EDITOR’S NOTE: This story replaces an earlier article by The Canadian Press published on Nov. 20, 2022, providing additional information and context about the prime minister’s comments.
“I do not have any information, nor have I been briefed on any federal candidates receiving any money from China,” he told a Global News reporter on Sunday in Tunisia.
His response stems from a Global News report — which appeared on November 7 — about an alleged Chinese interference effort that Canadian intelligence officials warned Trudeau about, beginning last January.
Global News reported that intelligence memos cautioned Trudeau and several unidentified cabinet ministers that China’s consulate in Toronto had organized an election-interference network in 2019. The intelligence said the consulate earmarked a significant sum which was transferred to an unidentified federal campaign staffer, who then sent the sum to an unnamed Ontario MPP.
Separate sources with knowledge of the 2022 briefs told Global News that this elected official subsequently disbursed that amount to other members of the network, which included at least 11 unidentified candidates and 13 campaign staff, according to intelligence memos.
Those same sources, Global News has reported, alleged that an intermediary facilitated fund transfers of about $250,000 to the MPP and federal campaign staffer in question.
Some, but not all, of those candidates and staffers were witting affiliates of the Chinese Communist Party, the intelligence memos alleged, according to information obtained by Global News.
The alleged scheme was all done to advance Beijing’s political agenda, intelligence memos said.
While the opposition Conservatives have called on Trudeau to identify the 11 candidates believed to be recipients of campaign funding, Global News only reported that those candidates were part of the alleged network. There is no evidence that Chinese officials ever directly funded their candidacies.
When pushed on what other possible briefings or information he had received on the alleged Chinese interference in the 2019 election, Trudeau was less clear.
“These media reports … We asked our security officials to follow up on them,” Trudeau said.
“I’ve asked them to give all information that they can share, that they can with a parliamentary committee looking into it. Again let me be very clear. I have no information.”
The prime minister was wrapping up a 10-day trip, which included the G20 summit where he squared off with China’s President Xi over a perceived breach in diplomatic etiquette. Xi accused Trudeau of leaking their private, sidelines conversation, which in part had to do with Trudeau’s concerns about the allegations of China’s interference activities.