Amid reports that Beijing actively interfered in Canada’s federal elections of 2019, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday warned that China is playing “aggressive games” to undermine democratic institutions in the country.
News reports say Canadian intelligence officials have warned Trudeau that China has allegedly been targeting Canada with a vast campaign of foreign interference, including funding a clandestine network of at least 11 candidates during the 2019 federal elections.
According to media reports, the effort involved payments to candidates through intermediaries affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), placing agents into the offices of MPs to influence policy and efforts to co-opt and corrupt former Canadian officials to gain leverage. The attempt was to mount an aggressive campaign to punish Canadian politicians whom Beijing views as threats to its interests.
“We have taken significant measures to strengthen the integrity of our elections processes and our systems, and we’ll continue to invest in the fight against election interference, against foreign interference of our democracy and institutions,” Trudeau told reporters on Monday afternoon.
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing countries, state actors from around the world, whether it’s China or others, are continuing to play aggressive games with our institutions, with our democracies,” the Canadian prime minister added.
A report by Global News said the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) reports submitted to the prime minister and several cabinet members were contained in a series of briefings and memos first presented in January.
The allegations included detailed examples of Beijing’s efforts to further its influence and, in turn, subvert Canada’s democratic process, the report said.
Although the briefings did not identify the 2019 candidates, it is said to include members from both the Liberal and Conservative parties, Global News said, citing sources with knowledge of the briefs.
China’s Toronto consulate is reported to have directed a large clandestine transfer of funds to at least 11 federal election candidates and several operatives who worked as their campaign staffers, the report further said. Meanwhile, the Guardian reported that it is unclear if CSIS, or the federal government, believes the efforts were successful.
These reports come at a time when Canada’s federal police are reportedly investigating clandestine Chinese “police stations” said to be operating in Toronto to target overseas dissidents.
Similar reports of illegal Chinese police stations have emerged from several other countries in Europe. It was recently reported that the Dutch government is investigating two illegal “police stations” operated by China in the Netherlands since 2018, reportedly to keep tabs and put pressure on overseas Chinese dissidents and refugees.