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Canadian Mounties probing China’s alleged targeting of lawmaker


OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating allegations China tried to intimidate a federal legislator, one of more than 100 inquiries into foreign meddling, the RCMP commander said on Tuesday.

Canada has accused China of trying to interfere in its affairs through various schemes, including illegal police stations and the targeting of lawmakers. Beijing has strongly denied all such allegations.

Ottawa expelled a Chinese diplomat last month for allegedly seeking to target opposition lawmaker Michael Chong’s family in Hong Kong in 2021, prompting a tit-for-tat response by Beijing.

The RCMP found out about the incident from media reports and discussions in parliament, RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme told a parliamentary panel studying foreign interference allegations.

“When we were made aware of it, we approached Mr. Chong and began an investigation.” he said, adding that the force was looking into the alleged targeting of other individuals.

Duheme said there were “100 plus files on interference,” and pointed to the case of a Hydro-Quebec worker charged with spying for China.

Foreign interference “poses a complex threat” to Canada’s security and the RCMP is working with domestic and international partners to combat it, he said.

Opposition parties accuse Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of being too soft on China and are calling for a public inquiry.

On Friday, a special investigator named by Trudeau to probe alleged election interference by China said he would quit, citing widespread opposition to his appointment and work.

Diplomatic tensions between Canada and China have been running high since the detention of a Huawei Technologies executive in 2018 and Beijing’s subsequent arrest of two Canadians on spying charges. All three were freed in 2021.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by David Ljunggren and Mark Heinrich)

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