Foreign interference in Canada, the Conservatives call for new investigations

TORONTO – Conservatives are asking the House of Commons Committee on Procedure and Home Affairs (PROC) to resume its probe into foreign election interference in Canada, which has been stalled since the House of Commons went on vacation for the summer. 

Global Affairs Canada said Wednesday it had found evidence of a disinformation campaign against Chinese-born conservative MP Michael Chong: the department said Beijing was likely behind the operation, aimed at discrediting Chong on China’s popular WeChat platform. In a letter to committee chair Bardish Chagger, Michael Cooper of the Conservative Party says the news makes it necessary for the committee to resume hearings.

“Conservatives have attempted to recall the PROC to continue its work. NDP and Bloc Quebecois members have refused to join with conservatives in bringing transparency to Beijing’s interference campaigns in Canada” Cooper said on Friday. “In doing so, the Bloc and NDP, together with the Liberal government, further encourage Beijing to meddle in Canada’s democratic institutions as the communist regime fears no repercussions and sees Canada as a ‘high priority target’ according to the CSIS” ( Canadian Security Intelligence Service).

Until now, the Conservatives, the NDP and the Bloc had united in calling for a public inquiry into foreign interference: a request always rejected by the Liberal government. A Globe and Mail article released in May reported on previous attempts by the Chinese government to target Chong, the conservative “shadow minister” for foreign affairs, through a diplomat based at the Chinese Consulate in Toronto, later expelled by the federal government after the publication of the article.

In March, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed former Governor-General David Johnston as special rapporteur on foreign interference, but opposition criticisms of Johnston’s friendship with the Trudeau family prompted the special rapporteur to resign.

Liberals have consistently defended their efforts to protect Canadian democracy, pointing to the establishment of two oversight committees, NSICOP and NSIRA, on foreign interference, and reports that foreign interference did not affect outcomes. of the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

But according to MP Michael Cooper, the federal government hasn’t done enough.

“The new revelations prove once again that the liberal government has failed to take meaningful action against Beijing’s interference in our elections and democracy” Cooper said. “Sensible conservatives will continue to denounce Beijing’s interference in Canada and it is vital for the opposition, including the NDP and Bloc Quebecois, to fight for transparency, instead of covering up for the liberal government.”