Conservatives ask CSIS to investigate John McCallum | Power & Politics

it's been six months since John McCallum was fired as Canada's ambassador to China but he's still creating headaches for the Liberal government today the Conservatives sent a letter to Canada's spy agency CSIS asking it to investigate things McCallum said to China McCallum told the South China Morning Post that he warned Chinese officials not to continue punishing Canada over its arrest of Huawei CFO mueng Wan Jo arguing that quote anything that is more negative against Canada will help the Conservatives who are much less friendly to China than the Liberals the Prime Minister and his cabinet are trying to distance themselves from those Caban comments pardon me mr. McCallum does not speak in the name of the Government of Canada I think that it is inappropriate for any Canadian to be advising any foreign government on ways it ought or ought not to behave to secure any particular election outcome in Canada the Foreign Minister addressed yesterday the comments by mr. McCallum the focus of this government has always been on standing up for Canadian interests standing up for the Canadians who are being unfairly detained and standing up for the rule of law the conservative opposition isn't buying it though in a letter to CSIS the party's deputy leader and Public Safety critic write this advice was partisan in nature and encouraged the government of China to take specific actions in order to influence Canada's democratic process Canadians expect that the upcoming election will be conducted in a free and fair manner and that any and all incidents of foreign interference the letter goes on to say will be fully investigated with action taken to prevent said interference CSIS has confirmed to CBC News that it received this letter but says it cannot publicly comment so what are the chances the spy agency takes up the investigation Phil Gorski is a former strategic analyst with CSIS he's currently the president and CEO of borealis threat risk nice to see you mr. Gorsky hello thanks for coming in for sure let's start at the beginning with mr. McCowan essentially we've laid them out in the intro there what was your reaction when you heard them bizarre at best that somebody who was a former ambassador to China and a former cabinet minister would go to that extent to tell China hey guess what you might want to do something because if we lose the election in October you'll be faced with a dip more difficult party to deal with I don't think that's it that's his his say I don't think that's his position to say anything and you kind of think a guy who had those former positions wouldn't he know any better I would have thought so this is all those comments are made I guess against a backdrop in which our country and China are at odds on a number of issues and it's a diplomatic you know disability to the nth degree do you think separate from the specific comments he made that China does pose a risk to the electoral process in this country given what's going on well certainly is possible excuse me it's possible we've been teasing CSC in the iris you've been talking for well almost years now about the possible threat to the federal elections of 2019 who might pose those threats well it's not Chile and Fiji you know it's probably Russia it could be wrong could be North Korea could be China so the fact that you know China may and I stress me I'm not I don't have any evidence to suggest that but it certainly is possible and I think a man like mr. McCollum and again as you said in keeping with what's happened to the two Canadians held hostage the one Kane has been sentenced to death the whole situation with the weaker set cetera et cetera I'm not sure you want to be closing up to the Chinese right now let's talk about what the conservatives how they've reacted they're upset they obviously they think that there's some sort of effort there to influence the election they've written to CSIS Canada spy agency and ask them essentially to investigate this how unique would that be it's unheard of in my experience III can't say for sure it's never happened you have to understand that CSIS is an organization that investigates threats to the security of Canada hidden it collects intelligence it assesses the intelligence it advises government the Conservative Party is not the government at least not yet so CSIS has to have investigative independence now yes it gets some marching orders from the government in terms of intelligence priorities what we what CSIS should focus on but it is completely independent of any one person saying you should investigate fasci or failed because I think they're doing bad things so what would how would that decision be made then because you know the Conservatives I guess have the right to say here you can you do this but what is the process like by which a decision is made by CSIS yes by CSIS yeah well CSIS would in accordance with its mandate so in this case it's section to be the CSI which is foreign interference and we would agree that interfering elections you something Canadians don't want to see so CSIS has the mandate to investigate it so it does its investigations it collects intelligence through human sources or other means and it decides where their priorities are in terms of who poses the greatest threat and that's how investigations are carried out it's certainly anyone including the Conservative Party can make suggestions that you'll we've heard through the grapevine that but to say you know those chaol or you really should investigate mr. McCallum on this ground that's coming a little bit too far and CSIS doesn't have to tell us or anyone in the public whether or not they decide to do it one way or the other do they know in fact the spokesperson for CSIS came out quite clearly and said surprise surprise we're not going to tell you where we're investigating how were investigating or what we're investigating rest assured we're taking this seriously and the director of seizes that said on several occasions this is a priority for the service going up to October of this year so they are looking at it but no we're not gonna get any details the other interesting part of the letter was that the the Conservatives asked them to sort of ask ceases to make this part and parcel of the kind of information they briefed the panel that that was set up I guess earlier this year but then sort of mandated just last week I think it was or earlier this week the government sort of laid out exactly how this panel would work how they would trigger an alarm for the public that there is this kind of interference taking place it wasn't too clear there's a lot of questions that still remain for example what's the threshold above which they decide hey this is something the public needs to know about what do you think of the way in which that panel has been set up and the idea that this mr. McGowan's comments should be part of what that panel is briefed on well the panel is an odd beast to say the least I'm not aware of anything analogous that I've seen in my time at CSIS so look there's always more intelligence that's collected than can be actually be shared or presented as here something you need to know about so what it strikes me as is that in the course of all these investigations if CSIS determines if something is either really really time-sensitive you have to know it or it's really serious well make it as part of this package to go to this panel and they can decide then what to do with it the this notion of informing the Canadian public now that's really really interesting because normally CSIS doesn't do that we have of course the annual report one just came out a few months ago and which CSIS does share information with Canadians not secret information but says here's what we're worried about this is I think an interesting and analog that perhaps but how it's going to function is really unclear as you say and I think seasons will need the determination based on all the investigations that we're doing in this regard ie election interference here are the things that are the most important ones that we'll send to this panel and we'll take action based on that what do you think about the way in which the panel does decide eventually to inform the public that there has to be a unanimous decision that it then gets briefed to political leaders who do not have the ability to stop that from informing the public it just is I guess it's a bizarre piece at the best of times and it suggests to me that one of two things either there are serious concerns ie intelligence that suggests maybe there will be election interference in the October polls or that this this particular notion the the fact the elections may in fact be subject to this we've seen it possibly in the United States in 2016 we saw it possibly in France a year later that has become such a priority for the government and for Canadians that the government has to take that extra step to create this panel and then to to inform Canadians as you said the way in which they'll be informed on what basis that remains to be be seen but it certainly is a step beyond what CSIS would normally do I'm not saying it's a bad thing I've long argued that CSIS should be a little more proactive with what it tells Canadians this is maybe one way of trying that out do you think it'll work and I know that's a hard thing to judge right now but there have been other attempts and other places in the EU elections it didn't work so so well in Ukraine they did its pretty successfully ward off any kind of interference what do you think I guess is going to depend on the nature of the information has collected how sensitive it is how far CSIS is willing to go in terms of conveying the information in the public so what CSIS will never do Rashi is compromised sources or methods or ongoing investigations so it will not say we've X Y or Z if that means the investigation is going a founder basically undermined so IBM to see if anything comes out the nature of what comes out how its conveyed and how serious it is all right I'll leave it there thank you mr. Gorsky appreciate it thank you Phil Gorski former CSIS analysts and current CEO and president of borealis threat risk welcome back to power and politics and the power panel with Jenn Gerson Marty Patrick Hren and Marie Vasto the Conservative Party wants ceases to investigate the comments of Canada's former envoy to China John McCallum McCallum gave an interview to the South China Morning Post and is quoted as having warning Warren I'm sorry Chinese officials that anything that is more negative against Canada will help the Conservatives who are much less friendly to China than the Liberals the Conservatives wrote to the head of CSIS today saying McCallum quote encouraged the government of China to take specific actions in order to influence canada's democratic process Marie I'll start with you we had Phil Gursky on earlier in the show he used to be an analyst with CSIS he said pretty much you know it's not the ceases to decide what they investigate that the comments were definitely offside but he's unsure if this would necessarily like fall under there you know what they should be looking at yeah I mean I presume they're better placed to decide that than Andrew Shearer but I don't know maybe Mr Shearer has some expertise I thought it was a bit of an unfortunate political stunt by the Conservative Party to be honest it's in line with their other attempts to cast doubt on the election process they have you know criticized the electoral debates Commission they've criticized the elections Commissioner that being said I think if you legitimately have concerns about the election process which which they might and which other people might as well given what mr. McCallum is saying he said if you have legitimate concerns what you should probably not cast more doubt on the election by saying this publicly you can ask CSIS in private to look into this the fact that it was public sorta made it look to me like the point wasn't necessarily to get to the bottom of this that being said I think it was equally unfortunate that well first mr. McCallum say oh those things but also that Justin Trudeau wasn't as categorical today in his reaction to what mr. McCallum said I thought Minister feeling was really strong yesterday saying was inappropriate no one should suggest to any foreign country any preferred outcomes reaction she was very explicit and then mr. Trudeau today was mute actually just reiterating that he'll stand up for the rule of law I thought that was also a missed opportunity to clear things up and say that Canada does take this type of thing very seriously and that no one should actually tell China what the preferred outcome is in their opinion Marty what do you think I think mr. McCallum deserves to be thrown under another bus because man what was it I think it was ghostly the other day was saying we're saying you know is there any way that the Liberals can fire this a guy again look III agree with Murray to a certain extent the only thing is that the Liberals have made a huge amount of hay about foreign intervention in in elections recently they've taught they've talked our ear off about it they've said about that you know the dangers of foreign national interests intervening are trying to mess up Canadians electoral process and then here you have a former ambassador and a former cabinet minister come out and I mean if you if you look at it if you look at his his statement you can infer that he's actually inviting China to do that again in favor of the Liberals it's really really bruising to the Liberals and I understand I understand that the stunt aspect behind conservatives calling for this first ceases to investigate but there's no other I think that conserves are basically trying to you know keep this scandal going because let's be honest the Liberals are very very weak yeah but should you keep a scandal going on the value of an election to me that's very very dangerous I'm not saying what mr. McCollum did is is without reproach I think he never should have said that and probably yes should get very much trouble for it I just don't think you should play politics when it comes to your election I think this is what they do both but those sites are playing politics here we can't resolve anybody here of playing politics I mean I think Marty is exactly correct the Liberals are trying to create a narrative or a perception that like they know the foreign actors are just you know sitting on the corners of Facebook waiting to pounce and so far we've seen very little evidence of that being the case but it allows them to create this narrative that everything that's unflattering or everything that might not go their way is some kind of example of foreign agency or fake news and then the of course you know as you're quite correct also Murray to point out that you know the Conservatives are also playing a bit of a actual game by being public by I asked by going to to ceases to ask them to investigate but they're also at the same time driving a heart or sorry a stake right into the heart of the hypocrisy of the whole thing by saying look if you were caring about foreign interference in an election here's a blatant public example of it or an attempt at doing so so kay can somebody maybe look into that that's actually a fair thing to ask for it so it's almost if they if they had stuck to the second part of the letter which was hey you've set up this panel that's going to tell the public what's going on maybe this should be part of what you briefed them on like can you make sure you include this yeah versus can you investigate in scrutinize this very specifically right like the second part seems to make sense for me it should fall I know you would imagine under the scope of what MA CSIS looks at or other national security agencies look at that considering the federal government has said this is something you will be tasked with it should oh yeah for sure and I mean CSIS should look into what China is doing because actually there have been indications that there has been some sort of foreign troll interference in the past not looking ahead to the election but they were you know posts on migrants at the border their reports post sorry following the the attack at the mosque in Quebec City I mean these things have happened and and they've happened in a very scary manner whether it be in France with the my colleagues or whether it be in the u.s. presidential election so I think it's legitimate to be worried about a risk I think Jen is probably right that both sides are playing politics and and that perhaps it helps the Liberals to say anything negative is you know foreign interference but I just think that CSIS would probably look into China anyway and I don't think that even if they were going to investigate and when mr. McCallum said they wouldn't tell us so just to ask them to do it it's just it's a request that I would wouldn't get an answer anyway and so I wonder what the point is other than just you as Marty said keep the scandal going Marty story I cut you off there before no it's fine that the Liberals have I can't I can't quite remember the name of it right now but it's basically a five-member panel of bureaucrats that are coming they're coming out yeah it's a long name and it sounds GI Joe ish but basically saying that they're gonna revise Canadians of any problems coming up in an election I would venture to say that having of a former cabinet minister and former ambassador come out and basically invite China to interfere in the election on behalf of the Liberals would probably make very pretty close to the top of that list I have about 30 seconds left last word to you Jen yeah I just I don't think Marty I could say it better than Marty but yeah duh I mean you know I got an absolutely no problem with them with them investigating McCallum on this stuff and I've got no problem with them sort of reporting back to the panel on McCallum's activities as a result of his public his public commentary but I mean I think Murray is also simultaneously quite correct there's a reason why the Conservatives chose to make this letter public right they're trying to be seen to be responding to something does anyone want anyone want to put some money on what John McCallum says next really nothing thanks to the power panel this Friday Jen Gerson Marty Patrick Quinn and Marie Bastile hi I'm Vashti Capello's host of power in politics see more of our show by subscribing to the CBC news channel or click the link for another video thanks for watching

Maurice Vega

28 Responses


  2. for all the squaking about interference in the election it looks like the liberals found who is doing some of it, their own boy drunky the clown mc callum

  3. John McCallum was a diplomat, and he is used to talk in diplomatic terms — as an individual that's allowed, right? Plus what he said was true, that a worsened Canadian-China relationship is no good for anyone except for the Conservative party, who had used all chances to break down the Liberal leadership, including talking about their own president in humiliating terms. For me this kind of selfish behaviors truly have discredited the Conservative of any good Leader for Canada. What CSIS should really investigate is if any part of Canadian legislative body was corrupted by the US in Meng Wanzhou arrest.

  4. The best way to deal with John McCallum is to treat him equally as other millions Chinese 50 cents. CBC and conservatives give him too much attention. Don't waste time & money on traitors. No investigation no attention no use, the CCP will lay him off.

  5. Fisrt it was trump who is a weekly joke to the world n now canada is so eager to take that no1 place, a real joke as if china cares who wins, bunch of morons

  6. Too much blah blah blah??? did CEO Huawei's #1 in the ? release yet ??? Why blah blah talking wasted time for ??? Played with fire superpower China ??? China only got stronger and stronger day by day my friend ???

  7. Even Chretien has a huge financial interest in China, that's why he disregards the law, asking the government to release the CFO of Huawei. Huawei is the builder of the Chinese firewall to block Chinese people to access free access to the internet. and Build a world wide network to control the world.

  8. Chinese communists bribe all the diplomats in China by money, women, set up a scandal. It is very easy. They set up a girl to have a video record their sexual activities supplied to them and it's done. They gave them free travel like in his case. They just work for them.

  9. John was ineffective in early nineties when he still thought buying dodge caravans was the best thing for the economy. At that time, more than half of all employees were in government and 25% were in service industries NOT manufacturing. Never did real research since mid 80’s.

  10. I don't like to say this but , some of the women in top government jobs , and that includes Jihadi Justine , have done enormous harm to the country .

  11. Telling the truth, bad idea.
    The electorate does not like the varnished truth, who does? Trump is the classic example of this.
    Everyone telling the truth 100% of the time will collapse civilization, literally.

  12. Vassy . I agree our national intelligence get involved at this point with the way things have unfolded with China. If the Conservatives feels justified in having our National Intelligence CSIS investigate with the sole objective to prevent elections interference in Canada then this exercise will be in the best interest of Canada. Great show Vassy.

  13. Instead of coming out with ideas to solve the Canada/China crisis, these people are now demonising the very person who can help Canada resolve the crisis, John McCallum. It is a well know fact that the Wests have been interfering in other countries domestic affairs since time immemorial through their spy agencies and yet they are now accusing China of doing it, with no evidence whatsoever and the mainstream medias are making it out to be the gospel truth. What vested interest does China has to interfere in the doemestic affairs of Canada, one may ask? What threat can China be to Canada? Did China send her warship to the coast of Canada like what the later did by sending her warship to the Straits of Taiwan as a warning to China? The world is indeed unfair.

  14. I personally would donate some money to equip every politician with a body cam. We should donate money and see what they are up to ALL THE TIME.


  16. He is no longer working on behalf of the Canadian government for good reason. It's our government's decision to back the "Trumped Up" reason they are holding Ms for the U.S. that added to our trade troubles with China.

    He had been ambassador long enough to know China has always welcomed Small Business and Farmers fair trade agreements. They have also been far more supportive of projects for indigenous peoples than either Liberals or Conservatives have been throughout Canadian history.

    I to urge small business groups, organic farmer groups and indigenous groups to investigate the opportunities China's "Belt and Road Initiative" could offer you.

    Stop waiting for government to stop putting both feet in their mouths. If you are a Canadian Small Business, Farmer or Indigenous group and want to trade with China, they're open to you, that's what I heard McCallum saying.

  17. They aren't held hostage they where spies we sent that got arrested when we did Americas dirty work. It's funny how we act like we are innocent. We played dirty ,China responded. Dont blame china for what our politicians did. This situation is a result of cowardice from both the liberals and conservatives. Time for a new direction , vote anybody but them

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