NDP’s Singh joins calls for inquiry on alleged China election interference

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to hold a public inquiry into alleged Chinese election interference, joining several high-profile officials making the same ask. Singh, whose party is upholding Trudeau’s Liberal minority government, said in a statement Monday that while his party accepts the outcome of the 2021 election, serious allegations of foreign interference made in recent media reports need a “thorough, transparent and independent investigation.”“When Canadians learn about possible foreign interference through leaked documents, confidence in our democracy is put at risk,” Singh said.“The way to stop alleged secret Chinese interference is to refuse to keep their secrets for them. A fully independent and non-partisan public inquiry is the way to shine a light into the shadows.” Story continues below advertisement Global News reported Saturday that Richard Fadden, the former head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and a former national security adviser to Trudeau, said he could see no “compelling reason” not to hold a public inquiry into foreign interference allegations.Fadden’s comments came after a recent Globe and Mail article saying China deployed a “sophisticated strategy” in the 2021 election to defeat Conservative candidates and attempt to support the federal Liberals towards a minority government, citing national security memos.The report followed months of exclusive reporting by Global News into allegations of attempted Chinese interference, starting with a Nov. 7, 2022, report that Canadian intelligence officials had warned Trudeau that China had allegedly been targeting Canada. The vast campaign of foreign interference allegedly included funding a clandestine network of at least 11 federal candidates running in the 2019 election, according to Global News sources. 12:24 Did Canada’s election integrity panels get access to China memos? What the minister says On Dec. 21, 2022, Global News reported that an unredacted 2020 national security document alleged that Beijing used an extensive network of community groups to conceal the flow of funds between Chinese officials and Canadian members of an election interference network, all in an effort to advance its own political agenda in the 2019 federal contest. Trending Now Story continues below advertisement And on Feb. 8, 2023, Global News reported that national security officials drafted a warning for Trudeau and his office more than a year before the 2019 federal election, alleging that Chinese agents were “assisting Canadian candidates running for political offices,” according to a Privy Council Office document reviewed by Global News.On Friday, Trudeau told reporters the country must remain “vigilant” on foreign interference.Asked directly if he would convene a public inquiry into foreign interference, Trudeau said he “welcomed” the reviews underway at committees, but did not directly answer the question. Trudeau is scheduled to speak with reporters at 1 p.m. ET on Monday. Calls for a probe are growing louder The federal Conservatives also renewed calls over the weekend for Katie Telford, Trudeau’s top aide, to testify before a House of Commons committee that voted last week to expand its probe into allegations of foreign interference in the 2019 election and to include the 2021 election as part of that. Story continues below advertisement A former close confidante of Trudeau has also joined the calls.“Some form of non-partisan deep look has to happen here,” Gerald Butts, Trudeau’s former principal secretary, told Global News in an interview Sunday.Butts, now the vice chairman of the Eurasia Group, said there are a number of ways the government could commission a non-partisan investigation, including a public inquiry, Royal commission or a commission of inquiry.“We have many tools at our disposal,” said Butts, adding that while recent reports have focused on Chinese political interference, the issue is broader.On Sunday, Artur Wilczynski — a former senior official at the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s electronic espionage agency — echoed Fadden’s call for an independent inquiry.Speaking with The Globe and Mail last week, a former chief electoral officer also called for a public inquiry into China’s attempts to influence Canadian elections.“The reason why this is important is that the legitimacy of government is what is at stake,” former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley told The Globe and Mail.“We need to find out what has transpired. I favour an independent inquiry because this is what will satisfy Canadians. It is not a minor issue.” Story continues below advertisement China has called allegations of attempted interference “complete nonsense.”— with files from Alex Boutilier and Rachel Gilmore &copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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