RCMP investigate interference in Canadian elections

The RCMP has confirmed it is investigating « interference activities by broader foreign actors » in Canada, but Commissioner Brenda Lucki declines to provide further details as investigations are « ongoing ».

That confirmation came in a letter Lucki sent to the House of Commons committee studying foreign interference in Canadian elections.

This study was prompted by a Global News report that China interfered in the 2019 Canadian federal election, in part by funding the campaigns of at least 11 candidates, and that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was made aware of the allegations. in January. CTV News has not independently verified the Global News reporting, which Trudeau also disputed.

Lucki’s correspondence does not name any countries relevant to the investigations, but it appeared to support what other federal officials have said: that the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections Task Force (SITE) – of which the RCMP is a part – « did not conduct a criminal investigation of election-related activities » in the context of the 2019 federal general election.

Lucki said it was because « there was no evidence at the time ».

Now, according to the RCMP chief, the RCMP is « aware of interference by foreign actors in a wide range of activities, including interference in democratic processes. »

And while « open dialogue about the impact of interference by foreign actors on Canada, its citizens and its democratic processes is essential to help defend against these threats, » Lucki said she was not unable to provide the committee with more information in order to protect the integrity of the work in progress.

Lucki’s letter sparked a series of questions for Trudeau during Tuesday’s Question Period, specifically related to allegations of interference in the 2019 federal election.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre asked Trudeau directly if he had been informed of such allegations.

Trudeau responded that law enforcement officials take foreign interference seriously and that he can assure all Canadians that the 2019 and 2021 elections are free and fair.

In a back-and-forth between the Tory leader and the prime minister, Poilievre repeatedly asked not if there had been election interference, but rather if Trudeau had been briefed on allegations.

“I can confirm, based on the reports that a number of people have commented on over the past few weeks, that I have never obtained any information from any of our security agencies, or the police, or the intelligence officials, or public servants, any information about anyone who, as a federal candidate, receives money from China, as the allegations point out,” Trudeau pointed out.

He added that there were still concerns about foreign interference in Canada generally, and in elections specifically, but that « Canadians can be reassured that the integrity of our elections has not been compromised. » .

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet also addressed the alleged interference with the Prime Minister during Question Period – including Trudeau’s handling of it on the world stage – calling the issue puzzling and asking why. it has not been made public which 11 constituencies might have been involved.

Blanchet also said it’s hardly reassuring that Trudeau shares what he doesn’t know, as opposed to what he does know. He said Trudeau needed allies, instead of impersonating other world leaders. This, after video of a tense G20 summit interaction between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trudeau was widely shared earlier this month, when talking points from an unofficial conversation between the two surfaced. given to the media, listing the interference as a topic they discussed. .

Asked by reporters Tuesday about the RCMP investigations, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said he would defer to Lucki and lead investigators on the case, but the federal government is taking the allegations of foreign interference « very seriously ».

« CSIS and the RCMP have existing protocols where they share information and intelligence, and those protocols are defined by law and statute, » Mendicino said. “What is important is that they are able to do this work independently. And our work on the elected part of government must equip them with the tools they need to gather intelligence, gather information, gather the evidence they need to root out possible foreign interference and, if necessary, prosecute them in our courts.


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