Your friendly local neighbourhood Chinese police station in Canada – NOT!

How is it that the Canadian government is not taking seriously enough the presence of PRC ‘police stations’ on our soil?

NB This post was published in The Epoch Times on December 12, 2022.

According to popular wisdom, Sir Robert Peel created the first modern municipal police force in London in 1829. Yes, there were other law enforcement-type bodies well before that, but the idea of having an organised body of men (they were all men at first) to patrol the streets and investigate/prevent crime was new for the era.

The notion of the ‘bobby on the beat’ – ‘bobby’ is a take-off on Peel’s first name – is well established. For decades in the Western world the sight of a uniformed officer walking through a community, getting to know the inhabitants, and making a very visible sign of law and order (and hence deterrence) was commonplace. That seems to have changed of late: I am not so sure that is for the better.

Similarly, police would set up local stations or precincts in larger metropolitan centres to better keep an eye on things. Arrests could be made on a more local scale and the public could drop by if they had any concerns or any information/intelligence to pass on regarding suspicious activities.

So what if a foreign power decides to do the same and place ‘police stations’ in our cities? That is exactly what the PRC appears to be doing in many nations, including Canada. There are allegations that there may be as many as five across our fair land.

What, you may ask, is the purpose of these offices? The PRC claims, and I am not making this up, that they are “volunteer-run service stations to process things like driver’s licences.” As if Chinese Canadians need such assistance when they are living in Canada (“Help! My driving licence for Shanghai has expired! Whatsoever will I do?”?)

It is much more credible that these facilities are used to monitor the activities of Chinese Canadians, take note of any who are making noises the PRC would consider ‘unwanted’ – i.e. critical of any number of positions on various issues that country has (Hong Kong, COVID, Xinjiang, Tibet, etc.) – and, where warranted, not so subtly persuade those people to remain quiet (“or Auntie Kim will get an uncomfortable visit from State Security, if you get our drift.”).

That these ‘police stations’ are not what China claims is supported by several characteristics: they are not (to my knowledge) declared to the Canadian government, they are not overtly advertised, and they are placed in inconspicuous buildings (such as offices in strip malls and even private homes). Note that Canada does have official police liaison relationships with several nations (I worked with representatives during my time at CSIS: the agency can work with foreign partners in accordance with section 17 of the CSIS Act) and, as a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), welcomes international collaboration on issues of mutual interest.

That none of this appears to be the case in the existence of these PRC offices on Canadian soil should raise eyebrows – and concern. This kind of activity most definitely constitutes a threat to our nation, as described in section 2b) of the Act (“foreign interference“) and perhaps even section 2a) (“espionage“).

We do not appear to be the only ones who have uncovered this occurrence. As noted in a previous Epoch Times article, the FBI is looking into the establishment of one such office in New York. According to one group there may be as many as 54 such centres around the world.

We need the federal and provincial governments to take immediate action in this regard, identify current stations and demand their closure. If staffed by PRC nationals with diplomatic status, PNG them (render them persona non grata). That the PRC ambassador has been called in to explain by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) is probably not enough. No self-interested country can tolerate aggressive and intimidating behaviour by a foreign power in its front yard.

Book ’em Dano!

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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