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RCMP commissioner says Mounties have 'credible' info about alleged Chinese 'police stations'

RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme waits to appear before the House of Commons access to information, privacy and ethics committee on Tuesday, February 27, 2024 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press - image credit)
RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme waits to appear before the House of Commons access to information, privacy and ethics committee on Tuesday, February 27, 2024 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press - image credit)

As two Montreal-area Chinese groups accused of hosting clandestine Chinese government "police stations" sue the RCMP for defamation, the head of the national police service maintains his officers are acting on "credible" information.

Earlier this week, the Chinese Family Services of Greater Montreal, the Centre Sino-Québec de la Rive-Sud and their executive director, Xixi Li, filed a defamation lawsuit accusing the RCMP of not properly investigating before publicly accusing them of hosting illegal police stations on behalf of the People's Republic of China.

The centres have been accused of acting as hubs to harass and intimidate members of the Chinese community in Canada — allegations the groups deny.

"It's not the first time that we're sued because we're investigating," RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme told Radio-Canada's Les coulisses du pouvoir.

"All I'm saying is that the information that was brought to us was credible enough for us to launch an investigation. That investigation is still ongoing at this time."

Last year, the RCMP said it was investigating "alleged Chinese police stations in Quebec" and told journalists the two community centres were part of their probe.

Mélissa François/CBC
Mélissa François/CBC

The Montreal organizations are now seeking more than $4.9 million in damages and say the allegations have cost them $3.2 million, some of which was lost government funding.

Li, who is a Brossard city councillor, and the Centre Sino-Québec de la Rive-Sud are also suing the municipality's mayor, Doreen Assaad, over some of her Facebook posts issued after the RCMP's allegations were made public. Li is asking for $49,000 and the centre is asking for $19,000 for damage to their reputations.

The RCMP's investigation is linked to a larger debate over allegations that China interfered in the past two federal elections and is stealing Canadian research and intellectual property.

A public inquiry probing those allegations is set to resume later this month.