Canada’s former national security advisor Mike MacDonald told the House of Commons Affairs Committee he didn’t keep ‘track’ of the intelligence memo. Two other political aides to Trudeau have also testified that they somehow missed the memo.
A former national security aide to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed he did not see a warning stating that agents of the Communist Chinese regime were directly targeting a Conservative MP.
As per Blacklock’s Reporter, Canada’s former national security advisor Mike MacDonald told the House of Commons Affairs Committee last Tuesday that he did not keep “track” of an intelligence memo warning of possible meddling by the Communist Chinese Party (CCP) in the nation’s politics.
“Where it went in the Privy Council Office when it was sent out and to what other offices, I don’t know,” said MacDonald.
MacDonald said, “The document, the intelligence assessment, did not come directly to me.”
The July 2021 memo in question comes from Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), when MacDonald was a national security advisor. This memo warned that Chinese spies were targeting and harassing Conservative Party of Canada MP Michael Chong.
MacDonald was asked when he first learned of the memo, to which he replied that he did not have the “exact date when I first read that memo,” but it was in the “spring or early summer of this year.”
Conservative MP Michael Cooper asked MacDonald when he first learned about Chong being targeted by agents of the CCP, asking if it was after a Globe & Mail report from May 1, 2023 on the matter.
“Yes, that is my recollection,” MacDonald said, but did not explain.
Cooper noted that to him, it seemed that what was going on was a “breakdown of communication” regarding “information that is about as serious as it gets involving the targeting of multiple MPs,” including the family of one whose “family is in Hong Kong in the immediate lead up to an election, information that ultimately resulted in the expulsion of a Beijing diplomat.”
NDP MP Rachel Blaney said the seeming security failure regarding Chong was a costly failure, and it meant losing “trust” in the “system.”
“When the fear begins to not have trust or faith in our system it can really lead to things, I don’t think any of us want to experience,” she noted.
Remarkably, two other political aides to Trudeau – now-retired national security advisor Vincent Rigby and current national security advisor Jody Thomas – and have testified that they also did not see the memo and somehow missed it.
On June 1, Thomas said she was sent the security memo relating to Chong, but as she was on holiday, she did not look at it.
“I acknowledge Mr. Chong should have been told,” she admitted.
Chong recently disclosed that he had been personally threatened multiple times by who he believed to be a diplomat named Zhao Wei, who was acting as an agent of Communist China. He said the threats were concerning enough that he had to call the police out of concern for his safety.
Former deputy minister said it wasn’t ‘his job’ to inform Chong that CCP agents were targeting him
Last Thursday, former deputy minister of public safety Rob Stewart noted to the House of Commons Affairs Committee that it was not his “job” to warn Chong that he was the target of CCP agents.
Stewart claimed that many agents target “many people in Canada,” who are on “ongoing basis being targeted by foreign interference and it was not my job to inform them.”
“There are processes and ways of doing so. In this instance I was not tracking what other people were doing,” he noted.
Stewart last week acknowledged that he had received in 2021 no less than two warnings from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that Chong was being targeted. Despite this, he did not warn Chong and stated he did not recall reading the warnings.
Stewart noted that foreign agents targeting Canadians is a “very serious problem.”
“There are clandestine and deceptive efforts to influence our democratic processes and society on an ongoing basis. We should take it very seriously,” he said.
The potential meddling in Canada’s elections by agents of the CCP has many Canadians worried, especially considering Trudeau’s past praise for China’s “basic dictatorship” and his labeling of the authoritarian nation as his favorite country other than his own.
Last month, LifeSiteNews reported on how leading Canadian computer scientist professor Benjamin Fung from McGill University said agents from China offered him a six-figure bribe if he agreed to become a stooge for the CCP.
This report followed another from early September that noted how despite a continuous stream of evidence suggesting that CCP agents have interfered in Canada’s last two federal elections, the nation’s elections commissioner omitted any mention of China from her annual foreign interference report to Parliament last week.
On September 7, 2023, the federal government announced it would be launching a public inquiry into potential foreign election interference, to be led by Quebec judge Marie-Josée Hogue.
The public inquiry came after Trudeau for months was opposed to the idea of launching a full public inquiry into CCP election meddling despite calls from the opposition to do so – and after a failed attempt to launch his own internal investigation.
His internal investigation was led by his “family friend” David Johnston, whom he tasked as “special rapporteur” in the inquiry process. Opposition Conservative MPs demanded Johnston be replaced over his ties to both China and the Trudeau family.
After Johnston concluded that there should not be a public inquiry into the matter, calls grew louder for him to resign. In June, Johnston quit as “special rapporteur.”
Government-shackled interference inquiry unlikely to get answers
From the MacDonald Laurier Institute
By Ryan Alford
” the commission will receive a large portion of its testimony in secret with no cross-examination by the parties. Additionally, the government will have the last word not merely on what information is provided to the inquiry, but on what the commission can publish — even in its final report “
The foreign interference inquiry into the 2019 and 2021 elections (also known as the “Hogue commission,” named for Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue) is holding preliminary hearings this week. Those with experience with public inquiries in general, and with the Rouleau commission into the emergency powers declaration of 2022 in particular, can see it will be a failure.
When it comes to public inquiries, the government makes the rules, and when it says, “Heads I win, tails you lose,” the only winning move is not to play. Those rules, written by the cabinet in the form of a public inquiry commission’s mandate and terms of reference, allow the government to reveal and restrict information about its own failures as it sees fit.
The most important feature of the Hogue commission’s mandate is the restriction on the information provided to the inquiry: the terms of reference state plainly that if the government didn’t provide a confidential cabinet document to Special Rapporteur David Johnston back in 2023 when he was tasked with looking into election interference without the authority of a public inquiry, the commissioner won’t see it, either.
The details that made it into Johnston’s final report were far more tame than what the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) allegedly told former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole when he led the party. O’Toole told Parliament that CSIS informed him that he had been targeted in an ongoing campaign of misinformation coordinated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). When asked, Johnston said that was news to him. (Subsequently, NDP MP Jenny Kwan added that CSIS had told her she was an “evergreen” target of Beijing.)
When Johnston was confronted about the discrepancies, he merely noted that the information CSIS revealed had not been made available to him at the time, and he had “reported on what was made available to us … the amount of information available was an ocean and we saw a very large lake.” (Unfortunately, Johnston could not see any issue with the political equivalent of investigating the causes of the sinking of the Titanic when directed to do so at Lac Tremblant).
Johnston concluded, based on the information provided to him by the government, that he could not attribute the misinformation spread during the 2021 election to state actors. Information coming from many unofficial sources — and via leaks — makes this untenable. Evidence also shows that Chinese Canadians in Richmond, B.C. were bombarded with slander targeting local Conservative MP Kenny Chiu on the WeChat social media platform.
The Hogue commission should add to its focus the activities of Senator Yuen Pau Woo — and the government’s knowledge of these activities. However, once again, the commission’s ability to investigate hinges entirely on the government’s willingness to hand over sensitive and potentially incriminating documents, and for those targeted by misinformation to speak freely knowing that information will be available immediately to those they named as their persecutors.
Until 2022, Woo served as the facilitator (i.e., caucus leader) of the Liberal-aligned Independent Senators Group. In a decision made on Dec. 4, Commissioner Hogue granted Woo the right to participate in the foreign interference inquiry as an intervenor, as “he will contribute the perspective of a political figure working to address issues of foreign interference while advocating for a community that risks being stigmatized or negatively impacted by counter-interference measures, whether proposed or put in place.”
Woo has been accused of adopting the CCP’s rhetoric but has denied working for China. Groups targeted by CCP intelligence operations in Canada (including Uyghurs and Hong Kongers) opposed Woo’s participation in the interference inquiry (along with that of politicians Han Dong and Michael Chan) on the ground that he would be allowed “access to sensitive information shared by witnesses or victims (and) will deter witnesses from speaking freely.”
Their concerns were aired around the same time as a report emerged alleging Woo had pledged to support the United Front, which is an arm of the CCP. In December, investigative journalist Sam Cooper reported that a recording existed of Woo briefing the Canada Committee 100 Society — a Chinese cultural organization with ties to the United Front according to declassified American intelligence — in May of 2020. In that recording, Woo advised members that groups officially listed by the CCP as United Front Work Department (UFWD) organizations cannot (and presumably, will not) be considered agents of the Chinese state.
However, a Privy Council Office report from 2020 shows that the government knew the CCP’s UFWD had allegedly coordinated electoral interference through community groups. The report specified that the UFWD had facilitated electoral interference in 2019, noting that “the UFWD’s extensive network of quasi-official and local community and interest groups allow it to obfuscate communication and the flow of funds between Canadian targets and Chinese officials.” Despite all this, Woo had reassured the Canada Committee 100 Society that they could continue their activities.
It is already a given that the commission will receive a large portion of its testimony in secret with no cross-examination by the parties. Additionally, the government will have the last word not merely on what information is provided to the inquiry, but on what the commission can publish — even in its final report, as the commission’s terms of reference refer to disclosure procedures that clearly implicate the attorney general’s power to withhold information for the purpose of national security.
This is why the first two days of the inquiry were devoted to managing expectations about how the public’s right to know would need to be “balanced” against national security confidentiality and all the other reasons the government will invoke to justify withholding and censoring information.
It is ironic that at an inquiry made possible by whistleblowers within CSIS, those at the commission will be classed “persons personally bound to secrecy” by an order-in-council issued in tandem with the mandate of the Hogue commission. Most won’t mind; the Hogue commission hired a number of personnel who did yeoman service at the Rouleau commission, including its lead counsel and research council chair.
This time around, there have been no grand public assurances that the government is committed to providing unprecedented access to information. Rather, we’ve been put on notice that obfuscation and dithering over confidentiality will be used to beat us down.
Some parties, like the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, have already indicated they have had enough of the charade. Others, including those like members of Parliament Michael Chong and Jenny Kwan, who were the victims of shocking hostility and ineptitude from the CCP and the government, will likely persist, although it is already clear that they deserve much more information, and much better treatment from the Hogue commission.
As for myself, I can only say, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
Ryan Alford is a professor in the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University and a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.
The foreign interference inquiry could backfire on our national security
From the MacDonald Laurier Institute
By Katherine Leung and Ivy Li
Two politicians alleged by security experts to have close connections with the Chinese Consulates have been granted full standing in the inquiry by Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue.
Canada’s public inquiry into foreign interference finally began on Monday, but unfortunately there has already been significant controversy in the months leading up to its launch. Chief among these concerns is the inquiry’s questionable ability to safeguard sensitive national security information from being used by individuals with ties to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Two politicians alleged by security experts to have close connections with the Chinese Consulates have been granted full standing in the inquiry by Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue. This decision shocked many, especially communities who have been subjected to the Chinese Communist Party’s transnational repression.
Given the inclusion of these two suspect individuals, human rights activists have expressed concern for their safety if they are called to testify before the inquiry. A human rights coalition, which was also granted full standing, appealed the inclusion of the two individuals – they merely asked Hogue to downgrade the politicians’ standing status in order to protect vulnerable witnesses – but the appeal was denied.
A person who has full standing in the inquiry has the right to cross-examine witnesses and to access documentary evidence not admitted as exhibits, meaning they read and see exactly what the judge reads and sees. Knowing anything and everything the Commission has learned gives unimpeded access to sensitive and confidential information related to Canadian national security, information that is not available to parties with lesser standing.
Information gathered by the Commission will almost certainly reveal how Canadian activists and security experts monitor foreign infiltration and influence. It could expose the methodology used, contacts and information sources, and the strategic approach and rationale of each expert or analyst. Together, these bits and pieces of information will provide a detailed strategic map, exposing how Canadian authorities, non-governmental organizations, grassroots groups, and individuals have attempted to defend Canada’s sovereignty and democratic institutions. This is powerful knowledge; it is not the type of information that should be available to the perpetrators of foreign interference.
By granting standing to individuals with alleged ties to the Chinese embassy, we are potentially offering incredible insight to our adversaries, enabling them to design and execute more effective interference operations and targeted counter actions against the Canadians standing up for our national sovereignty.
Among those granted full standing are Han Dong (the Member of Parliament for Don Valley North) and Michael Chan. Dong was reported by Global News to be at the centre of China’s interference network in Canada as a “willing affiliate”. He subsequently left the Liberal caucus as he works to clear his name, and he continues to sit as an independent MP. Michael Chan, now deputy mayor of Markham, was a minister in the Ontario Liberal government from 2007 to 2018. The Globe and Mail reported that he was identified by CSIS as “too close to the Chinese consulate.” Both Dong and Chan deny these allegations.
Hogue cites the two men’s reputational interest in the Public Inquiry as a direct and substantial interest in the Commission’s work. While that is true, the question remains whether it is in Canada’s interests and appropriate to allow individuals alleged to have close ties with the PRC full access to the Commission’s evidence and records.
The Commission is not mandated to determine if individual suspects are guilty or not. The two politicians could tell their side of the story without full access to non-exhibits and without the power of cross-examination.
Canadians have demanded a public inquiry to protect Canadian sovereignty and democratic integrity. Sensitive information pertaining to Canada’s national security should be handled with the utmost caution. Han Dong and Michael Chan should not be treated as though allegations against them have been proven beyond a doubt – they have not – but the clear potential of inappropriate links to the PRC should disqualify them from accessing information that would be detrimental to our national security if it were to fall into the wrong hands.
The public inquiry meant to protect Canada’s institutions from foreign interference may end up undermining both the safety of individual Canadians and the efficacy of our broader national security apparatus.
Katherine Leung is the policy advisor for Hong Kong Watch Canada. She previously worked as a parliamentary assistant to a sitting MP.
Ivy Li is a spokesperson for Canadian Friends of Hong Kong, and a contributor to The Mosaic Effect – How the Chinese Communist Party started a hybrid war in America’s backyard.
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