Canada PM Trudeau bows to pressure, lets top aide testify on election meddling

World Friday 24/March/2023 08:03 AM
By: Times News Service
Canada PM Trudeau bows to pressure, lets top aide testify on election meddling

Ottawa : Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bowed to pressure from the opposition and agreed to allow his top aide to testify before a parliamentary committee probing alleged election interference, reported The Age.

Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has repeatedly called for Trudeau's chief of staff, Katie Telford, to speak in a parliamentary committee looking into foreign election tampering. Trudeau says China attempted to meddle in the 2019 and 2021 votes but did not change the elections' outcome. He has pointed to closed-door, bipartisan investigations that found attempted foreign interference was unsuccessful, reported The Age.

Demands for Telford's testimony stem from allegations in unconfirmed media reports that Trudeau's aides were made aware of specific  interference attempts.

The government had refused until the leader of the New Democrat Party, which supports Trudeau in key parliamentary votes, backed the Conservative call, reported The Age.

"While there are serious constraints on what can be said in public about sensitive intelligence matters, in an effort to make Parliament work, Telford has agreed to appear," the prime minister's office said in a statement.

Canadian media outlets have published detailed reports, citing anonymous intelligence sources, alleging schemes run by the Chinese government to interfere in Canada's last two elections. Beijing has denied those allegations, saying it has no interest in interfering in Canada's internal affairs.

In a bid to further address Chinese meddling, Trudeau last week appointed David Johnston, a former governor general, as an independent special investigator into the allegation, reported The Age.

Johnston will be given access to relevant classified or unclassified records and documents, and he will submit regular reports to the prime minister, Trudeau's office said in a statement on Tuesday.

The reports will also be shared with opposition party leaders and made available to Canadians. He is expected to complete his review by October 31, the statement said.

The accusations of Beijing-run covert schemes to meddle in Canadian affairs have complicated already strained diplomatic relations between the two countries.