Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Foreign interference: Ottawa wants recommendations | Public inquiry into foreign interference

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Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs, Dominic LeBlanc, takes the oath before appearing as a witness at the Commission of Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference, February 2, 2024.

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It was the turn of Dominic LeBlanc, federal Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs, to testify Friday before the Commission of Inquiry into Foreign Interference. He recognized the breadth of the mandate given to the commission and its “tight” timetable, emphasizing the importance of having a final report one year before the next federal election.

The first week of hearings is coming to an end, while the commission wanted to begin its work by addressing the crucial question of transparency and confidentiality of information as part of its investigation.

The commission's mandate, published last year, states that it must assess the possibility of interference by China, Russia and other foreign state and non-state actors in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

Judge Hogue's team also requested that India be included in the transfer of government documents relevant to its investigation.

During his appearance, Minister Leblanc reaffirmed the Liberal government's desire to fully collaborate with the commission, whose mandate, he recalled, was approved by all opposition parties in the House of Commons.

Public inquiry into foreign interference

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Public inquiry into foreign interference

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He reiterated the importance of transparency to counter the activities of foreign interference, particularly to keep the public informed […] especially members of diaspora communities who are the main targets of foreign agents.

If we can maximize transparency, […] it will help people recognize the #x27;foreign interference and this is one of the best ways to keep voters safe from threats.

A quote from Dominic LeBlanc, federal Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs< /blockquote>

Judge Marie-Josée Hogue, who chairs the work, must submit a first report no later than May 3. The final report is expected by December 2024.

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The president of the Commission of Inquiry into Foreign Interference, Judge Marie-Josée Hogue.

Asked why the commission's timeline is so tight, Mr. LeBlanc acknowledged that the investigation time is limited, saying that it is a consensus between opposition parties.

You are right, it is a huge task that we have asked the commission to accomplish and the timetable is tight, but that is what was discussed with opposition leaders, he said.

We are in a minority Parliament. The year 2025 will be, by law, an election year – if there is no election before then – […] all political parties have agreed that it would be beneficial for Canadians to #x27;have the commission's final report by the end of 2024.

A quote from Dominic LeBlanc, federal Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs

According to him, the idea is that the commission's recommendations can be integrated and examined quickly to adjust our ways of doing things as a government and as a Parliament to make our democracy more resilient and help Canadians understand the threat. .

Obtaining a report at the end of 2024 allows the government to put in place recommendations that will make institutions more resilient before the 2025 elections, explained M . LeBlanc.

The issue of foreign interference made headlines starting in November 2022 with the publication of a series of articles by the Global network and the daily newspaper The Globe and Mail >.

Reports included allegations of activities by Beijing to influence the outcome of the general election Canadian women of 2019 and 2021.

Sources suggested that Justin Trudeau's government showed inaction despite advice it received from CSIS.

For example, Global reported, citing unnamed intelligence sources, that the prime minister was warned of a broad alleged effort at Chinese interference in the 2019 election campaign. Thus, at least 11 candidates would have received funds.

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The Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Ottawa.

On Thursday, a CSIS memo prepared for the Minister of Democratic Institutions in February 2023 was released, confirming that China had indeed attempted to interfere in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. /p>

China represents by far the greatest threat to Canada, we can still read in this document that Radio-Canada was able to consult. China’s foreign interference activities are broad in scope and significant in resource expenditure. […] These activities are sophisticated, pervasive and directed against all levels of government and against civil society across the country.

At the end of October, the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Protection of Personal Information and Ethics also recommended the creation of a register of foreign agents to protect these communities, more particularly the Uighur community. targeted by the activities of the Communist Party of China in Canada.

Wednesday, an NGO for the defense of the rights of Uyghurs, URAP, announced his decision to withdraw from the federal investigation into Commissioner Hogue's foreign interference.

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Human rights advocates believe members of the Uighur Muslim minority are being held in re-education camps in China like the one -this. The photo was taken in May 2019.

This body is withdrawing from the investigation due to a lack of confidence in the commission for giving intervenor status to individuals like MP Han Dong, Markham Mayor Michael Cham and Senator Yuen Pau Woo, whom activists Uyghurs suspect of having links with the Chinese Communist Party.

The Trudeau government agreed to hold this investigation at the beginning of the summer following several months of pressure from the opposition and the resignation of the special rapporteur on foreign interference, David Johnston. /p>

Appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mr. Johnston believed that there was no reason to launch a public inquiry into the #x27;foreign interference due in particular to the delicate and confidential nature of the information concerned.

He resigned last June, shortly after a vote by the majority of House deputies calling for his departure.

Judge Hogue considers she that there is a way to carry out a public inquiry while maintaining a sufficient level of confidentiality for national security purposes.

With information from The Canadian Press

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