The opposition New Democrats will push for a “national public inquiry” into foreign interference in Canadian elections, Global News has learned.
Conservative MPs are expected to support the NDP motion at the House of Commons’ procedure and House affairs committee Wednesday.
Pressure mounts on Trudeau to call inquiry into foreign political meddling
However, the Conservatives are expected to propose limiting the inquiry to allegations of foreign meddling by Beijing in the 2019 and 2021 elections – rather than a broader inquiry into foreign influence and interference more generally.
The push comes after weeks of reports of China’s alleged meddling in federal politics.
Foreign influence and interference can encompass a broad range of activity, but generally refers to covert attempts by countries to influence Canadian politics. Most recent reports have focused on Beijing’s alleged interventions in recent elections, but China is by no means the only country believed to be engaged in foreign interference operations.
Global News has learned the NDP’s motion to push for an inquiry is broad, and includes threats from other countries. A planned Conservative amendment would limit the proposed inquiry to allegations of Beijing’s interference operations, and only in relation to the 2019 and 2021 general elections.
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An NDP source said the party is open to amendments on their motion.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government have been under mounting pressure to launch some form of independent assessment of foreign interference in Canadian elections. Exclusive reporting by Global News suggests national security officials warned the Trudeau government that the Chinese government had deployed an extensive network to influence Canadian elections – including targeting both Liberals and Conservatives, according to Global’s sources.
Citing leaked documents, the Globe and Mail also reported that Beijing attempted to influence the 2021 vote, targeting Conservative candidates in hopes of a Liberal minority government.
Trudeau has sidestepped direct questions about calling some form of inquiry, referring instead to the House of Commons committee’s ongoing study into foreign influence issues. Trudeau also told reporters on Monday that he believes Parliament’s security-cleared national security committee (NSICOP) could re-examine the matter.
In March 2020, NSICOP reported that foreign interference was a “significant and growing threat” to Canadian domestic affairs. The committee review, however, focused on foreign interference between 2015 and 2018 – not the two most recent federal elections, or foreign interference during the COVID-19 pandemic.
— with a file from MacKenzie Gray.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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