Chinese community groups in Montreal fight RCMP harassment but risk losing building, funding

By Manuel Johnson    

Two Montreal area groups which were accused last March of harbouring “secret Chinese police stations” are fighting back, making a claim against the RCMP for $2.5 million in damages. They are also asking for a public apology for the baseless accusations and confirmation that no evidence of the violation of any laws was found in the RCMP’s “investigation.”

Instead of rectifying the situation, the feds have doubled down by claiming that the investigation is still ongoing and 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,” while continuing to refuse to provide concrete details of these alleged activities.

One of the groups, Chinese Family Services, has been told by its bank that the mortgage on their Montreal building will not be renewed this spring. The organization uses its building to offer services to victims of conjugal violence as well as for people seeking jobs and housing, language classes and other integration-oriented activities. Groups renting space in the building have refused to renew their leases, fearing repercussions and funding cuts because of association with the fantom “police stations.” Employees of the centre have been laid off and essential services and programs have been cut.

Sino Québec, the other group targeted by the RCMP, is based on the South Shore of Montreal and offers integration services to recent immigrants. They have seen their funding from the Quebec government completely cut off since the RCMP’s public accusations.

The two groups launched their lawsuit with a press conference on December 1, saying that the $2.5 million claim was just part of the overall damages they have suffered. They will be asking for more, as the RCMP continues to refuse to retract their libellous declarations.

Independent Senator Yuen Pau Woo said of the groups: “Currently they are suffering from the stigma and discrimination that was caused by the unfounded allegations.”

Mei Chiu, co-ordinator of the Chinatown Roundtable, revealed: “Besides interviewing the board members, the RCMP did nothing. They didn’t contact the employees. They didn’t ask to talk to employees. They did nothing.”

As time goes on, the political nature of the RCMP’s public declarations regarding these key groups for Chinese Canadian community in Quebec becomes clearer. The organizations rightfully called the RCMP’s actions a “witch-hunt” in their December 1 press release. By doing so, they made an explicit connection between the current anti-Chinese climate in Canada and the McCarthyite anti-communist crusades of the 1950’s. In both cases, the aim is to stifle – by intimidation and slander – any opposition to the geopolitical objectives of Canadian and American imperialism.

The allegations of Chinese interference and spying on local Canadian communities are meant to distract people from the real “threat” China poses to imperialism, including its success in lifting 800 million people out of poverty and its role in global affairs which challenge US aspirations to complete global hegemony. By demonizing local Chinese Canadian communities, the RCMP promotes a racist narrative that turns positive actions by Chinese Canadian community groups – helping new immigrants, victims of conjugal violence, the unemployed and unhoused – into part of a devious plan to subvert Canadian democracy. Much in the same way, China’s efforts to build peace, international solidarity and development of the Global South are portrayed by imperialism’s scribes as a nefarious plot to take over the world.

In the meantime, the most vulnerable members of the local community are paying the price, once again, for imperialist lies and slander. A successful lawsuit will be important, but there needs to be active and sustained support from the labour and progressive movements. It will take a strong a vigorous movement for peace and international solidarity to put an end to this old rancid McCarthyite wine we see in a new anti-Chinese bottle.

[Photo: Sino Québec]

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