Canada intelligence committee warns of 'brazen' interference by China, Russia

Ottawa (AFP) –


A parliamentary committee on Thursday warned that China and Russia are threatening Canada's national security and democracy by stepping up "clandestine and coercive" efforts to influence politicians, students and the media.

"The threat is real, if often hidden," the national security and intelligence committee of Canadian parliamentarians warned in its annual report.

"The threat to Canada from foreign interference is increasing. The perpetrators have become more brazen and their activities more entrenched," it said, singling out China and Russia as the main culprits.

Their activities, said the report, "threaten the fundamental building blocks of Canada's democracy."

The committee also criticized this government's response to the foreign meddling, saying "Canada has been slow to react to the threat of foreign interference" and "must do better."

The interference has targeted elected officials and their staff, student associations and hundreds of media outlets in Canada that publish or broadcast in languages other than English or French.

The report cites as an example China seeking to "harmonize international Chinese-language media with its own by attempting to merge the editorial boards of those outlets with PRC (People's Republic of China) media."

"This would result in the PRC controlling the message in Chinese-language media, thereby undermining the free and independent media in Canada."

Several Chinese state-owned media operate in Canada, including Xinhua News, People's Daily and the China News Service.

The report also said Russian agents under diplomatic cover have engaged in "threat-related activities." Details were redacted.

Canada has poor relations with both Moscow and Beijing.

Ottawa imposed sanctions on senior Russian officials after the annexation of Crimea. And its arrest of a Huawei executive on a US warrant followed by Beijing's detention of two Canadians in apparent retaliation plunged its relations with Beijing to a low.