William Majcher, a retired member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, has been charged in connection with alleged foreign interference activities “to benefit” China following a two-year investigation, the national police force says.
The 60-year-old from Hong Kong appeared in a Quebec court virtually on Friday to face charges laid under the Security of Information Act.
He is charged with one count of preparatory acts for the benefit of a foreign entity, and one count of conspiracy.
“According to the investigation, Mr. Majcher allegedly used his knowledge and his extensive network of contacts in Canada to obtain intelligence or services to benefit the People’s Republic of China,” RCMP say in the press release announcing the charges.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.
An investigation by the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) was launched in fall 2021 regarding Majcher’s suspicious activities, the RCMP said.
The release says that “it is alleged that (Majcher) contributed to the Chinese government’s efforts to identify and intimidate an individual outside the scope of Canadian law.”
The charges come as Canada continues to reckon with foreign interference in the country, which has ranged from allegations of Chinese attempts to meddle in elections to using so-called “police stations” to monitor and threaten Chinese nationals or those with family in China.
Over the last few months, CSIS and other Canadian security agencies have detailed in public and to Parliament how they say they are cracking down on Chinese interference efforts in Canada.
RCMP commissioner Mike Duheme told a House of Commons committee last month that more than 100 investigations into obvious foreign interference are underway in Canada, adding that police stations allegedly operated by Beijing have been closed amid ongoing investigations.
“We are trying to build the relationship with the communities to have the people come forward and tell us their story, so we can have more evidence to lay appropriate charges,” Duheme told reporters after his testimony.
The so-called police stations reported in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver allegedly hosted Chinese government agencies inside community centres and allegedly harassed members of the city’s Chinese community, sometimes by threatening friends or relatives living in China.
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Two Montreal-area community groups were under investigation in May and said at the time that they continued to operate normally, contradicting claims by the public safety minister that all the clandestine stations in Canada had been shut.
The two groups — Service à la Famille Chinoise du Grand Montréal, based in the city’s Chinatown district, and Centre Sino-Québec de la Rive-Sud, in the Montreal suburb of Brossard, Que. — said the RCMP had taken no action against them.
Duheme also announced in April that he would support additional laws that allow police to further crack down on foreign interference in Canada, as well as ways to further collaborate with intelligence officials on the issue.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) issued a rare public warning in June detailing how it says China’s intelligence service is targeting and recruiting Canadian citizens to supply information to Beijing.
In a Twitter thread, CSIS explained how targets inside and outside of China are “approached and cultivated” online by proxies of the People’s Republic of China’s Intelligence Services (PRCIS).
For months, opposition parties have been pushing for a public inquiry into electoral interference amid allegations that the Chinese government attempted to interfere in the last two federal elections.
Former governor general David Johnston was initially appointed by the federal government to act as “special rapporteur,” tasked with producing a report to say whether or not he thought an inquiry was warranted.
Weeks later, Johnston resigned as special rapporteur, saying the process had become hyper-partisan. The opposition parties had alleged a conflict of interest and appearance of bias due to Johnston’s links to the Trudeau family and the Trudeau Foundation.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said last week that the government made “significant progress” but aren’t ready to make a decision on whether or not to hold a public inquiry quite yet.
With files from Global News’ Sean Boynton, David Baxter and The Canadian Press.