A series of “spamouflage” cyber attacks on Canadian politicians has been linked to China, which has operated numerous bot networks responsible for leaving thousands of comments on the social media accounts of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others.

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) published a statement about the swarms of comments that were leveling nefarious accusations at a variety of politicians, revealing that it was detected through Ottawa’s “Rapid Response Mechanism” (RRM).

The RRM subsequently traced the online campaign back to China.

The campaign went after MPs across the country as well as political party lines, posting comments in English and French to their social media accounts. 

It first began in early August and continued, “accelerating in scale” through to September.

According to the RRM, comments involved accusing MPs of criminal and ethical violations which included the “likely use” of AI-generated videos.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and several cabinet ministers were among those targeted by the campaign; however, the GAC concluded that these online attacks posed no safety threat to the politicians themselves.

The government stated that “spamouflage is a tactic that uses networks of new or hijacked social media accounts to post and amplify propaganda messages across multiple platforms.”

The purpose of the campaign is to “discredit and denigrate” MPs by presenting the comments as authentic posts from other users, said the team responsible for monitoring online spaces for foreign interference. 

The full extent on how many Canadian government officials have been targeted remains unknown, acknowledged Defence Minister Bill Blair, however cybersecurity experts are looking into the situation.

This isn’t the first time that bot networks have been used to spread disinformation, Conservative MP Michael Chong was previously targeted by a foreign interference campaign on the Chinese instant messaging platform WeChat. 

Chong has been critical of the RRM, which was created by the Trudeau government for not doing enough to keep Canadians protected from “threats of authoritarian governments” here at home. 

“From foreign police stations illegally operating here to interference in our elections, these foreign interference threats have disproportionately targeted diaspora communities. It’s time the Trudeau government put the safety and security of Canadians first,” said Chong in a statement to CTV News.

The GAC is currently working with officials at Meta and X to remove the posts and said they will continue to monitor the situation.

MPs who were targeted have since been made aware of the spamouflage campaign by federal officials who offered them a briefing on how to better protect themselves in the future.

The federal government has not presented any further plans on how they will combat future spamouflage campaigns thus far, however they did mention that a public inquiry into Chinese election interference remains ongoing.