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HomeBusinessGuest list for Vancouver mayor and council inauguration included director of Richmond society under RCMP probe

Guest list for Vancouver mayor and council inauguration included director of Richmond society under RCMP probe

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Bob Mackin

A director of a Richmond society now under an RCMP national security investigation was invited to Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim’s Nov. 7 swearing-in at the Orpheum Theatre.

Ken Sim speaking at his Nov. 7, 2022 swearing-in (City of Vancouver)

Zhu Jiang Guo of the Wenzhou Friendship Society is on the 1,100-name “Master RSVP List,” obtained under freedom of information. Sim was elected Vancouver’s first Chinese-Canadian mayor on Oct. 15. More than two-thirds of the guests were his, such as longtime supporters Lululemon founder Chip Wilson and Rocky Mountaineer luxury train owner Peter Armstrong.

RCMP officers canvassed the neighbourhood around the Wenzhou Friendship Society clubhouse on Dec. 10 after China-focused human rights organization Safeguard Defenders alleged the Wenzhou Public Security Bureau set-up many of the 102 “Chinese Overseas Police Service Centres” in 53 countries, including one in the Vancouver area. 

Cpl. Kim Chamberland of the RCMP’s national headquarters confirmed the force is investigating, would only say that the priority is to protect the Chinese-Canadian diaspora from intimidation and harassment. 

The Safeguard Defenders report came almost a month after the invite-only ceremony for Sim and the ABC Vancouver majority city council. However, the Wenzhou Friendship Society had already gained media and police attention four years earlier. The RCMP investigated the society’s WeChat offer to reimburse voters for transportation to polling stations in the 2018 local government elections, but no vote buying charge was laid. The society also raised funds and endorsed several candidates in Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond. Then-NPA mayoral candidate Sim was not among them. 

In the final week of the 2022 election, Sim admitted that he had met with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service after the agency warned pro-Taiwan incumbent Kennedy Stewart that the Chinese government may interfere in the election. 

Nobody from the Mayor’s Office responded for comment.

People’s Republic of China consulate general Yang Shu and director of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office Chen Qingjie were among the 28 members of the B.C. consular corps from 26 countries.

The list of diplomats included Peter Chiou, director of the press division at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office [TECO]. TECO is the unofficial consulate for Taiwan, because the Canadian government recognizes Mainland China instead of the democratic island nation.

Vancouver city hall (Mackin)

Also on the guest list: Liberal MPs Parm Bains (Steveston-Richmond East) and Terry Beech (Burnaby-North Seymour), and NDP MP Don Davies (Vancouver-Kingsway); NDP MLAs Brenda Bailey (Vancouver-False Creek), George Chow (Vancouver-Fraserview) and Melanie Mark (Vancouver-Mount Pleasant); former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan; former city councillors George Affleck, Suzanne Anton, Hector Bremner and Raymond Louie (the master of ceremonies and chief operating officer of Coromandel Properties); and ex-Vision Vancouver staffers Duncan Włodarczak and Stepan Vdovine (now executives with developers Onni and Amacon, respectively).

Vancouver city hall’s freedom of information office said the ceremony cost $17,659.81. Most of that ($13,572.92) was for use of the civic-owned Orpheum. Other costs were $1,376 for engraved medals, $1,260 photography, $586.25 flowers and $456.75 for sign-language interpreting.  

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