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Vancouver councillor supports foreign interference probe at municipal level

Lenny Zhou speaks out after report Chinese consulate in Vancouver interfered in 2022 local election
A seagull stands atop a statue of Captain George Vancouver outside Vancouver City Hall, on Saturday, January 9, 2021. Statistics Canada data published last month confirmed that B.C. leads the country as the province with the highest rate of unaffordable homes, due largely to the number of people paying high rents to live in downtown Vancouver. Voters in Vancouver’s municipal election have been met with an array of solutions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vancouver Coun. Lenny Zhou says he is in full support of a foreign interference probe for elections at all levels of Canada’s governments after he was named in a newspaper report on the issue.

Zhou says he is “100 per cent” supportive of a “thorough and transparent” investigation into federal, provincial and municipal elections, because he’s been a strong advocate for democracy, free speech and human rights.

A Globe and Mail report says Canadian intelligence officials are concerned the Chinese consulate in Vancouver interfered in the 2022 local election by using diaspora community groups and grooming potential candidates.

The report says consulate officials worked to oust then-mayor Kennedy Stewart and elect a new mayor and a certain city councillor.

Zhou, who was elected alongside new mayor Ken Sim, says Canadians need to work together to defend our values, because the topic of foreign interference is “non-partisan.”

Ongoing concerns about possible foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections spurred Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to name former governor general David Johnston to investigate.

The Globe and Mail report cites a Canadian Security and Intelligence Service document that it says does not name the consulate’s favoured candidates.

But the newspaper mentions Zhou as a mainland Chinese immigrant who recently made history by speaking Mandarin at a council meeting.

Zhou says any evidence of possible foreign interference in any election for public office in Canada should be released to the public to “raise their awareness about this important issue.”

He also says claims that he could be influenced are false.

“I want to be very clear,” Zhou says. “I am a Canadian citizen. I’ve lived in this country for almost twenty years. This is the place where I have built a life for myself and am now raising a family. I believe in free speech and I believe in democracy.”

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