The facts of the election interference are well known, by now.
A hostile foreign power, acting on the direct orders of its leader, conspired with sympathizers — and traitors, frankly — to undermine a Western democracy’s general election. Their objective was simple: Get one political party elected. The one that was more sympathetic to their interests.
The hostile foreign power’s campaign to destabilize the election was secret, subtle and successful: Their favoured candidate, their chosen party, ultimately won.
The clandestine criminal campaign had many moving parts. There were multiple contacts with various political players, many of whom were paid thousands of dollars for their complicity. There were fake Internet accounts, developed to stoke division and suppress dissenting voices. There were files stolen, and leaks to various websites. There was intimidation and threats and cash in envelopes. And it all worked.
The response of the winning party, the victorious leader, when details started to leak out in the media — and out of alarmed intelligence agencies? They called it a hoax, and refused to investigate it.
By now, you may have wondered where the aforementioned election interference took place. Canada, right?
Well, yes. That is indeed what China’s regime did in Canada during our last two federal elections, in 2019 and 2021. But it is also what happened in the United States of America in 2016, in their federal election. Then, the hostile foreign power was Russia, not China.
That’s one key difference. The other: In the United States, there was a proper investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election — which saw Russia’s candidate, Donald J. Trump, elected president.
In Canada, there has been no such investigation by a truly independent body into Chinese interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. Instead, there has been stonewalling by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — the guy the Chinese wanted to win, and whose family’s foundation directly benefitted from Chinese graft.
And there has been a shameful campaign of disinformation and misinformation by his Liberal Party as it desperately attempts to prevent any arm’s-length probe into two election results that may have been actually altered by Chinese meddling.
Because that, truly, is the disturbing reality: In Canada, both of those elections resulted in minority governments. And, if the results in just 20 or so ridings were altered by the Chinese regime, the general election’s outcome was upended.
Twenty ridings, each time. That’s all it took. If 20 or so seats had not been diverted away from Andrew Scheer or Erin O’Toole, Justin Trudeau would have lost. He’d be writing his memoirs by now.
We don’t know, of course, if that happened — because the Trudeau government has adamantly refused to do what the Americans did when confronted with the same problem. They’ve refused to look into it.
In the U.S., a special counsel was appointed by Donald Trump’s own Department of Justice. That special counsel, Robert Mueller, investigated the Russian election interference for two years. He had a team of 19 lawyers, 40 FBI agents, plus an army of forensic accountants and professionals. He issued nearly 3,000 subpoenas, interviewed 500 witnesses, and prompted nearly 40 indictments.
Mueller’s report was 448 pages, two volumes, and it found that Russia conducted “disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election.” He also concluded that the Russian campaign was “designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election.”
“Interfering with the election. Influence the election.”
The Americans — even an America led by Donald Trump — did it the right way. They saw how serious the allegations were. They knew their democracy could be placed in peril — perhaps even destroyed — if Russia was allowed to get away with it. So they investigated: Thoroughly, completely, exhaustively.
In Canada, after China’s serial efforts to interfere with not one, but two elections? Crickets.
The eyes of the world are watching us, folks. If we do not do what the Americans did, we will have ceased to be a serious country.
We will be a joke.
— Warren Kinsella was Special Assistant to Jean Chretien, and chairman of the winning 1993 and 2000 federal Liberal election campaigns.