Graham Hughes The Canadian Press/Dave Chidley The Canadian Press Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Conservative rival, Pierre Poilievre
The accusations were almost identical, although they come from opposite sides. Justin Trudeau and Pierre Poilievre have criticized each other for only trying to advance their own respective partisan interests on the issue of foreign interference, rather than those of Canadians and democracy.
Prime Minister Trudeau did not mince his words to castigate his Conservative rival on Friday. Pierre Poilievre and his troops engage in “partisan games”, sow “chaos”, create a real “partisan circus” and “raise the level of political toxicity”, mocked Mr. Trudeau, over the course of a press briefing during which he launched into long flights to criticize his main political opponent.
“The attitude of the Conservatives shows that they are more interested in undermining democracy and people's confidence in this democracy,” said the Prime Minister. “He [Pierre Poilievre] hopes that if he attacks our institutions with a flamethrower, maybe he can win. Rather, it seems like a very good way to ensure that all Canadians lose out,” he said.
Mr. Poilievre rejected the appointment of former Governor General David Johnston as a special rapporteur, who will have a mandate to study allegations of foreign election interference, responses from security agencies and oversight committees, and assess whether to take further action and hold a public inquiry.
Conservatives take a dim view of Mr. Johnston being a friend of the Trudeau family and being a member of the Trudeau Foundation — which repaid a $200,000 donation from a Chinese billionaire, who according to the Globe and Mail would have been made against a promise of reimbursement by Beijing. Some conservative columnists have further drawn footage of Mr. Johnston's official visits to President Xi Jinping when he was Governor General.
“Horrible partisan attacks,” chanted Justin Trudeau, defending “irreproachable integrity” Mr. Johnston, appointed Governor General by former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“It was Trudeau who wreaked havoc on our democracy,” Pierre Poilievre retorted in Vancouver, accusing the prime minister of having been advised of the Chinese regime's attempts at inference and of having “literally done nothing.” “. “He kept it a secret. And now he is preventing Canadians from knowing the truth by delaying and preventing a public inquiry.
In doing so, Justin Trudeau is “putting his own partisan interests above our national interest,” Mr. Poilievre in turn charged.
The file will return to the Commons
The Conservatives are now planning to demand, through a motion in the Commons, that the prime minister's chief of staff, Katie Telford, be called as a witness to clarify what she and her boss knew about the suspicions of intelligence agencies in the place of Beijing. The Liberals have been refusing for weeks to invite Ms. Telford to committee.
The lower house could also be called upon to vote this week on the opposition parties' request, still in committee, to see the government to launch a public inquiry. A vote that could reveal a certain fault line within the Liberal caucus.
Prime Minister Trudeau has defended himself for not doing enough to protect the electoral and democratic process from attempts at foreign interference. He argued that he was “regularly given briefings” on national security issues and always asked to know what can be done, what needs to be done, and what will be done. “These steps don't always have me talking about them in the headlines,” he explained.
The Conservatives, Bloc and New Democrats have been calling for an immediate public inquiry for weeks. has in turn found itself at the center of allegations of interference by the Chinese regime, this time in connection with last year's municipal election.
The Globe and Mail reported Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) documents alleging that China's consul general in Vancouver at the time referred to efforts to convince all eligible voters to exercise their right to vote in order to have a Chinese-Canadian candidate elected. The document did not specify the identity of this targeted candidate.
Vancouver's new mayor, Ken Sim — the first Chinese-Canadian to be elected mayor of Vancouver — spoke out against the allegations.
< p>British Columbia Premier David Eby asked CSIS to provide him with a briefing on allegations of foreign election interference.