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Vancouver Chinese consulate’s election interference attempt

Allegations that Vancouver’s Chinese consulate tried to interfere in last year’s municipal election reverberated through the city’s political class Thursday.

Mayor Ken Sim and former mayor Kennedy Stewart each raised questions about a Globe and Mail article documenting a secret Canadian spy agency report on efforts by then-Chinese consul general Tong Xiaoling to indoctrinate or “groom” a Chinese-Canadian municipality. politicians for high office to advance China’s interests.

In the article, Stewart revealed that agents of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) approached him in May 2022 to discuss Chinese interference in the city.

Speaking to CTV News Vancouver on Thursday, the former mayor said he doesn’t believe his defeat in last year’s election was due to outside interference, but added that he thinks CSIS’s claim that local politicians could have worked to advance Chinese interests, is “extremely serious.” “.

Stewart, who served as mayor from late 2018 to late 2022, recalled the positive interactions he had with the Chinese consulate early in his tenure. He said his relationship with the consulate had soured as relations between Canada and China soured over the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver and Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in China.

The former mayor said he attended events where Xiaoling publicly “condemned” him and the Canadian government, and said the former consul general made it “quite clear” that he would prefer someone else at Vancouver City Hall.

“It seemed like they were openly following me,” Stewart said. “And I wasn’t surprised when the Globe and Mail said they were working behind the scenes to make sure I didn’t get re-elected.”


THE CURRENT MAYOR REACTS

In a statement with federal officials on Thursday, current Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim was asked about the Globe and Mail report.

He said he was not aware of any meddling in the October election and – asked if he and his Better City Vancouver party won the election “fairly and publicly” – said the enormous effort was put on him and his team. : their campaign.

“We worked our butt off,” Sim said.

“To say that anyone or a group participated in the election, I think that’s kind of crazy. I think it’s disrespectful to all the people who have been a part of ABC. I think it’s disrespectful to every person who has volunteered.”

Simi’s party won a majority on the city council, school board and park board, and every candidate running under the party’s banner was elected.

In the mayoral election, Sim defeated Stewart by more than 35,000 votes.

The current mayor also said he was frustrated by the suggestion that his election was somehow illegitimate and the message such a proposal could send to visible minorities and other marginalized groups.

“I’m the first Canadian of Chinese descent to become mayor of a major Canadian city, and there are groups speculating about how we got there, and frankly, I find that incredibly disappointing.” said Sim.

In response to a further question, he added:

“I will just say. If I were a Caucasian man, we’re not having this conversation.”


“KDP IS NOT ALL KNOWING”

The Globe article said the classified document refers to a Vancouver council candidate whom the former consul general has shown interest in “grooming” for future campaigns and higher office.

The name of the candidate mentioned in the document is not mentioned, Globe reports.

Lenny Zhu has been elected to Vancouver City Council with Sim’s ABC Vancouver party. He took to Twitter on Thursday to repeat what he told the newspaper, describing himself as a supporter of free speech and democracy and disputing claims he expressed pro-Beijing views at an event in recent years.

On Thursday night, Louis Huang, who was quoted in a Globe and Mail article noting that Zhu attended the event, said: apologizedsaying that he wasn’t sure Zhou was the person who was present at the meeting, and no one in his group remembers Zhou being present either.

Rasil Vwong, who is running for council with Stewart’s Forward Together party, also defended Zhou on social mediadescribing Zhou as a friend and saying he was “infuriated” by the suggestion that Zhou might have been a candidate being groomed by the CCP.

“I would describe Lenny’s political views as democratic and anti-CCP (Chinese Communist Party),” Vwong wrote on Twitter.

“The Chinese consul may have thought he was a good target, but it just shows that the CCP is not omniscient.”


“THE MOST THREAT”

News of China’s apparent attempts to interfere in Vancouver’s municipal elections comes amid calls for a public inquiry into broader interference by foreign powers in Canadian elections.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment former Governor-General David Johnston as an independent “special rapporteur” on the matter.

In a statement Thursday, CSIS acknowledged that it has “identified foreign interference in Canada and the targeting of Canadians by the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party as the most significant strategic threat to Canadian security.”

“To be clear, the threat does not come from the Chinese people, but from the CCP, which pursues a strategy of geopolitical advantage on all fronts: economic, technological, political and military, and uses all elements of state power to implement it. actions that are a direct threat to our national security and sovereignty,” CSIS said.

The agency said it could neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of the information contained in the Globe and Mail article about the Vancouver election.

Both Stewart and Sim have expressed a desire for the federal government to take allegations of election interference seriously and work to make the electoral system more flexible.

“I can’t speak for the federal government, but as a Canadian, I wholeheartedly support everything we can do to make our institutions stronger,” Sim said.

“What I really hope is that the governor-general takes his job as special rapporteur seriously and says: “We have a problem here,” Stewart said.

β€œIt’s not just at the federal level. We need to have a nationwide, government-wide investigation into what’s going on here.”

On Thursday night, Louis Huang, who was quoted in a Globe and Mail article noting that Zhu attended the event;

On Thursday night, Louis Huang, who was quoted in a Globe and Mail article noting that Zhu attended the event;


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