Is China buying Canada's politicians?


(Image by Flickr user Remko Tanis (cc:by-nc-sa))

This story was originally reported by PRI's The World. For more, listen to the audio above.

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The Chinese government is covertly infiltrating the Canadian government and exerting influence over high-ranking politicians, according to Richard B. Fadden, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. He accused several municipal councils in British Columbia and cabinet ministers in two provincial governments of being "a bit too close" to a foreign government, implying China.

"Before you know it, a country is providing them with money. There's some sort of covert guidance," Fadden explained. "All of a sudden decisions aren't taken on the basis of the public good, but on the basis of another country's preoccupations. So we do worry about them."

The comments caused an outcry among the nation's politicians. British Columbia's Provincial Leader Gordon Campbell told PRI's The World, "It really was not just unprecedented, it is incredibly unprofessional and I think that it calls into question how this organization is working." He also said that CSIS had made suspects out of hundreds of public servants. Others have called for Fadden's resignations.

Fadden initially seemed to walk back on his comments in an official statement from the CSIS. He then repeated his concerns, according to the New York Times, saying that his agency planned to file a report with the government about the situation "within weeks."

The economic ties between China and Canada, meanwhile, continue to grow. AFP reports that China is pumping billions of dollars into Canada's oil sands in their hunt for natural resources. And the state-run, Chinese news agency Xinghua reports that the two countries "witnessed an unprecedented flurry of diplomatic visits over the last two weeks, reflecting their growing partnership."

That kind of economic cooperation may prove to be the kind of connection that accusations of improper influence can't able to break.

PRI's "The World" is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. "The World" is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston. More "The World."