Ahead of the 2015 Canadian elections, the Chinese Community Party (CCP) reportedly considered targeting Justin Trudeau, then the Liberal Party’s national leader, to be the recipient of a million-dollar “donation” via the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, named after his father and former prime minister.
Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) sources told the Globe & Mail, on condition of anonymity, that a commercial attaché at a Chinese consulate in Canada instructed Zhang Bin, a billionaire political adviser to the CCP, to transfer $1 million to the Trudeau Foundation.
According to the conversation captured by CSIS, the Chinese government further added that it would reimburse Zhang for the political donation.
— Andrew Coyne 🇺🇦 (@acoyne) February 28, 2023
On the heels of the 2015 federal election, which eventually delivered Justin Trudeau and the Liberals to power in October, the following year the prime minister attended a party fundraiser in Toronto hosted by the Chinese Business Chamber of Commerce which Zhang attended.
Shortly after the fundraiser, Zhang and Niu Genssheng, a wealthy Chinese business leader turned philanthropist, made a joint $1 million donation “to honour the memory and leadership” of former prime minister Pierre Eliott Trudeau.
According to the Globe & Mail report, twenty percent of the contribution was earmarked for academic fellowships and scholarships, with the remaining bulk set aside for the University of Montreal’s law school that included grants for college students to visit China.
However, the prime minister dismissed any nefarious connections between Zhang’s contribution to the Trudeau foundation in a statement on Monday.
“Following his election as Leader of the Liberal Party, the Prime Minister withdrew his involvement in the affairs of the foundation for the duration of his involvement in federal politics,” Press Secretary Ann-Clara Vaillancourt noted.
The revelations come on the heels of investigative reporting by Globe & Mail last week which revealed that the CCP meddled in Canada’s 2021 federal elections with the aim of re-electing Justin Trudeau. Among the strategies the CCP deployed ahead of the vote included recruiting local businesses to hire international students for election campaigning and making undeclared political contributions.
“Most important, the intelligence reports show that Beijing was determined that the Conservatives did not win. China employed disinformation campaigns and proxies connected to Chinese-Canadian organizations in Vancouver and the GTA [Greater Toronto Area], which have large mainland Chinese immigrant communities, to voice opposition to the Conservatives and favour the Trudeau Liberals,” journalists Robert Fife and Steven Chase wrote.
Foreign government actors sought to disseminate strong political messaging through Chinese-language media including statements such as: “The Liberal Party of Canada is becoming the only party that the PRC [People’s Republic of China] can support.”
Another Canadian news outlet recently unearthed that Prime Minister Trudeau turned a blind eye to intelligence reports that Han Dong, a Liberal member of parliament (MP) was likely involved in a Chinese “foreign interference network.” Han succeeded the incumbent, MP Geng Tan, who reportedly had disappointed the Chinese consulate in Toronto.
Former Trudeau allies are now calling on the prime minister to appoint a “public inquiry” to investigate the matter in a non-partisan way.
“The radical changes in geopolitics and technological advancements of the past several years mean we’re in a different, more dangerous world where many foreign actors have an interest in harming democratic institutions and the capacity to do it,” Trudeau’s former principal secretary told the Globe & Mail on Sunday.
Still, the prime minister’s associates are seeking to draw American parallels to discount the recent controversy. “This is the same Trump-type tactics to question election results moving forward,” Jennifer O’Connell, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of intergovernmental affairs, stated.
On Tuesday, the Chinese social-media application, TikTok, was banned from all Canadian federal employees devices.