The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has allegedly found and briefed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of numerous occasions whereby the Chinese government interfered and influenced Canada’s federal election in 2019, bringing attention to the inherent vulnerability of outdated Canadian espionage and counterintelligence laws.
According to Global News which cited unnamed sources close to the situation, Trudeau’s office has been made aware via numerous memos and briefings of China’s attempts to undermine and influence the Canadian democratic process. The allegations, which were first brought to the prime minister’s attention back in January, show instances where the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) provided financial support through Canadian intermediaries to at least 11 federal candidates leading up to the 2019 election with the intent of influencing policy and gaining leverage in parliament.
The CSIS utilized a variety of tools to uncover the evidence, including intercepting electronic communication between Chinese consulate officials and Canadian politicians; however, investigators weren’t able to determine whether or not the network did in fact influence the 2019 federal election. Although CSIS refrained from identifying the political candidates in question, individuals from both the Liberal and Conservative parties were said to be involved in the interference network.
The influence on Canada’s democratic system was primarily orchestrated by the CCP’s United Front Work Department, which includes various political, media, business, community, and student groups that conduct operations on behalf of China’s foreign espionage service, the Ministry of State Security. In some instances, the CCP’s Canadian proxies even went as far to punish politicians whom the Chinese government considers a threat to its objectives.
In one particular instance, intelligence officials found that the Chinese consulate in Toronto transferred about $250,000 from Beijing to an Ontario provincial MPP and an election candidate staffer who then distributed the funds to various other candidates and their campaign staffers that were willful CCP affiliates. The 2022 briefs allege that a Toronto Chinese Consulate official instructed that a 2019 federal election-campaign staffer overlook and control candidates’ meetings, going as far as to prevent meetings with Taiwan representatives.
The CSIS also briefed Trudeau on an occasion whereby CCP intelligence surveilled and intimidated Chinese communities in Canada. Global News cited Uyghur-Canadian activist Turnisa Matsedik-Qira, who details an ocasion where a van pulled up and two men jumped out while she was protesting outside Vancouver’s Chinese consulate. One of the men allegedly spit on her and said, “I wish all your people died.” Matsedik-Qira said she was worried for her safety following the incident. “I think he is connected to the Chinese Consulate, for sure. The Consulate has many people in Canada working from China.”
Similarly, in April 2021, BC Conservative MP Kenny Chiu wrote a bill that would create a foreign influence registry in Canada, forcing anyone working on behalf of hostile governments— such as those in Russia or China, to declare their interests beforehand. However, Chiu said his bill was targeted by the CCP’s election interference network, ultimately stopping it from becoming law. Moreover, Chiu also believes the CCP ruined his reputation and exerted efforts to suppress his chances of getting elected. Prior to the September 2021 federal election, Chiu said Chinese agents branded him a racist across Mandarin-language media platforms and WeChat.
Chiu, an MP for the Steveston-Richmond area, was also a proponent of transparent elections in Hong Kong, and voted to declare the Chinese government’s Xinjiang operations an act of genocide. “So ahead of the 2021 election, I was given a distancing treatment by Chinese-language media. And during the campaign people were shutting the door in my face. The messages I was getting were, ‘Kenny Chiu is a racist. Kenny is Anti-Asian,'” he told Global News in an interview. “The CCP didn’t have to send me a death threat, they just tried to kill my political career.”
In another, even more alarming instance, the briefs unveiled that Chinese intelligence agents performed extensive background research on MPs who were in favour of the House of Commons vote on a UN Resolution declaring the CCP’s actions against the Uyghur people as genocide. Specifically, the agents looked into the MPs’ ridings to judge what sort of companies and industries in the region had business links to China, in order to potentially leverage pressure on the local economies of politicians considered enemies of the CCP.
The sources told Global News they took the CSIS briefs public to draw Canadians’ attention to China’s interference in Canada’s democratic process. The news agency reached out to the Prime Minister’s Office seeking comment on the allegations exposed in the briefs, and whether or not Ottawa needs to impose tighter laws on foreign influence on Canadian politics. “Protecting Canadians’ security is our top priority. Threats, harassment, or intimidation of Canadian citizens are unacceptable, and all allegations of interference are investigated thoroughly by our security agencies,” said the PMO’s office, skirting Global News’ questions.
Global News shared some of the allegations described in the CSIS briefings Trudeau was made aware of to former senior CSIS analyst Dennis Molinaro, who said it’s alarming the Trudeau government hasn’t responded with new legislation strengthening Canada’s espionage and political interference laws. “The level of foreign interference activity you describe is serious and alarming,” he explained. “And if confirmed, the level of interference you describe says to me that foreign adversaries understand the legislative loopholes that exist in Canada and are taking full advantage of them.”
Information for this briefing was found via Global News. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.