Toronto’s leading mayoral candidate Olivia Chow had allegedly spoken to and received a gift from a pro-China group that routinely and ardently denies China’s lacklustre human rights record.

According to a report from the National Post, Chow met with the Council of Newcomer Organizations (CCO) on April 30th, despite them being a pro-China group that has denied China’s Uyghur genocide and opposed Hong Kong’s pro-freedom protests. 

The CCO was founded by former Liberal MP Geng Tan and identifies itself as a non-political group that seeks to unite groups from varying ethnic backgrounds. 

The pro-China group has received $160,000 in federal government funds over several years from Heritage Canada and from Employment and Social Development Canada. 

In 2019, when pro-democracy protests broke out in Hong Kong in response to a proposed extradition law and numerous cases of police brutality, the CCO maligned the protests and repeated the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) line of reasoning. 

In 2021, when a House of Commons motion passed denouncing the genocide being perpetrated against Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province, the council issued a statement condemning the motion. 

It has been reported that Chow spoke to the CCO, and the executive chairman Xing Jiyuan gifted Chow a large Chinese porcelain vase – wishing Chow well on her bid for the mayoralty. 

The Chow campaign claims that she had arrived at the event midway through to bring greetings, and that she is a strong supporter of democracy and human rights.

“Olivia Chow has always stood up for the forces of freedom, human rights and democracy here in Canada, in China and beyond. Since 1989, Olivia has stood side by side with pro-democracy advocates at the annual Tiananmen massacre commemoration in Toronto and incurred the wrath of some people that supported the Chinese government,” said Chow’s spokeswoman. 

This isn’t the first time Chow has aligned herself with pro-CCP groups during her run for Mayor. 

Chow was recently accused of meeting with the Fu Qing Business Association, an organization associated with one of China’s overseas police stations in the Greater Toronto Area.