Justin Trudeau targeted in United Front corruption networks
In a two-part interview with a Canadian intel expert The Bureau looks at Chinese intelligence approaches to Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau via organized crime and corruption suspects
Editor’s Note: Scott McGregor is a former Canadian military and RCMP intelligence analyst who also briefed B.C. Attorney General David Eby on the infiltration of Chinese transnational crime and intelligence networks into Vancouver’s economy. He is author of an upcoming book with co-author Ina Mitchell, that looks at what they call China’s “hybrid war” threats to North America. In a two-part series The Bureau discusses some of the major players in China’s operations. The conversation has been lightly edited for length.
Scott, I know that this conversation will be of interest for many readers and also people in various government agencies. Why I'm excited about this conversation, is there's a background story.
You and I in different ways, for at least 10 years, we've been pushing the boundaries of understanding China's extremely broad and deep and sophisticated attacks on Canada.
You've been a leading thinker in your field of intelligence and analysis.
So I think the way to organize this is to talk about some big names relevant to Canada that have come up in both of our research, and also some big concepts from your research. And some big criminal and intelligence cases.
My way, as you know, is understanding the big players and how they interact.
So for example, when you see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in these photos constantly surrounded by alleged Chinese intelligence proxies and gangsters at these cash-for-access fundraisers or campaign events, these pictures are telling a story.
And the story is how Canadian politicians are surrounded by something that's called the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front. So we'll get into that.
But I just want to jump back in time, and start with Justin's father, Pierre Trudeau.
Back in the 1970s, it is well-known Pierre Trudeau traveled to China.
Declassified files show he talked with a man named Zhou Enlai who was Chairman Mao's right-hand man, and a co-founding father of the Chinese Communist Party.
Also, Zhou Enlai was the founder of the CCP spy networks.
So he was China's top spy and a diplomat for many years.
And what Mr. Zhou said, this is a quote, is the United Front will be used for “nestling intelligence within the United Front.”
Another quote he said, is “using the United Front to push forth intelligence.”
And a third quote – this comes from the Australian United Front and Ministry of State Security expert Alex Joske — is Zhou Enlai said United Front work is deftly “using the legal to mask the illegal.”
So in my research, I think that really encapsulates what's happened in Canada's election interference story that shocked the nation in the past year.
So my question is: Pierre Trudeau, when he came back from his trip to Communist China and meeting with Zhou Enlai, Trudeau was talking a lot more about engagement with China as a trade partner.
And so what it looks like to me, is that Trudeau Senior may have been charmed and cultivated, whether he knew or not, by China's top spy.
So would you agree with that?
And do you think his son, Justin Trudeau, based on what you've looked at, has been cultivated by China's United Front in Canada or compromised by the United Front?
I really do think that there has been compromise.
I think the perspective of former Prime Minister Trudeau has been carried on in politics in Canada for many, many, years.
I think at that time there were some geopolitical concerns and American influence was definitely something to be concerned about within Canada’s leadership. So engagement with China would offset that.
And so I think there were economic deals struck. And I think the Project Sidewinder report deals with some of that background.
But the intent behind Chinese infiltration of Canada, I don’t know whether it was fully recognized back then in the 1970s, because China was not seen to be a superpower at the time.
China would seem to be something that maybe Canada could manipulate. I think that's where it all started. And I believe that how lucrative that engagement with China became for Canada, was just too enticing.
I don't believe it was seen as selling out Canada. It was seen as an economic opportunity. But unfortunately, once you're in bed with the devil, things can go sideways.
So let’s move on to Pierre’s son, Justin. Justin's pedigree and upbringing is surrounded in that environment of his father. But his ability and knowledge level to run a country, I don't think is commensurate with his formative experiences.
And so those same Chinese entities that have become entrenched in Canada, were the ones that were going to be around him to groom the “Little Potato.”
So you are saying that this Chinese election interference story isn't as abrupt a process as some people might think.
I agree because in recent history, if you examine the rise of Justin Trudeau into the position where he's about to become leader in the Liberal Party of Canada.
Back around 2012 and following that — you can look at his campaign and fundraising events. You can look at pictures and you can find people that my intelligence sources would say are key fundraisers within the United Front networks that interact with the Toronto Chinese Consulate.
And for Justin Trudeau this is also out in Vancouver, we can see the same United Front networks around his campaigns and fundraisers.
But as you know, a big part of the story that I broke in the past year was that high-level CSIS reports said that Canadian bureaucrats, Canadian politicians, are all surrounded by United Front operatives including in their staff, in their offices, on their campaigns.
And so what shocked me — when I was putting together my reports — was that my intelligence sources were very concerned that key Liberal Party leaders had these United Front network staff members.
And this included Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In his very own Prime Minister's Office, for example, a high-level staffer that was promoted by the Toronto Consulate to Chinese media — this staffer then went on to become an elected member of the Liberal Party. And I believe is in a cabinet minister's position.
So is that the type of concern you researched in your book?
That staff members can become elected? It's also possible that people can become Canadian Senators after being in United Front type networks? Is that a real concern? Are my sources correct?
That's a concern. Your information is in line with my research and my understanding.
When you mentioned Canadian Senators, what that brings to mind is a trade initiative called Headquarters Vancouver.
It was an investment program to attract Chinese companies to British Columbia that was run by the now Senator Yuen Pau Woo. And what we saw with that program, was companies brought in by Woo including Anbang.
The CEO of Anbang was found to be guilty of graft by the PRC and Anbang’s assets were seized by the state. But Anbang had purchased Bentall Towers. [A major commercial property in central Vancouver, worth over $1-Billion.]
So assets like that become tied to the Chinese state for some time.
There was also a company called Poly Group that HQ Vancouver brought into British Columbia. And Poly Group is the People's Liberation Army's corporate arm.
So needless to say, they're a significant concern to the Five Eyes because of the activity these companies conduct in Canada. And HQ Vancouver also was not successful in attracting good companies to Canada.
[Editor’s Note: Reports found a number of the companies engaged with HQ Vancouver were tainted by fraud allegations.]
But regardless, Woo gets handpicked by Prime Minister Trudeau to become a senator in 2016.
And as you have reported, in Senate, Woo has been chirping the same lines the Chinese Communist Party is saying. So yeah, I definitely think there are concerns.
I know Canadian intelligence agencies and law enforcement are likely aware of those concerns. But they come under junior ministries. And for the Ministry of Public Safety, CSIS, RCMP, they're all political.
And when the leader of Canada doesn't want somebody to look into something — I mean there are just ways to have things overlooked.
It doesn't mean that people in those organizations are all complicit in some big scheme. It just means that the focus can be taken off how severe and how serious China’s saturation into Canada is.
Okay. And I just want to make a comment here. I won’t ask you my questions about the Cameron Ortis case until later. What you just said triggered this in my mind.
I understand some people in the RCMP, after Cameron Ortis was arrested and charged in 2019, they were looking back at his leadership historically.
And they were concerned that while Ortis was basically Commissioner Bob Paulson's most important intelligence analyst and thinker, that the focus was taken off of Asian Organized Crime as a priority target for the RCMP.
You raised the concept that you don't need to capture a government or an agency. You could possibly have an influential person within a ministry or an office, and sort of shape the focus enough.
Let's come back to that point later.
But you had mentioned China Poly Group and the People's Liberation Army in Vancouver.
That brings me to a person and a network that I think you know well, because you got into this quite a bit in your new book.
And I am thinking visually here. There was a video clip at the start of 2023 during the Chinese New Year that I know caught the eye of people in the RCMP.
This was in a mall in Vancouver owned by a Chinese tycoon. And so you looked at this video clip and you saw the person that I'll just call for our purposes, Tiger.