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HomeBusinessExclusive: Liberal minister’s WeChat group promotes lawsuit against journalist who highlighted China’s mask-hoarding

Exclusive: Liberal minister’s WeChat group promotes lawsuit against journalist who highlighted China’s mask-hoarding

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Bob Mackin

A post on the Liberal Minister of Digital Government’s group on a China state-censored social media platform is promoting a lawsuit against an investigative journalist who cast a critical eye on China’s hoarding of medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister of Digital Government Joyce Murray’s WeChat group carries a supporter’s fundraising solicitation for a lawsuit against a reporter (WeChat)

Sam Cooper of Global News reported April 30 under the headline “United Front groups in Canada helped Beijing stockpile coronavirus safety supplies,” about how allies of the Chinese Communist Party went on a six-week, worldwide buying spree and exported 2.5 billion pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to China, from Canada, Australia and other countries. Cooper’s story quoted former Mexican diplomat Jorge Guajardo and Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole, a harsh critic of the CCP.

Maria Xu, a member of Vancouver-Quadra Liberal MP Joyce Murray’s WeChat group, posted a notice about the Maple Leafs Anti-Racism Actions Association and a QR code link to the website where it is soliciting donations. Xu was also a participant of a May 19 Zoom meeting hosted by Luxmore Realty CEO Jason Liu to explore a class action lawsuit against Cooper and Global.

Murray’s WeChat group is “managed and interpreted” by one of her aides as a platform for “the latest information about the federal government,” according to a disclaimer. However, it often contains partisan messages promoting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The MLARA website alleged that Cooper’s story “has likely already caused harm to the Asian-Canadian community and the First Nation community in light of the recent increase of physical attacks to members of the community.” (That is a reference is to the alleged assault of an indigenous woman on May 16 at Grays Park. Dakota Holmes claims the assailant used anti-Chinese slurs against her. Vancouver Police do not have a composite sketch or photograph of the suspect.) 

“In order to right a wrong, we are exploring the feasibility of mounting a class action lawsuit against Mr. Sam Cooper and Global News for the inaccurate and unbalanced reporting that targets a specific minority group. Our aim is to demand an apology from Mr. Sam Cooper and Global News to the Canadian-Chinese community as well as compensation for damages.”

theBreaker.news has learned that MLARA was provincially incorporated May 14 with three directors: real estate agents Morning Li Huimin and Jason Xie Sheng, and Ivan Ngai Pak. 

Li and Xie are both Royal Pacific Realty agents who unsuccessfully ran for Vancouver city council in 2018 with Wai Young’s Coalition Vancouver party. Pak was a candidate for Richmond school board in 2018 and a People’s Party of Canada candidate in Richmond Centre last year.

Real estate agents and 2018 Vancouver city council candidates Morning Li (left) and Jason Xie (Coalition Vancouver/Facebook)

Xie’s 2018 candidacy was endorsed by the United Front-allied Canada Wenzhou Friendship Society in a controversial WeChat campaign that offered a $20 voter “subsidy” for transportation to the polls. Richmond RCMP opened a vote-buying investigation but did not recommend charges.

Li’s address on the MLARA registration is the Kingsway office of Royal Pacific Realty. His advertisement was on the side of a Best Choice Moving and Storage van containing a load of PPE delivered to the Chinese consulate mansion in Shaughnessy in early April. Li is part-owner of Best Choice.

Li did not respond for comment.

Royal Pacific co-founder Sing Yim Leo and Allan Ge donated 61,000 masks to Vancouver hospitals in early April. It is not known how much, if any, of the masks were approved for use by frontline healthcare workers or put to use in a non-medical setting. 

Murray did not respond for comment on May 25. Her parliamentary assistant, Jonathan Chiu, said the WeChat group was created to engage with constituents, but Murray does not control what constituents say within the group.

“We do periodically post the disclaimer and rules of engagement,” Chiu said. “Neither the Minister, nor any member of our team played any role in the fundraising. The WeChat account is not operated on a government device, it is run on a staff member’s personal device.”

Doctors and nurses in Canada and elsewhere risked their health and struggled with PPE shortages as western governments scrambled to pay a premium to Chinese companies for tonnes of emergency shipments of masks, gloves, goggles and gowns. Some of the goods were too shoddy to be used by frontline healthcare workers.

Morning Li-sponsored moving van delivering PPE to the Chinese consulate in Vancouver. (YouTube)

theBreaker.news had previously reported on the United Front-allied Canadian Association of Chinese Associations and the Vancouver consulate organizing bulk PPE exports to China in January and February.

In late March, both the Chinese consulate and CACA switched gears and held photo ops to show they were importing PPE to B.C. for distribution to Chinese students and for donation to Metro Vancouver hospitals. The Provincial Health Services Authority has not disclosed how much of the donated supplies passed inspections and made it into the supplies for frontline workers.

A May 5 statement on the consulate’s website conflated Cooper’s story and incidents of anti-Asian racism in Vancouver. Chinese propaganda outlet Global Times carried the statement May 7, three days before the first Zoom meeting on May 10, which featured Richmond city councillor Chak Au.

The meetings were titled “Opposition against Global News discrimination against Chinese.”

The May 19 Zoom meeting included One Pacific News publisher Ng Weng Hoong and former Liberal candidate Wendy Yuan.

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