Foreign interference | Michael Chong calls for concerted action among democracies

(Quebec) Canada and its main allies must unite their efforts to counter foreign interference, particularly from China. This threat has grown to such an extent that it threatens the very foundations of democratic countries.

This is one of the main messages that conservative MP Michael Chong intends to deliver Tuesday in Washington to the members of an American Congressional committee which is looking into foreign interference.

Having been the target of a disinformation campaign twice by the communist regime in Beijing in the past two years – the first time during the 2021 federal election and the second time last May while an election was taking place partial in four districts in the country –, Mr. Chong was invited by the elected Americans to come and tell his experience.

In an interview given to The Press and at Toronto Star On the sidelines of the Conservative Party’s national convention on Saturday, Mr. Chong insisted that he would put the country’s national interest first by visiting the US capital.

No question, therefore, of taking advantage of this platform rarely granted to a Canadian elected official by a congressional committee to put the Trudeau government on trial and its management of the file of foreign interference in recent months.

“I am going to Washington to highlight that my case is just one of many cases of foreign interference taking place here in Canada,” said Mr. Chong, one of the most respected parliamentarians in Ottawa.

We need allied countries and like-minded democracies to work much more closely together to combat this foreign interference. […] The future of our democracies is at stake.

Michael Chong, Conservative MP for Wellington – Halton Hills

Mr. Chong gave the example of the adoption of a registry of foreign agents in the United States as a necessary measure. Other countries have done the same, notably Australia in 2018 and the United Kingdom last July, but the Trudeau government is slow to follow suit. The new Minister of Public Safety, Dominic LeBlanc, recently announced that he intended to move forward with the creation of such a register this fall.

In respect of rights

According to the Conservative MP, Canada and its allies must also examine best practices in terms of sharing security information and the use of this information as evidence in court.

“All Western governments struggle to counter the malign activities of foreign interference. In Canada, we try to find the right balance between fighting foreign interference and respecting people’s rights and freedoms. Authoritarian regimes do not have to worry about this detail. But we have to do it,” he explained.

Based on confidential documents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the daily The Globe and Mail revealed in February that China had used a sophisticated strategy during the 2021 federal elections to ensure the election of a Liberal minority government led by Justin Trudeau and the defeat of conservative candidates deemed hostile to the Beijing regime.

This affair has dominated political debates in Ottawa since then and opposition parties have called for a public inquiry into foreign interference.

After several weeks of negotiations with the opposition parties, the Trudeau government finally announced Thursday that it is entrusting the reins of the public inquiry into foreign interference to Judge Marie-Josée Hogue, of the Court of Justice. call from Quebec. The magistrate has the mandate to look into the disruptive actions of China, Russia and other authoritarian regimes. It will have to complete this important exercise by December 31, 2024.

A duty of audacity

In an interview, Mr. Chong could not help but make a link between the timing of this announcement and his testimony expected next week in Washington.

According to him, this investigation will highlight the flaws of the past. More specifically, it must help explain why he was never made aware of the campaigns of intimidation and disinformation carried out against him and members of his family who were in Hong Kong by the Canadian authorities. Mr. Chong learned the ins and outs of China’s maneuvers by reading the Globe and Mail in spring.

This is a retrospective investigation that must determine who, within the Trudeau government, knew what exactly and when they knew it. […] That’s the point of this whole exercise. We must hold people accountable for their failures, be bold and protect the safety of Canadians.

Michael Chong, Conservative MP for Wellington – Halton Hills

Mr. Chong, however, wanted to emphasize the importance of consultation between democratic countries on this issue.

“It is deeply corrosive to our democracy if we allow this foreign interference to occur without addressing it. They undermine public confidence in our democratic institutions like Parliament, in our electoral process like our general elections. They undermine social cohesion because they divide Canadians. They pose a threat to our economy and our prosperity. »

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