Elected officials “wittingly” assisted foreign state actors, notably China and India: report
Elected officials “wittingly” assisted foreign state actors, notably China and India: report

A shocking new parliamentary report warned that some elected Canadian officials are knowingly assisting foreign state actors engaging in political interference, most notably working on behalf of China and India.

A report from the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians was tabled in the House of Commons on Monday. Despite the report being filled with redactions, it revealed that some elected officials are “wittingly” assisting foreign governments with meddling in Canadian politics.

The report said that the integrity of Canada’s parliamentary and democratic process, along with resulting public trust, has been undermined by the federal government.

The report criticized the Liberals for its slow response since 2018, highlighting that previous recommendations from the committee had not been acted upon.

“The slow response to a known threat was a serious failure and one from which Canada may feel the consequences for years to come,” reads the report. “Canada is only now beginning to see the introduction of additional measures to address foreign interference activities.” 

The chair of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, Liberal MP David McGuinty, mirrored the report’s call for concern in an interview on Monday.

“We found foreign interference at every order of government, in every political party, in the public sector, the media, the NGO sector, the private sector,” said McGuinty. “It’s there, and it’s not stopping.”

While some parliamentarians were unaware that they were the target of foreign interference, according to the report, others participated with open arms.

“Some elected officials began wittingly assisting foreign state actors soon after their election,” reads the report, although specific examples were redacted from the final copy. 

One case involved MPs influencing their colleagues on India’s behalf and providing confidential information to Indian officials. Another instance cited a former MP who maintained a relationship with a foreign intelligence officer, proactively providing the officer with confidential information.

“According to CSIS, the member of Parliament sought to arrange a meeting in a foreign state with a senior intelligence official and also proactively provided the intelligence officer with information provided in confidence,” reads the report.

The report highlighted that these actions were deeply unethical and contrary to the oaths and affirmations parliamentarians take to conduct themselves in the best interest of Canada.

The report also detailed China’s extensive influence operations, suggesting a quid pro quo relationship between some MPs and the Chinese Communist Party. In exchange for engaging with the party, these MPs receive support from Beijing’s networks in ridings with many Chinese voters.

While the MPs’ names were redacted, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was asked whether these MPs would be removed from the caucus if confirmed to be Liberals.

Freeland did not answer the question directly but emphasized that tougher measures to fight foreign interference exist under the current federal government than in the previous Conservative government. 

The report makes six recommendations to the federal government, including updating the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, developing consistent definitions and thresholds for action on foreign interference, and reporting annually on briefings for parliamentarians.

The recommendations also suggest reviewing party nomination processes and leadership conventions to include them within the framework of the Canada Elections Act and addressing vulnerabilities in political party administration to reduce opportunities for foreign interference.

The report comes just days after Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Review Agency concluded that the country’s intelligence response was deeply flawed, particularly in handling foreign interference during the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

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