Canadian parliament pressures government to investigate Chinese election meddling

CSIS canadaA KEY COMMITTEE IN the Parliament of Canada passed a motion late last week that calls on the government to investigate allegations of foreign interference in the country’s general elections. Last Thursday’s vote by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs came soon after its members attended closed-door testimony by senior intelligence officials, which touched on various topics relating to the national security of Canada.

The motion specifically mentioned recent testimony by David Vigneault, Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), which is Canada’s primary national intelligence agency. Vigneault told the Procedure and House Affairs Committee that there had been no major efforts by foreign powers to interfere in Canadian elections in 2019 and 2021. As a result, the integrity of the election processes and results had not been compromised, Vigneault said.

However, the CSIS director added that an investigation had been launched into allegations that China carried out concerted efforts to meddle in these elections. Vigneault was referring to a series of media reports in the past year, which have alleged that China employed its embassy in Ottawa, as well as its network of consulates across China, to carry out a campaign of interference into Canadian political life, and election campaigns in particular. Much of the momentum behind these allegations comes from the opposition Conservative Party of Canada. Some senior Conservative officials have explained their electoral defeat by the ruling Liberal Party as a result of Chinese interference.

All five Liberal Party lawmakers in the Procedure and House Affairs Committee voted against the motion to launch a broad public inquiry into alleged Chinese electoral interference. However, they were outnumbered by the six opposition lawmakers, who united in voting for the motion. The motion is not binding. However, as a report in the Reuters news agency notes, it places pressure on the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to address these concerns. Trudeau has acknowledged that China did try to interfere in the Canadian general elections, but has insisted that the election results were not affected by these efforts.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 06 March 2023 | Permalink

One Response to Canadian parliament pressures government to investigate Chinese election meddling

  1. Pete says:

    Like previous US efforts China may have legitimate trade and other national interests to influence Canadian elections using standard (or underhand) public relations tactics rather that do not require an intelligence agency. Just use of underhand journalistic or pollster strategies can do the job.

    Like many Canadians China also supported the outlook of Canadian Liberal Party Prime Minister Trudeau, in his advocacy of a more independent foreign policy than the more pro-US Canadian Conservative Party. Trudeau’s independence was particularly sparked by Trump’s rejection of many aspects of the US alliance with Canada. This included Trump assigning a lower status of the NATO alliance (of which Canada is part) while Trump favored closer relations (personal and otherwise) with Trump’s friend Putin.

    In terms of previous US efforts to influence Canadian elections. JFK’s Administration was prominent in that regard. Kennedy reportedly despised Canada’s then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and his Conservative government. Diefenbaker felt the same about JFK.

    Kennedy wanted good, strong relations with Canada, and he felt Diefenbaker was of the old-school Tory, pro-British, anti-American type of Canadian conservative – an impediment to good relations between the two countries.

    “Kennedy strongly believed America’s (and his administration’s) relations with Canada would be improved if Lester Pearson and his Liberal Party formed the Canadian government starting in 1962.

    From the May 23, 2018 edition of the Canadian “Globe and Mail”:

    “For both the 1962 and 1963 elections, Kennedy surreptitiously sent Lou Harris, his renowned pollster, to Canada to help the Liberal leader. To avoid detection, Mr. Harris was even provided with a fake passport. He hired 500 women for his sophisticated polling, which he quietly shared with Mr. Pearson’s inner sanctum, aiding [Pearson’s] triumph in the 1963 campaign. “One of the highlights of my life,” Mr. Harris told The Canadian Press a few years ago, “was helping Pearson defeat Diefenbaker.””

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