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NDP's Jagmeet Singh says report shows 'a number of MPs' have helped foreign states

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OTTAWA -

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says a recent spy watchdog report shows a "number of MPs" have knowingly provided help to foreign governments -- behaviour he calls unethical or even illegal.

Singh said Thursday he is "more alarmed today" after reading an unredacted version of a report on foreign interference by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.

The intelligence watchdog, composed of MPs and senators, said in a public report last week that some parliamentarians are "semi-witting or witting" participants in the efforts of foreign states to meddle in Canadian politics.

The blunt findings prompted a flurry of concern that members knowingly involved in interference might still be active in politics.

Singh told reporters that after seeing the full report, he is "more convinced than ever" of the watchdog's public conclusions.

"In short, there are a number of MPs who have knowingly provided help to foreign governments, some to the detriment of Canada and Canadians," Singh said.

"There are also politicians at all levels of government who have benefited from foreign interference. Some of this behaviour absolutely appears to be criminal and should be prosecuted."

Singh said the report also stated that he had been a target of foreign interference.

But the NDP leader did not provide details about the number of MPs implicated in the report, their political affiliations or the nature of the alleged misdeeds.

Singh said previously that if the full report showed any New Democrat MP knowingly took part in meddling, he would remove them from caucus. He indicated Thursday he would not be taking such action.

Singh said other party leaders should look at the unredacted report and determine whether any of their caucus members must step away.

The Green Party's Elizabeth May, who has also seen the full version, said this week it does not contain a "list of MPs who have shown disloyalty to Canada."

May said she believes the small number of MPs named in the report did not knowingly set out to betray Canada.

"I am very comfortable sitting with my colleagues," she said. "We will disagree on policy on many issues. But I am vastly relieved."

May said one unnamed former MP accused in the report of proactively sharing privileged information with a foreign operative should be fully investigated by authorities.

But she was quick to add that the few named people in the unredacted report "may be compromised," as they were "beneficiaries of foreign governments interfering in nomination contests."

The House of Commons voted overwhelmingly in favour of a Bloc Quebecois motion this week to have an ongoing commission of inquiry delve into the intelligence watchdog's findings about specific MPs.

Bloc Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has also signalled a desire to be briefed on the complete watchdog report.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has not taken steps to acquire the security clearance needed to read the full report.

Singh accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of failing to act on the report's findings.

He also condemned Poilievre for refusing to learn more about "very disturbing allegations" of foreign interference in Conservative leadership races.

"The fact that he doesn't want to know and has been silent, I believe very firmly disqualifies him as a prospective leader of this country," Singh said.

Liberal MP David McGuinty, who chairs the spy watchdog composed of parliamentarians, said Wednesday that national security and intelligence should not be a partisan issue.

He said party leaders could come together and "have an adult conversation" about how to deal with the issue within their own parties.

Singh's pronouncements came as government legislation to help counter foreign meddling received third reading Thursday in the House of Commons.

Even before its passage through the House, the Senate began studying the bill in the hope of it becoming law before the parliamentary summer break.

The legislation would introduce new criminal provisions against deceptive or surreptitious acts, allow for the sharing of sensitive information with businesses and others beyond government, and establish a foreign influence transparency registry.

The bill recognizes that states and other foreign entities that engage in interference to advance political goals might employ people to act on their behalf without disclosing those ties.

The transparency registry would require certain individuals to register with the federal government to help guard against such activity.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 13, 2024.

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