Ministerial Question Period: Foreign Interference

By: The Hon. Andrew Cardozo

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Hon. Andrew Cardozo: Thank you, Minister Mendicino. Welcome to the Senate. Thank you for being here to answer our questions.

My question is with regard to foreign interference. I want to suggest a third option. There are two options that are being discussed publicly, the public inquiry and certainly the process that Mr. Johnston has suggested. But I think each has its strengths and weaknesses, and certainly we have a bit of an impasse over in your chamber.

I would like to suggest a third option that would combine the two, which would look at a public inquiry led by a judge but still have an active role for NSICOP and NSIRA to review the materials at the beginning and at the end of such a process.

I think it’s also important for the inquiry to look at interference of all kinds, be it political, economic or social, and from all countries. It’s a problem that has existed for a while. Would you consider such a third option at this point?

Hon. Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Safety: Thank you very much for the thoughtful question, senator. I would begin by underlining that foreign interference impacts every aspect of life: our economy, our democratic institutions — including some of the profoundly concerning reports that we’ve heard around parliamentarians — and, equally, communities themselves. The degree to which we are seeing transnational repression impact for the purposes of discouraging members of the communities from fully participating in their communities is one of the singular motivations that has seen us create new authorities and new mechanisms of transparency.

It is that last value that I want to take a quick moment to expand on. Even as the debate continues on what the best path forward is, for me, and based on the conversations that I have had with Canadians, we have to put them at the centre of this exercise. I believe that by having public hearings that engage Canadians directly and thoughtfully on the tools we need to equip our establishment with to protect ourselves from foreign interference is the way to refine these tools to ensure we are dealing with and reducing foreign interference and building the confidence of Canadians in our institutions.

ion about how we can fight foreign interference together.

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