Trudeau Rejects Calls for Public Inquiry Into Foreign Interference as Opposition Parties Unite

Trudeau Rejects Calls for Public Inquiry Into Foreign Interference as Opposition Parties Unite
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference in Ottawa on Feb. 17, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)
Marnie Cathcart

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeated on March 1 that he doesn’t support launching a public inquiry into allegations of foreign interference in Canadian elections as the three main opposition parties have now requested.

He said in a news conference that there are already “an awful lot of mechanisms that are underway right now, determining what kind of foreign interference has happened, is continuing to happen.”

“We have right now, as we’re speaking, a parliamentary committee ... hearing directly from national security experts and officials as to the work that they’ve been doing over the past many years to counter ongoing interference,” Trudeau said.

Officials who testified at the Commons Procedure and House Affairs committee on March 1 did not provide significant new details about recent allegations.

Reports in recent weeks citing national security sources and information suggest Beijing has attempted to influence the last two federal elections by supporting some Liberal candidates or working against other, allegedly Conservative, candidates.

Trudeau is under increasing pressure, with the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois joining the NDP on March 1 in calling for an inquiry.

Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre said his party supports an inquiry, but that it has to be independent and public.

“All parties in the Parliament must agree on who the commissioner is. We cannot have yet another Liberal crony named to head up this inquiry,” said Poilievre.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet also called for a public inquiry chaired by a commissioner chosen by Parliament.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was the first to call for an inquiry on Feb. 27.

During the press conference, Trudeau was asked again to comment on the allegations reported by Global News that Liberal MP Han Dong was supported by Beijing, but he didn’t directly answer.

The calls for an inquiry follow reporting by Global News and the Globe and Mail on different aspects of election interference by the Chinese regime.

Trudeau previously ruled out the possibility of calling a public inquiry into the allegations, saying Canada’s election processes “have not been compromised.”
Peter Wilson and Noé Chartier contributed to this report.