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Trudeau calls into question findings of stunning watchdog foreign interference report

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to talk to reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to talk to reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Fasano, Italy -

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he has concerns with how conclusions were gathered in a spy watchdog report.

Speaking after the conclusion of the G7 summit in Italy, Trudeau told reporters that he has concerns with the way the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians came to its conclusions that some parliamentarians were “semi-witting or witting” participants in efforts of foreign states to meddle in Canadian politics.

“We made clear some concerns we had with the way that NSICOP did, drew conclusions,” he said. “I think that is an important part of the process.”

The Prime Minister’s comments echo those of Public Safety Minister Dominic Leblanc who said last week that the government disagreed with the committee’s interpretation of some of the intelligence. However, it remains unclear exactly what concerns the prime minister has. He would not elaborate Saturday when asked specifically for details about those concerns.

“NSICOP exists so that parliamentarians from all parties have full access to the work our intelligence agencies are doing,” Trudeau said Saturday. “That’s an important step that wouldn’t have happened if the Conservative party remained in power.”

NSICOP was formed in 2017 as an independent, high-level review body of Canada’s national security and intelligence organization. Its members all hold the highest level of security clearance, and are bound to secrecy under the Security of Information Act. The committee is composed of lawmakers from all major parties, and from members of both the House and the Senate.

Earlier this week the House of Commons voted in favour of a Bloc motion asking Marie-Josée Hogue to expand her foreign interference inquiry to also dig into the committee’s findings and investigate the allegations made against MPs.

“We welcome the work that they are doing, of course when it comes to intelligence there are important bodies like the foreign interference inquiry that is tasked to look at this,” Trudeau said.

The Prime Minister, however, would not answer repeated questions about whether any current Liberal MPs were named in their report as wittingly or semi-wittingly participating in foreign interference.

“The issue of foreign interference is one that this government has taken extremely seriously,” Trudeau said in response to the question about his own members of Parliament. “We have also called a number of different reports, including an on-going report on foreign interference that is, that we are working with right now to see how they can follow-up on the NSICOP report.”

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh were both a given access to the committee’s confidential report this week. The Conservative leader, however, has not taken the steps to acquire the necessary security clearance.

Singh told reporters on Thursday that the watchdog report shows “a number of MPs” have knowingly provided help to foreign governments and that he is “more alarmed today” after reading the unredacted version of the committee’s findings.

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

The NDP leader did not provide details about the number of MPs implicated in the report or their political affiliation. He previously said that any NDP MP who was shown to have knowingly meddled would be removed from his caucus. He did, however, say no NDP MPS are among those named as having participated.

May, however, had a different interpretation. She said there was no “list of MPs who have shown disloyalty to Canada.” She called some of Singh’s comments on the unredacted report “too hot”

Singh has accused Trudeau of not acting sooner about the MPs named in the report. Trudeau was given access to the report nearly three months ago.

“He may disagree with that intelligence, but I believe … he has sent the message that he is willing to accept some level of foreign interference,” Singh said earlier this week. 




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