Leaders of Montreal’s Chinese community are angered with the RCMP’s decision to publicly name two local Chinese community organizations in their investigation of alleged Chinese police outposts.
“There may be complaints, then do your investigation,” reasoned immigration and human rights lawyer Walter Chi-Yan Tom. “But why the heck are you publicly ostracizing these two community organizations?”
Last week, the RCMP confirmed publicly that they are probing the Chinese Family Service of Greater Montreal and Sino-Quebec in Brossard, Que., both of which have served Montreal-area Chinese communities for decades.
“They are the backbone of the Chinese community,” Tom pointed out.
The RCMP suspects that there are activities within the organizations aimed at intimidating Chinese locals to help advance foreign interference in Canada.
According to the organizations’ lawyer, Virginie Dufresne-Lemire, the groups condemn any such activity and that the federal police service should not have named them publicly.
“We question a little bit the way that this was done because it can cause irreparable damage to these organizations,” she told Global News.
May Chiu, former head of Chinese Family Service, current coordinator for Montreal’s Chinatown Round Table and a lawyer agrees.
“Already we know that some funders are anxious,” she pointed out. “People have been asking a lot of questions.”
Now she and others fear some of those services are in jeopardy, in particular those given to new arrivals.
“People who immigrate here, we’re talking about Chinese refugees that have claimed refugee status from China, we’re talking about people without status, we’re talking about international students,” Tom stressed.
He fears that those who would normally turn to the two groups for help will now have second thoughts about approaching them, when these people already have limited options.
Tom is also concerned about stigmatization of Montreal’s Chinese community, observing that because of the allegations there now exists a climate of fear among some members.
“Didn’t they think of the consequences before they did this?” he wondered.
RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Charles Poirier wrote in a statement that the force’s goal was never to target the community.
“The Québec RCMP decided to publicly acknowledge the presence of two alleged Chinese police stations and their activities in Montréal and Brossard for two reasons,” he wrote.
“First, to reassure the public and the Chinese community in Québec and to send a clear message to them: these activities will not be tolerated and we are here for them. Second, to elicit their collaboration, because it is key to advancing and furthering our investigation.”
Some community members, however, wonder if xenophobia was a factor in the RCMP’s decision.
“Do they publish a list of everybody who they’re investigating in Canada?” Chiu asked. “Imagine the kind of chaos that would fall from that.”
Tom said they plan to reach out to the RCMP.