Timeline: Office of the Mayor of Vancouver, Intelligence Agency of China and Canada

Bob Mackin

In late May, Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents met with Mayor Kennedy Stewart and warned him that the government of the People’s Republic of China could interfere directly or indirectly with the 2022 municipal elections.

How did we come here?

2010

June 22

Former CSIS Director Richard Fadden (Mackin)

CSIS director Richard Fadden told CBC: “There are several municipal politicians in British Columbia and in at least two provinces there are ministers of the crown who we believe are at least under the general influence of a foreign government.”

He highlighted China’s foreign influence tactics in a recent speech.

Three days later, a House of Commons committee called on Fadden to resign for tarnishing the reputations of politicians and Chinese Canadians.

September 6

Mayor Gregor Robertson begins his first trade mission to China in Beijing. For 11 days, visit Tianjin, sister city of Guangzhou, Expo 2010 in Shanghai and pose with a statue of distant relative Dr. Norman Bethune in Shijiazhuang. He told a reporter, “You may wonder how much democracy is worth in many countries right now.”

2011

March 21st

Consul General Liang Shugen urges Robertson to boycott Shen Yun’s performance at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, calling it “sectarian messages and political attacks on the Chinese government” of Falun Gong. The program contains a welcome message from Robertson, but he does not attend due to a family vacation.

2012

End of October

Robertson opens an account on Chinese social media service Sina Weibo, amassing over 70,000 fans within a week. It took Robertson four years to garner 28,000 Twitter followers.

2013

Wanting Qu (left) and Gregor Robertson

November 4

Robertson begins his second trade mission to China. The entourage includes Tourism Vancouver’s singing ambassador, Wanting Qu.

2014

November 15

Robertson elected to a third term as mayor. In early 2015, he revealed that he is dating Qu.

December 4

BC Supreme Court upholds bylaw governing protest structures as a reasonable limit on free speech. Falun Gong supporters who started occupying a place in 2001 outside the Chinese consulate mansion have to pack up and leave.

2015

April 24

News that Qu’s mother, Qu Zhang Mingjie, a Harbin city government development official, was arrested for bribery in the sale of government-owned land. In 2021, she will be sentenced to life imprisonment.

2016

September 30

Acting Mayor Kerry Jang raises the flag of China during a ceremony organized by the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations in front of City Hall to mark 67 years of rule by the Chinese Communist Party. Consul General Liu Fei is among the dignitaries.

Robertson and Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong (PRC)

2017

September 5-9

Robertson’s final trade mission to China, which was not made public prior to his departure. Includes meetings with the mayor of Shanghai and officials from the e-commerce giant JD.com and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

2018

April 22

Robertson presents a formal civic apology to the Chinese community for discriminatory laws between 1886 and 1949. Acting Consul General Kong Weiwei attends the ceremony.

May

Robertson speaks at the opening of the World Federation of Guangdong Community Conference in Vancouver.

October 1st

Kennedy Stewart, the worker-backed NDP MP for Burnaby South, brings his mayoral campaign to the Chinese Benevolent Association banquet in Chinatown marking 69 years of CCP rule.

Kennedy Stewart at the celebration of 69 years of CCP rule in Chinatown in 2018. (Stewart/Twitter)

October 20

Stewart narrowly beats NPA’s Ken Sim for mayor. Meanwhile, the RCMP are investigating a $20 transportation allowance offered on WeChat by pro-CCP Canada Wenzhou Friendship Society after endorsing multiple candidates in Richmond, Burnaby and Vancouver – including members of Vancouver 1st and Coalition Vancouver. No fees are recommended.

December 9

At a Chinatown banquet attended by Stewart and Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, Consul General Tong Xiaoling criticizes Canada for arresting Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on behalf of the United States. Stewart calls Tong’s speech awkward but the one-on-one meeting on December 12. to “continue to engage” with a major trading partner.

2019

February 10

Stewart joins Tong and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Chinese Benevolent Association’s Lunar New Year banquet in Chinatown.

April 9

The report of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians warns: “China is known around the world for its efforts to influence Chinese communities and the politics of other countries. The Chinese government has a number of official organizations that try to influence Chinese communities and politicians to adopt pro-China positions, including the United Front Work Department.

August 17-18

A pro-China group surrounded Vancouver’s Tenth Church on August 18 as worshipers prayed for Hong Kong (Mackin)

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy rallies are overshadowed by Chinese nationalist counter-protesters waving flags and singing the Chinese anthem, some of them in supercars. The Canada Vancouver Shanxi Natives Society later takes responsibility.

September 25

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West leads a Chinese Consulate-sponsored cocktail party boycott at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention. Stewart does not attend, but Green Coun. Pete Fry does.

October 1st :

NPA Council Sarah Kirby-Yung and BC Liberal MP Michael Lee are the only politicians present at an event in the North Plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery marking China’s 70th anniversary.

2020

June 29

Stewart has a phone call with Ambassador Cong Peiwu. The Embassy’s website reads, “Stewart expressed gratitude to China for its support and assistance to Canada, especially the City of Vancouver, in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that Vancouver attaches importance to the development of its relations with China and is committed to intensifying cooperation at all levels with China.

Stewart’s spokesman Alvin Singh: “The ambassador’s statement is his own and we cannot comment on it.”

Kennedy Stewart and Taiwan’s government envoy to British Columbia, Angel Liu, discuss the twinning of Kaohsiung and Vancouver. (TECO/Twitter)

2021

February 22

the House of Commons votes unanimously to condemn the Chinese genocide of Uyghur Muslims and urges the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics out of Beijing. Canada sanctions Chinese officials, then China retaliates by sanctioning Stewart’s friend and Conservative MP Michael Chong. Stewart says “it’s not diplomacy, it’s intimidation”. In April, he says he will not meet with Chinese government officials, having had at least a dozen meetings since becoming mayor in 2018.

September 20

The Liberals remain the minority government after the federal election. But the Conservative MPs for Richmond, Kenny Chiu and Alice Wong, are beaten by Liberal recruits. People involved in a disinformation campaign targeting Chiu on WeChat are calling it a victory.

October 5:

Stewart is not attending a Jack Poole Plaza event promoting the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. But Sim is.

November 9

Tong told local Chinese-language media that China strongly opposes the city hall deeming Kaohsiung, Taiwan as a city of friendship.

2022

January 19

In an immigration case before the Federal Court of Canada, a judge said the Office of Overseas Chinese Affairs was “engaged in covert action and intelligence gathering against overseas Chinese communities and other minorities in the world”.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie (second from right) with Tong Xiaoling (second from left) on June 23, 2022 (PRC MFA)

January 30

Stewart celebrates the Lunar New Year of the Tiger on Granville Island during the opening of Taiwan’s government-sponsored LunarFest with Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office Director Angel Liu. Stewart says, “All my love to the Taiwanese-Canadian community who do so much to better our country, thank you.”

May 30

CSIS meets with Stewart.

June 23

Tong is the headliner of a Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office banquet at the Vancouver Hotel to mark the 25th anniversary of China’s takeover of Hong Kong. Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie and Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon are present, but not Stewart. His staff told a reporter they continued to avoid meetings with Chinese government officials.

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