Chinese community organizations in Montreal sue Royal Canadian Mounted Police for defamation
Published: Mar 07, 2024 11:07 PM
Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers stop people as they enter Canada via Roxham road on the Canada-US border in Hemmingford, Quebec, March 25, 2023. US President Joe Biden on Friday announced that he and his Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reached a deal on curbing illegal immigration. The plan has been criticized by migrant rights activists who claim it will only push people to more dangerous crossings. Photo: VCG

Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Hemmingford, Quebec, March 25, 2023. Photo: VCG

Two Chinese community organizations in Montreal, Canada, are suing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for defamation over allegations of them operating as "police stations" for the Chinese government, an act that experts slammed as a long-held stigmatization by Canadian police departments that is fundamentally a "witch hunt" against the Chinese community in the country.

The Chinese Family Services of Greater Montreal and the Centre Sino-Québec de la Rive Sud in the South Shore suburb of Brossard are seeking more than $4.9 million in damages, local media reports said, citing a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in Superior Court.

In March last year, the two centers were put under investigation by the RCMP after they were accused of "harboring and assisting Chinese police in cross-border law enforcement in Canada." The national police force even created a new hot line and urged any Chinese Canadians who have been "victimized" by a suspected overseas police station to come forward, local media CTV News reported.

However, nearly a year has passed and the centers said they are still being "kept in the dark" about the specific allegations of any wrongdoings. 

Xixi Li, the executive director of the two centers who is also a Brossard city councilor, said the accusations damaged her "dignity and reputation," the report said on Wednesday. 

"I hope that this lawsuit will permit an efficient dialogue between my clients and RCMP so that their reputation and the damages they suffered can be quickly repaired. My clients hope that the matter can be resolved amicably, but they are also ready to go to trial if needed," the groups' lawyer, Maryse Lapointe, said in a release. 

In August 2023, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) distributed a "security alert" to the media, alleging that China had established seven "police stations" in Canada, including the two aforementioned organizations in Quebec.

This 15-page document has become a major weapon for some opposition parties and politicians in Canada to hype "Chinese interference in Canadian politics," causing significant discrimination against the local Chinese community. 

"Canada's suspicion, stigmatization and accusations toward the Chinese community have a long history, targeting Chinese groups they suspect through a 'witch hunt' that is essentially political persecution, Yao Peng, deputy secretary-general of the Canadian Studies Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Yao noted that Canada is no longer pursuing mature, rational and balanced principles of international relations, but rather base its foreign policies on political correctness against the backdrop of major power campaigns, clinging to an ideological Cold War mentality.

The irresponsible move is driven by the Liberal Party of Canada's desire to maintain its political base and power, observers said. 

"Under the influence of a severely distorted view of international order and relations, Canada, along with the US and other Western allies, completely disregards any demands or calls outside of their so-called political correctness," Yao said. 

Another underlying purpose is to create an atmosphere in Canadian society where Chinese people are seen as "the others," providing a social foundation for further stigmatization.

The accusations by the RCMP have seriously disrupted the normal lives of Chinese people in Quebec, and have also caused significant impacts to the economic, social and community functions of the Chinese groups in the region.

Many local Chinese said that the unfounded allegations have made themselves a "scapegoat for ethnic hatred" where everyone is easily blamed and feels endangered, the Global Times learned from local Chinese communities.

With the support of two Canadian senators, during a press conference last December, the two organizations vowed to sue the RCMP.

They slammed the RCMP accusations as "vague," which had led to job losses and funding cuts. 

They pointed out that the bank that originally provided a mortgage loan to the Chinese Family Services of Greater Montreal decided not to renew the mortgage loan after it expires because of the incident. The "political persecution" of the Canadian police was having a "specific impact" on the centers, they said.