Canadian appointee: Reports of Chinese meddling too sensitive for public scrutiny

The man tasked with recommending how to handle leaked intelligence reports alleging China interfered in Canada’s federal election says the leaked material is too sensitive for a public inquiry.

ByROB GILLIES Associated Press

TORONTO — The man tasked with recommending how to handle leaked intelligence reports alleging China interfered in Canada’s federal election said Tuesday the leaked material was too sensitive for a public inquiry.

Opposition parties have called for a full public inquiry into the alleged Chinese interference since the Globe and Mail newspaper reported it earlier this year. Citing unidentified intelligence sources, China preferred to re-elect Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in the 2021 election and worked to defeat conservative politicians seen as unfriendly to Beijing.

Trudeau appointee David Johnston released recommendations on Tuesday that there should be no public inquiry into the leaked material due to intelligence sensitivity. However, he proposed public hearings on broader issues, including foreign influence on the Canadian political system.

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In March, Trudeau appointed Johnston, a family friend and former governor general, to study the issue, and Trudeau said at the time that he would follow Johnston’s recommendation.

Johnston said the government had neither ignored the intelligence nor failed to act, saying media reports about the leaked intelligence lacked context and in some cases were wrong.

“Leaks are based on partial information. In some cases, the documents don’t tell the whole story,” he said.

He also said it was troubling and damaging that intelligence had been leaked. He said he could not speculate on who leaked the intelligence or what their motive was.

The Governor-General is the head of state representative of the British monarch and holds a mostly ceremonial and symbolic position. Governor General Johnston was appointed by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2010 and extended his term until 2017 under Trudeau.

Johnston is also a past member of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

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Trudeau said all political leaders agree that the 2019 and 2021 election results were not influenced by foreign interference.

Earlier this month, Canada expelled a Chinese diplomat who Canada’s spy agency said was involved in intimidating an opposition Conservative MP and his relatives in Hong Kong after the Conservative MP criticized Beijing’s human rights record. China then announced this month the expulsion of a Canadian diplomat in retaliation.

China routinely threatens family members to intimidate critics in the Chinese diaspora.

Sino-Canadian relations have soured after China detained former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, shortly after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of telecommunications giant Huawei and daughter of the company’s founder, at the behest of US authorities who accused her of fraud. five. .