My latest: are we a serious country?

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.

Stupid is as stupid does

My latest: Justin’s China crisis

Everything he has done — everything he has said — has been wrong. Everything.

Justin Trudeau’s response to his burgeoning China crisis, that is.

Criminal interference by the Chinese regime in multiple Canadian elections. A million dollars pumped into Trudeau family interests by China – including thousands for the Trudeau Foundation, and even $50,000 to fund a statue of Pierre Trudeau. Chinese-Canadian seniors being bussed to Liberal nomination meetings to vote for candidates friendly to the People’s Republic — with the name of the chosen Grit candidates inked on their arms.

These are just a few of the deeply troubling revelations that have been oozing out of the Liberal-China scandal in recent days. It’s a fetid, putrid stew — one that the Globe and Mail, Global News and Postmedia have pursued for weeks.

The media have been aided by a flood of leaks, some allegedly coming from intelligence services within and outside this country. It’s happening because the intelligence community is clearly appalled by the degree to which the Chinese regime has wrapped its tentacles around the Trudeau Liberals — and by the truly Nixonian denials being bleated daily by Trudeau and his desperate-sounding cabal.

I’ve taught crisis communications to young lawyers and journalists for years. Here’s just a few of the things Trudeau had gotten wrong.

Don’t deny, deny. With every new development in the China scandal, Trudeau and his ilk have issued denial after denial, to no effect. The story just keeps unspooling in the media. Trudeau needs to recall the lessons of the SNC-Lavalin scandal: Namely, that denials never work if there isn’t a compelling counter-narrative — and if the denials are lies.

Trudeau lost all credibility in the SNC scandal: Despite his attacks on the media, despite his smearing of Jody Wilson-Raybould, the truth came out. And the truth, I like to say, is like water: It always finds a way out.

Take responsibility: Justin Trudeau, as is well-known, loves to offer up dewy-eyed apologies for the misconduct and misdeeds of others — but never himself. Most often, Trudeau only fesses up when there is absolutely no escape route left to him — and even then, he will usually engage in lots of whattaboutism: Saying, in effect, he had made a mistake, but that his political opponents make more and bigger mistakes.

That approach only works with die-hard TruAnon types. Most voters want their leaders to swiftly take responsibility for their mistakes – and they tend to be very forgiving thereafter, too. Unless the mistake has happened too many times, that is.

Do it early. Don’t wait! Keeping silent, and waiting for the story to fade from the headlines, simply doesn’t work — in the Google era, scandals now live forever online.

Instead, Trudeau needed to move swiftly to clean up the China mess, but he didn’t. When the first election interference story broke months ago, Trudeau had an opportunity to take responsibility and make some long-overdue changes, but he didn’t do that, either.

He let the story fester, and now it’s infected — and the infection is getting worse daily.

Words aren’t enough! As noted above, it’s no longer good enough to make an act of contrition. An apology isn’t good enough.

In the post-Watergate era, voters have seen too many scandals too many times. And, after the issuance of an apology in both official languages, they are no longer content to let a politician off the hook. They want to see action, not just words.

Here, Trudeau could have created a foreign agent registry, as Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has called for — so we can know which foreign powers are trying to persuade Canadian governments. He could have toughened up the Criminal Code, and election laws, to mete out tougher penalties for abuse. He could have worked with other Western allies — who have also been the targets of Chinese wrongdoing — to develop a multi-nation response.

He’s done none of those things.

Instead, all that Trudeau is doing is deny, deny, deny — and refuse to take even a modicum of responsibility for what is metastasizing into a real threat to his government’s survival. It’s not working. Because the China crisis?

It isn’t going away.

My latest: Conservative MPs should be condemned for meeting with extremist

Governments defeat themselves.

But opposition parties can defeat themselves too. And, this past week, the Conservative Party of Canada was busily doing just that.

Three well-known Conservative MPs — one of them a two-time leadership contender — met with Christine Anderson, a member of the European Parliament from the Alternative for Germany party (AfD). The three Ontario Conservative MPs, Leslyn Lewis, Dean Allison and Colin Carrie, are seen smiling as they stand alongside Anderson, who is on a cross-Canada tour.

Big deal, some might say, and have. But Anderson — and the AfD — are extremists, and the meeting led to a condemnation by Canada’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).

Wrote CIJA: “We’re deeply concerned by CPC MPs Leslyn Lewis, Dean Allison [and] Colin Carrie meeting with Anderson – a member of the far-right German AfD party known for Islamophobic and anti-immigrant views. We raised this directly with [the Conservative Party].”

Lewis, Allison and Carrie can be (and have frequently been) dismissed as fringe kooks within their own party. Last year, when leadership contender Lewis likened vaccination to — as another Conservative leadership contestant put it, “being tortured in a Nazi concentration camp” — she was condemned widely. The Jewish Independent, among others, called her words “irresponsible and base.”

Colin Carrie, for his part, last achieved fame when he told the Commons the “subversive” World Economic Forum (WEF) organization had “infiltrated” the Liberal government — adding that the WEF had “penetrated more than half of Canada’s cabinet.” Which earned Carrie condemnations by other opposition MPs.

Allison, meanwhile, has promoted his links to anti-vaccination types — among them Paul Alexander, a Canadian who worked for the Donald Trump administration in the U.S., and who famously called for American health officials who advocated for vaccines and public health measures to be imprisoned.

So, a trio of Canadian kooks met with a European kook. Does it matter? When one examines the words and deeds of Anderson and her AfD it does.

A summary:

— Anderson has attacked Muslims on social media, calling Muslim immigration “billions in costs for the welfare state.” She supports Russia over Ukraine. She’s participated in street marches organized by PEGIDA, a group whose acronym stands for “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident.” PEGIDA has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “far-right, anti-immigrant street movement.”

— Her AfD is anti-immigrant, anti-Islam and — often — anti-Semitic. Formed in 2013, the AfD has already established itself as a force in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, and the European Parliament.

— Two years ago, the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution called the AfD “a right-wing extremist endeavour against the free democratic basic order” and as “not compatible with the Basic Law,” and actually placed it under intelligence surveillance for being an extremist group.

— Evidence of the AfD’s extremism isn’t difficult to locate. The Anti-Defamation League has described it as “proudly extremist, anti-immigrant, and anti-minority [and] its leaders have made anti-Semitic statements and played down the evil of the Nazi regime.”

— Its party leaders have called Holocaust memorials “shameful.” They have dismissed the horrors perpetrated by the Nazi regime as “bird shit.” They have defended former Canadian Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, and promoted the notion that “not a single Jew” died in the Nazi gas chambers. They have referred to Jews as “Satanic elements in the financial oligopoly” who have “political control over Germany.” They have said of Auschwitz and refugees: “Both are wrong.” And so on.

There is much, much more about Anderson and her AfD online. Lewis, Carrie and Allison could have found it in a simple Google search, as this writer did. There, too, they would have found Israel’s ambassador to Germany adamantly refusing to meet with Anderson’s party because they are “highly insulting for Jews, for Israel and for the entire issue of the Holocaust.”

So why did Leslyn Lewis, Colin Carrie and Dean Allison meet with the AfD’s Christine Anderson?

After the Toronto Sun brought the issue to his attention, Pierre Poilievre strongly condemned Anderson and the AfD. The three MPs then rushed out a tweet, claiming they didn’t know about the extremism views of Anderson or her party.

But few will believe that claim.

Do governments defeat themselves? They do, they do.

And, this week, the opposition Conservatives were defeating themselves, too.

— Warren Kinsella is the author of the national bestseller Web of Hate.