JWG via DTN 15 January 2023 JT and Rae have been reading the tar baby saga and are trying hard…
Canada: foreign interference 2023
Are We The World’s Patsy on Spying?
The Bridge with Peter Mansbridge: Some new intelligence on Canada’s vulnerability to foreign interference is worrying to say the least. It suggests that interference by foreigners is deeply embedded in Canadian politics on every level. But the unanswered question is are we any different than most western countries? Chantal Hebert and Bruce Anderson have their say….
Participants tell foreign interference inquiry to keep Canadians in the loop
Government lawyers suggest there are ‘practical limitations’ to releasing information
The first public hearings on foreign interference in Canada have begun. What you need to know
(CTV) After months of behind-the-scenes preparations, including deciding which key players will be able to participate and establishing parameters for the national security and intelligence-centric process, commissioner Marie-Josee Hogue has begun presiding over the first open phase of the national probe.
… After extensive deliberations, parliamentary hearings and a failed special rapporteur process, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc announced in September that a Quebec Court of Appeal justice would take on the task of examining the issue.
… While the first phase of Hogue’s work will focus on “the interference that China, Russia and other foreign actors may have engaged in” during the last two elections, it will also dig into the flow of information within the federal government in connection with these alleged instances.
The inquiry also recently announced that it is specifically requesting information and documents from the federal government regarding alleged interference by India in connection to the 2019 and 2021 elections.
Public hearings in foreign interference inquiry to start later this month
The first set of hearings will start on Jan. 29 in downtown Ottawa. They will run over five days.
China’s threats as Mr Chong goes to Washington
National security threats have a way of uniting politicians from across the aisle and that was on full display this week when the US Congress, investigating Chinese foreign interference, asked a Canadian politician named Michael Chong to testify. Not your average Tuesday on Capitol Hill, but Chong has a compelling story to tell.
In 2021, after he tabled a motion in the Canadian Parliament to declare the Chinese repression of the Uyghur population a genocide, he and his extended family in Hong Kong were actively targeted by agents of the People’s Republic of China. China has denied the allegation, but there is plenty of evidence to support Chong’s claims about Chinese interference. With a US election in just over a year and Russian and Chinese disinformation campaigns ratcheting up, US politicians are looking to learn from his experience to develop their own countermeasures. …
Chong: I delivered two clear messages to US senators and lawmakers. The PRC’s interference is also affecting many Canadians coast to coast whose stories remain untold and they suffer in silence. The message I delivered is that we need to deliver a suite of measures, a range of tools, to help governments combat this menace, including closer cooperation among allied democracies.
Chong tells U.S. Congress closer co-operation with allies needed to combat foreign interference
(CTV) More co-operation and co-ordination between Canada and the U.S. is needed to combat foreign interference by China, Conservative MP Michael Chong told the United States Congress Tuesday.
Chong was invited to appear before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, as part of its study into “countering China’s global transnational repression campaign,” to share his experience as a target of foreign interference by Beijing.
“Foreign interference threatens our economy, our long term prosperity, social cohesion, our Parliament and our elections,” Chong testified before the United States Congress in Washington, D.C. “It requires a suite of measures to combat, including closer cooperation amongst allied democracies.”
Chong’s testimony comes amid multiple reports in the last several months about the Chinese government allegedly and repeatedly targeting the MP and his family in retaliation for his condemnation of China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims. … Chong — who is also the Conservative foreign affairs critic — told the commission his experience is but one example of Beijing’s interference in Canada, while “many, many other cases go unreported and unnoticed, and the victims suffer in silence.”
During his testimony, he also repeated his desire to see the Canadian government implement a foreign agent registry — similar to those in Australia and the United States — which the Liberal government has said it will explore.
Trudeau says he will testify with ‘enthusiasm’ if called as a witness at foreign interference inquiry
Chinese embassy denies claim it meddles in Canadian affairs
“I think it’s important for Canadians to know exactly everything this government has been doing in regards to foreign interference and to talk frankly about the challenges that we continue to face in our democracies around the world.”
Following a series of media reports, Trudeau’s government has faced sharp criticism over how it handled and responded to intelligence about China’s alleged meddling in the past two federal elections.
While the prime minister and his senior advisers have denied some of the allegations, in May the government did confirm that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had in 2021 detected a plot by China to intimidate Conservative MP Michael Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong. The federal government later expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei in response.
Foreign interference is a serious threat — and it’s finally getting a serious response
The Liberals could have saved the country a lot of time and trouble by calling an inquiry months ago
(CBC) It might seem like ancient history now, but the belated appointment of a Quebec judge on Wednesday to lead a public inquiry into foreign interference is a reminder that — for a few feverish months this spring — the question of possible tampering in the Canadian democratic process was all anyone in Ottawa wanted to talk about.
It’s also a reminder that almost no one covered themselves in glory during those months.
Hogue’s appointment comes nearly three months after David Johnston — the former governor general chosen by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in March to look into the questions raised by a series of intelligence leaks — decided he’d had enough.
It was Johnston’s considered view that Parliament was — or should be — mature and serious enough to tackle the deeply important questions raised by this furor — questions that go to the very heart of this country’s democracy and institutions. Parliament disagreed, very loudly.
Justice Marie-Josée Hogue ‘honoured’ to lead foreign interference inquiry, hearing start to be determined
Inquiry will look at claims that China, Russia and other states meddled in Canadian elections
(CBC) The federal government has chosen Justice Marie-Josée Hogue to lead a highly anticipated public inquiry into foreign interference Thursday, although the details — like when the hearings will start and how much of Hogue’s work will be made public — haven’t been settled.
Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc formally announced Thursday morning that the Quebec Court of Appeal judge will preside over an independent inquiry investigating interference by China, Russia, other foreign states and non-state actors in the 2019 and 2021 elections. She is also tasked with looking at how intelligence flowed to decision-makers in the context of the past two elections.
… Thursday’s announcement follows a series of media stories reports accusing China of interfering in the 2019 and 2021 elections. The Liberals have faced a barrage of questions about what they knew about the attempts and how government institutions handled intelligence.
Harnessing a Middle-Power, Non-Zero-Sum Approach to China and the Indo-Pacific
Stephen Nagy, Senior Associate Professor, Department of Politics and International Studies, International Christian University, Tokyo
Conference of Defence Associations: Is it realistic to expect that cooperative and mutually beneficial economic relationships can be maintained with China while also addressing concerns about political interference and coercive diplomacy?
Stephen Nagy: There’s room for a public discussion about political interference in Canada, but it has to be done in a disciplined and open manner. At the same time, I think that as we try to address the issues of political interference, we don’t want to reveal all our cards about how we detected political interference, otherwise the Chinese will know how we figured out how they did it, and then they might change the tactics, and do it in a different way. As we think about, first, addressing these issues, I think there’s a place for public discussion. But there’s a place also for dealing with this behind closed doors so that we can continue to have effective policies to identify these issues.
We need to be mature in our approach and understand that a bilateral relationship of this magnitude has many dimensions and that if we only focus on one dimension, political interference, we’re going to lose salience in the other dimensions of the relationship. That means that we find ways to isolate different aspects of the relationship so that they don’t overlap with others. And this is extremely difficult, but I think that it’s something that we continue to need to focus on. Again, I think that a good way to do this is to work in multilateral partnerships to demonstrate to China that these kinds of tactics will have consequences on China, whether they’re economic or political, and try to discourage or de-incentivize using these tactics to shape our political system. There’s no easy solution. But it’s critical that we continue to try and find ways to deal with this.
David Johnston files his final report on foreign interference, but it won’t be made public
Johnston’s initial report in May concluded that a public inquiry would not be a constructive way forward — angering opposition parties
(Canadian Press) David Johnston filed his final — and confidential — report on foreign interference to the prime minister on Monday, ending his contentious term as special rapporteur.
Johnston had announced his plans to resign earlier this month, saying the atmosphere around his work had become too partisan. He pledged to submit a final report to the government before the end of June.
Trudeau named Johnston as special rapporteur on foreign interference in March, and tasked him with setting a path forward for the government in tackling the issue.
At the time, pressure was mounting on the Liberal government to take action following multiple media reports, citing unnamed national security sources, that accused China of meddling in the last two federal elections.
RCMP confirms probe into Chong threats as ex-adviser to PM offers new details on memo
RCMP commissioner Mike Duheme confirmed Tuesday that police have opened a criminal investigation into allegations that Conservative MP Michael Chong was targeted by Beijing.
He said the RCMP is also working with elections officials to probe alleged foreign interference against two other members of Parliament — Conservative MP Erin O’Toole and NDP MP Jenny Kwan — but wouldn’t confirm whether police are pursuing criminal charges in either case.
“Any matters that can be charged, any person that can be charged with the Criminal Code, we will do so,” he told reporters after having appeared before a House of Commons committee studying foreign interference.
Duheme said more than 100 investigations into foreign interference writ large are underway in Canada, adding that police stations allegedly operated by Beijing have been closed amid ongoing investigations.
David Johnston’s position is barely tenable. Can his investigation be salvaged?
David Johnston can be both a flawed choice to investigate the government’s response to intelligence on foreign interference — and the target of unfair treatment since taking on that task. The prime minister could have been better off asking someone else to be special rapporteur — and Johnston’s reception from his critics may have diminished the number of people willing and able to do the job.
Now that most members of the House of Commons have called on Johnston to resign, his position is barely tenable. But he is apparently determined to finish the job. And the process he initiated may still be salvageable.
David Johnston plans to stay on as special rapporteur after Commons votes for him to step aside
(CBC) After members of Parliament voted in favour of his ouster Wednesday, David Johnston said his mandate to probe allegations of foreign interference comes from the government — not from the House of Commons.
The former governor general released a statement following the vote on a motion brought forward by the NDP, which the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois supported while the Liberals stood opposed. It passed 174 to 150.
NDP calls on Johnston to step down as special rapporteur on foreign interference
The NDP is introducing an opposition day motion calling on David Johnston to step down as the government’s special rapporteur on foreign interference — only days after one of its MPs was told by CSIS she has been targeted by the Chinese government.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said that while he has been careful not to attack the former governor general or his reputation, Johnston’s background has led to doubts about his work as the special rapporteur.
Pierre Poilievre is right about one thing: Special rapporteur is a fake job
Lori Turnbull, Director of the School of Public Administration and associate professor at Dalhousie University,
(Globe & Mail) The decision as to whether to hold a public inquiry on any topic, including the very important issue of foreign interference in Canada’s democracy, belongs to the prime minister. It cannot be transferred to an unelected, unaccountable appointee, regardless of that person’s credentials or experience. The ongoing noise about The Right Honourable David Johnston’s appointment to this position is an unfortunate distraction of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s making.
The public inquiry ought to be run by a truly independent person with expertise on the issues of national security and intelligence. Mr. Johnston’s appointment as special rapporteur shows deeply flawed judgment, both on the part of the Prime Minister for making it, and on the part of Mr. Johnston for taking it.
Sean Speer: The unavoidable implication of the Johnston report: Canada is broken
Johnston’s conclusion—that this government is not corrupt, just plain incompetent—is little comfort for our country
(The Hub) In broad terms, there were two possible outcomes from David Johnston’s investigation into the Chinese interference scandal.
The first was evidence of political corruption. He could have found that the government’s failure to respond to the growing body of intelligence on Chinese interference in Canadian democracy was due to purposeful neglect on the part of the prime minister, his Cabinet, and their staff because those efforts aided the Liberal Party’s partisan interests.
The second was evidence of basic state failure—that is to say, the billions of dollars that we spend on intelligence gathering, analysis, and policy adoption were effectively wasted because of a lack of clarity around information sharing, the persistence of institutional siloes, and disinterest on the part of the political arm of the government.
Johnston’s report points in the second direction. He says that he found no specific evidence of gross political negligence. Instead, the main issue was that the intelligence that was collected and analyzed never seemed to make it to political actors. In the case of the intelligence on the targeting of MP Michael Chong, for instance, we’re told that while it was sent to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and his chief of staff, it was sent through a top-secret email system for which they seemingly lacked log-in details.
Matt Gurney: The Johnston report is one of the most depressing things I’ve ever read
Most of the commentary over the special rapporteur’s report is going to miss the plain, simple truth he reveals: we are just totally, epically boned
On this and other matters, what the Liberals have offered as their defences are actually just different kinds of confessions. “We’re too incompetent to be malicious” is about where their own version of events is landing, and the hell of it is, it may well be true.