China, India allegedly interfered in Conservative leadership races: report

Foreign actors from India and the People’s Republic of China allegedly interfered in more than one race for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, says an intelligence report tabled in the House of Commons on Monday.

The report from the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP), a key Canadian intelligence oversight body, says there were “two specific instances where [People’s Republic of China] officials allegedly interfered in the leadership races of the Conservative Party of Canada.”

Most of the details regarding the allegations in the NSICOP report have been redacted.

The report does not provide any further information about the nature of Beijing’s alleged interference, or about which Conservative leadership races allegedly were targeted and when.

The report also reported an allegation that India interfered in a single Conservative Party leadership race.

The report says details of the allegations were removed from the report before its publication to prevent the spread of “injurious or privileged information.”

“CSIS did not advise the Conservative Party of Canada of any intelligence suggesting there was foreign interference in the leadership contest,” said Sarah Fischer, director of communications for the Conservative Party. “This is the first time we have heard about it.”

Fischer said Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s campaign received no notice of interference in his race and “has no awareness of what is referenced.”

To buy a Conservative Party membership, people had to pay by personal credit card, personal cheque or personal bank draft, Fischer told CBC News in an email. She said cash and pre-paid credit cards could not be used. 

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Government was slow to act: report

In March 2023, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked the NSICOP committee, which is made up of MPs and senators from across the political spectrum, to investigate allegations of Chinese interference in Canada’s elections. He made the request after media reports, citing unnamed security sources and classified documents, accused China of interfering in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

Some of those reports also suggested that members of the Liberal government were aware of certain attempts at interference but didn’t act.

Monday’s report marks the third time NSICOP has reviewed the government’s response to threats of foreign interference since 2018 and Trudeau’s trip to India — a point members make known throughout their latest report.

“Given the risks posed by foreign interference to Canada’s national security, the committee expected the government to act. It was slow to do so,” says the report. “In the committee’s view, this delay contributed in part to the crisis in which the government found itself in late 2022 and early 2023.”

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