SINGAPORE: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday he would be willing to testify in an enquiry into allegations of foreign meddling by China, Russia and other countries in two elections won by his party.
His minority liberal government initially baulked at holding a public enquiry, as it faced pressure to explain how it first responded to the claims that Beijing sought to subvert Canada's democratic process.
The Canadian leader was speaking in Singapore after summits in Indonesia with top Chinese, Russian and Southeast Asian officials this week and ahead of the G20 summit in India.
“Willingly and with very much enthusiasm,“ he told a press conference when asked about the possibility of testifying.
“I think it’s important for Canadians to know exactly everything this government has been doing in regards to foreign interference, and to talk frankly about the challenges that we continue to face in our democracies around the world.”
Canada on Thursday named an appeals court judge to lead the enquiry into the allegations surrounding federal elections in 2019 and 2021.
Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Marie-Josee Hogue's appointment follows the sudden resignation in June of another official tapped to investigate the claims in a less formal way.
Hogue will have broad investigative powers and Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Thursday she will be expected “to follow the evidence” as she probes “any potential impacts on the 2019 and 2021 general elections”.
Relations between Ottawa and Beijing hit a new low this year amid accusations of Chinese meddling in those elections and the attempted intimidation of MPs that led to the expulsion of a Chinese diplomat in May.
Beijing has called the accusations “groundless” and responded by sending home a Canadian diplomat from the country’s consulate in Shanghai.
The reported accusations included secret campaign donations and that Chinese operatives were working for Canadian candidates and lawmakers in an attempt to influence policy.
Some opposition parties have also pressed to have the enquiry's scope broadened to include Russia, Iran and other countries considered hostile to Canada. - AFP