MP Voices Concern About Chinese Diplomat Reportedly Boasting She Helped Defeat 2 Tory Electoral Candidates

MP Voices Concern About Chinese Diplomat Reportedly Boasting She Helped Defeat 2 Tory Electoral Candidates
The Chinese Consulate in Vancouver in a file photo. (Melodie Von/NTD)
Marnie Cathcart

MPs raised concerns Tuesday in a House of Commons committee meeting about the latest revelations from reportedly leaked Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) files that allege Chinese interference in Canada’s last two federal elections.

The Commons Procedure and House Affairs Committee on Feb. 21 heard allegations based on a Globe and Mail report that China’s former consul-general in Vancouver, Tong Xiaoling, bragged that she helped defeat two Conservative MPs running for election in 2021, including an MP who she allegedly described as “a vocal distractor.”

The committee heard that former Consul General Wang Jin was also allegedly involved in efforts to rally support for Liberals and target Conservative candidates for election defeat, including tactics such as “funnelling money to candidates through illegal undeclared cash donations.”

Conservative MP Michael Cooper said allegations of campaign interference are not “trivial” and that if reports are true, this is an “all-out assault on Canadian democracy by the Chinese Communist regime.”

Cooper said allegations include “disinformation targeted against Conservative candidates, collusion with Liberal candidates, the widespread use of proxies to advance the Chinese Communist Party’s objectives of helping the Liberal Party, and working to defeat certain Conservative candidates, all coordinated and directed by Chinese communist diplomats on Canadian soil.”

The MP described a series of Globe reports that he said disclose “shocking revelations regarding Beijing’s strategy to interfere and influence Canada’s democratic institutions.”

The Globe reported it had been provided access to top-secret CSIS documents outlining the full extent of China’s interference in the last two Canadian elections.

“The report characterized the Chinese Communist Party’s interference campaign in the 2021 election as ‘an orchestrated machine,’” Cooper told the committee.

He said that Beijing allegedly had two overriding objectives: to ensure the Liberal Party was re-elected with a minority government, and to make sure certain Conservative candidates deemed unfriendly to China would be defeated.

Cooper tabled a motion calling for the committee to extend its study of alleged foreign election interference with more meetings, and compel testimony from officials from CSIS, the RCMP, Elections Canada, and other senior staffers in the federal government.

Cooper also requested documents be provided to the committee without redactions.

Quebec Conservative MP Luc Bertold said that given all the evidence being accumulated and the CSIS documents, “unequivocally the allegations of interference were not only founded, but only transparency could combat these attacks on our democracy.”

“Despite all these red flags, nothing, I repeat, nothing was done to signal to Beijing that Canada would not tolerate interference in its democracy,” said Bertold.

Stating there was “voluntary blindness” and a lack of transparency, Bertold said, “The prime minister seems to like the fact that the Liberals were the flavour of the day for Beijing.”

Liberal MP Jennifer O'Connell told the committee that Conservatives “want to look at documents in a non-secure manner, which is frankly reckless, absolutely reckless.”

She said the “boasting” of a Chinese diplomat was not trustworthy. “Do the Conservatives trust the boasting of a PRC representative? Or do you trust the CSIS director? I know who I trust, I don’t think representatives from PRC have Canadians interests in mind. I don’t think they sit around and talk about election outcomes?”

O'Connell said the national security community has stated that “although foreign interference exists, and is persistent, Canadians decided the elections” and that foreign interference in elections was not new to Canada.

She accused Conservatives of being on “a fishing expedition” with their motion to secure witnesses and documents on the topic.

“What we hear, time and time again, is this partisan hack type stuff being thrown around that the Prime Minister has, you know, closed his eyes. No, he has not,” said O'Connell.

The committee voted to expand its study of election interference.