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B.C. political flashbacks: Tenants evicted to make way for Expo tourists

15 years ago… (Feb. 20-26, 1996)

Hydro officials fired over Pakistani power project

Premier-designate Glen Clark fired the top two officials at BC Hydro this week after the Opposition Liberals accused his government of a secret deal involving investments by NDP insiders in a BC-Hydro-led power project in Pakistan.

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On the eve of Mr. Clark's official swearing in as premier, Liberal critic Gary Farrell-Collins said that 20 of the 49 people who invested in the joint venture are well-known NDP supporters and that other investors included senior Hydro officials and their relatives.

The investments were funnelled to Pakistan via a tax-sheltered company in the Cayman Islands, a scheme that was approved when Mr. Clark was the minister responsible for BC Hydro, Mr. Farrell-Collins said.

Less than six hours later, Mr. Clark demanded the resignation of BC Hydro chairman John Laxton and ordered the board of directors to fire BC Hydro president John Sheehan.

Mr. Clark said the two men ignored his "specific instructions" to ensure that company directors and officials were prohibited from investing in the project.

Flash forward: An independent inquiry, completed in 1997, put much of the blame for the scandal on Mr. Laxton and concluded that the government was unaware of his personal financial involvement.

25 years ago… (Feb. 20-26, 1986)

Tenants evicted to make way for Expo tourists

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Dozens of low-income residents of two Downtown Eastside hotels received eviction notices this week, fuelling fears that hundreds more could be kicked out of their homes as landlords prepare to cash in on the upcoming Expo '86 world's fair.

About 50 residents of the Patricia Hotel on East Hastings have been told to vacate their rooms by Friday, while another 50 people have until March 19 to vacate their rooms at the Regal Place Hotel, a few blocks away on West Hastings.

A recent survey by the Downtown Eastside Residents Association showed that at least 30 hotels in the area are planning renovations that could displace as many as 1,000 people, many of them elderly and disabled, before Expo '86 opens on May 2.

Vancouver City Council passed a resolution Tuesday afternoon calling for emergency legislation that would make evictions and steep rent increases illegal during the 5½-month fair.

On Tuesday evening, protesters pelted Expo '86 chairman Jimmy Pattison with eggs during a public forum to discuss the fair's impact on Downtown Eastside residents.

Flash forward: Despite the city's pleas, the Bennett government refused to intervene and an estimated 600 people were eventually forced from their homes.

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