Elections Commissioner Caroline Simard's Annual Update to Parliament on Sept. 12 was conspicuously absent of any mention of China despite the report's mandate to update on investigations of alleged election fraud by foreign agents in Canada.
Prior to the expulsion of a Chinese spy on May 8, Ms. Simard had rejected 116 complaints of alleged interference and 58 were still under review, according to Blacklock's Reporter.
“It is clear the issue of foreign interference weighs heavily on Canadians’ trust in Canada’s institutions and the democratic process,” wrote Ms. Simard.
The commissioner said investigators were assessing complaints with the intention of resolving as many file submissions as possible in advance of the next federal election.
She added it was too early to predict the outcome of the work in progress and whether the review would culminate in any formal measures.
Although the Elections Act forbids foreign interference, it remained “a complex issue that may go beyond the elements regulated by the Act,” she said.
The commissioner said in order to protect the integrity of Canada’s election processes, all Canadians and stakeholders must collaborate to that end. “We all have a role to play,” she said.
The report didn’t mention China even though Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei, assigned to the Toronto consulate, was expelled from Canada on May 8 having been implicated in interference activities surrounding Conservative MP Michael Chong and his family.
Despite the Department of Foreign Affairs saying on Aug. 10 that it was “highly probable” the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa was involved in a WeChat campaign to discredit the Conservative Party, the report made only vague references to “foreign third parties.”
“The Commissioner and her staff take all allegations of foreign interference very seriously,” said the report.
During his testimony before the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China on Sept. 12, Conservative MP Michael Chong shed light on the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) tactics. Mr. Chong, whose family members have endured threats from the CCP and who has personally been the victim of a disinformation campaign, underscored these concerning strategies.
Ms. Simard’s briefing said investigations into foreign meddling usually create delays, are complex, and present other challenges. Also, a “significant amount of time and resources” are often necessary to acquire adequate evidence from abroad. Sometimes foreign jurisdictional limitations can make it impossible, she said.
In testimony on June 13 at the House affairs committee, Ms. Simard stipulated that all complaints are dealt with thoroughly.
“We have conducted a rigorous and thorough review of every complaint and every piece of information brought to our intention concerning allegations of foreign interference in both the 2019 and 2021 general elections,” she said.