Below 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. Photo credit: The Canadian Press
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 artic
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 artic.
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?
Next week: The case for a full-blown investigation: part two. Critical issues to consider 5-1.
Chris George is an advocate, government relations advisor, and writer/copy editor. As president of a public relations firm established in 1994, Chris provides discreet counsel, tactical advice and management skills to CEOs/Presidents, Boards of Directors and senior executive teams in executing public and government relations campaigns and managing issues. Prior to this PR/GR career, Chris spent seven years on Parliament Hill on staffs of Cabinet Ministers and MPs. He has served in senior campaign positions for electoral and advocacy campaigns at every level of government. Today, Chris resides in Almonte, Ontario where he and his wife manage www.cgacommunications.com. Contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.