Alleged Chinese 'police stations' tried to influence an election
The two Quebec establishments suspected by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police of being Chinese “police stations” got involved in politics during the last municipal and provincial elections, our Bureau of Investigation has discovered.< /strong>
Messages written in simplified Chinese on the joint WeChat account of the Chinese Family Service of Greater Montreal and the Sino-Quebec Center of the South Shore show that the two organizations have put forward candidates to the detriment of others.
For example, during the last municipal election campaign in the fall of 2021, it was explicitly recommended to vote for two candidates from the Coalition Brossard party, including Xixi Li, director general of the two establishments.
“On voting day, you have two ballots, one of which is to vote for councilman. Please vote Xixi Li; the other to vote for mayor, please vote Michel Gervais,” reads.
Of the two candidates, only Xixi Li was elected. Michel Gervais was beaten by current mayor Doreen Assaad.
Messages to the provincial
Still in simplified Chinese on the Chinese social network WeChat, the two centers also communicated about the provincial election last fall. We found two messages relating to the candidates of the Coalition Avenir Québec and the Liberal Party of Québec, “very likely (to) win in the city of Brossard”.
“We want you to enjoy of this opportunity by making a choice that will benefit you as well as the community,” reads after an invitation to click through to an article featuring the two candidates.
In the end, it was Liberal Linda Caron who won the seat of this constituency, which has a large Chinese diaspora, just ahead of Caquiste Samuel Gatien.
We have not found any similar messages, of a politics, written in French or English on the Facebook accounts of the two centres.
Never partisans, really?
Why do these community organizations, which offer language courses and support for newcomers, get involved in the political debate? We had not responded to our requests for interviews at the time of publishing these lines.
Last week, before we obtained copies of these political messages, Xixi Li had nevertheless indicated to us during from a brief phone conversation that these organizations had never been “partisan or anything”.
“We are a local non-profit organization. […] We have always been for the well-being of the Chinese community, to help the elderly and people in adverse situations, who are disabled or who have mental health problems, ”she listed.< /p>
The two centers are suspected by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) of being, like four other centers identified elsewhere in the country by the Spanish NGO Safeguard Defenders, “police stations” illegal immigrants on behalf of the Chinese authorities.
The RCMP mentioned last week that citizens of the Chinese diaspora could be intimidated or threatened by the Chinese communist regime in connection with these centres.
On the background of interference
The alleged interference of China in Canadian democracy has been the subject of a lot of ink for several months now.
A federal parliamentary committee is working to determine whether representatives of China would have intervened in the 2019 and 2021 elections.
Former Ontario Conservative MP Kenny Chiu attributed his defeat in particular to a disinformation campaign on the WeChat platform.
– With the collaboration of Yves Lévesque
An unequivocal bias
The Simplified Chinese communications explicitly recommended voting for two particular candidates in the fall 2021 municipal election
- “On voting day, you have two ballots, one of which is to vote for city councillor. Please vote Xixi Li; the other to vote for mayor, please vote Michel Gervais,” read a WeChat post. been highlighted or boxed in red in informative posts that explained how to vote.
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