The Globe and Mail’s hypocrisy on election interference is impressive. To press Trudeau on China, Canada’s ‘paper of record’ turned to an individual involved in rigging a Haitian election who then led a US-based election interference organization.
“Former chief electoral officer calls for independent inquiry into Chinese interference in Canadian elections,” blared the front of Friday’s Globe. The former head of Elections Canada, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, told The Globe, “the reasonwhy this is important is that the legitimacy of government is what is at stake. We have to trust that the electoral process is not being tampered with by a foreign government.”
Turning to Kingsley to opine about election interference highlights Canadian hypocrisy and ties to the US imperial structure pushing to contain China’s rise.
Yes, Kingsley knows all about election interference by foreign powers. He helped legitimate a bid to organize a “demonstration election” in Haiti after the US, France and Canada ousted the elected government in 2004.
Before it was even held, Haiti’s 2006 election was a sham. It was marred by two years of intense violence directed at supporters of ousted elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide. In addition to the repression directed at Fanmi Lavalas, the party’s presidential candidate, Gérard Jean-Juste, was blocked from participating because he was in jail (a “prisoner of conscience”, according to Amnesty International). Canadian-backed electoral officials refused to accept Jean-Juste’s nomination via a third-party even though there is a provision to do so in Haiti’s electoral regulations.
On simple procedural grounds the election was a farce. During the election in 2000 there were more than 10,000 registration centres and some 12,000 polling stations across the country. In 2006 the coup government reduced that number to 500 registration centres and a little more than 800 polling stations, even though they had some $50 million to run the election (most of the money came from the US, France and Canada, with Ottawa providing the largest slice). In the poorest neighborhoods, where opposition to the coup was strongest, registration centres were few and far between.
On Ottawa’s initiative the International Mission for Monitoring Haitian Elections (IMMHE) was organized in June of 2005. The IMMHE was chaired by Kingsley, then chief electoral officer of Elections Canada. A week after the February 7, 2006, vote thousands of marked ballots were discovered half-burned in a garbage dump outside of Port-au-Prince. The ballots added fuel to simmering discontent with the coup government’s bid to rig the election against Aristide’s former Prime Minister René Préval.
Just after the election, Kingsley released a statement claiming, “the election was carried out with no violence or intimidation, and no accusations of fraud.” Kingsley’s statement went on to laud Jacques Bernard, the head of the electoral council despite the fact that Bernard was widely derided as corrupt and biased even by other members of the coup government’s electoral council.
(After an explosion of protest following their discovery, the US, French and Canadian ambassadors — who initially insisted the electoral council continue counting votes to force a second round — reluctantly agreed to negotiate with their counterparts from Brazil and Chile, as well as the UN and others to grant Préval a first-round victory. But, the negotiations were used to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory.)
Kingsley’s connections in Ottawa put his impartiality into serious doubt. Additionally, his close ties to the International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES), which received about 80 percent of its funding from the US government, helps explain his partisan statements. At the time of Haiti’s election, Kingsley sat on the board of IFES and a year after the election Kingsley stepped down from Elections Canada to become president of IFES.
A University of Miami Human Rights Investigation that appeared more than a year before the election summarised the “multi-million dollar” IFES project to destabilize the elected president: “IFES workers … completely take credit for ousting Aristide. … IFES … formulated groups that never existed, united pre-existing groups, gave them sensitization seminars, paid for people to attend, paid for entertainment and catering, and basically built group after group. … They reached out to student groups, business … [and] human rights groups which they actually paid off to report human rights atrocities to make Aristide look bad. … They bought journalists, and the IFES associations grew into the Group of 184 that became a solidified opposition against Aristide…. Gérard Latortue, the [coup] prime minister, was an IFES member for a couple of years before the ouster of Aristide. … Bernard Gousse, the [coup] justice minister … in charge of prisons and police, was in [IFES] for many years.”
Based near the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, IFES has close ties to the US foreign policy apparatus. It is part of a network of US ‘democracy promotion’ organizations seeking to influence politics and elections in dozens of countries.
Turning to a former head of IFES, directly involved in rigging a Haitian election, to demand an inquiry into Chinese interference in Canadian elections is kind of funny. Or sad. At a minimum it illustrates the Globe and Mail’s hypocrisy.
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