Maple Ridge city hall.

Maple Ridge city hall.

Resident asks Maple Ridge council to skip UBCM reception

Doesn’t want politicians to attend China-sponsored event

A Maple Ridge resident is demanding that city politicians steer clear of the reception hosted by the People’s Republic of China at the civic convention next month in Vancouver.

“I don’t think another country should have access to our politicians like that,” said Cherie Delainey Wednesday.

Delainey wrote to Maple Ridge council this week telling politicians she was, “firmly opposed to any of our council members attending the reception at the UBCM being sponsored by the Government of China.”

The consulate general of the People’s Republic of China is hosting the two-hour reception at 6:30 p.m., on Sept. 25. The B.C. Government hosts a reception just before that, while the Canadian Union of Public Employees hosts a four reception at 8 p.m.

Delainey said she was surprised when a motion earlier this year by Coun. Ahmed Yousef for council to write a letter to UBCM on the topic was defeated this summer by most on council.

“It’s interesting that it was voted down. It’s pretty common sense,” Delainey said.

Read more: Chinese sponsored reception at mayors’ convention under scrutiny

Delainey in the letter, said, “It should be obvious to everyone that granting access to our local governments in B.C. in exchange for a few drinks … is completely wrong.”

She cited the detention, by China, of two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, (after Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on an extradition warrant,) China’s human rights record and developments in Hong Kong.

“Canada and Canadians should not be playing with this dragon. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to stand united in our opposition to China’s behaviour,” Delainey wrote.

So far, she’s only heard back from two councillors, Ahmed Yousef who has said earlier he won’t be attending for those reasons, and Gordy Robson who said it’s unlikely he’d attend but if he did, he’d make his opposition known.

Yousef said for a national embassy to host local politicians, undermines Canada’s structure of government. Usually, similar levels of government, from each country, engage with each other.

“If you have an engagement between a national level of government and a municipal level of government, that is not only disadvantageous to us as municipal government officials – it’s also undermining the structure of government that we have in Canada,” Yousef said Wednesday.

Mayor Michael Morden said he will not attend the reception and neither will Coun. Chelsa Meadus. She said Friday she didn’t support Yousef’s earlier motion to write a letter because she didn’t think Maple Ridge should tell UBCM how to run its affairs.

“I haven’t heard that anyone’s (on council) attending,” Meadus said. She’s just going to UBCM on a limited basis in order to promote the city’s resolutions, adding that attending UBCM is expensive and didn’t see a lot of useful topics on the agenda.

Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall said previoulsy he won’t be attending the reception and hasn’t attended in previous years, either.

It’s up to each Pitt Meadows councillor to decide if they’ll go to the reception, Dingwall added.

Delainey posted the letter on Facebook.

Since the arrests of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver and the detentions of Kovrig and Spavor, China has also barred shipments of Canadian canola on the grounds they’re ridden with pests, though Canadian officials say they’ve received no evidence supporting that claim. Administrative restrictions have also impeded imports of Canadian pork, peas and soybeans.

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