Following the release of information about lawmakers knowingly colluding with foreign actors, all political parties have called for action, albeit in different ways.

Conservatives have called for the names of colluders to be released. The NDP said it would remove MPs from its caucus upon learning of collusion. The Bloc Québécois has tabled a motion to refer the matter to the Foreign Interference Commission.

As for the governing Liberals facing the pressure, they have said an internal party review is in order, but that releasing the names would be illegal and irresponsible. They have, however, backed the Bloc’s motion.

All other major parties did similarly in the vote that took place on June 11, but there was one holdout, and it came with a particular perspective.

Green Party Co-Leader Elizabeth May said she changed her mind about supporting the Bloc’s motion after reading the unredacted version of the intel watchdog’s report. Her colleague Mike Morris also voted against the Bloc’s motion.

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The committee reported seeing “troubling intelligence that some Parliamentarians are, in the words of the intelligence services, ‘semi-witting or witting’ participants. [original emphasis] in the efforts of foreign states to interfere in our politics.”

Despite this warning, Ms. May told reporters on June 11 she has “no worries about anyone in the House of Commons.”

“There is no list of MPs who have shown disloyalty to Canada,” she said, while adding that fewer than a handful of MPs “may be compromised.”

“They have been beneficiaries of foreign governments interfering in nomination contests,” said Ms. May.

NSICOP is a committee of lawmakers of all stripes, which reports to the prime minister and not Parliament. Its report notes a number of scenarios involving parliamentarians and foreign actors.

It says that some parliamentarians frequently communicate with foreign missions before and during political campaigns to obtain help in mobilizing supporters. Others have accepted funds from foreign missions, “knowingly or through willful blindness.”

Some have provided confidential information to a known foreign spy or sought to influence their colleagues for the benefit of a foreign state.

Ms. May said the former MP who is said to have “proactively” provided information to a foreign intelligence officer is not named in the report. She expressed the most concern about this case and said he should be “fully investigated and prosecuted.”

Battle Over Names

The Conservatives have pressed the Liberal government to release the names of the parliamentarians involved, saying that not doing so casts suspicion on all lawmakers. They also say that Canadians have the right to know this information before voting during the next election.

The Liberal government, however, says that doing so would be irresponsible and a breach of secrecy laws. But it expressed support for having the public inquiry into foreign interference review the matter.

“We agree with members of this House that the appropriate forum to look at these matters is the commission already set up and operating,” said Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc on June 10.

Mr. LeBlanc noted that the commission already has access to all the documents consulted by NSICOP for its review. He added that talks are already underway on the matter between the commission and the Privy Council Office.

“We think that’s a responsible way to proceed, not simply standing up and illegally announcing a list of names like my colleague suggests,” said Mr. LeBlanc. The minister added that he asked the RCMP what would happen to him if he were to reveal the names and was told he would be prosecuted.

Mr. LeBlanc told the House of Commons public safety committee on June 6 he knows a “number of names” of lawmakers that “surfaced in various intelligence products I had seen.”
With regards to concerns within the Liberal Party, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland called the issue of collusion a “grave, grave problem” on June 4 and said her party would do a “follow-up internally.”

On the Conservative side, MP Jasraj Singh Hallan expressed concerns that the government withholding documents from the foreign interference commission and refusing to name colluding MPs is an attempt to hide compromising information.

“Canadians need to know who these MPs are,” he said during question period on June 10. “Is this Liberal-NDP government really going to let sitting members of this House, working against the interests of Canadians, run in the next election? “

The NDP has also reacted strongly to the NSICOP report, with its leader Jagmeet Singh declaring he would expel any caucus member who “knowingly worked with a foreign government to undermine Canada.”

Mr. Singh has obtained a security clearance in the past and has requested to see the unredacted NSICOP report.

The NDP and the Liberals say that Tory Leader Pierre Poilievre should also undergo the process to be able to read the classified material. Mr. Poilievre has declined in the past, saying he doesn’t want to be limited in what he can say on the topic of foreign interference.

Security clearance holders are bound to secrecy for the rest of their lives, a point NSICOP Chair David McGuinty raised when asked to release more information about the parliamentarians colluding with foreign actors.
Mr. McGuinty said the question about colluding parliamentarians should be posed to the RCMP. “It is up to the RCMP to decide on the basis of any intelligence or evidence they may have.” The RCMP would not say whether it is investigating parliamentarians, but noted investigating a “broad range” of foreign interference activities, including some that “intersect with democratic institutions.” The police force also said it learned new information from the NSICOP report.

Matthew Horwood contributed to this report.