Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has raised concerns that MPs could be involved with foreign states seeking to undermine Canada’s democracy, and says an internal review will be conducted.

Ms. Freeland was pressed repeatedly by reporters June 4 in relation to the recently released report by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP).

The report says that unnamed Members of Parliament “began wittingly assisting foreign state actors soon after their election.”

The wide-ranging report by NSICOP on foreign interference had been commissioned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in March 2023. He was under pressure at the time to address the threat amid multiple intelligence leaks in the press depicting widespread interference by Beijing.

Ms. Freeland told reporters in French the world is currently facing a “great battle” between democracies and authoritarian countries, with this battle also taking place in Canada.

“Some countries want to compromise our democracy and we cannot allow them to do so,” she said. “It’s a grave, grave problem that MPs in our House of Commons are part of that.”

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Ms. Freeland said the issue is one of national interest and national security. “For me and for us obviously, as a political party, we have to and we will do a follow-up internally.”

The deputy prime minister said it’s up to law enforcement to decide if any charges should be laid. “The actual enforcement actions can’t be politicized,” she said.

‘Matter of Principle’

Ministers and MPs have been repeatedly asked in recent days if they are comfortable sharing the House with colleagues who work with foreign states, and whether they should be publicly identified.

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc refused to go into specifics when announcing the tabling of the NSICOP report on June 3.

“I think as a matter of principle, it’s unwise to speak about specific elements that may involve individuals,” said Mr. LeBlanc.

The minister said his government welcomes the NSICOP report but disagrees on some elements, including on the interpretation of intelligence reports. He noted that the report does not have the caveats accompanying intelligence products. Caveats can speak to the nature of the source of information or to its credibility.

The section of the NSICOP report addressing the alleged compromise of elected officials is titled “Establishing reciprocal relationships.”

It says the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), which collects mainly human intelligence, and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), which collects mostly signals intelligence, obtained information on foreign actors cultivating relationships with parliamentarians.

This was in order to have them act in favor of a foreign state’s interest and against Canadian interests. A summary of a redacted section says MPs “worked to influence their colleagues on India’s behalf and proactively provided confidential information to Indian officials.”

NSICOP also relates a CSIS assessment saying the People’s Republic of China (PRC) believes its relationship with some MPs “rests on a quid pro quo that any member’s engagement with the PRC will result in the PRC mobilizing its network in the member’s favor.”

The report also notes previously disclosed information about the PRC running a foreign interference network in the 2019 election which had “some contact with at least 11 candidates and 13 campaign staffers, some of whom appeared to be wittingly working for the PRC.”

‘Worrying, Obviously’

Cabinet ministers were asked to comment on the matter throughout the day on June 4.

“For sure it’s worrying, obviously,” Justice Minister Arif Virani said in French. “That’s a concern for all of us regardless of caucus, regardless of party, what we’re trying to do is always safeguard our institutions and their independence.”

International Trade Minister Mary Ng was asked by reporters if naming names of MPs would sow distrust within the Liberal caucus.

“The work that Justice Hogue is doing: really important. The work that NSICOP does: really important,” she said. “It’s work that they do and we ought to respect the security apparatus that does this work.”

Foreign Interference Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue released her interim report on May 3. It concluded that while interference did not influence the overall results of the 2019 and 2021 elections, individual ridings could have been impacted.

MPs also reacted to the NSICOP report, with Liberal John McKay telling reporters the report “does create an atmosphere of suspicion,” adding that being an MP is a “difficult business.”

“We are in situations constantly where you’re not quite sure of who you’re talking to, and who you’re having a picture with, and things of that nature,” he said.

Conservative Deputy Leader Tim Uppal said it’s “obviously concerning” parliamentarians are working at the behest of foreign governments. “But overall, I think there’s more that the government can do.”

Conservatives have criticized the Liberal government for its handling of foreign interference, with their leader Pierre Poilievre saying this is because it benefits from Beijing’s support.

“It is unacceptable that any parliamentarian would ‘wittingly’ aid a hostile foreign power to undermine our democratic process and elections which every Member of Parliament is sworn to protect,” Mr. Poilievre’s office said in a statement to The Epoch Times.

“The NSICOP report makes clear the Trudeau government was fully aware of foreign interference targeting our country and citizens, and that they did not act appropriately to protect our democracy from these threats,” said media relations director Sebastian Skamski.

While Tories are blaming the government for the state of affairs uncovered by the NSICOP report, they have thrown their support behind the Liberal government’s Bill C-70, which seeks to overhaul national security laws to better counter foreign interference.

They have tried to fast-track the bill’s adoption, but were met resistance from the NDP. The Tories have said they are concerned about the proposed measures, such as the foreign influence registry, won’t be in place before the next election scheduled for October 2025.