British Columbia

4 Lower Mainland mayoral candidates face professional misconduct allegations

Four Lower Mainland mayoral candidates are facing various allegations of professional misconduct as B.C. gears up for municipal elections across the province on Oct. 20.

John Becker, Hong Guo, Mark Sager and Sam Waddington are all facing scrutiny

Former West Vancouver mayor Mark Sager is one of three mayoral candidates in the Lower Mainland who are facing various professional misconduct allegations. (CBC)

Four Lower Mainland mayoral candidates are facing various allegations of professional misconduct as B.C. gears up for municipal elections across the province on Oct. 20. 

Three are being investigating by the Law Society of B.C. for alleged misconduct in their roles as lawyers. A fourth will be invesigated by an independent auditor over travel expenses.

John Becker

The mayor of Pitt Meadows has been accused of misappropriating more than $6,700 in his role as a lawyer, alongside dozens more instances of misconduct over several years.

The law society posted a two-page list of misconduct allegations against Becker dating back to 2011 — including the mishandling of thousands of dollars in client funds, improper billing and leaving five-dozen blank, signed client cheques unattended with his staff. 

John Becker has been mayor of Pitt Meadows since 2014 and a practicing lawyer since the '80s. On Tuesday, he was accused of professional misconduct in his role as a lawyer. (Facebook)

Reached by phone Thursday morning, Becker — running as the incumbent — seemed largely unconcerned with the allegations.

"I have every confidence that, with these systems, my lawyer, my accountant, the hearing panel will have all of the information to determine that the allegations are unwarranted," he said.

Hong Guo 

The law society is also investigating a long list of citations against Richmond mayoral candidate Hong Guo, which involve the misappropriation of millions of dollars between January 2014 and October 2016. 

Guo, also a lawyer, defended herself on Twitter, explaining that it was two former employees — one of them her accountant — who stole the money from her lawyer's pooled trust account by forging her signature.

Guo said she reported the theft to RCMP as soon as she found out about it, and the former employees are now serving time in jail. 

"It has been a valuable (and painful) learning experience for me," Guo said on Twitter. 

Mark Sager

West Vancouver mayoral candidate Mark Sager, a lawyer, has been accused of accepting a $100,000 gift from one of his clients. 

Sager, however, has a simple explanation: he says the gift came from his godmother. 

"I did do some legal work for her, I never charged her one penny and she came into some unexpected funds and wanted to give me a gift," Sager said. 

"The discipline committee must investigate this, I completely agree with the process. I'm glad I haven't had to do it before and hopefully will never have to do it again."

The society emphasizes that all allegations are unproven until a discipline hearing panel determines their validity. 

Sam Waddington

In Chilliwack, the city announced an independent auditor will investigate expenses that mayoral candidate and current councillor Sam Waddington incurred while travelling to municipal conferences across Canada over the last four years. 

Waddington says the accusations are a political ploy to cast doubt on his candidacy. He believes all of his expenses will be found to have been justified. 

"Every time I've been out of town on business for the City of Chilliwack, the thing on the front and centre of my mind with every expense that I incur, with every meeting that I hold, is the benefit for my community," Waddington said.

"That's why I'm out of town and I adhere to that and everything that I've done." 

With files from Justin McElroy

Read more from CBC British Columbia

Corrections

  • A previous version of this article referred to Metro Vancouver mayoral candidates. In fact, Chilliwack is not part of Metro Vancouver.
    Sep 25, 2018 11:07 AM PT