Public Inquiry Into Chinese Interference ‘Only Way’ to Restore Voter Confidence: Bloc Leader

Public Inquiry Into Chinese Interference ‘Only Way’ to Restore Voter Confidence: Bloc Leader
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet speaks in the foyer of the House of Commons in Ottawa on March 9, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)
Andrew Chen

The only way to restore public confidence in the Canadian electoral system is to have an independent public inquiry look into reports of Chinese interference, says Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet.

Other opposition leaders have also called for a public inquiry.

In a letter on March 14, Blanchet urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to launch a public inquiry rather than appoint a special rapporteur to determine whether to investigate the alleged Chinese interference, as first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.

“This is the only way to restore public confidence in our electoral system,” he wrote in French.

“We believe that is what the public is asking for as well,” he said, pointing to the Commons Procedure and House Affairs Committee that recently passed a motion seeking an inquiry.

“The question is not to determine whether or not a commission of inquiry should be created in the wake of revelations about Chinese interference in both last federal elections, but when it will be created and who will be the commissioner,” Blanchet said.

“The answer is unequivocal. It must be set up as quickly as possible, especially in a context of uncertainty over the next election, and the commissioner must be chosen by the House of Commons.”

“It is about confidence in our democracy,” Blanchet noted.

Recent media reports citing national security sources have shown how Beijing used its consulates, as well as individuals or organizations sympathetic to the communist regime, to interfere in Canada’s 2019 and 2021 elections. Its goals were to ensure the return of a Liberal minority and the defeat of Conservative candidates deemed unfriendly to Beijing, the Globe and Mail reported.

On March 14, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said it is now “an accepted fact” that Beijing worked to help elect Trudeau in the past two elections, citing reports of leaked documents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Privy Council Office.
“Justin Trudeau has inspired a lot of suspicion by his refusal to answer questions about his knowledge of Beijing’s interference to help him in two successful successive elections,” he said during a press conference in New Westminster, B.C.

“But he kept it hidden until courageous whistleblowers at CSIS released it for him, and now he refuses a public inquiry. I think Canadians of all political backgrounds are asking, what has Justin Trudeau got to hide?”

Poilievre was responding to a question about an Angus Reid Institute survey released earlier this month showing past Conservative voters are more likely to believe that China did try to interfere the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. Two-thirds of Canadians overall hold this belief, the survey found, while 77 percent of past Conservative voters are believe China “definitely” (50 percent) or “probably” (27 percent) tried to interfere.

The total percentage of people fully convinced of this are 64 percent among Liberal voters and 58 percent for NDP.

Noé Chartier contributed to this report