Canada’s intelligence agency has evidence that China employed “a sophisticated strategy” to seek the return of a minority Liberal government and to defeat Conservative politicians considered to be anti-Beijing in the country’s federal election in 2021, the Straits Times reported quoting a Globe and Mail report.
Reacting to a Globe and Mail report pointing to China’s interference in Canada’s democracy by disrupting the country’s federal election in 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to win over the faith of people, saying Canadians can have “total confidence” in the integrity of its election results.
The Globe and Mail reported how China employed a sophisticated strategy to seek the return of a minority Liberal government and to defeat Conservative politicians considered to be unfriendly to Beijing in the 2021 federal election.
The report was based on documents from Canadian Security Intelligence Service or CSIS.
The tactics, outlined in secret CSIS reports, included disinformation campaigns, undeclared cash donations and the use of international Chinese students, studying in Canada, as campaign volunteers to support preferred Liberal candidates.
Acknowledging “China is trying to interfere in our democracy, in the processes in our country, including during our elections”, Trudeau said, “This is not a new phenomenon, and this is something that countries around the world have been grappling with for a long time, and Canada is no exception,” it reported.
The classified documents show that Chinese influence operations went beyond election interference, employing tactics to target Canadian legislators and sway public opinion through proxies in the business and academic communities.
The PM also said that he expects CSIS to find out who is leaking the secret reports, and stuck to his long-held view that Chinese interference operations did not affect the overall results of the 2019 and 2021 elections.
Included in the classified reports is the revelation that China’s former consul-general in Vancouver boasted in 2021 about how she helped defeat two Conservative MPs, the Straits Times quoted the Globe as saying.
Even if the government panel found no reason to be concerned at the time, the new information should be fully investigated, said Margaret McCuiag-Johnston, a former civil servant who now works in international affairs and public policy at the University of Ottawa, the Canada-based publication said.
Pointing out numerous ways to investigate the allegations, she called for tax authorities to check for potential election financing fraud in the districts where interference is alleged to have taken place.
McCuiag-Johnston said that PM must act – not just to get to the bottom of it, but also “to demonstrate to Canadians that they’re acting, and to send a very clear message to China that they will not get away with this in the future.”
The Globe report said Chinese tactics can include undeclared cash donations to political campaigns, as well as reimbursing donors who make legal donations to preferred candidates, but it didn’t say if this happened in the 2021 campaign.
In response to previous media reports that alleged China funnelled money to Canadian political candidates, Straits Times quoted Trudeau as saying that he’s never been briefed on that. (ANI)