Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Guest list for Christy Clark's China schmooze included Nexen's would-be buyer

Among the 90 people on the guest list for a Sept. 11 reception co-hosted by B.C. Premier Christy Clark during the World Economic Forum in China were senior executives from Samsung, Qualcomm, Rio Tinto, Great United Petroleum Holding Co. and even a Dutch Prince, Prince de Bourbon Parme. Three people represented CN and two were from the Canadian division of Huawei, the Chinese telecom networking giant later identified as a national security threat in both the U.S. and Canada.

China National Overseas Oil Corporation, which wants to take over Calgary's Nexen, was to be represented by its international division president Fang Zhi.

Bahrain Petroleum Company's honorary chair Sheikh Al Khalifa and Ugandan billionaire Ashish Thakkar were also listed. Thakkar is aiming to be the second African astronaut. Last spring he bought a $200,000 ticket for the first voyage of Virgin Galactic.

Clark, Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall were each afforded five minutes to speak about the tri-province New West Partnership economic development promotion during the 7:30 to 10 p.m. event. Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger also attended, but was not scheduled to speak. Master of ceremonies was Gary Mar, a former Alberta cabinet minister who unsuccessfully sought the Progressive Conservative leadership in 2011.

Clark was the only premier who brought a videographer from Canada -- "visual communications officer" Kyle Surovy. Clark earlier participated in an energy panel at WEF, the summertime offshoot of the annual Davos, Switzerland convention that the Sunlight Foundation said is where heads of business "lobby the most influential policy makers and regulators in a confined atmosphere."

Clark was also joined by executive assistant Gabe Garfinkel, Jobs, Tourism and Innovation deputy minister David Byng, six trade development staffers and chief of staff Ken Boessenkool. Boessenkool resigned Sept. 23 over a Sept. 7 "incident of concern" involving a female staffer at a bar in Victoria. His daily agenda during the China trip included eight hours of activities over three days that were censored for "personal privacy."

Attendees snacked on B.C. salted sable fish, Saskatchewan maple glazed pork and Alberta roast beef tenderloin and beef ribs. There was a selection of six Canadian seafood dishes, including hand-rolled sushi with Canadian Hokkigai clam, poached Canadian trout fillet over marinated fennel salad, honey lemon dressing and Quenelle of Canadian salmon trout with warm apple sauce and fresh mint. Five varieties of B.C. wine were to be served, but the salmon on the menu was flown in from Norway.

The menu, obtained via Freedom of Information, shows there was a "salmon carving live station" at the St. Regis Hotel in Tianjin, where smoked Norwegian salmon fillet and hot smoked Norwegian salmon fillet with black pepper were served with bagels, foccacia, baguettes, lavoche and bread sticks.

The entertainment was provided by so-called "Mr. Sand," whose 15 to 20 minute performance included drawing three pictures each "relevant to each province along with the NWP logo" with sand under a projector.

"This is very popular in China and the performance went over very well at an event the Canadian Government hosted during Prime Minister Stephen Harper's last visit to China," said notes attached to the agenda.

Ex-Newfoundland Premier Brian Tobin led a delegation from Aecon Group, a Toronto construction conglomerate, that included chair John Beck and his wife Diane Francis, the National Post columnist. Canadian Council of CEOs president John Manley was also listed.

The Office of the Premier and Ministry of Finance both claimed they had no invoices or receipts from the event. Neither did Jobs, Tourism and Innovation disclose costs.

Vancouver-based journalist Bob Mackin is a frequent contributor to The Tyee. He can be reached here or on Twitter.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus