Delta mayor wants no part of China-sponsored reception

Delta Mayor George Harvie says he wants no part of a Chinese government-sponsored reception at September’s Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Vancouver.

Harvie is joining with Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West and West’s campaign to ban foreign government sponsorship at UBCM conventions.

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West is taking issue with UBCM for accepting $6,000 from the Chinese government, which has hosted a reception for elected officials and others at the event since 2012.

West raised the topic with the UBCM after he was elected mayor last fall, but UBCM president Arjun Singh said its executive wants to keep the reception this year.

In response, UBCM has struck a panel to review how its annual convention is funded or sponsored but, if that panel recommends changes, they wouldn't be implemented until next year. The panel is made up of four former UBCM presidents: Frank Leonard, Wendy Booth, Sav Dhaliwal and Rhona Martin, and Greg Moore.

The issue has sparked a divide between B.C. mayors, with West gaining support from peers in Delta and North Cowichan, but taking heat from Victoria and Whistler mayors.

“All of Delta council are individual members of UBCM and I will leave it up to each one of them to individually decide whether they will attend the reception or not. I will not be attending,” said Harvie. “I feel very strongly against the current board members of the UBCM who did not have a policy for staff to follow. I’m also very disappointed that they put together a committee of past chairs. I think it is a waste of time. If I was on that board I would be embarrassed that I didn’t have the responsibility to correct something that is wrong.

“Out of this, I hope there is a policy for staff to follow with regards to responsibilities for determining whether people participating in the event should be there or not.”

The UBCM convention runs from Sept. 23 to 27 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

  • With files from Tri City News

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