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Chinese groups at odds

Chinese groups are at odds with each other over the federal government's move to kill off the wealthy immigrant fast-track program.

Chinese groups are at odds with each other over the federal government's move to kill off the wealthy immigrant fast-track program.

A group of around 50 ethnic Chinese community members - calling themselves the The Alliance of the Guard of Canadian Values - held a meeting last Saturday at the West Richmond Community Centre to back the government's move to close the investorclass program, which would expedite wealthy, would-be immigrants through the residency process.

The position of the alliance, made up of doctors, lawyers, seniors and residents, is in contrast to that of another Chinese community group, which met at a Richmond hotel last month to protest the program's cull and threatened to sue the government.

Louis Huang, vice president of the eightyear-old alliance, said the group is in full support of the government's position.

"We believe the move is too late, but it's better late than never," Huang told the News.

"There's been a limited contribution from (the investor-class immigrants) anyway, so it's no great loss to Canada.

"They have been buying their way into Canada for a long time, while most of us have come to Canada because we love the country and Canadian values and the way of life."

Asked what he classes as "Canadian values," Huang said making a concerted effort to speak the official language or languages of the country you move to was "very important."

"Giving back to the community you live and work in and volunteering, for us, is also a very Canadian thing," added Huang.

"These people don't want to become Canadian, they don't want to become part of the community and don't want to speak English.

"Some people think (the Chinese community) are not good citizens, in that we don't have any interest in speaking English, we just want to live amongst ourselves, we only eat at Chinese restaurants and we only read Chinese newspapers.

"So, this is also about how other people are looking at us right now and that view is getting worse, especially in Richmond."

The people that were coming through the investor-class program, according to the alliance, were rarely trying to integrate into Canadian society.

The alliance has held two similar forums in Richmond and several across the Lower Mainland in recent months.

When a coalition of 40 ethnic Chinese groups with the opposite view gathered last month, a six-person panel addressed a crowd at a Richmond hotel.

Chris Ho, an immigration lawyer, who was the only speaker to address the crowd in English, pointed out the mixed messages being sent by the federal government in regards to investment and immigration.

Sophia Huang, another lawyer on the panel, explained part of the frustration from the Chinese community has to do with not being heard.

In justifying the cancellation, Minister of Immigration Chris Alexander said there's little evidence that immigrant investors, as a class, are maintaining ties to Canada or making a positive economic contribution to the country. The coalition called for supporters to vote for people who will speak for the Chinese voice. It also threatened a possible class action lawsuit.