After enduring months of mounting pressure on Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, a comprehensive investigation is poised to commence in response to allegations of foreign interference, implicating both China and Russia. This development has placed a significant strain on Canada’s diplomatic relations with China.
Justice Marie-Josée Hogue from the Quebec Court of Appeal will lead this inquiry, which will delve into allegations of meddling not limited to China but also involving Russia and other foreign and non-state entities. The scope of the inquiry extends to scrutinizing the impact on the integrity of Canada’s national and electoral processes during both the 2019 and 2021 elections.
Federal Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc, in announcing the expanded scope of the inquiry, stressed that China is not the sole foreign actor with intentions to undermine Canada’s interests.
This announcement marks the conclusion of an extensive search for an inquiry leader following the resignation of former Governor General David Johnston, who initially held the role. His departure was prompted by allegations of bias in favor of the Liberals, citing a “highly partisan atmosphere” surrounding his appointment.
Reports of foreign interference, primarily surfaced through Canadian media outlets often reliant on leaked intelligence, have detailed assertions of Chinese involvement in the recent federal elections. China has vehemently denied these claims. Although there is no belief that any interference affected the election outcomes, the Trudeau government has faced criticism for allegedly disregarding official warnings.
Dominic LeBlanc clarified that Justice Hogue’s appointment garnered support from all opposition parties. She will be granted access to all relevant cabinet documents and any other information she deems essential for her inquiry.
Tensions between Canada and China escalated in May when China expelled Canada’s consul in Shanghai in retaliation for Canada’s expulsion of a Chinese diplomat accused of attempting to intimidate a Canadian member of parliament who had criticized China’s human rights record.
Throughout her career, Justice Hogue, appointed to the Quebec Court of Appeal in 2015, specialized in corporate commercial litigation, civil litigation, and professional liability as a partner at a law firm, according to the court’s website.