A mayoral aspirant with the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) has dismissed an allegation of conflict of interest as “erroneous” and an “attempt to discredit” him.
Yesterday (April 12), online news outlet the Breaker reported that a complaint was officially filed with the City of Vancouver against Hector Bremner, a city councillor who was elected in a by-election held last October.
In a telephone interview, Bremner denied the allegation and argued that its intention was political.
“I had to block somebody on Facebook a few days ago,” he told the Straight. “They were making comments that were racist and inappropriate.”
Asked if the Facebook commenter was the same person who filed the complaint, Bremner replied: “I believe it is.”
“Now that I’ve blocked it, I can’t see it [the commenter’s name],” Bremner explained. “But I had to block some people on Facebook that were making comments and I believe this person was one of those people.”
Bremner’s wife is Filipino. Bremner said critics of his housing proposals have claimed that he is “selling our country out to another nation”.
The complaint was filed by Raza Mirza, a software engineer and a member of Bremner’s party, the NPA.
Mirza told the Straight he could not directly address Bremner's claims about messages left on Facebook.
"I'm not sure what comments he's talking about," he said in a telephone interview. "If I had the comments in front of me, then I could confirm or deny if it was me or not. But I think he's trying to deflect from the issue at hand, which...as a concerned citizen, I have posted a request with the city."
The complaint was first reported by online news outlet the Breaker. The complaint relates to Bremner’s work as vice president of public affairs for the Pace Group, a Vancouver-based communications firm. One of the company’s clients is Aquilini Investment Group, which is best known for owning the Vancouver Canucks and which is also a major property developer in Vancouver.
“On a number of occasions Councillor Bremner sat in council while plans [were discussed] affecting various clients or organizations that are known to have been conducting business with the City of Vancouver and his other employer Pace Group,” the complaint reads. “Councillor Bremner failed to declare the business relationships on these occasions.”
Specifically, the complaint notes Bremner’s participation in a January 31, 2018, council meeting where topics of discussion included the city’s Northeast False Creek Plan and the planned removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts. Aquilini Investment Group owns properties in that area.
Another date the complaint mentions is a December 12, 2017, council meeting where Bremner discussed housing density in Point Grey.
“It is believed that Councillor Bremner’s client Aquilini Investment Group would stand to benefit due to their large land holdings in and around Northeast False Creek,” the complaint reads. “At no time while considering these two items did the NPA Councillor Bremner disclose to the public or council the relationship between his primary employer Pace Group and Aquilini Investment Group.”
This morning (April 13), Bremner confirmed that the Pace Group does count Aquilini Investment Group as a client. But he said that since he was elected to council last October, he has not performed work on that account.
“Our team did some writing for them, but that was a project that had nothing to do with Vancouver,” Bremner said.
“Without getting too into it—because there is now an investigation, and I will be happy to answer all those kind of questions—the bottom line is, I, definitely, in no uncertain way, am not in any conflict.”
Bremner said he was “confident” that the complaint would soon be resolved in his favour.
“It’s an erroneous claim,” he added. “It’s an attempt to discredit me and take me off-message. And it’s not going to work.”
A civic election for the mayor of Vancouver, city council, and park board, is scheduled for October 2018.
Bremner announced on February 19 that he intends to run for mayor.
The NPA currently holds four council seats. In addition to Bremner, those are occupied by George Affleck, Elizabeth Ball, and Melissa De Genova.
Affleck has said he won’t run for reelection in 2018. De Genova has said that she will seek another term on council. On February 1, Ball told the Straight that she would support Bremner if he did decide to run.More