NDP MP Jenny Kwan Told by CSIS She’s a Target of Beijing

NDP MP Jenny Kwan Told by CSIS She’s a Target of Beijing
NDP MP Jenny Kwan speaks to reporters about her briefing with CSIS where they confirmed that she was a target of foreign interference, in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on May 29, 2023. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)
Matthew Horwood

NDP MP Jenny Kwan revealed during a press conference on May 29 that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) recently told her she has been a target of Beijing for several years.

“While I’m not able to disclose the details of how that foreign interference applied to me specifically for national security reasons, CSIS has confirmed with me that I am being targeted for foreign interference and will continue to be a target,” the MP for Vancouver East told reporters in Ottawa.

Kwan said CSIS had contacted her a few weeks ago to “offer a briefing” with respect to foreign interference targeting her and followed up with another classified briefing on May 26.

Kwan, who is the NDP’s immigration critic, said she is being targeted by the Chinese regime because of her “activism in support and to fight for basic human rights for not just Canadians, but for those who are abroad as well.”

Kwan, who was born in Hong Kong, has been outspoken against Bejing’s national security law, which facilitated the erosion of democratic rights and freedoms for Hong Kongers. Back in 2021, she condemned the arrest of six journalists in the city, calling for Canadians to “rally in support of the people in Hong Kong.” Kwan said her outspoken support of the Uyghur minority population who are targeted for persecution by the Chinese regime also led to her becoming a target.

Kwan said she would continue to stand with those across the world fighting for “basic human rights” and that she would not be intimidated or silenced.

“Whoever is trying to put pressure on me—in whatever way that they’re trying to do it—they will not succeed. I will continue to do what is right and what is just,” she said.

While Kwan said she could not reveal the specifics around how she was being targeted—as doing so would reveal classified information and jeopardize the work of CSIS—she said she is an “evergreen candidate,” meaning that she will “forever be targeted.”

Kwan Says Government Action on Interference ‘Dismaying’

After media reports suggested there was widespread interference by Beijing in Canada’s last two federal elections, Conservative MP Michael Chong revealed that he had been briefed by CSIS that the Chinese government was targeting him. Chong put forth a motion in Parliament in 2021 declaring China’s treatment of its Uygur population a genocide.

According to a Canadian intelligence report, the Chinese regime sought details about Chong’s relatives in Hong Kong in an effort to deter him from taking positions against the interests of Beijing. Kwan said she was “lucky” that she does not have any relatives living in Hong Kong or mainland China, because that could have led to a “different scenario.”

Kwan also said she had not seen evidence she was being targeted by Beijing but had suspected she might be, given her outspokenness on issues sensitive to the regime.

Kwan said it was “dismaying” that the information related to foreign interference was revealed by leaks within CSIS, and said the MPs being targeted by China should have been made aware “the minute that our intelligence authorities know about this.”

The revelations come less than a week after special rapporteur David Johnston—tasked by the prime minister with investigating public foreign interference—recommended against a public inquiry that opposition parties have repeatedly called for.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh announced on May 29 that his party would introduce a motion calling on David Johnston to step down as the government’s special rapporteur on foreign interference. Jagmeet said while he had been careful not to attack the former governor general, his background as a member of the Trudeau Foundation and close family friend of Trudeau, among other concerns of bias, led him to doubt Johnston’s work as the special rapporteur.

“The appearance of bias is so high that it erodes the work that the special rapporteur can do,” Singh said.