Burnaby RCMP is helping its Richmond counterpart investigate accusations that two posts on a Chinese social media app crossed the line into vote buying ahead of the municipal election this month.
“Burnaby RCMP has opened a file and will work along with the Chief Elections Officer in Burnaby in assisting Richmond RCMP with their investigation,” reads an emailed statement from Burnaby RCMP.
A post last Saturday by the Canada Wenzhou Friendship Society on WeChat, a Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app, appeared to ask the 347 members in its private WeChat group to vote for certain candidates in the coming elections and offered a $20 “transportation subsidy.”
Among the recommended candidates from Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby was local incumbent Coun. James Wang.
“To encourage people to take part in the municipal elections, the Canada Wenzhou Friendship Society will give a transportation subsidy of $20 for those who vote this year,” said the post.
“Please actively participate in voting and supporting Chinese Canadians to take part in politics.”
Richmond RCMP confirmed Friday it was investigating "concerns by the Richmond Chief Electoral Officer about possible voter manipulation."
“We are asking that if you been approached with possible enticements pertaining to any portion of the voting process, please report it to us directly," stated an RCMP press release.
The Richmond News (a NOW sister paper) contacted the society on Thursday and a volunteer who refused to give her name confirmed the money had been offered by the organization on Saturday.
“It (the offer) doesn’t exist anymore,” she said.
“It was the original plan, but then we heard that this is illegal, so we corrected the post soon after. We have sent out multiple clarifications in the group from Saturday to today telling people the offer was cancelled. You can check it out.”
According to the Local Government Act, “a person must not pay, give, lend or procure inducement…to induce a person to vote or refrain from voting.”
It further states a person must not accept inducement to vote or inducement to refrain from voting.
Those who contravene vote-buying laws are liable to a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment for up to two years, or disqualification from holding office for up to seven years.
With files from the Richmond News.