That, given that intimidation tactics of the People's Republic of China are being deployed against many Canadians of Chinese descent in diaspora communities across the country, which are widely reported and well established through the House of Commons’ committee testimony and reports by Canada’s security establishment, including reports indicating that families of members of Parliament are subjected to an intimidation campaign orchestrated out of Beijing’s consulate in Toronto, the House call on the government to stop delaying and immediately:
(a) create a foreign agent registry similar to Australia and the United States of America;
(b) establish a national public inquiry on the matter of foreign election interference;
(c) close down the People's Republic of China run police stations operating in Canada; and
(d) expel all of the People's Republic of China diplomats responsible for and involved in these affronts to Canadian democracy.
He said: I rise to speak on our Conservative motion calling on the government to finally stand up to Beijing's interference in our democracy and our sovereignty.
This motion could not be more timely. On May 1, The Globe and Mail revealed that, in a CSIS report, it is stated that Beijing “sees Canada as a ‘high-priority target’” and that Beijing is the “‘foremost perpetrator’ of foreign interference in Canada.” The same CSIS report states that Beijing agents are completely “unconcerned about repercussions” in Canada. It is no wonder. When it comes to Beijing's interference, the Liberal government's response has been one of weakness, incompetence and inaction.
Under the 's watch, Beijing has interfered in two federal elections. Beijing has set up illegal police stations to harass and intimidate Chinese Canadians. This week, we learned that a Beijing diplomat working at Beijing's Toronto consulate arranged to sanction and punish family members, in Hong Kong, of a sitting member of Parliament because that member voted in this place to stand up against Beijing's human rights violations. In other words, Beijing attempted to intimidate a sitting member of the House, a duly elected member. It attempted to interfere with that member's ability to do his job, which is to stand and vote in this place on behalf of his constituents and of Canadians, free from Beijing's coercion. This is about as serious as it gets.
I will be splitting my time with the member for .
It is well documented that Beijing diplomats who are accredited here in Canada have been extensively involved in all these foreign interference activities. However, in the face of that, as well as substantial evidence, not one single Beijing diplomat has been expelled by the government. The government has pathetically cited the Vienna Convention as a basis upon which not to expel these diplomats. This is incredible, because article 9 of the Vienna Convention gives this government unfettered discretion to expel any diplomat at any time without having to provide a reason. Therefore, the government's excuse for its failure and refusal to expel Beijing diplomats is no excuse at all. The government has been so weak that, for two years, it has known the name of the Beijing diplomat who arranged to punish the family of a sitting member of Parliament. That diplomat continues to work at Beijing's Toronto consulate.
Instead of doing what they should have done, which is to immediately expel that diplomat, the response of the government was to turn a blind eye, to effectively give the green light to this Beijing thug. Even worse, the government attempted to cover it up. The only reason Canadians know of this shocking incident is because of the May 1 report in The Globe and Mail. The government did not even have the courtesy to inform the sitting member whose family was in harm's way. That is truly disgusting behaviour on the part of the government.
The has been caught covering up for Beijing once again. It is time for him to stand up to Beijing for once and do the right thing. He should send that diplomat packing today.
It is truly alarming that, under the Liberal government's watch, the Beijing regime has operated at least eight illegal police stations. These police stations have been set up by the Beijing regime to monitor, track, harass and intimidate Chinese Canadian citizens. They have facilitated the forced repatriation of persons to China. Violations of human rights are taking place at these black sites. Not only are these police stations illegal, but they are also a violation of our sovereignty and international law. Even though it has been months since the first police station was discovered, not a single diplomat has been expelled, no arrests have been made and no charges have been laid.
The came before the procedure and House affairs committee last week. He repeatedly stated that the RCMP had shut down the illegal police stations. The Minister of Public Safety repeatedly told the committee something he knew, at the time, not to be true.
That is not the first time this has happened for the . As it turns out, at least two of these illegal police stations are operating in Montreal, and the RCMP has taken no action to shut them down. Therefore, what we saw at the procedure and House affairs committee from the Minister of Public Safety is another example of the government failing to act. It is another example of a minister, on behalf of the government, seeking to mislead Canadians about the failures of the government. This is all to the detriment of the safety and security of Chinese Canadian citizens in particular.
Then there is the failure of the government to protect the sanctity of our elections from Beijing's interference. It is now well established that the has been repeatedly briefed about Beijing's vast campaign of interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections. The Prime Minister was briefed as early as February 2020 that Beijing's Toronto consulate coordinated a campaign involving 11 candidates and the clandestine transfer of funds.
The advice that CSIS provided the was that the policy of the government, when it comes to foreign interference, should be grounded in sunlight and transparency. However, the Prime Minister's response has been anything but transparent. He kept Canadians in the dark, and when this interference became known, he downplayed it. He used carefully crafted language, and he misled Canadians about what he knew. One can only conclude that it was because that interference benefited the Liberal Party; he was content to let it happen.
When it comes to standing up for our safety, security and democracy in the face of Beijing's interference, the and the government are completely unfit for office.
Madam Speaker, in 2002, I accepted an invitation to join the Canadian foreign service. My motivation was to serve the country I loved and to promote the values of freedom, the rule of law and democracy. My guiding document was the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a document revered by all nations, a universally codified agreement. The statutes within it allow the nations to conduct their diplomatic functions in a safe and mutually agreed-upon manner. To operate within it meant security, fidelity and continuity of business abroad. For me, to violate it was unthinkable. To honour it meant safe care of citizens, both at home and abroad.
In 2018, I was asked to serve as shadow minister for democratic institutions. My pleas to the then minister of democratic institutions, now , to protect our democracy at all costs fell on deaf ears. I am particularly offended that our current leader is accused of having done nothing, when she held the pen leading up to the 2019 and subsequent 2021 elections.
In 2018, I questioned the in the House, and the responded. I asked:
Mr. Speaker, in response to a question in New York this week, the Prime Minister admitted to knowing that foreign money had influenced the 2015 federal election. Bill C-76 was supposed to close the loopholes in the election legislation, but it does nothing to stop foreign money from influencing our elections.
When is the Prime Minister going to take this issue seriously and stop foreign interests from influencing our elections?
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. It is vital that everyone in the House work together to avoid and prevent foreign influence and interference in our elections.
I am excited to work with everyone in the House to make sure we pass Bill C-76. In Bill C-76 are tangible measures to ensure we can prevent foreign interference. I hope my colleagues on the other side will work with us to get this legislation passed quickly to ensure that our next elections are protected.
In addition to the toothless Bill , the then gloated about the creation and implementation of the critical election incident protocol, a government body composed of five senior civil servants who all reported to the Liberal government. Be it incompetence or intention, the Liberal minister also failed, along with the , to keep Canadians safe and to protect our democratic institutions, but she refused to believe otherwise.
Nonetheless, here we are today, with revelations of significant interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections by the People's Republic of China, reports of money being funnelled to candidates and Canadians being intimidated. Canada's election law is very clear: “No person who does not reside in Canada shall, during an election period, in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate”.
The continues to avoid questions and dismisses concerns as ill-informed or even racist. When questioned by the official opposition in November, he stated that he was never briefed on election candidates receiving money from Beijing. This was even while Global News was reporting that intelligence memos had been given to the Prime Minister months before, outlining how Beijing's consulate directed the funnelling of a large sum of money to 11 candidates in the 2019 election. When the former head of CSIS called for a public inquiry into election interference, the Prime Minister labelled that suggestion as undermining democracy. As well, after Global News alleged, in late February, that the member for was aided in 2019 by the Chinese consulate in Toronto, the Prime Minister dismissed questions about the situation, coming close to accusing the media of racism for even daring to ask about it, and to accusing those who were trying to get to the truth of damaging confidence in Canada's democratic institutions.
Most recently, a report published by The Globe and Mail on May 1 made the claim that CSIS documents from 2021 state that China sees Canada as a prime target for interference. It also states that the member of Parliament for 's family was targeted by Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei. The diplomat faced no repercussions, and the member was not made aware until the Globe and Mail story two years later. This is why Conservatives, the final defenders of freedom in this nation, have presented this motion here today.
I will now discuss each part in more detail. The motion states, “(a) create a foreign agent registry similar to Australia and the United States of America”. We have had, on this side of the House, a member bring legislation to the House, only to have it defeated by the current government, and now we see why. In 2019, the member for brought similar legislation to the House, and it was voted down by the current government. The irony of other nations' having implemented such registries is that, in June 2018, the government announced, at the G7 Charlevoix summit, that it would lead on the commitment by G7 leaders with respect to the protection of democracy, by playing and coordinating a leadership function for the broader G7 network. Most recently, we have seen the Liberal member for refute the necessity of such a registry. Given the discoveries over the last few weeks, we can see why.
The motion continues with “(b) establish a national public inquiry on the matter of foreign election interference”. All parties except the government, including its coalition partners from the NDP, are calling for this clause, yet we have learned that the government will kick and scream to avoid transparency, and, even when this is brought to pass by the House with opposition parties in agreement, will refuse to comply to provide information.
The motion then states, “(c) close down the People's Republic of China run police stations operating in Canada”. I am sure that Canadians were in disbelief that police stations, not only from another nation but from a nation that has no regard for human rights or the rule of law, were operating within our borders, and that, in fact, the gave us the assurance that all of these stations had been closed, yet we found out on May 1 that these continue to operate in Quebec.
Part (d) of the motion is to “expel all of the People's Republic of China diplomats responsible for and involved in these affronts to Canadian democracy.” The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is a cornerstone of modern international relations and international law. It states that the host nation at any time and for any reason can declare a diplomatic staff member to be persona non grata. It further states that the sending state, in that case, must recall this person within a reasonable period of time; otherwise, this person may lose their diplomatic immunity.
This is something that should have happened by now, yet the and the government have failed to do so for this individual. If the member for is not safe, how do we know that all members of the House and their families are safe? The Vienna Convention is about honour, and so, I thought, is the House. However, in the words of the great author Lord Jeffrey Archer, there is no honour among thieves. The government should recognize the reprehensible violation of diplomatic immunity and declare Zhao Wei persona non grata.
As a former diplomat for Canada, my desire for freedom, democracy and the rule of law will never be hampered, not even by the current government. It is the raison d’être for my being here in the House of Commons and it is why I stand in support of the member for . The Conservative Party will never back down from those who attempt to impede the fundamental freedoms of Canadians: truth, freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. If other members believe in those as well, they will support this legislation.
Madam Speaker, given all of the conversations that have been happening this morning, I want to begin by being very clear. On this side of the House, our government has zero tolerance for foreign interference. We take any attempt to undermine our democracy seriously, and we will continue to take all the actions that are necessary to protect our institutions. This is not a partisan issue, and it should not be a partisan issue. It is a matter of upholding Canadians' confidence in our democracy.
Foreign interference, as we know, is not solely a Canadian issue. Hostile state actors are targeting western democracies, whether it is Australia, the United Kingdom, France, the United States or other allies. These hostile state actors continue to do so at a rate we have not seen since the Cold War. They are working to sow distrust in our institutions, and it is very important for Canadians to see that every single member of the House is united in our actions against hostile foreign actors.
Our government has already done more than any other government in the history of our country to put a stop to foreign interference. We are committed to working across the government and with all who are interested in working with us to bolster our institutions, to improve our systems and to create the tools that are required to fight and deter foreign interference.
The has made it clear that he is not here to play a constructive role or to work across party lines to fight foreign interference, and that is his choice. If members opposite choose to polarize situations and score cheap political points on the back of a serious situation, that is their choice. That is not how we choose to do things.
Foreign interference is a topic that requires constant vigilance and the participation, collaboration and co-operation of governments around the world, but, most important, all members of the House. In today's uncertain and unstable global climate, I believe very strongly that it is an issue that demands the types of conversations we are having now, so long as those conversations are grounded in fact and that we choose to work toward solutions, and we know Canadians feel the same way. Canadians share this concern.
Let me be clear about one thing above all else. It is Canadians and Canadians alone who decide the outcome of our elections, and we will ensure it stays that way. We have the systems and processes, the checks and balances that protect the foundations of our democracy. As I said before, we are committed to working across the government to improve and create the tools that are required to fight and deter foreign interference.
Canadians want reassurance that they will not be targeted directly. That also means members of Parliament. We will do all that we can as parliamentarians, and we should do all we can, to stay ahead of the threats to our safety.
Malicious interference undermines Canada's democratic institutions and public discourse. It is also used to intimidate and coerce diaspora communities in our country.
Part of what hostile state actors are trying to do is to shift the narrative. By that I mean they are working to sow division to circumvent the rules-based international order. They are seeking to create confusion and mistrust, and when they look at the debate in this House and the comments that are coming from across the way, they are succeeding.
To achieve their objectives, these foreign-state actors engage in hostile activities. They actively engage in spreading misinformation and disinformation in an attempt to undermine confidence in the fundamental institutions of this country, including our electoral system. They do so by cultivating witting and unwitting individuals to assist them, which enables them to operate with plausible deniability on Canadian soil. That is why it—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Madam Speaker, as I said, they do so by cultivating witting or unwitting individuals to assist them, which enables them to operate with plausible deniability on Canadian soil. That is why it constitutes a threat to Canada's social cohesion, sovereignty and, indeed, our national security. That is why it is so important for us to double down on protecting our democratic processes and the values that we hold dear.
That is why, over the past month, the has been showing Canadians exactly what we are doing to confront this problem. He has made important announcements on this topic over the past month.
I want to be clear that the Government of Canada is always seeking new and innovative measures and ways to enhance the measures we already have in place to counter foreign interference. As the threats evolve, so too must our response. That is what we have been doing. We continue to learn from the experience of our international partners to see what works and what may be applicable in Canada.
In keeping with this approach, on March 6, the Prime Minister announced further action to combat foreign interference and to uphold confidence in our democratic institutions
Let us just be clear about what has been done. The Prime Minister announced the establishment of a new national counter foreign interference coordinator in Public Safety Canada, who will have the power to coordinate across government efforts to combat foreign interference. The government has actioned requested reviews from the National Security Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, NSICOP, and the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, NSIRA, on the state of foreign interference in Canada and in our federal electoral process and how our national security agencies have responded to this threat.
It is also important to note that the Prime Minister announced that we were developing a plan to address outstanding recommendations from NSICOP, from the Rosenberg report and other reviews on this matter. I will note that the report “Countering an evolving threat: Update on recommendations to counter foreign interference in Canada’s democratic institutions” was delivered on April 6.
We have made an investment of $5.5 million to strengthen the capacity of civil society partners to counter disinformation, promote democratic resilience and improve public awareness of foreign interference.
The Prime Minister has also announced the launch of public consultations to guide the creation of a foreign influence transparency registry in our country. These consultations are currently open. I would encourage all Canadians and all members of the House to share their views on this registry through Public Safety Canada's website.
It is important that we have these consultations to ensure that the communities that are affected by this have the opportunity to have input into what that registry might look like, so we do not have unintended consequences of communities being adversely impacted.
The goal is to ensure transparency and accountability from the very people who advocate on behalf of a foreign government and that the communities that are targeted by these attempts at foreign interference are protected.
While consultations on the foreign influence transparency registry are under way in round tables and bilateral formats, with dozens of stakeholders and interlocutors, I would be glad for all of us to get an update in the House once that process concludes, which we will have.
What I would note is that we are hearing overwhelmingly that there is support to bring forward the registry, and we are going to do it but we are going to do it in the right way. These consultations are going to help to ensure we get it right.
The Government of Canada is making substantial and significant investments in our counter foreign interference capabilities. The last budget includes $13.5 million, and another $3.1 million, to Public Safety Canada to establish a national counter foreign interference office, something that the opposition is voting against.
Budget 2023 also includes almost $50 million for the RCMP so it has more resources to do its work to protect Canadians from harassment and intimidation by foreign actors, an investment that the opposition opposes. This investment will also increase the RCMP's investigative capacity and its capacity to proactively engage with communities that are at risk of being targeted. I know this is something that the opposition continues to oppose.
These investments build on the previous budget, in which we saw investments of almost $15 million to renew and expand the G7 rapid response mechanism to address foreign threats to democracy, which the opposition opposed, as well as the almost $13 million to establish a research security centre at Public Safety Canada to protect Canadian research, while also strengthening the security posture of universities and research institutions, which the Conservatives opposed.
These significant investments seek to increase the Government of Canada's capacity in its ongoing efforts to counter foreign interference. As I have noted, it is clear that these issues are very much part of what this government is doing and, given the current climate, they are going to continue to be on our agenda.
Our recent announcements build upon the foundation that has been provided by the authorities, and can assure Canadians they can have confidence in their institutions, including in their elections.
I would like to take a few moments to share a few quotes from testimony that House of Commons committees have heard over the past while, which really drive this point home.
David Vigneault, the head of CSIS, said:
CSIS continues to view hostile activities by foreign-state actors as the most significant threat to Canada's national security community.... Building resilience to foreign interference is one way to mitigate its corrosive effects....
Therefore, we continue to invest significant efforts in building relationships with individuals, communities and community leaders to establish and sustain trust, and to offer our support and partnership in their protection.
I am now going to quote Jody Thomas, the national security intelligence adviser. She said:
Over the past few years, we have taken a number of steps to more effectively detect, deter and counter foreign interference in all its forms, including but not only during election periods. One effective way to do so is to talk about the threat and how we mitigate it without jeopardizing the sources and techniques used to gather intelligence and keep Canadians safe.... These mechanisms helped ensure that the 2019 and 2021 federal elections were indeed fair and legitimate, despite foreign interference attempts.... [W]e are clear-eyed in understanding the challenge posed by foreign interference. We are taking concrete steps to strengthen our counter-foreign interference approach, including by making sure that those who engage in such activities face consequences.
It is clear that the experts on this matter agree. The non-partisan experts in this country agree we are doing good work on a very solid foundation and we must remain vigilant.
With respect to the 2019 and 2021 federal elections, the asked NSIRA to undertake a review. He has spoken to the chair of that committee to ensure that the review captures the flow of information from national security agencies to decision-makers. Further, the Government of Canada's security and intelligence apparatus and community are combatting threats within their respective mandates. From a law enforcement perspective, for example, foreign interference activities can be investigated when criminal or illegal activity is involved.
The RCMP has a broad, multi-faceted mandate that allows it to investigate and prevent foreign interference by drawing upon legislation. As part of its mandate, as everyone in this House should know, CSIS provides the Government of Canada with timely and relevant intelligence on these threats, but it decides what information is provided up the food chain, and not political leaders.
The Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, works to monitor the cybersecurity environment and to use that understanding to identify, address and share knowledge about systemic threats, risks and vulnerabilities.
I should mention that this government has a particular reputation for being open and transparent in these matters, and I think we are moving in the right direction with the appointment of an exceptionally qualified independent special rapporteur. He is aware of how crucial it is to uphold transparency while also preserving the methods, the technology and the professionals who work in the field.
While the independent rapporteur has been appointed, we will carry out this task in collaboration with all lawmakers who choose to participate in the process so that Canadians can see our diligence and transparency. We have said time and time again that we will accept all of the recommendations of the special rapporteur.
We recognize the concerns that Canadians have, but we also want to reassure them that this government is taking every proactive measure—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Madam Speaker, I want to go back to what I was saying. I think we all recognize on this side of the House the concerns Canadians have. I want to reassure them that our government is taking these concerns very seriously. We are taking the proactive measures that are required to thwart outside meddling in our institutions and in our democracy, and we are going to safeguard our democratic institutions.
We take seriously the introduction of new policies and powers within the national security community, but we also work within the legal requirements and constraints we have. The legal requirements that will allow us to implement them, as well as the transparent systems that will allow for accountability, must be carefully considered.
It is important that we are respectful when having these discussions across the country. We need a national picture. We need to understand the impact on communities and on individuals, and it is important for all of us in this House to show Canadians that we can put partisanship aside to deal with the very serious issues before us.
I want to thank all members of this House who have taken the time to share their serious concerns and points of view on this conversation so that we can move forward together.
It is also important for us in this House to take a moment to thank our security and law enforcement agencies, which count among them great Canadians who are working on the front lines in our communities, at our borders and online in the cybersphere to keep us safe. They work tirelessly to keep us safe and to keep our democracy safe, and respect for the work they do is critical. There are experts in the field who are working hard to ensure we have the best possible recommendations on the path forward.
Regardless of our political stripe, election interference, foreign interference, is something we must take seriously. To turn this into a partisan cudgel to try to score political points does Canada no service and does our democracy no service. All it does is seek to validate what foreign actors seek to do. They seek to sow discontent, to disrupt, and to cause confusion. The antics in this House and the comments that have been made are an indication that they are succeeding. On this side of the House, we will not let them succeed, because we believe the work that needs to be done is often done quietly and with seriousness of purpose.
As a former public servant who had the privilege of serving this country in the Department of Public Safety and working with CSIS, the RCMP and our border agencies, I can tell members that our public servants take this work extremely seriously. They take this work as their life's work and they do not compromise when it comes to the safety of Canadians.
The type of work we need is work that is done quietly and in the service of this country and that keeps us safe. It is not comments and catcalls, criticism of fact or making things up that gets us to a safer democracy. What gets us to a safer democracy is showing Canadians that every single member of this House respects our democracy, respects its institutions, respects the way in which our Constitution governs us, but most importantly, respects the quiet work of our public service in keeping us safe and making sure those things work in tandem.
Our job as parliamentarians is to reflect the best of this country. Our job is to make sure Canadians see in us people who are prepared to protect their democracy and preserve it. I am confident that on this side of the House this is the work we are going to do. We invite every single parliamentarian in this House to cast partisanship aside and work together in this regard.
Madam Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the hon. member for .
I will not keep the members on tenterhooks any longer: The Bloc Québécois will be supporting today's motion from the Conservatives.
As we know, when things drag, they tend to pick up dirt, and right now everything is turning into a crisis. The longer this drags on, the more likely it is that we will have to face two risks that are coming our way.
First, as the public hears different information about allegations of foreign interference, there is a growing risk that the public will lose confidence in democracy, in its institutions and in the work of members of Parliament.
Second, the more time that goes by without meaningful action being taken, the greater the risk that an election will be called and that, for the third time running, there will be foreign interference in an election because the right legislative measures have not been put in place to fight it.
The motion before the House today has four main points calling on the government to create a foreign agent registry, establish a national public inquiry, close down the People's Republic of China run police stations, and expel all of the diplomats responsible for these affronts to Canadian democracy. I will address all of these points, but not necessarily in that order.
I will begin with the point that the Bloc Québécois sees as the most important. We were actually the first to recommend it. I am talking about establishing an independent public inquiry. We want to make one main point or one key request. The person in charge of this inquiry must be appointed by all parties represented in the House. We have been calling for an independent public inquiry since February 28.
That was two months ago. I cannot believe that, in two months' time, the four parties, representing the entire Canadian population, have not been able to agree on the right person to appoint to lead a public inquiry, someone who is not part of the Prime Minister's inner circle, family or friends.
We have been asking for this inquiry for a long time, and, above all, we want to ensure that the person leading this inquiry is non-partisan and impartial so that the public will have confidence in the recommendations resulting from this inquiry. We hope that this inquiry will be launched.
If information is handled behind closed doors during this inquiry, the public must have confidence that this is being done for valid national security reasons, not for the benefit of a party that wants to hide certain information. That is why it is important to have a commissioner, judge, or commission chair who is impartial. If the information is not disclosed and must be handled behind closed doors, the public will have confidence that it is for non-partisan reasons.
It has been argued on a number of occasions that holding an independent public inquiry in an open and transparent manner could compromise the work of national security institutions by revealing sources or investigative techniques. We could trust this future commissioner to determine what needs to be done behind closed doors.
We in the Bloc Québécois are not alone in calling for an independent public inquiry. Jean‑Pierre Kingsley, a former chief electoral officer for Elections Canada, said in March on Radio‑Canada, “Canadians need to know what happened. Until there is a public inquiry, information will come out in dribs and drabs and people are going to pay the price for that”.
The fact that this is dragging on and no meaningful action is being taken is another problem. The information is being reported haphazardly, which could jeopardize some investigations and certain sources.
In addition to recommending an independent public inquiry and the appointment of an impartial chair to lead the inquiry, the Bloc Québécois recommended overhauling the Inquiries Act to ensure that future chairs of public inquiries are appointed by consensus in the House.
The motion also calls for the creation of a foreign agent registry. In our opinion, we need to go much further than the simple creation of a foreign agent registry. We need to bring in legislative measures to help address interference. That is something people have long been calling for. In November 2020, the House adopted a motion to implement mechanisms with a lot more teeth to tackle foreign interference.
Once again, unfortunately, it took a crisis and media attention for the government to start moving. About a month ago, the government finally announced that consultations would be held about creating a registry.
In addition to creating a registry, we need much broader legislation to tackle interference. One of the things we learned in the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs is that there are legislative gaps. Often, information comes in and it is clear there has been interference, but it cannot be addressed because there is no legislative leverage to do so.
Information is also coming in dribs and drabs. National campaign managers have said that information passed between intelligence agencies is a one-way street. Parties give information to the intelligence agencies but get little or nothing in return. Even if someone is given information, there is no avenue for a party to take action and address this interference.
As for a registry, both the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP have been calling for one. Will it solve everything? No. However, it is one of the tools that would, in conjunction with other tools, help us move in the right direction.
Some people are saying that this kind of registry could inadvertently target members of Canada's Chinese community, but I think such a claim is purely hypothetical. There is no definite indication that members of the Chinese Canadian community would be targeted. Besides, when it comes to foreign agents, members of the Chinese Canadian diaspora are the ones paying the price. They are the ones enduring threats and harassment from foreign agents. All things considered, setting up a registry is the best option, precisely to protect members of the Chinese Canadian diaspora.
The Conservatives also propose that we close down these police stations. The problem is that there seem to be some discrepancies concerning what is really going on. The told us on April 27 that all the Chinese police stations operating in Canada had been shut down. However, the media reports that calls made to these offices and agencies, like the Service à la famille chinoise du Grand Montréal, suggest they are still operating.
All the elements presented today are interrelated. Any single recommendation in the Conservatives' motion would not have an impact in and of itself. It would only reach its full potential in conjunction with the other recommendations. If the police stations have not been closed, it is because the law does not allow it. That is why it is important to also create a foreign agent registry, which will allow us to have some control over these police stations.
I would also like to mention that the issue of police stations is somewhat limited. We must tackle other issues and appropriate legislation would make that possible. For example, there are all the issues with economic threats, threats to Chinese Canadians' families who are still in China or, for example, everything connected to honeytraps, an influence tactic whereby a woman seduces a member of the community and then threatens to inform the person's family.
With regard to the expulsion of diplomats, once again, something could have been done but was not. The said that it is difficult to expel foreign diplomats in the absence of sufficient evidence and that doing so would not be in keeping with the Vienna Convention. However, we know that the Vienna Convention allows for the expulsion of diplomats without any justification from the government, so this story about respecting or not respecting the Vienna Convention does not hold water. Former Canadian ambassador to China, Guy Saint‑Jacques, and the former counsellor at the embassy, Charles Burton, both agree with the request and acknowledge that Canada does not have to provide an explanation for expelling diplomats, as the United States and Great Britain did when similar situations occurred there.
The fact that the government is saying that it will not expel diplomats sends the wrong message. It is as though the government is saying that they can continue with their threatening activities in Canada and that we will tolerate their intimidation.
Above all that, I would also like to reiterate the Bloc Québécois's suggestion, which could have perhaps been included in today's motion, and that is the creation of an independent office on interference. That office would not answer to the Prime Minister or the Minister of Public Safety. It would answer to the House, a bit like the Auditor General does. That office would also have the advantage of being able to work outside election periods because interference does not just happen during elections.
An office with the power to investigate, search and arrest and the ability to work with CSIS and the RCMP would cut down on foreign interference and restore public confidence. For all these reasons, the Bloc Québécois supports today's Conservative Party recommendation in addition to the recommendations we have already made.
Madam Speaker, welcome to “Chinada”.
As Canada is perfectly fine with being a post-national laggard, as it settles into the comfortable position of “everyone gets along, everything is fine and dandy”, the People's Republic of China is taking advantage of western naivety to become a conquering empire.
The Beijing regime is applying the principles of revolutionary war, a war of influence, a war of subversion, developed by its founder, Mao Zedong. We all need to recognize that China has become a worrisome power in times of peace. While China is one of the greatest civilizations, that of Confucianism, that of Buddhism, that of Taoism, the conduct of its regime in stifling the truth, as was seen with the COVID‑19 pandemic, leads at best to mistrust.
In 2013, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, who was not yet , said, “There is a level of admiration I actually have for China. Their basic dictatorship is actually allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime.” It would probably be easier for him. Whether he likes it or not, we are in a Parliament.
Ottawa should answer to the Chinese interference that has been revealed. The facts are overwhelming. When it became clear, known and documented that there had been Chinese interference in the Canadian electoral process, and not just in one way on one occasion, only one outcome was possible: a public, independent commission of inquiry. That idea was supported by the former chief electoral officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, and by the former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS, Richard Fadden.
What did Ottawa do? First, they dismissed the idea of an inquiry, saying that that posed a public safety risk because secret information could be revealed and sources compromised. However, the many meetings of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs concerning Chinese interference in elections have shown the need for a public and independent inquiry. The format is simply not the same. The committee format is not as suited as that of a public and independent inquiry. Witnesses are not questioned in the same way.
Since at some point the pressure became too great, following that initial refusal, Ottawa appointed Morris Rosenberg and David Johnston, two former members of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, itself directly at the heart of the scandal due to its ties to Beijing, to shed light on the matter. That is promising. Who are they?
Morris Rosenberg was appointed to investigate and produce a report on the assessment of the critical election incident public protocol for the 2021 election. This is the same Mr. Rosenberg who was president of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation when it accepted a $200,000 donation, $140,000 of which was paid out. It was a donation from Beijing, which CSIS believes was intended to influence the Prime Minister. The Chinese donor, Zhang Bin, a political adviser to the Chinese government, cut a cheque on behalf of a Chinese company. According to the foundation's former CEO, Pascale Fournier, China was issuing directives regarding that donation. That is huge. Unsurprisingly, Morris Rosenberg found that Ottawa did nothing wrong in the 2021 election.
According to an expression we have in Quebec, just because something is laughable it does not mean it is funny. Even more surprising is something Mr. Rosenberg said in committee. He said he accepted the Chinese donation to try to influence China. I find that quite rich.
David Johnston is a former governor general, member of the Trudeau Foundation, personal friend of the Prime Minister, with close ties to Beijing. Johnston was appointed special rapporteur by the Prime Minister to determine whether there should be an inquiry and what should be done. The Prime Minister himself has already publicly said that he was a close friend; his father and Johnston were friends and had neighbouring cottages. The Prime Minister grew up playing with Johnston's children, and Johnston has also called him a friend of the family. This same Johnston also has close ties to China. His three daughters studied in China and he himself was received by Xi Jinping in person. For his part, Johnston has said that he feels at home in China.
Did the Prime Minister do his due diligence before appointing Mr. Johnston? Did he put as much effort into it as he did for the interferences? Are the appointment and the interferences appropriate? Only a real public, independent inquiry could shed light on these questions and answer them.
In November 2020, the House adopted a motion demanding that the government table legislation similar to the Australian act, particularly with respect to the issue of a public registry of foreign agents. A country, a real country, might I say, normally takes the issue of national security seriously. The United States has had a foreign agent registry since 1930, nearly 100 years before us. We still do not have one, in fact. This kind of tool can have a real impact by making it easier to lay criminal charges against those who break the law. It was due to that registry that the United States was recently able to arrest two Chinese nationals who were operating illegal Chinese police stations on U.S. soil. In Canada, despite the mandate passed by the House, little has been done. Two Chinese police stations are still open in Quebec and in the Montreal area as we speak.
To top it all off, The Globe and Mail recently revealed a CSIS report from 2021 stating that threats had been made against the member for and his family in Hong Kong by a Chinese diplomat who is still in Canada. What terrible crime had the member committed? He had simply sponsored a motion condemning the Uyghur genocide perpetrated by the Communist regime in China. The Prime Minister is boasting that he called him to reassure him. Well, that changes everything. The member can sleep soundly now. Does the fact that the Prime Minister called the member not show that he is taking it seriously? I think the member can rest easy now.
I want to make one thing clear. We would be opposed to expelling the Chinese ambassador. An act that extreme is valid in times of war. Of course, we must maintain international relations, and that requires dialogue and diplomacy. However, when it comes to diplomats implicated in interference attempts, in interference operations that include trying to intimidate and punish certain democratically debated opinions, that is another story.
Ottawa is ducking the issue by saying that it is respecting international conventions by not expelling the diplomat involved, yet the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations allows for the expulsion of diplomats. Of course, this should only be done when necessary, but it is necessary here.
The official opposition motion before us today comprises four points, namely, creating a registry of foreign agents, similar to those in Australia and the United States, establishing a national public inquiry on the matter of foreign election interference, closing down police stations run by the People's Republic of China here in Canada, and expelling all of the People's Republic of China diplomats involved in these affronts to democracy. The Bloc Québécois supports these four ideas. We will therefore vote in favour of the motion.
To conclude, in 1961, the 's father published a book entitled Two Innocents in Red China. As a friend once said, an innocent is someone who is not smart enough to be guilty. That said, someone here is guilty, and feigning innocence as official policy is not going to help us figure out who it is.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the NDP House leader, the member for .
This is such an important debate, and let me put this in some context for all members in the House.
A hundred years ago, the government of the day brought in the Chinese Exclusion Act to say that Chinese peoples were not welcome in this country, to make a very clear statement on that. After that, those who came to Canada to help build the railway connecting British Columbia to the east, from coast to coast, which allowed for Canada to exist today, after all their blood and sweat, they were also put in a position of extreme discrimination, with the most dangerous work and the least amount of pay. Many died in that process.
Let us be clear that this is Canada's history.
A hundred years later, we are in the House debating foreign interference. In the passing years, what has happened? Discrimination and hate has ebbed and flowed.
I immigrated to Canada as a little girl back in the 1970s. When I landed here with my family, I experienced discrimination right from the get-go. I looked different. I dressed differently. I did not speak very much English. I was mocked. I grew up denying, working so hard to do what? To belong. I worked to deny myself of my own natural heritage. I did not know any better as a little child how to belong, except to say that I was not Chinese.
Now I am smarter, thank goodness, than I was when I was just a little girl. Over the years I have come to realize what a gift my parents afforded me, to immigrate to Canada to give me the opportunities to thrive, to have access to education and to be me, free of pressures and to enjoy the freedoms that Canada affords me, and all of us. Let it be very clear that I am Canadian and I have a natural heritage.
The situation that is going on today is so distressing to me. Somehow members of the House, both on the Liberal and the Conservative sides, think that this is just about politics. It is not just about politics. It is about people and the lives of those people. It is about our collective future.
I cannot imagine what it is like for the member for to find out that he and his family are being targeted by the Chinese regime. When I think about that, the dread washes over me. Let us be clear for the member that he has privileges too. He is a member of the House and he has afforded to him, and rightfully so, various protections. However, many other Canadians are faced with these kinds of threats and they do not have access to any protection. They do not even have a voice, and their lives are in danger.
Why do I feel so strongly about this? Aside from having experienced discrimination growing up and all the way through, even now, I am receiving hate mail, but I will not bore members with that. My grandfather, who came before me, used to tell me stories when I was a little girl about how, when he went on the bus, he was thrown to the back of the bus and pushed off it. He has now passed. He shared horrific stories of the discrimination he experienced. We have had to fight so hard to make gains and get to where we are today.
What is happening? During COVID, people said to my face that it is the “Kwan virus”. That is what they said to me. Since that time, with all of this hyperpartisanship that has gone on, my teenaged daughter got on the bus to go to school. What happened to her? Someone spat on her and yelled racial slurs at her. This is what is happening on the ground and how it is impacting people. Let us just set aside partisan politics for just one minute.
Right from the get-go, when this issue came up, the NDP said that we should have a national inquiry into this foreign interference. The NDP moved the motion back in February in committee and gave notice. After much filibustering by some members of the House, the motion finally passed. After that, in March, the NDP brought that motion to the House of Commons to be voted on and got support from all the opposition members, as well as the independent members. That motion also passed. However, instead of doing the right thing, the government decided that it would have another process. Therefore, it escalated the situation, forcing dribs and drabs of information about the risks we face to be released through the media.
In the meantime, what are we doing? We are undermining our democratic system and continuing to cast that cloud over people who look like me. That is what is happening, and in that process, people get hurt.
Someone who is engaged in the pro-democracy movement for Hong Kong contacted me to say that they received a death threat. That is how serious it is. Now, I was born in Hong Kong, and it absolutely breaks my heart to see what is going on in Hong Kong right now. That person reported the death threat to the RCMP. Then what happened? Nothing happened. Who do we think will come forward to say that this is happening to them when there is no recourse? Who will dare to speak up when even a member of Parliament and his family could be threatened?
This is the situation we are faced with, so let us take a breath and stop this partisanship. We should stop this bickering and get on to doing what is right. Our lives depend on it. People who look like me get hurt every day because of it, and some people do not have a voice.
The worse thing of all is that the undermining of Canada's democracy; this democracy is something that I cherish and do not take for granted. Where my parents and grandparents came from, they did not have the right to democracy. Chinese people had to die and go to war to fight for that democracy here in Canada. That is our history. That is what has happened in Canada.
I think that the national inquiry also has to be completely independent and transparent. It has to meet the political tests of all parties. Maybe we can all just sit down and say, “Hey, let us sit together and get this inquiry under way, get the mandate under way and get a completely independent person to do this job so that we can stop this in its tracks.” That is what we need to do.
Moreover, we need to send a clear message to those countries that attempt to meddle with our democratic process. China is definitely one of them, but there are others as well. It may be Russia, Saudi Arabia or even the United States, which we know also meddles in our democratic system. Let us just be honest about that and get to the bottom of it once and for all.
I implore all members of the House to set aside their partisanship and do what is right for people, for humanity and for democracy. If we say we are against discrimination, racism and hate, then we should take a breath and stop the gamesmanship that is being played right now. All that does is escalate the situation. This is not good for Canada, and it is not good for our democracy.
Mr. Speaker, I want to start by paying tribute to the speech that we all just heard in the House. These are words that we need to live by, not only through the debate during the course of today, but also in the coming weeks as we work through these issues. I want to pay tribute to the member for for what she has told us on the floor of the House today. I hope that we all listened.
As members are well aware, last night I rose in the House on behalf of the NDP to reinforce the question of privilege that was raised by the member for . To my mind and New Democrats' minds, there is absolutely no doubt that what he raised as a question of privilege is a question of privilege, which should be moved in the House as quickly as possible. That, of course, is the Speaker's decision and prerogative.
The NDP brought extensive additional material to the very eloquent question of privilege that was raised by the member for , and I certainly hope the speakership will make a decision in a timely way in this regard. There is no doubt that this debate needs to be heard on the floor of the House. As I mentioned last night, there is no doubt that it meets the criteria for a question of privilege. That, of course, is in the Speaker's purview and the Speaker's decision. I hope the decision will be made soon.
As has already been said many times, the NDP supports today's motion. We support the four measures. The NDP has been pushing for such measures to be taken for a long time.
As the member for just told us, this is not about Chinese interference alone. We believe it is absolutely fundamental to implement measures to address all foreign interference, whether it is from China, Russia, India or Iran. It is important to implement those measures.
With respect to an independent public inquiry, the NDP moved a motion at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs that was debated. I will ask some questions about that a little later. The motion was debated and moved in the House. Members will recall that the NDP motion calling for an independent public inquiry to be launched immediately was adopted almost unanimously in the House. Only one party, the Liberal Party, did not vote in favour of the motion. I do not know why. The other opposition parties and the independent members all voted in favour of this important motion.
As the member for Vancouver East just said so eloquently, it is important that this be put in place with the agreement of all the recognized parties in the House. It is one thing we could do together to strengthen our democracy and prevent this foreign interference from having any impact.
If we stand together, if all members work together, if the government works with the opposition, if all the opposition parties work with the government, then we could come up with the answers that Canadians from all backgrounds are demanding. As the member for Vancouver East said very clearly, it is also important that these answers ensure that we can stand together as a country. It is important that we launch this inquiry.
Now, I have no doubt that the special rapporteur will come to same conclusion in a few weeks because we cannot ignore the will of the vast majority of members of the House. Democracy counts. The decisions we make together count. The fact that the independent members and the members from the Green Party, the Conservative Party, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP all voted the same way adds weight to the decision that should be made by the special rapporteur, as well as to the recommendations he will make in the next three weeks.
There is no doubt that, with these recommendations, the government will have to jump into action and quickly launch this public inquiry. That is extremely important.
I cannot add to the eloquence that the member for provided us with to reflect on in the House of Commons moving forward. We cannot be partisan about this. We cannot be pointing fingers. That is why the leader for the NDP, the member for , wrote to the this week asking the Prime Minister to bring together the four recognized party leaders to ensure we can put in place a strong foundation.
The NDP has pushed for a national public inquiry. We believe it is vital at this point. We believe that all members of Parliament are operating with good faith on this issue. We understand that, if we start to snipe at each other, we are undermining our democratic systems and the values that are so dear to Canadians.
We have to work together. That is the essence of the letter from the member for to the . We hope that will be promptly followed up on in the coming days. This is something that should concern all of us. It does concern all Canadians.
By putting these measures in place, including a national public inquiry, we would end up providing the answers that Canadians need. As I mentioned, the question of privilege from the member for is a part of the debate that we need to have in the House.
We have raised and supported the concerns about foreign interference from China. I do want to raise similar concerns, as CSIS has, about foreign interference coming from Russia. CSIS, in its latest report, states very clearly that Russian cyber-actors continue to pose a significant threat to Canada.
We remember that, just a little over a year ago the convoy took over downtown Ottawa. It deprived the freedoms of so many residents of this area. Families were deprived of being able to sleep at night. Seniors were deprived of the freedom to get groceries delivered. People with disabilities were deprived of their freedom to get essential medication. As we know now, from the series of articles published in the National Observer, as well as many other analysis that were done, there was substantial foreign interference in providing supports to that convoy with all the results we have seen.
It is clear that, when we talk about foreign interference, we need to be concerned about that too. We need to be concerned about the evidence of interference from the government of China. We need to be concerned about the evidence that points to interference from state actors with the Russian regime as well.
There have been disturbing reports from the diaspora from India and Iran that those governments may be participating in foreign interference and putting pressure on Canadians with origins in those countries. They are trying to have an impact in our democratic system as well.
These are profoundly disturbing allegations. We need to work together co-operatively with all members of the House of Commons and all parties. That starts with the meeting the member for has requested. It also starts with the government needing the recommendation to put in place a national, independent public inquiry into the issue of foreign interference.
It also starts with us having a debate in the House today that is in keeping with the words from the member for indicating that we work together, that we work in solidarity, that we work to enhance our democratic system and that we work in a way that makes Canadians proud of the debate we are having in the House of Commons.
Mr. Speaker, I am splitting my time with the hon. member for .
Let us look at the context of the conversations we are having right now. There is a member of the House of Commons, a colleague who is well respected by members on all sides, whose family has been threatened and who clearly did not know about the situation.
Earlier in the debate, the hon. member for said that the member for knew about it for two years. He then asked if the member had done anything on the issue. How is he supposed to do anything on the issue?
Here is the situation. There was a general briefing. The member for said that dozens of members of Parliament received these general briefings, which highlights the fact it was a general briefing.
The member for said that at no point was he ever informed that Wei Zhao was targeting he and his family. Meanwhile, to be clear, this individual, Wei Zhao, has not been expelled by the government even though it has known about this for two years. He was absolutely free to travel across the country and gather information that he could use against the member and his family, and the government has done absolutely nothing about it.
It is not a stretch for us to imagine what that would be like. This is not about any one specific person, because Canadians of Chinese origin across the country have been victims of this. Their families in the PRC have been victims of this. The government, despite the fact it has known about it for two years, has done absolutely nothing about it. Then hon. members have had the absolute gall to stand in the House today and blame the member for for this.
It is very rare for members of Parliament from the Conservative Party, the Bloc and the NDP to agree on anything, but it is very clear today that we are in vast agreement on this. I think it is mind-numbing for all of us to think that the government, the party in power that was elected by Canadians, as unfortunate as we might think that is, is not on the same page when it comes to defending Canadians. Rather, it has come into the House today with a very clear strategy of sowing chaos and blaming the member of Parliament for .
I think most of us are probably going to change the talking points, notes and speeches we have come here with because of the tone set by the two parliamentary secretaries, two members of the Liberal Party in the Liberal leadership team, who have come into the House with a very deliberate strategy. They have apologized for some of it, but they continue to get up and continue in that same vein.
I hope, from this point on, that the tenor of the debate will change today. I hope I see it in the questions I will asked by the Liberal members during my Q and A. Hopefully, we can move forward, as an entire House of Commons, in solidarity with the Chinese Canadians living in every corner of our country, including several members of the House who have been targeted by the Communist dictatorship in Beijing, regardless of their political stripe, and support this very important motion.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this gravely serious issue today, the threats to our beloved country’s sovereignty and security presented by foreign, state-backed interference, especially such interference originating in Beijing. This is the primary defining security threat of our country in this time. Foreign state-backed interference seeks to undermine our sovereignty by co-opting and dominating our institutions through a variety of means, both carrots and sticks.
People of all ethnocultural backgrounds can be impacted by foreign interference, but members of diaspora communities are particularly vulnerable to threats from foreign powers if they have close friends or family members living in the state that is seeking to influence or intimidate these Canadians. We should stand together, stand with all victims of foreign interference and implement the effective measures required.
The government has been profoundly weak in its response to foreign interference. It has been worse than weak. In certain cases, members of the government have been complicit. I recall the time John McCallum spoke publicly to say that, in his view, the Liberal Party was better for relations with the PRC. Therefore, the PRC should take certain actions, or not take certain actions, that would be useful to the Liberal Party in a lead-up to the election. Those were explicit comments made by the former ambassador to China, the former immigration minister, speaking on the record. The reality is that many of those conversations, I am sure, happened behind closed doors. We have heard so much about the frustration within our intelligence agencies about the weak response from the government.
This is not a new issue. When I was first elected in 2015, I started engaging with members of different communities in different parts of the country, and foreign, state-backed interference was top of the list of concerns. This was not just from one community, but from many communities. They were very concerned about threats within their communities coming from foreign governments and how they undermined their security. They often involved threats to family members in other countries.
The problem of foreign interference requires us to change the way we think about national security threats. There are many ways of framing the new understanding we need to have, but at this point, it is both honest and illuminating to describe the challenges we face in the world today as something of a new cold war. Although different in many respects, our current reality has many of the same features as the Cold War. We greet this reality with no relish, but this new era of global tensions and conflict is one we must, with sadness, recognize.
The world has now two clear blocs of nations that are engaged in both strategic and ideological conflict, each in hopes of creating a world that is more inclined to its own kind of political system, and we have varying degrees of non-alignment within those blocs.
If I were to describe those blocs, on the one hand we have the community of free democracies that believe in, though perhaps do not always perfectly practise, the ideas of freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The largest of these countries is of course the United States, but Canada is a key part of this community of free democracies, and this community includes other nations on various continents and of varying income levels.
On the other hand, we have a community of revisionist neo-imperial powers. This community of nations does not have the same ideological clarity around its objectives as the free democratic world does, or even what the old Communist bloc did, but what unites this revisionist neo-imperial community is its collective rejection of the core ideas championed by free democracies. The revisionist bloc challenges the idea that freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law are essential for political communities. It especially rejects the international rule of law, the idea that states should not be able to acquire territory through the force of arms and without the consent of the people affected.
Beijing’s Communist Party is the primary player in this bloc, but it includes other players, most notably Moscow and Tehran. These other powers of course exercise individual agency and have distinct objectives, but they share a common antipathy to western democracy and oppose the idea of an international rule of law binding neo-imperial powers. They are also increasingly working together. Between these two blocs of nations, we see many of the dynamics of cold war competition have re-emerged.
While I want to focus on the issue of foreign interference, I want to parenthetically say that one key area of cold war-style competition is the area of international development and engagement with countries, more broadly, those in the global south. A sad reality of western engagement in Africa is that the memory of western colonization is still very fresh, and the claims of western nations to represent rule of law and respect for national sovereignty can sometimes sound very hollow in light of that reality.
This is one of the reasons Beijing and Moscow have had success building influence in Africa, but this is not the only reason. Many African nations face serious challenges that require immediate solutions. They desperately respond to the overtures of those who offer even short-term solutions in areas such as infrastructure and security.
In the long run, the neo-imperial powers have imperialist designs in the global south as well. They are, in fact, using the old imperial tool kit to establish their control, but those long-term considerations can end up taking a back seat to short-term needs, especially when elites in the global south are also subject to influence operations.
Western engagement with the global south needs to grow in this context, and it needs to emphasize collaboration on solutions to real-world problems that African nations and other nations in the global south identify with. Strengthening the hand of freedom and democracy in the world today requires us to win the hearts and minds of the in-between nations that are deciding whether to align with the community of free nations or to align with the revisionist neo-imperial ones.
Our efforts to win over the swing states of this new cold war must involve building substantial and mutually beneficial relationships based on mutual understanding. They must be based on a will to genuinely live out a commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. That policy will make us friends, if not with governments everywhere, then certainly with ordinary people everywhere.
On the issue of foreign interference here in Canada, though, ideological influence operations have always been a part of warfare, but they escalated during the Cold War and have escalated since. During the last Cold War, nations which sought to represent certain ideas would seek to convince people elsewhere to buy into those ideas and then be helpful in the advancement of those ideals.
Today, the ideological competition and influence operation dynamics are different because of the lack of ideological clarity within the revisionist neo-imperial block. They have become both more sophisticated and more crude. They are more sophisticated in the sense that they try to use a variety of different, and even contradictory, arguments to try to advance their strategic objectives. However, they are also more crude in the sense that, without a unifying ideology, neo-imperial revisionist powers often resort to effective bribery and threats much more than persuasion.
We see the reality in this new global context. The multiplication of foreign interference operations here in Canada through the designs of revisionist neo-authoritarian powers are not geographically limited. They are not just limited to their so-called mere periphery. Indeed, the comprehensiveness of influence operations here in Canada underlines that the threat to free democracies is direct and existential.
The bottom line for Canada then is that we cannot put our head in the sand to pretend that these realities do not exist. We need a comprehensive and principled response to this new reality that includes military spending, strengthened engagement in the global south and, most crucially, a comprehensive plan to combat foreign, state-backed interference right here on our own soil.
Our motion puts forward concrete tools for doing this, such as creating a foreign agent registry, similar to the United States and Australia; establishing a national public inquiry on the matter of foreign election interference operations; closing down the police stations run by the People's Republic of China that are operating in Canada; and expelling all foreign diplomats, particularly those from the PRC, responsible for and involved in these affronts to Canadian democracy.
This has been a long-running issue, but since it has arisen in public discussion, we have seen no action by the government in expelling foreign diplomats who are involved in these threats. We know the names. In the case of the threats against the member for , we know the name of the person involved in that interference.
We had the before the foreign affairs committee today. She was asked why she has not expelled the diplomat. Essentially, she said that they are still studying and considering this issue. She went on to say that they have to consider possible retaliation. The implication of that is that the government is cautious or reluctant to hold accountable the foreign diplomats who are threatening Canadians because they are afraid there might be some kind of response. To think that, to say that and to be so behind the eight ball in its response projects such weakness and increases our vulnerability.
The government has failed to act. It has failed to inform people who are being victimized, not just the member for , but others as well. It has failed to create the systems that allow victims to have the support they require. It has failed to expel diplomats. It has failed to establish the kinds of legal frameworks we need to protect the victims of this practice.
That leaves us wondering why. Why has the government failed to act? I think there are three possible explanations. One is naivety. It just does not know. Another is infiltration. The government is compromised, which prevents it from actually responding to a problem. The third is a philosophical weakness that makes it unwilling to confront the authoritarian threats we are facing in this emerging new cold war.
Naivety could have been an explanation for a lot of the lead-up time, but it is too late to plead naivety. It is too late to say it did not know. “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know”, as Wilberforce put it, because the facts are on the table now. The government was too naive for too long but it is too late for it to claim naivety. Now, it knows that it knew two years ago, in the case of the member for , and it failed to act.
We know there have been issues of infiltration, but there is also a profound philosophical weakness, an unwillingness to project the kind of strength that is required to stand up to the threats we face in the world today. It is a refusal to take action that it knows is necessary by standing up to the PRC, expelling diplomats, expelling those involved in foreign interference and undertaking the measures that are required. The government needs to act, or the government needs to change.
Mr. Speaker, it has been an interesting debate thus far. I hope to be able to contribute to it in a relatively positive way. At least that is my initial intent.
I reflect on what the New Democratic member put on the record regarding the impact it is having in one community. It is a good starting point, recognizing that international interference takes all sorts of different forms and comes from a wide variety of other countries. It is not just from one country. That is important for us to understand and appreciate as we continue the debate today.
It is also important for us to realize that Canada is not alone. It is not as if Canada is the only democracy in the world being looked at as a country that is vulnerable to foreign interference. We can talk about the U.S.A., Australia and France. We can talk about other democracies where the same sorts of attempts are being made in different ways by different countries. It is an intentional attack to try to undermine the things that Canadians value so much: our democracy, our freedoms. These are the things that are important to Canadians and to all members of the House. At the end of the day, it is important that we recognize those two facts.
The other really important thing for all of us to recognize is that members of Parliament have been targeted in a very real and tangible way. It is not only members of Parliament, but also members of legislatures across Canada, councillors and others. A CSIS report gave some numbers for 2022. There were threats against 49 members of Parliament; 26 provincial threats, which I cannot say with certainty were against MLAs, but I am pretty sure they were MLAs; and threats against 17 municipal councillors. These were cases that CSIS was involved in. It affects all of us when one person, let alone dozens of elected officials, is being made vulnerable, being manipulated or threatened in any fashion.
In my political career, I have had one or two occasions when my life was threatened. I like to think, whether it is a minister, a prime minister, leaders of political parties or others in the chamber, that we would all get behind the member and their right to represent the constituents to whom they are assigned through our electoral process.
There are mechanisms in place. When members of the New Democratic Party stand and say that we need to dial it down and make it less political, there are mechanisms to make it less political. It is not the governing party that is bringing the issues up. In many ways, the governing party has been listening and has even been taking serious and significant verbal abuse on the issue. All one needs to do is look at the question periods from earlier this week.
However, the government continues to respect the work that CSIS has done. I think it is important to recognize the role that CSIS plays in this whole area. When we really get down to the nuts and bolts of it, it is a question of whether we have confidence and faith in CSIS. The Government of Canada does. That is why we have seen people, whether the , the minister responsible or others, reflect as much as possible on what they know through CSIS, as far as their participation in CSIS allows.
When the said that he was made aware of it on Monday, all the allegations, the heckling and the words being said on the record, by the Conservative Party primarily, I would suggest, did politicize the issue.
An hon. member: Oh, oh!
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, as they continue to want to heckle, they can look and review.
The government, in a very real way, has been clear. An attack against one member of Parliament, in any form, is an attack on all members of Parliament. When the found out about it earlier this week, he ensured that CSIS would have meetings with the member in question, like the other 49 members in 2022. I do not know the content, but I understand that there have been numerous members to whom CSIS has provided a general briefing.
An hon. member: Oh, oh!
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, the member who is heckling now does not know the content of those briefings, just as I do not know. I do not know, and the member should admit he does not know either.
It was on Monday that the found out about it, and he took immediate action. If we want to start to depoliticize, as some in the chamber are saying is so important for us to do, we need to look at what it is.
Do they support CSIS? Let us put it into perspective the work that CSIS does. Let me read from the CSIS report. It says:
In an increasingly dangerous and polarized world, Canada faces multiple threats to our security, sovereignty, national interests, and values. CSIS is committed to keeping Canada and Canadians safe from all threats to our national security.
In doing so, CSIS investigates activities that fall within the definition of threats to the security of Canada as outlined in the CSIS Act. Specifically, CSIS is authorized to investigate espionage and sabotage, foreign interference, terrorism and extremism, and subversion. Importantly, CSIS is prohibited from investigating lawful advocacy, protest or dissent—except when it is carried out in conjunction with activities that constitute a threat to the security of Canada.
This is what I really want to emphasize, just so that members have a sense of the reporting and how important it is that we have a protocol put in place. The report states, “In undertaking its work, CSIS reports on these threats by providing advice to the Government of Canada, including through the production of intelligence assessments and reports”, like the one I am citing right now. CSIS has produced over 2,500 intelligence reports. That is, I would argue, one of the reasons that it is CSIS's responsibility to recognize those issues that need to be elevated. It has a responsibility to all members of the House. If there are concerns in regard to their safety or something that it believes that a member should be aware of, it can have that consultation. I have never had that consultation. Maybe that is something that, as a standard rule, CSIS should provide in the future for all members of Parliament. I think it might be something worthwhile.
Every member has the opportunity to ensure that they have that discussion, and it is CSIS that determines what information it is prepared to release, whether to the individual in question or whether to someone higher up. Like the rest of the House, we just found out about the case regarding the particular member. The has now indicated that all cases, and I would assume that would include the 49 in 2022 that CSIS looked into, should be brought to the attention of the PMO. I see that as a tangible action, just like I see a tangible action where we have the now calling upon the ambassador to come before the government.
We constantly hear from the Conservatives, “Expel the diplomat, expel the diplomat.” They do not even know the content, yet they feel that they can be judge, jury and whatever else. They have made the determination. That could be the determination, but I do not know the facts. How could the opposition know the facts? Do they know something that we do not know? Maybe the members of the opposition should be a little more transparent. If they know something, they should tell us. All they are saying is that we must get rid of the diplomat. That could ultimately be the case, but I think we have to go through the process and have confidence in CSIS.
We can take a look at a government that has been proactive on the issue of political interference. In the days of Stephen Harper, not all of those days but a good number of them, I sat in opposition. What did Harper actually do? Let me tell members some of the things that the Government of Canada has done since we have been in government. We established a national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians. When we were in opposition, we called, virtually begged, for prime minister Harper to bring in that committee. We attempted to get that committee. It was one of the big pushes that we made.
Shortly after getting elected, we instituted that committee. The Conservatives even protested it for a while. There was about a year during which they would not even participate in the committee. What does that committee actually do? It would address the issues we are talking about today. The committee could actually have CSIS come before it and obligate CSIS to share the information. The individuals who sit on that committee are Conservatives, Bloc members, Liberals, NDP members, I believe, and members of the Senate. That is something that we put into place shortly after the election.
What about the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, again, bringing together an organization to ensure that there is a proper review in process to protect the integrity and the safety of our freedoms and our democracy? That is a substantial initiative by the government. We had a critical election incident public protocol put into place, with top civil servants, so if something does happen during an election, in terms of foreign interference, there is something tangible through the group that deals with security, intelligence and threats during elections.
We established the rapid response mechanism for sharing intelligence with our G7 partners. Because Canada has made significant progress, a lot of the knowledge that has been gathered to date is now being shared among our allied countries.
Those are some of the initiatives we have taken as a government, because we take the issue seriously. Let us compare that to Stephen Harper.
An hon. member: Oh, it is the ghost of Harper.
Mr. Speaker, we have to admit, it is somewhat cute. I say that they have their speaking points and that they have been assigned the responsibility. I make reference to it, and they all start waving it. They all have the same clip. I think I saw three paragraphs on each piece of paper. They have been given their directions.
At the end of the day, let us be real here. I have tried to amplify exactly what the Conservative Party did, and it is not hard to imagine it. While the Conservatives were in government, they did zero.
I gave a lengthy list of the types of things we have done. I know we could do more. That is the reason we appointed former governor general Johnston as the special rapporteur. This is something that could ultimately lead to a public inquiry. The has been very clear on that. If Mr. Johnston comes back saying that a public inquiry is necessary, that is what is going to happen. However, we are hoping that there will be a number of things, and that could be a part of it.
When the Conservatives talk about the registry, that is now already in the works. We have a minister who has opened up the department to getting the feedback so we can ensure that we develop a registry that is going to be effective.
Not only have we done things in the last number of years, but we are also looking forward to continuing to build on protecting Canada's democracy and rights and ensuring that whether a person is a member of Parliament or a Canadian citizen, we have a process in place to protect them. The person does not have to be an MP; they could be a Canadian citizen.
Not that long ago, I was meeting with some constituents who were fearful to have a picture taken with me. They could not afford to see it in any form on social media because of potential repercussions in another country. I do not need to be told how real it is. I will defend the rights of all members of Parliament on this issue. No one should be intimidated.
I am proud to be a part of a government that recognizes this and has actually taken tangible actions in the past and continues to do so today. In the future, we will continue to build a stronger and healthier system so that Canadians feel comfortable and know we have a democracy that works for all Canadians. We will continue to support CSIS.
Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. It is also always a pleasure and an honour to speak in the House, although today I feel dismayed that I am having to give this speech.
Obviously, people on this side of the House are quite angry. We are angry with what we have learned about the member for and what he has been through. As many others have said, I stand in solidarity with him. We stand in solidarity with him. I will commit to stand in solidarity with all members of the House, regardless of their party, if they suffer the same fate, even if it is the parliamentary secretary from Winnipeg or the parliamentary secretary from Kingston and Islands, who have, in my view, with all due respect, belittled what that member has gone through with their comments today.
I want to pick up where the member for just left off. He said that the took this seriously. Let us delve into that just a little. I was not going to go down this path, but since he opened the door, let us step right through it.
The does take this seriously, he says. I know that we, as Conservatives, take it seriously. I take it so seriously that I will be sharing my time with the member for , who I am sure takes it seriously as well.
However, as the member just said, the took this seriously. Why then did nothing happen until a Globe and Mail story with various leaks occurred? Is that the action of a prime minister who takes this seriously, waiting for a leak, waiting for Bob Fife to report? That is what caused the government to act, and that is a government that takes it seriously.
Forgive me if I am incredulous and question what I would characterize as a dubious assertion based on the fact that the government only took it seriously when it came to light that it was occurring. That is a government that was supposed to be transparent by default. It knew and did nothing until a newspaper leak came out, which is unacceptable, and then waited for weeks and weeks. The government put it off for weeks.
The Liberals might ask why I am yelling. I am yelling because we should all be angry. We should all be angry by what the member for spoke about in her speech. We should all be angry about what the member for is going through. We should all be angry that this came to light simply because of a leak. It is not proactive, not transparency by default, but self-serving politics, the precise thing that we were promised would not occur.
The member for in his comments read from a 2013 memorandum or publication of some sort to point out what the Conservatives had not done. If it were such a big issue to the Liberals, why did they wait until 2023 to act? If they are going to trumpet what we did not do in 2013, and I do not recall a member of the House being threatened in the same way, if it was such a big deal then, why did they not act in the years between 2015 and 2023?
Kenny Chiu lost his seat. All of us have worked so hard to be here. All of us give up time with our families. The member for has served this country in public service for 23 years in the House. I cannot imagine the sacrifices he has made. We have all made sacrifices to be here, because we believe in this, yet it is not honoured. Kenny Chiu, somebody who made sacrifices to sit in the House with the green carpet likely lost his seat, as did others, due to electoral interference, and it was not on the government's radar until a leak. The Liberals were prepared to look the other way until a leak happened, yet we are supposed to believe the government takes electoral interference seriously.
As my colleague from the Green Party just said, “When is enough enough? When do we get an inquiry? When and at what threshold? Does another member of the House have to be targeted with intimidation, or three members? Does it have to be a Liberal member? Do there have to be actual consequences? I say this as somebody who, in a prior job and in this job, has seen criminal charges laid in respect of the work I do and the way people have dealt with me. When is enough enough?
If we want to talk about past Liberals, I believe it was Jean Chrétien who said that only 10 or 15 ridings were affected, that it was no big deal. Yes, it is a big deal because people have put their lives on the line to sit in the House. They have given up and sacrificed so much to be here. If it is one person who does not sit in the House because somebody prevented it, that is unacceptable, and I will stand with my Liberal colleagues, my Green Party colleagues, my Bloc colleagues, my NDP colleagues and my Conservative colleagues in saying that.
I touched on this very briefly, but I want to again recognize the member for for a very touching speech, speaking about racism. I have spoken about solidarity here. That is something on which we also have to stand in solidarity. I am a first-generation Canadian from a family that lived through fascism in Italy. We must all stand in solidarity.
I was told when I arrived here that there was partisanship and that we all would go back and forth in the House. As a lawyer, I understand that because it happens in court as well. However, at the end of the day, when somebody needs something, we are all going to be there. This is the time for all of us to be there.
What have we seen? We have seen a lack of action. The Conservative motion speaks for itself. What consequences have occurred as a result of something the government is not even denying happened? It is not even denying that the member for went through this. Where are the consequences? I understand the appeared at committee this morning. I have not had a full briefing on what she said or reviewed her comments, but I really look forward to hearing from her, our highest diplomat, as to why nothing has occurred.
I want to deal with some of the fallacious and ridiculous arguments that have been made, one of which was by the member for , who said, “The member for Wellington—Halton Hills has known for two years. The question is whether that member has brought it up with the member for Calgary Midnapore or any member of the Conservative caucus. Has he brought it up inside the chamber? Has he done anything on the issue?”
With all due respect, it is not for the member for to do something. It is for the government to do something. It is for this chamber to do something. In fact, I will give the member my last 30 seconds if he is prepared to apologize for those comments. It does not look like he is prepared to apologize. They are shameful. It is absolutely shameful to say that the member for should have done something.
Another argument was that 49 people were briefed. What a terrible argument. The fact that 49 people were briefed means that the member for should have been aware, or whatever that means. It is a terrible argument.
Another argument was to blame Stephen Harper. That is one of my favourites. If we are to do that, we could go back to every prime minister, Liberal and Conservative, and ask why they did not do what we are doing in the House today. Things evolve. I do not recall this type of issue coming up with Prime Minister Harper.
The last argument is that there is no need for an inquiry. Again, I go back to the hon. member when he said, “When is enough enough?”
Mr. Speaker, some of the points I was going to make in my speech were just covered by the member from Kamloops.
With respect to the debate we just had, the point is that during the debate this morning the member for , the member for and the member for all alluded to the fact that it was the member for who knew and did nothing. That is a form of victim abuse. That is not acceptable for this House and it pains me to see members of the government, parliamentary secretaries, building a narrative to discredit an hon. member of this chamber. It has to stop and they need to apologize today.
The government is defensive. It is defensive for a very good reason. It goes back to the 2020 report of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians covering their actions in 2019. Of particular interest is chapter 2 of this report, the government's response to foreign interference, which notes, I will add, that Canada's allies have identified interference as a significant threat and initiated various countermeasures. It reads,“foreign interference in Canada has received minimal media and academic coverage, and is not part of wider public discourse.”
Things have changed since 2020. In their review of foreign interference activities, this non-partisan committee, which only issues reports if every member of the said committee agrees to them, had a number of findings. They read:
F8. Some foreign states conduct sophisticated and pervasive foreign interference activities against Canada. Those activities pose a significant risk to national security, principally by undermining Canada's fundamental institutions and eroding the rights and freedoms of Canadians. (Paragraphs 136-175)
F9. CSIS has consistently conducted investigations and provided advice to government on foreign interference. (Paragraphs 195-201)
F10. Throughout the period under review, the interdepartmental coordination and collaboration on foreign interference was case-specific and ad hoc. Canada's ability to address foreign interference is limited by the absence of a holistic approach to consider relevant risks, appropriate tools and possible implications of responses to state behaviours. (Paragraphs 219-227 and 280-285)
F11. Foreign interference has received historically less attention in Canada than other national security threats. This is beginning to change with the government's nascent focus on "hostile state activities." Nonetheless, the security and intelligence community's approach to addressing the threat is still marked by a number of conditions:
There are significant differences in how individual security and intelligence organizations interpret the gravity and prevalence of the threat, and prioritize their resources. (Paragraphs 276-279)
In determining the measures the government may use to address instances of foreign interference, responses address specific activities and not patterns of behaviour.
F12. Government engagement on foreign interference has been limited.
With the exception of CSIS outreach activities, the government's interaction with subnational levels of government and civil society on foreign interference is minimal. (Paragraphs 256-267)
Engagement is limited in part by the lack of security-cleared individuals at the subnational level. (Paragraph 261)
There is no public foreign interference strategy or public report similar to those developed for terrorism or cyber security. (Paragraphs 289-291)
I could go on but my time is limited today. The committee made a number of recommendations on actions that the government could take to combat foreign interference, and yet none of those have been taken today. We have still not seen a foreign registry tabled in this Parliament and we have still not seen real action by the government. The only reason we are seeing any action today is because of Robert Fife in The Globe and Mail.
Recommendation five in the committee's report reads:
R5. The Government of Canada develop a comprehensive strategy to counter foreign interference and build institutional and public resiliency. Drawing from the Committee's review and findings, such a strategy should:
a. identify the short- and long-term risks and harms to Canadian institutions and rights and freedoms posed by the threat of foreign interference;
b. examine and address the full range of institutional vulnerabilities targeted by hostile foreign states, including areas expressly omitted in the Committee's review;
c. assess the adequacy of existing legislation that deals with foreign interference, such as the Security of Information Act or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, and make proposals for changes if required;
d. develop practical, whole-of-government operational and policy mechanisms to identify and respond to the activities of hostile states;
e. establish regular mechanisms to work with sub-national levels of government...
f. include an approach for ministers and senior officials to engage with fundamental institutions and the public; and
g. guide cooperation with allies on foreign interference.
The next point is that the Government of Canada “support this comprehensive strategy through sustained central leadership” and review of legislation.
To conclude, the government has done nothing outlined in the 2020 report. The only reason we are here today and the only reason the Conservative Party has brought this motion forward is to establish a foreign agent registry, to establish a national public inquiry, and to close down the People's Republic of China's police offices in Canada.
What is happening to our sovereignty? I will state this emotional appeal.