Former Conservative B.C. MP Kenny Chiu says he was the target of propaganda and disinformation on WeChat during the last election campaign.
Kenny Chiu says he feels ‘a deep sense of worry for our country’
A former B.C. member of parliament says China’s alleged election meddling is the reason he lost his seat in the 2021 federal election.
Former Conservative B.C. MP Kenny Chiu, who has been a vocal critic of China, says he was the target of propaganda and disinformation on WeChat during the last election campaign.
Chiu lost the Steveston-Richmond East seat in 2021. MPs in the riding — currently B.C. Liberal Parm Bains — have alternated between B.C. Liberals and Conservatives since 2011.
Chiu says he’s not surprised by the report in the Globe and Mail citing Canadian intelligence documents and describing alleged efforts to oust candidates seen as unfriendly to Beijing.
He said he started noticing constituents “angrily” shutting the door in his face while he was campaigning. He later learned that articles indicating that his private member bill regarding foreign influence would “put Chinese Canadians in danger” were circulating on WeChat — something he says is not true.
WATCH | Former MP Kenny Chiu speaks on CBC’s Power & Politics:
Former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu on reports Beijing targeted his 2021 re-election campaign
“It’s not about Kenny Chiu running or not. The critical thing today is whether we take this foreign interference and dangerous actions by foreign actors seriously.” Former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu says it’s time for the government to send a message to the regimes in Beijing, Tehran and Moscow that Canada will safeguard its democracy and diaspora communities from foreign manipulations.
But, he says, those claims incited fear in his constituents.
Chiu tells CBC he hasn’t reported any of his allegations to law enforcement.
He believes there’s been a lack of action from Ottawa on foreign interests operating in Canadian politics.
“What I feel is a deep sense of worry for our country,” Chiu told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko.
“We’re continuously allowing and permitting foreign countries that are aggressive and predatorial to penetrate our systems, our institutions and jeopardizing their integrity … without our government doing anything to protect and safeguard it.”
Despite multiple media reports detailing allegations of foreign interference in the 2021 Canadian election, including attempts to co-opt candidates, the Department of Public Safety says there are no active RCMP investigations underway in relation to that election.
The prime minister’s national security adviser, Jody Thomas, told MPs on the procedure and House affairs committee that she and other officials have routinely briefed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about election interference by China — she called Beijing the “greatest threat” — and other bad actors like Russia and Iran.
Thomas said there were foreign interference “attempts” in 2019 and 2021.
Former CSIS director Richard Fadden told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics that he is somewhat surprised at the lack of criminal charges.
Fadden said that while CSIS investigations might not provide enough evidence to hit the high bar required for criminal charges, he was surprised the RCMP is not investigating in light of recent media reports alleging foreign interference.
“If everything that was written by your colleagues in the media is taken as accurate, I’m a little bit surprised that there’s not something there,” Fadden told host David Cochrane.
Last fall, Global News reported that Trudeau had been briefed by national security officials about “a vast campaign of foreign inference” in Canadian politics — a campaign that allegedly included “a clandestine network” of candidates in the 2019 election.
Last month, the Globe and Mail reported that China again employed a “sophisticated strategy to disrupt Canada’s democracy” in the 2021 election campaign because Chinese diplomats and their proxies “backed the re-election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.”
Also in February, Global News reported, citing unnamed sources, that national security officials briefed Trudeau about Liberal MP Han Dong, whom the news outlet said CSIS had identified as “a witting affiliate in China’s election interference networks.”
On The Coast8:05New documents show China interfered in four ridings during last election
Former Conservative MP for Richmond East Kenny Chiu and within Carlton University’s department of political science profesor Eliot Tepper speak with Gloria Macarenko about the reports from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
With files from John Paul Tasker and The Canadian Press