Let’s stop this McCarthyite foreign interference probe and have an inquiry into CSIS activities instead

The Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference is quickly deteriorating into a political trial, with the public bombarded by endless accusations but without any access to the evidence. It’s a McCarthyite exercises that is creating a climate of fear which threatens democratic rights – we don’t need it and it should be stopped now.

There is, however, a public inquiry that we do need – one that would look into CSIS and its smear campaign against political figures across the country, especially Chinese Canadians. That is the real story of political interference in Canada.

This inquiry would also look at the corporate media giants which collaborated with CSIS in its smear campaign. How was it, for example, that Global News and the Globe and Mail loyally published a flow of CSIS “leaks” about government inaction against Chinese interference in Canada, but never provided any evidence?

This tidal wave of xenophobic propaganda includes accusations that eleven politicians received cash from people acting as Chinese agents (but the politicians were never charged under election laws), that Liberal MP Han Dong told a Chinese diplomat not to release “The Two Michaels” because it might benefit the Conservative Party (even though the Liberals would have benefited from securing their release), that Conservative MP Michael Chong and NDP MP Jenny Kwan faced a harassment campaign from China (although Chong himself has admitted to seeing no evidence) as well as vague claims of interference in municipal elections.

In the face of this kind of bizarrely flimsy spy craft – which becomes even more damning when you add in CSIS’s role in Maher Arar’s illegal deportation to Syria where he was tortured and imprisoned for a year – the media corporate has left the agency completely off the hook. No tough questions, no investigative reporting, no challenging the utter lack of evidence – just wholesale trust in CSIS’s accusations.

Disturbingly, as a result of its political campaigning CSIS appears set to hit the jackpot, with   the government moving to “modernize” the agency with a big expansion of intelligence powers and the creation of a registry of foreign agents.

Never mind expanding CSIS – it should be immediately abolished as the real source of political meddling. This country already regulatory and enforcement bodies to protect the electoral system – there’s no need for a spy on every corner.

The pretext for CSIS’s political campaign and proposed expansion is the “growing threat” of foreign political interference from China and Russia. The real reason, though, is the declining hegemony of US imperialism and the resulting increased aggressiveness toward its major global competitors, Russia and especially China.

So, this new McCarthyism is accompanied by a growing push towards militarism and war (another round of NATO spending targets, anyone?) This is a drive that reflects the priorities of the ruling class and the state it controls. Working people have nothing to gain from a rush to spend billions more on armaments, or to impose Cold War-style trade embargoes on Russia and China, or to provoke aggressions and proxy wars throughout the world, or to fan the flames of xenophobia and hate in communities in Canada.

In fact, working people have everything to lose from these policies, which is why the working-class movement has a long history of fighting for a foreign policy based on peace and disarmament, international cooperation and mutually beneficial trade with all countries.

The labour and progressive movements in Canada need to see this foreign interference probe for what it is – a campaign to divide working people, to target and weaken democratic and progressive movements, and to expand the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state.

We need to firmly reject this neo-McCarthyite political trial, and instead demand an inquiry into the real threat to democratic rights and institutions, CSIS’s meddling.

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