Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim says his race is behind “insinuations” in a newspaper report connecting him to election meddling by Chinese diplomats.
Sim says he’s not aware of any foreign interference in the 2022 municipal election that saw him defeat incumbent Kennedy Stewart.
A Globe and Mail report says Canadian intelligence officials are concerned the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver interfered in the election by using diaspora community groups and grooming certain candidates.
The newspaper report cites a Canadian Security and Intelligence Service document that it says does not name the consulate’s favoured mayoral and council contenders, although it wanted Stewart to lose.
Sim says the accusations are racially motivated, and people “wouldn’t be having this conversation” if he were a “Caucasian male.”
He says he found the newspaper report “incredibly disappointing” for pointing to politicians of Chinese descent.
Sim says he supports any measure that would make Canadian public institutions safer, but that allegations without proof are “a bunch of insinuations” that are “actually quite hurtful.”
“I look at the history of our city, and I thought we came a long way,” Sim says. “And it’s very clear we have a long way to go.”
The newspaper also mentions Vancouver Coun. Lenny Zhou as a mainland Chinese immigrant who recently made history by speaking Mandarin at a council meeting.
Zhou, who was elected alongside Sim as part of the ABC Vancouver party, says he is in full support of a foreign interference probe for elections at all levels of Canada’s governments because the topic of foreign interference is “non-partisan.”
He 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.”
Zhou 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 20 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.”
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.