(Ottawa) CSIS is not the only agency to launch a hunt for sources on foreign interference in the elections: the RCMP is also investigating the subject.
The investigation launched by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) concerns “offences committed under the Information Protection Act related to recent media stories,” Corporal Kim Chamberland said Monday.
It is not “centered on an agency [de renseignement] particular, and since the RCMP is investigating these incidents, no further comment will be made at this time, ”added the spokesperson for the federal police in an email.
Last week, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), David Vigneault, told members of a House of Commons committee studying the issue of Chinese interference in the elections of 2019 and 2021 that CSIS and “partner” agencies were investigating.
Provisions of the Information Protection Act make it an offense to communicate secret information. Employees of agencies like CSIS are subject to it; and in recent months, CSIS documents have been cited in reports by the Globe and Mail and of Global News.
The resulting maximum prison sentences vary between five years less a day and 14 years, depending on the nature of the offence.
“Announcement” by Justin Trudeau
The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs passed a majority last week a non-binding motion to demand a public inquiry into Beijing’s interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far shown little appetite for the idea.
He must, however, “make an announcement” at 5:15 p.m. on Monday.
The subject ? “Foreign interference,” we were told at his office.
Liberals bombarded with questions
The Prime Minister was not at question period in the House on Monday to come under heavy fire from opposition MPs.
After two weeks of parliamentary recess, and in the light of the revelations that hit the headlines while the deputies were in their constituencies, foreign interference was at the heart of the discussions.
“Whether the result of the last elections would have been the same is not the question. As soon as the integrity of the democratic process is threatened, it is the responsibility of all of us in this House to come to its defence,” thundered Bloc Québécois parliamentary leader Alain Therrien.
“It is the population’s confidence in our democratic system that is at stake here,” he insisted, reiterating the demand to open a public inquiry.
A weakened agreement?
At the end of the week, the one who ensures the survival of the Liberal minority government, New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh, advanced in a radio interview with Roy Green Show that a refusal to comply could jeopardize the support and trust agreement concluded almost a year ago.
At a press conference in parliament on Monday, he seemed to want to temper.
“We’re not going to decide that today. But it is clear that we want an investigation, ”he said.
Resumption of committee work
The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs is resuming its work this week on the issue of Chinese interference in the Canadian democratic process.
The Conservatives and the Bloc are keen to hear the testimony of Katie Telford, Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff. They will come back to the charge on this subject during a meeting which is to take place on Tuesday morning.
On Thursday, it will be Minister Dominic LeBlanc’s turn to appear before the same committee.