Thursday, September 26, 2019

Port Coquitlam mayor joins anti-China rally outside UBCM event

British Columbia

Port Coquitlam mayor joins anti-China rally outside UBCM event

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West is an outspoken critic of the event, which has been hosted by the Chinese government for several years. (
The mayor of Port Coquitlam joined protesters rallying outside a controversial reception hosted by the Chinese government at the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) conference Wednesday night. 
More than 50 B.C. mayors and councillors were invited to the annual event, which took place in downtown Vancouver this year. 
Some local politicians attended the reception, but others like Port Coquitlam's Brad West did not, citing China's history of human rights abuses.
"There is nothing right about taking a financial contribution from a foreign government that is engaged in actions that are completely hostile to the interests of our country and our people — that are repressing their own people," said West, who was among protesters outside the event.
Protesters raise signs outside the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Vancouver, where the event was held Wednesday. 
Other politicians, such as Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, did attend the reception.
"I want to speak to people rather than putting up a wall and saying, 'You are not good enough for me,' or 'I don't agree with you, how dare you,'" he said.
"I'm not going to have that. I am going to speak to people and I'm just going to enjoy the reception for what it is."
China is the only foreign country that sponsors a reception at the UBCM gathering.
China is the only foreign country that sponsors a reception at the annual UBCM gathering. 
West tried to deliver boxes of doughnuts given to him by protest groups to give to Chinese officials, who would then give them to Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, being held in Chinese custody.
"They would not take the doughnuts," he said. "We left them right in the entrance way so that the public officials, the mayors and city councillors who want to go in there had to step over them."
The UBCM took a non-binding vote on whether members agreed with the current policy of allowing foreign government sponsorship.
Sixty-five per cent voted to disagree, while 24 per cent were in favour of it.
UBCM president Arjun Singh said a panel has been set up to review convention sponsorship. The panel will be making recommendations on the sponsorship policy early next year.

PoCo mayor leads anti-China rally outside Fairmont hotel in Vancouver

“Being a leader means standing up for what is right,” Brad West says

Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West, backed by five councillors and dozens of anti-China protesters, stood outside the Fairmont hotel in Vancouver on Wednesday night and took aim at a China-backed social gathering taking place inside with fellow councillors.
“I talk about how we pride ourselves at the UBCM on being leaders,” West said. “It’s probably the word you’re going to hear the most if you spend a little time over at the convention.”
The Union of B.C. Municipalities annual convention is taking place in Vancouver this week, with the Chinese consulate’s social event related to a $6,000 donation it made to UBCM organizers. The consulate has been hosting these events since 2012.
“Being a leader means standing up for what is right,” West said, as the crowd buoyed. “And there is nothing right about taking a financial contribution from a foreign government that is engaged in actions that are completely hostile to the interests of our country and our people, that are repressing their own people.”
West was joined by Port Coquitlam councillors Steve Darling, Nancy McCurrach and Glenn Pollock, as well as Revelstoke Coun. Cody Younker and White Rock Coun. Anthony Manning.
There were also members of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement, Canadian Friends of Hong Kong and the Uygur community.
At the end of his speech, West referred to a survey of delegates that was taken Wednesday morning that found the majority weren’t in favour of taking money for the conference from foreign nations. They remained, however, generally in favour of taking money from corporations and unions.
“This is the last time this immoral and embarrassing event will take place here,” West promised the crowd.
He then led a delegation inside the hotel, where they placed two boxes of Tim Hortons and pictures of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavour in the doorway of the event. Canadians Kovrig and Spavour are currently detained in China.

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Protesters outside the Fairmont hotel in Vancouver on Sept. 25, 2019. FRANCIS GEORGIAN / PNG
The UBCM struck a panel this summer to review sponsorship and financing of the conference, prompted by concerns led by West.
On Wednesday afternoon, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she was planning to attend the China reception, because of Victoria’s long-standing relationship with sister city Suzhou.
“Having conversations and exercising diplomacy … is the best way forward,” Helps said.
Helps said she goes to all receptions to which she is invited, and China’s is no different.
“What I’m most worried about is the way the dialogue about this whole thing has unfolded,” she said.
Squamish Coun. Chris Pettingill, who is attending his first UBCM convention, said he believed it would set a higher standard if the conference didn’t take sponsorships at all. Pettingill said he believed the public perception was that nothing was for free, and “what is being bought and sold.”
“I think it undermines, to some degree, our credibility,” he said.
The UBCM expects the convention to pay for itself. Registration fees make up the bulk of the revenue — about 75 per cent when the event is held in Whistler or Victoria, and around 65 when in Vancouver — and sponsorship is a close second.
“It is a very different financial picture depending on where the convention is,” panel member and former Saanich mayor Frank Leonard said at an information session, noting that sponsorships also depend on location.
Sponsorship accounts for about 20 per cent of the cost of the annual convention — $250,000-$345,000 each year — and covers everything from wireless internet, name badges and coffee, to banquets, business centres and awards.
In 2018, there were 25 corporate and industrial sponsors, seven government and Crown agencies, five unions and one consulate, which was China.
There is a long list of sponsors for the 2019 convention, and they include KPMG, Telus, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, CN, the Port of Vancouver, the Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project, BCLC, CUPE, the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and the Chinese consulate.
The committee plans to continue meeting into the fall, and report back to the UBCM executive by mid-January. The executive members will review the report at their February meeting, with the final report made public sometime thereafter. It’s expected that any changes to convention financing will be in place by 2020.

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