If you are in trouble abroad, will Canada come get you?

Good realistic explainer featuring the former ambassador to Lebanon:

It was Louis de Lorimier’s first posting as an ambassador for Canada when he arrived in Lebanon in September 2005, after almost a quarter-century in the foreign service.

His appointment came just a few months after then Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri was assassinated in a truck bombing, and the relationship between Israel, the militant group Hezbollah and neighbouring Syria was tense.

Political and military skirmishes between the various forces in the region were not uncommon, but de Lorimier didn’t foresee he would be caught at the centre of Operation LION, Canada’s largest international evacuation effort of its citizens to date.

“You did have violence to a certain extent on the border but nothing could suggest that it would go so far,” recalls the retired career diplomat, now a fellow at the Montreal Institute of International Studies.

“Lebanon was a turning point. I think they really got the (evacuation) system much better organized after that.”

In July 2006, after Israel’s military attacked Hezbollah forces in Lebanon to retaliate for the killing and kidnapping of its soldiers, Ottawa came under heavy fire for what some criticized as chaotic and slow response to bring home its citizens stranded in the war zone. By the end of that August, 14,000 Canadians had been evacuated.

Nearly 17 years later, after a civil war erupted in Sudan between the ruling government and a paramilitary group, the Canadian government’s evacuation effort has once again raised the questions of its responsibilities to its citizens abroad and its readiness to save its people from harm’s way.

Last Saturday, Canada ended its evacuation flights to bring Canadians home from Sudan amid escalating violence and deteriorating safety conditions. Over two weeks, of the 1,728 Canadians in Sudan who had registered with the government, more than 400 had been evacuated, with hundreds of others still looking for assistance.

“Canada continues to monitor the situation actively and will continue to provide assistance to Canadians and permanent residents wishing to depart Sudan,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement on Friday.

“Our officials will keep in contact with those who call on us for help. We will keep in touch using whatever is the most effective way to help them stay safe, be it phone, e-mail or text message.”

De Lorimier said taking care of Canadians abroad has always been a top priority for consular staff, who constantly monitor conditions on the ground and report them to Ottawa.

“One of our responsibilities is to have a plan in place to deal with social unrests and major events of that nature, or it could be earthquakes or natural disasters, and it goes as far as war,” said de Lorimier, who headed the Lebanese mission until 2008 and then served as ambassador to Belgium and Mali before he retired in 2015.

“But what is obvious is that Canada doesn’t have the assets in the region to deal as quickly as we have to deal with a huge crisis.”

There are many variables in an evacuation effort and officials have to constantly negotiate with the local security authorities to seek safe pathways for both Canada’s personnel and citizens alike.

“I think most people do have unreasonable expectations. Sure, your government is there to protect you in every way possible. Obviously, it’s what we try to do. But the government also tells people, ‘Well, you’re responsible for your own safety first and foremost,’” said de Lorimier.

“If you go to a place where there’s social unrest, or even war, well, there could be consequences. There’s only so much we can do. That’s why we have these warnings that in certain countries, you’d better be careful. It’s not that the government doesn’t want to take care of people. But sometimes you have situations where you just can’t.”

The operation in Lebanon was certainly unprecedented in terms of the scale. At the onset of the war, only 1,000 Canadians registered with the embassy, which quickly ballooned to 30,000 a week into the conflict.

Although Lebanon was under complete blockade by the Israelis who bombed the main runway at the airport and blew up its fuel depots, Canada’s strong diplomatic relationships with both countries assured safe pathways to bus its citizens to an evacuation spot and then repatriate them via Cyprus.

In Sudan, however, de Lorimier said Canadian officials are dealing with two warring parties declaring ceasefires that never hold, and there’s a complete breakdown in the rule of law. The only blessing is the main airport in the capital Khartoum seems to be working of late, letting Canada shift its emergency evacuation efforts toward assisted departures through commercial transportation to exit the country.

Still, de Lorimier said there still could be a lot of uncertainty.

For example, on the first day of the Lebanese evacuation, the Canadian government had initially secured six ships to each carry 250 people out of the Lebanon’s main port. However, at the last minute, the Turkish company that loaned the boats was not satisfied with the security assurances and decided to send just one ship.

“We had prepared more than 1,000 people to evacuate. That’s when the press reported in Canada that the operation was a mess. We got really bad press. Some people were complaining that we left them out in the sun and they didn’t have water and they didn’t have food. It was quite something,” recalled de Lorimier, who didn’t sleep for weeks then and was running on his adrenalin.

“We almost had a catastrophe because we had this 1,000 people that were waiting in a room. We weren’t expecting to give them room and board for a night. So you can imagine kids running around and older people, and we didn’t even have enough restrooms.”

Canada recognizes dual citizenships and dual citizens are treated equally as their Canadian-born peers, but the Lebanese evacuation led to a public debate about whether these individuals’ birth country or adopted country is actually responsible for them.

“If there’s a problem, is it not logical that he be supported by his birth country before being supported by the consular service of Canada, his country of adoption?” asked de Lorimier. Yet in the end, “anyone that had Canadian papers was evacuated.”

The evacuation effort would end up costing Canada $94 million, which also prompted prime minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government in 2009 to restrict the passage of Canadian citizenship by descent to the first generation of Canadians born overseas.

In its post-mortem of the Lebanese operation, the Canadian Senate, made many recommendations, including urging Foreign Affairs officials to review and ensure adequate resources to missions in countries where the size of the Canadian population and regional risks are high.

In hindsight, de Lorimier said he felt the Lebanese operation was provided with proper resources, with 200 Foreign Affairs staffers redeployed from outside Lebanon to assist with the evacuation, along with additional immigration and military personnel.

“People will always say there’s not enough resources. That’s a tricky question. We evacuated 15,000 people and everybody made it … no casualties,” he noted.

“The first responsibility lies with you. You have to know what you’re getting into and where you’re going in terms of security, military and war and even tsunamis or earthquakes. There’s so many risks that you have to figure out and decide if you want to take the risk.”

Source: If you are in trouble abroad, will Canada come get you?

Ottawa can’t keep up with the fallout from explosion of international sanctions

Always about delivery and implementation…

They never thought that a dental chair would constitute military hardware.

But Canadian manufacturers of medical supplies have found themselves fighting to win exemptions from a federal sanction that bans selling Russia anything used in the “manufacture of weapons.”

The measure covers not just tank parts and drones but an array of health-care products, veterinary equipment and even barber chairs — items “not traditionally referred to as weapons,” notes William Pellerin, the lawyer representing the companies.

His clients’ appeal is just one battle being waged behind the scenes of the sweeping set of sanctions Canada has imposed on Russia and Belarus over Moscow’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine a year ago.

Complaints have come from Canadians whose money transfers from Russia have been frozen, oligarchs insisting they were listed by mistake, companies unsure if they should deal with a Russia-linked partner and humanitarian groups barred from entering occupied Ukrainian territory.

The sanctions were imposed in response to a Russian military campaign that has laid waste to countless Ukrainian towns and cities, killed thousands of civilians and led to war-crimes charges against President Vladimir Putin himself.

But as the number of sanctions imposed by this country grows “exponentially,” lawyers say the government is ill-prepared to handle the complex fall-out, leading to a backlog at Global Affairs Canada of hundreds of official requests for exemptions and de-listing.

Unlike other countries, the government provides little direction on how to comply with the sanctions and has issued few general exclusions for those who might be needlessly caught in the cross-fire, they say.

“There is a very strong interest on the part of government to be moving quickly,” says Ottawa lawyer John Boscariol. “(But) when there’s not a lot of thought or consultation put into these measures, inevitably you’re going to side-swipe parties that should not really be targets … We haven’t been properly managing the collateral damage.”

The problems extend beyond the impact on those affected by sanctions, some critics charge.

Even as Canada wins kudos as a world leader in wielding the weapon, there’s no requirement to gauge how well sanctions work in changing behaviour, argues an academic expert in the area.

“At no time does Global Affairs have to go through and say ‘Hmm, these names have been on the book for a year, maybe we should look and see if they should still be there, if they’re having an effect,’ ” says Andrea Charron, a University of Manitoba international relations professor. “It’s fire and forget … We don’t measure effectiveness.”

But Global Affairs spokesman Grantly Franklin defended the sanctions regime as “hard-hitting,” yet judicious.

He said the government is already addressing the mounting workload, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing last October an extra $76 million to bolster the sanctions infrastructure. Part of that money will be used to expand the department’s team dealing with the issue, said Franklin.

He declined to answer questions about how many applications Global Affairs has received for exemption permits or for the de-listing of certain sanctions, but stressed the goal of the measures is to put pressure on foreign actors, not Canadians.

“Canadians or individuals in Canada whose money has been frozen … may apply for a permit,” said Franklin by email. “We have a rigorous due diligence process in place to evaluate permit applications, and each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis.”

Sanctions have always been a periodic weapon of Canada’s foreign policy, though often in conjunction with other members of the United Nations. But use of the tool began to proliferate under the previous Conservative government, when former prime minister Stephen Harper targeted Iran and North Korea, then Russia after its initial move into eastern Ukraine and occupation of Crimea.

The trend has picked up pace since then, with Russia the main focus but Canadian sanctions have also been placed on people or entities in China, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Libya, South Sudan, Haiti and Saudi Arabia.

“I’ve been practising in this area since I became a lawyer in the 1990s and … it’s just been growing exponentially,” says Boscariol.

“The use of sanctions by the government of Canada has exploded since the further invasion of Ukraine by Russia,” echoed Pellerin, a partner in the McMillan law firm.

Both lawyers said their clients challenging application of the sanctions declined to be interviewed or named for this story.

As the number of sanctions has grown, so too has their complexity. Many of those aimed at Moscow don’t single out specific companies or individuals, for instance, but bar Canadians — even those living abroad — from providing supplies and services to particular industries, such as the oil and gas and technology sectors.

And though the sanctions may sound straightforward when announced, implementing them in the real world can be messy, the lawyers say.

Part of their work involves applying for those “permits” that exempt individuals or companies from one of the measures. Many of the applications are from Canadian residents who were expecting money to be transferred from relatives or others in Russia, only for the funds to be frozen because the originating bank was sanctioned.

There are Canadians who worked for multinational companies and were laid off because Ottawa’s sanctions won’t let them service Russian clients, and Canadian corporations struggling to figure out whether to do business with a certain firm, the lawyers say.

“A big part of the problem is that there are Russian oligarchs hiding under every rock,” said Pellerin. “It’s rare that a week goes by that we don’t encounter a Russian oligarch behind a company (clients) we’re dealing with.”

The challenge is determining if the sanctioned person’s stake in a particular firm that is based, say, in Dubai, makes that firm a no-go zone, he said.

Other countries have concrete guidelines, with the U.S. specifying that the sanctioned individual must own at least 50 per cent of an asset for the sanctions to apply to it. Canada has no such definition, leaving it up to companies to decide or apply for a permit, said Pellerin.

The U.S. actually has a Treasury Department unit — the Office of Financial Asset Control — that proactively embeds itself in banks and other firms to coach them on how to identify links they might have with sanctioned entities, says Charron. The U.K. and the European Union provide detailed instruction on how the measures apply. Not so Canada, she said, either under Harper or the current Liberal government..

“It’s not Global Affairs that enforces sanctions,” said Charron. “It’s basically you and I and real estate agents and banks. And they get no guidance.”

There are challenges, too, for humanitarian organizations. Those without a formal link to the Red Cross/Red Crescent, the U.N. or the federal government are barred by sanctions from working in places like Russian-occupied Ukraine or Syria. The U.S. and other nations, by comparison, have issued “general licences” to such groups to let them provide aid in those areas, said Boscariol, of the firm McCarthy Tétrault.

Perhaps more contentious are those individuals and entities who claim they have been sanctioned wrongly, based on faulty information or even a misspelled name. Boscariol said he’s been successful in the past getting clients de-listed.

Most of the Russians sanctioned by Canada probably don’t have assets here, but what Ottawa does still matters to them, he said. Different countries sometimes replicate Canada’s measures, while some international banks will not deal with potential clients that have been listed here, even if no other country sanctioned them, said Boscariol.

Pellerin said his firm has decided not to work for sanctioned Russian people or Russian companies, choosing to take a “public stance” against the Putin regime. Even so, he said he frequently is approached by oligarchs seeking his services.

The lawyers helping clients navigate the sanctions acknowledge that it made sense for Canada to act swiftly to impose penalties on Russia. But they say Global Affairs has invested far too few resources into managing the measures, even as its lack of guidance leads to more applications for exemptions and de-listing.

The new funding announced last fall has yet to have any apparent impact, they say.

Pellerin said he’s applied for an exemption permit for his medical-supplies clients, but has yet to receive a decision. (He acknowledges that the sanction may be aimed at goods that could be used by Russian armed forces, not just to make weapons.) The lawyer said he’s had answers quickly in some cases, and waited a year in others.

“The sanctions team at Global Affairs Canada work incredibly hard … in a very stressful and demanding environment,” said Pellerin. But “they’ve not been able to keep up with the large demands that have resulted from the government’s decision to massively increase the use of sanctions.”

Source: Ottawa can’t keep up with the fallout from explosion of international sanctions

Mulroney: There is nothing racist about creating a foreign-agent registry in Canada

Of note, agree not racist as these actions pertain to the Chinese regime:

Amid reports of Chinese foreign interference in Canadian elections, federal ministers Marco Mendicino and Mary Ng have voiced concerns that setting up a registry of foreign agents could unfairly target Canadians of Chinese origin and even prove racist.

But this argument doesn’t just prejudice people before any consultations even begin – it is also based on false assumptions about foreign agents and their victims.

Far from being racist, requiring transparency of those who speak, lobby, or disburse money for China or any other foreign state protects vulnerable members of diaspora communities, who are often the first targets of foreign interference. Indeed, the Chinese Communist Party has long prioritized the infiltration, coercion and harassment of diaspora communities worldwide as a means of advancing its power and influence. This has accelerated under Xi Jinping, whose vision of “the Great Chinese nation” uses patriotism as a cover for the extension of China’s extraterritorial reach. The party and its proxies routinely infiltrate student groups, cultural and community associations and Chinese-language media in foreign countries. In Canada, this has been enabled by the shameful failure of our own officials to protect diaspora members from the long arm of the Chinese state.

The most odious example of Beijing’s extraterritorial reach is the establishment of what have been referred to as overseas “police stations.” Human rights groups have said that Chinese officials use these places to interrogate and intimidate people of Han Chinese, Tibetan and Uyghur origin, hoping to compel their return to China to face prosecution. The RCMP is now reportedly investigating sites in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec. As welcome as these efforts are, it’s hard to understand why it has taken so long. It is reasonable to worry that, until recently, at least some Canadian police may have simply assumed that whatever went on in Chinese diaspora communities was China’s business.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only indication that Canadian officials may be facilitating the steady accumulation of extraterritorial power by Chinese diplomats.

Show up at a Lunar New Year’s gala anywhere in the country and you’ll find Canadian politicians at all levels and from all parties falling over themselves to pay lavish tribute to China’s flag, anthem and diplomats. This joyous family celebration, which China’s communist rulers banned for many years, has been cynically co-opted by Beijing’s diplomats, who turn the event into a victory lap and a high-profile demonstration of their local authority. Instead of voicing a challenge at these events, Canadian politicians seem more intent on squeezing into the group photo with the presiding Chinese functionary.

Interference by the Chinese state is by no means limited to diaspora communities, something a registry of foreign agents would make clear. There is mounting evidence that China’s efforts are ambitious, sophisticated, and national in scope. Yet oddly enough, the fact that not all foreign agents are of Chinese ethnicity seems not to have occurred to Mr. Mendicino and Ms. Ng.

I have for some time advocated for an Australian-style foreign agent registry in Canada, one designed to include the names of everyone who is delivering Beijing’s talking points, disbursing its payoffs, and lobbying on its behalf. Such a list would almost certainly include more than a few residents of Canada’s capital, where many former ministers and mandarins remain after retirement to run associations, represent major firms, opine on nightly news panels, rub shoulders with serving officials and, in some cases, advance agendas on behalf of foreign paymasters. Canadians need greater transparency from this privileged and, it needs to be said, ethnically diverse community, which exercises considerable influence behind the scenes.

Former politicians and public servants should be required to report any arrangements in which they market to foreign states the knowledge, experience and contacts they gained while serving Canada, or that require them to perform any functions in Canada for such states. This would include disclosure of board memberships, consulting contracts, subsidized travel, appointments to political bodies, and other perks provided to themselves or family members, directly or indirectly by foreign states.

In addition, I’ve also recommended that work as a foreign agent render individuals ineligible for appointment to federal boards and agencies, and for membership in the Order of Canada or elevation to the Privy Council. How can we extend our continuing trust to individuals who have decided to serve a foreign state, especially one that is hostile to Canada? There is nothing “Honourable” or, indeed, “Right Honourable” about being on Beijing’s payroll.

Setting up a registry of foreign agents is in no way racist. But assuming it would contain only Chinese names is.

David Mulroney served as Canada’s ambassador to the People’s Republic of China from 2009 to 2012.

Source: There is nothing racist about creating a foreign-agent registry in Canada

To really tackle Beijing’s interference, Canada must engage with the Chinese diaspora

Good commentary:

What needs to happen before Canada takes action on foreign interference? Apparently something as drastic as leaks of top-secret intelligence documents to the media.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to recent reports of Chinese foreign interference and disinformation campaigns in Canadian federal elections by announcing that his government would appoint an independent special rapporteur to investigate, provide recommendations and decide if a public inquiry is necessary. Further steps include reviews by intelligence bodies on such foreign-interference issues and new funding for civil-society organizations to combat disinformation.

Mr. Trudeau also announced consultations on a foreign-agent registry and the appointment of a new foreign-interference co-ordinator at Public Safety Canada. (Consultations on a foreign-agent registry – a policy previously pursued by Kenny Chiu, the former Conservative member of Parliament who was reportedly targeted by a Beijing-led online disinformation campaign – were actually announced back in December.)

This is all welcome news, and it signals that Ottawa may finally be taking foreign interference seriously. But the government continues to rely on top-down methods to address the issue, despite the fact that it alone cannot adequately take on the problem – and nor should it be the sole institution to take on the challenge. While funding is coming for non-governmental organizations to tackle disinformation, what is needed is a whole-of-society approach.

This includes engagement with a broader range of traditional and non-traditional stakeholders, such as academia, the private sector, media and local communities. Crucially, it prioritizes engagement with these stakeholders and with NGOs, aims to facilitate active participation in the decision-making process and strives to rebuild trust in our public institutions. In the specific case of foreign interference, it would allow the challenge to be tackled in ways that do not demonize equity-deserving groups.

In contrast, the current and proposed actions by the Canadian government overlook the targeted individuals and affected communities at the heart of China’s foreign-interference efforts. Canada’s response continues to miss opportunities to engage with the Chinese diaspora and dissident communities who have long been sounding the alarm on the Chinese Communist Party’s meddling in our democracy.

The issue of foreign interference, after all, goes beyond electoral meddling. It also involves the covert amplification of pro-Beijing narratives and the suppression of anti-Beijing ones. This has ramifications for the Chinese diaspora, which has found itself caught in the crossfire between two worlds and the geopolitical tension between them.

The status quo represents a silencing on two fronts. While the Chinese diaspora faces increasing anti-Asian sentiment and marginalization in Canada, the baggage of another home has followed them across oceans. Those who dare to speak out against the CCP, even on Canadian soil, endanger not only themselves but their friends and loved ones back in China or other PRC-controlled territories.

This is why the whole-of-society approach should centre on the Chinese diaspora – particularly the vulnerable communities within it, such as Hong Kongers, Uyghurs and Tibetans. While the diaspora and dissident communities bear the brunt of foreign interference by the CCP, these groups are often ignored when they could be helping to combat it. Many Hong Kongers, for instance, are well versed in tactics used by the CCP to target voters, having seen them in action firsthand in their own elections.

Canada must also engage with stakeholders who can communicate in the languages spoken in the community, who understand how cultural norms intersect with broader Canadian society, and who can meet members of the community where they are at. To increase civic engagement we must be able to communicate and educate in ways that are both respectful of one’s self-determination and understanding of the geopolitical tensions vulnerable groups must contend with.

National security concerns such as foreign transnational repression must be considered, too, to ensure that targeted communities can safely and freely engage in democracy without ramifications.

Foreign interference is a challenge that is here to stay. While the federal government is taking encouraging first steps, these can only be the beginning. A whole-of-society approach is required not only to address this issue, but to give a voice to those who have been silenced for so long.

Ai-Men Lau is a research analyst at Doublethink Lab and adviser to Alliance Canada Hong Kong. She is a contributor to Alliance Canada Hong Kong’s 2021 Report “In Plain Sight: Beijing’s unrestricted network of foreign influence in Canada.”

Source: To really tackle Beijing’s interference, Canada must engage with the Chinese diaspora

Diaspora groups tell Ottawa to start a foreign influence registry — and do it fast

Agree. Long overdue:

Canada needs to establish a foreign influence registry before the next federal election, say associations representing diaspora communities across the country.

The Canadian Coalition for a Foreign Influence Registry (CCFIR), a consortium of more than 30 community groups, held a video news conference Wednesday pushing for the federal government to establish such a registry by this summer.

“It needs to be in place before the next federal election,” Gloria Fung of CCFIR said. “If the government considers consultation necessary, we would be happy to co-operate fully, however, the consultation should be conducted in a timely manner.”

The CCFIR consists of grassroots organizations representing Chinese, Vietnamese, Uyghur, European and other communities across Canada. Members include Canada-Hong Kong Link, the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project and the Central and Eastern European Council in Canada.

The timing of the election is uncertain, depending on the Liberal minority government maintaining enough support to govern.

The demand for a foreign influence registry comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces new questions on Parliament Hill following a news report alleging he was briefed about the Chinese Communist Party’s attempts to influence Canadian elections with funding.

The report from Global News said two weeks before the 2019 election was called, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians told Trudeau that Chinese officials were secretly bankrolling candidates in the election.

It was the latest blow to Trudeau over a growing scandal about China’s alleged interference in elections stemming from leaks from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). Calls for a foreign influence registry have grown along with the scandal.

A foreign influence registry would require those working on behalf of foreign governments to log their activities, with legal consequences for failing to do so. The federal government has already said it will launch consultations into such a registry but the timeline needs to be shorter, the CCFIR said.

Such a registry would shed light on who is doing what for foreign interests, the CCFIR said, preventing their activities from remaining covert.

“This is essential to protect Canadian democracy, national security and our own communities from foreign interference,” Fung said.

A bill for a registry is currently before the Senate, but has received little attention. Before the most recent election, Conservative MP Kenny Chiu also tried to establish such a registry in a bid that did not make it past Parliament.

Chiu lost his seat in the next election and he and others have partially blamed a disinformation campaign, potentially orchestrated by Beijing’s supporters. The campaign spread false information suggesting Chiu’s registry would require all Chinese people in Canada to sign up.

Trudeau recently said he would appoint a “special rapporteur” to investigate allegations of election tampering, but others have demanded a full public inquiry. The prime minister also suggested the concern over what role Beijing may have played in the 2019 and 2021 elections stemmed from racism.

Chinese community leaders rejected that characterization to the Star and complained they have been ignored by Ottawa when raising similar concerns in the past.

On Wednesday, the CCFIR aimed to cut off any accusations a foreign influence registry would be racist.

Kayum Masimov, of the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, said it would instead enhance the ability of bureaucrats, politicians and others to understand who they are dealing with when a registered person approaches them and help counter covert influence campaigns.

“Left unaddressed these malign activities aggravate social polarization and erode public trust in our democratic institutions,” Masimov said. A registry “will increase transparency by exposing those who seek to influence our policies, public debate and decision making on behalf of foreign regimes.”

During the news conference concerns were specifically mentioned about attempts at foreign influence in Canada from Russia, China and Iran.

The United States and Australia already have registries. Fung said that while the registry would help in stemming foreign influence in Canada, it would need to be bolstered by additional federal efforts.

“We still have to continue to work with the government to urge them to come up with other necessary measures, bills or even regulations to detect foreign interference in different sectors.”

Source: Diaspora groups tell Ottawa to start a foreign influence registry — and do it fast

CSIS documents reveal Chinese strategy to influence 2021 election

Not a good take on the government’s (lack of) response and the naiveté of some:

China employed a sophisticated strategy to disrupt Canada’s democracy in the 2021 federal election campaign as Chinese diplomats and their proxies backed the re-election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals – but only to another minority government – and worked to defeat Conservative politicians considered to be unfriendly to Beijing.

The full extent of the Chinese interference operation is laid bare in both secret and top-secret Canadian Security Intelligence Service documents viewed by The Globe and Mail that cover the period before and after the September, 2021, election that returned the Liberals to office.

The CSIS reports were shared among senior government officials and Canada’s Five Eyes intelligence allies of the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Some of this intelligence was also shared with French and German spy services.

Over the past decade, China, under President Xi Jinping, has adopted a more aggressive foreign policy as it seeks to expand its political, economic and military influence around the world.

MPs on the Commons Procedure and House Affairs committee are already looking into allegations that China interfered in the 2019 election campaign to support 11 candidates, most of them Liberal, in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Drawn from a series of CSIS intelligence-gathering operations, the documents illustrate how an orchestrated machine was operating in Canada with two primary aims: to ensure that a minority Liberal government was returned in 2021, and that certain Conservative candidates identified by China were defeated.

The documents say the Chinese Communist Party leadership in Beijing was “pressuring its consulates to create strategies to leverage politically [active] Chinese community members and associations within Canadian society.” Beijing uses Canadian organizations to advocate on their behalf “while obfuscating links to the People’s Republic of China.”

The classified reports viewed by The Globe reveal that China’s former consul-general in Vancouver, Tong Xiaoling, boasted in 2021 about how she helped defeat two Conservative MPs.

But despite being seen by China as the best leader for Canada, Beijing also wanted to keep Mr. Trudeau’s power in check – with a second Liberal minority in Parliament as the ideal outcome.

In early July, 2021 – eight weeks before election day – one consular official at an unnamed Chinese diplomatic mission in Canada said Beijing “likes it when the parties in Parliament are fighting with each other, whereas if there is a majority, the party in power can easily implement policies that do not favour the PRC.”

While the Chinese diplomat expressed unhappiness that the Liberals had recently become critical of China, the official added that the party is better than the alternatives. Canada-China relations hit their lowest point since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre after December, 2018, when Beijing locked up two Canadians in apparent retaliation for Ottawa’s arrest of a Chinese Huawei executive on an extradition request from the United States.

Most important, the intelligence reports show that Beijing was determined that the Conservatives did not win. China employed disinformation campaigns and proxies connected to Chinese-Canadian organizations in Vancouver and the GTA, which have large mainland Chinese immigrant communities, to voice opposition to the Conservatives and favour the Trudeau Liberals.

The CSIS documents reveal that Chinese diplomats and their proxies, including some members of the Chinese-language media, were instructed to press home that the Conservative Party was too critical of China and that, if elected, it would follow the lead of former U.S. president Donald Trump and ban Chinese students from certain universities or education programs.

“This will threaten the future of the voters’ children, as it will limit their education opportunities,” the CSIS report quoted the Chinese consulate official as saying. The official added: “The Liberal Party of Canada is becoming the only party that the PRC can support.”

CSIS also explained how Chinese diplomats conduct foreign interference operations in support of political candidates and elected officials. Tactics include undeclared cash donations to political campaigns or having business owners hire international Chinese students and “assign them to volunteer in electoral campaigns on a full-time basis.”

Sympathetic donors are also encouraged to provide campaign contributions to candidates favoured by China – donations for which they receive a tax credit from the federal government. Then, the CSIS report from Dec. 20, 2021 says, political campaigns quietly, and illegally, return part of the contribution – “the difference between the original donation and the government’s refund” – back to the donors.

A key part of their interference operation is to influence vulnerable Chinese immigrants in Canada. The intelligence reports quote an unnamed Chinese consulate official as saying it’s “easy to influence Chinese immigrants to agree with the PRC’s stance.”

China wants to build acceptance abroad for its claims on Taiwan, a self-ruled island that it considers a breakaway province and still reserves the right to annex by force. And it seeks to play down its conduct in Xinjiang, where the office of former UN Human Rights commissioner Michelle Bachelet last year said China has committed “serious human-rights violations” in the region, which may amount to crimes against humanity.

Similarly it wants to generate support for a draconian 2020 national-security law to silence opposition and dissent in Hong Kong, a former British colony that Beijing had once promised would be allowed to retain Western-style civil liberties for 50 years.

Beijing also seeks to quell foreign support for Tibet, a region China invaded and annexed more than 70 years ago, and to discourage opposition to Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea and sweeping maritime claims in the region.

A month after the September, 2021, vote, CSIS reported that it was “well-known within the Chinese-Canadian community of British Columbia” that Ms. Tong, then the Vancouver consul-general, “wanted the Liberal Party to win the 2021 election,” one of the reports said.

CSIS noted that Ms. Tong, who returned to China in July, 2022, and former consul Wang Jin made “discreet and subtle efforts” to encourage members of Chinese-Canadian organizations to rally votes for the Liberals and defeat Conservative candidates.

CSIS said Mr. Wang has direct ties to the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department (UFWD), a vast organization that uses mostly covert and often manipulative operations to influence overseas ethnic Chinese communities and foreign governments. CSIS said Mr. Wang served as an intermediary between the UFWD and Chinese-Canadian community leaders in British Columbia.

In early November, 2021, CSIS reported, Ms. Tong discussed the defeat of a Vancouver-area Conservative, whom she described as a “vocal distractor” of the Chinese government. A national-security source said the MP was Kenny Chiu. The Globe and Mail is not identifying the source, who risks prosecution under the Security of Information Act.

The source said Mr. Chiu was targeted in retaliation for his criticism of China’s crackdown in Hong Kong and his 2021 private member’s bill aiming to establish a registry of foreign agents, an effort inspired by similar Australian legislation to combat foreign interference. The United States has a long-standing registry; Canada is still studying the matter.

Mr. Chiu, who was elected to represent Steveston–Richmond East in 2019, lost the 2021 federal election to Liberal candidate Parm Bains and is widely believed to be a victim of a Beijing-led online disinformation campaign.

According to CSIS, Ms. Tong talked about China’s efforts to influence mainland Chinese-Canadian voters against the Conservative Party. She said Mr. Chiu’s loss proved “their strategy and tactics were good, and contributed to achieving their goals while still adhering to the local political customs in a clever way.”

In mid-November, CSIS reported that an unnamed Chinese consular official said the loss of Mr. Chiu and fellow Conservative MP Alice Wong substantiated the growing electoral influence of mainland Chinese-Canadians.

Former federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole has alleged that foreign interference by China in the 2021 election campaign, using disinformation, cost the party eight or nine seats. The Liberals won 160 seats compared with 119 for the Conservatives, 32 for the Bloc Québécois and 25 for the NDP, while the Greens picked up two seats.

While the Conservative Party’s overall share of the popular vote increased slightly in the election, the party lost a number of ridings with significant Chinese-Canadian populations. These included the defeat of incumbents such as Mr. Chiu, Richmond Centre MP Ms. Wong and Markham–Unionville’s Bob Saroya.

However, the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections (SITE) Task Force set up by the Trudeau government to monitor threats to federal elections never issued any public warning about foreign interference during the 2019 or 2021 campaigns.

Mr. Trudeau has said it found no meddling, telling the Commons in November of last year that the task force “determined that the integrity of our elections was not compromised in 2019 or 2021.” He also told reporters that “Canadians can be reassured that our election integrity held” in the two elections.

The Globe has reported that the Prime Minister received a national-security briefing last fall in which he was told China’s consulate in Toronto had targeted 11 candidates in the 2019 federal election. CSIS Director David Vigneault told Mr. Trudeau that there was no indication that China’s interference efforts had helped elect any of them, despite the consulate’s attempts to promote the campaigns on social media and in Chinese-language media outlets.

Nine Liberal and two Conservative candidates were favoured by Beijing, according to the national-security source. The source said the two Conservative candidates were viewed as friends of China.

Source: CSIS documents reveal Chinese strategy to influence 2021 election

CSIS warned Trudeau about Toronto-area politician’s alleged ties to Chinese diplomats

Fortunately, the truth generally always emerges; unfortunately, it appears the PM and government didn’t take the warnings seriously:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and senior aides were warned on at least two occasions that government MPs should be cautious in their political dealings with former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Michael Chan because of alleged ties to China’s consulate in Toronto, national-security sources say.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has a dossier on Mr. Chan that contains information on his activities in the 2019 and 2021 federal election campaigns and meetings with suspected Chinese intelligence operatives, according to the two security sources. The Globe and Mail is not identifying the sources, who risk prosecution under the Security of Information Act.

Mr. Chan, now deputy mayor of the city of Markham, told The Globe that he is a loyal Canadian and accused CSIS of character assassination, saying they never once interviewed him about his alleged involvement with the Chinese consulate.

“Your own statement to me about a recent briefing by CSIS to Prime Minister Trudeau, serves only to ignite xenophobia and cause continued, unwarranted and irreparable damage to my reputation and the safety of my family,” he said.

He added: “CSIS has never interviewed me regarding their false and unsubstantiated allegations. However, I am aware that they have conducted intimidating interviews with my friends and acquaintances and then instructed them to keep their mouths shut.”

Mr. Chan, 71, was elected as a regional councillor in Markham’s Oct. 24 election last year and, as the councillor with the most votes, he also became deputy mayor. In 2018, he retired from provincial politics, where his last post was minister of international trade for Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government. He has been a key organizer and fundraiser in Ontario’s Chinese-Canadian communities for the federal and provincial Liberal parties.

CSIS has observed Mr. Chan meeting in the past years with Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei, whom one source describes as a “suspected intelligence actor,” and Beijing’s former vice-consul-general Zhuang Yaodong. CSIS believes Mr. Zhuang handled security files out of the Toronto consulate, the source said. Mr. Zhao’s code-name for Mr. Chan is “The Minister,” the source said.

In 2019, Mr. Chan had a number of meetings with Mr. Zhao that were described in a CSIS 2020 briefing package as “clandestine in nature” and were allegedly election-related, the source said. In that same year, CSIS observed Mr. Chan and an associate meeting with Mr. Zhao and Mr. Zhuang at a Chinese restaurant.

Mr. Chan said in his statement to The Globe that his meetings with Chinese consular officials are not unusual for politicians. He also said that he met frequently with consular officials from many Asian and Southeast Asian countries in 2019 relating to business activities abroad.

“Meetings to discuss business and trade between Consular officials and Canadians, politicians or otherwise, are a common practice,” he said. “Just in case you were not aware, I met a few days ago with the Deputy Consul-General from China in Toronto and Mr. Wei Zhao.”

The source said Mr. Zhao, who came to Canada in 2018, has also been observed meeting with a number of constituency staffers for Liberal MPs in Toronto, including an assistant for International Trade Minister Mary Ng. Some of those aides were asked by Mr. Zhao to keep their MPs away from pro-Taiwan events, according to the source.

CSIS Director David Vigneault flagged Mr. Chan’s return to public office during a fall 2022 briefing that he delivered to the Prime Minister and his national security adviser, Jody Thomas, on Chinese election interference. He cautioned that Liberal MPs should be vigilant in their dealings with Mr. Chan, according to two other sources. The Globe is not identifying them because they were not authorized to speak about sensitive matters.

In that same briefing, Mr. Vigneault said China’s consulate in Toronto had targeted 11 candidates from the Greater Toronto Area, a mix of Liberals and Conservatives, in the 2019 federal election, the sources said. But the sources said the CSIS director told Mr. Trudeau there was no indication China’s interference efforts had helped elect any of them, despite the consulate’s attempts to promote the campaigns on social media and in Chinese-language media outlets.

The Globe has previously reported that Mr. Chan had been on CSIS’s radar, stretching as far back as 2010, because of alleged close ties to the Chinese consulate. He had also been involved in community events with leaders of the Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations, considered one of the consulate’s unofficial lobby groups.

In a 2019 briefing for the Prime Minister’s Office, one of the national-security sources and a government source say, security officials also flagged Mr. Chan’s Chinese consular connections soon after he was recruited by Ms. Ng to serve as her campaign co-chair in that year’s federal election.

In the 2019 briefing, security officials told senior PMO staff, including Mr. Trudeau’s Chief of Staff, Katie Telford, that Mr. Chan should be on “your radar” and that “someone should reach out to Mary to be extra careful,” according to one source. That security briefing also dealt with foreign interference, tactics and Chinese tradecraft, the source said.

Ms. Ng told The Globe that no one from the PMO told her to steer clear of Mr. Chan, who also co-chaired her 2017 by-election campaign when she replaced veteran Liberal MP John McCallum. The Prime Minister opened the Markham-Thornhill riding for Ms. Ng, who had earlier served as his director of appointments, by naming Mr. McCallum as Canada’s ambassador to China.

Mr. Trudeau later fired Mr. McCallum after he criticized the American request for Canada to detain and extradite Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.

In the interview with The Globe, Ms. Ng said that Mr. Chan never actually took up the role of campaign co-chair in 2019 because, she said, there were other capable volunteers to help.

“We were working with so many members of my community – the Chinese members of our community, Tamil members of my community, Muslim Canadian and Jewish Canadians – so really it was really a cross section of people. So the campaign, you know, it just was working as it was and I felt very supported by a lot of people who were on the ground,” she said.

She added: “I haven’t talked to Michael in quite some time.”

A confidant of Ms. Ng said the MP quietly dropped Mr. Chan as co-chair after public comments in the late summer of 2019 where he condemned Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrators and supported China’s crackdown on them, attributing the protests to alleged manipulation by foreign actors. Mr. Chan agreed to step aside because he did not want his comments to reflect badly on Ms. Ng, the confidant said. The Globe is not naming the confidant, who was not permitted to publicly discuss the matter.

“Your statement to me regarding Mary Ng’s campaign is utterly false,” Mr. Chan said. He did not elaborate.

The confidant also said that Ms. Ng’s assistant, who used to work for Mr. McCallum, likely met Mr. Zhao at Chinese-Canadian community events, often frequented by Chinese consulate officials. He stressed, however, that Ms. Ng has avoided meeting Chinese consulate officials since she became Trade Minister in 2021. She became Minister for Small Business in a cabinet shuffle in 2018.

Ms. Ng received the necessary vetting to obtain a security clearance to serve in cabinet in 2018 when she became Small Business Minister.

In the 2017 by-election campaign, then Chinese consul-general He Wei gathered Chinese-Canadian media at the consulate and urged them to support her election, saying they needed a friend like Mr. McCallum in Ottawa, according to one of the security sources. Ms. Ng’s confidant said she was not aware of the intervention by Mr. He, now a senior official in China’s Foreign Ministry.

CSIS has repeatedly warned that China has been conducting foreign interference operations in Canada, including efforts to influence the political process.

On Thursday, Adam Fisher, CSIS director-general of intelligence assessments, told the House of Commons committee on procedure and house affairs that Beijing uses a variety of means to influence the political process, including attempting to get information from unwitting politicians.

“They are not necessarily relying on trained agents. They use cutouts. They use proxies. They use community groups. They use diaspora organizations and community leaders,” he said.

Cherie Henderson, CSIS assistant director of requirements, also noted that states like China will funnel money directly to proxies.

“They will use whatever avenue they can to achieve their objectives,” she told the committee, which is studying alleged Chinese interference in the 2019 election.

In June, 2015, Mr. Chan was the subject of a Globe investigation, which revealed that CSIS was concerned that the then-minister may have grown too close to the Chinese consulate in Toronto, prompting a senior official to formally caution the province about the minister’s alleged conduct in a 2010 briefing.

Around that time, then-premier Dalton McGuinty dismissed the CSIS warnings as baseless. When The Globe brought the allegations to Ms. Wynne in 2015, she also dismissed them. Mr. Chan wrote in 2015 that “there is a persistent theme that there is a perceived risk that I am under undue influence and that I am an unwitting dupe of a foreign government. This is offensive and totally false.” Mr. Chan has steadfastly denied the assertions made by Canada’s spy agency.

He brought a libel action against The Globe, but the case has not gone to court.

In his recent statement to The Globe, Mr. Chan said the 2015 article was “especially egregious and disheartening for someone like myself who has always put the interests of Canada and Canadians first and foremost, and who has a long, true record of exemplary public service.”

Source: CSIS warned Trudeau about Toronto-area politician’s alleged ties to Chinese diplomats

Canadian officials knew for years existing laws didn’t curb foreign influence


Canadian officials have known for years that the country’s existing laws did not cover foreign governments’ interference in domestic politics, documents reviewed by Global News suggest

The documents were unearthed just as Canada’s public safety minister said the government was looking at ways to beef up its defence against foreign influence in domestic affairs.

December 2020 emails at Global Affairs Canada, obtained by Global News under access to information law, state that officials were aware that some types of foreign influence in Canadian politics slipped through the cracks of existing laws. Examples in the documents include foreign investment in university research, as well as “communications activities” to promote foreign agendas.

Canadian intelligence officials and Parliament’s national security committee have cautioned for years that foreign governments – most notably China, Russia, and Iran – are actively trying to influence Canadian affairs. Some of this activity is overt, while other influence operations remain in the shadows.

The documents reviewed by Global News were part of preparations for a House of Commons speech by former Global Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne on the issue of Chinese interference in Canadian politics.

The speech, drafted for a December late debate in the House of Commons at the prompting of the opposition Conservatives, originally suggested existing laws were sufficient to curb foreign influence. But an objection from a foreign affairs bureaucrat – their name was censored in the documents – cautioned that wasn’t true.

“There are several situations not covered by the Lobbying Act and the Conflict of Interest Act, such as for instance an agent undertaking communication activity or engaging in a big disbursement of activities on behalf of a foreign government,” the email reads.

“Some of these activities would be covered if happening under election periods by the Canada Elections Act, but foreign interference is not limited to those periods.”

The official gave the example of foreign powers funding university research “in order to promote certain narratives or muzzle others.” Canada’s intelligence agencies – including the Canadians Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) – have recently dramatically increased their partnerships with university research institutions, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis.

Source: Canadian officials knew for years existing laws didn’t curb foreign influence

Urback: Defending our elections from Chinese interference should be a nonpartisan cause


At the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia this weekend, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked by Global News reporter Mackenzie Gray if he plans to bring up allegations of China’s interference in Canadian elections with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the upcoming G20 summit.

Mr. Trudeau demurred.

“We created a special independent commission made up of top officials and security experts to ensure that our elections continue to be free and fair in Canada,” he said. “And in both the 2019 and 2021 elections, they reported that our elections unfolded with integrity.”

The Prime Minister’s response did not acknowledge that a week earlier, a top official at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) told a House of Commons committee that China was a “foremost aggressor” on foreign interference, while acknowledging that Canada lacks the tools to properly assess and respond to the threat posed by Beijing. Years of reports – from Rapid Response Mechanism Canada (a research unit based out of Global Affairs), from the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, from Canadian disinformation monitoring group DisinfoWatch, and from Canada’s own intelligence agency, as recently reported by Global News – have all suggested that Beijing or pro-Beijing actors meddled in recent Canadian elections.

So Mr. Trudeau was asked again: “Are you going to raise this specific issue with [Mr. Xi]?”

“As always I will raise issues of human rights, issues of matters that preoccupy Canadians, with any and all leaders that I engage,” he said.

It was a curious response to a straightforward question, a hedge that echoed the sort of defiance Americans would often hear from former president Donald Trump when he was asked about Russian meddling in American elections. Indeed, even when presented with evidence from his own intelligence agencies, Mr. Trump would often equivocate: “It could have been other people in other countries,” he said in 2017.

Mr. Trudeau’s sidestepping of the question wouldn’t have been unusual from this Prime Minister months or even weeks ago. Ottawa has maintained a sort of timid ambivalence toward Beijing for years, even in the face of human rights atrocitiesallegedly being carried out by the Xi regime, retaliatory trade bans, and of course, the more than 1,000 days during which two Canadian citizens were effectively held hostage in response to the RCMP’s arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to extradite her to the United States.

But just last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly signalled that the days of Ottawa tiptoeing around the sleeping giant are over.

In a speech ahead of the release of the government’s new Indo-Pacific strategy expected later this month, Ms. Joly laid out a new approach to China that represents a significant departure from that of even the recent past. While pragmatic about the need to continue trade with the world’s second-largest economy, Ms. Joly called China an “increasingly disruptive global power” and indicated that Canada will increase investment in stationing diplomats abroad to better understand how China “thinks, operates and plans.” When asked specifically about the Global News report stating that CSIS had briefed Mr. Trudeau on Chinese interference in the 2019 election, Ms. Joly replied: “We won’t let any foreign actor meddle in our democracy, period.”

The Conservative Party has long insisted that Canada needs to get tougher on China, and it maintains that Beijing was behind the spread of misinformation on platforms like WeChat about Conservative candidates during the last election. One particular target was former B.C. MP Kenny Chiu, who put forward a private member’s bill in 2021 to create a foreign-agent registry in Canada, modelled after legislation enacted in Australia in 2018, which would have required individuals acting on behalf of a foreign power to be publicly registered. But the effort was misrepresented in diaspora communities as an effort to “suppress” all Chinese-Canadians, and Mr. Chiu’s bill died when the last election was called; similar legislation brought forward by Senator Leo Housakos has been hung up in the Senate for months.

That needs to change, now. Indeed, if Ottawa is really serious about taking a new, tougher approach to Beijing, it offers the Liberals and Conservatives an opportunity to work together on an issue that is of nonpartisan importance. The integrity of Canadian elections affects everyone – what good is democracy if citizens don’t believe we come by it honestly, after all? – and it should be a matter for which there is no equivocation. Mr. Trudeau should pledge to bring up election interference with Mr. Xi at the G20 not because it will deter Beijing’s clandestine operations to any means, but as a signal to all Canadians – not to mention to our allies – that on the matter of election interference, we are determined and united.

Source: Defending our elections from Chinese interference should be a nonpartisan cause

Phillips: Don’t brush off attempts to undermine our democracy. We should know which politicians got China’s money


Can we take a break from lecturing Americans about the state of their democracy and focus for a bit on problems with our own?

Canadians love to watch from a safe distance when all the horrors and glories of the American political system are on display, as they are this week as we comb through the results of their midterm elections.

We especially love to pat ourselves on the back for the fact that our system is, for the most part, mercifully free of the most extreme elements of U.S. politics. That’s mostly just good for our national self-regard, but it would be a shame if it distracts us from the disturbing possibility that a foreign power has been actively interfering in our own recent national elections, even changing the outcome in at least one case.

Put like that, it sounds far-fetched. But Global News reported this week that Canada’s intelligence service, CSIS, warned federal ministers in January that China has targeted this country with a “vast campaign of foreign interference.”

According to the report, CSIS told the government that Beijing funded a “clandestine network” of at least 11 federal candidates, including both Liberals and Conservatives, in the 2019 federal election. It also placed “agents” in the offices of MPs to influence policy and mounted “aggressive campaigns” to punish Canadian politicians it saw as threats to its interests.

Asked about this, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t deny it. Instead, he essentially confirmed the report by saying some “state actors,” including China, continue to “play aggressive games with our institutions, with our democracies.”

The government then went on, through a speech by Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly, to sketch out its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy. This is the famous “eyes wide open” approach, whereby Canada will take a more cautious stance toward China and try to deepen links with other Asian nations, in particular India.

But hang on a moment — let’s not change the channel quite so fast. Those CSIS briefings were pretty specific, according to Global’s Sam Cooper. They alleged that the Chinese government funnelled money through proxies to almost a dozen candidates in a federal election and worked to undermine others.

So many questions. Which candidates got the money? How many of them won, and how many lost? For those who did get money, did they know who was ultimately behind it or were they ignorant of what was going on? And which candidates did China work against? What happened to them?

Finally, was this activity limited to just the 2019 election, or was it happening before or after? A former Canadian ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, says he believes “several Conservative MPs” lost their seats in the 2019 and 2021 elections because China targeted them through social media networks in the Chinese community.

We know the name of at least one who was probably singled out. Conservative MP Kenny Chiu lost his Vancouver-area seat in 2021 after he introduced a bill to set up a registry of agents for foreign governments (something Canada should certainly have). He immediately found himself labelled as anti-Chinese in Chinese-language social media, and is convinced Beijing’s operatives were behind the campaign to defeat him.

Now it seems he wasn’t the only one, if the CSIS briefing to the government is to be believed. It’s in line with many warnings over the years from Canada’s top intelligence officials that China has been actively meddling in our domestic politics, partly by working through sympathetic politicians and partly by manipulating votes in Chinese communities.

Isn’t this something we should know more about? The government received that CSIS briefing in January, but as far as we know it did nothing. 

It’s important to look at the big picture by elaborating a new Indo-Pacific strategy. And judging by Joly’s speech this week, the government seems to be broadly on the right track. 

But in the meantime, we shouldn’t brush off a real attempt to undermine our democracy. Let’s start by asking where that Chinese money went, and to whom.

Source: Don’t brush off attempts to undermine our democracy. We should know which politicians got China’s money