The controversy that continues over a China sponsored reception at the upcoming Union of B.C Municipalities (UBCM) convention is unfortunate according to the Mayor of Williams Lake.
“I understand that Canada, the US, and China have had had some differences over prisoners and what not and I think that’s what initiated it all,” Walt Cobb said.
“But to suggest that we shouldn’t allow somebody to put on a reception for local government at UBCM to me is a little bit ridiculous.”
The Chinese consulate in Vancouver is paying $6,000 this year to sponsor the wine and dine reception that it has hosted at UBCM’s annual meeting since 2012.
Councillor Scott Nelson agrees with Cobb and said at Tuesday’s regular Council meeting that he personally plans on attending the reception scheduled to take place in September.
“Not all of our members have gone but when we go to UBCM we usually try to go to as many as those kinds of receptions that we can because it’s all about building relationships, and we have a huge, huge Chinese contingent in BC,” Cobb said.
“When you look at our history there were a lot of Chinese immigrants that worked on the railroad across Canada, when you look at Barkerville our Chinese contingent in Barkerville was huge, so to think that we’re not going to work with the Chinese in Canada to me is a little bit ridiculous and just because they happen to put on a reception doesn’t mean anything.”
“It’s a place to go, a place to meet people, and talk about what we can do together and most of the people there are Canadian,” Cobb continued.
“Just because it happens to be sponsored by the Chinese government or paid for by the Chinese government to me doesn’t affect anything. I think it’s petty and it’s causing problems and it’s unnecessary.”
The UBCM Executive which is comprised of local elected official from 20 BC communities and regions said Friday that the Chinese hosted reception would remain on the 2019 convention agenda.
The Executive added that it has appointed a panel to evaluate the various sources of revenue, including sponsorship revenue, currently in use for funding the annual convention.
“Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of comments from local elected officials with regard to the Chinese consular reception. What we have heard is that there’s a range of opinion about the event-some support it and others would like to see it canceled,” said Arjun Singh, president of the UBCM.
“The consensus of our Executive is that the event should be retained this year.”