Two ex-diplomats plead for the creation of a register of foreign agents

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Two ex-diplomats plead for the creation of a register of foreign agents

David Mulroney, former Canadian Ambassador to China. (Photo archives)

Two former diplomats from Canada who served in China believe that Ottawa somehow allows foreign interference on Canadian soil since it does not keep a register of people who act on behalf of x27;other countries.

China is the biggest threat to foreign interference in Canada, the former ambassador of the Canada in China David Mulroney before a House of Commons committee on Tuesday. The longer we wait, the more difficult the task will be.

Mr. Mulroney made the comments as this committee examines allegations that the Chinese consulate in Toronto attempted to influence the results of the 2019 federal election.

Last November, Global News revealed that senior federal officials had informed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of an extensive campaign of foreign interference allegedly being carried out by the Chinese Consulate in Toronto.

These allegations indicate that the Chinese Communist Party financially supported a network of pro-Beijing people in Canada, which included at least 11 liberal and conservative candidates who ran in this ballot.

The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa insists it does not interfere in Canadian politics and instead accuses Canada of interfering in Beijing's internal affairs claiming that China harms international trade and violates human rights.

Two months ago, the Liberals promised that sooner or later they would look into the creation of a register of foreign agents by launching consultations on this subject.

Such a registry would force anyone doing paid work from another country to officially disclose it, or face jail or fines for non-compliance.


Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino, however, warned on Monday that this issue will first need to be carefully studied since the creation of such a register could stigmatize communities that have felt targeted by the attacks. security agencies in the past.

There is a historical context to consider about certain communities in this country and their relationship with security agencies, Mr. Mendicino before the committee on the relationship between Canada and the People's Republic of China.

We need our agencies to be inclusive, diverse and culturally sensitive, he said, adding that Ottawa will take the idea of ​​a registry to its own advisory groups before to solicit the opinion of the public.

Minister of Public Security Marco Mendicino

In the aftermath of the minister's outing, Mr. Mulroney said he was discouraged to hear such comments, pointing out that some culturally diverse groups, such as Uyghurs, Falun Gong followers and residents of Hong Kong, are more targeted by Chinese agents.

According to Mr. Mulroney, Chinese agents are threatening activists of these groups in Canada, telling them that their families will suffer in their home country. He accused Ottawa of not acting and finding reasons not to act when it comes to creating a registry.

Mr. Mulroney urged the Liberals to commit to creating a registry of foreign agents and then to consult on how to do so without stigmatizing certain groups.

Just announcing the creation of a register would already send a message to the Chinese, a very important message that we are not currently sending, he said.

“We must be prepared to expel Chinese diplomats involved in interference or harassment. Yes, it will trigger retaliation, but we need to show that expulsion is the inevitable consequence of such hostile behavior.

—David Mulroney, former Canadian Ambassador to China

Charles Burton, another former diplomat who worked in China, added that this register should target the general problem of interference rather than interference from a single country.


He also argued that Canada's mechanism to prevent election interference is not sufficient, as it focuses only on seeking effects on the results.

We do not have the capacity within the Canadian system to deal with activities of the diaspora community that could affect election results inappropriately, he explained.

Meanwhile, Liberal MP Jennifer O'Connell acknowledged that parliamentarians are unsure how to determine whether to ;they are the target of foreign agents.

There are very few briefings or training for MPs on how to even handle these situations, she lamented.