Chinese-Canadian Tories urge O’Toole to resign, saying tough-on-China platform alienated voters

One perspective within the Chinese Canadian community, largely aligned with Beijing:

A group representing Conservatives of Chinese descent is urging Erin O’Toole to resign as federal leader, charging that his call for a tougher approach to China alienated Chinese-Canadian voters and cost the party three seats in last month’s election.

The Chinese Canadian Conservative Association is advocating a less-confrontational stance toward Beijing, saying immigrants from the Mainland don’t like the Communist Party but still feel affection for China as a nation.

Source: Chinese-Canadian Tories urge O’Toole to resign, saying tough-on-China platform alienated voters

Racist labour exploitation continues in multicultural Canada [Odd to showcase Chinese Canadians]

Bit surprising that one would choose Chinese Canadians as the example of contemporary exploitation compared to other visible minority groups and temporary residents. Issues of anti-Asian hate, of course, have increased during COVID-19:

The history of racialized labour exploitation that began with Chinese workers arriving in Canada in the 19th century to take up jobs employers had trouble filling with European settlers continues unabated in multicultural Canada.

Canada has been applauded for being the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as federal policy. Multiculturalism, which turns 50 years old on Oct. 8, successfully established a positive image of Canada as a diverse, inclusive and immigrant-friendly nation.

Multiculturalism has defined national identity, resulting in Canadians perceiving themselves as tolerant, benevolent and peace-loving. It has persuaded many people to immigrate to Canada and many refugees to look toward Canada for safety.

However, multiculturalism as state policy has also perpetuated the discriminatory immigration and labour policies of white Canada. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become evident that Canada’s job market simultaneously relies on Asian essential workers and scorns them.

Canada has witnessed a sharp increase in racial violence against Asian Canadians during the pandemic.

The most recent uptick in anti-Asian racism is not an aberrant response by anxious or fearful Canadians during a health crisis, but the continuation of old hierarchies of racial difference, a legacy of legalized and everyday racism that structures the lives of Asian Canadians and other racialized minorities.

It will be important to ensure that anti-Asian racism during COVID-19 is not obliterated from Canada’s collective memory of the pandemic.

Robust public education, through intentional changes in school curricula and public outreach, informed by the experiences of affected communities, can help Canadians unlearn biases and understand Canada’s history of racial violence. Remembering the past might provoke inquiry into the ways things are and how they should be.

According to the 2016 census, one in five Canadians are foreign-born, and half of these are from Asia. A little more than a quarter of all Canadian children have at least one foreign-born parent. Chinese presence in Canada can be traced back to the early 19th century and Asian Canadians are sometimes called the “model minority.

How then did Asian minorities of varying age, immigration status and national origin suddenly become objects of hatred during the pandemic?

A look back at 1960s and 70s immigration reforms is helpful in situating anti-Asian racism during the current pandemic.

British Columbia was the site of the first Asian settlement in Canada, when Chinese prospectors were lured by the gold rush. Soon after, the Canadian government actively recruited Chinese labourers to build the Canadian Pacific Railway.

After the completion of the CPR, Chinese workers began taking up employment in logging camps, fisheries and mines, before competition between white and Chinese workers culminated in calls for legislation to restrict Chinese immigration. The perceived threat fermented into a stereotype of the Chinese, and then eventually other Asians, as a menace or “yellow peril.”

The Royal Commission on Chinese Immigration of 1885 was established to assess the impact of Chinese immigration to Canada. The commission heard testimony linking infectious disease to Chinese sanitation, food habits, housing and cultural practices. While the commissioners found little evidence to support those claims, they recommended restricting Chinese immigration. This laid the grounds for exclusionary immigration policies, such as the Chinese Immigration Act of 1885, which levied a head tax on all Chinese immigrants, and the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, which more or less stopped Chinese immigration entirely.

Reforms in immigration policy in the 1960s and 70s facilitated Canada’s rebranding of itself as a multicultural nation. The elimination of overt racial distinctions in immigration policy signalled a successful transition from a white settler colony to a multiracial society.

The selective entry of workers based upon Canada’s economic needs continued, however. The introduction of the point system in 1967, for example, favoured immigrants from particular professions and educational backgrounds. New immigrants selected to come from Asia were largely medical, industrial and other professionals, and this change in the immigrant profile fed the “model minority” stereotype.

The celebration of the “model” multicultural subject sets off racial groups against one another and shapes the public’s understanding of national well-being and threat. It masks the fears and anxieties that the increasing visibility of racialized minorities in Canada provokes in white settlers. By inscribing inclusivity and cultural diversity as core Canadian values, Canada’s policy of “multiculturalism within a bilingual framework” articulates a narrative of tolerant nationhood, erasing claims of Indigenous peoples to their land along with the history of African Canadian slavery.

Despite the point system that enabled the entry of skilled immigrants, data shows that racialized immigrants continue to experience higher levels of unemployment and earn less income than white Canadians. Our labour-market policies have resulted in the over-representation of Asian Canadians in so-called essential jobs which are typically low-paying, low-skilled and precarious, such as warehouse, personal support, and cleaning work.

Some of the largest outbreaks of COVID-19 in Canada have occurred in long-term care and meat-packing facilities, where racialized people, including Asians, are disproportionately employed. More than 1,500 COVID-19 cases were linked to the Cargill meat plant in Alberta, the largest COVID-19 outbreak linked to a single facility in North America, where 70 per cent of employees are of Filipino descent.

The current pandemic has also brought to light how early 19thcentury representations of the Chinese as “a serious public health risk” combined with legalized racism in immigration policy have effectively embedded in public consciousness the perception of Asian Canadians as disease carriers and foreigners within their own nation. Yet Canada’s successful marketing of official multiculturalism as an end to past racism and the framing of recent or emergent racism as aberrations deter acknowledgement of exclusionary and discriminatory policies contributing to anti-Asian racism during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Asian Canadians, the pandemic has intensified the racial grief of exclusion from their own nation. In June 2020, a survey conducted by the Angus Reid Institute in partnership with the University of Alberta suggested a “shadow pandemic” of racism exists. Exactly half of surveyed Canadians of Chinese ethnicity reported being called names or insulted as a direct result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and 43 per cent said they had been threatened or intimidated.

Learning the history of anti-Chinese racism in Canada can equip us to intervene in structural racism, which must take a central place in the pandemic recovery process, so that living well together, which is the premise of multiculturalism, can be grounded in justice, rather than mere tolerance of difference or selective inclusion.

Improved public policy that moves past celebrating diversity and enhances cross-cultural, cross-racial learning can facilitate difficult and necessary conversations.

Source: Racist labour exploitation continues in multicultural Canada

Conservatives could have done better job talking to Chinese Canadian voters: ex-MP

Of note:

A former Conservative MP who lost his seat in the recent election thinks the party could have done a better job speaking directly to Chinese Canadians.

Kenny Chiu was defeated in Steveston-Richmond East, a British Columbia riding with many residents of Chinese descent.

The party also saw the losses of longtime Conservative MP Alice Wong in Richmond Centre and Bob Saroya in Markham-Unionville, both home to many voters with Chinese roots. Neither responded to requests for comment from The Canadian Press.

The defeats have the Conservatives wondering what happened, and what connection the losses might have to the party’s stance and messaging on China.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has been an outspoken critic of China’s human rights abuses, calling on the Liberal government to adopt a tougher approach with the authoritarian regime.

Chiu says there’s no single reason for his loss, but points to online WeChat posts he says contained false information about the Conservatives and allegations a private member’s bill he tabled would discriminate against Chinese Canadians.

“Hindsight is always 20/20. I think there could be more proactive communication directly addressing Canadians of Chinese descent that we could have done,” Chiu said in an interview.

The party could have bought more targeted advertisements, he said, adding it’s clear the communication efforts weren’t enough to counter what he considers misinformation.

Improving how Conservatives speak to constituents is one of the issues Chiu said he had hoped to raise heading into the next session of Parliament. Another was how to reassure people that their criticism of the potential influence of the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t mean they are attacking China, a country with a rich and storied history, or its people.

O’Toole hasn’t addressed the issue specifically, but expressed general disappointment in last week’s election results, promising that what went wrong will be examined in a postelection review. Details have yet to be provided on its parameters or who will lead it.

Besides failing to grow the party in key areas like the Greater Toronto Area and Metro Vancouver, home to many immigrants and new Canadians, the Conservatives have five fewer elected people of colour because of defeats in and around these two cities, as well as in Calgary.

That comes as a hit to O’Toole’s pledge to grow the party, and make it a place where more Canadians and people of all backgrounds call home.

During the campaign he tried courting voters by telling them Conservatives were no longer their dad’s or grandfather’s party, despite having a predominantly white caucus.

For Tenzin Khangsar, who worked for Jason Kenney when the Alberta premier served as immigration minister under former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, success in making inroads with newcomer communities came down to having an authentic presence there before any election was called.

Under Harper, Kenney prioritized aggressive outreach with diaspora communities, noting that Canada’s demographics had changed.

Kenney was a key supporter of O’Toole’s when he ran to win the party’s leadership in 2020, with O’Toole crediting his former colleague for having helped grow the party when he served in Harper’s cabinet.

More recently, Conservative MPs including Alberta’s Tim Uppal have apologized for not speaking out when he was in Harper’s government against its efforts to ban face coverings during citizenship ceremonies and its 2015 election promise to set up a so-called “barbaric cultural practices” hotline.

Source: Conservatives could have done better job talking to Chinese Canadian voters: ex-MP

Racism led to a rise in anti-Asian hate in the pandemic. What the community wants to see in Canada’s next leader

More anecdotal than systemic treatment of hate:

Canada has faced a rude awakening around the rise of anti-Asian racism. The COVID-19 pandemic brought along a surge of attacks on Asian-Canadian seniorsand vandalism of many Asian-Canadian businesses. As a result, the Chinese-Canadian community continues to silently live in fear, isolation and anger.

On the eve of the 44th Canadian federal election, they’re now speaking out about what they demand from the federal electoral candidates.

“Canada is a multicultural country with people from all over the world. Our politicians should strive to make it a vibrant nation where everyone is treated with respect and dignity,” Shiwei Mao, a Chinese-Canadian retiree, said in Mandarin, the only language she speaks besides her native Shanghainese. “But what did they do? It’s been almost two years of COVID-19 and our politicians have made a mess. Our society and economy has undergone profound disruptions, with chaos and racism everywhere!”

Mao has encountered racism herself. Early on in the pandemic, before mask mandates, she wore a face mask on public transit. “As soon as I sat down on the bus, the person next to me got up and changed seats. It made me feel very uncomfortable,” she said. “We Chinese understood the importance of wearing masks as the pandemic started in our country. But everyone else was looking at us strangely for wearing masks.”

In her late seventies and living with her husband in Scarborough, Mao is angry that the pandemic has become a political issue and has changed her idea of saftey. She believes that pandemic measures should have been led by experts and scientists instead of politicians who have “little knowledge and training in public health and epidemiology.”

As a direct result of COVID-19, Mao has not been able to go out much. “My husband, who is 86, is of reduced mobility and uses a wheelchair. Every time we want to go out, it’s a huge hassle, as we don’t have a car and use public transit,” she explained. “It’s extremely inconvenient for us that there is not enough public transit and that its schedule is inconsistent. I want more accessible public transit with a more regular and consistent schedule.”

Another issue is accessibility to health care. Though Mao and her husband were able to find a Chinese-Canadian doctor who gave them information on how to protect themselves, she is aware that not everyone in the community is so lucky. “It’s hard for a lot of Chinese people to find a doctor that speaks their particular dialect. I believe the percentage of doctors in Canada who are of certain cultural backgrounds should match the percentage of Canadians who are of that same background,” she said.

Amy Go, the president of the Chinese-Canadian National Council (CCNC), thinks that this pandemic has highlighted wealth disparities in our society. “The pandemic really highlights the differential access to services of racialized seniors and seniors who don’t speak English” she said. “On top of an already scarce amount of culturally adapted services, COVID-19 has disrupted the few services there were. Chinese-Canadian seniors who rely on home-care to get their daily basic needs met and who need regular health care have been hit extremely hard.”

Go has heard from many seniors who have struggled through the pandemic. “They were so afraid because of all the assaults. Many of them made heartbreaking comments such as ‘We moved to Canada in order to build a better life for our children. But now we are questioning that decision and hope our children won’t have to move again,” she said. “Seniors go out and see people treating them differently. They know it is wrong, but they don’t know what to say, as they don’t have the English skills to say anything.”

CCNC has submitted questions to the federal parties regarding these matters, but received no response. The Conservative party, the Liberal party, and the New Democratic Party did not return requests for interviews either.

Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy said that since its establishment in 2019, “the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat has since been leading a whole of government approach to tackling racism and discrimination in all of its forms in Canada, including anti-Asian racism.” In March they set up a task force to work with “government organizations and diverse communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic… including Canadians of Asian descent, to ensure that our response to COVID-19 is informed by lived experiences.”

But for some, the lack of politicial representation leads to a lack of understanding on how to best care for diverse populations which require a more targeted response.

“We need Chinese-Canadian politicians to represent us at the House of Commons so that our demands can be put forward” Ru Xie, another Scarborough resident who lives with her husband and her daughter said. “I believe that in a multicultural country like Canada, it is the federal government’s responsibility to intervene when there is racism.”

Though COVID-19 has largely kept Xie in her home due to safety concerns, she ventured out to participate in an anti-Asian racism protest after seeing reports of attacks circulating on WeChat, a Chinese social network.

Dr. Henry Yu, a professor of Asian-Canadian and Asian Migration studies, believes that this past year and a half has forced Canada to face its history of anti-Asian racism. “Our communities are looking for some commitment from all party leaders that’s not empty. Saying, ‘We’re not racist in Canada’ won’t cut it, because you say that doesn’t mean it’s true. Because this is happening in Canada,” he said. Dr. Yu strongly believes that Canada needs to take a hard look at itself and ask why is it that this nation scapegoats the Asian-Canadian population to solve structural issues rather than simply enact superficial measures.

“What needs to be implemented across the board is to collect more disaggregated data, especially in the context of COVID-19, about who’s being served in the mental health system, and what access is like for people who are linguistically diverse or marginalized and other ways,” said Cindy Quan, a researcher at the University of Victoria. She believes that part of the solution lies in getting disaggregated data on anti-Asian racism, because Canada historically has not been vigilant collecting data to address its issues with racism.

“We need greater accountability at various levels of government, tougher hate crimes and discrimination laws, better crafted legislation along those lines, and clear consequences for engaging in racist behaviour,” she said.

Source: Racism led to a rise in anti-Asian hate in the pandemic. What the community wants to see in Canada’s next leader

The racist history of Chinese labour in Canada shows not much has changed. Deemed essential, but still invisible

Overwrought, IMO, in terms of the implications that nothing has changed. Not as much as needed, of course.

Given the examples, an interesting question would be whether Chinese Canadian are employees treated worse or better in Chinese or “mainstream” supermarkets?

Arab, West Asian and Korean have greater incidence of low income than Chinese first generation, but second generation Chinese Canadians, particularly those with university education, have higher median incomes than non visible minorities:

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese Canadians and other visible Asians became targets of threats and attacks in the nonsensical scapegoating of the coronavirus.

In 2020, the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNCTO) and community partners across Canada documented 1150 cases of racist attacks nationally, with Vancouver seeing a 717 per cent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes.Asian elders have been especially targeted, including a 92-year-old man with dementia who was violently shoved onto the pavement in Vancouver and an 80-year-old woman who was assaulted and struck in the head with a rock in Pembroke.

A year and a half later, new anti-Asian racism cases continue to flood into Fight COVID Racism’s self-report and witness-report tracking tool.

While these are examples of overt, hate crimes, the type of racism that cannot be tracked, but continues to happen is the experience of someone like Michael. Michael is a Chinese Canadian who has worked in Chinese supermarkets for nine years. He has low pay, works long hours and faces the systemic violations of minimum wage and vacation pay. It is par for the course in this line of work. Michael’s situation is already far better than that of his co-workers who have precarious immigration status and endure worse treatment and exploitation.

When the pandemic hit, Michael saw his pay and hours reduced. He and other workers had to pay out-of-pocket for their own masks and even disinfectant to stay safe on the job and at home. Confronted with the financial squeeze and risk of infection at work, he also faced a growing anti-Asian sentiment outside of work due to racist scapegoating.

Michael’s experience, detailed in a new report Our Lives Are Essential by CCNCTO, is both recurrent and commonplace within Chinese Canadian working class communities, where precarious working conditions and endemic poverty are deep and persistent. Chinese Canadian communities experience conditions of low-income at rates nearly double that of white communities (22.2 per cent to 11.5 per cent), making up the largest population of racialized people living in poverty.

Racially-motivated hate is the most obvious manifestation of anti-Asian racism; the tip of the iceberg visible above water. Beneath the surface lies the far more subtle and insidious nature of racialized social and economic exclusion: elevated levels of poverty, racial disparities in employment, underinvestment in working-class communities, reduced access to health and social services, legally-produced immigration status precarity, reduced support for collective bargaining and morepronounced violations of workers’ rights. The hypervisibility of hate crimes and related calls for greater policing stand in stark contrast to the normalized indignities of racialized poverty and labour injustice.

This invisible side of anti-Asian racism often is erased by the “model minority” myth, which fixates on visible Asians who are wealthy, educated, and upwardly mobile, rather than the poor and marginalized. But the working-class genesis of the model minority trope originated more maliciously. When white settlers enlisted Chinese migrant workers in the 1880s to build the Canadian Pacific Railway, Chinese workers were seen as economic threats because of their supposed inherent “propensity” to be compliant, manageable, accepting of lower wages, longer hours, and dangerous work … all threats to white workers’ chances for prosperity.

Operating parallel to the federal government’s imposition of racially exclusive policies, like the Chinese head taxes and immigration restrictions, were white labour unions that passed restrictions banning Chinese workers (and later Japanese and South Asian workers) from their ranks. The idea of the toiling Asian worker continues to manifest as a threat to Canadian labour to this day — with former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford infamously remarking “Oriental people work like dogs” and were “slowly taking over.”

The entanglements between worker exploitation and racial caricature of the Asian labourer has resulted in a host of anti-Asian racist harms: perpetual foreignness, immigration controls combined with racial exclusion, and the undermining of labour solidarity — limiting our capacity to see workers’ struggles as tied to struggles for racial and migrant justice.

As a result, the successes of Chinese Canadian labour organizing is also lost, from the strikes led by Chinese and other Asian shingle mill workers in British Columbia that predated the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, to the creation of the Ontario Employee Wage Protection Program in the 1990s after Chinese Canadian garment factory workers organized against wage theft by Lark Manufacturing.

Alongside anti-Asian racist attacks, a hierarchy of “essential” work has emerged during this pandemic. The invisible low wage labour that disproportionately relies on racialized immigrant workers in industries like food, transportation, personal support and more. Those jobs were first labelled non-essential, despite taking the front-line brunt of running establishments that supplied basic necessities to us during the series of lockdowns. This Labour Day, in the shadow of a federal election and another spike of COVID cases, the invisible side of anti-Asian racism hidden behind the model minority myth — valuing certain labour over others — must be made visible again.

Michael is not the only racialized immigrant low wage worker whose blood, sweat and tears remains ignored by our political system. So many have been made invisible and isolated in their labour struggles, while simultaneously made hypervisible by continued anti-Asian sentiment.

Only by seeing the labour and lives of racialized immigrant workers as essential to our communities will we recover towards a fair and just society for all.

Vincent Wong is a human rights lawyer and PhD student at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Kennes Lin works as a community social worker and is the co-chair of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter.

Source: The racist history of Chinese labour in Canada shows not much has changed. Deemed essential, but still invisible

CSIS warns China’s Operation Fox Hunt is targeting Canada’s Chinese community

Risk to Chinese Canadians of note:

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says Beijing routinely uses undercover state security officials and “trusted agents,” or proxies, to target members of Canada’s Chinese community in an effort to silence critics of President Xi Jinping, including threats of retribution against their families back in China.

The federal spy agency says these illegal activities in Canada are part of a global campaign of intimidation that constitutes a threat to this country’s sovereignty and the safety of Canadians. One of the most high-profile efforts is Operation Fox Hunt, directed by Beijing’s Ministry of Public Security, which has been under way since 2014.

Operation Fox Hunt was ostensibly launched as an anti-corruption campaign by Mr. Xi that targeted wealthy citizens and corrupt Communist Party members, who had fled overseas with large amounts.

However, FBI director Christopher Wray said in July that Operation Fox Hunt’s principal aim now is to suppress dissent among the Chinese diaspora. He called Fox Hunt nothing more than a sweeping bid by Mr. Xi to “target Chinese nationals who he sees as threats and who live outside China, around the world.”

On Oct. 28, the FBI charged eight individuals, including three Chinese citizens, with conspiring to act as “illegal agents of the People’s Republic of China” as part of Operation Fox Hunt. The charges stem from a foiled plot beginning in 2016 to coerce an American resident and Chinese citizen identified only as John Doe to return to China with his family – by threatening his wife and daughter in the United States and other relatives still in China, the U.S. government said.

Now Canada’s spy agency is speaking out on the same issue, publicly acknowledging to The Globe and Mail that China is using threats and intimidation against members of Canada’s Chinese community that are akin to the tactics used in Operation Fox Hunt.

While China may be trying to coerce some fugitive criminals to return home, CSIS said, “these tactics can also be used as cover for silencing dissent, pressuring political opponents and instilling a general fear of state power no matter where a person is located.”

John Townsend, the Canadian spy agency’s head of media relations, was speaking in reply to a question from The Globe about whether CSIS had the same national security concerns about Operation Fox Hunt as Mr. Wray.

“Certain foreign states routinely attempt to threaten and intimidate individuals around the world through various state entities and non-state proxies. These states, such as the People’s Republic of China, may use a combination of their intelligence and security services as well as trusted agents to assist them in conducting various forms of threat activities,” the CSIS spokesman said.

He urged Chinese nationals and Chinese-Canadians to report any threats or intimidation to Canadian authorities.

“Importantly, when foreign states target members of Canadian communities, these individuals, for various reasons, may not have the means to protect themselves or do not know they can report these activities to Canadian authorities. The fear of state-backed or state-linked retribution targeting both them and their loved ones, in Canada and abroad, can force individuals to submit to foreign interference,” Mr. Townsend said.

“When individuals in Canada are subjected to such harassment, manipulation or intimidation by foreign states seeking to gather support for or mute criticism of their policies, these activities constitute a threat to Canada’s sovereignty and to the safety of Canadians,” he added.

Mr. Townsend declined to say how many members of the Chinese community in Canada have been targeted by Fox Hunt. The FBI’s Mr. Wray said hundreds of U.S. residents have been pursued by agents of China.

In a separate statement, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they are aware of China’s operations in Canada, adding “at this time, the RCMP has not laid any charges” of foreign-influenced threats covered by the Security of Information Act. Canada Border Service Agency was unable to say how many Chinese citizens had been removed from Canada because it was determined they were in this country to put pressure on or coerce people.

Former CSIS director Richard Fadden, who also served as national security adviser to prime ministers Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau, said it is noteworthy that CSIS is publicly acknowledging what has been a significant national security concern for many years.

“The Chinese authorities are very active. They are very sophisticated. They have almost unlimited resources and in particular, the Chinese diaspora in Canada is quite large,” he said.

Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said this intimidation from China on Canadian soil has become “standard operating procedure” now.

He said sisters and brothers are often used to exert pressure on behalf of Beijing. “In British Columbia, siblings are fair targets and they’re not even shy about it. It’s literally in your face.”

“The proxy from China will have a face-to-face conversation … to explain either subtly or not subtly what they expect in terms of the family member’s behaviour in Canada and next steps that will be taken if people don’t co-operate.”

Mr. Kurland said the Chinese state has grown “less reluctant to do this kind of dirty work on Canadian soil to members of the Chinese Canadian community.” Such direct pressure would be virtually unheard of 15 to 20 years ago, he said.

“It’s one thing to receive a telephone or message indirectly. It’s something quite different when you get a knock on the door from a proxy from China right here in Canada.”

A former CSIS official said Chinese government officials have made a habit of booking meetings in Canada with government ministries but arranging these appointments so that there were days or weeks between the meetings. That left the visitors time to pay visits to Chinese citizens living in Canada and intimidate them. The Globe is not identifying the former official because he is not authorized to discuss these matters publicly.

He also pointed to incidents in 2018 where an unidentified individual took out full-page ads in Ming Pao Daily, a Chinese language newspaper with Hong Kong owners, that accused a Chinese citizen living in Canada of being a fugitive from justice in China. The ads listed his birthdate, Chinese passport number, Chinese citizen identification number and alleged he was a Communist Party official guilty of embezzlement and taking bribes. It implored the individual to “give themselves up” and admit their guilt. The sponsor of the ads was not identified in the ads.

Toronto refugee and immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman told The Globe that some of his clients in Canada have received cellphone messages from Chinese security officials threatening them and their families if they don’t return home.

Mr. Waldman said he has has worked several cases where Chinese citizens in Canada were the target of intimidation to force them or their relatives to return to China.

“This is a very serious problem,” Mr. Waldman said.

In some cases, Chinese authorities have dispatched people to Canada to try to put pressure on people to return, he said. In other cases, his clients’ relatives in China were detained to force them to come back.

Mr. Fadden said Chinese Fox Hunt agents come to Canada either under diplomatic cover or covertly on tourist visas, as business people and students to bully expatriates, including some suspected of corruption, to return home.

“They try to do it in such a way where it is not obvious,” he said.

Mr. Fadden said it can be difficult to lay criminal charges in these cases, but CSIS and the RCMP are able to stop the intimidation tactics if people come forward to complain.

“Either CSIS or the RCMP can make a point of making it very clear that we are onto to them and they better stop. I would guess in most cases they would stop and go away,” he said. “It’s difficult to get a grip on unless the people who are being approached, harassed, intimidated complain and very few do.”

In a heavily redacted report issued in March, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians said the RCMP had co-operated with China’s Fox Hunt, facilitating their requests for police and prosecutors to travel to Canada to interview alleged fugitives. However, the committee said the “RCMP imposed increasingly stringent criteria on PRC investigators as time passed.”

Source: CSIS warns China’s Operation Fox Hunt is targeting Canada’s Chinese community

Data shows an increase in anti-Asian hate incidents in Canada since onset of pandemic

Although collected through online portals with anonymity, of concern and buttressed by official police stats:

More than 600 incidents of hate targeting Asians within Canada have been reported to Chinese Canadian groups since the pandemic began, and one in three of those attacks have been assaults, say the groups.

The data, collected through online portals that have allowed victims to report hate incidents anonymously, are consistent with reports from Canadian police forces that they are also investigating an increase in anti-Asian attacks.

The data, released last week, were compiled by the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter, Project 1907, the Vancouver Asian Film Festival and the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice. All of the incidents were reported through two online platforms based in Toronto or Vancouver. The reports were received from seven provinces.

Justin Kong, executive director for the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter, said the data again indicate Asian Canadians have been targeted through the pandemic and racism will continue to taint Canada until there are policies in place to tackle it.

“Those attacks stemmed from historical anti-Asian racism, but also because of the ways in which COVID-19 has been racialized,” he said, adding COVID-19 is seen as a Chinese disease, similar to SARS.

“We saw what happened during SARS, and I guess it became obvious that this was going to go the same way. … That’s why we started collecting the data on the racist attacks.”

Mr. Kong acknowledged they weren’t able to verify the reports, and the groups instead have been relying on “a trust system.”

The data, which have been collected since February, show that 83 per cent of the incidents were reported by East Asians, followed by 7 per cent by Southeast Asians. It says 44 per cent of the attacks were reported from B.C. – the highest in Canada – while 38 per cent of the occurrences were reported in Ontario and 7 per cent in Quebec.

Women reported 60 per cent of all incidents. In B.C., women were even more disproportionately affected, accounting for nearly 70 per cent of all reported incidents there.

The data found nearly 30 per cent of reported incidents are assault, including targeted coughing, physical attacks and violence, and that verbal harassment is the most common type of discrimination.

These groups’ findings echo those of the Vancouver Police Department, which has reported a dramatic rise in hate incidents against East Asians.

In July, Vancouver police said they have had 66 hate-motivated incidents against East Asian people reported to them so far in 2020, a huge spike from the seven during the same period last year. A VPD spokesperson said the most targeted community continues to be East Asian.

Toronto Police Service spokeswoman Connie Osborne said, in comparison to 2019, her force has seen an increase in the number of hate-motivated occurrences, including where race has been a factor.

She said many of the 2020 cases are active investigations and the motivation of the offence may change or more offences may be uncovered, so the force can’t provide specific numbers for the year so far. But she added such incidents often go unreported and the number of reports received by police are not an accurate reflection of what people have experienced.

Earlier this year, Korean Montrealer Kyungseo Min compiled testimonies from Asian Québécois of racist incidents since January. In the span of about a month and a half, Ms. Min collected more than 20.

She said some of her findings match those from the advocacy groups. For example, female Asians reported more harassment or violence than men, and the majority of the racism was verbal.

In Alberta, the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee has been running the StopHateAB.ca portal since 2017 to encourage people to report incidents and talk about what happened to them. The portal’s reports include four incidents reported this year of an East Asian Canadian being verbally assaulted in a public space in a tirade related to COVID-19.

Since it began collecting data, the portal has logged 74 incidents of hate in Edmonton, 69 in Calgary and 31 in Lethbridge. There are a handful of reports from other areas of the province. The data were last updated in July.

The groups are calling on the federal government to include an anti-racism strategy in its postpandemic recovery plan.

Mr. Kong said as the pandemic has posed more challenges to racialized communities, he hopes that the government could also come up with policies aimed at helping migrant workers and low-income immigrant workers.

The House of Commons’ standing committee on justice and human rights issued a report just more than a year ago with recommendations for battling online hate. They include recommendations for more funding for police, judges and Crown prosecutors to enable them to better respond to hate complaints as well as better data collection on hate incidents.

The report, submitted in June, 2019, noted a 50-per-cent jump in hate crimes targeting Black people in 2017 relative to the year earlier. However, the report does not refer to hate crimes against those of East Asian descent.

In a response this month, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Toronto-based foundation, provided several recommendations to the Justice Minister’s office, including placing online hate crimes under federal jurisdiction and developing a more clear and comprehensive definition of illegal hate activities.

Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, the foundation’s director of policy, said it is the responsibility of the justice system to recognize hatred as the poison that it is and confront hate crimes.

“We want to see all hate crimes aggressively investigated by police, regardless of what community is being targeted and what form these crimes take, so that perpetrators are brought to justice.”

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-data-shows-an-increase-in-anti-asian-hate-incidents-in-canada-since/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Morning%20Update&utm_content=2020-9-14_6&utm_term=Morning%20Update:%20Isolation%20and%20loneliness%20take%20a%20toll%20on%20mental%20health%20during%20pandemic%20&utm_campaign=newsletter&cu_id=%2BTx9qGuxCF9REU6kNldjGJtpVUGIVB3Y

Anti-Chinese racism is Canada’s ‘shadow pandemic,’ say researchers

Disturbing that so many appear not to be able to distinguish between the Chinese regime, with all its abuses, and Chinese Canadians:

Many Chinese Canadians fear that Asian children will be bullied when they return to school due to racial tension arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A survey of more than 500 Canadians of Chinese ethnicity by the Angus Reid Institute and the University of Alberta has found that anti-Chinese racism is rife in our society, what the researchers call a “shadow pandemic.”

That parents are afraid to send their children to school is “heartbreaking,” said ARI executive director Shachi Kurl. “Racism is the secondary virus that has had an outbreak since the pandemic was declared.

“We have this notion of Canada as an endlessly accepting, embracing country because we are multicultural,” she said. “It’s not the case and it’s never been the case.”

“The data show that these micro-aggressions are frequent and plentiful,” said Kurl. “People say they are being treated as though they are somehow carriers of COVID-19.”

More than 60 per cent of those surveyed said they have adjusted their daily routines because of the threat of racial backlash and about half fear that Asian children will be bullied if they return to school.

Vancouver-born Gloria Leung says her daughter of mixed race has been jeered by other children for her Chinese ancestry just steps from their home.

“We have informed our daughter’s teacher without naming any names and her teacher has shared that information with school staff so they can increase awareness of racism and bullying,” she said.

Her daughter’s harassers are from just two families in an otherwise diverse and welcoming neighbourhood, but the seven-year-old has felt anxious and stressed since the incident.
“We understand that everyone is struggling and hurting in this pandemic,” Leung said. “Our hope in sharing these lived and uncomfortable experiences is not to shame people, but to provide insight into systemic racism and shed light on how we can learn from these experiences.”

The survey also found that just 13 per cent of respondents feel that people in Canada view them as fully Canadian “all the time.”

“There’s a notion that because our schools are diverse and our workplaces are diverse that racism isn’t a thing anymore,” said Kurl. “It’s one thing to hear about this anecdotally, but it’s important to ask these questions to see just how widespread this is.”

About 30 per cent of the respondents say they have been exposed to anti-Chinese sentiment in the news, on social media or through graffiti.“Just this weekend (U.S. President Donald) Trump used a pejorative term for the virus, calling it the ‘kung flu,” noted Tung Chan, a former Vancouver city councillor and former chair of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

“The parents learn from the media, the children learn from the parents and you have this fear that extends into schools,” he said.

Chan was particularly discouraged to learn that 60 per cent of people surveyed changed their daily routine to avoid negative interactions and “unpleasant encounters.”

“I have always chosen my words carefully when talking about racism, because I don’t want to make people feel insecure,” said Chan. “But looking at these numbers I think that I was too mild in my remarks. This is far worse than I thought in terms of people fearing for their personal safety.”While it is important to hold the government of China to account for its belligerence and human rights abuses, news media need to distinguish between the actions of the People’s Republic of China, the Communist party of China, and the Chinese people.

“The term Chinese is too all-encompassing and it reflects the actions of the Chinese government back on the people in our community,” said Chan.

“I am proud of my Chinese heritage and I won’t walk away from that, but if you ask me who I am I always say I am Canadian,” he said.

The survey was conducted online between June 15 and 18 among a randomized representative sample of 516 adults who identify as ethnically Chinese. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Source: Anti-Chinese racism is Canada’s ‘shadow pandemic,’ say researchers

Ian Young on How Local Chinese Communities Helped BC’s COVID-19 Fight

Ian Young does some of the best reporting on the West Coast. This profile demonstrates the irony of those blaming Chinese Canadians, whereas they were the quickest to understand the threat and react accordingly, and were critical of Dr. Tam’s (and the government’s slower response:

“Cast your mind back to the distant days of January, when the Chinese communities in Richmond started masking up, staying home and avoiding busy places,” Ian Young tells me.

Oh boy. By that time, my relatives were already frantically sending me lists of local places that a rumoured virus carrier had visited. My Chinese landlord in Vancouver knew my dad worked in health care and asked me to help him order boxes of masks. A Chinese friend, from Hong Kong, wanted to wear a mask on a Vancouver bus but was scared about what others might think.

But few other British Columbians were worried about COVID-19. This was before the ubiquity of physical distancing, before the mad rush to stock up on personal products. Dr. Bonnie Henry wasn’t yet a household name. Media were busy reporting on events unfolding in Wet’suwet’en territory.

Among local Chinese, however, it was a different story. Young, a Vancouver-based correspondent for Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, was watching closely.

Metro Vancouver’s various Chinese communities — ethnic Chinese with ties to various parts of East Asia — felt the panic from overseas. News of something akin to SARS spreading in Wuhan went viral among B.C.’s Chinese before the virus itself did.

Many members stopped visiting Chinese restaurants and shopping centres, Young noted. The resulting quiet was regarded as a “curiosity” by people who weren’t connected to the city’s Chinese communities, he found.

Politicians encouraged people to support Chinese businesses, pinning the loss of patrons on rumours and racism. Health Minister Adrian Dix and others marched through Burnaby’s Crystal Mall, a popular Chinese destination with a wet market, in February to show their support.

Young didn’t mince words on Twitter: “Don’t imagine that white-knight stylings will make you the saviour, when what’s really needed is for Chinese folk themselves to feel more comfortable going out again like they used to do.”

Many East Asian locals had already started physical distancing by January. That’s because many had lived through SARS and had, as Young describes it, a “gut reaction and cultural memory.” (Young was the editor in charge of the South China Morning Post’s SARS quarantine team in Hong Kong, and likened the impact of the virus and the climate of fear to that of 9/11.)

It’s insights like this that make Young’s coverage of Metro Vancouver’s Chinese and the city’s ties to East Asia unique, especially when mainstream English media rarely have the cultural expertise or contacts. Instead, they tend to interview the same few Chinese voices over and over again.

Young, for example, recently reported on why chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam isn’t liked by many Chinese in Canada. Those lacking cultural and political perspective might wonder why ethnic Chinese might be so critical of her.

With the same kind of myth-busting, analysis and commentary he brings to his coverage of the local housing crisis, Young has been unpacking the pandemic as it relates to B.C.’s Chinese, from “maskaphobia” to the politics of health.

I recently chatted with Young about his astute coverage.

On the early start to physical distancing

On Feb. 8, Young took a photo of an empty Aberdeen Centre, a mall in Richmond, B.C.

“This was a profound thing,” said Young. “Aberdeen Centre to me is as close to a city square as anywhere in Richmond — I’m talking specifically about ‘Chinese Richmond.’”

The mall typically hosts holiday celebrations, fairs and community displays. The Aberdeen transit station attached to the mall was also where local residents on opposing sides of the Hong Kong protests clashed last fall.

“The food court has got 800 seats, and it’s always packed. You’re doing laps with your tray trying to find a seat. So it was shocking that it was deserted,” said Young.

“This was something that had entered the mindset of Richmondites, and [yet] it was barely being reported. The Chinese communities were certainly ahead of the curve. That should be acknowledged.”

It was only after Young pointed it out that outlets like CBC began picking up on the story.

On an expert’s response to the early start

Last month, Young interviewed a Canadian expert in new and re-emerging viruses who said he “absolutely” believes the early response by B.C.’s Chinese may have helped the province combat the virus more successfully than other jurisdictions.

University of Manitoba professor Jason Kindrachuk said more research is needed to determine the true impact but called the community’s quick action “fantastic” and said it “needs to be applauded and recognized.”

“There may have been a grassroots movement,” Kindrachuk, a former Vancouver resident who worked in Africa during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, told Young. “What you have in B.C. is a Chinese community that was seeing the impacts across Asia [and] had been through SARS.”

On the unintended revelation of Richmond’s low infection rate

“I think there was this perception that went on for so long about Richmond being a hot spot of infection because there’s so many Chinese people,” said Young. “It plays to a lot of racist tropes about cleanliness and disease in general.”

One piece of fake news that went viral online showed Chinese climbing Costco scaffolding to get bags of rice, allegedly in Richmond.

According to the most recent census, 54 per cent of Richmond residents identify as ethnic Chinese. (Richmond is 23 per cent white.)

B.C. doesn’t share information on specific communities with confirmed COVID-19 cases, only which health authority they fall into.

Health officials have said this reduces stigma in hard-hit places and prevents a false sense of security in others.

“It’s irrelevant what community you’re in,” Henry has said. “The risk of this virus is everywhere in British Columbia.”

Richmond is part of the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. The figures released by government don’t let the public know whether a COVID-19 case is in Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore or a number of smaller coastal communities.

But in late April, Young tuned into Facebook Live chat with a VCH doctor who shared a partial breakdown of cases. Richmond only had 10 per cent of the jurisdiction’s cases, whereas 60 per cent were in Vancouver and 30 per cent on the North Shore.

On a per capita basis, Richmond’s rate of infection is 36.8 cases per 100,000 people. This is half Vancouver’s rate and about one-quarter of Canada’s rate of 120 cases per 100,000 people.

Young said Richmond had “a very laudable reaction” to COVID-19.

“I think it’s worth pointing out that despite being the most Chinese city in the world outside Asia, with all these links to China and Hong Kong, it had half the rate of infection of Vancouver just over the river. And I don’t think that’s captured as a fact in common perception.”

The public wasn’t meant to know these specifics. When Young put the numbers to the health authority itself, a spokesperson said that it wouldn’t elaborate.

On why Dr. Theresa Tam is criticized by some Chinese Canadians

Born in Hong Kong, Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has received plenty of racist hate online.

And she’s been criticized by high-profile conservatives like Ontario MP Derek Sloan who questioned whether she was more loyal to China than Canada and called for her firing.

But look within Canada’s Chinese communities and you’ll find people critical of Tam and her advice too, simply based on her record on the job.

“All these people in my ethnic Chinese circle were vehemently critical of Dr. Tam in ways that my non-Chinese friends and acquaintances would be very reluctant to state, fearing themselves grouped with racist rabble-rousers,” said Young.

“I’m not suggesting that racism gets a pass. What I am pointing out is that Chinese communities here are not shy about expressing things that some people in non-Chinese communities would be reluctant to do as a simple matter of solidarity against racism.”

Aside from bigots who seem to be targeting Tam for being a woman and for being ethnically Chinese, her connections to the World Health Organization have been a point of controversy.

Tam, who’s served on a number of WHO committees and missions in the past, is currently an advisor to the agency’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on COVID-19.

“It’s a hugely controversial thing in some Chinese community circles to champion the WHO because of its stance on Taiwan as a non-nation.”

The WHO has been criticized for uncritically accepting China’s virus data, parroting its messaging and being overly complimentary to the country.

On top of this, there’s also Tam’s describing COVID-19 as “low” risk until March 15 and her long dismissal of the need for the public to wear face masks. In April, she said that wearing them “seems a sensible thing to do”and on May 20 she said masks would serve as an “added layer of protection” when physical distancing is not possible.

“It really pissed off so many in the Chinese community, particularly those who believe the real successes that places like Hong Kong and Taiwan have had,” said Young.

“All sorts of highly-qualified people have praised mask-wearing. So we’re talking about big sections of the community fully invested in masks, and they see Dr. Tam basically flip-flopping, taking a position that’s neither here nor there.”

On ‘maskaphobia’ and where it comes from

On April 15 in Vancouver, a man told two Asian women wearing masks “Go back to your country. That’s where it all started.” A third woman who came to their defence was attacked by the man, who kicked her, wrestled her to the floor and ripped out a clump of her hair.

This was one of many racist and violent incidents against people who are or look East Asian, often in masks, around the world. On May 22, the Vancouver Police Department noted they had opened 77 hate-associated police files so far in 2020, compared to 26 in the same period last year.

Young interviewed sociologist Yinxuan Huang of the University of Manchester, who’s been examining “maskaphobia.”

“It is on the one hand a cultural conflict between the East, where wearing masks are pretty normal, and the West, where wearing masks can present a different meaning, even a sort of threat to some extent,” Huang told Young. “This cultural difference has become an excuse to legitimize xenophobia, particularly given that China is where the pandemic started.”

Wearing masks has made Asians in overseas communities “clear targets” of amplified racism, Huang added, which often stems from a perception of Asians as being bad at integrating with the mainstream society they’ve moved to.

Health authorities in Canada have expressed worry that if they recommend masks, then the public will start ignoring other measures such as hand washing and social distancing.

“I don’t think people are as stupid at health authorities seem to assume,” said Young. “They say that masks don’t work 100 per cent of the time. Of course they don’t! Nothing does. But the absence of 100-per-cent efficacy doesn’t mean they don’t help.”

Why Young isn’t afraid to engage trolls on Twitter

Young’s reporting on the role of immigration and foreign money in Vancouver real estate has long attracted Twitter trolls and armchair analysts in denial of his research.

His COVID-19 reporting has attracted a similar new audience, from virus skeptics to those who believe this all started from bat soup in China.

“I always try to engage, unless someone is outright rude to me at the first instance,” said Young. “For a lot of trolls, they can be quite surprised when someone engages and says, ‘Hi there.’ Some of them say ‘I dare you to block me! Block me won’t you!’

“You also run the risk of silo-ing yourself if your immediate reaction is just to block. I actually don’t block that many people…. There are some terrible people out there. There are hardcore irredeemable racists, but I try to converse. I don’t mind taking the piss a bit with them too. People treat Twitter different ways. I treat it as a conversation.”

On the divides and differences between ‘Chinese Vancouver’ and the rest of Vancouver

After decades of immigration, Chinese communities in Metro Vancouver have their own social networks, information channels and particular destinations. The pandemic has highlighted this parallel “Chinese Vancouver” and how it seems to exist outside of the mainstream.

After all, Aberdeen Centre, the popular Chinese “city square,” was empty of patrons in February, while Vancouver’s mayor had to shut down bars on St. Patrick’s Day in March and instruct people to instead “drink a Guinness at home.”

I put the question of these divides and differences to Young.

“It’s definitely not an enclave. It’s bigger than [an] enclave,” said Young. “We do have quite segregated parallel cities. But there’s different kinds of Vancouver; there’s all sorts of different ethnic Vancouvers. It’s an inconvenient thing to think about, but it shapes so many people’s personal understandings of what they mean by ‘Vancouver.’

“In Hong Kong, Vancouver occupies a huge space in people’s minds. It’s a special place. You watch Asian dramas on TV that reference someone in Vancouver. You go to karaoke in Hong Kong, and there are these generic videos filmed at Stanley Park or Kits Beach associated to versions of western songs filmed. Vancouver punches so far above its weight. But these Vancouvers aren’t a Vancouver that non-Chinese Vancouverites understand.”

On being a Vancouver correspondent for a Hong Kong-based international paper

Young is originally from Australia, where he worked in newspapers before reporting for the London Evening Standard and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. He became the international editor there before arriving in Canada in 2010 and becoming the Vancouver correspondent.

“I’ve always been an outsider for various reasons throughout my career,” said Young. “If you’re an ethnic Chinese person in Australia, you’re an outsider for a start. That was the same in London. And when you go to Hong Kong, you’re an outsider for different reasons: my accent and because I don’t speak Chinese. But when I came over here to Vancouver, all that merged and I kind of ended up straddling a lot of different worlds.

“I do occupy a strange place. There’s lots of things I’ve written about that are huge surprises to people in Chinese communities when they see it in English.

“As a foreign correspondent writing for not just the Vancouver community but also people who are observing Vancouver from afar, there’s a different perspective. I think the fact that there is now a small community of foreign correspondents who are taking a foreign correspondent’s eye to Vancouver is useful, because Vancouver, like any other city, can be an insular place.

“When you’re a goldfish, you don’t know you’re living in a bowl. And when I say outsider’s perspective, I’m not just talking about me, but my editor’s perspective as well. It’s useful to understanding the city, not just for the people who are there.”  [Tyee]

Source: thetyee.ca/News/2020/05/2…

The secret Covid-19 rate in Richmond, Canada’s most Chinese city, isn’t what racists might expect. It’s dwarfed by the rest of the nation

Worth noting with the results likely reflecting greater awareness among Chinese Canadians and their networks:

Amid a spike in anti-Asian incidents in British Columbia during the coronavirus pandemic – from slurs to the assault of a 92-year-old man – Canada’s most Chinese city is defying racist stereotypes conflating ethnicity with the illness.

In Richmond, where 54 per cent of the population claims Chinese heritage, the rate of confirmed Covid-19 cases appears to be less than one-third the rate in the rest of Canada, and only about half that in neighbouring Vancouver.

BC health officials have tried to keep secret the Covid-19 prevalence in municipalities, citing the risk of stigmatisation in hard-hit places, or a false sense of security in others.

But in a Facebook Live appearance last Thursday, Dr Mark Lysyshyn of the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) authority revealed a partial breakdown of cases, saying that about 10 per cent of the 755 cases in the VCH catchment at that time had occurred in Richmond.

“The greatest number of cases are in the Vancouver area,” said Lysyshyn, deputy chief medical health officer with VCH, responding to a question from a viewer. “About 60 per cent of our cases are there. We’ve also seen a high number of cases on the North Shore, about 30 per cent of our cases there. And then about 10 per cent of our cases in Richmond.”

Photo: SCMP Graphics
Photo: SCMP Graphics

He said a small number – about 3 per cent – were in rural locations outside the greater Vancouver area, although he did not explain this pushing the total above 100 per cent.

On a population basis, and taking that disparity into account, Lysyshyn’s assessment translates into a confirmed Covid-19 prevalence of about 37 per 100,000 people in Richmond (with a population of 198,000 according to the 2016 census).

By comparison, the city of Vancouver’s confirmed prevalence is about 70 per 100,000, while the Vancouver North Shore is by far the hardest hit area in the VCH catchment, with an estimated prevalence of 121 cases per 100,000. The North Shore, made up of three municipalities, has suffered the deadliest outbreak in BC, at the Lynn Valley Care Centre where at least 20 people died.

All of Canada, meanwhile, had a rate of 120 per 100,000, based on the 42,110 confirmed cases last Thursday. That rate has since risen to about 143, as of Wednesday.

British Columbia’s provincial health officer, Dr Bonnie Henry, has refused to give municipal figures for Covid-19 cases, instead providing breakdowns for BC’s large health regions.

The 2.5 million strong metro Vancouver area – which includes the city of Vancouver, Richmond and 21 other municipalities – is divided between two health regions, Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health. Both health regions also encompass rural communities beyond Metro Vancouver.

Vancouver Coastal Health declined to elaborate on Lysyshyn’s assessment.

“Dr Lysyshyn was providing approximate numbers during his Q&A. To date, we have only provided case numbers for VCH as a whole, or in relation to specific declared outbreaks and have not released detailed statistics on a more local level, so we’re not able to clarify any further,” said Matt Kieltyka a public affairs officer with Vancouver Coastal Health.

Henry responded to persistent calls that she release municipal data on Covid-19 cases in an April 6 statement.

“Simply put, the risk is everywhere,” she said. “It would be irresponsible to mention only a few communities and give people outside those areas a false sense that they are not susceptible or at lower risk. Every health region in British Columbia has people with Covid-19. Every community and hometown – no matter how large or small – is at risk.

“As we notify the public about Covid-19 cases, we have been careful about how much we disclose [about] the specific location of confirmed cases … there is still very much of a stigma associated with infection.”

Richmond’s medical health officer Dr Meena Dawar has similarly declined to provide case counts since March 19, when she told city officials there were only 10 confirmed cases in the city, the Richmond News reported.

There were early fears that Richmond – the most ethnically Chinese city in the world outside Asia – could have been a potential hotspot for the disease because of a large population of frequent travellers to and from China. The city is also home to Vancouver International Airport.

But Richmond residents were also early to take Covid-19 seriously and adopted social distancing measures long before being advised by authorities to do so.

By late January, many residents were wearing face masks and many of Richmond’s Chinese shopping malls and restaurants were largely deserted, which even prompted a short-lived government campaign encouraging people to return. Some Lunar New Year events were cancelled and by February 11, Richmond’s Lingyen Mountain Buddhist Temple had closed its doors, citing coronavirus concerns.

It would not be until mid-March that BC authorities ordered residents to stay at home and socially distance themselves from others.

Virologist Dr Jason Kindrachuk, Canada research chair in new and re-emerging viruses at the University of Manitoba, said he “absolutely” believed the early adoption of social distancing by BC’s Chinese community could have helped suppress the disease in the province.

Such behaviour was “fantastic, it needs to be applauded and recognised”, he said.

About 27 per cent of people in the city of Vancouver have Chinese heritage, compared with about 11 per cent in BC and 4.6 per cent in all of Canada.

BC currently has 2,053 confirmed Covid-19 cases, at a rate of 44 per 100,000. That rate is far lower than the larger provinces of Ontario (117) and Quebec (315), while BC’s similar-sized neighbour Alberta has a rate of 119 per 100,000.

Vancouver police last week warned that a spate of hate crimes had been reported, including five anti-Asian incidents in March. In the only one involving violence, a 92-year-old man with dementia surnamed Kwong was thrown out of a convenience store by a much larger man shouting anti-Asian statements about Covid-19 on March 13.

“Xenophobia is on the rise and we hope that as a community we can stand together to help protect the next person this may happen to,” the Kwong family said in a statement. A suspect has been identified but no charges filed; police said they were still investigating.

Other incidents conflating Covid-19 with people of Asian appearance have involved abusive language, although the Vancouver Police Department declined to elaborate.

On Wednesday, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said that “hate of any kind has no place in our city”.

According to a survey conducted on April 24 by Corbett Communications for a group called the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, 12 per cent of respondents in Vancouver agreed (4 per cent) or said they did not know (8 per cent) when asked whether “all Chinese or Asian people carry the Covid-19 virus”.

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr Theresa Tam said on Twitter on January 29 that she was “concerned about the growing number of reports of racism and stigmatising comments on social media directed to people of Chinese and Asian descent related to #2019nCOV #coronavirus.”

BC’s Bonnie Henry said on April 6 that the key to avoiding Covid-19 was not staying away from areas with high rates of infection but adopting personal practices like social distancing and good hand hygiene.

“So, while I understand the desire to know and understand what the Covid-19 situation is in your community, I need to emphasise that knowing where the positive cases are does not protect you, your family or your community,” said Henry. “The actions you take will do that.”

And the National Post analysis where travel-related COVID-19 cases came from: Canada’s early COVID-19 cases came from the U.S. not China