claim Bing Bai and Sapphire Ma owned Liaoning Muchang International Environmental Protection Industry Co. Ltd., a hazardous-waste disposal firm in China.

The plaintiffs claim Bai “started ordering his employees to bury approximately 1,500 tons of hazardous waste directly under the soil” in September 2014, months before the plaintiffs signed two investment contracts worth $634 million with Bai, Mar and the company, which is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The contracts, the companies claim, contained a buyback condition for the shares in Liaoning Muchang International should it not become publicly listed by the end of 2019. However, according to the lawsuit, company management was arrested by Chinese police for an “environmental pollution crime,” for which the company and its management team were convicted in October 2018.

“Neither the Defendant Bai nor the Defendant Ma had ever disclosed any information regarding the Crime, the Arrest, the Charge, the Initial Sentence, or the Final Sentence to the Plaintiffs,” the claim states. “The Defendants’ Company’s business has been so significantly impacted by the Crime that it failed to achieve the Profit Goals as the Defendant Bai and the Defendant Ma had guaranteed to the Plaintiffs in Contracts.”  The companies sued Bai in a Chinese court for breach of contract. Judgments were handed down in March for millions in share buyback proceeds. However, they claim the defendants used “some or all” of the investment proceeds to buy or maintain seven Metro Vancouver properties. The investment companies seek an order enforcing the foreign judgments for $8,222,230. The allegations have not been tested or proven in court and the defendants had not responded to the claim by press time.

 
Leading

Western stew on PM’s new minority government cabinet menu

As he starts his second term as prime minister, Justin Trudeau does not dare betray the challenges ahead: national unity, climate change, trade problems, housing affordability in a couple of big cities, ours included.

Indeed, with his cabinet shuffle last week, he mostly whistles past them. His swagger of 2015 is not quite a stagger of 2019, but almost.

Take, for instance, dealing with alienation in Alberta and Saskatchewan, something we in British Columbia would be fools to ignore. Trudeau’s answer is not to appoint some sort of western king/queenpin, a kind of heir to the newly defeated Ralph Goodale. Instead, we get a Toronto MP, Chrystia Freeland, a transplanted Albertan, to be fair, to assuage the provinces, the most grievous of them on the Prairies, as intergovernmental minister and deputy prime minister. This is Trudeau’s way of saying he is a lightning rod that needs to be put away, and it is the signal Freeland may soon be the first former journalist since Joe Clark to be prime minister (we notice these things). Enter the Freeland brand.

But then we get quite the western stew in the prime minister’s recipe.

How else to explain the appointment of a natural resources minister from Newfoundland, Seamus O’Regan (another former journalist), with no business or energy background or experience out west?

What do we make of asking O’Regan’s predecessor, the defeated Albertan MP Jim Carr, to help with the western file, while battling blood cancer, as an adviser on Prairie matters but with no cabinet credentials any longer? These are your high--octane answers to Alberta’s Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe, even to the discord in our province? Hmm.

Once we step into British Columbia, what’s with the yo-yo human resources management of Vancouver’s Joyce Murray, elevated to cabinet as treasury board president last spring, only to be deposited as one of the more aged MPs into a goofy portfolio as minister for “digital government”? Bring on the calls of “OK, boomer.”

Yes, it is heartening that Trudeau turned to Jonathan Wilkinson of North Vancouver as the environment and climate change minister. But as predecessor Catherine McKenna can attest, this post is both blessing (international profile) and curse (disgusting domestic criticism, in her case raw misogyny). Wilkinson will be in the role as the country reckons it cannot perform the magic trick of meeting climate commitments while fortifying our prosperity.

Speaking of goofy, magic tricks and prosperity, what about the array of adulterated and vague economic portfolios in this Team Trudeau 2.0?

Let’s start with the appointment that would have a business card as, no kidding, minister for middle-class prosperity. Tick the virtue-signalling box, one-upping the Ontario minister for red tape reduction.

There is a minister for workforce development. One for rural economic development, one for just plain economic development, one for infrastructure and communities.

One, as mentioned, for digital government (thankfully no minister for analog government).

Yes, still a minister of finance, a minister for small business, a treasury board president and one for innovation, science and industry. Throw in national resources and, if you wish, revenue, and you have a full Canadian Football League lineup. Get a program to identify the players in the arena.

Clever, though, in that in spreading the economic jam across a big slice of toast, Trudeau has ensured no one has clout. That rests with his office or with Freeland. His father once said opposition MPs were nobodies 50 yards off Parliament Hill; his bulbous delegation of economic ministers should feel the same way.

Unsurprisingly, the prime minister has missed a few spots. Who is focusing on fixing the housing mess in the cities? Whatever happened to the minister for trade diversification, needed more than ever? Is there a sports minister somewhere?

In his moment of greatest political need, Trudeau weakened his economic message by broadening the economic messengers. Chastened for behaviour before and during his first term, he ceded the important national conversations to his best asset in cabinet and started slowly walking out of the role.

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

 
Spending

One of Metro Vancouver’s largest holiday celebrations will transport you to a winter wonderland

Heritage Christmas is Metro Vancouver’s largest annual holiday festival | Photo: Burnaby Village Museum & Carousel/Facebook

Thousands of twinkling lights will adorn the charming vintage storefronts of Burnaby Village Museum, as carol singers and familiar characters like Buddy the Elf will roam its streets, as Heritage Christmas transports you to a winter wonderland right here in Metro Vancouver.

Considered one of the largest annual holiday celebrations in the area, Heritage Christmas is a free, family-friendly festive event that will spread holiday cheer – and a smile on your face.

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Heritage Christmas. Photo: Burnaby Village Museum & Carousel/Facebook

Kicking off on Saturday, Nov. 23, and running daily to Jan. 3 (though they are closed Dec. 24 and 25), this year’s Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum will feature a 12 Days of Christmas scavenger hunt, crafts for kids, and tons of live entertainment. Don’t forget to take a ride (for a fee) on the gorgeous restored carousel, and say hello to the Interurban tram on site.

On Nov. 30, Heritage Christmas will celebrate the lighting of their huge maple tree with a lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. They’ll have hot cocoa and apple cider on hand, plus the chance to meet Father Christmas at the Stride Studio. Attendees can also catch a performance of “A Home for Jo-Jo,” a stage show presented by the Forte Theatre Society at the Brookfield Hall.

Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum

When: Nov. 23-Dec. 13 (Mon-Fri 1-5:30 p.m. and Sat-Sun. 1-9 p.m. Dec. 2 hours are 1-4:30 p.m.). Dec. 14-Jan. 3 (Daily from 1-9 p.m. Closed Dec. 24 and 25). Bright in Burnaby tree-lighting event is Nov. 30 from 5-9 p.m.
Where: Burnaby Village Museum – 6501 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby
Cost: Gate admission is free, carousel rides are $2.65

Vancouver Is Awesome

 
Spending

Famous Japanese tempura chain to open first Canadian location in Vancouver

Tendon tempura is the specialty of Japan’s Hannosuke, which is coming to Vancouver | Photo: @hannosuke_japan/Instagram

Ever heard of “tendon tempura”? The Japanese specialty is a type of donburi (rice bowl with toppings) that features crisp tempura atop the freshly steamed rice and a light soy sauce.

While many restaurants serve donburi and tempura dishes here in Vancouver, there is a Japanese chain, Kaneko Hannosuke, that focuses exclusively on tendon tempura, and are considered top of their game.

With locations in Japan – and their main branch located in Tokyo’s Chuo City area – as well as outposts in Taiwan and the U.S. (including in major cities like Los Angeles and Chicago), Hannosuke is poised to open their very first Canadian location, and it will be right here in Vancouver.

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For those of you keeping track of my current tendon obsession... is still satisfying and, perhaps more importantly, is only 5 minutes my house.

A post shared by Zach Brooks (@midtownlunchla) on

Signage has gone up at 1725 Robson Street for Tempura Tendon Hannosuke Tokyo, as spotted by Foodgressing.

Hannosuke is named for Hannosuke Kaneko, who “served as the second chairman of Japanese cook association ‘Isshin-kai,'” according to their official website. His grandson, Kaneko Shinya, inherited his grandfather’s recipe book, which included a treasured recipe for a secret “Edomae” rice bowl sauce. Kaneko Shinya worked to create a tendon tempura dish using the sauce, and his popular brand was born.

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It’s time! We are open everyday during the Holiday Season so make sure you stop by 🍤🍁

A post shared by Hannosuke Santa Monica (@tempura_hannosuke) on

The first U.S. outpost of Hannosuke and their stellar tendon tempura launched back in 2012 in Los Angeles’ popular Mitsuwa marketplace.

Vancouver Is Awesome

 
Spending

Vancouver After Dark colourfully documents a century of our city’s nightlife

Aaron Chapman’s latest book, Vancouver After Dark: the Wild History of a City’s Nightlife pours out the sagas of dozens of nightclubs, bars and dance halls through the ages | Photo: Mike Derakhshan

When you sink into the stories vividly portrayed in the new book Vancouver After Dark: the Wild History of a City’s Nightlife, it’s hard to imagine this town ever took on the moniker of “No Fun City.”

Author and V.I.A. and Vancouver Courier contributor Aaron Chapman has previously written about Vancouver nightlife in his award-winning book Live At the Commodore and his bestselling debut Liquor, Lust, and the Law (about the Penthouse).

This time he has vastly expanded his scope, pouring out the sagas of dozens of nightclubs, bars and dance halls through the ages, every place from the Cave to the Starfish Room, Oil Can Harry’s to the Smilin’ Buddha.

Palomar

A poster from the Palomar Supper Club. Image courtesy of Tom Carter archives

It’s a book you can enjoy reading from page one onward, or opening at any section and reading about, say, the outrageous history of Gary Taylor’s Rock Room, or the blurry goings on at the Pig and Whistle.

Throughout the book are rare and sometimes never-before-seen photos, as well as an incredible array of posters.

Chapman — also a musician who performed at several of Vancouver’s most famous venues — has clearly emerged as this city’s foremost historian of the entertainment circuit. In advance of the book’s launch party on Thursday, Nov. 28, I caught up with the ever-affable author.

Grant Lawrence: What was the thought process in deciding to write about such a vast variety of clubs over such a long period of time?

Aaron Chapman: I think it’s an interesting time here in the city to look back and see what we’ve lost. These places were important not just because great talent, or world-renowned performers played in them — it’s where we as Vancouverites went to meet and interact with one another. No city is a museum that remains preserved. But when these places disappear, it changes the DNA.

How did you choose which clubs to write about?

I wanted to focus on the places that weren’t just an everyday bar, but nightclubs that had live music and entertainment. Or clubs that were kind of pivotal places, where something interesting happened, that reflected what Vancouver was like at the time. Every generation has their own favourite places. Vancouverites of a certain age might still fondly recall nights at the Cave, while their grandkids might miss the Luv-A-Fair, or Graceland. People still talk about these old clubs fondly. They had value and meant something.

Marvin Gaye

 

A poster from Marvin Gaye’s performances at the Cave. Photo courtesy of Neptoon Records archives

While I thoroughly loved reading about the history of places like the Retinal Circus, the Town Pump, Isy’s, and so many others, I was surprised to read that you didn’t include the Savoy or the Railway, both owned by the same family. Why was that? Did they ban your former band the Real McKenzies or something?

Ho ho, no, not at all. The book by no means is an encyclopedia of all the bars and watering holes in the city. There are a couple of places like the Savoy (a.k.a. the Gastown Music Hall) that could have made the cut. The book specifically spotlights places that aren’t around anymore, and the Railway is still very much there — as is the Yale. They are different now, and maybe their styles or formats have changed, but their stories aren’t over yet.

If you could transport yourself back to the heyday of any of the clubs you write about in Vancouver After Dark, which one would you most want to hang out at?

That’s a tough question. There’d be so many to choose from. How great would it be to step back in time and catch Richard Pryor doing a set at the Marco Polo in Chinatown. Or to grab a cab and head over to the Cave to see Anthony Newley with a 20-piece band. Or to have been a fly on the wall at some of the first saloons in Vancouver, just to hear the conversations of people around the bar. How great would it have been to be one of a dozen people in the audience to see what would become the biggest comedy duo of the 1970s — Cheech and Chong — do their first show together at a dive on Main Street. In a way, I hope with the book people can take that time machine and come back without a hangover.

What do you think of the present and future nightlife in Vancouver, specifically with regards to live music? Is it over?

Not at all. One thing I try to stress in the book is that Vancouver has never been “No Fun City.” There’s stuff happening every night of the week. Lots of times there are two or three good shows to be at on any given night. I think Vancouver sometimes needs somebody to tell people, “Hey, the party isn’t over there — it’s down here.” Sometimes you just need a guide or somebody to let you know where things are happening. Sometimes the places to be weren’t always at the popular clubs of the period. In a way, it’s never been as easy, and it’s never been as hard. But there are still some fascinating and talented people on stage and off making places happen right now.

The book launch party for Vancouver After Dark is Thursday, Nov. 28 at Central Studios, (formerly Hollywood North, formerly Playpen Central, formerly the Thunderbird Club) at 856 Seymour St. The event is free and will be hosted by Les Goodman from the Jazzmanian Devils, and will feature author Aaron Chapman and various special guests. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the event starts at 8 p.m. Vancouver After Dark: The Wild History of a City’s Nightlife is available from Arsenal Pulp Press.

Vancouver Is Awesome

 
Exploring

What are we reading? November 21, 2019

Shutterstock

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

 

Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

Blogger Dave Cournoyer has some yuks with Alberta bossman Jason Kenney’s $2.5 million probe of “anti-Alberta energy campaigns” – which has a mandate to prop up conspiracy theories so laughable as to be hardly worth the effort to debunk them – after its commissioner came in for some serious conflict-of-interest scrutiny over the awarding of a nearly $1 million sole-source contract to his son’s law firm.

Cournoyer suggests there might need to be a public inquiry into this public inquiry. Kinda reminds me of the long-kicked-down-the-road “Memorial to the Victims of Communism” (also Kenney’s idea, back in 2007), which finally got some shovels in the ground this month after so many delays and so much controversy that some suggested that there should instead be a monument to failed Tory monuments. – daveberta.ca

https://daveberta.ca/2019/11/public-inquiry-into-anti-alberta-energy-campaigns-2/comment-page-1/

 

Nelson Bennett, reporter:

Electric vehicle advocates buoyed by predictions that the falling costs of lithium-ion batteries will soon put EVs on par with internal combustion engines had a bit of cold water splashed on them this week by the energy and engineering wonks at MIT. New research at MIT points out that cost and supply of the basic ingredients of these batteries– cobalt, lithium etc. – place limits on just how low battery prices can go. “If you follow some of these other projections, you basically end up with the cost of batteries being less than the ingredients required to make it,” says the executive director of MIT’s Future mobility Group. In other words, EVs may never reach price parity with ICE vehicles as long as they rely on Li-on batteries. The only thing that may put them on an even footing with ICE vehicles is higher gasoline prices. – MIT Technology Review

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614728/why-the-electric-car-revolution-may-take-a-lot-longer-than-expected/

 

Brian Mulroney, the eminence grise of Canadian conservatism, is urging political leaders to take ambitious steps to address climate change. “Small, divisive agendas make for a small, divided country. It is not enough to simply please the base,” he says. One must wonder if he offered this advice to Andrew Scheer. – National Post

https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/brian-mulroney-urges-canadian-politicians-to-take-action-on-climate-change-despite-political-risk

 

Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

For more depressing evidence of the expanding scope of global corruption and bad behaviour at the expense of the planet's natural resources, troll through this compilation of the Fishrot files. Wikileaks 

https://wikileaks.org/fishrot/

 

Still perplexed by Brexit and the inability of Brits to find a satisfying end to the soap opera? Or do you still even care anymore? Regardless, here's an interesting guide to the political/economic three-ring circus. – Peterson Institute for International Economics

https://www.piie.com/blogs/realtime-economic-issues-watch/perplexed-brexit-here-guide?utm_

 

Glen Korstrom, reporter

Big change could be coming for single-use plastic items in Vancouver – including the phase-out of plastic checkout bags by January 1, 2021, with mandatory fees for paper bags.  Here's the staff report that council is expected to hear a presentation on next week and potentially use to create new bylaws – City of Vancouver

https://council.vancouver.ca/20191127/documents/pspc2.pdf


Rarely find myself reading TransLink's Buzzer, but its take on things to know about the Unifor job action has some good content, particularly answering why its executive compensation is compared with other jurisdictions – it has difficulty finding executives. (Something not in the buzzer, but TransLink's CEO, has said that it had about 10,000 applications for bus drivers in the past year, and hired 1,300.) – TransLink

https://buzzer.translink.ca/2019/11/8-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-metro-vancouver-transit-strike/
 

Given so much ink spilled about how flying is bad for the planet, here's an alternate take: What if flying is good for the planet? – New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/19/opinion/climate-change-travel.html