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HomeBusinessChiu hopes latest in China election meddling finally results in foreign agents registry

Chiu hopes latest in China election meddling finally results in foreign agents registry

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Bob Mackin

Former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu said he does not feel vindicated after raising the alarm since September 2021 about his defeat in Steveston-Richmond East.

Kenny Chiu Official Portrait

On Jan. 17, the Globe and Mail reported on leaked documents from Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, that the People’s Republic of China meddled in the last federal election with the goal of seeing a Liberal minority government. The newspaper said then-Vancouver Consul General Tong Xiaoling even boasted she helped defeat two Conservative incumbents: Richmond Centre’s Alice Wong and Chiu, who had been elected in 2019.

Neither of the Liberal MPs who won election, Parm Bains (Steveston-Richmond East) nor Wilson Miao (Richmond Centre), responded for comment. 

The website for the Consulate-General quickly responded with a statement on Friday that said it “has never interfered in any Canadian election or internal affairs in any way.”

“For the past year-and-a-half, I’ve been kind of reliving, whether am I hallucinating, or whether it is truly?” he said. “The amount of evidence, the number of pointers has been so much that I cannot refute that it is a significant contributing factor to the defeat, not just for myself, but also for the Conservative Party.”

He said he does not feel vindication because Canada remains a target of disinformation, hacking and espionage by the Chinese Communist Party.  

“The fact still remains that Canada has not enacted anything to protect itself, we are still presenting ourselves as the weakest link, not just to the People’s Republic of China, but also all the other dictatorial, aggressive predatorily regimes that are interested in, in influencing us, be it Russia or Iran or other nations,” he said. “We’re sending a very bad message here.” 

Chiu defeated incumbent Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido in the October 2019 election by a 2,747 vote margin in a campaign that featured allegations of foreign influence. 

Peschisolido’s campaign team included Eileen Chen, CEO of CYC Royal International Group, an events production and advertising company with offices in Richmond and China. Chen was front and centre, waving a Chinese flag and shouting slogans during a pro-China protest near Vancouver city hall in August 2019, countering a rally in support of democracy in Hong Kong. 

In 2021, there was evidence of Bains courting pro-China voters in his bid to unseat Chiu. 

Wilson Miao (left), Parm Bains and Tong Xiaoling, with Lam Siu Ngai, Taleeb Noormohamed and Michael Lee. (PRC consulate)

In a front page ad on the pro-Beijing Rise Weekly, Bains echoed the build harmonious society slogan used by the CCP since the mid-2000s. He also appeared in an interview on the publication’s YouTube channel where he opposed Chiu’s proposal for a foreign agents registry. “To me, it looks like a very discriminatory type of policy,” he said.

A video surfaced on Chinese language social media of Bains addressing a group wearing Chinese Canadians Goto Vote Association T-shirts and holding signs bearing the society’s “Your Vote Matters” slogan. 

The group included James Wu Jiaming, executive chairman of the Canada-China City Friendship Association, and Wang Dianqi, honorary chairman of the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations. The Metro Vancouver organizations are related to the CCP’s United Front foreign influence and propaganda program. 

Bains, who won by 3,477 votes, denied Wu and Wang had a role in his campaign. 

The latest revelations follow Global News reporting in November that China meddled in the 2019 election. It sparked an emergency meeting of the Procedure and House Affairs committee, which agreed Tuesday to expand its probe of foreign interference in elections.

Parm Bains (foreground) and Wang Dianqi (centre) (WeChat)

“Think about it,” Chiu said. “I mean, this is CSIS, people they have, they have become so frustrated that they have to be a whistleblower, leaking documents to the outside. You know, Canada, it’s at peril if we don’t act immediately.”

Chiu was disappointed that, during the committee meeting, Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell (Pickering-Uxbridge) accused the Conservatives of “Trump-type tactics to question election results” — ironic, since U.S. authorities found Russian meddling in favour of Trump during the 2016 presidential election. 

He is also still shaking his head after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemed more concerned last Friday with finding the whistleblower than safeguarding Canada’s democracy. 

“For somebody who has an admiration for, you know, the Chinese Communist regime, on one hand, we’re not surprised that he would be ideologically friendly to the CCP regime,” Chiu said, referring to comments Trudeau made in 2013, two years before becoming PM. “But at the same time, he had in that same question, in the answer that he provided, it revealed that he is somebody who enjoys the unchecked authority.”

Chiu said he is concerned there won’t be the same level of discourse about the tainted 2021 election in Richmond, where it happened, because it has one of the highest-rates in the country of non-English speakers.  

He said members of the diaspora are exploited and threatened by the foreign regimes from which they left, whether it’s China, Russia or Iran. Those regimes will all be watching Canada closely and adjusting their tactics accordingly. 

Chiu still hasn’t made up his mind about his political future; the next election must happen by 2025. But the new revelations have only accelerated the campaign for what he originally proposed: a registry for lobbyists acting on behalf of foreign governments. 

“Yes, it is unfortunate that I’m no longer in office. But on the other hand, if, as a result of that, Canada can actually have protection for our community, for this country, and have something like what the Australians have, the Americans have, I think I have done what I wanted to do in 2019 and I’m happy about that.”

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