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HomeBusinessCOVID Exclusive: Tory MP, hospital fundraiser ignore public health warning at mask donation photo op

COVID Exclusive: Tory MP, hospital fundraiser ignore public health warning at mask donation photo op

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Bob Mackin (Updated June 9), with files from Ina Mitchell and Amy Wang translation

A Conservative MP ignored public health officials during a photo op in Richmond on the same day the Prime Minister was criticized for attending a Black Lives Matter protest on Parliament Hill.

Alice Wong (Richmond Centre) visited the offices of the Quanzhou Friendship Society of Canada and North America Chinese Alliance of Commerce Association on June 5. The pro-Beijing groups donated 50,000 masks to the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation, according to Phoenix TV.

Conservative MP Alice Wong, standing behind mini flags, at the Quanzhou Friendship Society in Richmond on June 5. (Phoenix TV)

The TV crew captured images of Wong and an executive from the foundation with a group in a boardroom. While some shots show masks were worn, other shots show attendees standing shoulder to shoulder without masks.

WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW.

Wong, the opposition critic for seniors, did not respond for comment. Her office manager, Sacha Peter, claimed Wong wore a mask for the majority of the event. The Phoenix TV report shows that Wong did wear a mask during an interview, but did not when she presented a certificate.

“At the last part of the meeting, upon media request, participants removed their masks for the photo opportunity,” Peter wrote by email.

The foundation raises money for two hospitals in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which recommends avoiding crowded, non-essential gatherings and keeping at least two metres apart from others. Authorities have also recommended the use of non-medical masks when physical distancing is not feasible.

Foundation vice-president Candice Tsang did not respond. Elizabeth Moffat, associate director of marketing and communications, said Tsang was not available for an interview. Moffat said masks were removed upon request by a photographer. She did not explain why the foundation agreed to the event in an office boardroom instead of a spacious venue outdoors.

“There was a brief, regrettable lapse in judgement, and we are sending all staff members reminders to follow the latest social distancing guidelines from the Province in order to keep themselves and others safe,” Moffat said by email. 

Justin Trudeau at a Parliament Hill protest on June 5. (CTV/CNN)

On June 8, Conservative opposition leader Andrew Scheer criticized Trudeau for ignoring health officials.

“I can understand why people are upset and confused after months of being told that they need to stay home, after months of being told that they need to listen to the advice of public health officials,” Scheer told reporters in Ottawa. “After all the hardship that people have gone through, to see the prime minister completely ignore those types of health guidelines.”

Trudeau made world news during last fall’s federal election after photos emerged of him in blackface during his career as a schoolteacher. He justified his cameo at the June 5 anti-racism protest by his wearing of a mask and trying to follow social distancing measures while surrounded by RCMP bodyguards. Thousands protested despite Ontario health officials urging citizens to restrict gatherings to five people or less.

Scheer’s office did not respond to theBreaker.news.

Those who joined Wong at the photo op included BC Liberal MLA John Yap and Sing Yim Leo, co-founder of Royal Pacific Realty and a donor of masks to St. Paul’s Hospital in April.

Two real estate agents from Royal Pacific formed a society last month that is aimed at suing Global News and reporter Sam Cooper for an April 30 story about efforts by pro-Beijing business and cultural groups to export bulk PPE to China earlier this year, leaving Canadian hospitals low on supplies.

theBreaker.news revealed on June 1 that a supporter of the Maple Leafs Anti-Racism Actions Association promoted the lawsuit fundraising on the WeChat group of Joyce Murray, the Minister of Digital Government.

A new report on the Chinese government’s foreign meddling campaign by an Australian think tank mentioned the bulk medical supply export and import efforts by groups in seven countries affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department. UFWD is a Soviet-inspired strategy that President Xi Jinping described in 2015 as his “important magic weapon for strengthening the party’s ruling position.”

Real estate agent Sing Yim Leo, third from right, among those flouting public health warnings on June 5. (Phoenix TV)

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted overseas United Front networks. In Australia, Canada, the U.K., the U.S., Argentina, Japan and the Czech Republic, groups mobilized to gather increasingly scarce medical supplies from around the world and send them to China,” wrote Alex Joske of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. “Those efforts appear linked to directives from the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, a united front agency. The party’s Central Committee has described the federation as ‘a bridge and a bond for the party and government to connect with overseas Chinese compatriots’. After the virus spread globally, United Front groups began working with the CCP to donate supplies to the rest of the world and promote the party’s narratives about the pandemic.”

Joske’s report is called The Party Speaks For You: Foreign Interference and the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front System and describes United Front as a network of party and state agencies responsible for influencing groups outside the party.

“The United Front system’s reach beyond the borders of the People’s Republic of China—such as into foreign political parties, diaspora communities and multinational corporations—is an exportation of the CCP’s political system,” the report said.  “This undermines social cohesion, exacerbates racial tension, influences politics, harms media integrity, facilitates espionage, and increases unsupervised technology transfer.”

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