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Vancouver mayor's former foster son, four others, face drug, weapons charges

Gregor Robertson celebrates with his family, wife Amy Robertson, daughters Terra and Hanna Robertson and his son Jinagh Navas Rivas, after being elected the Vision Vancouver Mayoral candidate on June 15, 2008.


RCMP plan to speak with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson after his 21-year-old former foster son was charged with drug trafficking and weapons offences.

Mounties held a news conference Friday to formally announce charges against Jinagh Navas-Rivas and four other men. Police allege the group was running a "dial-a-dope" cocaine business.

Mr. Robertson is on vacation in Hawaii but RCMP spokesman Sergeant Peter Thiessen said police will speak with him soon. Mr. Navas-Rivas is not in custody and hasn't been seen since the charges were laid.

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"We will be speaking to the mayor for a variety of reasons," Sgt. Thiessen told reporters, though he wouldn't disclose what those reasons might be.

Sgt. Thiessen also declined to answer when asked if police knew one of the men they were investigating was linked to the mayor, though his response seemed to suggest they did not.

"We're not in a position to comment on the family connections of any of these individuals," he said. "Certainly, it's come to our attention through media reports in the last 24 hours that that individual may have a connection to the current mayor of Vancouver. We're certainly well aware of what's been reported and we're certainly looking at that closer."

Shortly after word of the charges first spread Thursday, Mr. Robertson issued a statement in which he detailed his relationship with his former foster son. The mayor said Mr. Navas-Rivas lived at the Robertson home for two years, but hadn't done so since 2009. However, Mr. Navas-Rivas was on stage when the mayor was re-elected in November and is listed as one of Mr. Robertson's children on his city hall profile.

The mayor also urged Mr. Navas-Rivas to turn himself in.

A spokesman for the mayor wrote in an e-mail Friday that Mr. Robertson will assist RCMP in whatever way he can.

Norman Ruff, a political scientist and professor emeritus at the University of Victoria, said he doesn't expect the charges to hurt the mayor politically.

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In fact, Prof. Ruff said Mr. Robertson's explanation on why he became a foster parent in the first place – to provide support to a youth in need – might generate sympathy.

Mr. Navas-Rivas was a student at Prince Wales Secondary with one of Mr. Robertson's daughters, who became concerned when she realized he was on his own and essentially living on the street. The mayor's wife offered to take him in and the Robertsons got the necessary approvals to become foster parents.

The professor said former prime minister Jean Chrétien's adopted son had well-publicized legal troubles but that didn't have much of an impact on his father.

"To reverse the usual cliché, the sins of the son shouldn't be inflicted on the father," Prof. Ruff said.

Mounties say they received a tip in June about a drug-trafficking ring. Police raided a Vancouver home on Dec. 22 and say they recovered three handguns, 15 ounces of cocaine, one pound of marijuana, numerous vials of steroids and street level amounts of MDMA, a methamphetamine.

Mr. Navas-Rivas has been charged with one count of unlawfully transferring a firearm and two counts of unlawfully trafficking cocaine. Police say they expect three more men will be charged in the drug operation.

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Sgt. Thiessen said RCMP are still probing whether there are any links to a gang.

"That's a key focus of the investigation. At this point we're not able to say that they're part of any one, or more than one, gang or organized crime group. We're certainly trying to connect the dots to make those determinations to see what affiliations they might have."

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story indicated Mr. Navas-Rivas hadn't lived in the Robertson home until 2009. In fact, he hadn't lived there since 2009. This version has been corrected.

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