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Chinese interference: the liberal government in crisis, democracy threatened


A series of documents released by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) revealed how the Chinese government tried to interfere in the Canadian elections.

This confirms a number of allegations that have been circulating for a number of years regarding the actions of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). THE Conservative Party of Canada maintains that this Chinese interference cost it a number of seats in the 2021 federal election. An international investigation has also revealed the existence of illegal police stations used by China to collect information on the Chinese diaspora in Canada. There would be some in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

The story is being developed and many details remain unknown. It remains to be determined, for example, where the leaks came from and why the information was leaked.

These leaks tend to demonstrate that it was the federal Liberals who benefited of Chinese interference. Political motivations could therefore be at the origin of these leaks. Elements within CSIS may indeed want the current government to be overthrown.

Political implications

These leaks have undeniable political implications that will intensify as more is known about this scandal. The Opposition in Ottawa unanimously called for a public inquiry to shed light on Beijing’s interference.

After asserting that no further action was necessaryPrime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that his government would appoint a “special rapporteur” who will work with two national security committees to shed light on this story.

The details of this investigation, as well as the person who will be appointed rapporteur (“a distinguished Canadian”), remain to be determined. But this person will have to know how to navigate through many partisan shenanigans.

The opposition will undoubtedly attack the integrity of the processespecially considering that it is the government alone that determines its scope. The rapporteur must ultimately determine whether a full public inquiry is necessary.

Did the Liberals benefit from it?

The Liberals have a lot to lose if the public continues to pay attention to this file.

The allegations not only raise questions about the integrity of Canadian democracy itself, but also about the complicity of the government, the very one that appears to have benefited from this interference. He did not, in fact, respond appropriately, and appears to have deliberately downplayed, denied or buried the allegations of interference.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, March 6, 2023, about China’s interference in Canadian elections.
The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick

The information available shows that the prime minister and his aides were repeatedly briefed on signs of Chinese interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections.

The ruling party is in crisis, shaken by leaks it had not foreseen. The proof is in how quickly Justin Trudeau moved from an initial response that denied the seriousness of the reports and insinuated that racial considerations could hide behind the revelations to the current response, which now takes into account multiple pressures for further investigations.

The New Democrats, on whom the Liberals are counting to stay in power, have not ruled out the idea of submit the public inquiry to a vote of confidence. The Conservatives, who receive favorable support in polls among Canadians, no doubt see power on the horizon.

A national security crisis

This is not just about politics, but about a real and very worrying national security crisis. Evidence of Chinese interference raises serious questions about the legitimacy of our electoral process.

A woman places a ballot in a ballot box
A voter advance polls during the 2021 federal election in Chambly, Quebec.
The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz

Beijing has apparently used significant resources in funding as well as in the production of social media content to influence — if not outright manipulate — Canadian voters in order to promote its specific interests.

In 2019 and 2021, these resources aided the campaigns of several Liberal Party candidates through a series of informal networks.

As indicated the American experience of Russian interferenceit’s about the “new normal” in international relations.

There are now a number of world powers that are willing to do whatever it takes to further their interests, including interfering in the internal politics of other states.

Leaks needed?

The recent leaks prove not only that this is happening in Canada but, even more seriously, that the country’s security agencies are in tow: they are struggling to find ways to manage the current situation, while the strategies of China’s interference continues to grow.

Politicization of the issue, while inevitable, is not helpful. But as long as the Liberal government prioritizes its electoral survival, the scandal will only escalate.

A Canadian Security Intelligence Service sign with trees behind it
A sign indicating the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building in Ottawa.
The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick

The leaks did not help the work of CSIS, but rather damaged its international credibility. They will likely make it more difficult for the organization to collect sensitive information.

Nevertheless, with an elected democratic government that has so far only stood idly by, the leaks were arguably necessary for the good of democracy.

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