The Conservatives are calling for a House of Commons committee to resume its investigation into foreign election interference in Canada, citing a disinformation operation targeting Conservative MP Michael Chong.
The House of Commons Affairs and Procedures Committee (PROC) has been holding hearings on foreign election interference in Canada. The committee began its study after a series of media articles reported on efforts by the Chinese government to interfere in Canadian elections and institutions. The House of Commons has risen for its summer recess and the PROC has not met since June 20.
Global Affairs Canada said Wednesday it found evidence earlier this year of a disinformation campaign against Conservative MP Michael Chong. The department said Beijing was likely behind the operation, which spread lies about Chong on the popular Chinese social media platform WeChat.
In a letter to committee chairman Bardish Chagger, the Conservative Party’s critic of democratic reform Michael Cooper said news of the operation makes it necessary for the committee to resume hearings, and represents a government failure on the issue.
“The conservatives tried to withdraw the committee to continue their work. Committee members of the NDP and the Bloc refused to join the Conservatives and the withdrawal committee in bringing transparency to Beijing’s ongoing interference campaigns in Canada,” Cooper said in a statement on Friday.
“By doing so, the Bloc and NDP, along with the Liberal government, further encourage Beijing to meddle in Canada’s democratic institutions, as the communist regime fears no repercussions and regards Canada as a ‘high priority target’. ‘ according to CSIS.”
PROC’s investigation into Beijing’s attack on our democracy must resume.
Beijing unleashed a disinformation campaign on a sitting MP in May, after previously targeting that MP & his family in HK.
Libs inaction continues, NDP & Bloc emboldens communist regime. pic.twitter.com/c7M0wrh1WY
The Conservatives, the NDP and the Bloc have come together to call for a public inquiry into foreign interference, which the Liberal government has so far resisted. The government has also faced opposition pressure to establish a foreign agent registry and expel Chinese diplomats from Canada.
A Globe and Mail story from May reported earlier efforts by the Chinese government to attack Chong, who is the conservative foreign affairs critic. The story said that Zhao Wei, a diplomat based at the Chinese consulate in Toronto, had been assigned to work in the archive. The federal government expelled Zhao from Canada shortly after the story broke.
The Chinese government has repeatedly denied interfering in Canadian affairs.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed former Governor General David Johnston as special rapporteur on foreign interference in March. Johnston resigned in June following criticism of his relationship with the Trudeau family. The government and opposition parties are in talks about a replacement for Johnston.
The Liberals have defended their efforts to protect Canada’s democracy, pointing to the establishment of two oversight committees, NSICOP and NSIRAon foreign interference and reports that foreign interference did not affect the results of the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.
But Cooper said the government hasn’t done enough.
“The new revelations demonstrate again that the Liberal government has not taken meaningful action on Beijing’s interference in our elections and democracy,” he said.
“Common-sense Conservatives will continue to expose Beijing’s interference in our elections and democracy, and it is vital that the NDP and opposition Bloc fight for transparency, rather than cover up for Liberal government.”
The NDP and Bloc Québécois have not provided a response to Breaking:.