(OTTAWA) Allegations of Chinese interference in the 2021 federal election will be scrutinized by a parliamentary committee.
Members of the House of Commons Procedure and Affairs Committee voted unanimously in favor of a motion to expand the investigation already underway into allegations of foreign interference during the federal election of 2019.
This motion was adopted after a meeting marked by a showdown between the Conservative MPs on the one hand and the Liberal MPs and an NDP MP on the other.
The motion aims to shed light on information reported last week by the daily The Globe and Mail that China used a sophisticated strategy during the 2021 election campaign to secure the re-election of a minority Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau and defeat conservative candidates deemed hostile to the Chinese communist regime.
The daily claims to have seen the extent of the interference operation carried out by Beijing by consulting secret documents from the Canadian Intelligence and Security Service (CSIS) relating to the period before and after the September 2021 elections.
“Foreign interference has been on the rise in the last two elections,” Tory MP Blaine Calkins said during the special committee meeting, convened urgently by opposition MPs at the time where the work of the Commons takes a break for two weeks.
The Conservative Party estimates that at least eight of its candidates have bitten the dust in the 2021 federal election because of Chinese interference during the election campaign. Senior Conservative Party leaders presented concrete examples of Chinese interference to CSIS investigators during three meetings that took place after Election Day, September 20, 2021, according to information obtained by La Presse.
From the start of the meeting, the Conservative MPs presented a long motion that would have made it possible to summon the chief of staff of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Katie Telford, to come and testify. The Prime Minister would also have been invited to appear, as well as the former Minister of Foreign Affairs. The elected Conservatives, who obtained the support of Bloc Québécois MP Marie-Hélène Gaudreau, also wanted to obtain documents from various departments concerning foreign interference.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau argued last week that Canadian voters were the sole masters of the outcome of the last ballot, downplaying the suggestion that China tried to improperly influence the outcome of the election.
The Commons committee has been studying foreign interference in the previous federal election since last November in 2019. Committee members have previously interviewed witnesses from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Elections Canada as well than certain ministers of the Trudeau government.
With The Canadian Press