A Canadian senator said he wants Chinese Canadians to set up a national foundation that would focus on raising money to fund lawsuits against “messy reporters” and politicians who “try to smear” the community.
A video of Conservative Sen. Victor Oh making the remarks was uploaded to the social media platform WeChat on June 5, showing him addressing a group at what was described as the Montreal Chinese Community United Centre.
The Canadian Press obtained the video, which showed Oh saying in Mandarin that “we need to raise money to cover costs for (people affected) by all of these unreasonable reporters who try to smear Chinese and discredit Chinese.”
The senator said “we need to take legal action to deal with the messy reporters, newspapers and politicians” and that a national foundation would also help support young people to get involved in politics, including through scholarships.
The comments were first reported in English by Found In Translation on Substack.
Oh was not made available to answer questions at an event he attended in Ottawa on Friday that marked the 100th Anniversary of the introduction of the Chinese Exclusion Act.
A spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
“I hope, I wish we can set up a nationwide Chinese Canadians foundation. We will draft it to see how can build a national foundation. Why do we need a national foundation? We must have donations, we must have (a) certain amount of energy and financial resources,” Oh said in Mandarin in the video.
“Because you all know these journalists, these newspapers suppress us every day. One wave after another. They will smear you by reporting a little bit of the facts about you, right?”
In the video, Oh said journalists have not accepted the findings in an initial report from former governor general David Johnston, whom Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed to investigate allegations of foreign interference in the past two federal elections.
Johnston’s report found that some media reporting around allegations that China meddled in the 2019 and 2021 elections lacked context.
It also acknowledged that some intelligence confirmed attempts by Chinese officials to gather information about Canadian parliamentarians. But Johnston said the intelligence he reviewed cannot not be shared publicly.
He announced earlier this month he would resign as special rapporteur, citing a politically charged atmosphere around his work. Johnston is set to release his final report this month.
“Long story short, they don’t believe governor (general)’s finding (about foreign interference) is transparent, (that) there are no Chinese spies in Canada in this case. They just don’t believe that,” Oh said in the video.
He suggested that “if a judge rules someone is not guilty,” then reporters would think: “It’s impossible and he must be guilty!”
He said the foundation would be “very important.”
“If it will be set up in the near future, first we will train young people to discuss and get involved in politics, give scholarships to the young generation and encourage them to study.”
He said such a foundation would also need to raise money to cover the costs affected by “unreasonable reporters” who try to smear Chinese people.
“If we don’t stand up this time, they will always suppress us just like what they did to the Black people. Now the Black people stand up and voice their opinions, now the Black people’s lives matter. Right? So, we must show solidarity and work together to protect our own interests and our next generation,” Oh said in the video.
“We are already here. We can’t be uprooted. We can’t return back to home anymore, not to mention our children.”
Oh, who emigrated from Singapore 45 years ago, was appointed to the Senate in 2013 by former prime minister Stephen Harper.
Nono Shen and Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press