Opinion: Ex-Burnaby MLA's China detainment revelation showed guts

Chris Campbell

The year 2019 has been a pretty bad one in certain ways for Burnaby’s Richard Lee.

In January, Lee – who was a BC Libertal MLA for 16 years – entered the Burnaby South federal byelection in the most absurd of ways – agreeing to run after the previous candidate for the federal Liberals was fired for ill-advised remarks on social media.

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Lee was game, but pretty much doomed.

Then, in February, Lee had to sit through an ugly all-candidates meeting in which some of the candidates were called “racist” by idiot hecklers in the crowd. Lee fought back tears as he discussed the issue of immigration and the politicization by some of the death of Marissa Shen.  

In May, Lee had to drop out of the general federal election for the Liberals because his wife was ill.

That should be enough bad news for Lee, an amiable fellow who most people like personally.

But now Lee has had to step into the spotlight again, revealing that he was improperly detained by Chinese authorities while travelling in 2015.

It’s all detailed here in a blockbuster story by Global’s stellar reporter Sam Cooper.

Lee says in the story that he was separated from his wife for eight hours and had his B.C. government phone searched. He was also accused of “endangering national security,” according to the Global story.

Lee embrace Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau embraces Burnaby South Liberal candidate Richard Lee at a campaign event at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts. - Jennifer Gauthier

Lee has written a letter detailing the allegations and it was sent to the prime minister on Jan. 1, 2019.

Lee showed guts coming forward with his story. There are many dark forces that harass and try to intimidate anyone who speaks negatively about China. I'm sure it would have been easier to just let it slide, but Lee decided to stand up.

Hopefully, 2020 proves to be a better year for Lee and his family.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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