Did China Interfere for the Liberals in the Last Two Canadian Elections? [Updated]
[guest post by JVW]
I guess I missed this over the weekend in the regular press, but The Spectator provides coverage today:
It’s been a sticky couple of weeks for Canada’s natural governing party, as the Liberals like to call themselves. Anonymous sources from CSIS, Canada’s intelligence agency, leaked information to two major Canadian media outlets, the Globe and Mail and Global News. The reports say China interfered in Canada’s two most recent federal elections, and that CSIS alerted the government, but that despite warnings the Liberals — who won both elections with a minority government — did nothing.
It’s simultaneously a crisis for the Liberals and a bit of a yawn. Canadians already knew Justin Trudeau was soft on China’s “basic dictatorship.” If there was to be foreign interference from one of the most aggressive world powers on the map — and why wouldn’t there be? — they wouldn’t expect him to stand up to it.
I find it hard to believe that Canadian voters, even supporters of Trudeau’s Liberal Party, would be so sanguine about election interference from a malevolent world power, but hey, maybe I’m just an unreconstructed Cold Warrior. I mean, Justin’s old man sure was accommodating to the Soviets back in the day, wasn’t he? (Not to mention the Cubans — one Cuban in particular — but let’s not go down that road. If you know, you know.) Going on:
In the 2021 election, according to reporters for the Globe and Mail who reviewed the leaked information, China intervened to keep a Liberal minority government in power — seen as the least prejudicial scenario for Chinese interests — and to prevent the election of anyone critical of Beijing, such as Conservative MP Kenny Chiu.
Chiu had criticized the crackdown on the Hong Kong protests, but more significantly, he introduced a private member’s bill to establish a registry of foreign agents (something the US has had in place since 1938). He lost his seat to a candidate reportedly preferred by Beijing, and was identified in the leaks as the target of a disinformation campaign.
Erin O’Toole, Conservative leader at the time of the 2021 election, said his party lost eight to nine seats because of disinformation from China. These disinformation campaigns — according to the CSIS leaks — were spread by leveraging Chinese-Canadian organizations, Chinese-language media outlets and Chinese social media network WeChat.
Seems a bit more involved than purchasing a bunch of Facebook ads that hardly anybody saw or starting up a few Twitter bot farms. And it wasn’t Beijing’s first time at the rodeo either:
As for the 2019 election, Global News published allegations from an unnamed CSIS source that China intervened on behalf of eleven candidates — nine Liberals and two Conservatives — and that the Chinese consulate in Toronto had transferred substantial funds to their campaigns via a large interference network.
But perhaps the most serious claim in the 2019 context was that sitting Liberal MP Han Dong knowingly participated in the foreign interference network, along with politician Michael Chan, who has been described as a longtime “kingmaker” within the Liberal party. Both Dong and Chan have denied the allegations.
The article also details how Chinese students studying at Canadian universities were organized into volunteer networks for Liberal candidates and how Chinese-Canadians were secretly reimbursed for financial donations made to Liberal candidates and causes. But without a national registry of foreign agents, as Kenny Chiu sought to get through the Canadian Parliament, it becomes pretty difficult to investigate these allegations. And the U.S. has its own issues with Chinese students acting as enforcers for the Chinese Communist Party.
Naturally, Justin Trudeau has responded in the expected fashion: suggesting that anti-Asian racism is at work, questioning the accuracy of intelligence reports, and even dismissing warnings from CSIS to the Liberal Party prior to the 2021 elections that Han Dong had troubling connections to China. The Prime Minister has thus far refused to call for Parliament to open an inquiry into the allegations. We don’t have to imagine the outrage that would ensue down here if a Republican President behaved as callously. But, as The Spectator reminds us, PM Trudeau is the same person who got away with draconian lockdowns during COVID, who froze the bank accounts of protesters against his government, who gave out multi-million dollar no-bid government contracts to his friends and cronies, who took family vacations paid for by lobbyists, and who apparently got aggressive with a female opposition politician, yet he somehow seems to skate away with the most unctuous and insincere apologies each and every time.
Maybe China recognizes a kindred authoritarian in Justin Trudeau, and maybe they see the same attitude of “nothing to see here so long as the economy is decent and the government isn’t coming after me” that the Chinese authorities see in their own people. In any case, it’s sad to witness this sort of rot in Rupert’s Land.
UPDATE 8:55 pm PST – Earlier tonight PM Trudeau admitted that his government largely ignored earlier recommendations on how to combat foreign interference in elections:
His comments came Monday night as he tasked the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) with once again reviewing the issue of foreign interference in Canada, with a special eye on election meddling.
That body released a report back in 2019 that urged Ottawa to take the threat of foreign interference more seriously.
[. . .]
“We have to do a better job on following up on those recommendations. I fully accept that,” Trudeau told a news conference Monday night.
He announced he’s asked Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc and the Clerk of the Privy Council to bring forward a plan to implement any outstanding recommendations from NSICOP reports in the next 30 days.
Just as I wrote in the post: an unctuous and insincere (non-)apology. And he’ll get away with it, as he will the whitewashed report which will come from a toady he will appoint to run the investigation.
Far more than Russia, China is the West’s biggest problem for probably the next quarter-century at least. You know who else is going to learn that lesson the hard way? Germany.JVW (1ad43e) — 3/6/2023 @ 7:39 pm
Russia’s endemic corruption prevents their efforts from being effective.Kevin M (1ea396) — 3/6/2023 @ 7:56 pm
If this gets legs, Han Dong will be charged, then the media will be muzzled “so he can get a fair trial.” It’s SOP in Canada. And of course it might take some time for that trial to happen.Kevin M (1ea396) — 3/6/2023 @ 7:58 pm
Come to think of it, Canada very closely resembles California: roughly the same population at 39 million, vacuous yet conniving pretty-boy governors who regularly abuse power yet skate by in the one-party monoculture, a multicultural society awash in progressive pieties, a few major metropolitan areas dominating the political culture and forcing the smaller rural areas to knuckle under, elections controlled by powerful interest groups who conspire with the media to set the accepted narrative. Hey, even the CA abbreviation for both the Golden State and the Great White North. Man, I don’t know why I didn’t see this before.JVW (1ad43e) — 3/6/2023 @ 8:06 pm
I’ll repeat my comment in the other thread, as it’s just as relevant:
the chicoms must be well aware by now that they can kill millions and influence an election by releasing a deadly pathogen, and there will beJF (cf111d) — 3/6/2023 @ 8:22 pm
AmericanCanadian government officials, politicians, journalists, tech giants, media members and commenters in blogs who will help them cover their tracks
Its called hardball. If you cant stand the heat stay out of the kitchen. Truman. Israel and the israel lobby go after american politicians all the time. The squad are just the latest victims. They regularly interfere in our elections. We sent in the marines in 1965 to interfere with the dominican republics election. We tried to get boris yeltsen elected over putin. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Is their any country in central america that the C.I.A. hasn’t interfered with? Ever here of patrice lumumba of the congo. How many other countries elections can you name we interfered with?asset (ca558d) — 3/6/2023 @ 8:45 pm
asset (ca558d) — 3/6/2023 @ 8:45 pm
you’re missing the point
the scandal isn’t that China interferes, it’s that Americans and Canadians cover for themJF (cf111d) — 3/6/2023 @ 8:48 pm
you’re missing the point
asset’s whole schtick here is to miss the point at all times. asset has missed more points at this blog than Shaquille O’Neal missed at the free-throw line.JVW (1ad43e) — 3/6/2023 @ 8:51 pm
We tried to get boris yeltsen elected over putin
No, we didn’t.Kevin M (1ea396) — 3/6/2023 @ 8:56 pm
UPDATE – Earlier tonight PM Trudeau admitted that his government largely ignored earlier recommendations on how to combat foreign interference in elections:
Just as I wrote in the post: an unctuous and insincere (non-)apology. And he’ll get away with it, as he will the whitewashed report which will come from a toady he will appoint to run the investigation.JVW (1ad43e) — 3/6/2023 @ 8:57 pm
I would hope that Canada is as upset with China for its interference as they would be if Trump had tried to interfere.Kevin M (1ea396) — 3/6/2023 @ 8:59 pm
Trudeau is OK with interference that helps him. The question is whether Canadians are OK with it. I can see this as a wedge issue in British Columbia.Kevin M (1ea396) — 3/6/2023 @ 9:00 pm
I would love Biden to ask publicly: “So, it’s OK if we interfere in Canadian elections?”Kevin M (1ea396) — 3/6/2023 @ 9:01 pm
China was doing the same in the US in 1996. Remember China Gate? Charlie Trie? Johnny Chung?Mattsky (6c65af) — 3/6/2023 @ 9:02 pm
Also, the conservative Globe and Mail points out that opposition parties are already criticizing Trudeau for making the investigation secret and not having any plans for a formal public inquiry. Clearly there are important Canadians who don’t want to be embarrassed here. The government will obviously claim that there is sensitive information they don’t want China to be privy to, as if Beijing didn’t already have their tentacles completely surrounding the government in Ottawa.JVW (1ad43e) — 3/6/2023 @ 9:03 pm
I would hope that Canada is as upset with China for its interference as they would be if Trump had tried to interfere.
asset is correct about one thing: recall that a bunch of Obama bros like Jeremy Bird and Mitch Steward went to work in 2015 to defeat Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Obama State Department funneled a few hundred thousand dollars to anti-Netanyahu agents within Israel. That is a classic example of U.S. election interference, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that it is the sort of interference that asset approves of.JVW (1ad43e) — 3/6/2023 @ 9:12 pm
@9 We tried to help yeltsen in 1996. It wasn’t against putin. When I make a mistake I admit it. does everyone here do that?asset (ca558d) — 3/6/2023 @ 9:25 pm
It really doesn’t matter what WE do. What matters is what we will tolerate done to us. Does that make us hypocrites? Won’t be the first or last time if it does.Kevin M (1ea396) — 3/7/2023 @ 1:00 am
We tried to help yeltsen in 1996.
Yeltsin had it wired anyway. If we could have found someone else (e.g. a sober person) we would have been foolish not to do that.
As it was, Yeltsin made the entire idea of “democracy” a sick joke in Russia, paving the way for the return of the apparatchiks.Kevin M (1ea396) — 3/7/2023 @ 1:02 am
So much the idea that it was a “DeSantis” bill…whembly (d116f3) — 3/7/2023 @ 11:33 am
Congresscritter matt rosendale poses for picture with neo-nazis.asset (daa738) — 3/7/2023 @ 12:56 pm
This has nothing to do with the post, asset. Save these unrelated issues for the Friday Open Thread, please.JVW (9f34b3) — 3/7/2023 @ 1:27 pm
What was the nature of the disinformation used against some Conservative Party candidates for Parliament?Sammy Finkelman (1d215a) — 3/7/2023 @ 4:16 pm
Yes they did. And I expect they did the same in our own as well.NJRob (3cb3f1) — 3/7/2023 @ 7:00 pm