Skip to main content

House committee votes to expand foreign election interference study

A parliamentary committee has voted unanimously to expand its study into foreign election interference.

Conservative MP and House of Commons Procedure and House Affairs Committee member Michael Cooper’s motion proposed expanding an existing study in light of recent “shocking revelations” about alleged foreign interference in the 2021 federal election.

Cooper said he hopes to hear from CSIS, the RCMP, Elections Canada, several cabinet ministers, and other top government officials.

The committee, which has been studying foreign election interference since November, has already heard from Elections Canada officials, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, former Canadian Ambassador to China David Mulroney, and officials from the RCMP and CSIS, among others.

The committee study was first prompted by a Global News report that China allegedly interfered in Canada’s 2019 federal election, partly by funding the campaigns of at least 11 candidates, and that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was briefed about the allegations last January.

Concerns around foreign interference have been brought back to the forefront by The Globe and Mail reporting last week that China used a “sophisticated strategy” to sway Canada’s 2021 general election results. The newspaper referenced CSIS documents it had viewed, and reported China worked to defeat Conservative politicians considered unfriendly to Beijing while attempting to get the Liberals re-elected specifically to a minority government.

“This should alarm every Canadian, and yet, most certainly should alarm those who are entrusted and have a responsibility to protect Canada’s democratic institutions,” Cooper said.

He also criticized the Liberal government for failing to act, if the allegations of foreign electoral interference turn out to be true.

“All Canadians can have total confidence that the outcomes of the 2019 and the 2021 elections were determined by Canadians, and Canadians alone, at the voting booth," Trudeau said Friday in response to The Globe and Mail reporting, which CTV News has not independently verified.

Trudeau added that China trying to interfere in democracies is not new, but that intelligence services are working to counter it.

Cooper in his motion also requested that the CSIS deposit the documents cited in The Globe and Mail without redaction, but after an extensive back-and-forth between members, the committee passed an amendment to request documents that have been redacted.

Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell told the committee before voting on the amendment that “while the Conservatives want to look at these documents,” she’s sure Chinese officials “would also love to get their hands on top-secret CSIS documents.”

NDP House Leader Peter Julian said while he agreed with Cooper’s motion in part, he was opposed to the request for un-redacted CSIS documents.

“For the treatment of documents, I find it is not up to the degree to which we need to treat documents of high sensibility that are related to national security,” he said.

O’Connell also read to committee portions of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians 2019 annual report, which was tabled in the House of Commons, citing it as proof foreign election interference has been on the government’s radar for several years.

“Foreign interference is persistent, it’s serious, it did not just start in 2015, and it did not just start after the 2021 election, as Conservatives would like you to believe,” O’Connell said.

She criticized Opposition MPs in this case of being selective about the timing of their concerns about foreign election interference.

“This suggestion that nothing has been done, that we’ve never spoken about foreign interference, that we deny it exists for some partisan benefit, is ludicrous,” O’Connell also said, calling the proposal to expand the committee’s study a “fishing expedition,” because members have already heard from many of the people Cooper hopes to call to testify with his new motion.

“If we want to hold more meetings to discuss [strengthening democracy], I’m all ears,” she also said. “But if we’re just holding meetings to take partisan jabs at the prime minister, then I think all we do is undermine our democratic institutions.”

In November, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki — who announced last week that she plans to resign in March — confirmed an investigation into “broader foreign actor interference activities,” but didn’t specify whether the investigation is targeting China specifically.

A letter from the top Mountie to the House of Commons Procedure and House Affairs Committee stated the RCMP was "aware of foreign actor interference in relation to a broad range of activities, including interference in democratic processes,” but wouldn’t elaborate given the “ongoing” investigation.

Elections Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault told MPs in November that he has not received any reports about China interfering in the 2019 federal election.

“In my opinion, there's no reason to believe that it was not a free and fair election,” Perrault told the committee several times during an hour-long appearance in the fall.

With files from’s Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello



ANALYSIS What do the policies Poilievre's party passed say about the Conservatives' future?

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre spent the summer speaking about housing affordability, a core focus that attendees at the party's Quebec City convention were quick to praise him for. But by the end of the weekend, delegates opted to instead pass policies on contentious social issues. What does that say about the Conservatives' future?



opinion Don Martin: Poilievre doesn't feel your pain, but he's sure good at communicating it

Probably no other leader, including Justin Trudeau, has landed in a party leadership with less real-world work experience than Pierre Poilievre, says Don Martin in a column for But Poilievre's an able communicator, and this weekend's Conservative convention is a golden opportunity for him to sell himself as PM-in-waiting.


opinion Don Martin: Who will step up to have 'The Talk' with Trudeau?

Ego and vanity are a potent combination in leadership politics, and in his exclusive column for, Don Martin writes this condition is infecting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's mindset as he seems deadly serious about seeking re-election in 2025. Top Stories

Stay Connected