Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday March 2, 2023
Trudeau slaps down questions about public inquiry into election meddling
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed back at questions Friday about calling a public inquiry into claims that Beijing interfered in Canada’s recent elections, telling reporters that the probes already underway are sufficient.
Trudeau is under pressure from his political opponents to launch an inquiry after media reports citing unnamed sources said the Chinese communist regime has co-opted some Canadian politicians. A Commons committee passed a motion Thursday in an attempt to compel the government to act.
Speaking to reporters at a child care announcement in Winnipeg, an animated Trudeau said his government has been seized with the issue of foreign interference for years and put in place a system to actively monitor meddling by China and other bad actors.
When asked why he won’t call an inquiry now, Trudeau said senior public servants working on the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol (CEIPP) already have reviewed the 2019 and 2021 campaigns and concluded that, while there was some Chinese interference, those actions did not compromise the final outcomes.
During the news conference, Trudeau appeared to be annoyed by reporters repeating questions about the calls for an inquiry.
Former senior public servant Morris Rosenberg released his review of the 2021 campaign earlier this week.
He found that the Government of Canada did not detect foreign interference that threatened Canada’s ability to hold free and fair elections in 2019 and 2021. He also offered a series of recommendations meant to prevent foreign interference in the future.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has said the Rosenberg report isn’t credible because Rosenberg previously held a role with the Trudeau Foundation, a non-profit named for the prime minister’s father. That foundation also received a $200,000 donation from an individual with ties to China’s government — money that was returned this week.
Trudeau said Friday the public service picked Rosenberg for the job — and his government had no role in the appointment.
rudeau also pointed out that the House of Commons procedure and House affairs committee is also in the midst of its own probe and the top-secret National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP), which was created by the Liberal government, is reviewing all of the intelligence about the 2021 vote.
“All of these processes are going on and demonstrate the seriousness with which this government and this country needs to take the question of foreign interference,” Trudeau said.
“Canadians can have confidence in our institutions, in our democracies and our ability to defend ourselves.” (CBC)