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The Conservative national campaign director for the 2021 federal election says a national inquiry is not the right way to get answers on foreign election interference.
Fred Delory, who runs the Conservatives’ 2021 campaign, told CBC News Network power and politics that the investigation into alleged foreign election interference would be “very challenging”.
“A public inquiry would be great political theatre. It would be great fun, it would be great television,” Delory told host David Cochrane. “But I don’t know what we’ll really get [in terms of outcomes],
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Opposition parties are calling on the ruling Liberals to order an investigation in light of recent media reports detailing allegations of foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections. So far, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has resisted those calls.
Lawmakers on the Procedure and House Affairs Committee passed a non-binding resolution on Thursday calling for the investigation. Liberal MPs on the committee voted against the motion.
But Delory said an investigation into foreign interference must be conducted before the next election and that the investigation would not provide timely answers.
“My big concern is not just what happened in 2021 or 2019 or before. What’s going to happen in the next election?” Delori said.
When asked on Thursday, Conservative MP Michael Cooper did not directly address Delori’s comments and said the government should call for an inquiry.
“We support an investigation,” Cooper said. ,[Conservative Leader] Pierre Polivre was very clear about his support for a public inquiry.”
Delory suggested that the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Congressmen (NSICOP), a special committee consisting of both lawmakers and senators with top security clearances, would be the best venue for an investigation. He called on Trudeau to refer the matter to NSICOP.
“The prime minister needs to show leadership… We have to do something about it,” he said.
Delory also raised concerns about what he described as a lack of communication with election oversight bodies during the 2021 campaign.
“Throughout the campaign, and after, it was really a one-way street. We weren’t getting much – or anything – from them about what they were seeing, but we were providing them with enough evidence that we had seen ,” They said. “What we realized was that they were shrugging their shoulders.”
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DeLaury pointed to conservative messages distributed during the last campaign on the Chinese social media app WeChat as possible evidence of foreign interference. Tara Denham, a member of the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections Task Force (SITE) – the body set up to monitor interference in elections – told lawmakers on the committee on Wednesday that the team was aware of that activity.
But Jody Thomas, a public servant who serves as national security adviser to the prime minister, disputed the claim that officials were not communicating with the Conservative campaign. He told MPs on the committee that there was “very thorough documentation” of answers given to party representatives.
Still, Delores said he thinks there are some flaws in the current system that need to be addressed.
Earlier this week, a report by a panel of top civil servants concluded that foreign efforts to interfere in the 2021 federal election did not affect the results. But the report also says the government should consider lowering the threshold for notifying the public about an intervention attempt.
Delory agreed that the overall result was not influenced by foreign interference, but still argued that more needed to be done.
“We need to empower enforcement agencies so that they can communicate together, work together and ensure that this does not happen,” he said.