The City of Toronto’s integrity commissioner is investigating a complaint against Ward 42 Scarborough councillor Raymond Cho over an allegation that Cho discriminated against a Falun Gong group. At a Sept. 23 Korean Seniors walk-a-thon, Cho is alleged to have tried to stop the group from holding up a sign in support of their practices.
The incident eventually saw Cho escorted off stage by a police officer, an event apparently recorded by someone in the audience and now posted on the Internet.
In a letter obtained by the East Toronto Observer, the city’s integrity commissioner David Mullan informed Cho of the complaint against him. A DVD of what had transpired at Christie Pitts, in the area of Bloor West and Christie streets, was also sent along with a copy of the complainant’s affidavit.
The integrity office would not comment on an ongoing investigation.
Complainant Donna Hope, a member of the Falun Gong marching band, told the Observer that at the walk-a-thon Cho singled out the group and told them they could not participate if they did not put down a banner that read, “Falun Dafa, practised in over 60 countries.”
The BBC’s website describes, Falun Dafa, or Falun Gong, as a spiritual movement that focuses on Taoist and Buddhist principles. Beijing authorities have declared it an “evil cult” and have arrested followers.
The Falun Dafa marching band says it was invited to participate in the walk-a-thon by a Korean senior citizens society.
In an excerpt from the video, Cho appears to be saying: “If you don’t listen to me there will be no walk-a-thon.”
In another excerpt the Scarborough councillor is heard saying: “This is a Korean senior citizen walkathon, it should not be used for your purpose.”
The integrity commissioner, after a preliminary investigation of the event, has sent a letter to Cho in which he says: “I have reached the conclusion that this complaint does raise a matter that comes within my jurisdiction as defined by both the Code of Conduct and the Protocol. I am therefore commencing an investigation.”
Once his report is completed, the commissioner will send it, along with any recommendations, to council. The city councillors will then decide what, if any, action will be taken.
When contacted, Cho’s assistant Hong-Yul Kim said they could not comment because the investigation is ongoing.
Cho has until Oct. 26 to send a response to the complainant.