Tory MP Introduces Motion to Expand Parliamentary Study Into Foreign Election Interference

Tory MP Introduces Motion to Expand Parliamentary Study Into Foreign Election Interference
Conservative MP Michael Cooper rises during Question Period in Ottawa on Nov. 22, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)
Andrew Chen

Conservative MP Michael Cooper is introducing a motion aimed at broadening the scope of a parliamentary committee study regarding allegations of election interference by China. He also criticized the Liberal government for failing to take substantial action to address the issue.

Mr. Cooper said he intended to introduce the motion in the House of Commons Procedure and House Affairs Committee (PROC). The motion calls for expanding a study the PROC previously launched to begin a committee investigation into the alleged targeting in 2021 of Conservative MP Michael Chong and his family living in Hong Kong by a now-expelled Chinese diplomat, Wei Zhao.
"There are many unanswered questions surrounding how multiple CSIS [Canadian Security Intelligence Service] memos regarding Beijing's threats to MP Chong's family were ignored by the Liberal government," Mr. Cooper said in a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sept. 26.
The PROC is undertaking a study to determine if Mr. Chong’s parliamentary privilege was violated when Mr. Zhao, along with China's intelligence service, the Ministry of State Security, targeted the MP and his family about two years ago, which was first reported by the Globe and Mail on May 1.
On June 14, former public safety minister Bill Blair told reporters that a secret CSIS memo sent to inform the federal government of Beijing's targeting of Mr. Chong never reached him at the time because it went to the wrong office. However, in a response to inquiries from Mr. Chong, the government said later that month that three federal departments confirmed their senior leadership had received intelligence assessments from Canada’s spy agency on the issue.
Mr. Cooper's motion also seeks to include, as evidence, concerns raised by former Tory leader Erin O'Toole. Mr. O'Toole told the House of Commons on May 30 that CSIS had informed him that he and his party were targeted by Beijing in a voter suppression and misinformation campaign during the 2021 federal election.

Additionally, Mr. Cooper provided a list of individuals asking that they appear before the House committee to testify on the issue. The individuals to be invited include Mr. O'Toole, Mr. Blair, Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc, former foreign affairs Minister Marc Garneau, and others.

Several individuals who have previously appeared at the PROC would also be re-invited, including Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, Chinese ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu, and Mike MacDonald, former acting national security and intelligence adviser to the prime minister.

Matthew Horwood, Noé Chartier, and Peter Wilson contributed to this report.