Port Coquitlam mayor joins anti-China rally outside UBCM event
More than 50 B.C. mayors and councillors were invited to the reception, hosted by China
The mayor of Port Coquitlam joined protesters rallying outside a controversial reception hosted by the Chinese government at the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) conference Wednesday night.
More than 50 B.C. mayors and councillors were invited to the annual event, which took place in downtown Vancouver this year.
Some local politicians attended the reception, but others like Port Coquitlam's Brad West did not, citing China's history of human rights abuses.
"There is nothing right about taking a financial contribution from a foreign government that is engaged in actions that are completely hostile to the interests of our country and our people — that are repressing their own people," said West, who was among protesters outside the event.
Other politicians, such as Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, did attend the reception.
"I want to speak to people rather than putting up a wall and saying, 'You are not good enough for me,' or 'I don't agree with you, how dare you,'" he said.
"I'm not going to have that. I am going to speak to people and I'm just going to enjoy the reception for what it is."
China is the only foreign country that sponsors a reception at the UBCM gathering.
West tried to deliver boxes of doughnuts given to him by protest groups to give to Chinese officials, who would then give them to Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, being held in Chinese custody.
"They would not take the doughnuts," he said. "We left them right in the entrance way so that the public officials, the mayors and city councillors who want to go in there had to step over them."
Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West arrives at the Chinese reception, drops off two packs of donuts and pictures of Michael Spavor and Korvig, and leaves <a href="https://t.co/MCEH7wrwzi">pic.twitter.com/MCEH7wrwzi</a>—@j_mcelroy
The UBCM took a non-binding vote on whether members agreed with the current policy of allowing foreign government sponsorship.
Sixty-five per cent voted to disagree, while 24 per cent were in favour of it.
UBCM president Arjun Singh said a panel has been set up to review convention sponsorship. The panel will be making recommendations on the sponsorship policy early next year.
With files from Meera Bains