Trudeau says Canadians should be ‘wary’ of leaders who say foreign interference hasn’t touched their teams

19 June 2024
Trudeau says Canadians should be ‘wary’ of leaders who say foreign interference hasn’t touched their teams

In an apparent jab at NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians should be wary of political leaders who say their parties haven’t been compromised by foreign interference.

Last week — after reading the classified, unredacted version of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) report —  Singh suggested to reporters that he didn’t have to worry about members of his caucus.

In an interview with CBC’s Power & Politics on Monday, Trudeau questioned that assertion.

“I hadn’t known Jagmeet said that,” the prime minister said after a pause. “I would be wary of any party leader drawing any sort of conclusion like that.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to hearing that NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said nobody in his party has been impacted by foreign interference during an interview with CBC’s Power and Politics host David Cochrane.

Two weeks ago, NSICOP — a cross-partisan committee of MPs and senators — released a heavily redacted document alleging, based on intelligence, that some parliamentarians have been “semi-witting or witting” participants in the efforts of foreign states to interfere in Canadian politics.

The report also said foreign interference is targeting federal party nomination contests, leadership races and other lower-level events.

Trudeau did not answer when asked whether members of his party were named in the NSICOP report.

“I am implying that interference in our parliamentarians goes beyond party lines, from many different sources, and we need to make sure that before we go accusing anyone from any party on anything, there are really important processes to go through,” he told host David Cochrane.

A spokesperson for the NDP told CBC News that Trudeau should tell Singh about any information that suggests NDP MPs worked with foreign agents.

“If the prime minister has intelligence that someone in our caucus is knowingly working with a foreign government against Canadian interests, he can tell Jagmeet who has clearance. No such information has been given to us,” Alana Cahill, the NDP’s director of communications, said in an email.

Trudeau says inquiry will bring clarity to NSICOP’s findings

Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who also has her security clearance, responded differently after reading the original report.

May said she was relieved to learn that none of her currently serving House of Commons colleagues knowingly betrayed their country.

“There’s no reason to create an atmosphere of McCarthyism … a witch hunt feeling of which MPs can be trusted,” she said Monday.

On Thursday, Singh said he was more alarmed after reading the report and is “more convinced than ever” that some parliamentarians are “willing participants” in foreign states’ efforts to interfere in Canadian politics

An NDP spokesperson later said the leader’s comments should not be taken as confirming or denying that the parliamentarians cited in the report are currently serving.

During his news conference last week, Singh said the classified report shows Trudeau accepted some level of foreign interference and that he wanted to “to protect [the] party rather than defending the country.”

But Singh, who has agreed to a confidence-and-supply deal to prop up the Liberal minority government, said he would not end his support for the government.

New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks in the Foyer of the House of Commons about the NSICOP report, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Thursday, June 13, 2024. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

Trudeau said the ongoing public inquiry into foreign interference, which was originally set up to investigate allegations of election interference, is the best way to get clarity on NSICOP’s claims.

Last week, the government agreed to support a Bloc Quebecois motion to have Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue and her public inquiry team review and report on NSICOP’s information.

Green Party leader calls on colleagues to discuss contentious NSICOP report in private

Trudeau says he has ‘concerns’ about some findings of foreign interference report

“That is a very clear way to give answers to Canadians on what can be shared, what level of alarm people should have on this,” Trudeau said.

“I think there are very real reasons why we should be trusting a semi-judicial process and an independent person, who is not of any political bias, to be able to say look, this is how a thoughtful country and democracy should go about dealing with these very real threats to it.”

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet has said he’s inquired about getting a security clearance to view the report.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sits down with Power & Politics host David Cochrane for an exclusive, wide-ranging interview spanning such topics as foreign interference, affordability and his own political future.

So far, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has resisted calls to obtain a security clearance to read the classified report. He has called on the Liberal government to name any parliamentarians implicated in the unredacted report on the floor of the House of Commons, where MPs enjoy parliamentary privilege.

Trudeau and his public safety minister have rejected that call.

“I think everyone understands when you talk about issues of national security, disclosing classified information puts the people who collected that information at risk, puts a knowledge of how we protect Canadians in the hands of those people who want to harm Canadians,” Trudeau said.

“There’s always, when it comes to national security, a need to balance what we can say publicly with what we actually do to keep Canadians safe.”

Source: cbc

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