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Pressure mounts for Trudeau to call a public inquiry, take China’s interference seriously

Richard Fadden, a former Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and national security and intelligence adviser to the prime minister says there needs to be a public inquiry to investigate Chinese interference in Canada’s elections.

During an interview on Feb 26 with Global News The West Block, Fadden says “In this case, the allegations are so serious they need to be looked into,”

“I think the public inquiry is really the route to go,” noting normally this kind of inquiry would be parliamentary but the current state of that would make it too partisan. He also said the inquiry should take place before the next election under the Inquiries Act and be empowered to subpoena people and documents.

Fadden also highlighted there is no compelling reasons to not do the inquiry in public interest unless it’s for partisan special interests.

“I think the first thing we need to do is to talk about this seriously, and given the general environment Canada, I don’t think it’s going to work unless we have a public inquiry,” Fadden said.

He also called for a foreign agent registry.

“I think we need the registry and I think we need to make it very clear that political parties have a responsibility for ensuring that the Canada Elections Act is complied with,” he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about a public inquiry on Feb 26, Trudeau said there won’t be an inquiry into China’s interference and gave a just trust me answer.

“I think it is a very good thing that Canadians are understanding how serious it is that China and other countries are continuing to try to destabilize and influence our democracies and our institutions,” he said.

“That’s why we have continually given new resources and new tools including a panel and a task force that we set up way back in 2019.”

Trudeau claims there was no interference in Canada’s elections.

“Canadians can be and should be confident that our institutions, particularly our electoral and democratic processes, have not been compromised, were not compromised in the 2019 and 2021 elections,” the prime minister said.

A public inquiry has also been urged by Jean-Pierre Kingsley, a former former chief electoral commissioner for Canada from 1990 to 2017.

“We need to find out what has transpired. I favour an independent inquiry because this is what will satisfy Canadians. It is not a minor issue,” he told The Globe and Mail on Feb. 23.

Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell accused Conservative MPs of using “Trump-type tactics” for asking questions about foreign interference in a recent House of Commons committee meeting.

Kingsley called the recent CSIS leaks concerning Beijing’s suspected meddling in the federal election of 2021 troubling since they suggest the Communist Party of China helped its preferred candidates in the two most recent elections.

“The reason why this is important is that the legitimacy of government is what is at stake,” he said. “We have to trust that the electoral process is not being tampered with by a foreign government.”

Fadden’s plea for an independent inquiry was echoed on Sunday by Artur Wilczynski, a former senior official at the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s electronic espionage agency.

“We must restore confidence in Canada’s democratic processes. We need an independent review of how we confront foreign interference. I agree with Dick Fadden that an independent inquiry may be the only way to remove partisanship from the review” he tweeted.

Trudeau’s former principal secretary also called for an inquiry “Some form of non-partisan deep look has to happen here,” Gerald Butts, told Global News in an interview Sunday.

However he wants to broaden the scope and not only look at the last election or two but wants the inquiry to be opened up to several previous elections and also add in looking for interference from other countries and not just China.

“It’s not going to get at the heart of the problem if we just pick one election cycle and one country.”

According to allegations heard on February 21 by the Procedure and House Affairs Committee, Tong Xiaoling, China’s former consul general in Vancouver, boasted that she had assisted in the defeat of two Conservative MPs up for election in 2021, including one she allegedly referred to as “a vocal distractor.”

The committee was informed that Wang Jin, a former Chinese consul general, was also allegedly involved in efforts to boost Liberal support and target Conservative candidates for electoral defeat. This included strategies like “funnelling money to candidates through illegal undeclared cash donations,” according to the committee.

At a classified CSIS briefing three weeks prior to the 2019 election, top advisers to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were warned that one election candidate was a part of a Chinese foreign interference network, according to Global News. Also, it was alleged that a previous Ontario Liberal Minister was doing business with China.

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Jordan is a casual reporter for BC Rise


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