An obscure group supporting the alleged Chinese spy working at Hydro-Québec showed the need for a foreign registry, said Sen. Leo Housakos.
On Nov. 15, Yuesheng Wang made a first court appearance after he was arrested by the RCMP a day earlier for allegedly sending trade secrets to China, which police said was “to the detriment of Canada’s economic interests.” The police said the 35-year-old resident of Candiac, Quebec, is the first person in Canada to be charged with economic espionage under the Security of Information Act.
But Housakos expressed concerns about Tina Zhu’s attendance at the Nov. 15 hearing and her claims that the proceedings are “a discrimination” against the Chinese community in Canada, reported CBC News.
Zhu is the president of the Canada-China Friendship Promotion Association (CCFPA), a group whose office is unknown to the authorities in Canada, according to the senator. An address provided on the CCFPA’s website appears to be a store unrelated to the group, located on Boulevard Monk, Montreal, Quebec.
The CCFPA introduced itself at a New Year celebration event, saying that it started out as a group named in Chinese as “Free Meng Wazhou In Action,” and was registered with the Canadian government on July 15, 2021—when Canada and China remained in a gridlock over Ottawa’s arrest of Meng, a senior executive of China’s telecom giant Huawei, at a U.S. extradition request. China had also detained two Canadians—Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor—in what is seen as a retaliation against Canada.
The Epoch Times reached out to the CCFPA for comment, but didn’t hear back.
“[Zhu] said she does not work on behalf of the Chinese government, it is a coincidence if she is there to support Chinese agents in Canada,” Housakos said in the Senate on Nov. 16. “This brings me to S-237, a bill that would allow us to know if this woman is indeed working for the Chinese government.”
“This bill would apply to authoritarian countries such as China, Iran, and Russia.”
Housakos has been pushing for the legislation, which would establish a Foreign Influence Registry, that aims to impose an “obligation on individuals acting on behalf of a foreign principal to file a return when they undertake specific actions with respect to public office holders.”
The senator said the bill, which has yet to pass second reading in the Senate since it reached that stage in March, has faced obstructions by senators appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau—an accusation denounced by Sen. Marc Gold, who has served as the representative of the government in the Senate since 2020.
“I’m not doing anything to block this bill here in the chamber. It should be studied properly and go through each step, and I’m ensuring that is the case with your bill as I do every other one,” he said.
Gold, however, declined to comment when Housakos pushed him to reassure that the Liberal government will follow through on Wang’s espionage proceedings and “will not conclude with a deal with the Chinese government to resolve this issue.”
“All I can say is, Mr. Housakos, that the government takes the interference of any country very seriously, be it China or another. And that is for interference into our democratic institutions, we will continue to watch this matter,” Gold said.
Housakos said Canada is in a precarious situation, pointing to the numerous reports of interference operations being carried out on Canadian soil by authoritarian regimes.
“Currently, Canada is in a dangerous situation, with several countries trying to influence it,” he said.
The RCMP is investigating reports about three unauthorized Chinese police service stations in Toronto, which allegedly target Chinese diaspora and dissidents living abroad, as part of its “Operation Fox Hunt” and “Sky Net” operations that were launched by Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2013, said to fight corruption and criminal activities.
Earlier in November, the Global News also reported that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is investigating the Chinese Communist Party’s alleged interference in Canada’s 2019 federal election through a covert scheme to provide funding to at least 11 federal candidates.
Trudeau has also said this week that his government is aware of reports about state actors from the Islamic Republic of Iran intimidating dissidents living in Canada.