Feds shield names of MP foreign interference collaborators
Feds shield names of MP foreign interference collaborators

The Liberal government refused to reveal the names of MPs who knowingly collaborated in foreign interference operations with nations like China and India. 

A national security committee found that a select group of parliamentarians “wittingly” assisted foreign state actors with interfering in Canadian democracy.

In one case, an unnamed MP was accused of giving classified information to a known foreign intelligence officer.

If the accusations are true, those involved could face serious charges.

The report was heavily redacted “to remove injurious or privileged information.”

The law that created the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians allowed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to request that a “revised” and redacted version of the report be released to the public if he believed the information contained could be “injurious” to national security.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Canadians have a right to know which MPs collaborated.

“We don’t need secrets and confidentiality. That’s what got us into this problem in the first place. What we need are the facts so that Canadians can judge,” he said before calling on the government to hand over the redacted information to the RCMP for a police investigation.

When asked about the issue, four Liberal ministers indicated their government would not tell Canadians the names of the MPs involved.

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc sidestepped the question of whether he thinks Canadians have a right to know who is implicated when reporters asked.

“I think Canadians need to know that the national security and intelligence agencies are doing the important work that they do,” LeBlanc said. “I think Canadians understand that this work is done with a certain requirement of confidentiality and secrecy to protect sources and to protect the methods in which the intelligence agencies operate.”

He said that some of the information was given to Canada by foreign national partners, and it came with caveats regarding how to use and release the information.

“No other western democracy announces the details of intelligence investigations publicly, and to pretend that that’s a reasonable solution is not consistent with international practice or with what’s necessary to protect the security of Canadians,” he said.

Housing Minister Sean Fraser indicated in a scrum with reporters that the Liberals felt the redacted information should be left to law enforcement and the courts.

“You don’t want to be openly discussing ways in which foreign interference could be conducted, where those who might have ulterior motives might be paying very close attention,” Fraser said. “The appropriate investigations ought to continue. Many of them, particularly if they involve criminal investigations, will be done independently by security officials and police agencies.”

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland refused to answer whether the Liberals would expel any members involved in aiding foreign interference from their party if found to be among the conspirators.

“The guarantee I can give Canadians is that our government takes foreign interference very seriously. We have put tougher measures than existed under the previous Conservative government to fight foreign interference,” she said. “We take very seriously the role of law enforcement and the importance, in our rule of law society, of law enforcement making the decisions about law enforcement.”

Freeland did, however, promise that the Liberal party would conduct an internal follow-up.

Other federal parties didn’t find the question as difficult to answer directly.

Yves-François Blanchet, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, confirmed that if anyone in his caucus were discovered to be in cahoots with foreign governments interfering in Canadian democracy, they would be kicked out of his party.

Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the NDP, took it one step further.

“If there’s any evidence that someone knowingly worked with a foreign government to influence our democracy, they should no longer be a member of parliament,” Singh said when reporters asked.

The Conservative foreign affairs critic, Michael Chong, indicated that if individuals are found to be from the Conservatives, the party will take “appropriate action.”

A representative from the party told True North in an email that the party doesn’t believe any of its members are implicated.

“The Conservative Party does not have access to the classified information and therefore does not have any information with which to conduct a review,” the representative added.

During the question period Wednesday, LeBlanc said Poilievre could have access to the confidential NSICOP report if he wanted to.

Poilievre has previously declined to be briefed similarly to avoid being “sworn to secrecy,” which he has said would result in his inability to tell Canadians the truth.

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