Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, March 6, announced the appointment of an independent special rapporteur to probe alleged Chinese interference in Canada’s last two federal elections.
In recent weeks a series of reports in the Canadian media, based on intelligence leaks, have detailed alleged attempts by Beijing to interfere in those elections. That allegedly involved secret financing or involvement in the campaign of certain candidates during voting in 2019 and 2021. China has firmly denied the charges, calling them “defamatory.”
The new rapporteur, who will be appointed in the coming days, will be responsible for making “expert recommendations on combating interference and strengthening our democracy” said Trudeau, adding that he had also appointed two committees to investigate foreign interference.
This announcement came after opposition parties had been calling for days for an independent public inquiry into the issue. One of the first tasks of the special rapporteur will be to advise the government on the next steps to take, including a possible public inquiry. Trudeau said his government would abide by the rapporteur’s recommendations, “which could include a formal inquiry or some other independent review process.”
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The prime minister also instructed members of the parliamentary committee on national security and intelligence to launch a new, specialized investigation into foreign interference in Canada’s elections. The committee had already presented a report on the subject in 2019, calling on the government to do more.
Meanwhile, the body overseeing Canada’s intelligence services has been called upon to examine how Canada’s national security agencies have handled the threat of election interference. “Any interference attempt by any foreign actor is troubling and serious,” said Trudeau, noting that “Chinese government and other regimes like Iran and Russia have attempted to interfere not just in our democracy, but in our country in general.” “This is not a new problem,” he added.