Anything less than a public inquiry on foreign interference is not enough: Poilievre, Singh


Canadians need transparency into allegations of Chinese interference in Canadian elections and society amid calls for a public inquiry, the leaders of the federal Conservative and New Democratic parties say. Their calls come as the RCMP says it has opened an investigation into possible violations of the Security of Information Act concerning recent media reports about alleged foreign interference, and that its probe is not focused on any one security agency.Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh made the comments to reporters on Monday as the House of Commons resumes following a two-week hiatus, and as suspected Chinese foreign interference in Canada is expected to be a hot topic this week.When asked if Conservatives would accept being briefed by security officials regarding the allegations first reported by Global News and the Globe and Mail over recent months, Poilievre said that would be a “trap.” Story continues below advertisement “What they would do is bring opposition MPs or leaders into a room, give them some information and then swear them to secrecy so they couldn’t ever speak about it again,” he said.“Effectively that would be a trick to try and prevent anyone debating the subject anymore, so no, we’re not going to have a situation where Conservatives are told that they have to be quiet about this scandal because they’re sworn to secrecy.” 2:11 Poilievre accuses NDP of helping Liberals with ‘cover-up’ of alleged Chinese election interference The NDP, which is upholding the minority Liberal government through a supply and confidence agreement struck last year, is calling for the government to hold a public inquiry.The idea also has the backing of the Conservative and Bloc Québécois parties.Singh said on Monday that right now, only a public inquiry would achieve two objectives his party hopes for: a non-partisan and independent probe, and one that is transparent for the public to follow along on. Story continues below advertisement “If those are satisfied in another forum, I’m open to that. We say that the public inquiry is the best way to do it, but there might be another way,” he said. 3:13 Singh dismisses idea of private committee investigating foreign election interference Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far resisted calls for a public inquiry, saying Friday there are other procedures underway — including a House of Commons committee’s expanded probe into the matter — that are equipped to address the allegations. Trending Now He has suggested the proper place to examine the allegations, including the classified information held by intelligence agencies, is the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, where members are cleared to receive classified information and sworn to secrecy. Story continues below advertisement Poilievre said Monday both can be done at the same time.“We need is a public inquiry that is truly independent to get to the bottom of it all while continuing the parliamentary investigation,” he said.Last Thursday, the members of the procedure and House affairs committee investigating the allegations called for a public inquiry into the matter.Conservative and Bloc Québécois members of the procedure and House affairs committee voted in favour of an NDP motion that seeks to launch “a national public inquiry into allegations of foreign interference in Canada’s democratic system.” 1:07 Chinese Canadian members of parliament among ‘greater targets’ for foreign interference, Trudeau says Whether one will be launched remains unclear. Liberal MPs on the committee voted against the measure. The government has been under pressure to launch an inquiry after multiple media reports detailed alleged attempts by China to influence Canadian society and elections. Story continues below advertisement The reports from Global News and the Globe and Mail have also called into question how much Trudeau and Canadian officials may have known about the alleged interference attempts, and whether the allegations should have been shared with the public earlier. 4:47 Canada’s spy chief sounds alarm about foreign interference The NDP now plans to bring a similar motion to the House of Commons as a whole.Specifically, the motion adopted in committee on Thursday notes that the committee cannot compel the government to launch a public inquiry. The motion also calls for any such inquiry to investigate “abuse of diaspora groups by hostile foreign governments,” and for it to have the power to order and review any documents it deems necessary, including documents related to national security.It calls for the person to head such an inquiry to be “selected by unanimous agreement by the House Leaders of the officially recognized parties in the House of Commons” and notes that while the motion calls on the government to launch a public inquiry, the committee can’t compel it to do so. Story continues below advertisement — with files from The Canadian Press &copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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