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‘No evidence at the time’ of foreign interference in 2019 federal election, Lucki says

‘No evidence at the time’ of foreign interference in 2019 federal election, Lucki says

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki says the Mounties did not have any evidence of foreign interference during the 2019 federal election and were not investigating any criminal activities related to that election.

But in a letter to the clerk of the Commons standing committee on procedure and House affairs — first reported on by the Globe and Mail and obtained by CBC News — Lucki acknowledged that the Mounties are currently investigating foreign interference activities in Canada. She declined to hand over redacted documents on those investigations to the committee.

The committee passed a motion in a Nov. 14 meeting requiring federal government departments and agencies to produce redacted documents on foreign interference in the 2019 federal election. The decision came after a story from Global News, which reported that CSIS briefed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in January 2022 on Chinese efforts to interfere in that election. The interference reportedly included Chinese government funding of at least 11 candidates.

In the letter to the committee, dated Nov. 25, Lucki said the RCMP didn’t have any evidence of these activities at the time — but didn’t say whether the Mounties are investigating them now.

“In the context of the 2019 federal election, the RCMP did not have any criminal investigations into election-related activities as there was no evidence at the time,” Lucki said.

“The RCMP is aware of foreign actor interference in relation to a broad range of activities, including interference in democratic processes.”

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Lucki said the RCMP couldn’t provide documents to the committee on its ongoing investigations because doing so could compromise the investigations.

“The RCMP does not make these determinations lightly — open dialogue on the impact that foreign actor interference has on Canada, its citizens and its democratic processes, is critical in helping defend against these threats,” Lucki said. 

“However, foreign actor interference investigations are some of the most sensitive national security investigations the RCMP currently conducts, and it must make every effort to protect the integrity of these investigations.”

Trudeau responds to allegations of foreign interference

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre led off question period in the House of Commons Tuesday by repeatedly asking the prime minister what he knows about alleged Chinese interference in Canadian elections.

“Was there any interference of any kind?” Poilievre said.

Trudeau responded to Poilievre’s questions by pointing to the work of government-appointed panels which examined foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. Trudeau said those panels concluded that foreign interference was not a significant factor in either election.

“Canadians can be reassured that the integrity of our elections was not compromised,” Trudeau said.

But Poilievre was not satisfied with Trudeau’s answer.

“The question was not whether the election was compromised,” Poilievre said. “The question was whether officials, in intelligence, law enforcement or the public service, at any time informed the prime minister of allegations of any interference in our elections — yes or no?”

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Trudeau said he received no such information indicating candidates were funded by Beijing.

“I have never gotten any information from any of our security agencies, or police officers, or intelligence officials, or public servants, on any information on anyone receiving, as a federal candidate, receiving money from China,” he said.

In a scrum with reporters at the House of Commons Tuesday, Trudeau did not comment specifically on Lucki’s letter.

“All of our organizations and agencies, including the RCMP, will continue to do their job to keep Canadians safe and make decisions aligned with their responsibilities,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau has said he never received the alleged CSIS briefings and memos at the centre of the Global News story.

“Let me be clear — I do not have any information, nor have I been briefed on any federal candidates receiving any money from China,” Trudeau said last week.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said he couldn’t comment on the RCMP investigations.

“What I will say is we take allegations of foreign interference very seriously,” Mendicino said in a media scrum.

“I will also say that the government will spare no effort when it comes to providing our national security apparatus and law enforcement with all the tools that they need.”

Mendicino said the government is looking “very carefully” at establishing a registry for foreign agents.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Tuesday that allegations of election interference should be taken seriously.

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“We don’t want to see any interference in Canadians’ ability to make decisions about their future,” Singh said at a news conference. 

China has denied the allegations. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijan said earlier this month that China “has no interest in Canada’s internal affairs.”

The Trudeau government recently unveiled its Indo-Pacific Strategy, which includes a plan to confront “an increasingly disruptive” China. 

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Eliot Bowman (Eli Bowman) is a Journalist at Flaunt Weekly covering Business News.

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