A human rights group has called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s response to China exerting its influence in Canada weak and “piecemeal.”

The Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China, which is spearheaded by Amnesty International Canada, called on the Canadian government to act to counter “threats, bullying and harassment” of ethnic and religious minorities by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) within Canada. 

A report titled “Harassment & Intimidation of Individuals in Canada” accuses the CCP of interfering in Canadian institutions including schools and universities. 

“Consequently, academic freedom and freedom of expression of university students in Canada speaking out on China has been increasingly stifled, as many individuals fear that Chinese government or consular agents are monitoring their speech or their activities,” said the report. 

According to the group, the Liberal government has responded with an “inadequate response” to the CCP’s activities. 

“Chinese state actors have almost certainly become emboldened by the inadequate responses of Canadian officials,” the coalition writes.

The report also calls for an inquiry into the harassment faced by the Chinese diaspora and for the government to expel Chinese diplomats involved. It also calls on Trudeau to enact sanctions on the Chinese regime if necessary. 

“The Canadian government must treat this issue with increased urgency, as it has resulted in insecurity and fear for human rights defenders in Canada working on Chinese human rights issues,” claims the document.

During Tuesday’s daily coronavirus briefing, Trudeau avoided directly answering a question posed to him on what his government is doing to stop Chinese interference in Canada. 

“The Canadian government has always highlighted concerns about human rights and respect for basic human democracies and liberties with every country that we engage with around the world, including China,” said Trudeau. 

“We are strong supporters and defenders of free speech and the right to protest.”

This is not the first time that Trudeau has avoided answering questions regarding whether his government was standing up to China.

When asked by Globe and Mail Marieke Walsh on whether his government was “standing up to China” or “backing away” from the communist regime during another coronavirus briefing, Trudeau avoided answering the question and then walked away. 

The Chinese ambassador to Canada recently praised Trudeau’s “cool-headed” approach to China in contrast to the US’ aggressive strategy in blaming the CCP for the virus. 

“I believe that Canada has adopted a cool-headed approach. We appreciate that. The most important task, currently, is to focus our energy on fighting the pandemic,” said Chinese ambassador Cong Peiwu.