Canadians can undermine their own democracy without China’s help

Canada faces foreign interference in Canadian democracy right now – from the U.S. Government, the American corporate sector, and the Neoliberal Internationale headed by Stephen Harper. .


if the People’s Republic of China is trying as hard as the Conservative Party of Canada insists it is to undermine Canadian Democracy, it’s hard to understand why they’re bothering.

After all, if they’ll just leave us alone, we can probably take care of it ourselves!

I’d say the case is far from having been made persuasively that there was a massive and successful campaign to swing the 2019 election, as the Globe and Mail, the federal Conservatives, and the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) all appear to be working together to get us to believe.

The argument so far is loud, but it’s based on fairly a limited number of objective facts.

Still, as retired Canadian national security advisor Wesley Wark said Wednesday on his Spionage Substack about the Globe’s allegations, which were based in turn on leaks from an anonymous CSIS source willing to break both his (or her) oath and Canada’s national security laws to own the Libs, there’s something there, even if it’s not as much as we’re being asked to believe.

As Dr. Wark put it: “The Globe’s news stories are not a ‘nothing burger.’ They are certainly not a full-course meal. Perhaps they are … a tasty morsel for a hungry public and hungry politicians who have little capacity, or even desire, to see a bigger picture of national security threats posed by interference yes, but by many, and arguably more concerning, threat vectors.”

Nor are any of the problems with this ongoing story fixed by Global News’s sensational claim Wednesday that Liberal MP Han Dong advised a Chinese diplomat in 2021 that China should delay releasing Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor to increase pressure on the Trudeau Government to let Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou return to China from house arrest in Vancouver.

It does create an interesting new legal wrinkle, however, Dong has now quit the Liberal caucus and indicated he will defend himself against Global’s accusation, which may mean he intends to sue the broadcaster for defamation.

If he does, how will Global defend itself when the alleged facts on which the story is based are state secrets leaked by unknown and unidentified sources unlikely to volunteer to testify?

With the traditional defences of truth and fair comment thus off the table, what’s left? Even if Global tries the new defence of “responsible communication,” one would think they’d need to produce a document on which their supposedly responsible communication was based.

Regardless, as Dr. Wark suggests, it’s not a surprise if China’s leaders to hope for a government to be elected in Canada that is less bad from their perspective than the alternative.

However, whether that would be the Liberals led by Justin Trudeau or the Conservatives with Stephen Harper as their Cardinal Richelieu remains an open question. After all, Mr. Harper has a better track record for doing what the PRC wanted than Mr. Trudeau does – for example, his government permitted the Nexen takeover and signed the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.

Still, from this perspective, China’s interference in Canadian democracy, such as it is, seems positively quaint!

They were simply doing what all foreign governments are expected to do: look out for their own interests.

Canada certainly can be accused of doing the same thing nowadays, and our big neighbour to the south is of course the all-time planetary champion for interfering in the affairs of other sovereign nations.

Moreover, despite having a nominally Communist government, China does not appear to be trying to change Canadian policies on ideological grounds in ways likely to do permanent damage to Canadian democratic institutions. This is different, then, from the routine conduct in Africa, Asia and South America of the United States, United Kingdom, France and sundry other Western powers – arousing little controversy in Canada.

Nor is China part of anything like the mainly American corporate-financed ideological effort to finance market-fundamentalist think tanks, bankroll right-wing political parties through donations from Canadian subsidiaries, lobby Canadian legislators, and influence Canadian legislation, or even write it, to subvert democracy and such principles as the idea polluters ought to pay to clean up their own messes.


David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike at the Calgary Herald in 1999 and 2000 to work in the trade union movement. David Climenhaga’s Alberta Diary posts are also published on his own website,