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Liberals say foreign meddling inquiry should look into MP allegations

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OTTAWA -

The Liberals support an effort to have the foreign interference inquiry investigate allegations against MPs, Democratic Institutions Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Monday. 

He told the House of Commons that government MPs would support a Bloc Québécois motion that calls on the inquiry to dig into findings by a national security committee that some MPs "wittingly" participated in foreign meddling.

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians released its bombshell findings in a report last week. 

LeBlanc previously said the government wouldn't release the names of accused MPs, saying intelligence reports can contain unverified information and it's up to the RCMP to lay charges where appropriate. 

The Conservatives and NDP have both penned letters to LeBlanc saying the inquiry led by Quebec judge Marie-Josée Hogue must be asked to report on the allegations. 

The Conservatives said they want the commission to issue a "finding of fact" for each case in which an MP or Senator is alleged to have knowingly participated in interference. The party said in a press release it’s crucial the Liberal government "provide full, unredacted information so they can independently access these accusations."

The NDP asked the government to ensure the Hogue Commission looks into the parliamentarians who participated in meddling and into findings involving interference by China and India in the Conservative Party’s leadership races.

During question period on Monday, LeBlanc told MPs that senior officials have already begun discussions with the Hogue Commission about expanding its work. 

"We're going to support the motion precisely because we think the Hogue Commission offers us an appropriate forum whereby the allegations that surfaced (from the committee) can be examined," he told reporters after question period. 

LeBlanc said the commission has the appropriate security clearances to review the intelligence.

"If the commission wants to work with the government, we believe they do, we would obviously be very, very anxious to ensure that they have all the resources and the time necessary to do this work," he said.

He added that the government will collaborate with the commission if it says it needs any changes to its terms of reference, including report deadlines. 

During question period, Conservative MP Michael Cooper said once Hogue has made the findings of fact, she should release the names of parliamentarians who knowingly "collaborated with hostile foreign states."

LeBlanc declined to answer when asked whether Hogue should release those names, if she finds the individuals participated in meddling knowingly. He said the question was too hypothetical to responsibly answer it.

The NDP, Bloc and Green Party have asked for access to the classified version of the report, which was already provided to cabinet ministers and the prime minister. 

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told reporters that if the report shows any NDP MP knowingly participated in meddling, he would immediately remove them from the NDP caucus. "I expect other party leaders to do the same thing," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2024

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