The RCMP have opened an investigation into the Chinese government’s targeting of Conservative MP Michael Chong and his relatives, Commissioner Michael Duheme said Tuesday
The Canadian government expelled a Chinese diplomat in May over the matter, which was first reported by The Globe and Mail in a May 1 article that relied on secret Canadian Security Intelligence Service documents and national-security sources.
The intelligence assessment that The Globe reported on in May was created two years ago and sent to several top bureaucrats in the summer of 2021, but the Prime Minister and other ministers say they never learned about the issue at the time. Similarly, Commissioner Duheme told the Commons procedure and House affairs committee Tuesday the Mounties only learned about the matter when it became public.
“We found out about it through the committee here and through the media,” he told MPs. He said the investigation began once the Mounties were made aware of the targeting.
Commissioner Duheme told MPs the RCMP have more than 100 open files on foreign interference.
As The Globe first reported in May, Mr. Chong, and his family were targeted by the Chinese government after he spearheaded a parliamentary motion declaring China’s repression of Uyghur minority a genocide.
Since The Globe’s report, CSIS briefed Mr. Chong and other MPs who were targeted by China. The only other cases publicly disclosed also involve opposition MPs.
On May 30, former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said CSIS briefed him that he and several Tory MPs and the Conservative Party itself “were targets of misinformation and voter suppression” that was orchestrated by China before and during the 2021 election.
The third MP is New Democrat Jenny Kwan, who revealed last month that CSIS told her she has been – and still is – a target because of her outspoken criticism of China’s authoritarian regime.
Commissioner Duheme told MPs Tuesday that the RCMP is not investigating the targeting of Mr. O’Toole or Ms. Kwan but has offered assistance to Commissioner of Canada Elections Caroline Simard in the event that she chooses to launch an investigation. Ms. Simard is responsible for ensuring the Canada Elections Act is enforced.
He said that so far the evidence doesn’t warrant a criminal investigation but if new information reveals harassment or intimidation, then the RCMP would assess if the Criminal Code would apply in those cases as well.
In a separate statement Tuesday, a spokesperson for Ms. Simard declined to comment if the office has launched investigations related to the targeting of Ms. Kwan or Mr. O’Toole.
During his committee appearance, Commissioner Duheme was also asked about his recent comments to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in which he said Mounties have found “ties from organized crime all the way up to the Chinese state.” He told the news outlet that China’s goal is to create instability. “It’s also an attack on a democracy. It has a significant impact on Canada,” he said.
Commissioner Duheme reiterated to MPs that “China represents the greatest threat for democracy in our country.” He said he bases that on criminal-intelligence briefings as well as meetings of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance that he participated in during a recent trip to Australia.