Withholding Documents & Evidence: Is Trudeau Covering Up for China?

by Antariksh Singh

The Liberal government’s decision to withhold and redact key documents from the public inquiry into foreign interference raises alarming questions about its transparency and commitment to democratic principles. Justice Marie-Josée Hogue, who leads the inquiry, has faced significant pushback from the Trudeau administration, which cites cabinet confidentiality as the reason for redacting and withholding records. This move not only undermines the effectiveness of the inquiry but also casts doubt on the administration’s intentions and actions regarding foreign interference, particularly by China.

Transparency and Accountability Under Siege

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc initially promised the Commission into Foreign Interference full access to secret documents, including all relevant cabinet records. However, the government’s subsequent actions contradict this pledge. The Privy Council Office (PCO), which reports directly to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has confirmed that nearly 10 percent of the documents provided to the inquiry have been redacted, and an undisclosed number of other cabinet documents have been completely withheld.

This lack of transparency is troubling. Justice Hogue has the security clearance to review classified intelligence, including cabinet records. Denying her access to complete information raises serious concerns about the integrity and thoroughness of the inquiry. Dan Stanton, a former manager at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, rightly points out that withholding documents from the commissioner compromises the inquiry’s effectiveness. If the commissioner is unable to review all relevant documents, how can the public trust the findings of the inquiry?

Implications of Withholding Information

The Trudeau administration’s actions suggest an attempt to obscure the extent of foreign interference by China in Canadian democracy. Justice Hogue’s May 3 report highlighted that foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections undermined the right of Canadian voters to a process free from coercion or covert influence. China, identified as the most persistent and sophisticated threat, likely had a significant impact on the electoral process. Yet, the administration’s reluctance to provide full transparency implies a potential cover-up.

Michael Chong, the Conservative foreign affairs critic, and NDP MP Jenny Kwan, both targeted by Beijing, have emphasized the necessity of full disclosure for Justice Hogue to fulfill her mandate. Their demands reflect a broader concern: without full access to cabinet documents, the inquiry cannot determine who in the government knew about the interference, when they knew it, and what actions they took. Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch has also criticized the government’s secrecy, arguing that it prevents the inquiry from holding officials accountable.

A Diversion Tactic?

The Trudeau administration’s current stance raises questions about its motives. Some critics argue that Trudeau’s government may be using accusations against India as a diversionary tactic to shift focus away from Chinese interference. If true, this strategy is not only misleading but also undermines the trust of Canadian citizens in their government. Instead of addressing the serious threat posed by China’s transnational repression, the administration appears more interested in protecting its own image.

A Call for Full Transparency

The Trudeau administration must prioritize transparency and accountability by providing Justice Hogue and the public with complete access to all relevant documents. The integrity of Canadian democracy depends on a thorough and honest investigation into foreign interference. By withholding information, the government risks eroding public trust and allowing malign foreign influences to continue undermining the electoral process.

As Justice Hogue resumes public hearings in the fall and prepares her final report, it is imperative that the Trudeau administration reassess its approach. Full disclosure of all relevant documents is not just a legal obligation but a moral one. Canadian democracy deserves nothing less than complete transparency and a robust response to foreign interference, free from political maneuvering and obfuscation.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Khalsa Vox or its members.

Antariksh Singh

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