Diane Francis: Canada’s many China failures

Canada’s allies worry about the country’s espionage and intelligence shortcomings as well as the Liberals’ coziness with China

Canada’s allies worry about the country’s espionage and intelligence shortcomings as well as the Liberals’ coziness with China and warnings by the director of CSIS and others have gone unheeded.

Last February, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, David Vigneault, uncharacteristically spoke bluntly at an Ottawa event about the country’s strategic threats. “The greatest strategic threat to Canada’s national security comes from hostile activities by foreign states,” said Vigneault, adding bluntly that China presented “a direct threat to our national security and sovereignty.”

Last month, Dr. Charles Burton, with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and a Senior Fellow of the European Values Center for Security Policy in Prague, also wrote about the inordinate influence in Canada by China and what can be done about it.

“We should consider developing an equivalent to the Australian Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act so that we can determine if people are speaking out in ways that are consistent with the interests of the Chinese state. Canadians should know if politically influential individuals have received benefits that could potentially influence their decision-making ability,” he wrote.

He believes that “state capture” has occurred already. “The high degree of tolerance for Chinese cyber espionage, and other forms of espionage in Canada, and our reluctance to follow other nations in developing foreign influence transparency legislation suggests that the influence on policymakers in Canada has been effective. There are very few significant think tanks in Canada that are not recipients of Chinese associated funds,” he wrote. He also endorses creation of a dedicated RCMP unit to address harassment and menacing activities by China against persons in Canada — an idea proposed by Amnesty International.

Intelligence and security professionals, inside and outside Canada, are frustrated with the Canadian government’s intransigence and appeasement toward China. Despite opposition demands, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government have not introduced transparency legislation or even banned Huawei, as other members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance have such as the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and U.S.

Canadians have been kept in the dark concerning a breach of security at the highest level of Canada’s government (for the second time) involving the former head of the RCMP’s national intelligence co-ordination centre, Cameron Ortis. He was arrested in September 2019 and is accused of working with a foreign entity in an attempt to leak secrets. Ortis is an East Asian specialist and speaks Mandarin. One of his predecessors was accused of doing the same thing. Both officials had access to high-level Western intelligence and these incidents have rattled our allies.

Also, there have been no disclosures as to what happened at Canada’s top-secret National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg which worked with a lab in Wuhan, China. Two Chinese researchers were employed there, then let go under mysterious circumstances.

The prime minister has refused to provide details about his deal with Chinese company CanSino to provide vaccines, a deal which was reneged and left Canada without vaccines for months longer than other nations.

Canadians deserve to know why Ottawa would breach its own security by giving a contract to a Chinese company, Nuctech, to supply security infrastructure for borders, 170 embassies, consulates and high commissions around the globe. The deal was scrapped late last year after a press leak.