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NDP MP, Jenny Kwan, given standing in inquiry into foreign interference

NDP MP Jenny Kwan has secured the right to question witnesses and examine classified documents during the forthcoming public inquiry into foreign interference. Despite a delayed application, the inquiry commissioner cited Ms. Kwan’s reported experiences of interference by Beijing as the basis for granting her standing.

In a Jan. 8 decision, Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue highlighted the parallels between Ms. Kwan’s situation and that of Conservative MP Michael Chong. Similarly identified as a target of Bejing, Mr. Chong received an extension to apply for participation in the inquiry and was granted the same access as Ms. Kwan on Dec. 14, 2023.

“In my view, Ms. Kwan stands in substantially the same position as Mr. Chong. Both are current Parliamentarians who are reported to be the subjects of foreign interference activities. Both indicate that this information was revealed to them, albeit belatedly, by CSIS [Canadian Security Intelligence Service],” Ms. Hogue explained in her decision.

Ms. Kwan, presently the NDP’s critic for immigration, refugees, citizenship, and housing, is an outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In her application, she positions herself as an active advocate on topics deemed sensitive by the Chinese regime, including supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, criticizing the National Security Law designed to suppress the movement, and endorsing Canada’s recognition of reported abuses against Uyghur Muslims by Beijing as genocide.

The commissioner highlighted a classified briefing from CSIS to Ms. Kwan on May 26, 2023. During the session, the Vancouver East MP was informed of being a target of Chinese foreign interference, including during the 2021 federal election. Ms. Hogue also cited CSIS’s revelation that Ms. Kwan is an “evergreen” target of the Chinese authorities, indicating potential foreign interference throughout her lifetime.
“I am grateful to Commissioner Hogue for granting me party standing for the foreign interference commission. I look forward to contributing to the Commissioner’s important work,” Ms. Kwan wrote in a statement on the social media platform X in response to the decision.

Late Application

The public inquiry into foreign interference, initiated in response to widespread allegations of election meddling by Beijing in the 2019 and 2021 elections, will proceed in two distinct phases. The first “factual” phase is scheduled to commence on Jan. 29, primarily focused on scrutinizing alleged interference by China and other foreign actors.

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The second phase of the inquiry is scheduled for the fall, intending to explore potential government measures to detect and counter such interference.

The commission was initially tasked with submitting a preliminary report by Feb. 29, but later received an extension until May 3 for the delivery of this report.

The commissioner acknowledged that changes in the inquiry’s schedule played a role in Ms. Kwan’s delayed application.

Ms. Hogue’s decision notes that Ms. Kwan initially planned to participate in the inquiry through her party. However, in a previous decision, dated Dec. 4, 2023, the commissioner granted the NDP “intervener” status, restricting its ability to question witnesses and access classified information.

“When this occurred, Ms. Kwan indicates that she did not know how to proceed,” Ms. Hogue stated in the latest decision. She further explained that, after learning about Mr. Chong being granted standing on Dec. 14, 2023, Ms. Kwan still hesitated to apply independently of her party due to concerns about the Feb. 29 deadline for the Commission’s first report. However, upon discovering the Commission’s extension until May 3, Ms. Kwan promptly submitted her standing application.

“I am satisfied that Ms. Kwan has provided an adequate explanation for the delay in bringing her application,” Ms. Hogue stated. “While it would have been preferable for Ms. Kwan to have brought this application soon after my decision granting the NDP Intervener standing, I accept her assertion that she was not aware that this was a viable option at the time. I further accept her assertion that she believed that a late application was not possible until after the deadline for the Commission’s first report changed.”

Despite considering Ms. Kwan’s application on its merits, the commissioner warned that further delays in receiving applications may lead to dismissal due to potential prejudice, especially as the public hearings approach.

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