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Archive for Canada

Newsline: Chinese embassy in Ottawa silent on ‘police stations’ in Montreal

Canadian Police said on Thursday they are investigating allegations that two Montreal-area centers are being used as Chinese state-backed “police stations” to intimidate or harass Canadians of Chinese origin. The Chinese embassy in Ottawa did not respond to a request for comment. It has previously said that there are centers outside China run by local volunteers, not Chinese police officers, that aim to help Chinese citizens renew documents and offer other services disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are carrying out police actions aimed at detecting and disrupting these foreign state-backed criminal activities, which may threaten the safety of persons living in Canada,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Quebec said in a statement. (https://neuters.de/world/americas/canada-police-probe-alleged-chinese-police-stations-montreal-2023-03-09/) In November, the RCMP also launched an investigation into similar reports of Chinese “police service stations” in the Toronto area. The RCMP in Ontario did not respond to a request for information on that probe on Thursday. The investigation adds to mounting allegations of Chinese interference in Canada’s internal affairs, including accusations by Ottawa that Beijing tried to influence the last two Canadian elections. China has denied those accusations. Countries including the United States and the Netherlands have conducted similar probes following a report in September by Safeguard Defenders, a Europe-based human rights organization, detailing the presence of dozens of Chinese police “service stations” in major cities globally.

Newsline: Canada summons China’s ambassador over balloon incident

Canada summoned China’s ambassador after what Ottawa described as a high-altitude surveillance balloon was detected over North American airspace, a spokesperson for the Canadian foreign ministry said. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/canada-summons-chinas-ambassador-over-144328239.html) “We will continue to vigorously express our position to Chinese officials through multiple channels,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Newsline: Canada summons Russian ambassador

Canada summoned Russia’s ambassador on Wednesday over an attack in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said. Officials summoned ambassador Oleg Stepanov to “make clear we do not accept the sheer brutality of Russia’s recent attacks against civilians in Dnipro,” Joly told reporters in Toronto. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/canada-summons-russian-ambassador-over-attacks-civilians-ukraine-2023-01-18/) Stepanov later said his discussions at the meeting focused on a “predictable line of overall Western propaganda” and that Moscow’s differences with Canada left little room for diplomacy.

Newsline: Canada Summons Chinese Ambassador Repeatedly

Recently, the “police stations” that China has established in Canada have been a source of concern in Ottawa. The Canadian government has confirmed that it has repeatedly summoned the Chinese ambassador to request an end to these activities. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has emphasized that the government will ensure that the nation’s citizens are not subject to foreign government interference or impacted in their daily lives. In October of this year, international human rights organization Safeguard Defenders released a report revealing that China has set up at least 54 “police stations” in 30 countries around the world, three of which are located in the Greater Toronto area of Canada. Since this information was made public, it has garnered significant attention. Weldon Epp, the director of the Northeast Asia department of Canada’s Global Affairs department, explained at a meeting of the Canada-China Relations Committee that Ottawa takes this matter very seriously. He stated, “We have had multiple contacts with the Chinese side, summoning the ambassador multiple times to express our deep concerns. The Canadian government has formally demanded that the Chinese government, including the ambassador and embassy, be held accountable for any activities within Canada that are not part of the Vienna Convention and ensure that these activities are stopped.” (https://swarajyamag.com/world/canada-summons-chinese-ambassador-repeatedly-telling-him-to-stop-the-operation-of-ccp-police-stations-on-canadian-soil) The Chinese embassy in Canada issued a statement saying that the purpose of the service stations is to provide free services such as vision and hearing exams, as well as physical examinations, to Chinese citizens living abroad. This is meant to make it easier for them to replace driver’s licenses and other documents. According to the Vienna Convention, consular and administrative services should be provided by embassies and consulates.

Newsline: China’s consulate in Toronto accused of election interference

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accused China of attempting to interfere in the country’s elections. Mr Trudeau accused Beijing of playing “aggressive games” with democracies and of targeting Canadian institutions. It comes as local media report that Canadian intelligence identified a “clandestine network” of Beijing-backed candidates at recent elections. At least 11 candidates were supported by China in the 2019 federal elections, officials reportedly told Mr Trudeau. Citing unnamed intelligence officials, local broadcaster Global News reported that Beijing had directed funds to the candidates and that Chinese operatives had acted as campaign advisers to many candidates. The operation, which was reportedly directed from China’s consulate in Toronto, also sought to place operatives within the offices of serving MPs in an attempt to influence policy, the outlet alleged. (https://news.yahoo.com/trudeau-accuses-china-aggressive-election-045504416.html) In one case, funding of C$250,000 was directed through the office of an Ontario-based provincial MP. And efforts were also made to “co-opt and corrupt” former Canadian officials in a bid to gain influence within political circles. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman denied these allegations. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China has no interest in meddling in Canadian elections.

Newsline: Canada mulls loosening French requirements for diplomats

A Senate committee studying the future of Canada’s foreign service is pondering whether French needs to be a lower priority for recruiting diplomats as Ottawa pivots its foreign policy toward the Indo-Pacific. The issue has emerged in ongoing hearings at the Senate foreign-affairs committee, which is looking into whether Global Affairs Canada is designed to successfully execute Canada’s foreign-policy goals. British Columbia Sen. Yuen Pao Woo told his colleagues that many from his province have an expertise in Asian languages and cultures, but seem to be held back due to their lack of French. “I wonder if it might be possible to rank the intrinsic savvy and skill that some Canadians have,” he suggested, in order to “counteract some of the lower scores that we get for deficiencies in French.” (https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/senators-ponder-loosening-french-requirements-for-diplomats-as-canada-pivots-to-asia/) At the Nov. 3 meeting, Woo argued that diplomats should still be learning French, but that this could be treated as a lower priority for diplomats than for other public servants.

Newsline: Vatican diplomat wanted in Canada on child porn charges

An arrest warrant has been issued in Canada for Msgr. Carlo Capella, the Vatican diplomat recalled from service in Washington in late August, who already was the subject of a Vatican criminal investigation involving child pornography. Police in Windsor, Ontario, issued a statement Sept. 28 saying, “A Canada-wide arrest warrant has been issued for Carlo Capella, a 50-year-old male, for the charges of: access(ing) child pornography, possess(ing) child pornography and distribut(ing) child pornography.” “Investigators believe that the offenses occurred while the suspect was visiting a place of worship in Windsor,” the statement said. “Investigators have determined that the suspect has returned to his residence in Italy.” (https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican-diplomat-also-wanted-canada-child-porn-charges) Capella had worked since the summer of 2016 at the Vatican nunciature in Washington. Prior to that, he worked on the Italy desk at the Vatican Secretariat of State. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1993 for the Archdiocese of Milan. Although the Vatican has not publicly confirmed Capella’s identity, it did not object when many news outlets identified him as the Vatican diplomat recalled from Washington.

Newsline: Israeli embassy claims Canada not doing enough for security

The Embassy of Israel in Canada says that the host government is not providing a proper level of security, leaving the Ottawa diplomatic mission vulnerable to threats. Canadian public broadcaster CBC interviewed two senior officials with the embassy who said that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) downgraded security shortly after Israel’s former ambassador to Canada, Nimrod Barkan, retired in November 2019. That level of protection involved 24-hour security for the ambassador for movements between the embassy and official residence. (https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/americas/1665640651-israeli-embassy-says-canada-not-doing-enough-for-security) During the Covid-19 pandemic the ambassadorial position was left vacant, with a chargé d’affaires temporarily representing the Jewish state in Canada’s capital city. Embassy officials told CBC that after the current ambassador, Ronen Hoffman, started his term in December 2021, the embassy asked the RCMP to provide the same level of security his predecessor received. However, this request was rejected by Global Affairs Canada, the government department that manages the country’s diplomatic and consular relations, as well as by the RCMP.

Newsline: Canada names first female ambassador to China

Canada appointed Jennifer May its first female ambassador to China, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, taking over a role that has been open since December of last year amid ongoing diplomatic tensions with the Asian economic powerhouse. “Ms. May will lead Canada’s important work in standing up for democratic values, human rights, and the rule of law,” Trudeau said. “Her work will be key to advancing Canadian priorities in the Canada-China relationship.” (https://news.yahoo.com/canada-names-jennifer-may-first-135214758.html) May is a veteran diplomat with 30 years’ experience, Trudeau said in a statement. She most recently served as Canada’s ambassador to Brazil, and during her career has worked in the Canadian missions in Beijing and Hong Kong. In 2019, Canada named Kirsten Hillman, another career diplomat, to be its first female ambassador to the United States.

Newsline: Moscow summons Canada envoy over Russian embassy attacks in Ottawa

Russia’s foreign ministry has summoned the Canadian ambassador and issued a protest over attacks on the Russian embassy in Ottawa, the ministry said. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/moscow-summons-canada-envoy-over-145029900.html) It said an unknown person threw a Molotov cocktail onto the grounds of the Russian embassy in Ottawa. It also said “aggressive” demonstrators had blocked an entrance to the consular section of the embassy.