Opposition party leaders have reacted to the latest national security leak alleging that the Chinese regime interfered in the Vancouver municipal elections last year, with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh expressing grave concerns.
“As somebody who represents Burnaby, a neighbouring city, the idea of a foreign government influencing our municipal election is deeply concerning. It should not be happening,” Singh said during a press conference in Toronto on March 16.
“From what it sounds like it targeted Kennedy Stewart, the former mayor of Vancouver.”
The Globe and Mail, quoting from leaked Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) information, says that then-Chinese consul-general Tong Xiaoling made efforts to elect pro-Beijing politicians to the city council in the 2022 election.
Tong had also reportedly discussed “grooming” Chinese-Canadian municipal politicians that would seek higher office to work for Beijing’s interest.
The Globe reported that Stewart was briefed in May 2022 by CSIS and was asked many questions about the attacks Tong and Chinese-language media directed at him.
Stewart has taken positions contrary to Beijing’s interests, and he has said he believes he was the target of a foreign interference campaign.
A former NDP MP who was Vancouver’s mayor from 2018 to 2022, Stweart lost the election to Ken Sim by almost 37,000 votes in the 2022 municipal election.
The Epoch Times contacted Stewart for comment but didn’t immediately hear back.
Sim, who declined an interview request with the Globe, also did not return a request for comment by publication time.
Singh said allegations of interference like the latest one concerning a large Canadian city show the need for holding a public inquiry into foreign interference.
“People need to know that their vote matters and they they need to know that their elections are free from foreign interference,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has resisted calls to hold an inquiry and instead announced the appointment on March 15 of former Governor General David Johnston as independent special rapporteur on foreign interference.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet also commented on the latest leak, saying that while it shows “something’s wrong inside” security agencies, he’s glad the information is coming out to serve the public interest.
But Blanchet said one has to be careful in making the claim that the election might have been compromised.
“Because the message it does send to the population is pretty serious, and because this cannot be clearly shown or demonstrated,” he said at a press conference on Parliament Hill on March 16.
“Does it have an influence? I’d say yes. Did this influence pick the winner? This cannot be demonstrated.”
National security leaks on interference by the Chinese Communist Party have been published in media outlets since last November.
The revelations have led to all opposition parties requesting a public inquiry, and a related motion is soon to be presented in the House of Commons.
Trudeau has put the decision to hold or not to hold an inquiry in the hands of Johnston.
Singh said he trusts Johnston to do his work, noting he is “independent and nonpartisan.”
The Conservatives and Bloc strongly oppose the appointment.
Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre said Trudeau had appointed a “family friend” and pointed out that Johnston is a member of the Trudeau Foundation.
“Get real. Trudeau must end his coverup. Call a public inquiry,” he said.
“Independently of the virtues that could be attributed to Mr. Johnston, Justin Trudeau once again has chosen a close relation,” Blanchet said.
A spokesperson for the Rideau Hall Foundation, which is chaired by Johnston, said the former governor general is not commenting on the appointment at this time.