Interference Commission to Review Foreign Collusion by Parliamentarians

Interference Commission to Review Foreign Collusion by Parliamentarians
Commissioner Justice Marie-Josee Hogue makes her way on stage to deliver remarks on the interim report following its release at the Public Inquiry Into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institutions, in Ottawa on May 3, 2024. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)
Noé Chartier

The Foreign Interference Commission says it will review the issue of parliamentarians colluding with foreign actors.

In a notice issued on June 17, Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue said the inquiry would conduct an “examination” of the issue following a recent vote in the House of Commons.

All but two MPs on June 11 voted in favour of a recent motion initiated by the Bloc Québécois asking the commission to expand its mandate to be able to review foreign collusion involving parliamentarians.

The motion was tabled after the June 3 release of the public version of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) “Special Report“ on foreign interference.
The committee reported seeing “troubling intelligence that some Parliamentarians are, in the words of the intelligence services, ’semi-witting or witting' participants [original emphasis] in the efforts of foreign states to interfere in our politics.”

Ms. Hogue said the review will be conducted under the commission’s current terms of reference and according to the rules and principles of an independent commission.

“These rules and principles include the obligation to respect the principles of procedural fairness and the fundamental rights of any person affected by its work, in compliance with the rule of law,” she wrote.

Conservatives have asked the government in recent days to release the names of colluding MPs, so that Canadians know who they’re voting for in the next election.

Cabinet ministers have countered that doing so would be “irresponsible” and breach secrecy laws. They have also said Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre should obtain a security clearance to consult the classified report.

Two other party leaders with security clearances read the classified report last week and offered markedly different interpretations.

Green Party Co-Leader Elizabeth May said she was “relieved” after reading the report. “I have no worries about anyone in the House of Commons,” she said, while also noting that some MPs “may be compromised.”

Ms. May and her colleague Mike Morrice were the only two MPs to vote against the Bloc motion asking the commission to expand its mandate.

Meanwhile NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he was “more alarmed” after reading the NSICOP report. Mr. Singh said some parliamentarians are “indeed traitors to the country.”

Ms. May and Mr. Singh have both said no MPs from their caucuses are named in the report. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was subsequently asked June 15 if any Liberal MPs are mentioned.

“I will allow Mr. Singh and and Ms. May to speak for themselves,” he replied. Mr. Trudeau received the unredacted copy of the NSICOP report in March.

The issue will now be examined by the Foreign Interference Commission, which has access to the same reports consulted by NSICOP.

After reviewing intelligence holdings and conducting public hearings earlier this year, the commission concluded that acts of foreign interference took place in the last two elections. While this did not impact which party formed the government, results in a “handful” of ridings may have been impacted, the commission says.

After tabling its interim report in early May, the commission started the next phase of its mandate, which is to review the capacity of the government to counter foreign interference. Public consultations have been under way since May 22.

The commission is working to meet its obligation to present a final report by the end of year.

“The Commission understands that this deadline has been set to allow the government to put in place any measures that may be appropriate to protect the integrity of elections before the next federal general election, which must be held no later than October 20, 2025,” wrote Ms. Hogue.

Matthew Horwood contributed to this report.