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Five things to know about foreign interference from the inquiry's interim report

BY The Canadian Press, May 3, 2024 5:09 PM - REPORT AN ERROR

Hogue had no difficulty concluding there was foreign interference in the elections, but she said it did not undermine the integrity of the votes.(Photo: The Canadian Press)

After holding public hearings and gathering evidence in private, inquiry commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue has released an interim report into foreign interference in Canada's last two general elections.

The public inquiry was established after a series of media reports in the Globe and Mail and Global News cited anonymous national security sources who alleged that China meddled in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

Some key take-aways from the report:

Foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections did not change who formed government

Hogue had no difficulty concluding there was foreign interference in the elections, but she said it did not undermine the integrity of the votes.

"The Liberal party would have been in government with or without foreign interference in 2019 and 2021," she wrote.

That conclusion was based on evidence from national security officials and testimony from top Conservative party brass, including former leader Erin O'Toole and his campaign co-chair.

Hogue also said foreign interference has been a known national security threat for decades, and Canada has robust measures to protect voting in elections. However, she also noted that those threats are evolving.

China is responsible for most of the meddling in Canada's electoral processes

The People's Republic of China is the biggest threat to Canada's elections, according to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. "The PRC does not support any particular party, but rather supports politics and positions that it views are pro-PRC, regardless of the political affiliation of a particular candidate," Hogue's report said.

Beijing is trying to influence government officials, candidates, political organizations and especially diaspora communities, who are commonly targeted through their extended family members still living in China.

"Governments from people's countries of origin have targeted them on social media and through cyberattacks, surveilled them and threatened them verbally and physically. People spoke about family members in their countries of origin having their passports taken away or denied so they cannot come to Canada to visit," Hogue wrote.

Russia, India, Pakistan and Iran are also possible foreign interference actors, though Hogue said intelligence indicates Russia is not a significant foreign threat.

India may have tried to give financial support to certain candidates in the 2021 election but Hogue said this was done without the candidates knowing, and she hasn't identified shortcomings with the way the government handled those cases.

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