Our threatened Democracy: We need to worry more about private companies than about China

In the past weeks there have been a great deal of posturing and panic over alleged Chinese meddling in our federal elections. The Canadian Parliament and our media have been stirring the pot of this rude infiltration and compromising of our democratic system.   The evidence provided so far about the dirty Chinese deeds is hardly a slam dunk having emerged from the dark recesses of our spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service; from anonymous intelligence agents no less.

Even so, it’s hardly news that China, or any other country for that matter, is spying on us. In truth, trying to influence another state to look on your country favourably is as old as human society itself. Canada and its allies are masters of the art of spying on and influencing other states. So we carry on with the cut, thrust and parry as a permanent part of the business of politics.

But even as our politicians were fuming about attacks on our sovereignty by foreign entities such as China, we ignore a much greater security risk that our government willingly invited it in.

During the covid pandemic, April 2022, the government introduced the Canada Emergency Business Account. It provided businesses with interest free loans of up to $60,000.  It cost more than $49 billion, and a private company named Accenture Inc was engaged to run the project. It is a global management and professional services business. Part of the Accenture set up included website building, running a call centre, bringing financial institutions on board, handling investigations and collecting data.

Add to this that in 2015 the Liberal government’s engaged American firm McKinsey & Company, which were key players in setting immigration levels and border management, deciding on Canada’s budgetary priorities, and reorganizing government agencies. According to Quebec City writer Nora Loreto, they were designated favoured contractors for the next 81 years.

Accenture received data from the government, access to banks and credit unions and people’s private information.

These are but two of a long list of private and foreign-based companies that have access to what should be government secrets and very private information of Canadians – information that should not be accessible to any entity outside of government circles.

“The moment Canada’s government outsources massive program delivery to international, for-profit corporations, it de facto admits that it no longer serves its core function,” writes Loreto. “The profit vultures circle above, waiting for the moment to swarm our government with offers and bite off pieces of our nation in the process. They compromise our democracy and give important access to our systems to a nebulous network of global capital.”

Given how old and sophisticated countries like China are in the spy business and information gathering, we must expect the constant probing into our affairs, such is the business.  But to willingly outsource information to a foreign-based company and to believe that the information will not be used to compromise our democratic institution is careless and dangerous.

Why would a private, foreign-owned, for profit business not parlay the information Canada willingly gave it into a profit-making opportunity? Would it matter to them if they subvert Canadian institution for profit?

Why would China’s alleged attempt to influence Canadian elections warrant a public enquiry but private operators like Accenture Inc. and McKinsey & Company can keep and use information that is covered by cabinet secrecy, and turn a buck as well? And not a word from anybody in government.