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China’s Election Interference | Ongoing attempts to influence the vote in Canada



(OTTAWA) China tried to target elected officials to promote its interests in the last election, CSIS has warned, a report on the 2021 election campaign confirms. But these tactics are not only used during the election period, but permanently, we warn in the document made public on Tuesday.

First, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has often assured us, in 2021 there was no detection of foreign interference “threatening Canada’s ability to hold free and fair elections”, it is reiterated in this report, where China is mentioned eight times.

On the other hand, it notes that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) “expressed concern that China has notably attempted to target elected officials to promote its national interests and has encouraged people to act as proxies for China”.

The intelligence agency also claims that the Xi Jinping regime “uses many techniques, including threats against the Chinese community in Canada”, but that “the use of proxies makes it difficult to know if China is behind these attempts”.

In the first pages of the analysis, mention is made of a publication by the GlobalTimesspokesperson for Beijing, criticizing the conservative electoral platform, and an article from the Sino-Canadian newspaper Today Commercial Newsunfavorable to a bill tabled by outgoing Conservative MP Kenny Chiu.

He was defeated in the 2021 elections.

However, the Chinese government does not deploy its arsenal only when electoral hostilities are triggered in Canada, it is specified in the 59-page document, which also points the finger at Iran and Russia for their cyber interference.

“Many of the activities attributed to China, such as targeting elected officials to promote the interests of the Chinese state or encouraging people to act as proxies and threatening members of the Chinese community in Canada, do not take place not just during election campaigns,” it read.

“Nor are they just trying to influence election results. To counter this interference, we need strategies that work permanently ”, is it also indicated in this report, of which certain passages are redacted.

Internal interference

Threats to the democratic process have also come from within, it is reported: “A new factor has been the growing threat of violence during the election campaign. This threat was partly explained by the opposition to the restrictions related to the COVID-19. »

“Misinformation” has circulated “about requirements for vaccinations and other public health measures, most of it being disseminated by national actors”, it is underlined in the report, where it is recommended that in view of the next election, the security of party leaders be reassessed.

When to alert the public?

The mandate of the senior officials was to assess the effectiveness of the Public Protocol in the event of a major electoral incident, administered by a group set up ahead of the 2019 national election to monitor threats to the integrity of the elections. .

Even if, in 2021, “national security agencies noted attempts at foreign interference”, nothing was communicated to the population, since these actions did not meet “the criteria according to which the integrity of the election was in jeopardy,” the document reads.

“This leads to the question of whether the Protocol should consider the possibility of public announcement for lesser incidents of interference that do not meet the high standards,” notes the report’s author.

Doubts about the credibility of the report

Even before the document was released, doubts about its credibility arose. Because its author, Morris Rosenberg, facilitated as CEO of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation the granting of a donation of $ 200,000 made by a wealthy Chinese businessman to the charity.


Morris Rosenberg

“The report on electoral interference written by the former CEO of the Trudeau Foundation is not credible,” already denounced the Conservative Party on Monday. The analysis has not changed in the light of its publication, argued MP Michael Cooper in a statement sent Tuesday by his political party.

In Justin Trudeau’s office, it is insisted that “after his election as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, the Prime Minister withdrew from the affairs of the foundation for the duration of his commitment to federal politics”.

Nevertheless, the “risk of complacency” of someone whose “analysis, to a certain extent, implicates the Prime Minister” deserves to be asked questions, argued the leader of the Bloc Québécois , Yves-François Blanchet, shortly before the publication of the report.

“Retreat, neutrality, independence, and in relation to China, and in relation to the prime minister, are clearly not adequate,” he said.

The Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party (NDP) are demanding a public inquiry into Chinese interference.

Does the survival of the support and confidence agreement between the Liberal Party and the NDP depend on it? At the other end of the line, New Democrat Peter Julian suggests that they are not: “We are going to use our parliamentary tools to align them in this direction. I think the government is going to have to do it. »

“An untenable position”

Former Canadian ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques is well placed to know Beijing’s schemes.

“Their approach is much more systematic, and better funded too, because President Xi Jinping has increased the United Front budget a lot. [un organe du Parti communiste chinois chargé d’assurer le rayonnement et l’influence de la Chine à l’étranger] “, he commented.

The one who was head of mission from 2012 to 2016 is of the same opinion as some specialists, including the former head of CSIS Richard Fadden and the former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley: a public inquiry is essential.

“What surprises me the most is Mr. Trudeau’s attitude. He has a position that is becoming more and more untenable, and I think the only way to get this straight is to launch an independent and transparent investigation, ”he dropped.

The Conservative Party wants to advance the investigation at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House of Commons Affairs.

It meets on Wednesday.

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