Pierre Poilievre isn’t exactly known for holding his tongue, least of all when it’s on an issue that could hurt Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. As Immigration Minister Marc Miller quipped recently, “that guy’s never shut his mouth in his life.” And yet, when it comes to the question of foreign interference in Canadian democracy, one that was raised again in a recent report from the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, the Conservative Party of Canada leader has been uncharacteristically quiet.

The report’s findings are nothing less than stunning: members of parliament “semi-wittingly” and wittingly co-operating with agents of foreign governments, including providing confidential information to the regimes in India and China. As national security expert Wesley Wark wrote in the Toronto Star, “There is no other word for it. This is treason.”

You might think, given the CPC’s previous efforts to push for a public inquiry into foreign interference, that Poilievre would be all over this. Alas, you would be wrong. During Question Period last week, on the day after it was tabled, neither Poilievre nor any of his MPs asked the government about it. A day later, after this conspicuous silence was noted by the press, Poilievre led off with a question about the report’s findings before pivoting away to other issues.

That might be because Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc reminded him of his own vulnerability here. Poilievre, as has been widely rumoured for months now, doesn’t appear to have the security clearance required to actually read the report’s redacted findings. "He would be much more informed than he is now, and we would invite him to do so,” LeBlanc said, “so he wouldn't stand up and cast aspersions on the floor of the House of Commons without any information whatsoever.”

Poilievre’s ongoing refusal to get that clearance is driven, he claims, by the desire to protect his ability to comment on issues. Getting the kind of top-secret security clearance required to view sensitive materials also requires the recipient to respect confidentiality and secrecy rules. In the end, it seems like Poilievre would rather talk about things he doesn’t know than know things he can’t talk about.

That’s especially true here given his own potential vulnerability. While it’s reasonable to assume that some of the parliamentarians identified in this report are or were members of the Liberal caucus, it’s also reasonable to assume that some of them are or were in Poilievre’s midst. The report redacted information about “two specific instances where PRC officials allegedly interfered in the leadership races of the Conservative Party of Canada.” One of those races, of course, elected Pierre Poilievre.

The report also notes that “while not as widespread as the PRC’s efforts, India’s activities are also of significant concern. India seeks to cultivate relationships with a variety of witting and unwitting individuals across Canadian society with the intent of inappropriately exerting India’s influence across all orders of government, particularly to stifle or discredit criticism of the Government of India.” That criticism has tended to come from the Trudeau government, and it’s in contrast with the chumminess that some Conservatives — including former Prime Minister Stephen Harper — have shown toward the Modi regime in India.

Any foreign interference into Canada’s democracy is intolerable, and the prime minister and his government need to move more decisively to prevent it from happening in the future. In addition to fast-tracking Bill C-70, its legislation that would update the Security of Information Act, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Canada Evidence Act, it should also provide more funding for the RCMP units charged with investigating these potential crimes. “The ad hoc, temporary team at RCMP headquarters responsible for overseeing all national foreign interference investigations is tiny,” Wark noted in his column. “It consists of seven officers in total.”

The federal government might also want to ask Elections Canada to take over the administration of internal party races, both for local nominations and national leadership. Given the growing number of stories about the lack of transparency and potential for fraud involved in them, they present an obvious target for foreign interference campaigns.

A new report from a group of Canadian parliamentarians has made the issue of foreign interference in our democracy even more urgent. So why does Pierre Poilievre seem so uncharacteristically uninterested in talking about it?

But in addition to holding the government to account here, we should also expect a similar level of concern and attention from the person who keeps telling Canadians he’s running to be their next prime minister. Poilievre has branded himself as an unabashed advocate of freedom — and the freedom to participate in democracy without fear of foreign interference seems pretty foundational. For a guy who loves to talk, his relative silence on this issue is getting damned-near deafening.

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Many of us I'm sure would like to know if Mr. Poilievre won't or can't get a security clearance.
Under the shroud of secrecy that this man operates eg. Canadians not knowing anything whatsoever about his foreign travel or vacations, will we find out the answer to that important question before he is potentially, heaven help us, elected.

Technically, the Conservative Party and its predecessor were ALWAYS dependent on foreign interference. It just wasn't a big deal to the white population when the United States was the one to "interfere" until they just weren't able to do it anymore (again, you can thank Reagan for the end of that).

During the 2010's, conservatives were wide open to China, and today, it's India. It could be both if the US gets a Republican presidency in 2024, no matter who they elect.

As a Canadian of Ukrainian descent I am more than annoyed with Poilievre's lack of audible policy support for Ukraine. This is especially puzzling considering his geographical Prairie base contains millions of Ukrainian Canadians.

The above is also entangled with the MAGA North contingent he loves to be seen with and their preferences for RT News, Fox, Alex Jones, Joe Rogan and other mouthpieces that make money from conspiracies and lies that originate in Russia.

The Libs may have their foreign backing too, but they don't seem to be as reluctant to address it as the CPC.

It's time for an in depth investigation and daylight directed into the dark corners of party politics.

The other thing he isnt talking about is the 20 cent a litre fall in gas prices here on central Vancouver Island. Funny he doesn't think that's Justin's fault!

We can talk about China, we can talk about India. But by far the biggest foreign interference in Canadian politics and policy comes from the American-owned companies forming the so-called "Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers". Whether it's the masses of lobbyists, the direct bribery . . . ah, campaign donations . . . or the huge amounts of money they have devoted to the creation of the modern semi-fascist "alt-right", their impact has been orders of magnitude greater than anything China might have managed.

You just jailed it.
Please continue spreading this truth far and wide since too many are completely ignorant of, or simply loathe to accept.

Foreign interference in our democracy! I worry more about Conservatives than any foreign country! Take Alberta? With a radical right conservative government, It just passed a law requiring ID to vote and eliminating vouching! Has there been an issue? Nope? just another way of disenfranchising 50,000 voters who likely are not UCP supporters.
And I will never forget the Harper Conservatives robo calls trying to influence the vote in Toronto by misdirecting voters to incorrect polls. And frankly the way Poilievre criticizes our country, our democratic institutions, I suspect he will change them for political reasons, not because they are obsolete or not working. And that is wrong