Top Stories

Amid foreign interference inquiry calls, Trudeau to speak

Opposition-led calls for the federal government to launch a public inquiry into allegations of foreign interference in Canada’s election dominated the House of Commons on Monday, as MP after MP rose in the House to plead with the government to act.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was not present for these calls, but he has scheduled an unspecified “announcement” at 5:30 PM ET in the lobby.

According to The Canadian Press, citing Liberal sources, Trudeau will say that he has asked the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliament (NSICOP) to launch a new investigation into foreign interference in Canada.

It remains to be seen whether this move will be enough to satisfy the desires of other parties to see a more liberal opening on the story that has dominated the headlines for the past few weeks; that China interfered in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. Leaks are now under RCMP investigation.

Before the news broke, Conservative Leader Pierre Poulevre suggested that Trudeau’s “big announcement” marked a “secret process that will never produce the truth” in an attempt to “sweep this under the rug.”

Responding to Polievre in the House of Commons, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominique LeBlanc accused him of doing “absolutely nothing” about the case when he was in charge of democratic reforms under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“In 2013, CSIS identified foreign interference as a challenge in the electoral context. Mr. Harper’s former national security adviser spoke publicly in 2010, 13 years ago,” LeBlanc said. “And when my hon. friend was the minister responsible for this very thing, he did absolutely nothing to address the issue of foreign interference. I know he’s disappointed that we’ve done so much. And the good news, Mr. Speaker. “We will continue to do more because we take this issue very seriously.”

Both Polievre and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said Monday they would not stand behind any process that lacked transparency, rejecting, for example, the idea that party leaders receive secret briefings on classified material that are not far from the practices of NSICOP.

“It’s a trick, and it’s a trap,” Polievre said. “So, no, we’re not going to have the Conservatives being told they have to keep quiet about this scandal because they’re sworn to secrecy. We need a public inquiry that is truly independent to achieve this. below that, all this while continuing the parliamentary investigation.”

Similarly, Singh said he did not think any new inquiry would be held behind closed doors, while refusing to commit to making a full public inquiry a red line for the fate of the Liberal-DPC confidence and supply agreement that Polievre had won. calling it a “disguising coalition”.

“This is an important thing that Canadians should have access to. Of course, there will be some information, given that it’s national security, given that there will be CSIS information, some of it may be required to be kept secret. But the process. should be public,” said Singh.

Last week, opposition MPs on the Committee on Procedure and House Affairs passed a motion calling on the federal government to to launch a national public inquiry to allegations of widespread foreign interference, including in Canadian elections.

The motion came after hours of testimony from senior intelligence officials, who sought to assure that the integrity of Canada’s last two elections had been preserved despite China’s attempts to interfere, while warning that they would be restricted from saying more in a public forum. pointing to NSICOP as a better place.

Opposition MPs want an inquiry to “go where the evidence leads”, but also to investigate the abuse of diaspora groups by hostile foreign governments. The petition also outlines that the inquiry should have the power to subpoena documents relevant to national security, as well as to subpoena key government and political party figures. And they want the individual to lead this inquiry to be unanimously elected by all recognized parties in the House of Commons.

While the motion is not binding when reported to the House of Representatives, the ball will be in Trudeau’s court on whether he accepts the committee’s advice and orders an investigation under the Canada Inquiries Act.

Asked Friday why he continues to resist calls for an investigation, Trudeau said that while it’s important that Canadians are interested and concerned about election meddling and longstanding concerns about foreign influence in Canadian institutions, independent officials have been looking and continue to look; that question.

“I absolutely hear that Canadians want to be reassured … They want to make sure that our intelligence and security agencies are being asked all the right questions in a rigorous way to make sure that they’re doing everything they can, and they want that level of public accountability.” from the officials,” said Trudeau. “All of those goals are related to processes that are ongoing as we speak.”

Trudeau has repeatedly cited NSICOP as a Liberal-created venue made up of cross-party officials with top security clearance to discuss such sensitive security issues behind closed doors.

Former NSICOP member and retired senator Vern White told CTV News he believed the commission would have been a better place to look into these concerns than a public inquiry because it could have gone deeper, reported more quickly and done so. enough nuance to adequately communicate. information without compromising national security.

White pointed to a past NSICOP report of Trudeau’s concern a trip to India as an example.

“You can go back and read any of the reports … I don’t think there’s ever been any complaints from people who read those reports. [that] They weren’t able to gather enough intelligence and information from them to know what happened,” White said. “There are things that cannot be revealed and that are being reviewed. But I think any public inquiry that would also reveal quite a large amount of information collected would have to be redone.”


Chinese Canadians are among those calling for more transparency and careful consideration of how those involved report concerns about the People’s Republic of China.

Ryan Chan, a member of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, told CTV News he believes a public inquiry should be called, but expressed concern about the potential and inappropriate backlash against Chinese Canadians in the process.

“We don’t have a hard line on what a public inquiry would look like, but we certainly support some form of inquiry that is public, non-partisan, that looks at issues of foreign government interference. I think, first of all, we’re concerned, you know, as an anti-racism group, focused on this issue to kind of dispel the myths or, or at least give a full public understanding of what’s really going on,” he said.

“We broadly support a public inquiry, as long as it’s neutral, as long as it’s transparent, that sheds light on the influence of foreign governments and whether it affects our domestic policies,” Chan said.

At last week’s committee hearing, both lawmakers and top intelligence witnesses emphasized that, as CSIS Director David Wino said, “the danger does not come from the Chinese people, but from the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government. “.

Vigneault noted that Chinese Canadian parliamentarians and Chinese Canadians are often the primary targets of the People’s Republic of China’s foreign interference efforts in Canada, and federal intelligence agencies continue to make efforts to build relationships with this community and its leaders to “establish and maintain trust.” “

“It’s a very subtle thing to go after the Chinese government and what they’re doing versus what Chinese Canadians are doing,” Bert Chen, a former member of the Conservative National Council, told CTV News.

“And we have to be very precise about these discussions and the public discourse about it, because as a country of immigrants, talking about a country where people can come from, it’s a very delicate balance of what the state does in the country of origin. and what the Canadians are doing here now.’

Cheuk Kwan, former president of the Toronto Democracy Association in China, told CTV News that as a Chinese Canadian, he does not see raising questions about China’s interference as racism, while noting that Chinese Canadians have been trying to draw attention to some for years. About Beijing’s influence tactics.

“We are allowed to criticize China without being called racist… I think this is a normal way to deal with critics, and I think people are buying this line that the CCP has been selling all these years,” Kwan said. : “We are not dealing with humiliating the Chinese people. We were simply investigating the Chinese government, or any government for that matter.”

Some advocates also use this opportunity to point to other actions the federal government could take, such as establishing a foreign agent registry and resources to improve civic education and digital literacy, as well as facilitating members of the Chinese diaspora in Canada. Notify officials of instances of political interference they experience.

“We need to rebuild that trust with the Diaspora, allow them to safely present their concerns, allow them to safely participate in any type of investigation or any type of foreign interference in the investigation,” said Cheri Wong, executive director of Alliance Canada Hong. Cong.

“But I also believe that we need to take a country-agnostic, non-partisan and cross-jurisdictional approach and look at any kind of outside influence in Canadian elections.”

With files from CTV National News’ Judy Trinh

#foreign #interference #inquiry #calls #Trudeau #speak

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button