Montreal Chinese groups sue RCMP for alleging they hosted illegal ‘police stations’

Montreal Chinese groups sue RCMP for alleging they hosted illegal 'police stations' © Provided by The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — Two Montreal-area Chinese groups and their director have filed a lawsuit alleging the RCMP defamed them when officers said they were investigating clandestine Chinese government “police stations”operating out of their premises.

Lawyers for Chinese Family Services of Greater Montreal, the Centre Sino Québec de la Rive-Sud, in the suburb of Brossard, Que., and Xixi Li, the executive director of the two groups, said in a court filing Wednesday that the RCMP acted improperly when the force publicly revealed they were being investigated.

“Being targeted as Chinese ‘police stations’ by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police condemned the plaintiffs in the court of public opinion and found them ‘guilty’ before formal charges were even laid,” according to the statement of claim filed in Quebec Superior Court.

The groups say the RCMP took a cavalier approach to their rights and that the allegations are unfounded. To date, the investigation has not resulted in any charges.

“The way the existence of the investigation into the plaintiffs was made public reflects an indifference on the part of the defendant as to the accuracy of the information conveyed, a lack of diligence in the performance of its duties and a total absence of consideration as to the harm to the reputation and status of the plaintiffs resulting from the disclosure of this information,” the suit alleges.

The groups allege they had no idea they were under investigation, making it difficult to respond to the allegations in the media, as they didn’t know what they were accused of.

“The plaintiffs emphasize that the RCMP failed to conduct a thorough investigation before publicly accusing them of, among other things, being affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party and of collaborating with it in foreign interference in Canada,” the suit reads.

The lawsuit alleges the RCMP never spoke to Li — though some members of the groups’ boards of directors did speak to police — and that the organizations were never told to cease operations.

The organizations, which say they provide services to new arrivals, including French language classes and help with job searches, as well as to elderly members of the Chinese community, say the allegations have cost them $3.2 million. They say government grants have been cut and that a tenant at a Montreal building owned by one group cancelled its lease.

Including moral and punitive damages, Li and the organizations are seeking more than $4.9 million from the federal police force. The RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Last year, the RCMP confirmed they were investigating allegations that Chinese government officials were operating clandestine “police stations” out of the two groups’ facilities.

At the time, RCMP officers said the stations were used to put pressure on members of the Chinese community in Canada, sometimes by threatening friends or relatives living in China. They said they were also investigating similar allegations of clandestine police stations in Vancouver and Toronto.

In December, an RCMP spokeswoman said the investigation remained ongoing and that some of the activity being investigated was taking place at locations where legitimate services were also being offered to the Chinese-Canadian community.

Source: Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press