Justin Trudeau blames China for ‘aggressive’ interference in Canada’s democracy

Justin Trudeau has said Canada will continue to invest in the fight against election interference (AFP via Getty Images)
Justin Trudeau has said Canada will continue to invest in the fight against election interference (AFP via Getty Images)

Justin Trudeau has accused China of playing “aggressive games” to tamper with Canada’s federal elections amid reports of Beijing funding a network of candidates in 2019 elections.

Speaking to reporters in Montreal on Monday, the Canadian prime minister said: “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.”

“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,” he added.

In response, China on Tuesday said Canada should stop making remarks that hurt their bilateral relations.

This comes just a day after a report citing Canadian intelligence confirmed Beijing’s involvement to undermine the democratic process in Canada’s multiple elections — including the voting exercises in 2019 and 2021.

According to the report, Mr Trudeau has been warned by intelligence officials about China targeting Toronto with a vast campaign of foreign interference by funcing a “clandestine” network of at least 11 federal candidates contesting the 2019 election.

China’s ruling party is deploying all elements of state power to carry out activities that directly threaten Canada’s national security and sovereignty, reported Global News, citing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

The intelligence reports suggest that efforts were made to place agents in the offices of lawmakers to drive a shift in policy in China’s favour along with attempts to “co-opt and corrupt” former Canadian officials to secure political power and influence.

It is not immediately clear to the CSIS or the federal government if the said efforts were successful.

The allegations are “far more aggressive” than previously suspected, said  David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China, reported The Guardian.

He added that just when the allegations against China appear exaggerated, “you find that they’ve in fact been understated”.

“These represent a malicious, dangerous threat to our democracy,” he said.

The interference attempts in the elections were aimed at members from both the Liberal and Conservative parties.

Additionally, this also comes just a few days after the Royal Canada Mounted Police said it was actively probing a discreet network of illegal Chinese “police stations” in Toronto.

China has opened more than 50 unofficial police “offices” globally, with most of them in Europe, to clamp down on its own dissidents without notifying the authorities or declaring their existence, according to reports.