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Trudeau to Appear with ‘Enthusiasm’ at Foreign Interference Inquiry, Confirms Willingness to Testify

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is very motivated to testify before the newly-launched public inquiry into foreign interference.

While speaking to reporters in Singapore on Sept. 7, Mr. Trudeau said he would “willingly” testify and with “very, very much enthusiasm.”

The prime minister was responding to a second question from reporters on whether he would testify.

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“We’re not at that point yet, but we’ve always been open and transparent about everything we’re doing, and I look forward to responding positively to whatever requests the commission makes,” Mr. Trudeau had initially answered.

Earlier that day, Public Safety Minister Dominic Leblanc announced the appointment of Court of Appeal Justice Marie-Josée Hogue as inquiry commissioner.

She will start her mandate on Sept. 18, which involves looking at foreign interference from China, Russia, other states, and non-state actors.

The announcement came after months of negotiations between political parties on the terms of reference of the inquiry and on finding a consensus commissioner.

Mr. Leblanc told reporters on Sept. 7 that every word of the terms has been jointly approved by the parties. Opposition parties also expressed public support for the choice of Justice Hogue to lead the inquiry.

Questions have been raised about the short deadlines for the inquiry to do its work, with Justice Hogue having to file an interim report before March 2024 and a final submission by December 2024.

Mr. Trudeau said his government has been constantly doing work to fortify democratic institutions since he took power in 2015, and said “we will continue to take action independently of the important work being done by the commission.”

“As recommendations come forward—the first report comes out next February—so there will be time to listen to what is said there and bring those in,” he said.

The Liberal government put protocols in place to guard against interference during elections, but they never served to raise the alarm.


Meanwhile, national security leaks in the press in recent months, with some confirmed by government officials, have depicted widespread interference by Beijing.

The Liberal Party was advised by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in 2019 that the Chinese consulate in Toronto was meddling with the party nomination of Han Dong, but Mr. Trudeau ignored the warning.

This incident was first mentioned in the press and later discussed in the first report filed by former special rapporteur on foreign interference David Johnston.

“The Prime Minister was briefed about these irregularities, although no specific recommendation was provided. He concluded there was no basis to displace Dong as the candidate for Don Valley North,” the report said.

Mr. Johnston added this was not an “unreasonable conclusion” given the information available to the prime minister.

Mr. Dong left the Liberal caucus following the media reports and has since sued Global News for defamation, as it alleged Mr. Dong also advised the Chinese regime to keep Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in detention during the Meng Wangzhou affair. Mr. Dong has denied the allegations.

Special Rapporteur

Former governor general Mr. Johnson had been appointed to the rapporteur role in March amid growing calls to hold a full public inquiry. The main recommendation of his report was to not hold an inquiry, citing the need to protect sensitive information.

Mr. Johnston later resigned under pressure from opposition parties, which came through steady public criticism and a House of Commons motion from the NDP asking him to step down.

Whereas the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois had immediately criticized Mr. Johnston as being too close to Mr. Trudeau, due to their family ties and his work for the Trudeau Foundation, the NDP had initially supported him.

The Liberal government became more open to holding an inquiry after Mr. Johnson resigned.

“We chose an extraordinary Canadian of clear integrity to lead the process in the

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