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Richmond Centre Liberal among top spenders in House of Commons

The money was spent on "contracts," an umbrella term used for services, advertising, gifts, office leases, operations and training.
Richmond Liberal MPs Wilson Miao (left) and Parm Bains with Minister of Housing and Diversity Ahmed Hussein.

The Richmond Centre Liberal MP who took more than a year to open his constituency office was among the biggest spenders on contracts during his first calendar year in the House of Commons.

Wilson Miao, who upset Conservative incumbent Alice Wong in the September 2021 federal election, spent $114,378.10 in the three-month period ended March 31, 2022. That was more than four times the $27,498.55 average.

Miao was also the third-biggest spender in the same category for the July-to-September 2022 quarter, at $54,421.45 – more than double the $23,614.67 average.

“Contracts” is the umbrella term used for services, advertising, gifts, office leases, operations and training. The reports show general headings with the date and amount of each purchase, but no specific description of the goods and services supplied.

From January to March of last year, Miao spent $39,701.53 on promotional items, including $31,580.23 from a single supplier, Team Sales Ltd. He also spent $31,004.24 on office supplies, stationery and accessories, 52 per cent of which came on a single day from Grand and Toy: $16,424.32 on March 31.

Miao also listed $4,647.80 for gifts given as a matter of protocol and paid the company SLG $3,450 for office design.

For the six months between April and September, Miao spent another $7,400 with SLG, $1,460 on storage and warehousing at Storguard Richmond and $73,788.60 on office renovations with a supplier named Niicon Services Ltd.

Niicon had very little history prior to the contract with Miao. The Vancouver company, whose sole director is Michael Chiu of Richmond, was incorporated March 9, 2022 with the B.C. government companies registry.

The first and only charge disclosed for constituency office rent was $5,016.66 on May 10, 2022 with Dorset Realty Group Canada Ltd. Miao’s office is in a complex across from Richmond General Hospital.

Miao did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

His senior administrator, Jack Hopkins, said by email that Miao had to find a constituency office because there was not an existing one that he could use after defeating Wong.

In the first three months of 2022, Colliers realty reported an 11.7 per cent office vacancy rate in Richmond.

“For MP Miao this has resulted in more expenditures, particularly given that this all occurred during the persistent supply chain disruptions,” Hopkins said. “Luckily, MP Miao has taken on this burden and has now finalized a new and fully functional constituency office space, that we expect to be useful for many years to come." 

Hopkins did not address the big amounts for gifts, promotional items and office supplies.

Meanwhile, Steveston-Richmond East Liberal MP Parm Bains, also elected in 2021, rewarded a company that worked on his campaign with $32,000 in taxpayer-funded contracts over 10 months.

Dishoom Media Inc. (aka Dishoom Entertainment) received $28,000 between October 2021 to July 2022 as “communications officer,” and another $4,000 for March 2022 as a “subject matter expert.”

This happened when Bains was already charging taxpayers $124,288.49 for employee salaries between January and July 2022.

Elections Canada finance returns show that Dishoom Media was also paid $13,041 during the 2021 campaign.

B.C. corporate records show that Surrey-registered Dishoom Media Inc.’s president is Tammy Saavyn Mann. But, on LinkedIn, Paul Mann described himself as marketing manager and owner of Dishoom Entertainment since 2001. Services include political and event marketing and communications, and project management. Mann also lists experience as a correctional officer from 2002 to 2014 and as a flight attendant from 2017 to 2020.

Bains defeated incumbent Conservative Kenny Chiu in a race marred by an anti-Chiu disinformation campaign via Chinese-language social media and Chinese state media. Chiu, a supporter of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, proposed a law requiring agents of foreign governments to register before they can lobby in Canada.

Like Miao, Bains also did not respond for comment.

The all-party Board of Internal Economy oversees the $581.4 million annual budget for House of Commons spending, including constituency offices.