Ottawa: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accused China of election interference and playing “aggressive games” with democracies.
Addressing reporters on Monday, Trudeau said: “We have taken significant measures to strengthen the integrity of our elections processes and our systems, and will continue to invest in the fight against election interference, against foreign interference of our democracies and institutions.
“Unfortunately, we’re seeing countries, state actors from around the world, whether it’s China or others, are continuing to play aggressive games with our institutions, with our democracies.”
The Prime Minister’s accusation comes after Canadian intelligence identified a “clandestine network” of Beijing-backed candidates at the recent elections, the BBC reported.
At least 11 candidates were supported by China in the 2019 federal elections, officials reportedly told Trudeau.
Citing unnamed intelligence officials, local broadcaster Global News reported that Beijing had directed funds to the candidates and that Chinese operatives had acted as campaign advisers to many candidates.
In one case, funding of C$250,000 was directed through the office of an Ontario-based provincial MP.
The operation, which was reportedly directed from China’s consulate in Toronto, also sought to place operatives within the offices of serving MPs in an attempt to influence policy, the outlet alleged.
And efforts were also made to “co-opt and corrupt” former Canadian officials in a bid to gain influence within political circles, the BBC reported citing the Global News report.
The attempted interference is believed to have targeted both major political parties — Trudeau’s Liberal party and the opposition Conservative party.
However, it is unclear whether the operation was successful.
The reports also come after authorities said they were investigating accusations that China had opened unofficial “police” stations on Canadian soil.
Last month, Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they were investigating reports of “criminal activity in relation to so-called ‘police’ stations”, which have also been reported in a number of European countries..