Canada’s Trudeau opens investigation into China election meddling
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that he would open an investigation into whether China interfered with Ottawa’s 2021 and 2019 election cycles.
Following recent reports from local media siting anonymous intelligence sources that detailed alleged election meddling schemes by Beijing, Trudeau said he will appoint an independent special investigator to probe any Chinese interference as well as opening separate probes to look at foreign meddling in its elections elsewhere.
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“I will be appointing an independent special rapporteur, who will have a wide mandate and make expert recommendations on combating interference and strengthening our democracy,” he told reporters in an apparent bow to public pressure to respond following the reports.
Trudeau has not confirmed the media’s reporting, but he has faced push back from Canadians calling on the prime minister to respond more forcefully to the news of alleged election interference, and a recent poll suggested the majority of the public wanted him to take action.
China responded to the accusations last month and claimed, “We have no interest in and have never interfered in Canada’s internal affairs.”
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“Relevant parties should immediately stop smearing and attacking China with unfounded allegations and stop misleading the public,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Webin told reporters.
However, Trudeau is not taking China at its word and called on Ottawa’s parliamentary national security committee to investigate allegations of foreign election interference.
The committee, along with the lead investigator into Chinese interference, who Trudeau said would be an “eminent Canadian,” will report their findings to parliament and will provide recommendations for bolstering defenses against election interference.
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“Together, these measures will give us a better understanding of what happened in the last two elections, how foreign governments tried to interfere, how security agencies in Canada responded to the threat of interference and how the information flowed across government,” Trudeau said.
Reuters contributed to this report.