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Canadian politicians under Chinese sway, warns intel chief

The director of Canada's intelligence service told a committee in Parliament on Monday that he thinks two provincial cabinet ministers, as well as some municipal politicians and public servants, are under the influence of foreign governments.

world Updated: Jul 07, 2010 00:32 IST

The director of Canada's intelligence service told a committee in Parliament on Monday that he thinks two provincial cabinet ministers, as well as some municipal politicians and public servants, are under the influence of foreign governments.

Richard B. Fadden, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, was summoned to an unusual summer hearing after making similar accusations during an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that was broadcast two weeks ago. Those comments provoked widespread criticism, particularly from the Chinese-Canadians.

While Fadden had initially issued a statement in which he appeared to backtrack from his claim, he repeated the accusation on Monday and said that his agency planned to file a report with the government about the situation "within weeks."

As he had before, Fadden cited national security laws in declining to identify the elected officials who he thought were under the influence of foreign governments. And while he did not explicitly name a country, he again broadly suggested that it was China. While some members of the committee on public safety and national security asked Fadden to resign and questioned his judgment in making the remarks, he offered no apologies.

"This is not quite as extraordinary as everyone is making it out to be," he told the committee, noting that past annual reports by the intelligence service have included general accusations about foreign nations' influence in Canada.

Appearing to contradict himself at times, Fadden said he only regretted "the level of detail" in his earlier remarks. But, he said, they were part of a effort by the agency to publicise its concerns about foreign influence in Canada.

"We are dealing here with a spectrum of behaviour by foreign entities that often start out innocently, but later veer toward something that actually harms Canadian interests," he said. "This is a very subtle process."

The Chinese Canadian National Council said that Fadden's comments "serve to stigmatise our entire community and specifically cast a shadow over public servants, municipal officials and provincial cabinet ministers."

Several state-owned companies in China are investing in Canadian natural resource companies, particularly those involved in developing Alberta's oil sands.