Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said she has summoned the Chinese ambassador over election interference concerns. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
May 5 (UPI) -- Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly on Thursday summoned China's ambassador over evidence that Beijing attempted to influence the outcome of Canadian federal elections in 2019 and 2021.
Joly wrote on Twitter that she instructed her deputy minister to issue the summons after the Canadian Security Intelligence Service confirmed the attempted election interference.
"We will not tolerate any form of foreign interference," she said. "All options remain on the table as we consider the consequences for this behavior."
The Globe and Mail newspaper first reported that a Chinese diplomat had also targeted Canadian opposition lawmaker Michael Chong and his relatives in China for the politician's criticism of Beijing in its treatment of Uyghur minorities there.
Chong has called for Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei, who allegedly played a role in his harassment, to be expelled from China's Toronto consulate.
He criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government for not taking stronger action against China in light of Beijing's action against him and his family members living in Hong Kong.
"If we do not take that course of action, minister, we are basically putting up a giant billboard for all authoritarian states around the world that says we are open for foreign interference threat activities on Canadian soil targeting Canadian citizens, and you can conduct these activities with zero consequences," Chong said.
Joly said the government was concerned that "the People's Republic of China will take action" in retaliation against Canadian "interests," citing the detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michal Kovrig after the arrest of Meng Wangzhou, an executive of Chinese tech company Huawei.
"These interests, including economic interest, consular interests and also diplomatic interests will be affected," she said.
China pushed back against the accusations on Thursday, calling the CSIS findings "totally groundless" and blaming the Canadian media for what it calls false allegations.
"China's diplomatic and consular officials' normal performance must not be smeared, and China's sovereignty, security, and development interests must not be violated," China's Ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu said in the summons protest.