MONTREAL — Two Montreal-area community groups under investigation for allegedly hosting secret Chinese government police stations say they continue to operate normally, contradicting claims by the public safety minister that all the clandestine stations in Canada have been shut.
The two groups — Service à la Famille Chinoise du Grand Montréal, based in the city's Chinatown district, and Centre Sino-Québec de la Rive-Sud, in the Montreal suburb of Brossard, Que. — say the RCMP has taken no action against them.
"We have not received any closure requests from the RCMP," they said Friday in a joint statement. "Our activities are proceeding normally." They added that they had lost funding, however, following media coverage of the RCMP allegations.
Meanwhile, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told a parliamentary committee last Thursday, "the RCMP have taken decisive action to shut down the so-called police stations."
Mendicino's office did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.
In mid-March the RCMP announced they were investigating the two Montreal-area groups — along with alleged Chinese police stations in Vancouver and Toronto. At the time, RCMP Sgt. Charles Poirier said the Chinese government used the stations to put pressure on members of the Chinese community in Canada, sometimes by threatening friends or relatives living in China.
The Spanish human rights organization Safeguard Defenders, which has identified more than 100 of the alleged police stations in more than 50 countries, has said the stations serve to "persuade" people who Chinese authorities claim are fugitives to return to China to face charges.
The Chinese government has denied those claims.
The RCMP said Monday they were still investigating the alleged police stations and had made no arrests. The Montreal-area Chinese groups said they have co-operated with the RCMP investigation but that communication between them and the police had ceased.
"Since the beginning of this saga, our organizations have called for prudence and for the right of our employees and directors to be presumed innocent," they said Friday. "We deplore the prejudice caused by the RCMP by the premature identification of our organizations."
The two groups are linked through Xixi Li, an administrator who sits on both of their boards of directors, and who is also a city councillor in Brossard. Many of the same people sit on both groups' boards.
Li had her right to attend council meetings suspended on April 13 after she failed to submit an annual financial report, according to a news release from the City of Brossard.
She did not respond Monday to requests for comment.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 1, 2023.
Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press