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Vancouver businessman David Sidoo pleads not guilty in U.S. college bribery case

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  • BOSTON — Lawyers for a prominent Vancouver businessman say their client has pleaded not guilty in court in an alleged college admissions scam in the United States.

    The U.S. attorney office in Massachusetts says in a tweet that David Sidoo has been released by the federal court in Boston on a secured bond of US$1.5 million and his travel restricted to Canada and the United States.

    Sidoo was charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud as part of a prosecution by United States authorities of an alleged college admissions scam involving dozens of accused people.

    An indictment released Tuesday alleged Sidoo paid $200,000 in total for someone to take an entrance exam on behalf of both his sons, and that he also paid an undisclosed amount for someone to fly to Vancouver and take a high school test.

    St. George’s School says a review of its records from 2012 indicates no school or provincial exams were written at the school by the student in question on or around the date referenced by the indictment.

    Sidoo, known for his philanthropic causes in British Columbia, was CEO of Advantage Lithium and is a former Canadian Football League player for the B.C. Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

    At least nine athletic coaches and 33 parents, including Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, are among those who have been charged in an investigation dubbed Operation Varsity Blues.

    No students were charged. Authorities have said that in many cases the teenagers were not aware of what was going on.

    Advantage Lithium said Thursday that Sidoo has taken a leave of absence from his executive role as company president and that his responsibilities as CEO have been assumed by another executive on an interim basis.

    The law firm representing Sidoo says he “looks forward to fully contesting the charges in a well-respected court and not in the media.”

    “He will be returning to his home in Canada and asks people not to rush to judgment.”

    The U.S. Justice Department says Sidoo, 59, was arrested in San Jose, Calif., on March 8.

    An indictment alleges Sidoo paid $100,000 in 2011 to have an individual secretly take the Scholastic Assessment Test, or SAT, in place of his older son. It also asserts that Sidoo emailed copies of his son’s driver’s licence and student card for the purpose of creating a falsified identification card for the individual. 

    The individual, whose name is redacted, flew from Tampa, Fla., to Vancouver to take the SAT on behalf of Sidoo’s son, the indictment alleges.

    The indictment says the test score was emailed to an administrator at Chapman University, a private California university, where Sidoo’s son was admitted and later enrolled.

    The indictment also alleges Sidoo agreed to pay another $100,000 in 2012 for someone to take the SAT in place of his younger son.

    It claims that in 2013 and 2014 the falsified SAT scores obtained on behalf of his younger son were sent to universities, including Yale and Georgetown, as part of his college applications. The score was also sent to the University of California-Berkeley, where the younger son was accepted and later enrolled, it says.

    Sidoo’s legal team has said the two sons have not been accused of any impropriety.

    If convicted of the charge, Sidoo must forfeit any property that is derived from proceeds traceable to the offence, the indictment says.

     

    The Canadian Press


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    National

    Cambridge University rescinds offer of fellowship for Jordan Peterson

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  • Cambridge University in Britain says it’s rescinded an offer of a visiting fellowship for controversial University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson.

    A Cambridge spokeswoman says Peterson requested a two-month fellowship at the school’s Faculty of Divinity, which had been slated to take place in October and November of this year.

    But she says the university opted to rescind the fellowship opportunity after a review of Peterson’s work.

    Peterson has earned a global following after becoming an outspoken critic of political correctness and advocate for free speech on post-secondary campuses.

    The best-selling author says Cambridge did not directly notify him of the fact that the fellowship he requested after a 2018 visit was rescinded, an allegation the university denies.

    In a blog post, Peterson called the school’s decision “a serious error of judgment” and wished the Faculty of Divinity “the continued decline in relevance that they…deserve.”

    The Canadian Press


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    Environment

    B.C. legislation only applies to Trans Mountain, project proponent argues

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  • VANCOUVER — The proponent of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion says legislation proposed by British Columbia is targeting the project and would significantly impact it.

    A lawyer for Trans Mountain ULC is asking the B.C. Court of Appeal to reject proposed amendments to the province’s Environmental Management Act that would create a permitting system for heavy oil transporters.

    Maureen Killoran says Trans Mountain, which has operated since 1953, is the only pipeline that transports liquid petroleum to the West Coast and the only pipeline to which the legislation would apply.

    She says the proposed law would present more risk than private-sector proponent Kinder Morgan was willing to accept and it sold the pipeline and related assets to Canada for $4.5 billion last year.

    Since the expansion project was first officially proposed in 2013, Killoran says it has been through the largest review in the National Energy Board’s history, a number of court challenges and faced protesters and blockades in B.C.

    She says the energy board ruled the expansion, which would triple the capacity of the pipeline, is in the Canadian public interest because the country cannot get all its available energy resources to Pacific markets including Asia.

    B.C. has argued the proposed rules are not intended to block the project but instead aim to protect its environment from spills and would require companies to pay for any damages, but Killoran disagreed.

    “Trans Mountain will be directly and significantly impacted by the proposed legislation. Indeed, we say it is the target of the proposed legislation,” she told a panel of five judges on Thursday.

    First Nations, the cities of Vancouver and Burnaby, and environmental group Ecojustice have delivered arguments in support of B.C.’s proposed rules, in part because of concerns about the local impacts of possible spills.

    Killoran says the energy board recognized that there is a wealth of evidence about the fate and behaviour of diluted bitumen and there is further research underway.

    The board also disputed the views of project opponents including Vancouver that the company hadn’t provided enough information about disaster-response plans, and also recognized that spill prevention was a part of pipeline design, she says.

    The Appeal Court is hearing a reference case filed by B.C. that asks whether the province has the authority to enact the amendments. Canada opposes the amendments because it says Ottawa — not provinces — has exclusive jurisdiction over inter-provincial infrastructure.

    The Trans Mountain pipeline runs from the Edmonton area to Metro Vancouver and the expansion would increase the number of tankers in Burrard Inlet seven-fold.

    Laura Kane, The Canadian Press


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    march, 2019

    fri8mar - 30aprmar 85:30 pmapr 30Real Estate Dinner Theatre5:30 pm - (april 30) 10:00 pm

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