Trudeau to Ask National Security Committee to Investigate Foreign Interference

Trudeau to Ask National Security Committee to Investigate Foreign Interference

Trudeau to Ask National Security Committee to Investigate Foreign Interference

Justin Tang The Canadian Press “The Globe and Mail” and Global News each wrote about allegations of Chinese interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

Émilie Bergeron – The Canadian Press and Michel Saba – The Canadian Press in Ottawa

5:23 p.m.

  • Canada

Under pressure from all sides to clear up allegations of attempted Chinese interference in the last two federal elections, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will ask MPs and Senators on the National Security Committee to look into the matter.

< p>Two Liberal sources, who requested anonymity since they were not authorized to speak on this issue publicly, confirmed the information to The Canadian Press.

Mr. Trudeau is expected to make the announcement Monday during a press briefing.

Calls have been mounting for weeks for his government to instead launch a public and independent inquiry into the matter.

Former advisers to the Prime Minister, such as Gerald Butts, told the Globe and Mail that this was necessary. A former Chief Electoral Officer did the same.

Morris Rosenberg, the former senior civil servant who produced a report assessing the protocol designed to notify Canadians of threats in the federal election of 2021, also declared on CTV that the option of a commission of inquiry should, in his view, be on the table.

Last week, all the main opposition parties united to pass in committee a motion calling for such an independent exercise. The Liberals on the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs opposed the NDP motion, but the wording still passed with the support of the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois.

Group shot of the oppositions

The issue took up more than half of Monday's question period. Opposition parties fired a gunshot at the Trudeau government.

Official Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre got the ball rolling from the first moments of the game, on the day of resumption business of the House of Commons.

“Our intelligence services informed the Prime Minister that this government interfered in two elections to support the Liberal Party and the Prime Minister did absolutely nothing. Will he finally allow an independent public inquiry so that Canadians know the truth? he said.

The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Dominic LeBlanc, rose to give the reply. “It won't surprise you that I disagree with the Leader of the Opposition when he falsely claims that the government has done nothing. We acted as soon as we formed the government to counter foreign interference in our elections,” he retorted.

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For months, the Liberals have been repeating that a committee of experts concluded that the integrity of the 2019 and 2021 elections had been preserved despite attempts at foreign interference. This committee was set up by the government of Justin Trudeau.

“We were actually the only government to do that. When my friend the Leader of the Opposition was Minister Responsible for Democratic Institutions, he did nothing when the intelligence agencies raised this issue over 10 years ago,” Mr. LeBlanc argued.

Another Commission of Inquiry?

A series of reports from the Global Network and The Globe and Maildetailed attempted Chinese-orchestrated interference in the past two federal election campaigns.

These allegations, cited in anonymous media leaks from sources at Canadian security agencies, suggest that Beijing wanted to ensure the re-election of the Liberals of Justin Trudeau – at the head of a minority government – ​​at the expense of the Conservatives. Reports indicate that to do so, consulates have been pressured to mobilize members of the Chinese-Canadian community.

“As soon as the integrity of the democratic process is threatened, it is the responsibility of all of us in this House to stand up for it. It is the public's confidence in our democratic system that is at stake here. It goes far beyond the partisan question, “said Bloc parliamentary leader Alain Therrien on Monday.

Deputy Leader of the New Democratic Party, Alexandre Boulerice, added that “few things are as crucial as the integrity of the electoral process and trust in the institutions”.

“There are serious allegations interference and it is the Prime Minister's responsibility to launch a public inquiry to shed light. People deserve transparency,” he said.

So far, the Prime Minister has not specifically said 'no' to a commission of inquiry, but has pointed out to time and time again that parliamentary committee review is already taking place publicly.

Experts heard before this committee affirmed that a public and independent inquiry would come up against the same limits as the current parliamentary study. This is particularly the case of the intelligence advisor at the Privy Council Office, Jody Thomas, who has also highlighted the problem.

“We cannot speak in a public forum about information that relates to national security,” she said. Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Director David Vigneault made similar comments.

With information from Mia Rabson

Investigation RCMP

For its part, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has opened an investigation into possible violations of the Security of Information Act regarding recent media reports on allegations of foreign interference. In a statement to The Canadian Press, federal police say the investigation is not focused on any particular security agency.

The newspaper The Globe and Mail, citing classified files from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), recently wrote that China had worked to secure a victory for the Liberal minority in the 2021 general election, as well as to defeat conservative politicians seen as hostile to Beijing. Additionally, a Global News report cited unnamed sources alleging that CSIS urged senior Liberal Party officials to rescind Han Dong's nomination for a Toronto riding in 2019 due to alleged Chinese interference in its attempt to become the Liberal nominee.

CSIS Director David Vigneault told a House of Commons committee last week that the intelligence service and its partners were investigating media leaks . As an investigation is ongoing, the RCMP would not comment further.