Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today told reporters that the federal government sufficiently prepared for and successfully prevented any attempts of foreign interference in the 2019 federal election, during which 11 candidates allegedly received Chinese funding, according to recent media reports.
Trudeau said the federal government was aware of the risk of foreign interference leading up to both the 2019 and 2021 elections because of “a pattern of increased interference in Canadian affairs in general by foreign powers,” which he said has been ongoing over the “past years and even decades.”
“We established for the 2019 election, for the 2021 election, an independent body made of top security officials and top civil servants to oversee the elections to make sure that there were no attempts by foreign powers of interference,” he told reporters on Parliament Hill on Nov. 22.
Trudeau said the body determined that “the integrity of our elections was not compromised” and once again addressed questions pertaining to his alleged briefing in January of the 11 candidates who reportedly received Chinese funding in 2019.
The Prime Minister’s Office previously said Trudeau spoke with Chinese leader Xi Jinping about the allegations during the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, last week, which later prompted Xi to confront Trudeau about “leaking” their discussion to the press.
“Everything we discuss has been leaked to the paper; that’s not appropriate,” Xi said to Trudeau through an interpreter on Nov. 16.
‘A Serious Issue’
Justice Minister David Lametti today told Parliament Hill reporters that the allegations of election interference are “a serious issue.”
“We know it’s a serious issue. We take it seriously, our security services take it seriously,” he said on Nov. 22.
“When you’re dealing with matters of national security, you have to move in a very prudent fashion. Obviously, there’s a need for transparency, but there’s also a need for our security services to protect their sources, to protect the methods in which they gather intelligence.”
Conservatives have criticized the federal government for its handling of the allegations, with Tory deputy leader Melissa Lantsman challenging Trudeau’s claim that he wasn’t briefed on the funded candidates.
“Hard to imagine complaining to the [Chinese] President about something you hadn’t been briefed on?” wrote Lantsman in a Twitter post on Nov. 20.
“Has the prime minister or anyone in his office reported to Elections Canada any particulars concerning a campaign of interference by Beijing,” said Conservative MP Michael Chong on Nov. 22.
“I’m not aware of any specifics regarding campaigns of interference by Beijing other than what I read in the news article,” Perrault replied.