CSIS head admits he can’t say with ‘100 percent clarity’ that there are no Chinese agents on federal payroll

CSIS head admits he can’t say with ‘100 percent clarity’ that there are no Chinese agents on federal payroll

The government cannot say with “100 percent clarity” that no Chinese agents are on federal payroll, the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) said on Tuesday.

David Vigneault told MPs during the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations that there was a “relentless effort by the People’s Republic of China” (PRC) to infiltrate institutions, according to Blacklock’s.

“They are using all methods to be able to acquire technology, know-how and data,” said Vigneault. “From that point of view, I am not sure anyone can provide a level of 100 percent clarity on this. From the Canadian Security Intelligence Services’ point of view in terms of transparency, we are absolutely focused on the issue.”

The committee is tasked with finding out how top security clearance was given to two Chinese Canadian scientists at the Winnipeg National Microbiology Laboratory. The two made clandestine contact with the Chinese army’s bioweapons program.

“The Public Health Agency knew these scientists were collaborating with the People’s Liberation Army,” Conservative MP Michael Cooper said. “This is a Level Four lab. It is supposed to be Canada’s highest security lab. It deals with some of Canada’s most sensitive biological secrets.”

Cooper asked if there are scientists employed by the Canadian government who are in “any way involved” with the PRC, to which Vigneault said that he “cannot confirm the specifics of our investigations but I understand the concerns raised by Mr. Cooper and I share the issue about the threat this represents.”

“How can you reassure Canadians that there are no further People’s Republic of China-based scientists who are part of talent or recruitment programs working at government labs in Canada?” Conservative MP Stephen Ellis asked. “By definition these approaches are covert,” Director Vigneault responded. “They are trying to obfuscate their approach. The more we talk about it, the more the People’s Republic of China is adapting its methods. The fact is this is a cat and mouse game.”

A 614-page CSIS report from earlier this year states that Dr. Xiangguo Qiu worked with Dr. Shi Zhengli on a synthetic bat filovirus project at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The lab’s scientific director expressed some concerns over the two, writing in a staff email from 2018 that he had “some concerns here.”

The Public Health Agency gave them their walking papers in January 2021, but no reason was ever given for their dismissal.

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