Chinese Interference in Canadian Elections? Looks That Way
For the past several months Canada has been dealing with a slow-drip story, which if true has the potential to blow that country's politics wide-open. It's claim is that the Communist Party of China has been illegally interfering in Canadian elections since at least 2015, the year Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party took control of the government. And which party were the Chi-Coms helping out? You get one guess.
The scandal began back in November, when agents from CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, began leaking intel to the Canadian media suggesting that a CCP network had "funded and infiltrated" the campaigns of nearly a dozen candidates in the 2019 federal election. Trudeau responded by claiming that he had confronted Xi Jinping about the report, but shortly thereafter a video of that exchange went viral, which showed a desperate Trudeau talking about Canada's commitment to "free and open and frank dialogue," and a dismissive Chairman Xi calling him "naïve" as he walked away.
Listen carefully, Xi Jinping added a comment: “so naive” when he ended the conversation with Justin Trudeau and walked away. 习近平和特鲁多对话完走了之后还有一句话，他自言自语说了句很天真 https://t.co/tQm22yZAo4
— Alex He (@AlexHe9527) November 17, 2022
Amazingly, after that exchange it was revealed that Trudeau shouldn't have been at all shocked by the leaked reports -- he was in fact briefed about Chinese election interference before the 2019 election even took place. Moreover, further reporting alleged that, according to The Spectator's Sam Dunning, the CCP's political network in Canada "involved more than a dozen aides, a standing provincial politician, unelected officials and donors" and that "large sums changed hands, election law was breached (though there is no police investigation), and Trudeau’s Liberal party were the beneficiaries."
From there the leaks got bigger and potentially more damaging. They contended that 2019 wasn't the only election in which the CCP put their thumbs on the scale for the Liberals, that they had done so in 2021 as well. And that the Chinese government had coerced Chinese students studying in Canada to campaign for Liberal candidates in ridings with large Chinese populations. And that they had surreptitiously recorded a Chinese consulate official saying "The Liberal Party of Canada is becoming the only party that the PRC [People’s Republic of China] can support." And that Liberal Party insider (and well-known critic of Hong Kong's pro-democracy protestors) Michael Chan had had regular meetings with suspected Chinese intelligence assets. And that Kenny Chiu, a Hong Kong-born former Conservative MP and CCP critic, had lost reelection after a coordinated propaganda campaign against him on the Chinese social media app WeChat targeting Chinese voters in his riding. And that a sitting Liberal MP, Han Dong, was in Dunning's words, "a knowing beneficiary of covert CCP interference."
Justin Trudeau's response, and that of the Liberal party generally, has been to cry racism -- specifically the "rise in anti-Asian racism linked to the pandemic" -- and accuse Conservatives who have brought this up of being "Trump-like" election deniers. They've also argued that the CSIS leakers themselves are the real meddlers with Canada's democracy. But the fact of the leaks underscores what is more important than the interference itself -- Trudeau and the Liberals knew about this, they were briefed on these events as they were ongoing, but chose to ignore them.
It doesn't take a lot of imagination to guess why. Canada's Liberals won two nail-biter elections thanks, in part, to the CCP. And Justin Trudeau seems to have personally benefitted. It has been reported that in 2015 a pro-China group donated $236,000 to the Liberal Party in Trudeau's own riding (effectively a donation to his reelection campaign), and that CCP-aligned groups attempted to ingratiate themselves to Justin Trudeau with a $750,000 donation to the University of Montreal in memory of his father, Pierre (and another $50,000 for a statue of the man, in which he was originally planned to be depicted alongside Chairman Mao), as well as a $200,000 donation to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. Oddly, the CEO of the Trudeau Foundation at the time was a man named Morris Rosenberg, who authored the Liberal committee report contradicting the leaks and contending that there was no significant CCP interference in Canadian elections.
Uh… holy crap.https://t.co/AaEdOcMvay pic.twitter.com/iLJtYskobX
— Andrew Coyne 🇺🇦 (@acoyne) February 28, 2023
It remains unclear where all of this will lead. For what it's worth, Rex Murphy, one of the few Canadian political commentators who is worth reading, has written that "the Liberals are obviously scared about the Chinese election interference issue" and that Trudeau himself appears to be in a "tailspin," unable to right the ship or go toe-to-toe on this issue with his Conservative counterpart, Pierre Poilievre.
The Liberals desperation for this story to go away is palpable -- they recently filibustered a vote on summoning Trudeau's chief of staff to testify before parliament about when the prime minister was briefed on these instances of foreign interference -- and voters are starting to notice. Seventy-two percent of Canadians polled support for an independent inquiry, and if the pressure continues to build it is possible that the far-left New Democratic Party will consider abandoning their "confidence and supply agreement" currently keeping Trudeau in power, potentially triggering an election. Another possibility -- perhaps more likely -- is that Trudeau would announce his decision to follow fellow Commonwealth Leftists Jacinda Ardern and Nicola Sturgeon into an ignominious retirement.
Drip, drip, drip....