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Erin O’Toole was targeted by China while he was Conservative leader, source says

May 27, 2023

WATCH: David Johnston files first report on alleged foreign interference investigation

China targeted former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole during his 2021 election campaign, a source close to the sitting MP alleged to Global News.

O’Toole was briefed Friday by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) on the matter, according to the source, who Global News is not naming as they are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The Globe and Mail first reported on the information late Friday.

The Conservative’s platform for the 2021 contest ran counter to Beijing’s interests, calling for the creation of a foreign agents registry and a ban on Huawei from 5G infrastructure in Canada.

While O’Toole’s sister lived in Hong Kong with her husband for most of the time he was the opposition leader, the source said that there is no indication China had targeted the couple.

The information comes after Special Rapporteur David Johnston recommended against a public inquiry into possible Chinese interference in Canadian affairs due to the secretive nature of Canada’s intelligence, which he said could not be aired in the open.

Conservatives have previously asserted that 13 ridings in Canada’s 2021 election were targetted by China, according to two inside sources.

Conservative MP Michael Chong was also allegedly targeted by China to influence his stance, which led to the expulsion of Zhao Wei, a diplomat at the Chinese consulate in Toronto. Chinese diplomats have previously insisted that they do not interfere in Canadian politics.

All three federal opposition parties continue to call for a full public inquiry into potential Chinese interference in Canadian affairs. Rather than hold a public inquiry, Johnston has said that his team will carry out interviews and form a second report on the issue.

Former Conservative MP and Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay, told Global News that the fact that Canadian politicians could come under Chinese surveillance and targeting is “massively concerning.” He said the decision not to launch a public inquiry was disappointing and won’t send a message to China that Canada is taking the issue seriously.

“We’re tracing rabbit tracks as opposed to big game,” he said of the talk around Johnston and his report. “The reality (is) that this isn’t going away, there is going to be a consistent call for action.”

He criticized the focus on where intelligence and the media have “gone wrong” on allegations of interference, rather than focusing on China itself and what it is attempting to do.

He said all the noise and bickering is exactly what the CCP wants “to sow discord” and make the population distrustful of its institutions.

“They’re winning,” he said. “It’s very alarming.”


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