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Canadian MPs Revealed to be Complicit in Foreign Interference

“The National Security Committee indicates there are members of this House who have knowingly worked for foreign hostile governments.” 

A redacted report released early in June by Canadian intelligence services states there is evidence that federal politicians had collaborated with foreign governments in order to advance their personal interests. The report comes following several years of concerns from Federal security agencies who have long referenced the attempted interference of the Chinese government in recent Federal elections.

The report, done by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP), said CSIS and CSE found “foreign actors used deceptive or clandestine methods to cultivate relationships with Canadians who they believed would be useful in advancing their interests -particularly members of Parliament and senators- with a view to having the Canadian act in favour of the foreign actor and against Canada’s interests.”

The report, which has many redacted paragraphs and has also redacted the names of suspected MPs and Senators, states there are elected officials who began “wittingly assisting foreign state actors soon after their election.” That particular segment has three sentences redacted, which mention specific members of Parliament who influenced their colleagues on India’s behalf.

The government has had access to the report since March. The Liberal government in early June was pressed to release the names of those who had been a part of allowing foreign interests to influence Canadian politics. Some means of influence include “accepting money or perks from foreign governments, working together to mobilize community support in their favour, or handing over privileged information, knowing it would be used to put pressure on other politicians to change their votes.”

Among the examples of how Canadian officials have been complicit with foreign actors include federal officials “providing foreign diplomatic officials with privileged information on the work or opinions of fellow Parliamentarians, knowing that such information will be used by those officials to inappropriately pressure Parliamentarians to change their positions.”

The NSICOP report said the intelligence community has increased the level of reporting to Ottawa but departments such as Global Affairs and the Privy Council office have not adequately considered the reports given to them by the Canadian intelligence community.

Among methods used by foreign actors to interfere in Canadian politics since 2018 include “covertly influencing the opinions and positions of voters, ethnocultural communities and parliamentarians; leveraging relationships with influential Canadians; exploiting vulnerabilities in political party governance and administration; and deploying a variety of cyber tools to attain specific objections.”

The report says the most significant perpetrators of foreign interference in Canadian politics in 2019 were China and Russia, with China presenting “the greatest foreign interference threat.” In the most recent report, China remains the most prominent threat.

“The PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) foreign interference efforts continue to be sophisticated, persistent and multi-dimensional, targeting all orders of Canadian government and various facets of society and relying upon a number of methods.”

While Russia was formerly listed as the second most significant threat it is now India which has security communities concerned.

“It became clear during the period of this review that [India’s] efforts had extended beyond countering what it perceived as pro-Khalistani efforts in Canada to include interfering in Canadian democratic processes and institutions, including through the targeting of Canadian politicians, ethnic media and Indo-Canadian ethnocultural communities.”

This latter reference brings to mind the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Khalistani separatist who was murdered on June 18th, 2023 in Surrey, BC. The Indian government claims Nijjar was a terrorist and 4 men from India have since been arrested pertaining to his death. Justin Trudeau has accused the government of India of being involved in Nijjar’s death, sparking tensions between the two nations.

Liberal MP David McGuinty, chair of the committee, has said the remainder of investigation is up to the RCMP.

While collaborating with foreign states in the described ways is illegal, it is at this point unlikely there will be criminal charges against any of the redacted individuals because of the “long-standing issue of protecting classified information and methods in judicial processes.”

On June 19th, the Senate passed a bill intended to deter and punish foreign interference. The legislation currently awaits royal assent. If passed it will introduce criminal provisions against deceptive acts with foreign actors and will establish a foreign influence transparency registry. The bill also opens an avenue of communication with businessness as foreign entities might employ people to act on their behalf surreptitiously.

The transparency registry would require certain individuals to register with the federal government in order to guard against external influences.

Following the release of the report were calls from NDP and Conservative MPs to name the accused, and allowing such behaviour to continue would be irresponsible.

Speaking from the Ukraine Peace Summit in Switzerland, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concerns over some of the findings in the report, though he did not specify what aspects he is concerned with.

“There are a number of the conclusions of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians report that we don’t entirely align with,” Trudeau told reporters.

The day the report was released, Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc raised concerns of his own after Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said the redacted names must be made public.

“The National Security Committee indicates there are members of this House who have knowingly worked for foreign hostile governments. Canadians have a right to know who and what is the information,” Poilievre said.

LeBlanc, who has worked with both CSIS and the RCMP, said that releasing the names over suspicions would be “completely irresponsible” and is illegal.

“The leader of the opposition knows very well no government, including the government [of] which he was a member, is going to discuss particularities of intelligence information publicly.”

LeBlanc suggested Poilievre obtain security clearance in order to review the confidential information in the report.

“He would be much more informed than he is now and we would invite him to do so, so he wouldn’t stand up and cast aspersions on the floor of the House of Commons without any information whatsoever.”

LeBlanc has expressed some scepticism on some of the report’s findings, suggesting the redactions left out important context.

“The government’s concerns centre around the interpretation of intelligence reports, which lacked the necessary caveats inherent to intelligence, as well as the lack of acknowledgement of the full breadth of outreach that has been done with respect to informing parliamentarians about the threat posed by foreign interference.”

All of this LeBlanc said the day the report was released.

After reading an unredacted version of the report, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May came away with very different interpretations. May said she was relieved to read the report, saying no current MPs were involved in knowingly working with foreign governments.

Singh came away “more alarmed” after seeing the unredacted report. In an interview, he said Justin Trudeau is “effectively implicitly saying, ‘A certain amount of foreign interference, I can live with.'”

Trudeau has since referred to these varied takeaways as part of what concerns him about the report.

Yves-François Blanchet, Bloc Québécois leader, has sought security clearance to review the unredacted report. Pierre Poilievre is the only federal leader not to begin the process of receiving security clearance to see the unredacted report.

– Matthew Harrison, U Multicultural

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