Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper believes that the Chinese leader is more of a long-term threat to democracies around the world than Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Harper, who was Prime Minister of Canada from 2006 to 2015, made this observation while addressing a gathering in Vancouver organized by the think tank Fraser Institute.
Xi Jinping (general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party) is a much more long-term, serious threat than Putin, Harper said, as per the outlet Globe and Mail, which obtained a recording of his speech.
He said that the Chinese leader’s ambition was to “create a new world order, a hub-and-spokes global economy where all authority is ultimately centred in Beijing.” His remarks came amidst an ongoing political maelstrom in Canada over Beijing’s alleged interference in the 2019 and 2021 Federal elections in the country.
Harper also addressed that matter, as he said, I suspect it is far worse than we think. Harper said China had not had any restriction in its behaviour in terms of interfering in the Canadian political system.
His comments came days after the special rapporteur appointed by the Government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to investigate Chinese interference in the elections stated that while foreign governments were attempting to influence voters and candidates, there was no need for a public inquiry.
The independent special rapporteur, former Canadian Governor General David Johnston, released his report on Tuesday, amid criticism from the opposition of it being an exercise in “whitewashing”.
The special rapporteur was appointed on March 6 after a series of reports in the outlet’s Globe and Mail and Global News that Beijing may have tried to influence Federal elections in Canada.
A series of exposes have placed sustained pressure on the Trudeau Government. On February 17, the Globe and Mail noted, China employed a sophisticated strategy to disrupt Canada’s democracy in the 2021 federal election campaign as Chinese diplomats and their proxies backed the re-election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals – but only to another minority government – and worked to defeat Conservative politicians considered to be unfriendly to Beijing. That report was based on intelligence documents.
Harper left office in 2015 after the Conservative Party was defeated by the Trudeau-led Liberals that year.
The Johnston report appears to have been met with public skepticism. According to a survey released by the public polling agency Angus Reid Institute on Friday, over half, 52 percent, of the respondents, felt the public inquiry was necessary.
An even higher number, 57 percent, felt Trudeau and his Government had “been evasive on the matter of foreign interference.” Two-thirds of those sampled believed China “likely tried to interfere in Canadian elections.”