Canada’s spy agency believes China ‘clandestinely and deceptively’ interfered in federal polls in 2019 and 2021

Canada's spy agency believes China 'clandestinely and deceptively' interfered in two federal polls
Canada’s spy agency believes China ‘clandestinely and deceptively’ interfered in two federal polls which were won by PM Justin Trudeau. Photo Courtesy: Harjit Sajjan X page

The Canadian spy agency has claimed that it believes the Chinese government “clandestinely and deceptively” interfered in 2019 and 2021 federal polls of the country.

A top secret briefing note discussed at the Foreign Interference Commission showed that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) told the Prime Minister’s Office about it in February 2023, reported CBC.

The document, described by one lawyer appearing before the commission’s public inquiry as “remarkable”, was tabled on Monday, the news channel reported.

“We know the PRC clandestinely and deceptively interfered both in the 2019 and 2021 general elections. In both cases, [foreign interference … was] pragmatic in nature and focused primarily in supporting those viewed to be either ‘pro-PRC’ or ‘neutral’ on issues of interest to the PRC government,” the document said, as quoted by CBC News under the subhead “Assertions in Media Reporting”.

The document alleged that at least 11 candidates and 13 staff members were implicated in foreign interference by the Chinese government.

Another CSIS document, tabled earlier in the inquiry, referred to seven Liberal candidates and four from the Conservative Party of Canada, reported CBC.

“We also observed online and media activities aimed at discouraging Canadians, particularly of Chinese heritage, from supporting the Conservative Party, leader Erin O’Toole, and particularly Steveston-Richmond East Candidate Kenny Chiu,” the briefing note said.

“In 2021, the PRC FI activities were almost certainly motivated by a perception that the Conservative Party of Canada was promoting a platform that was perceived to be anti-PRC.”

According to reports, a separate CSIS document that was tabled recently showed the spy agency believed a group of known and suspected” PRC “threat actors” worked in loose coordination with one another to “covertly advance PRC interests through Canadian democratic institutions”.

It cited some Canadian intelligence assessments suggesting some threat actors received financial support from the PRC, including ‘at least two transfers of funds approximating $250,000 from PRC officials in Canada, possible for FI-related purposes’, reported CBC News.

Microsoft warns China may use AI-generated content to disrupt upcoming polls in India, USA

Technology major Microsoft has warned that China may use Artificial Intelligence-generated content to disrupt upcoming polls in India, South Korea and the USA.

“China is using fake social media accounts to poll voters on what divides them most to sow division and possibly influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in its favour. China has also increased its use of AI-generated content to further its goals around the world,” Microsoft said in its report recently.

Microsoft said, additionally, North Korea has increased its cryptocurrency heists and supply chain attacks to fund and further its military goals and intelligence collection.

In his warning, Microsoft said: “With major elections taking place around the world this year, particularly in India, South Korea and the United States, we assess that China will, at a minimum, create and amplify AI-generated content to benefit its interests.”

Microsoft claimed that China attempted an AI-generated disinformation campaign during the Taiwan presidential polls this year.