China's interference in federal elections studied in parliamentary committee

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China’s interference in federal elections studied in parliamentary committee

The Standing Committee on Procedure and Commons Affairs will examine China's attempts to interfere in the Canadian electoral process in the 2019 and 2021 elections.

The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs will hear from at least two ministers, intelligence officials, members of Elections Canada and former advisers to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to shed light on reports that the China has repeatedly attempted to interfere in the country's federal elections.

Concerned by reports published by the Global News channel regarding infiltration of Canadian politics and of destabilization of democracy by China, in particular by interfering in the last two federal elections, the Conservative members of the committee tabled a motion on Monday to examine this matter.

In the motion, adopted with the support of the members of the NDP and the Bloc Québécois, the deputies demand that the work of the Committee on this subject be extended by at least four meetings. Representatives from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Elections Canada and the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections Task Force are among the people MPs want to question.

The committee also wants to hear from the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, Dominic LeBlanc, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, as well as the National Security and Intelligence Advisor to the Prime Minister, Jody Thomas.

Former national security advisers of Justin Trudeau, David Morrison and Dan Stanton, are also on the list of witnesses contained in the motion, as is the former ambassador of Canada in China David Mulroney.

According to Tory MPs Michael Cooper and Luc Berthold, who introduced and defended the motion, the existence of these Chinese-led political destabilization efforts merits getting to the bottom of it. These maneuvers would include attempts to bribe officials, intimidation and attempts to manipulate Canadian elected officials for the benefit of the Chinese communist regime.

It is more specifically about the creation of a clandestine network of candidates for the 2019 elections, the infiltration of agents into the offices of deputies in order to influence policies, means of pressure exerted on politicians as well as a campaign to punish Canadian politicians that China considers threats to its interests.

Also according to Global, the cabinet of Justin Trudeau would have been warned of these maneuvers by China as early as last January.

They had briefings in January, 10 months ago, maybe even before. That said, it appears nothing has been done by the prime minister and the government despite the evidence, Tory MP Michael Cooper lamented, as CPC leader Pierre Poilievre did last week.

No one has been removed from Canada, no one has been charged, no apparent investigation has been undertaken and there has been no action taken by the government to offer a legislative response. , he pointed out.

“We want to know who knew… Who knew… How did we learned of the existence of this foreign interference there and why we did not know anything about it between 2019 and 2021. »

— Luc Berthold, Member of Parliament for Mégantic—L'Érable

Liberal MPs countered that their government has been warning other parties in the House for years now about the risk of foreign interference in every electoral process not only from China but also from several other countries, including Iran and Russia.

Liberal MP Jennifer O'Connell reminded the Tories that NSICOP reports specifically mentioning this threat had been before them in the House of Commons before the 2019 elections. She asked them where they were during that time.

They were busy supporting the convoy of people saying the government had to be overthrown. Where were they to protect democracy at that time?, launched Ms. O'Connell.

The Conservative motion, which benefited in particular from the support of the Bloc Québécois MP for Laurentides-Labelle, Marie-Hélène Gaudreau, and her NDP colleague, Rachel Blaney, was finally adopted by six votes to five.

The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs will continue its work on Tuesday.

Recall that the opening of the work of this House of Commons committee on China's interference in the process Canadian election comes days after federal authorities announced an investigation into the existence of illegal Chinese police stations in the Greater Toronto Area and the arrest very recent story of a Hydro-Québec employee accused of having delivered industrial secrets to China.

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