Feb 292024

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada demands an immediate end to the so-called “Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference”. This inquiry is on track to become a political trial where the public will have no access to any of the evidence. The inquiry we really need is into CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) and their collaboration with Global News and the Globe and Mail to smear political figures across the country, many of these Chinese Canadians, while creating a climate of McCarthyism that threatens democratic rights. This is the real political interference on full display in Canada today.

Beginning at the end of 2022 and continuing well into 2023, Global News and the Globe and Mail published a steady stream of “leaks” from CSIS agents who were supposedly disgruntled at the lack of action by the Federal government into combating Chinese political interference. No evidence was provided through the corporate media besides claiming they reviewed CSIS intelligence documents. It is important to note that state intelligence is a very different thing than evidence collected by law enforcement. There are many examples of intelligence reports being filled with exaggerations and lies and they are held to a much lower standard than evidence necessary to be used for prosecution. Even then, the Canadian public had no access to this “intelligence”.

It is difficult to wade through the growing general xenophobic rhetoric and war propaganda in the media, but there were some specific accusations made which included: that 11 politicians received $250,000 from people acting as agents of China, that Han Dong (a Liberal MP) had supposedly told a Chinese diplomat not to release “the Michaels” because it would somehow benefit the Conservative Party, and that Conservative MP Michael Chong and NDP MP Jenny Kwan had faced a harassment campaign by agents of China, and vague accusations that there was interference in municipal elections. 

No evidence was provided for political candidates supposedly receiving illegal donations, and if there was evidence, why haven’t any candidates been charged under Canada’s robust election laws? It is plainly nonsensical that Han Dong would have told a Chinese diplomat to keep Michael Kovrig and Spavor in China since it would have been to his party’s own benefit to have them released, not the Conservative Party’s. Michael Chong’s lawyer recently told the public inquiry that almost everything he knows about what happened to his client came from news reports. So even Michael Chong, who recently travelled to Washington DC as a supposed expert on Chinese interference, has not seen evidence of the harassment campaign targeting him. We are expected to take CSIS’ word for it.

Anyone who knows the history of the intelligence agencies of capitalist states, and the history of CSIS in particular, will understand that leaked intelligence by these organizations are most often intelligence operations of their own targeting the general public. CSIS was founded after the MacDonald Commission, which was created to investigate a long and dirty history of RCMP political interference. The RCMP had previously been responsible for intelligence gathering. The Commission uncovered that they had been responsible for illegal break-ins, thefts, forgeries, electronic surveillance, arson, and spying on trade unions and democratic organizations, including the Communist Party of Canada and the Parti Quebecois. This led to the birth of CSIS.

We should note that CSIS has engaged in a similar campaign against China before. “Project Sidewinder” in the late 1990s consisted of “leaks” to the media from CSIS alleging Chinese interference in business and politics, including funding political parties. It was also claimed then that the government was ignoring interference which made the front page of the Globe and Mail. However, the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) later found that there was actually no evidence after they reviewed the case.

Another clear example of the track record of CSIS intelligence is the case of Canadian citizen Maher Arar. In the early days of US imperialism’s “war on terror”, CSIS leaked reports to Robert Fife, one the same journalists that has been covering the recent leaks about China for the Globe and Mail, that Arar had received Al-Qaeda training. This was meant to justify Arar’s illegal deportation to Syria by the US with the knowledge of Canadian intelligence. Arar was tortured and imprisoned for one year in Syria. Justice O’Connor, who led the commission which investigated Arar’s treatment said that: “the apparent purpose behind this leak is not attractive: to attempt to influence public opinion against Mr. Arar at a time when his release from imprisonment in Syria was being sought by the government of Canada, including the prime minister.” The commission publicly cleared Arar of any wrongdoing and he received an official apology from Stephen Harper and a settlement of $10.5 million. CSIS has had to pay out $100 million in legal settlements to Canadians in the last 20 years.

These examples alone are enough to discredit CSIS entirely. Yet the corporate media has left the agency completely unchallenged and CSIS’ accusations have been taken as evidence. The first meeting of the current inquiry which ended on Feb 2 has made it clear that CSIS will not be making any evidence public through that process. In a test of what will be released by the agency, the commission asked for a dozen classified documents to be cleared for public disclosure, then when they were finally released, nearly all the information had been redacted and CSIS claimed that 200 person hours had been spent censoring the documents. This led the Department of Justice lawyers to tell the inquiry that it’s “clear that redactions of documents on a large scale will not be a productive way forward within the time frame allotted.” In other words, the public will continue to receive no evidence from any accusations made by CSIS.

It is especially disturbing that CSIS looks set to expand its powers as a result of their political campaign. Late last year, the government launched consultations on how CSIS could be “modernized” to better counter foreign interference in addition to potential changes to the Criminal Code, Security of Information Act and Canada Evidence Act as well as the possible introduction of a “foreign registry”. The Communist Party of Canada opposes any expansion of intelligence powers and the introduction of a registry of foreign agents. CSIS should be immediately abolished as it is a real source of political meddling. There are already laws and law enforcement that are responsible for protecting Canada’s electoral system.

The common refrain of the war propagandists is that there is a “growing threat” of foreign political interference, in particular from China and Russia. In fact, the root cause of this new McCarthyite campaign is a growing push towards war and militarism by the Canadian government and ruling class. The decline of the hegemony of US imperialism internationally, and Canadian imperialism as its close partner, is leading to more aggression against China as a major economic rival. Working people in Canada have nothing to gain from this rush to war and everything to lose. The Communist Party fights for a foreign policy of peace and disarmament and mutually beneficial trade with all countries.

The campaign against China by CSIS also serves another purpose: to impose anti-Communism and to inoculate the public against socialism as the crises inherent in capitalism become more obvious to millions in Canada. Anti-Communism is not just an attack on the Communist Party. As we have seen from our own history, attacks on Communists result in the repression of democratic and progressive forces and the rise of reaction. Already, in the first hearings of the inquiry, CSIS has made the claim that China has “sought to target First Nations and Indigenous communities”. We already know that CSIS and the RCMP have a long history of surveilling and repressing Indigenous movements fighting for sovereignty and we have seen similar claims that the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States was an agent of Russia.

The Communist Party of Canada urges unions, people’s organizations and all democratic minded people in Canada to reject this neo-McCarthyism and we demand an immediate inquiry into CSIS’ meddling.

Central Committee, Communist Party of Canada

February 11, 2024