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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre sparred in the House of Commons on May 30 over the latter’s decision not to receive a confidential intelligence briefing on foreign interference following special rapporteur David Johnston’s first report on the matter.
Trudeau accused Poilievre during question period of “refusing to actually learn the truth when intelligence services are offering him a briefing to update him on all the facts” and “all of the intelligence underlying his concerns about foreign interference.”
Trudeau’s accusation on the matter comes several days after both Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and Poilievre rejected a chance to look at secret intelligence information that Johnston says led him to recommend against calling for a public inquiry into foreign interference allegations in his May 23 report on the matter.
Party leaders would be bound to an oath of secrecy should they choose to review the information.
Poilievre responded to Trudeau in the House on May 30 by saying that the government would not be enforcing an oath of secrecy regarding the briefing if it didn’t contain any controversial information.
“What he [Trudeau] says is, ‘there’s nothing to see here, so why don’t you come into a dark room and see it? And then we’ll commit you to an oath of secrecy so you can walk out and tell Canadians that you can’t tell them anything,’” Poilievre said.
“We don’t need more people to keep secrets. We need more people telling the truth.”
Along with advising against a public inquiry in his recent report, Johnston also recommended that the Liberal government provide all necessary security clearances to other party leaders so that they could confidentially look at the full report, which includes a confidential annex of materials to which he had special access.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is also yet to accept the intelligence briefing, previously telling reporters that he has asked Trudeau to allow more members of his party to receive the briefing.
Singh also said he is seeking assurances that he will still be permitted to speak “freely” about his conclusions after the briefing based on the intelligence he is allowed to view.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.