Foreigners influencing Canada politics: spy chief

Wed Jun 23, 2010 2:23pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - In startling comments that appeared to surprise the government, Canada's spy agency says it suspects that cabinet ministers in two Canadian provinces are under the control of foreign nations.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) also said some countries, including China and countries in the Middle East, were playing a long-term strategy that involves trying to recruit people in Canadian universities.

The unprecedented remarks by CSIS Director Richard Fadden were broadcast late on Tuesday, a day before Chinese Premier Hu Jintao was due to arrive in Canada on a formal visit.

CSIS regularly complains about foreign espionage but this was the first time the agency has openly alleged that domestic politicians have come under the sway of outsiders.

"There are several municipal politicians in British Columbia, and in at least two provinces there are ministers of the Crown who we think are under at least the general influence of a foreign government," Fadden said in a recent speech that was filmed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Pressed by the CBC as to what he meant, Fadden said the individuals in question -- whom he did not identify -- had no idea they were being used.

"They haven't really hidden their association but what surprised us is that it's been so extensive over the years and we're now seeing, in a couple of cases, indications that they are in fact shifting their public policies as a reflection of that involvement in that particular country," he said.

Fadden, speaking generally, said some nations took a "very, very long range view of their efforts to influence Canada" and used people from their own diaspora. Canada is one of the few western countries still encouraging major immigration.   Continued...

<p>Canadian Security Intelligence Service Director Richard Fadden delivers a speech at the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies annual conference in Ottawa in this October 29, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>