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May has 'no worries' about traitors in Parliament after reading intelligence committee report

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Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says after having read the full unredacted version of a report stating some parliamentarians have participated in foreign interference, she is no longer worried about there being traitors sitting in the House of Commons.

"I’m relieved," May said, adding the report includes "no list of MPs who have shown disloyalty to Canada."

"I am very comfortable sitting with my colleagues," she told reporters Tuesday.

A stunning report by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP), released last week, stated that soon after being elected, some MPs began "wittingly assisting" foreign state actors, accepting benefits from other countries "knowingly or through willful blindness," and responding to direction from foreign officials to "improperly influence" parliamentary affairs to the advantage of a foreign state. China and India are named as the top perpetrators.

Reaction to the report was pronounced, with the opposition parties calling on the federal government to release the names of those officials who may have done so.

The Liberals, meanwhile, demurred on whether the names should be made public, and pivoted to criticising Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre for refusing to receive additional security clearance to read the unredacted report.

"I have been asked many times, in slightly different ways, how it feels to sit in Parliament, knowing that there are potential traitors among us," May said. "Having read the full unredacted (NSICOP) report for myself, I can say I have no worries about anyone in the House of Commons."

May told reporters on Tuesday that while there is "no list" of MPs who have wittingly participated in foreign interference, there are "fewer than a handful" of named MPs in the report who may have unintentionally done so.

But, she also said, page 26 of the report details a “worrying case” of a former MP “sharing privileged information with a foreign operative.”

That person, should be “fully investigated and prosecuted,” as well as publicly named, May said. They are not named in the unredacted report, but the involved country is, she said.

May thanked NSICOP members for their work on the report, saying they have to “work in the shadows,” and she is "in awe of their work."

"Unfortunately, that important work has been eclipsed by a totally understandable media firestorm, which in my view is overblown," she said.

MPs vote for Hogue to study

May’s press conference was just hours before a vote in the House of Commons Tuesday afternoon, on a motion by Bloc Quebeçois MP René Villemure to expand the scope of the Foreign Interference Commission to look at the NSICOP report and investigate parliamentarians who may have helped foreign states meddle in Canadian affairs.

The vote passed with an overwhelming majority, 320 votes to two, with only Green MPs May and Mike Morrice voting against.

May said after having read the report herself, she would be voting against the Bloc motion, explaining that she thinks "it's throwing a hot potato in the wrong soup pot" by deferring the issue to Commission head, Justice Marie-Josée Hogue.

"I'm just begging my colleagues, particularly the leaders of the other parties, not to let this descend into a witch hunt, imagining that there's a list of MPs in the report that someone should disclose," she added. “There is no list of MPs.”

In an emailed statement to CTV News, Foreign Interference Commission spokesperson Michael Tansey said “the commissioner has taken due note of the motion that was passed in the House of Commons today and is honoured by the confidence expressed towards the commission.”

“She will soon issue a notice to the public regarding the parameters of the commission’s mandate and the next stage of its work,” Tansey added.

The Bloc’s motion is non-binding, as MPs do not have the power to unilaterally expand the scope of Hogue’s inquiry. Whether to probe the findings of the NSICOP report in her ongoing investigation is up to the commissioner.

More needed to protect democracy: May

The Green leader also said Tuesday that despite her relief there are no current MPs actively participating in foreign interference, serious concerns about foreign meddling in Canada persist.

"I would like to suggest to all colleagues in Parliament, particularly leaders of the other parties, that we refocus our public statements and parliamentary debates on what steps need to be taken to better protect our democracy," she said. "It is clear some foreign governments see Canada as a pretty vulnerable, soft target."

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who has not yet read the classified report, said on Monday that if any member of his caucus is named, he'd do what he could to ensure they face consequences.

Singh is set to receive the security briefing on Wednesday, according to his office.

On his way into question period on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commended May for "(taking) on her responsibilities as party leader," and "(doing) the work."

He also took aim at Poilievre for choosing not to receive the top-secret security clearance, accusing him of "choosing ignorance so he can play partisan politics."

Trudeau did not answer questions from reporters around how he is handling the classified contents of the report and whether the redacted portions affect the Liberal caucus.

With files from CTV News' Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello and CTV News Channel’s Power Play Senior Producer Rachel Swatek

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