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The federal government says the Security and Intelligence Threats Task Force will be closely monitoring byelections in four ridings next month for signs of interference.
Votes are being held June 19 in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce–Westmount, Oxford, Portage–Lisgar and Winnipeg South Centre.
The task force, known as SITE, is expected to provide regular assessments of foreign interference threats to a committee of deputy ministers, who will brief members of cabinet if needed.
SITE is also tasked with preparing two reports — one classified, and one unclassified — about any attempts at interfering in the byelections.
The measures come in response to growing concerns about China’s alleged attempts to meddle in the last two federal elections, and accusations that Beijing has tried to intimidate members of Parliament and their families.
Conservative MP Michael Chong is set to testify this evening at the House of Commons procedure committee about a CSIS report that alleges a Chinese diplomat tried to intimidate him over his stance on China’s human-rights record.
Chong has said in the House of Commons that Jody Thomas, the prime minister’s national security adviser, told him the 2021 CSIS report was sent to the Privy Council Office and to relevant government departments.
But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other ministers have maintained they were not aware of the assessment until it was reported on by the Globe and Mail.
The prime minister has tasked former governor general David Johnston with determining what the government’s next steps should be to tackle foreign interference.
He is expected to tell the government by May 23 if he believes a public inquiry or some other form of investigation is needed.