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February 27th, 2023

Singh calls for public inquiry into alleged election interference by China

OTTAWA — Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada’s NDP, is calling for a public inquiry into alleged Chinese interference in Canada’s federal election, and the Canadian government’s response to it.

“We accept the outcome of the election, but the serious allegations that individual candidates may have been impacted by foreign interference deserve a thorough, transparent and independent investigation. When Canadians learn about possible foreign interference through leaked documents, confidence in our democracy is put at risk,” said Singh.

“The way to stop alleged secret Chinese interference is to refuse to keep their secrets for them. A fully independent and non-partisan public inquiry is the way to shine a light into the shadows.”

The allegations, revealed largely in leaks of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) documents to media including The Globe and Mail and Global News include information that China interfered in the 2019 election in a variety of ways, including illegally funnelling large amounts of money to candidates and arranging donations from those sympathetic to their cause. According to reports, the documents further allege that campaigns may have illegally returned part of those donations — the difference between the donation and the tax credit — suggesting complicity by sitting members of parliament or the people running their campaigns.

Reports have indicated that Trudeau and his senior staff have allegedly been briefed about specific interference concerns from China, even impacting members of his own caucus, and chose not to act.

Singh said a public inquiry should not be constrained only to Chinese interference, but be broad, going where the evidence takes it. With the idea of a public inquiry into election interference already backed by experts including former CSIS head Richard Fadden and former chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Singh says Trudeau’s resistance to the idea is wrong, and baffling.

“I share people’s disappointment in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s shifting and casual response to these incredibly serious allegations. What he knew, when he knew it and how he responded matters,” said Singh. “Of course, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is using allegations of Chinese interference to raise money and score political points. That’s not going to help make elections more secure. Canadian security is so much more important than anyone’s electoral fortunes.”

Singh said he also supports the continuation of the work of the Commons Procedure and House Affairs committee, which is looking into allegations that China interfered in the 2019 campaign. The NDP has called for its urgent return to examine the new 2021 interference allegations.