EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story quoted McKay as saying “bastard states.” This was incorrect and based on an audio quality issue of the recording of his comments. A closer review of the audio indicates he said “vassal states.” The story has been updated to reflect this misinterpretation.
The Chinese government represents an “existential threat” to Canada, a Liberal MP says amid a new Global News report into Beijing’s suspected foreign interference efforts.
Scarborough—Guildwood MP John McKay made the comments to journalists in Ottawa on Wednesday following the publication of the Global News story indicating two high-level national security reports before and after the 2019 election suggest senior government officials were warned that Chinese government officials were funnelling money to Canadian political candidates.
“The government of China is an existential threat to Canada on a multiplicity of levels,” McKay said.
“We need as a nation to come to grips with the desire of the government of China to turn us all into vassal states.”
The two intelligence reports, from 2019 and 2022, that Global News reported Wednesday raise new questions about what senior federal officials knew about the alleged funding by a foreign interference network and how seriously Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government took the warnings.
One is a “Special Report” prepared by the Privy Council Office for the Trudeau government and was date-stamped January 2022. The memo was also finalized, suggesting it was intended to be read by Trudeau and his senior aides.
Reviewed by Global News, it asserted that Chinese officials in Toronto had disbursed money into a covert network tasked to interfere in Canada’s 2019 election.
Liberal MP allegedly tied to Chinese interference: sources
Global News also learned of an earlier, high-level warning about clandestine funding of China’s “preferred candidates” that came from a bipartisan panel of parliamentarians two months before the 2019 election.
The information came from Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, which reviews national security matters and promotes “government-wide accountability.”
Established by Trudeau in 2017, it reports to the prime minister.
This is the same panel Trudeau appointed Monday with the mandate to look into allegations of Chinese election interference that Global first reported in November.
When asked about the report Wednesday, Trudeau repeated his government’s announcement Monday of launching multiple investigations and creating a “special rapporteur” charged with overseeing them.
“No matter what I say, Canadians continue to have questions about what we did and what we didn’t,” he said.
“That is why an independent special rapporteur is going to be able to look at the entire landscape and dig deeply into everything anyone knew at any point and come back.”
That individual, who will be named in near future, will be able to make recommendations including on whether a public inquiry, which opposition leaders have been calling on the government to launch, is warranted.
Opposition criticizes Trudeau’s plan to probe foreign interference
The prime minister on Monday also said he spoke to the heads of both the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) and the independent National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA) and urged them to undertake “urgent work” within their mandates to study foreign interference.
NSICOP includes MPs from multiple parties, as well as one senator. NSIRA, made up of independent experts, is tasked with reviewing the actions of Canada’s intelligence agencies.
Both NSICOP and NSIRA are given access to classified and top-secret intelligence information, which bars them from doing their work in public. NSICOP files a report from its work that then goes to the Prime Minister’s Office, which can redact any information in that report before it is tabled in the House of Commons. NSIRA will also provide a public report of its assessments of the actions taken by government bodies handling intelligence on the matter of foreign interference.
The government is also launching public consultations on setting up a new public registry for agents who work on behalf of foreign states, similar to ones established in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
— with files from Sam Cooper
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.