Adrian Wyld The Canadian Press Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his way to a cabinet meeting, February 14
Justin Trudeau plays down a report that China tried to influence the outcome of the last federal election in 2021.
The prime minister said Friday that Canadian voters alone decided the results of the ballot, which returned him to power in a minority Liberal government.
The Globe and Mail , citing secret Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) files, wrote on Friday that China worked to help the Liberals form a minority government after the 2021 general election.
China is also said to have maneuvered to help the Liberals defeat conservative candidates considered “hostile to Beijing”.
The Toronto daily writes that the former consul general of China in Vancouver would have boasted in 2021 of 'helped defeat two Tory MPs in their riding.
The Globe and Mailargues that CSIS quoted a Chinese diplomat as saying that Beijing likes it when Canadian political parties fight each other — whereas if one party forms a majority government, it can easily adopt policies that don't favor China .
The daily also reports that according to CSIS, Chinese diplomats are behind undeclared cash contributions to political campaigns. Chinese diplomats have also reportedly asked contractors to hire Chinese international students and assign them to election campaigns.
Neither CSIS nor the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa had immediate comment on the Globe and Mail article.
A long-standing phenomenon
In Ottawa, Bloc Québécois deputy leader Christine Normandin on Friday called it “worrying” that “state actors Chinese people worked to influence the outcome of the election”, but she did not want to question “the actual result of the election or democracy”.
“What remains even more disturbing is knowing that the (Canadian) government knew, but systematically refused to share it with the population, and even witnessed the effect that it had no information that there are candidates, for example, may have been subject to interference, foreign interference,” Normandin said during a press briefing in the House foyer. municipalities.
Under a federal protocol, there would be a public announcement if a group of senior officials determined that an incident — or an accumulation of incidents — threatened Canada's ability to hold free and fair elections.
There was no such announcement in 2021 or the 2019 election. In both polls, the Liberals were re-elected to government with minority mandates, while the Conservatives formed the Official Opposition.
“All Canadians can have complete confidence that the results of the 2019 and 2021 elections were determined by Canadians, and Canadians alone, in the voting booth,” Justin Trudeau said Friday of the Globe story.
The Prime Minister admitted that he has long said that China is trying to interfere in Canadian democracy, including in elections.
“We are aware of that. And I can assure you that our intelligence and security agencies have worked very hard over the past few years to develop more and more tools to counter this, to ensure that our institutions remain secure,” added Mr. . Trudeau.
He pointed out that countries around the world have long struggled with this phenomenon, Canada being no exception.
As for the disclosure of classified information, Trudeau said it was “a sign that security within CSIS needs to be reviewed”.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Friday that Trudeau chose not to be transparent about Chinese interference because it benefited him.
“It is clear that Justin Trudeau covered up Chinese interference. authoritarian regime in Beijing,” he said.
Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino said late last year that the Liberal government was preparing to consult the public on the possible creation of a registry of foreign agents to prevent outside interference in Canadian affairs.
Named in the Toronto daily's article as a target of alleged Chinese maneuvering, a former MP from British Columbia says he fears Canada has become an “open market.”
Kenny Chiu, a Tory who was defeated in Steveston-Richmond East in the Vancouver area in the 2021 election, says he's not surprised by the Globe and Mail revelations.< /p>
Mr. Chiu has previously claimed to have been the target of pre-election misinformation on Chinese-language social media. According to him, there is a lack of action on the part of Ottawa in the face of foreign interests working in Canadian politics.
The former federal elected official is “gravely concerned” about the national security situation of the Canada and the ability of “predatory regimes” such as China, Russia and Iran to influence votes on Canadian soil.
Mr. Chiu laments that nothing more is being done to counter foreign interference in Canadian elections.