The Liberal Party says they had a “productive” meeting with the opposition party Friday regarding what a public inquiry into foreign interference in Canada could look like.
A spokesperson from the Opposition Leader’s office, Sebastian Skamski, says the parties reached an agreement on the terms of reference for a public inquiry, and all parties shared their suggested names for a potential commissioner.
Kelly Ouimet, director of communications for Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, said more details need to be “worked out” and will be announced in time.
“Work continues and we hope to continue to make progress expeditiously next week,” she said in an email to Global News Sunday.
Ouimet did not specify what details into a public inquiry will need to be worked out, or what the next steps are moving forward.
“Conservatives will continue to hold the Liberals’ feet to the fire and push for a Public Inquiry to be called as soon as possible,” Skamski said in an email to Global News.
Opposition parties have been pushing for an inquiry for months amid repeated allegations that the Chinese government attempted to interfere in the last two federal elections. Initially, Trudeau’s response was to appoint former governor general David Johnston as a “special rapporteur” to review documents, interview some of the people involved and decide by the end of May if an inquiry was warranted.
Johnston’s initial report said an inquiry was not the right choice, largely because so much of the material involved classified evidence that cannot be made public. But the opposition parties skewered that decision and accused Johnston of being too affiliated with Trudeau.
Johnston has since resigned as special rapporteur, saying the work became hyper-partisan.
All parties agree that the 2019 and 2021 federal election results were not compromised, but opposition MPs say a public inquiry on foreign meddling attempts is the only way for Canadians to feel confident in the electoral system.
Opposition parties wanted the government to announce the inquiry before the House of Commons rose for the summer break, but there was unanimous consent for the House of Commons to rise late June, two days ahead of schedule, without any such agreement. MPs won’t return to their seats until Sept. 18.
The Conservatives want the inquiry to focus heavily on the government’s handling of the foreign interference file, including what it knew about China’s alleged meddling, when it knew it and what it did about it.
The NDP want the inquiry to be broader on the issue of foreign interference in general and not be restricted to just the Chinese government.
— With files from Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press.
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