A report by a special rapporteur has angered Canadian conservatives who are calling for a public inquiry.
Canadian Prime Minister by Justin Trudeau The government has not ignored evidence of Chinese interference, a special rapporteur said on Tuesday after investigating media reports based on leaked intelligence that Beijing was seeking to influence elections and politics.
Trudeau welcomed the report, but opposition parties continued to push for a public inquiry.
In March, the appointed by the government David Johnston, former Governor General of Canada, as the Special Rapporteur to investigate media coverage of intelligence reports alleging multiple instances of Chinese interference. Johnston was also tasked with advising on whether to conduct a formal public inquiry.
“I have not found any instances where the government knowingly ignored intelligence, advice or recommendations on foreign interference, or made decisions based on partisan considerations in dealing with these matters,” Johnston said. in a 55-page report.
China has repeatedly denied any interference. Beijing’s embassy in Ottawa again denied interference on Tuesday and a spokesperson said the leaks were part of a campaign “to smear China”.
The Independent Special Rapporteur, the Right Honorable David Johnston, has released his first report. We will take the necessary steps to implement its recommendations – and we will continue to take steps to strengthen and protect our democracy. More here: https://t.co/abE0W2h6O1
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 23, 2023
Johnston had access to classified memos and conducted interviews with the Prime Minister as well as other cabinet members and senior intelligence officials. He found that many of the leaks were based on “limited and partial intelligence” or even false information.
“However, there are significant governance gaps in the way intelligence is communicated by security agencies to different ministries,” he added.
The prime minister has come under pressure from opposition parties in parliament to open a public inquiry into foreign interference in elections. But when Johnston recommended against using one in Tuesday’s report, Trudeau said he would take his advice.
A public inquiry would “prolong, but not improve, the process,” the report said. He explained that most of the investigation would necessarily be secret due to the classified nature of the information.
Johnston urged opposition leaders to get permission to read the secret parts of his report, but if they did, they would be forced by law not to talk about those details in public.
‘I will not be silenced,’ said Tory leader Pierre Poilievre. “This report was faked from the start and has no credibility.” Poilievre accused Johnston of being a friend of the Trudeau family, which Johnston denies.
The Tories alleged that Trudeau ignored intelligence reports because the interference benefited his Liberal party in the election. Left-leaning NDP MPs, who support Trudeau’s minority government in Parliament, also want an investigation.
“We remain convinced that a public inquiry is necessary to restore confidence in our electoral system,” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters.
Earlier this month, the Trudeau government expelled a Chinese official after he emerged, he sought information about the family of conservative lawmaker Michael Chong, prompting China to kick tit-for-tat out of a canadian diplomat.
Instead of a new public inquiry, Johnston said he would spend the next five months holding public hearings on the issue because “foreign governments are undoubtedly trying to influence candidates and voters in Canada.”