India, Pakistan tried to interfere in Canada’s elections, claims spy agency; India rejects allegations

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), has disclosed attempts by the governments of India and Pakistan to interfere in Canada’s federal elections in 2019 and 2021.

According to unclassified CSIS summaries made public on Thursday night, both countries engaged in clandestine activities to influence Canadian politics.

In 2021, CSIS noted that the government of India demonstrated intent to interfere and likely conducted covert operations, including the use of a proxy agent in Canada. Similarly, in 2019, officials from the government of Pakistan in Canada attempted to clandestinely influence Canadian federal politics to further Pakistan’s interests.

CSIS emphasised caution regarding these assessments, acknowledging the potential for uncorroborated or incomplete information. CSIS Director David Vigneault stressed that intelligence is not always definitive and may require further investigation.

The reports come as part of a federal commission of inquiry into foreign interference, examining possible meddling by various countries, including China, India, Russia, and others, during the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the issue, stating that his government has taken significant measures to counter foreign interference and will continue to do so.

CSIS described Pakistan as a “limited foreign interference actor,” primarily aiming to promote political, security, and economic stability in Pakistan and counter India’s global influence. In response to Pakistan’s activities during the 2019 election, Canada conducted threat reduction measures to mitigate interference.

Regarding India, CSIS alleged that in 2021, the Indian government targeted specific electoral districts in Canada due to perceptions about Indo-Canadian voters’ sympathies toward the Khalistani movement or pro-Pakistan stances. CSIS reported evidence suggesting that a proxy agent of the Indian government may have provided illegal financial support to pro-Indian candidates.

CSIS did not disclose specific ridings or candidates affected by India’s alleged interference in 2021. The agency defined a proxy agent as an individual who acts on behalf of a foreign state while concealing the connection to influence activities.

The public inquiry into foreign interference has focused on China, but India and Pakistan have emerged in the documents. CSIS highlighted India’s engagement in interference activities targeting Canadian political figures through officials in Canada.

India dismissed the report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) regarding claims by the Canadian intelligence service of New Delhi’s involvement in the 2021 Canadian elections as lacking evidence and confirmation.

According to sources speaking to ET, the Trudeau government is allegedly attempting to divert attention from Chinese interference in Canadian politics and the Chinese influence within the current ruling party.

It should be noted that similar allegations had come to the fore earlier this year and had been strongly denied by the Ministry of External Affairs, the source told the newspaper.

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