Two Montreal-area Chinese community organizations are seeking $2.5 million in damages from the RCMP after being accused of hosting secret Chinese government police stations.
The announcement of legal action comes amid a months-long police investigation into allegations about the centres. They sent a joint formal notice to the RCMP and Canada’s attorney general Friday.
“The lack of any intelligible explanation from the RCMP about the allegations, nor any timeline, leaves the community centres with no choice except to exercise legal recourse,” the organizations said in a statement.
In March, the RCMP said the Service à la Famille Chinoise du grande Montréal and the Centre Sino-Québec de la Rive-Sud, located on the city’s south shore, hosted Chinese government agents who allegedly harassed members of the city’s Chinese community.
In May, then Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told a parliamentary committee that the RCMP had shut down the so-called “police stations” in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. At the time, the RCMP said they were continuing to actively investigate reports of criminal activity in relation to the alleged police stations.
The pair of Montreal-area community organizations say they have “suffered major funding cuts” in wake of the investigation. As a result, essential services and programs have been abolished.
“This situation has left the community in dire need, and many dedicated workers have lost their jobs,” the groups said in a statement.
The Service à la Famille Chinoise du grande Montréal is also at risk of losing its building in Montreal’s Chinatown, claiming the bank plans not to renew its mortgage next year.
Lawyers representing the Service à la Famille Chinoise du grande Montréal and the Centre Sino-Québec de la Rive-Sud are asking for $2.5 million in damages. They say this represents “only a portion” their clients intend to claim.
The community organizations also want the RCMP to publicly retract statements alleging they are secret police stations and make a public apology.
In a statement to Global News, the RCMP said it had no comment on the community groups’ announcement and that it will generally “not comment on specific locations as investigations are ongoing.”
The RCMP said it “continues to actively investigate” reports of criminal activity related to alleged police stations in Canada.
“It is important to note that some of the activity the RCMP is investigating is occurring at locations where other legitimate services to the Chinese Canadian Community are being offered,” the police service said.
The RCMP also said that Chinese Canadians “are victims of the activity we are investigating” and there is “no tolerance” for that or any kind of “intimidation, harassment, or harmful targeting of diaspora communities or individuals in Canada.”
— with files from Global News’ Phil Carpenter and The Canadian Press