Canada’s spy agency believes China interfered in Vancouver’s 2022 municipal election, according to a news report.

The Globe and Mail reported on Thursday that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service believes Chinese diplomats aided an interference campaign in Vancouver’s recent election for mayor. 

CSIS reports said China’s goal was to elect a specific Chinese Canadian candidate through “grooming” the individual and bringing Vancouver’s ethnically Chinese citizens out to the polls. The election ended with Chinese Canadian Ken Sim beating the incumbent mayor by 37,000 votes, despite the incumbent receiving roughly the same number of votes that elected him years earlier.

The report comes weeks after True North reported that Chinese police stations, one in Vancouver, are connected to interference networks used by Beijing.

A human rights activist this month told True North that previous CSIS reports – saying Chinese Canadians were bussed into an Ontario riding and coerced to vote for Beijing’s favourite candidate – are consistent with the activity of these overseas police stations. 

Along with the goal of bringing ethnically Chinese citizens out to the polls last fall, diplomats at China’s Vancouver consulate aimed to “groom” a municipal politician, the Globe said.

“[The Chinese diplomat] passed information on this individual to someone who she hoped ‘could become acquainted with them’ and assess if they were worth ‘grooming,’ the document said. The aim was to discover if the individual was a ‘good sapling to cultivate.’”

Ken Sim declined the Globe’s request for an interview about these allegations.

Reports of interference in Vancouver’s 2022 municipal election comes one day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed David Johnston as the ‘special rapporteur’ to investigate interference claims.