Trudeau claims 2019, 2021 federal elections were 'decided by Canadians' after CSIS report revealed Chinese interference

Trudeau told the Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference Wednesday that it was “very improbable” that China would want him to win two federal elections.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference Wednesday that it was “very improbable” that China would want him to win two federal elections, given ongoing friction between Ottawa and Beijing over diplomatic and legal issues.

He seemed intent on discrediting reports from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) that China had interfered – largely on behalf of Liberal Party candidates – and targeted candidates either for victory or defeat.

The inquiry was Trudeau’s reluctant response to demands from the Official Opposition Conservative Party for an investigation into the CSIS reports that were leaked to the national media in 2023. Trudeau appointed Justice Marie-Josée Hogue to lead the inquiry last September after first appointing Special Rapporteur David Johnston to investigate the matter.

Johnston was fired by a majority of MPs in the House of Commons after reports of his close relationship with the Trudeau family and the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation surfaced.

Trudeau was tight-lipped throughout his testimony, frequently saying he could not fully respond to questions from lawyers because of national security concerns. He claimed his own intelligence and security advisors assured him that previous federal elections had been “held in their integrity” and “were decided by Canadians.”

The prime minister ridiculed the notion that China might want a Liberal government in Canada, pointing to the diplomatic unrest that occurred after Canadian police arrested Huawei Technology’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou at the request of US authorities. 

China detained Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig in response.

Trudeau’s retelling of events flew in the face of documents released from CSIS earlier this week that indicate Canada’s spy agency was certain China had interfered in at least two federal elections: 2019 and 2021. CSIS officials briefed the Prime Minister’s Office about their concerns over Chinese interference in Canadian politics 34 different times. 

Trudeau also claimed that he did not have “sufficiently credible information” to nullify Liberal Han Dong’s 2019 candidacy, even though thousands of Chinese students were bussed to Dong’s nomination meeting to ensure his victory.

The prime minister dismissed concerns from CSIS as unfounded and arising from officials who did not understand how the political process operates in Canada. 

“In this case, I didn’t feel that there was … sufficiently credible information that would justify this very significant step as to remove a candidate,” Trudeau said.
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