The CSIS documents obtained by The Bureau outlined a “covert takeover” operation launched in Canada by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to influence and interfere with democratic political processes through a sophisticated campaign to co-opt Canadian media organizations.
While this influence is noticeable and has been reported on by Rebel News and others in foreign-language media outlets, intelligence documents also now allege that there are “massively-funded” projects aimed at gaining control over mainstream media entities as well.
According to the Bureau report, CSIS purportedly observed a senior-ranking Chinese diplomat meeting with a group of Chinese-language reporters, directing them to covertly throw support behind a specific politician the CCP wanted to see advance in the Canadian government at the federal level.
The unnamed source also referenced a 2020 Privy Council Office note, which alleges the United Front Work Department (UFWD), an overseas political interference tool, groomed and assisted its preferred political candidates in the 2019 federal election.
The source also cited a strategy enacted ahead of the 2019 federal vote: “[A Consular official] assembled Chinese-language media and instructed them to support [a specific politician] because China needed friends in government,” the Canadian official asserted.
“We know [the specific politician] is called a ‘work object’ of the Toronto Consulate, and there has been a concerted effort to support them.”
The briefings outlined both “carrot” and “stick” methods used by the CCP to achieve its desired outcomes, consisting of administering threats against journalists, and offering “benefits” from consulate officials to solidify relationships with “key editors, producers, and high-ranking managers.”
The Chinese consulate in Vancouver is named specifically in this effort.
A 2019 national security report warns the “Chinese government has a number of official organizations that try to influence Chinese communities and politicians to adopt pro-China positions, most prominently the United Front Work Department.”
It adds that studies in other countries “point to China's efforts to influence government policies, including through significant political donations, covertly supporting community groups and demonstrations, and influencing Chinese-language media.”
An unredacted version obtained by The Bureau contains a subheading of “Mainstream Canadian Media.”
Contained within the body are statements claiming that Beijing has “flooded” international media organizations with funding initiatives with the ultimate objective of having pro-CCP propaganda pushed onto Canadians by media giants.
The 2019 document also claims the “Consulate in Vancouver developed a plan to influence specific British Columbia television stations to become ‘pro-China’ by providing the broadcasters with information and news and offering exclusive invitations,” to “cultivate” relationships with influential people. “Controlling the media is the main source of creating interference. In Canada, a ‘takeover’ of Chinese-language media has transpired over decades.”
One overt example of the captivation of mainstream media is the “China Watch” spreads in newsprint by several large outlets — “known to be a part of the Chinese government’s propaganda machine” according to one opinion writer. The spreads have appeared in both the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, although advertising revenues from the spreads were not disclosed.
Recently, the Toronto Star publicly shamed the Globe and Mail for carrying the pro-Beijing insert in its paper, while publishing the pro-CCP spreads.
“So, on the record, the Globe has accepted Judas silver coins to whoremonger for the Communist Party that rules The People’s Republic of China,” wrote Star columnist Rosie DiManno.
Financial incentives “aim to have Beijing’s propaganda published by major newspapers and broadcasters,” the Bureau report noted, quoting from the national security report that “Canadian media outlets have been heavily targeted in this regard.”
The Bureau is an independent media outlet formed by former Global News investigative journalist Sam Cooper.
Cooper released a series of reports earlier in the year based on similar intelligence leaks before leaving the news outlet. The Bureau states its current investigations are based upon four sets of security records that were reviewed.