It is stunning that Canadians still don’t know which of their elected officials have aided and even collaborated with foreign governments.
Will someone please tell us? Canadians want to know.
For those living under a rock, a report by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) released in early June had bad news for Canadian democracy.
The NSICOP members said they had “seen troubling intelligence that some Parliamentarians are, in the words of the intelligence services, ‘semi-witting or witting’ participants in the efforts of foreign states to interfere in our politics.”
Some parliamentarians were communicating frequently with foreign missions before or during political campaigns to obtain support from community groups or businesses. Some even accepted funds or benefits from foreign missions or their proxies. Some parliamentarians even provided foreign diplomatic officials with privileged information on the work or opinions of fellow Parliamentarians.
Worse, some MPs or Senators improperly influenced parliamentary colleagues or parliamentary business at the request of foreign officials. Some even provided information learned in confidence from the government to a known intelligence officer of a foreign state.
Now how’s this for an ironic twist? Parliamentarians are telling foreign powers confidential information, but who these people are and what they did must be kept confidential from Canadians.
A recent Angus Reid survey found 69 per cent of Canadians want the names of those identified in the report made public, with only 12 per cent opposed. Even among Liberal voters, 51 per cent want names, while 27 per cent are opposed.
Two-thirds of respondents (66 per cent) believe the government isn’t taking the issue seriously enough and the same amount believe all party leaders should receive security clearance to see the unredacted version of the report.
RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme said there’s not enough evidence to warrant a criminal investigation and he hoped no MPs would name the colleagues listed in the unredacted report.
Given the RCMP only made four interviews during a criminal investigation into the SNC-Lavalin affair, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that the Trudeau-appointed commissioner isn’t doing much.
It’s reasonable to say that using intelligence intel for criminal cases must be done carefully, lest sources or methods be exposed. Then again, it’s not clear how putting out a few names would do more harm than good.
Canadians want to know. Canadians should know.
Besides, if all that all these agencies can do is identify a problem that no one can do anything about, what good is it? If a web of elected officials serving foreign interests for money doesn’t qualify for arrests on the spot, what does?
Fine, don’t have arrests. The old adage, “Disclosure is the best disinfectant” applies. Name them along and their political careers will promptly end. Foreign actors will have to regroup to compromise someone else.
The reason Duheme hopes no political leader will name people in the confidential report is that it would be a crime. However, arresting the leaker would be so odious the RCMP would not want to. They know, and so should every thoughtful observer, that any politician with the courage to share these names would be a hero to most Canadians.
Should that hero go to jail for his deeds, they would become even more of a hero. Imagine MPs serving foreign interests running free while the leaker sat in jail? A justifiably angry Canadian public would demand arrests for the named MPs and the overthrow of anyone neglectful in making that happen.
Remarkably, the report was in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s hands two months before it was released to the public. He refused to say at G7 meetings whether any Liberal MPs were involved and tried to downplay the whole thing. For reasons of politics and worse, the government has every reason to want to control any queries on this file.
On September 7, 2023, the federal government launched the Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institutions, led by Justice Marie-Josée Hogue, a judge of the Quebec Court of Appeal. However, Hogue did not get full disclosure of cabinet documents for her investigation.
Bill C-70, An Act respecting countering foreign interference, adds a few more criminal code provisions to outlaw the sorts of things that are apparently already happening. It also introduces a Foreign Influence Transparency Commissioner to watch the file.
Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher continues to call out Justice Hogue, the bill, and even Opposition MPs for not demanding better. He said the process for choosing government watchdogs is too much in the hands of the ruling government and that Bill C-70 has so many loopholes a wide swath of wrongful activities would still be outside of its scope.
Someone must take a hit on this one for the team, that being Team Canada, not Team Liberal, Team Parliament, Team Conservative, or any other team. Someone needs to leak this document, and someone needs to publish it, come what may.
If foreign interference of this magnitude can go on without meaningful consequence, who knows what else is being allowed to happen. Canada needs whistleblowers–and fast.

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