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e-2835 (Foreign affairs)

Initiated by mimi lee from Markham, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

  • Former Ambassador to China, Hon. John McCallum, publicly sided with China on Meng Wanzhou case;
  • Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. François-Philippe Champagne, had mortgaged two properties in Britain with a Chinese state-owned bank;
  • Although, following immense public outcry in both cases, Ambassador McCallum was removed from his position, and Minister Champagne announced he had repaid and refinanced both mortgages with a Canadian bank, Canadians remain concerned about what seems to be a pattern of close and “friendly” relationships between some Canadian officials and Chinese state-controlled entities;
  • The concerns of Canadians regarding foreign influence were corroborated by the 2019 annual report of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP), on findings of foreign interference poses a grave threat to Canada and its institutions, pointing specifically to countries like China and Russia that reportedly use flattery, bribery, threats and manipulation to influence foreign governments; and
  • On June 9, 2020, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) published a report which further shed light on the nature and extent of the Chinese Communist Party's widespread systems of foreign influence.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to:
1. Reaffirm its commitment to openness, transparency, and accountability to Canadian citizens, especially as it relates to the recent uptick in potential foreign influence from the People’s Republic of China; and
2. Review and implement legislation to counter foreign interference and influence, looking in particular to experiences of other democratic countries, like Australia, which have effectively addressed these problems.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

Foreign interference can harm multiple areas of our society, including Canada’s democratic processes, economic prosperity, critical infrastructure, and even members of Canadian communities. Canada takes seriously allegations of interference conducted with the aim of undermining Canada’s democratic system, and is committed to defending the democratic system of governance. This commitment reinforces Canada’s efforts to support the rules-based international order. As an advanced economy and an open and free democracy, foreign threat actors have long targeted Canada in order to advance their interests at our expense. The Government of Canada’s security and intelligence agencies do important work to combat the threat of foreign interference, but they cannot do it alone. For this reason, Canada takes a whole-of-government approach to protect Canadians, and Canada’s national interest, from the activities of foreign threat actors.

The 2019 Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Public Report states that foreign interference activities are directed at Canadian entities both inside and outside of Canada, and directly threaten Canada’s national security and strategic interests. Further, the Annual Report of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) outlined foreign interference activities, including the targeting of Canadian institutions and certain communities.

The Prime Minister took the important step of permitting the unclassified, publicly-released version of the NSICOP report to, for the first time, specifically name the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as being particularly active in Canada. This was intended to raise public awareness of the threats posed by the PRC, but additionally as mentioned in the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security Report on National Cyber Threat Assessment 2020, reference to Russia, Iran and North Korea is also made.

As these threats evolve, Canadians can feel confident that our government’s approach to counter them and protect individuals will continue to keep step. Canada believes that a collective, global effort is required to counter foreign threats to democracy, including disinformation, in an increasingly borderless information space.  In 2018, G7 leaders committed to working together to strengthen G7 coordination to identify and respond to diverse and evolving foreign threats to G7 democracies, including through sharing information and analysis and identifying opportunities for coordinated response. The focus of the G7’s Rapid Response Mechanism includes, but is not limited to, threats to democratic institutions and processes; disinformation and media; and fundamental freedoms and human rights. The mechanism has since expanded to include Australia, the Netherlands and New Zealand. Canada’s RRM undertakes focused research to understand any potential foreign threats against Canada and identifies tactics and trends. Much of this research focuses on social media analysis with a particular interest in understanding the disinformation landscape. Research is also shared across the G7, the Government of Canada, EU partner states, civil society and academia to contribute to lessons learned. The research focuses on emerging subjects of interest and is supported through open-source data analysis.

Canada cannot tackle foreign interference alone. Our international allies and partners face similar threats. By working together, we bring our collective resources to bear in countering threats from foreign actors. Canada has always stood up for a rules-based international order, one in which all countries abide by international norms. Consistent with these principles, Canada actively shares information and coordinates responses with allies through numerous multilateral bodies and relationships. Security and intelligence partners also collaborate to share information in an effort to counter foreign interference, including state-sponsored disinformation, through a number of fora. The security and intelligence community, for example, work with domestic and international partners to share information that can help detect, investigate, and prevent foreign interference in Canada. 

In addition, certain foreign states attempt to threaten and intimidate individuals and diaspora communities around the world, including in Canada, through various state entities and non-state proxies. States may seek to threaten and intimidate individuals under the guise of fighting corruption or bringing criminals to justice. However, these tactics are also used as cover for silencing dissent, pressuring political opponents and instilling a general fear of state power no matter where a person is located.

When foreign states target Canadians, persons residing in Canada, or their families, they are seeking to deprive members of Canadian communities of their fundamental rights and freedoms. Such actions are unacceptable. Canada does not tolerate harassment or intimidation of its citizens or of anyone residing in Canada, by foreign actors. Any allegation of such harassment or intimidation is taken seriously by the Government of Canada.

Such actions are contrary to Canadian law, and perpetrators may be investigated and charged with criminal offences. In other cases, Canada may act to expel foreign agents from the country or enact other diplomatic measures to demonstrate to the country responsible that such actions are unacceptable and will have consequences.

The Government of Canada’s first priority is to defend its citizens, businesses and institutions from cyber-threats and ensure that they have all the information and guidance needed to enhance their resilience. Canada strongly condemns any malicious cyber activities, particularly irresponsible and destabilizing actions that put lives and critical infrastructure at risk, and calls on all actors to ensure that cyberspace is open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful.  Canada remains steadfast in its solidarity with allies and partners in promoting a framework for responsible state behaviour in cyberspace. The Government also remains committed to working with partners to prevent, discourage and counter malicious cyber activity at home and around the world.

The Government values above all the wellbeing and safety of Canadians. Whenever malign foreign states seek to harm our communities, undermine our values or jeopardize the very institutions on which our country is built, Canada will take action. While Government actions cannot always be made public in this sphere, our sustained efforts make a difference in the lives of Canadians.

Open for signature
September 15, 2020, at 3:23 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
October 15, 2020, at 3:23 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan)
November 27, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00309)
Government response tabled
January 25, 2021
Photo - Garnett Genuis
Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan
Conservative Caucus
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