Foreign interference: Committee votes to expand study

A parliamentary committee voted unanimously to extend the study to foreign election interference.

Conservative MP and member of the House Proceedings and House Affairs Committee, Michael Cooper,’s motion is in light of recent “shocking revelations” about alleged foreign interference in the 2021 federal election. proposed to expand the research on

Cooper said he expects to hear from CSIS, RCMP, Elections Canada, several cabinet ministers and other senior government officials.

Since November, the commission, which has studied foreign electoral interference, includes Canadian election officials, Minister for Foreign Affairs Melanie Jolie, Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs Dominique LeBlanc, former Canadian Ambassador to China David Mulroney, RCMP and CSIS officials. have already been contacted by others.

The commission’s investigation was first prompted by Global News reports that China allegedly interfered in Canada’s 2019 federal elections by funding the campaigns of at least 11 candidates, and last year 1 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was briefed on the allegations in May.

Concerns about foreign interference are again at the forefront after The Globe and Mail report last week that China used a “sophisticated strategy” to sway the outcome of the 2021 Canadian general election brought in. The newspaper, citing CSIS documents he has seen, says the Chinese government is trying to defeat Conservative politicians considered unfriendly to Beijing and force the Liberal Party to re-elect a minority government. reported.

“While this should surprise all Canadians, it is sure to alarm those charged with protecting Canada’s democratic institutions,” Cooper said.

He also criticized the Liberal government’s failure to take action if the allegations of foreign election interference were found to be true.

“All Canadians can have complete confidence that the results of the 2019 and 2021 elections were determined by Canadians at the voting booth and solely by Canadians,” Trudeau said on Friday. Said in response to a report by The Globe and Mail.Verified.

Trudeau added that China’s attempts to interfere in democracy are nothing new, but that intelligence agencies are trying to counter it.

Cooper also requested that the documents cited in The Globe and Mail be deposited with CSIS without redaction, but the committee requested redacted documents after extensive back and forth between members. Approved the amendment.

Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell told the committee before the amendment was voted on, “although the Conservatives would like to see these documents,” Chinese officials also “have access to top-secret CSIS documents.” I would like to,” he said.

NDP House Majority Leader Peter Julian said he partially agreed with Cooper’s motion but opposed the request for a pre-edited CSIS document.

“I don’t think we’re dealing with documents to the extent that we need to deal with highly classified documents related to national security,” he said.

O’Connell also read a portion of the National Security and Intelligence Committee’s 2019 Annual Report to the committee.

“Foreign interference is as persistent and serious as the Conservatives want us to believe. It didn’t start in 2015, nor did it start after the 2021 election,” said O’Connell.

In this case, she criticized opposition lawmakers for being selective about the timing of their concerns about foreign election interference.

“This suggestion that nothing has been done, that we have never spoken of foreign interference, and that we deny it exists for partisan interests is ridiculous,” O’Connell said, referring to commissioners. He called the group’s proposal to expand its investigation “phishing.” Because members have already heard from many people Cooper wants to call to testify on his new motion.

“If you want more meetings to discuss [strengthening democracy], I’m all ears,” she said. “But I believe that if a faction only holds a meeting to attack the prime minister, it will only undermine the democratic system.”

In November, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lackey (who announced last week that she would be stepping down in March) confirmed an investigation into “broader foreign interference activities” that specifically It did not say whether it was aimed at China.

A letter from Top Mountie to the House Procedures and House Affairs Committee said the RCMP “is aware of the interference of foreign actors in a wide range of activities, including interference with the Investigation in the middle.

Elections Canada’s chief elections officer, Stephen Perrault, told lawmakers in November that he had received no reports of China’s interference in the 2019 federal elections.

“In my opinion, there is no reason to believe that it was not a free and fair election.

Using files from CTVNews.ca Senior Digital Congress Reporter Rachel Aiello

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