The committee of parliamentarians that oversees national security says it has begun a study of foreign interference, following a request from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In a statement, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says it will examine the state of foreign interference in Canada’s democratic processes since 2018.
That will continue the work done in its previous review of the government’s response to foreign interference, which covered the period from 2015 to 2018.
Canada rejected a visa for Chinese diplomat on foreign-interference grounds
The committee says it will also consider the independent report by former public servant Morris Rosenberg on the federal protocol for monitoring foreign interference attempts during the last general election.
The committee, chaired by Liberal MP David McGuinty, plans to consult other review bodies to avoid duplication as it develops its terms of reference for the latest review.
“Foreign interference and influence have been identified as significant threats to the rights and freedoms of Canadians and Canadian society,” McGuinty said in the statement issued on Wednesday.
“The committee recognizes the importance of preserving the integrity of our institutions, and looks forward to building upon its previous review of the government’s response to foreign interference.”
Earlier this week, Trudeau urged the committee and another spy watchdog, the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, to look into foreign interference in light of recent concerns about possible Chinese meddling in the last two federal elections.
The government also plans to appoint an “eminent Canadian” with a broad mandate on the issue. The independent rapporteur will be responsible for informing the work of NSIRA and NSICOP and any other existing processes and investigations that may be carried out by bodies like Canada’s Commissioner of Elections.
The rapporteur will make public recommendations, which could include a formal inquiry or some other independent review process, and the government says it will abide by the guidance.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced queries on alleged Chinese interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections during question period in the House of Commons on March 8.
The Canadian Press