Amid recent allegations that China was attempting to interfere in Canada’s 2019 and 2021 elections, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would appoint an independent investigator or reporter to help identify and protect foreign interference in elections and Canadian democracy. to fight.
“We have known for a long time, and an independent report reaffirmed it last week, that the Chinese government and other regimes such as Iran and Russia have tried to interfere not only in our democracy, but in our country in general, whether about our institutions, our companies. , our research facilities or in the daily lives of our citizens,” Trudeau said at a news conference in Ottawa on Monday.
Trudeau added that he was taking new investigative steps to protect democracy and said foreign actors wanted to promote instability in Canada. But he stressed that multiple reports to date have found that despite attempts at foreign influence, the results of the 2019 federal election and the 2021 election were not affected.
Trudeau, who has come under fire from opposition parties for immediately organizing a wide-ranging public inquiry into the matter, said the decision would be up to the rapporteur.
“We will be asking the Independent Special Rapporteur as one of the first duties of their mandate to make a recommendation to the government on what the appropriate next step should be, whether it be an inquiry and inquiry or a judicial review and what its scope is. work can be and we will abide by their recommendation,” he said.
China has reacted angrily to allegations of meddling in Canadian elections in recent days, calling the allegations “utter nonsense”.
“It should be pointed out that only those who are well versed in espionage can fabricate the outrageous lies reported in the media,” read a partial statement from the spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Ottawa. “Only those accustomed to meddling in the internal affairs of other countries are susceptible to suspicion and are engaged in playing the trick of feigning innocence and calling others a thief.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang also denied the allegations on Thursday, speaking with Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly at a G20 meeting, saying: “China never interferes in the internal politics of other countries and opposes any country that meddles in the internal politics of other countries.”
Canada’s opposition leader, Pierre Poilièvre, said only a full public inquiry “will get to the bottom of” what really happened regarding foreign interference.
“Justin Trudeau has known about this interference for 10 years as it has been 10 years since the Trudeau Foundation received its $200,000 (Canadian dollar) donation from a Beijing-backed donor and we have known since then that the government in Beijing trying to influence and support Justin Trudeau,” Poilièvre said at a press conference on Monday.
Poilièvre referred to a Globe and Mail newspaper report that a foundation named after Trudeau’s father, Pierre, a former Prime Minister of Canada, had received a $200,000 (Canadian dollar) donation from two wealthy Chinese businessmen in 2016 to fund scholarships and leadership programs .
Poilièvre claims those connections date back to 2013, when the younger Trudeau first entered politics.
A spokesman for Trudeau’s office said the prime minister withdrew his involvement in all affairs of his father’s eponymous foundation when he entered federal politics nearly a decade ago.
In a statement last week, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation said it would refund the donation in light of recent media reports and consistent with its role as an independent, impartial charity. The foundation said it would not accept any donation that “may have been sponsored by a foreign government,” the statement said.
In a government report released last week, Morris Rosenberg, a former official charged with investigating attempts to influence Canada’s 2021 election, concluded that foreign actors tried to interfere but had no influence on the outcome of the election. the elections.
Rosenberg himself was the CEO of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation in 2016 when the Chinese businessmen made the donation.