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Trudeau still mum on whether Liberals among 'witting' MPs who helped foreign states

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not say Saturday whether Liberal MPs are among those accused in a recent spy watchdog report of helping foreign states.

The refusal comes after NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May have both offered new, though somewhat conflicting insight into the findings of 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.

May says there is no suggestion that sitting MPs have put the interest of foreign states over Canada, but Singh says a number of members have provided help to foreign governments.

"I will allow Mr. Singh and Ms. May to speak for themselves," Trudeau said when asked why the prime minister could not shed similar light on the unredacted findings.

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, after reading it, that he would not be taking such action.

Trudeau was asked about whether any members of his party are named in the report, but would only say that concerns raised in the report have been referred to a national inquiry into foreign interference.

"I think it's important that Canadians have confidence in our ability, collectively as a democracy, to defend the institutions and the processes around our elections and our democracy. That is why officials are engaging with the foreign interference inquiry to see how they can follow up on the NSICOP report," Trudeau said.

While Trudeau said he disagreed with the way the committee drew its conclusions, he took credit for his government's creation of the committee and said he welcomes the members' work.

"The National Security Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians exists so that parliamentarians from all parties can have full access to the work that our national security agencies are doing. That's an important step that wouldn't have happened if the Conservative Party had remained in power," he said.

Trudeau made the comments at the conclusion of the G7 summit in Italy, where leaders said they are more concerned than ever about foreign interference and plan to create a “collective response framework” to counter foreign threats to democracies.

The framework is expected by the end of the year and will include publicly exposing “foreign operations of information manipulation," the leaders said in a joint communique released Friday.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is the only federal political party leader who has not taken steps to acquire the security clearance needed to read the full report. The Conservatives have said if he were to read the report he would be sworn to secrecy about its contents, which would prevent the leader from taking any action.

Poilievre instead called on the government to publicly release the names of MPs accused in the report.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2024. 

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