A former Liberal supporter seems to have taken on a different political path by promoting conservative causes in the Chinese community. Ted Jiangcheng Zhou, a Toronto wealthy condo developer, has set up a network across federal ridings to advocate for Conservative ideas and values. But the Liberal and NDP accuse that the rival Conservatives used his system to skirt election laws.
According to a frontpage article in the Globe on Monday, Zhou’s network includes ten organizations in BC to Alberta to Ontario as well as a national organization called the Federation of Chinese Canadian Conservatives (FCCC). The organization held a rally and dinner on Nov. 9, where Conservative MP was seen urging the crowd to “volunteer or to donate to the Conservative Party.”
Zhou’s organizations and the alleged campaign efforts have raised eyebrows of Election Canada and sparked concerns from oppositions. The Liberal and NDP parties both sent letters to Federal Elections Commissioner Yves Cot on Monday, seeking a probe into whether the wealthy developer and his non-profit groups have colluded with the Conservatives to win support from the Chinese community, according to the Globe.
Zhou's efforts to promote Conservative cause seems well regarded in this community showing overwhelming support for Conservative values and beliefs. The Globe article has created repercussions from those who voiced their support for Zhou and his organizations.
“Zhou has done nothing wrong. His blood, tears, and sweat made to the Conservative causes are well appreciated！“ claimed a WeChat post.
Both Zhou and Andrew Scheer’s office denied that Mr. Zhou’s organizations are involved in fundraising or helping his party to elect MPs in next year’s general election. Zhou maintains that he is not acting as an arm of the Conservative Party, saying he set up that network to promote small-c conservative causes within the Chinese-Canadian community.
While not making direct monetary donations, a non-profit organization providing a list of volunteers to a political party or provided any other form of non-monetary benefit would be a collision. The Election Act prohibits third parties to be used as vehicles to evade the spending and contribution limits imposed on political parties. Even if donations to parties did not exceed $1575 a year, free services provided to the party would be considered non-monetary contributions capped by the same limit.
According to the Globe, the matters concerning Zhou and the Conservative Party did raise the question about collusion and warrant an investigation from the Elections Commission.
However, Zhou is no stranger to the political fundraising arena. According to the Globe, he has donated $1500 in 2016 to the Conservative's rival Liberals and were among the selected few who attended the infamous cash-for-access fundraiser in 2016 featuring PM Trudeau. More importantly, Zhou seems to have strong ties with Chinese authorities and has allegedly got involved in China’s “soft power operations” aiming at influencing the overseas Chinese diaspora.
Sensing the strong Conservative vibes, a growing number of Chinese Canadian candidates have jumped on the Conservative bandwagon, trying to ride the blue wave to political offices. However, for many of them, the Canadian political arena is new territory. Taking a leadership role requires not only the time and efforts but also the ability to navigate the complicated electoral system and to be in compliance with the law.
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