Despite persistent grilling from Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to directly answer questions in Parliament Hill’s Question Period Wednesday on foreign interference in Canada’s 2019 and 2021 elections.
“He knew when that committee reported that candidates received money directed by the dictatorship in Beijing,” said Poilievre in the House of Commons. “How much did the Liberal Party get in donations directed from Beijing?”
Two CSIS reports acquired by Global News allege that Chinese officials in Toronto had distributed financial donations to a network aiming to interfere in the 2019 election. The finalized report prepared by the Privy Council Office (PCO) suggests it was read by Trudeau and his advisors.
“A large clandestine transfer of funds earmarked for the federal election from the PRC Consulate in Toronto was transferred to an elected provincial government official via a staff member of a 2019 federal candidate,” the PCO report wrote.
“Which members of the PM’s staff were present for that briefing?” Poilievre continued. “Will he tell us, does he still admire the basic Chinese communist dictatorship as he so profusely said several years ago?”
Justin Trudeau did not answer questions about funds from Beijing being directed toward federal election candidates. Instead, the PM claimed that his office had no information prior to the election, in stark contrast to the news that high-level warnings about foreign funding were offered before the election.
“Each year, the committee must submit to the prime minister a report,” said Poilievre quoting the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol (CEIPP). “The prime minister knew that his own security committee said that Beijing had directed funds to candidates in preceding elections.”
“In regards to the issue of whether federal candidates received money from China, we have no information on that,” Trudeau said.
“It is important to create an independent, unimpeachable, Special Rapporteur who is going to oversee the entire landscape around national security,” the PM continued.
“Has CSIS warned the prime minister’s staff that members of his caucus or cabinet are part of a foreign interference network, yes or no?” said Pierre Poilievre repeatedly in the House.
“We created NSICOP and other mechanisms to oversee the important and top secret work that our intelligence agencies do,” said Justin Trudeau.
“Yes or no?” Poilievre repeated.
“Issues around national security have deep implications for the safety and well-being of Canadians,” said Trudeau. “That’s why we’ve created bodies that allow parliamentarians to get top-secret clearance.”
“There was at least one candidate identified as implicated in a foreign interference network,” said Poilievre. “Is that member in the prime minister’s caucus or cabinet?”
On Monday, Trudeau announced he would appoint a Special Rapporteur who will look into the concerns and give recommendations on how to address the problem.