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HomeBusinessWest Coast donors sent big donations to Trudeau’s Montreal riding association in 2015, 2016

West Coast donors sent big donations to Trudeau’s Montreal riding association in 2015, 2016

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Bob Mackin

In the space of two days in the summer of 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Montreal riding association received almost $63,000 from donors in Vancouver, Richmond, West Vancouver and Delta.

Rongxiang “Tiger” Yuan on Jan. 7 (CCSA/FX186)

Almost all of the 41 donations to the Papineau Federal Liberal Association, dated July 6 and 7, 2016, were $1,500 each. Three came from directors of the Tiger Arms Ltd. Port Coquitlam gun store, including its namesake Rongxiang “Tiger” Yuan and Ke Xiao of Richmond and Peiran Yang of Vancouver. Another $1,500 donation came from Avery H. Chow of Richmond, who  replaced Yuan, Xiao and Yang on the Tiger Arms company registration in March 2020.

Elections Canada’s database shows that between October 2014 and September 2016, B.C. donors sent more than $224,000 across the country to Trudeau’s local re-election fund. Eighty-two of those donations, worth $118,774.55, were dated between Aug. 7, 2015 and Oct. 30, 2015 — five days after the start of the federal election campaign and two weeks after Trudeau’s Liberal majority win. 

Individual Canadian citizens can donate to any riding association, up to the annual limit set by Elections Canada. At the time, former Richmond Liberal MP Raymond Chan was one of the Liberal Party’s key fundraisers, targeting wealthy immigrants from Mainland China. His wife, Ting Ting Wang, was a special advisor to Trudeau. 

Justin Trudeau, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and Xi Jinping (PMO)

Fenella Sung of the Canadian Friends of Hong Kong said a public inquiry is needed into foreign influence by the Chinese government and its Canadian supporters, including the financing and operation of Canadian political parties. Sung said Trudeau’s March 6 plan to hire a “special rapporteur” and refer the issue to two national security committees is totally inadequate. 

“That’s one key thing, of all the allegations from the CSIS-leaked report,” Sung said. “That things are happening right at the grassroots level, at the ridings level, about the candidate nomination process, at nomination meetings, as well as political donations. How the money has been changing hands, who donated what?”

In 2015, the year before real estate investor Yuan sent money to Trudeau’s riding association, the former member of China’s People’s Liberation Army made cash buy-ins totalling $4.19 million at River Rock in Richmond, according to a Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch report. In January of this year, Yuan appeared on-stage at a River Rock Lunar New Year banquet in his role as president of the Canada-China Friendship Promotion Association.

“As ethnic minorities, we must also actively participate in and discuss state affairs, we must obey the law and pay taxes according to regulations,” Yuan said in a short speech, before returning to sit across the head table from NDP Municipal Affairs Minister Anne Kang. 

Elections Canada’s database also shows 23 contributions worth $28,400 from B.C. donors to the Don Valley North riding in Toronto from 2016 to 2019.

Richmond real estate and immigration lawyer Hong Guo gave $1,500 in June 2016 to the association behind Liberal Geng Tan, the first China-born, Mandarin-speaking Member of Parliament. Tan did not run for re-election in 2019. According to a Global News report, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service warned Trudeau before the election that replacement candidate Han Dong was part of China’s foreign influence network.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shaking hands with Miaofei Pan at a 2016 Liberal fundraiser. Party bagman Raymond Chan is at the right. (Wenzhou government)

More than two-thirds of the B.C. donations to Don Valley North, worth $11,000, were in August 2016, as Tan was preparing to travel with Trudeau on his first official visit to China. 

Wang Dianqi, the executive chairman of the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations (CACA) from June 2016 to June 2018, donated $1,500 to Tan’s association. CACA is the Richmond-based umbrella for more than 100 business and cultural groups, whose website states that it is in active participant in Overseas Chinese Affairs Office (OCAO) activities. OCAO is an arm of the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front program that aims to influence foreign politicians to adopt positions favourable to the Chinese government. 

Wang also contributes goods and money to the People’s Liberation Army and frequently attends Chinese government celebrations and meetings in Beijing. During his term heading CACA, Wang gave $3,950 to the association behind Vancouver-East NDP MP Jenny Kwan, which eclipsed his $3,390 in donations to the Liberals.

Wei Renmin, the South Surrey resident who was CACA executive chair from October 2020 to October 2022, made 15 political donations totalling $21,022.99. That included five to Kwan’s campaigns, one to the Ottawa area riding of former Canadian Forces Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie in February 2015 and $1,500 to Trudeau’s Papineau association in October 2015. 

His predecessor, Yongtao Chen, donated $10,558.96, of which 43% went to the Conservatives, 42.5% to the Liberals and 13.7% to the NDP. Chen sent $1,510 to Michael Chong’s bid for the Conservative leadership in May 2017.

Miaofei Pan’s photograph with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2011 (Mackin)

In 2016, two years after his term as CACA executive chairman, Miaofei Pan gave $2,898.96 to the Liberals and $2,450 to the NDP. Pan was also Wenzhou Friendship Society president and famously hosted Trudeau at one of his Shaughnessy mansions for a private event on Nov. 7, 2016. 

By April of 2017, still reeling from the controversial party at Pan’s, the Liberal Party buckled to pressure and announced proactive disclosure of fundraising events and attendee lists. Elections Canada later began an online registry of major fundraising events involving party leaders and cabinet ministers. 

In an interview before the 2019 election, Pan correctly predicted the Trudeau Liberals would lose seats, but still remain in power. 

Trudeau, he said, is a “good guy and with enough capability to be a prime minister in Canada. Of course [Stephen] Harper was also a good guy as well.”

Hanging on one of Pan’s walls was his framed photograph with Harper. In September 2011, Pan donated $1,100 to the Abbotsford Conservative Association. 

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