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Foreign interference: PM digs in, Poilievre and Singh push back

Questions about China’s meddling in Canada’s last two federal elections continue to mount in Ottawa, along with accusations that the Liberals are not doing enough to answer them, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau digs deep, refusing to give any details about what he knew and when;

“Honestly, I know that no matter what I say, Canadians continue to have questions about what we’ve done and what we haven’t done,” Trudeau said Wednesday under a barrage of questions from reporters.

The prime minister said Canadians’ continued concerns, even as he seeks to assure the integrity of the 2019 and 2021 elections are not compromised by China’s efforts to influence the outcome, are why he is moving to appoint a special rapporteur and select a pair. to investigate closed-door national security agencies.

Leaders of the opposition party do not buy this line from Trudeau and believe that it is the prime minister’s responsibility to answer the questions raised.

“The Prime Minister signals that he does not take it seriously and… he is contemptuous. And his actions also increasingly look like there’s something to hide, which doesn’t help,” NDP leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters. “It doesn’t help Canadians trust our democracy, our electoral system, and that’s why he really needs a public inquiry. Let’s ask those questions… Let’s understand what happened and what we can do to protect democracy. in the future.”

The latest round of questions has been sparked by a new Global News report that says Trudeau and senior officials have been briefed on Beijing’s efforts to “secretly” fund election candidates, despite the prime minister’s previous suggestions to the contrary. The report cited unnamed “high-level” memos from unnamed intelligence officials, which CTV News has not independently verified.

Given recent developments in question period, Conservative Leader Pierre Poulevre questioned why Trudeau continues to say one thing while the report suggests another, a more prosecutorial approach with the prime minister taking each question as he does on Wednesday.

“He knew, why did he say the opposite of what he knew?” The leader of the official opposition asked.

“As I said last fall, as the national security and intelligence adviser said, we have no information about federal candidates receiving money from China. That continues to be the case,” Trudeau said in response, doubling down on an earlier claim made by the adviser. Jodie Thomas, who told MPs last week that the government had seen no evidence of money being given to candidates.

“He knew when that commission reported that the candidates received money from the Beijing dictatorship, but he was and continues to say exactly the opposite. Why? Polievre asked again.

To that end, Trudeau suggested Canadians go online or to the library of parliament to read what past reports by MPs on the National Security and Intelligence Committee have found as it relates to foreign interference.

“He needs to stop playing word games. No one needs to go to the library, what we need to do is get to the truth,” Poillevre shot back.

A back-and-forth along these lines continued each time Polyeuvre rose to question the Prime Minister, who occasionally digressed by saying: The last meeting of Conservative MPs in response to German far-right politician Christine Andersen.

At other times, Trudeau pointed to the work being done in the Procedure and House Affairs Committee (PROC) and the next batch. Government witnesses must testify Thursday It was the last PROC meeting overcome by liberal procedural hurdles due to continued opposition calls for Trudeau’s chief of staff Keith Telford and other campaign officials to appear.

Expressing hope that the SNOC’s liberal MPs can soon find themselves on the same page, the NDP has made it clear that until the government relents and calls for a public inquiry, the work of the parliamentary committee must continue.

“It’s just getting to the point where more and more evidence is coming out, more and more information every day, that makes it really clear that the government’s steps, which I’ve called ‘baby steps,’ are just not enough,” he said. Singh.

While the NDP’s criticism has largely focused on the prime minister’s handling of the case, when Singh asked Wednesday what he made of Poillevre’s suggestion to reporters earlier this week that Trudeau was “acting against Canadian interests and in favor of a foreign dictatorship,” he. The opposition accused his colleague for “strange” and “extreme” comments.

“It really shows how the leader of the Conservative Party is not interested in actually finding the truth. He just wants to make outlandish and hyperbolic statements. I am very concerned about our democracy. I’m concerned about getting to the truth.” Singh said: “Unlike conservatives who are just trying to get headlines, make a lot of noise, but not really try to protect our democracy.”

It’s not just about opposition party leaders when reporters ask MPs of all parties questions about the best next steps. On Wednesday, Liberal Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont. MP John Mackay said the issue was “much bigger” than election interference.

“The Chinese government is an existential threat to Canada on many levels, and we have to come to terms with it,” he said. Asked if that meant a public inquiry was merited, McKay said: “I think we need to think very, very carefully about this.”

Later independent Spadina-Fort York, Ont. MP Kevin Vuong, who ran as a Liberal before being rejected by the party at the end of the last election, took to the floor and drew a significant backlash across the House when he asked if the incoming rapporteur would also investigate the Liberal Party.

Claiming that Trudeau is “turning a blind eye to shady Liberal nominations, sketchy donations and has pro-Beijing MPs in his caucus,” Vuong questioned why “nothing has been done.”

In response, Trudeau did not address the specific allegations, saying once again: “Canadians are rightfully concerned about foreign interference,” doubling down on his recently announced moves to allow voters to continue to have confidence in the federal politicians they elect.

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