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.

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.

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....

Pierre Poilievre Responds to Jordan Peterson's 'Reeducation' Order

A quick follow-up to our post from the other day: Canada's Conservative opposition leader, Pierre Poilievre, has responded to the Ontario College of Psychologists's order that Jordan Peterson submit to "mandatory social-media communication retraining" or face the loss of his license to practice clinical psychology:

It is only right that Poilievre should do this, of course, since Peterson's supposedly "insensitive" online behavior includes retweeting Poilievre himself! And if agreement with the Conservative Party is enough to get Canadians driven out of their professions, well, the Conservatives aren't going to get a lot of votes in the next election.

Of course, as someone who aspires to govern Canada, Poilievre can't exactly say (as we did) that free speech and expression, due process, and all of the fruits of Magna Carta and his nation's own constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms are dead letters in Canada. But he does suggest that if this move against Peterson goes ahead, the Great White North will have drifted into dictatorship territory:

Freedom of speech only matters when you disagree.... no one has ever tried to censor someone for saying something that they agree with. It is only when there is a disagreement that it matters. And that's what distinguishes Canada, a free country, from dictatorships. Dictators don't censor things their citizens say that the dictator agrees with. Only things they disagree with.

Here in Canada, though, unfortunately through the cancel culture and the woke movement we've seen at university campuses and in the media and now, increasingly, in big, powerful corporations, and most recently with a professional licensing body, we're seeing the idea that someone can lose their job, their status, their ability to study, because they express something that is contrary to the government line. Now, I don't believe that that is the Canada we want.

Now, that is the Canada that quite a lot of people do want; in fact, until the arrival of Trudeau, it's the Canada they used to have and thought until recently they still did have. And while Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party lost the popular vote in the past two elections, it's managed to stay in power thanks to a man named Jagmeet Singh and his New Democratic Party, and to remake much of the country in their own image.

If their tide is going to be turned back, Peterson and Poilievre, operating in their own spheres of influence, are likely to have something to do with it. Unfortunately for them, it may already be too late.

Another Win for the Freedom Convoy

The Conservative Party of Canada have a new leader: Pierre Poilievre, Member of Parliament for Carleton, Ontario.

Unlike in the previous two C.P.C. leadership elections, Poilievre's margin of victory wasn't at all close -- he won 70.7 percent of the vote, compared with 11.6 percent for his nearest rival, former Quebec premier and Red Tory net-zero enthusiast, Jean Charest. He dominated in every province and territory -- his worst showing was in Charest's home province of Quebec, and even there Poilievre won 62 percent of available points to Charest's 32 percent. In the Conservative strongholds of Alberta and Saskatchewan, he won close to 80 percent. The Writ's Éric Grenier comments,

It’s an emphatic victory for Poilievre with few signs of regional weaknesses. In 2004, Harper failed to win Quebec and Atlantic Canada. In 2017, Scheer was second in Quebec and Alberta. In 2020, O’Toole was beaten in the Maritimes. But in 2022, Poilievre won everywhere.

Poilievre's rise can be attributed in large part to the same force which brought down Erin O'Toole, namely the Freedom Convoy. As we wrote at the time of his ouster,

[O'Toole's] feeble response to the Freedom Convoy has encapsulated his problems these past several months, at once desperate to hold onto power and terrified of offending the sensibilities of, well, Liberal voters. For the first time since he became leader, there was energy on his side of the ideological spectrum, and Trudeau's Liberals were off balance. But O'Toole was anxious about being too supportive of what you might call the wrong sort of Canadians.

Poilievre, meanwhile, made himself the truckers' most visible supporter, publicly defending them against media attacks and taking part in their protests. Polling being what it was at the time (even if those polls weren't as straightforward as they appeared), that took real courage.

Most importantly for us at The Pipeline, Poilievre has consistently and vocally opposed the Trudeau government's anti-resource sector policies, pledging over and over again that, should he become prime minister, he would end the carbon tax and revive infrastructure projects like the Energy East and Northern Gateway pipelines which were cancelled under Trudeau. Moreover, he's promised to make Canada the “freest country in the world.”

And while we've heard sentiments like this before -- most recently from "True Blue" O'Toole -- the centrality of actual conservatism to Pierre Poilievre's political brand should give Conservative voters some reason for hope.

Will he succeed in any of this? Well, he would have to beat Trudeau first. And as things stand, beating Trudeau isn't a near-term possibility. The "supply and confidence" agreement between the N.D.P. and the Liberal Party will protect Trudeau from facing the voters until 2025. In the meantime Poilievre will set himself to the work of Opposition Leader, with the task of holding the government to account, something he already does quite well. Writing in the National Post before the leadership race was over, Rex Murphy said,

In what field does Poilievre labour? Why, in opposition, of course. In opposition to the Liberal-NDP consortium, that blunt, Commons-allergic, Emergencies Act-stampeding, insanely overspending, Alberta-hating quasi-coalition that now governs our sad country. That engine of the most grievous and rampant wokery, dilettantes on the world stage and social justice/environmentalist crusaders at home. From the Opposition benches, the few days Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opens the House of Commons to air it out and prevent the curtains from fading, one figure stands out, ready to pin the prime minister during question period, and in the most trenchant and incisive manner raise the dire threats of inflation and overspending. For a government that most sorely needs an opposition, Poilievre is the only truly Thermopylae warrior, the chief inquisitor and the one who clearly brings pain and anguish to the feeble front benches of the Trudeau government.

At the moment, that might be just what Canada needs. And if he does the job well, there's a good chance that he will be rewarded with a better one.