Non-profit society raises concerns of 'potential conflict of interest' involving top B.C. judge who dismissed various COVID mandate cases

The first of the slew of challenges to be dismissed by the Chief Justice argued that Dr. Henry’s mandate to close places of worship such as churches while keeping restaurants and bars open, unjustifiably infringed upon citizens' right to religious freedom.

Non-profit society raises concerns of 'potential conflict of interest' involving top B.C. judge who dismissed various COVID mandate cases.
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The Canadian Society for the Advancement of Public Policy (CSASPP), a non-profit organization that has taken legal action on behalf of British Columbians who were disadvantaged by COVID-19 measures, has raised concerns over a senior B.C. judge's seat on the board of an 80-year-old foundation.

BC Supreme Court and Court of Appeal’s judge, the Honourable Chief Justice Hinkson, has been a member of the board of directors for the Vancouver Foundation since 2014.

The foundation, which was established in 1943 through a parliamentary act called the Vancouver Foundation Act, works “with individuals, charities, and businesses to create endowment funds, most of which are permanent” and grants for “hundreds of charities and non-profits in BC.”

In recent years, recipients of donations from the Vancouver Foundation have included public health authorities and their partnering organizations including the Fraser Health Authority, Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, and the BC Centre for Disease Control Foundation for Public Health (BCCDC Foundation).

“We cannot comment on whether this is an actual conflict of interest or not. We can, however, say with confidence there is, at the very least, the appearance of one,” CSASPP’s Executive Director Kip Warner stated in a status update on the Society’s website.

Between March 2021 and September 2022, Chief Justice Hinkson dismissed five significant challenges to COVID-19 restrictions mandated by B.C.’s Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

The first of the slew of challenges to be dismissed by the Chief Justice argued that Dr. Henry’s mandate to close places of worship such as churches while keeping restaurants and bars open, unjustifiably infringed upon citizens right to religious freedom.

The other four cases that were dismissed, including one that generous Rebel News supporters donated for The Democracy Fund to fight, and another that CSASPP took on, were challenges to the constitutionality of the province's discriminatory vaccine passport that restricted COVID jab-free individuals from entering places like restaurants, theaters, and fitness centers.

CSASPP believes that the “problematic findings” involving the Honourable Chief Justice Hinkson's seat as a director of the Vancouver Foundation, and the ones who receive its funding serve as a positive revelation for the society’s upcoming appeal hearing scheduled for October this year. The society is seeking to overturn Hinkson’s dismissal of their petition to challenge the province's now rescinded vaccine passport. 

The Vanocuver Foundation donates to thousands of qualified donees but a handful of those donees stand out as being potentially problematic for the Chief Justice to be overseeing any sort of funds passing their way. 

Lists of donee gift amounts received from the Vancouver foundation over a span of several years can be seen in a filed income tax return form for the foundation which has been made public. For example, in the fiscal year of 2021, the foundation donated $93,434 to Fraser Health Authority, and $193,072 to the Public Health Association of British Columbia.

In 2020 it donated $100,000 to Vancouver Coastal Health, and $13,000 to the BCCDC Foundation which also received over $50,000 from the Vancouver Foundation the prior fiscal year.

Raising even more questions for CSASPP is how the recipients of the donations from the Vancouver Foundation use the funds after receiving them.

Income tax return filings for the BCCDC Foundation, for example, show that between the fiscal years of 2017 to 2021, the BCCDC Foundation only donated to an average of one to four donees per year. A popular recipient of donations from the BCCDC Foundation during that time was the Provincial Health Service Authority (PSHSA) who collectively accepted over $ 1.5 million in donations.

“A sophisticated organization, such as the Vancouver Foundation, cannot reasonably be said to not know where the aforementioned benefactor receiving a donation would subsequently direct it to” Warner states on the Society’s update.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the main respondent in the five Covid-19 measures cases Hinkson dismissed, worked closely with the PHSA to develop and implement public health guidelines and protocols during lock-downs.

CSASPP isn’t the only organization however to speak out about the “potential conflict of interest.” Kari Simpson, a legal advocate and Executive Director with Culture Guard, tells Rebel News that in an effort to “follow the money” after learning that Chief Justice Hinkson sits on the board for the Vancouver Foundation, she was very “troubled to unearth the amount of shenanigans that has been going on as far as millions, millions, and more millions of dollars going into special interest groups and COVID related matters.”

“What most people don’t know is that the BC Centre for Disease Control has a sister foundation called the BC Centre for disease control foundation and that group is funded in large part by pharmaceutical companies” added Simpson.

To date, the foundation has administered over 1600 funds granting more than 1.5 billion dollars to charities and organizations. An investment overview shows that the foundation also oversees two balanced Investment Funds with combined assets totaling over $ 1.84 billion.

The largest is the Consolidated Trust Fund (CTF) “a diversified balanced fund of equities, fixed income, real estate and multi-strategy funds” and the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Fund, which “screens out companies predominantly involved in fossil fuels, military weapons, nuclear power utilities, and tobacco.”

Section 55 of the Judges Act states that “no judge shall, either directly or indirectly, for himself or herself or others, engage in any occupation or business other than his or her judicial duties, but every judge shall devote himself or herself exclusively to those judicial duties.”

Rebel News reached out to the Vancouver Foundation to invite them to provide comment regarding the questions being raised about whether it is of conflict for Chief Justice Hinkson to sit on their board. We have not received a response as of the time of publishing this report.

It is important to point out that Chief Justice Hinkson does not get paid for his director position at the Vancouver Foundation and that since the foundations establishment, a Chief Justice has always sat on the board.

Additionally, the Chief Justice’s director position with the foundation can also be categorized as part of his judicial duties outlined by the Vancouver Act for which the foundation was birthed from.

Lastly, it is not uncommon for leaders in various fields, including law, to serve on the boards of charitable organizations like the Vancouver Foundation. The question is whether or not an 80-year-old standard that places a top judge in the position of presiding over public health-related cases while overseeing grants and programs involving those types of agencies is without conflict and in the best interest of the public today. 

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