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Canada ex-Conservative party leader says he was target of ‘active’ voter suppression by Beijing

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Following a briefing by members of Canadian intelligence, former leader of the Conservative Party Erin O’Toole has alleged that they were the targets of “a sophisticated misinformation and voter suppression campaign orchestrated” by Beijing.

O’Toole’s statement came in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

“The briefing confirmed to me what I had long suspected – that my party, several of my caucus colleagues and myself were the target of a sophisticated misinformation and voter suppression campaign orchestrated by the People’s Republic of China before and during the 2021 general election,” he said.

Opposition parties also demanded that the independent special rapporteur to examine the issue of foreign interference in Canadian Federal elections, appointed by the Government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, resign from the post. The special rapporteur, former Governor General David Johnston, stated in an interim report in May that while foreign governments were attempting to influence voters and candidates, there was no need for a public inquiry.

Trudeau, who accepted the recommendation not to call a public inquiry, defended Johnston in the House, describing him as an “eminent Canadian,” adding that it was “unfortunate” that the opposition was “choosing to play politics around this issue.”

The briefing to O’Toole from Canadian Security Intelligence Service or CSIS, the country’s spy agency, listed four categories of threats. They include foreign funding, amplification of misinformation, using social media for that purpose and voter suppression.

O’Toole led the Conservatives for the 2021 Federal elections. The ruling Liberals garnered 157 seats as against 199 for the Conservatives.

The Conservative platform for those polls advocated a strong line against China.

As more revelations appear in the issue of alleged interference by Beijing in the 2019 and 2021 elections, pressure will continue to mount on Trudeau. The special rapporteur was appointed on March 6 after a series of reports in the outlets Globe and Mail and Global News that Beijing may have tried to influence Federal elections in Canada.

A series of exposes have placed sustained pressure on the Trudeau Government. On February 17, the Globe and Mail noted, “China employed a sophisticated strategy to disrupt Canada’s democracy in the 2021 federal election campaign as Chinese diplomats and their proxies backed the re-election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals – but only to another minority government – and worked to defeat Conservative politicians considered to be unfriendly to Beijing.” That report was based on intelligence documents.Canada ex-Conservative party leader says he was target of ‘active’ voter suppression by Beijing

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