The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating allegations of two so-called “police stations” in Quebec that are suspected to be operated by Chinese government officials.
The RCMP confirmed by email Thursday morning an open investigation by the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in the province into the two alleged outposts: one in Montreal and another in Brossard, a suburb on the city’s south shore.
The federal police force added it’s possible that Chinese Canadians “have been victims of the possible activities conducted by these centres” and that any form of “intimidation, harassment and harmful of diaspora communities or individuals in Canada will not be tolerated.”
Sgt. Charles Poirier said in an interview with Global News that the probe has been going on for weeks, but could not provide an exact timeline.
“What we know is the Chinese community has voiced their concerns,” Poirier said. “Some people are threatened, some people are being intimidated and we certainly need their cooperation to further our investigation.”
Poirier also confirmed it was the first time an alleged police station operated by Chinese authorities has been detected in Quebec by the RCMP.
The Mounties have also created a phone line for people to use to report any threats. Poirier said anyone who has concerns will be able to communicate in languages other than English and French if needed.
The RCMP also has mechanisms in place to ensure the safety of those who contact them, he added.
“We want to send a clear message to that community that we hear their concerns and we’re here for them,” Poirier said.
The RCMP could not comment further on the identity of the alleged police stations, citing the ongoing probe. The investigation was first reported Thursday by the Journal de Montréal.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau briefly addressed the allegations in a scrum early Thursday, saying “we’re making sure the RCMP is following up on this and that our intelligence systems are taking this seriously.”
“This is an issue that concerns us enormously,” he added.
In December 2022, a Spanish civil rights group revealed in a report that there were Chinese police operations around the world, including three in Toronto and at least one in Vancouver.
Safeguard Defenders said there were more than 100 such stations in more than 50 countries. It alleges the stations serve to “persuade” people who Chinese authorities claim are fugitives living overseas to return to China to face charges.
— with files from Global News’ Gloria Henriquez, Amy Judd, Christa Dao and The Canadian Press