Chinese community wants apology from QS MNA accused of racist comments
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2019 1:49PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 20, 2019 7:15PM EST
A Quebec Solidaire MNA is refusing to apologize for making comments about foreign investors the Chinese community considers offensive.
In an interview last week, Emilise Lessard-Therrien said she was afraid of Chinese investors purchasing agricultural land in Quebec.
"Between you and me, we call them predators,” she said. “They are agricultural land predators, and we see them" -- even as she admitted that "they have not yet bought land, because there are federal mechanisms that prohibit it."
Lessard-Therrien said that as global warming threatens agriculture, China is looking to buy foreign land including in Quebec as a possible way to secure its food supply, adding that "land that belongs to China will never being used to feed Quebecers."
'Totally shocking': Chinese group
Chinese Quebecers are now denouncing the agricultural critic for Quebec Solidaire.
"This is totally fake news being spun by a political party. It's totally shocking to me," said May Chiu of the group Progressive Chinese of Quebec.
"I'm an attorney, so the first thing I did was to look at the law. I have it right in front of me, and the law, the acquisition of farmland by non-residents, and under Quebec law non-residents are not allowed to purchase agricultural land except with special authorization of a government commission. And even Emilise Lessard-Therrien, she admitted it's not a problem that exists."
Chiu said that Lessard-Therrien was deliberately creating hateful messages not based in reality.
"It's extremely irresponsible for a political party to take fake news and spin it, and racialize it, in order to create a minority enemy, an ethnic enemy," said Chiu. “The way that she describes Chinese investors - they're lurking among us, we can smell them, we can feel them - it harkens back to the era 150 years ago, and images of the ‘yellow Chinaman, the yellow peril, the yellow menace,’” she said.
Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said Lessard-Therrien did not need to apologize and said her words were being taken out of context.
Not a concern in Quebec, says farmers' association
The Quebec Farmers' Association President John McCart said he has heard of Chinese investors looking at Canadian farms, but mostly in Ontario.
“There was a group there that purchased farmland, grew their crops, loaded it into containers and sent it home to China, but in Quebec we have rules in place to protect (against) foreign investors,” said McCart.
The bigger issue driving up farm prices right now, he added, is real estate speculation overall.
“There are all types of large investment firms looking to buy farmland and use it as a legitimate investment and not necessarily to farm it,” he said.