An Open Letter to Party Leaders Regarding Alleged Election Interference Calling for Balance and Sensitivity towards Chinese Canadians
Dear [Party Leader],
We want to bring to your attention our deep concerns about the impact of the political framing and media narratives of alleged election interference by the Chinese government.
CPAC is an organization representing over 30,000 Canadians of Chinese descent. We fully appreciate the importance of election integrity, and we believe that election interference undermines election integrity in a free and democratic society. We support fair and thorough investigations of any allegation of election interference by a foreign state.
However, we are troubled by the narratives of certain media outlets and statements made by some politicians. Our community fears that Chinese Canadians will become collateral damage and victims of racial discrimination that the Chinese community in Canada already experiences in various forms, such as stereotyping, subconscious bias or hate crime at its worst.
At this time, our community is still suffering from anti-Chinese racism stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our elders, children, and indeed people of all ages, have been attacked and victimized either physically, verbally or virtually. We worry that the current toxic environment may lead to unfair labeling and alienation, causing further physical and mental harm to us and our children.
In this centennial year of the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act, we fear that another wave of Chinese exclusion sentiment will sweep Canada, if necessary measures are not taken to protect Chinese Canadians. We fear that a new version of Chinese exclusion may resurrect in Canada leading Chinese Canadians to be regarded as “others” and “outsiders.”
Chinese Canadians have been an integral part of the Canadian fabric for nearly a century and a half. Chinese railroad workers built the most dangerous part of the Canadian Pacific Railway that saved Confederation in the 1880s. Today, Chinese Canadians are making significant contributions in all sectors of society, from science and arts to philanthropy, law and democracy. We are equal citizens to people of any other ethnic origins. However, we fear that the peaceful and respectful multi-racial Canadian mosaic may unravel, if the current strident rhetoric is not countered by leaders like you.
Therefore, we urge you to take a balanced approach and exercise care for Chinese Canadians. We urge you to stand with the Chinese Canadian community, while protecting Canada’s election integrity. We urge you to publicly recognize the significant contributions of Chinese Canadians and condemn any irresponsible rhetoric or propaganda from any hate promoting groups or individuals against Chinese Canadians. We request that you ask all your caucus and party members to do the same in their statements and actions regarding issues that concern Chinese Canadians. We also request that you take the time to meet with us in the Chinese community to hear our fears and concerns to inform your policies and statements.
Chinese Canadians have often been targeted unfairly, as a result of ignorance or malice. As a national party leader, what you say about Chinese Canadians has lasting consequences for us. We sincerely hope that you will be sensitive to the concerns of over a million Canadians of Chinese descent and that you will do your part to protect us from racism and unfair treatment.
Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.
Answer from Prime Minister’s Office
April 6, 2023
An Open Letter to Ti Wang, President of CPAC
Office of the Prime Minister
Dear Mr. Wang:
I would like to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence.
Canadians of Chinese heritage have greatly contributed to Canada. Anti-Asian racism has no place in Canada. The Prime Minister has strongly condemned the racism, violence, and hate Asian communities in Canada are facing, and will continue to do so.
Safeguarding Canada’s democracy is a vital and non-partisan issue, one that our government takes very seriously. To uphold the integrity of our elections, we established our Plan to Protect Democracy, which includes the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol (Protocol). Through the Protocol, an independent panel comprising of senior public servants, and informed by the work of our national security agencies, monitor attempted election interference. They are mandated to notify Canadians in the event of a threat to the integrity of a General Election. The panels in both the 2019 and 2021 elections concluded that while there were attempts at foreign interference, the elections were free and fair.
We will never tolerate foreign interference. That is why Minister Mendicino launched consultations on a Canadian Foreign Influence Transparency Registry, to ensure transparency and accountability from the people who advocate on behalf of a foreign government, while also protecting communities that are targeted by attempts at foreign interference. These consultations are open to the public, and all Canadians are encouraged to share their views through the consultation web page until May 9, 2023.
As the Prime Minister announced on March 6, 2023, two national security bodies will review foreign interference in the 43rd and 44th federal elections: the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) and the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA).
In 2017, our government established NSICOP, which is comprised of Members of Parliament from each party and Senators with top-secret security clearance. NSIOP is well-positioned to review foreign interference attempts and the potential effects on Canada’s institutions. Likewise, NSIRA will undertake a review of how the threat of foreign interference was handled by Canada’s national security agencies during the 43rd and 44th federal elections.
Our government is taking further action by naming the Right Honourable David Johnston as Independent Special Rapporteur on Foreign Interference. In this role, he will review Canada’s national security oversight structure and provide recommendations on any further actions needed. He will also advise if there are any other mechanisms or processes necessary to answer any outstanding questions, which could include a formal public inquiry. We will abide by his recommendations.
Together, these actions will provide the government and Canadians with a better understanding of attempts of foreign interference in the last two federal elections. We will continue to strengthen Canadian infrastructure and democracy and protect Canadian citizens against foreign interference.
Thank you for taking the time to write. Please accept my warmest regards.
Senior Manager, Prime Minister’s Correspondence
Office of the Prime Minister
CPAC is a professionals’ association with over 30,000 members, a career service provider for new immigrants and youth from underserved communities, and a research, training and education organization that facilitates the understanding and elimination of systemic racism and barriers to equity, diversity and inclusion.
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