According to the RCMP, a second Québec non-profit allegedly fronting as a secret Chinese ‘police station’ received $160,000 in federal government funding since 2016.
Montreal’s Centre Sino-Québec de la Rive-Sud received over $105,000 through six Canada Summer Jobs grants between 2016 and 2022. Internet archives revealed they hired four Chinese students from low-income immigrant families in 2018/19.
Between 2020 and 2022, Centre Sino-Québec also received about $53,000 from the New Horizons for Seniors program.
Alongside the Service à la Famille Chinoise du Grand Montréal (SFCGM), Centre Sino-Québec is under investigation over RCMP suspicions they front for China to identify, monitor, intimidate or silence critics of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Tasha Adams commented they are investigating “criminal activities supported by a foreign state that can threaten the safety of people living in Canada.”
According to a 2022 document by Safeguard Defenders, more than 50 Chinese police stations exist worldwide, with three secret “police stations” possibly located in the Greater Toronto Area. However, the RCMP received 15 tips about two possible “police stations” in Montreal.
Action Free Hong Kong Montreal spokesperson Benjamin Fung said critics of China know the regime had an “underground” influence network in Canada.
A 2021 Public Safety Canada memo revealed Chinese proxies harassed students at Canadian universities through the United Front Work Department “to stifle criticism, infiltrate foreign political parties, diaspora communities, universities and multinational corporations.”
“If this is a police station from China, they can use the funds to expand their network and their connections. This is also one way to monitor the many international Chinese students here,” Fung told the Montreal Gazette.
According to the SFCGM’s financial records, Ottawa sent the charity $200,128 in taxpayer funds from 2020 thru 2022 via the Canada Summer Jobs and New Horizons for Seniors programs.
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) spokesperson Natalie Huneault said there are no “current” contribution agreements with Centre Sino-Québec through the Canada Summer Jobs or New Horizons for Seniors programs.
Neither organization is among the approved 2023 Canada Summer Jobs recipients.
The federal Seniors Ministry confirmed they asked the ESDC to verify the funding given to Centre Sino-Québec and SFCGM when the allegations emerged.
The department conducted a “range of monitoring activities” on past and current projects “to ensure that employers achieve their committed outcomes and file to ensure funds have been used appropriately.” They reported no concerns with how either used the money but provided no details.
However, China’s Overseas Chinese Affairs Office designated both organizations in 2016 as Overseas Chinese Service Centres directly from “Minister Yuanping Qiu of the government of the People’s Republic of China.”
At the time, Yuanping served as its director. She now serves the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a crucial part of China’s united front influence system.
Emails and text messages to XiXi Li, the common executive director of both organizations, have yet to be answered.
On March 14, SFCGM leadership questioned why the RCMP “would publicly name two community centres serving the Chinese communities in Québec, causing serious and potentially irreparable harm to the community.”
On May 5, Senator Yuen Pau Woo called the national police force to “provide information, clarity, and in the meantime, don’t create more problems for the community.”
In May, he complained of "extreme anti-China sentiment" in Canada following the expulsion of a Chinese diplomat who targeted the family of Conservative MP Michael Chong..
Conservative MP Kelly McCauley expressed disbelief with Ottawa not recuperating funds from both organizations amid the ongoing investigation. He also expects the federal government to reassess how it evaluates applications for grants and contributions.
“But unfortunately, I have zero faith in this government acting on this. That’s based on their current track record,” said the Deputy Critic for Public Services and Procurement.
Two experts on Chinese foreign interference said that if these organizations had proven ties to China, Ottawa might have helped Beijing agents grow and spread their influence in Canada.
“If these organizations have a connection to the Chinese government, getting funding in Canada legitimizes the group, it provides it more of a foothold, it can strengthen it and…give it more opportunities for influencing people,” said Dennis Molinaro, an expert on Chinese foreign interference and former national security analyst.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more organizations that might have connections to UFWD or the Chinese government that are receiving government funds.”