Skip to main content

Conservative MP Glen Motz speaks to reporters alongside Pierre Paul-Hus and Alupa Clarke, left, before a meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to discuss their request for a study of the Desjardins Group data breach, in Ottawa on July 15, 2019.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

The Conservatives want to know what federal officials are doing about China’s alleged involvement in stealing data from thousands of Canadians.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, two Conservative MPs say it is extremely worrisome that members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) stand accused of the high-profile 2017 hack of Equifax.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that a federal grand jury had returned an indictment charging four members of the PLA with hacking into the credit-reporting agency’s computer systems and stealing data and trade secrets.

Story continues below advertisement

The nine-count indictment alleges the four were members of the PLA’s 54th Research Institute, a wing of the Chinese military.

Hackers accessed the personal information of 145.5 million Americans and hundreds of thousands of Britons in the incident.

The breach also involved the information of about 19,000 Canadians, including names, addresses, social-insurance numbers and credit-card numbers as well as usernames, passwords and security-question data.

Pierre Paul-Hus and Glen Motz, the Conservative public safety critics, want Mr. Trudeau to explain what Canada will do to ensure those who pilfered Canadians’ data are brought to justice.

“If this charge is proven in court, it would mean that the PLA conducted a deliberate, state-sponsored, cyberattack against Canadians, in order to steal their personal information,” the letter says.

“In a digital age, Canadians must be assured that their personal information will be safe, and that the Canadian government will protect them from foreign actors that engage in hacking, espionage and other cybercrimes to collect this information.”

The MPs are asking whether Canada has investigated the alleged PLA link to the cyberattack and if it will charge Chinese members in connection with the incident.

Story continues below advertisement

The Prime Minister’s Office referred an inquiry to the office of Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.

The Equifax data compromise took place on American servers and has been investigated by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, said Mary-Liz Power, a spokeswoman for Mr. Blair. The RCMP works closely with law-enforcement partners internationally, she added.

The Liberal government has put hundreds of millions of dollars toward the federal Canadian Centre for Cyber Security and the RCMP’s National Cybercrime Co-ordination Unit, Ms. Power noted.

Federal advisers have told Mr. Trudeau that Canada will work with allies to strike back at foreign cyberattackers and “impose costs” that make them understand the price of their deeds.

“Malicious state-sponsored cyber acts affect national security and economic prosperity interests,” says a recently released briefing note to the prime minister. “Addressing these threats requires both better security at home and co-ordinated international actions.”

Rules and norms in cyberspace are critical, but must be supplemented with measures against hostile actors, says the note, obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act.

Story continues below advertisement

Canada and its allies consider malicious cyberactivities to be a major threat and believe perpetrators will change their behaviour “only when the costs outweigh the benefits,” the note adds.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies