By Patricia Adams
On November 7, 2022, Global News reporter Sam Cooper released an explosive report that Canadian intelligence officials warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in early 2022 that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had allegedly targeted Canada with a vast campaign of foreign interference, including funding of a clandestine network of at least 11 federal candidates running in the 2019 election.
A week later, Prime Minister Trudeau raised “serious concerns” over suspected domestic interference by China with Chinese President Xi at the G20 meeting in Bali. President Xi publicly rebuked Trudeau for revealing the contents of their discussion.
On his return to Ottawa, the Prime Minister was peppered with questions in the House of Commons about what he knew of CCP interference with Canada’s elections, and what action he had taken to protect Canada’s electoral integrity.
The Prime Minister denied being briefed about allegations concerning the 11 federal election candidates. Instead, the PM and Liberal ministers claimed that the government took safeguarding Canada’s democracy seriously.
Then, at December 13, 2022 hearings of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, Privy Council Office (PCO) documents were made part of the public record. The redacted version of these documents (see here and here) show that the PCO warned the Prime Minister in a February 21, 2020 document that “Investigations into activities linked to the Canadian federal election in 2019, reveal an active foreign interference (FI) network”.
More details emerged in Sam Cooper’s followup December 21, 2022 article, which was based on his review of the unredacted PCO documents:
An unredacted 2020 national security document alleges that Beijing used an extensive network of community groups to conceal the flow of funds between Chinese officials and Canadian members of an election interference network, all in an effort to advance its own political agenda in the 2019 federal contest.
The Privy Council Office document, which Global News has reviewed, is a distillation of sensitive investigations and was published in February 2020, around four months after the 2019 election. It warned that influence operations such as these were “likely to be more persistent and pervasive in future elections.”
According to the document, community leaders and “co-opted” political staffers “under broad guidance” from the Toronto consulate serve as intermediaries between Chinese officials and the politicians Beijing was seeking to influence.
The outcome of these operations, the document says, is that “staff of targeted politicians provide advice on China-related issues” to the Chinese consulate.Other network operators handle financing and attempt to recruit Canadian politicians, the document said.
“Community leaders facilitate the clandestine transfer of funds and recruit potential targets,” the 2020 PCO memo states.
A heavily redacted version of the document was filed last week in a Parliamentary committee hearing: It revealed the sole observation that China’s 2019 election interference networks were “subtle but effective.”
The PCO regularly briefs the Prime Minister’s Office and appropriate cabinet ministers on national security intelligence.
Global News has led the investigation into CCP election interference in Canada. For their excellent coverage see:
Canadian intelligence warned PM Trudeau that China covertly funded 2019 election candidates: Sources, by Sam Cooper, November 7, 2022
Size of alleged Chinese interference in Canada ‘astonishing’: experts, November 13, 2022
Toronto businessman allegedly focus of Chinese interference probes: Sources, by Sam Cooper, November 16, 2022
Canada struggles with curbing foreign interference: ‘Often we cannot do anything’, by Alex Boutilier, November 30, 2022
Canadian officials knew for years existing laws didn’t curb foreign influence, by Alex Boutilier, December 2, 2022
Secret 2020 Privy Council Office memo found ‘active foreign interference network’ in 2019 election, by Sam Cooper, December 13, 2022
Chinese interference: What government documents tell us about election meddling, by Alex Boutilier, December 16, 2022
Exclusive: 2020 intel warned Trudeau government that China’s interference in Canadian elections will likely be ‘pervasive’, by Sam Cooper, December 21, 2022
Big Trouble with Meddling China, Sam Cooper interview with Jesse Brown, Canadaland, January 30, 2023