In response to the Union of B.C. Municipalities announcement that it will not cancel a People’s Republic of China-sponsored gathering, every member of White Rock city council, including the mayor, has indicated they will not be attending the reception.
UBCM started to face increased scrutiny over its annual Chinese-sponsored reception as relations between Canada and China began to deteriorate.
Earlier this year, Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West announced he would not attend the reception, in protest of the fact that two Canadians are being held in China.
West’s criticism comes as Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been detained in China for nearly 300 days.
On social media, West said even if he overlooked the “hostile actions of China,” like detaining the two Canadians and trade restrictions, “I won’t back down in my belief that taking $ from a foreign govt is wrong, that ignoring the hostile actions of #China is wrong (sic).”
White Rock resident Christian Lane, who made an unsuccessful bid for White Rock council last civic election, contacted Peace Arch News with his concerns regarding the PRC-sponsored event, and shared a letter he wrote to council.
In the letter, he called on each White Rock councillor to use their “platforms as leaders in our community, answer this call and publicly commit to boycotting the PRC reception.”
Lane wrote that the reception was overshadowed by PRC’s “arbitrary detention” of Spavor and Kovrig; “their imposition of hostile sanctions impacting Canada’s agriculture sector; their condemnation of our respect for the rule of law and their mobilization of the People’s Liberation Army as the citizens of Hong Kong take to the streets in the millions in a fight to maintain their democracy and freedoms.”
Contacted this week, every member of White Rock council told PAN that they will not be attending the reception.
White Rock Coun. Anthony Manning went further, and wrote to PAN that he will “boycott the PRC-sponsored reception unless there’s an organised protest, which I will attend instead.”
Manning shared a letter he wrote to West on July 10, which expressed support for West for speaking out against the Chinese sponsorship, and participation, in the UBCM forum.
“With proper media coverage, the public embarrassment ensuing from such a debacle may be enough to shame them into never sponsoring a UBCM event again,” Manning wrote to West.
The UBCM is to take place Sept. 23-27 in Vancouver.