Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Agrees to Testify in Parliament on China’s Election Interference
Trudeau says China tried to interfere in the vote in 2019 and 2021 but didn’t change the result. He sought closed bipartisan investigations that found that an attempt at foreign interference was unsuccessful. Image courtesy of Reuters
Ottawa: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bowed to pressure from the opposition and agreed to allow his top aide to testify before a parliamentary committee investigating alleged Chinese interference in the election, his office said Tuesday.
Conservative leader Pierre Poillèvre has repeatedly called on Trudeau’s chief of staff, Cathy Telford, to testify on a parliamentary committee investigating foreign election fraud.
The government refused until the leader of the New Democratic Party, which backs Trudeau in key parliamentary elections, backed the Conservatives’ call on Tuesday.
Telford’s testimony claims stem from claims in unconfirmed media reports that Trudeau’s aides were briefed on specific Chinese intervention attempts.
Trudeau says China tried to interfere in the vote in 2019 and 2021 but didn’t change the result. He sought closed bipartisan investigations that found that an attempt at foreign interference was unsuccessful.
“While there are severe restrictions on what can be said publicly about sensitive intelligence matters, in an attempt to get Parliament to work, Ms Telford agreed to appear,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
Canadian media have released detailed reports citing anonymous intelligence sources that claim the Chinese government is trying to interfere in the last two Canadian elections. Beijing has denied the allegations, saying it has no interest in interfering in Canada’s internal affairs.
In an effort to further fight Chinese interference, Trudeau last week appointed David Johnston, a former governor general, as an independent special investigator for the allegations.
Johnston, 81, will be given access to relevant classified or unclassified records and documents and will submit regular reports to the prime minister, Trudeau’s office said in a statement Tuesday. The reports will also be shared with opposition party leaders and made available to Canadians.
He is expected to complete his review by October. 31,” the statement said.
Beijing’s accusations of covert interference in Canada’s affairs have complicated an already strained diplomatic relationship between the two countries.
Tensions in Sino-Canadian relations soared in late 2018 when Canadian police detained the head of China’s Huawei Technologies Co, after which Beijing arrested two Canadians on charges of espionage. All three were released in 2021.
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