The RCMP investigates the presence of clandestine Chinese police stations in Quebec | Canada-China Relations
Relations between Canada and China have been at their worst for some time.
After Ontario and British Columbia, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) confirms that it is investigating the presence of two underground Chinese police stations in Quebec. The offices in question would be in Montreal and Brossard, in Montérégie.
When we know that people from the Chinese diaspora are threatened or that they live in a climate of terror – this is what was reported to us – we cannot tolerate that in Quebec and Canada, RCMP spokesperson Sergeant Charles Poirier said Thursday in an interview with ICI RDI.
The two establishments in question would be the Center Sino-Québec de la Rive- Sud, in Brossard, and the Chinese Family Service of Greater Montreal.
We already knew that the RCMP was investigating five such police stations, including three in Greater Toronto and one in Richmond, a suburb of Vancouver. These offices are believed to be used to monitor Chinese nationals overseas for the benefit of the communist regime of Xi Jinping.
RCMP spokesperson confirmed that the police force is investigating about the presence of alleged Chinese police stations in Quebec for a few weeks and that it was on [their] radar for some time.
“We have information that the Chinese diaspora and the Chinese community in Quebec would be intimidated, would be pressured [and would be] perhaps even threatened by certain individuals working within a foreign power.
—Sergeant Charles Poirier, Spokesperson for the RCMP
The RCMP has assured that it will not tolerate any form of intimidation, harassment or harmful targeting. The federal police force confirms that no arrests or searches have been made in this case.
I have heard from different people from the Chinese community here in Brossard, confirmed Brossard Mayor Doreen Assaad, citing a risk to democratic life in her municipality.
In Brossard, it is usually the Maison internationale de la Rive-Sud that has the mandate to welcome and integrate immigrants, said the mayor at the microphone of Midi info , on ICI Première. The Center Sino-Québec justified its existence by the fact that, according to its representatives, the services offered were not sufficient.
It's probably true that they offer this service, but what surprised me was the level of involvement [in terms of] politics, municipal democracy, a she said, adding that she would let the investigations take their course.
The file was entrusted to the Integrated National Security Teams (INSET), explained Sergeant Poirier. This means that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and other police forces could also collaborate in RCMP investigation.
The information, first disclosed by Le Journal de Montréal, was confirmed to Radio-Canada by the RCMP.
In all, there are more than 50 underground Chinese police stations around the world, according to the Spanish organization Safeguard Defenders.
In the case of clandestine police stations, organizations claim to help the community of Chinese nationals in the country, but they are suspected in pressuring them to provide all kinds of information to the Chinese intelligence services. We discuss it with Michel Juneau-Katsuya, former CSIS agent.
These revelations come as no surprise to former Canadian Security Intelligence Service agent Michel Juneau-Katsuya.
I was just waiting for us to finally get to find [underground Chinese police stations] that are located in Montreal. […] It was just a matter of time, he said in an interview on ICI RDI.
The main hubs – Montreal's Chinatown and the city of Brossard – are the two places where there is a greater concentration of the Chinese community, explains Michel Juneau-Katsuya, who was the head of the Asia-Pacific desk at CSIS.
It is not for us Canadians, as it is for the Chinese community. They know who these agents are, who are agents of the Chinese government. More particularly one of the five departments that do intelligence in China: the United Working Front, explains Mr. Juneau-Katsuya, specifying that this department has seen its budget increase in recent years under the presidency of Xi Jinping.
“From this perspective, it's really a way to intimidate, monitor, block all criticism of China and eventually to recruit people who will serve as agents of influence and win positions at the municipal, provincial or federal level.
— Michel Juneau-Katsuya, ex-CSIS agent
He adds that China wants to increase its influence at all these levels to have an impact on governance. It's part of a strategy that's been in place for years, he says, referring to the genesis of that strategy in the 1990s.
We want to send a very clear message [to the victims]: they must contact us to help us with these investigations, pleaded Sergeant Poirier, who describes the investigations into foreign interference as difficult and very complex.
A specific telephone line – 514-939-8301 – has been put into service to allow victims to easily contact an INSET investigator, in several languages .
The intimidation is done here, but the pressure is done in China, notes Michel Juneau-Katsuya. Most people still have family in China and they are the ones who will be under the necessary pressure. It's intimidation, it's blackmail and it's very difficult for the community here to go to the police and talk.
“It's going to be very difficult to get people to cooperate, not because they don't want or can't talk to the police, but they know that if their name is mentioned somewhere, it will come back against their family in China. »
— Michel Juneau-Katsuya, former CSIS agent
The problem, Mr. Juneau-Katsuya adds, is the lack of a law to define and condemn foreign interference.
He believes that Ottawa should take inspiration from measures like those put in place in Australia (or other legal regimes similar to Canada's) and allow charges to be laid . It's inevitable, he says.
Relations between Ottawa and Beijing have been at their worst for some time. And the presence of clandestine Chinese police stations in Canada – for which Ambassador Peiwu Cong was lectured in December – is not the only issue to rot the ties between the two capitals.
The Trudeau government must deal with the repercussions of reports by the Globe and Mail and the Global network that the Xi Jinping regime has interfered in the Canadian electoral system.
This is an issue that concerns us enormously and it underlines the extent to which the primary targets of foreign interference are precisely the diaspora communities, said Justin Trudeau when he entered the Council of Ministers Thursday morning, referring to the cases of the Chinese and Iranian diasporas.
You have to have your eyes wide open, reacted the Federal Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, calling for greater vigilance in the face of foreign interference.
For the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, the phenomenon is very, very serious.
He is concerned about the possible involvement of these so-called police stations in the last federal ballots, but especially in the upcoming elections, which can occur at any time in the context of a minority government.
Mr. Blanchet reiterated his political party's request for a public and independent inquiry.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister dodged several thorny questions about Chinese interference in federal elections.
The Mayor of Brossard believes that citizens of Chinese origin should not be blamed. They should not be targeted. They shouldn't be made to feel unsafe, she said.
With information from Louis Blouin and The Canadian Press