The case for a full-blown investigation of the Trudeau government’s relations with China

The Niagara Independent, June 16 & 23, 2023 – A week has passed since the PM’s special rapporteur David Johnston exited from the growing controversies swirling around the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) influence within Canada. What began with serious questions about the CCP’s interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections has morphed into a much more complex set of issues.

It is unsettling to consider why the Trudeau government has been so evasive on a review of the facts relating to the CCP’s activities in Canada. As has been questioned in previous columns, one must wonder what is being painstakingly hidden from Canadians (It’s now evident this national scandal is more than election interference – and Justin Trudeau is “obviously hiding something” and The potential quid pro quos between Trudeau Liberals and the CCP).

To get to the heart of the CCP influence within the country, any serious public probe must go beyond a couple of federal elections and the possible CCP interference in the political process. It must extend to a full-blown investigation of the seemingly tight CCP-Liberal relationships and what they have meant for Canadian government policies and national affairs.

Verily, the CCP impact on Canada is a significant existential matter for the country. In a Wall Street Journal editorial, Brian Lee Crowley opined, “Ottawa’s reaction to possible Chinese election meddling reveals a country whose institutions and elites have been so compromised that they can’t protect Canada’s national interests or those of its democratic allies.” The Globe and Mail published a lead editorial that claimed “Inquiry or not, foreign interference in Canada’s elections is part of a new Cold War that we cannot hide from.” The national paper stated, “Canada must do more to defend our freedoms.”

There are multiple ways the country’s independence has been potentially compromised by undue influence from the CCP. Here is a countdown of five critical issues in a series of 10 which, taken together, establish a case for why Canadians must demand a thorough investigation of the relationship between the Trudeau government and the CCP.

10 – Defending the Canadian arctic 

In 2019, the Trudeau government launched a new Arctic and Northern Policy Framework with a pledge of $700 million and no mention of a required $15 billion investment into NORAD, the country’s radar system that is jointly operated with the U.S. This policy framework and defence spending is miserably inadequate given it was formulated with the knowledge of increasing threats of Chinese military and economic interests in the arctic.

Here are just two alarming facts. In 2018, the CCP announced its Arctic policy, entitled “Polar Silk Road”, that signaled interests in the Arctic’s resource reserves of oil, natural gas, and rare-earth minerals. The Economist reported China’s $200 billion-plus annual defence budgets have now amassed 340 battle ready ships, including ice-breakers and submarines for northern waters.

The CCP’s mounting interest in the north is an international crisis in the making, referred to by Canadian officials at National Defence as the “Arctic threat.” Jody Thomas, then the Deputy Minister of National Defence, warned publicly at an Ottawa security conference, “We should not underestimate at all that threat of resource exploitation in the Arctic by China in particular. China has a voracious appetite and will stop at nothing to feed itself, and the Arctic is one of the last domains and regions left…”

This all begs the question why the Trudeau government is knowingly neglecting to defend Canada’s interests in the north?

9 – The establishment of a foreign agent registry 

For years in the Canadian security community there has been an ongoing call to establish a registry that would require foreign state-employed persons acting within the country to make public their objectives and to disclose the government employing them. Many of Canada’s allies have such a registry. This initiative became a political issue when the Conservatives highlighted it in their 2021 election platform. Conservatives argue a foreign agent registry would be an effective tool in tackling clandestine efforts in social media and with elections operations by the CCP, Russia and other hostile states.

However, the Trudeau Liberals have consistently argued against the introduction of a foreign agent registry and only in March was the PM forced by public pressure to commit to review the matter. After completing a three month public consultation, Trudeau’s Cabinet is now deliberating on the public input. Still there is no commitment nor timeline to draft required legislation or to introduce a registry. The Liberals continue to delay – but to what end? Canada continues to be an outlier with its allies when it comes to guarding against CCP activities within its country – but at what cost?

8 – Federal investment in China 

Even with the increasing recognition of the CCP’s aggressive global economic and diplomatic strategies, the Trudeau government has been slow to suggest guidelines or restrictions on investments by Canadian government agencies in China. For example, the Canadian Pension Plan has invested $536 billion (11 per cent of the fund) of Canadians’ savings in China, including more than $1 billion in the parent company of TikTok.

Another example is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). In 2017 Canada was one of the first western countries to invest in the AIIB. The Trudeau government committed US$995 million for a one per cent stake in an international investment agency for financing infrastructure projects throughout Asia. Since the initial announcement, Conservatives challenged the government’s unqualified support for the AIIB and through the past five years have called for the withdrawal of Canada’s investment.

This week many claims about the bank were confirmed with frank revelations that the AIIB is being used by CCP to influence peddle throughout Asia. This CCP gambit was exposed by Canadian Bob Pickard, the bank’s global communications director, who resigned saying, “I am happy to be gone from that cesspool. The Communist Party hacks hold the cards at the Bank. They deal with some board members as useful idiots…”

Kudos to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland who announced an immediate review of Canada’s involvement with the AIIB. Yet, it is remarkable that she stopped short of suggesting possible divestment of Canadian shares in the bank. There is no clarity on how the government will review the matter or whether Canadians will receive an audit of their investments. But this tale is one that suggests Canadians deserve an explanation on the Trudeau government’s policies and investments in China.

7 – Ottawa’s “mishandling” of foreign intelligence

There is a new scandal unfolding in the Nation’s Capital involving the CCP. The scandal is being revealed through almost-comical, conflicting testimony before a parliamentary committee looking into the government’s handling of top-secret documentation. Canada’s spy agency warned the government of CCP threats to MPs and their families through briefing memos to the most senior of cabinet ministers and staff, including the Prime Ministers’ Office. Yet, ministers deny knowing of, and staff deny reading the memos. Testimonies to MPs contradict and obfuscate the matters and the national security advisor to the PM absolves all by testifying “There is no one person. There is no one single point of failure.”

This is slapstick theatre if it were not so serious. The “mishandling” of significant foreign intelligence memos must be responsibly addressed and cannot be so freely excused. 

6 – Canada’s response to China’s human rights violations against the Uyghur Muslims 

There is no question that there have been nightmarish human rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims at the hands of the CCP. A United Nations’ report substantiates abuses involving persecution, imprisonment, torture and ill-treatment, forced medical treatment, and incidents of sexual and gender-based violence. In Canada, parliamentarians have passed two unanimous motions, calling CCP treatment of Uyghurs “genocide” and calling on Canada to accept 10,000 Uyghur refugees.

Yet, for years now the PM offers little more than platitudes when discussing human rights abuses in China and he will not comment on the CCP’s evil treatment of the Uyghurs. In fact, to this day, the official policy stance of the Trudeau government remains unclear and unstated. But why?

5 – CCP police and agents in Canada  

Repeated news reports and testimony before MPs in the past three months have underlined a disturbing truth that CCP agents are active in Canada, a threatening presence for Chinese Canadians. At a parliamentary committee, the co-chair of Toronto Association for Democracy in China, Cheuk Kwan, testified that the CCP has been proactive in Canada since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Kwan states, “They also harass and intimidate Canadians who are critical of China, activists, dissidents and human rights defenders, rendering the Chinese Canadian community the real victims of this game.”

In Canada there are seven known CCP police stations located within the country – three in the GTA. There are 176 Chinese nationals with diplomatic credentials, a majority of whom are involved in espionage, according to Michel Juneau-Katsuya, the former CSIS Asia-Pacific chief. The network of police and diplomats carry out activities that include surveillance, suppressing rights activists, and persecuting groups like Falun Gong and Uyghur Muslims. It is part of the CCP’s covert United Front Work Department’s global program that in 2023 has a budget of US$30.5 billion.

It is important for Canadian authorities to expose the extent and work of the CCP networks in Canada. Henry Chan, a spokesman for a multiethnic coalition of 33 organizations concerned with foreign interference in Canada, frankly states, “There is so much at stake: our democracy, sovereignty, and trust in our institutions.”

4 – The Trudeau Foundation 

Much has been exposed relating to the Trudeau Foundation’s questionable donations from Beijing. Prior to 2015, the CCP funneled foreign donations into the Foundation to influence then-Liberal leader and soon-to-be PM Justin Trudeau. Money was also shoveled into Trudeau’s riding association for Montreal Liberals’ election campaigns. The promise of a million dollars, a Pierre Trudeau statue, and a series of “business” dinners were part of a CCP strategy to stroke the ego of Justin.

Canadians have recently learned that the Trudeau Foundation has invested in Chinese companies that Canada has flagged as security risks. We also know that the Foundation accepted $140,000 from a Beijing-based donor. We also know that in 2016, cabinet ministers met with the Foundation’s Chinese donors – and the PM himself attended a cash-for-access event with CCP-associated businessmen.

In light of the Foundation’s “stinkbomb” dealings being made public, its Board imploded, and the Chair and Board members resigned. As he is prone to do when confronted, PM Trudeau lashed out and blamed “those people” with “ungrounded attacks” for discrediting the Foundation. And still MPs had unanswered questions about the charity tax records and its filings, and who knew what when about the nefarious donations. All legitimate questions that cannot be deflected by Justin Trudeau’s overused rabbit punches.

3 – Election fraud and interference  

Today, it is an accepted fact that in the 2019 and 2021 elections CCP agents in Canada worked to undermine the Canadian election process and support the Trudeau Liberals. Still, questions remain whether the Liberal Party has been a knowing party and/or willing partner in the CCP’s fraudulent activities.

Sam Cooper’s initial Global News report revealed that a 2017 memo was prepared by national security experts that warned PM Trudeau of Beijing’s election interference strategy. In a parliamentary committee this week Cooper testified on his series of news stories exposing the CCP election interference plot. He stated, “…did Beijing fund candidates—it’s my understanding they funded a network, which is directed to support Beijing’s preferred candidates.”

A recent report published by the Alliance Canada Hong Kong concludes the CCP network’s reach is extensive: “The fundamental goal is to advance Beijing’s agenda by either supporting candidates deemed favorable or sabotaging candidates perceived as a threat… Foreign interference in an election can happen at any time: throughout a nomination race, during the writ period, a one-off event supporting or demonizing a candidate, or through continuous and organized interventions.”

With something as significant as the integrity of Canada’s democratic process, one must wonder why the Trudeau Liberals have been so adamant in the narrative, “There’s nothing to see here. Move along…”

2 – CCP–Liberal business interests 

The tangled web of CCP—Liberal business interests is thick. It starts with the Power Corp’s major investments in China – and the Desmarais family’s too-many-to-mention ties with the Trudeaus (Sr. & Jr.), Chretien, Martin, and Rae. In Toronto, there is a similar network plotting out Liberal political fortunes, involving Wei Chengyi, Weng Guoning, Paul Chiang, Han Dong, former Liberal minister and Chinese Ambassador John McCallum, and current small business minister Mary Ng. Add to this former Chinese Ambassador (and McKinsey global managing partner) Dominic Barton and his wife, who happens to be the Asian Pacific Chairman for Blackrock’s investments.

Seriously, there are too many potential conflicts here. Canadians should be provided a program with the interplay between the extensive business interests and political players.

1 – The mysteries at the Winnipeg Lab

Perhaps the greatest reason a full-blown review of the Trudeau Liberals-CCP relation is required involves the mysteries of the Winnipeg Lab, the country’s highest-security infectious-disease laboratory. In 2019 the Winnipeg Lab and Wuhan Lab in China were conducting joint virus research work. It has been reported that the scientists were conducting experiments on deadly pathogens. Then two scientists were unceremoniously escorted out, and later fired from the Winnipeg Lab (and now their whereabouts unknown).

Since the outbreak of COVID, the Trudeau government has been stonewalling every effort to get answers to the burning questions about the joint virus research and the missing fired scientists.  The Liberals have been held in contempt of Parliament and PM Trudeau prorogued the House and called an election to avoid having to provide evidence on this matter.

Perhaps Canadians will never know what happened in Winnipeg. They may also never know why Canada shipped PPE to China in late 2019 – leaving our country’s medical community without PPE in early 2020. Why the PM refused to ban flights from China or entertain thoughts that the virus was leaked from the Wuhan lab at the outbreak of the pandemic. Why the PM heralded the ample supply of a Canada-China COVID vaccine, only to be embarrassed a few months later when China reneged on its agreement.

Most frustrating is the fact that newsmen like Sam Cooper, Steven Chase and Robert Fife of the Globe and Mail, Terry Glavin, and uncompromised news outlets such as Blacklock’s Reporter and The Epoch Times have all been diligent in reporting the truth of the matter for years. The international community is aware; the country’s traditional allies now look suspiciously at the Trudeau government for its relations with the CCP. Remarkably, Canadians appear to be sleepwalking. It should be required reading for Canadians to delve deeper into these ten issues and read the aforementioned news sources.

The last word goes to former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney, who recently warned a parliamentary committee, “The (CCP) party’s objective is to transform Canada into a compliant country that perpetually looks over its shoulder to be sure what it says and does meets Beijing’s approval. Beijing’s objective is a degree of influence — in our democracy, our economy, our foreign policy and even in daily life in some of our communities — beyond the ambitions of any other country.”

So, what will it take to begin asking the serious questions about the CCP and its influence in Canada?

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact:

Photo Credit: Sean Kilpatrick of The Canadian Press



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