Canada: Panel to probe alleged Indian interference in 2019, 2021 elections

The commission has sought a report from Trudeau information about India's involvement

Justin Trudeau and Narendra Modi AP Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, walks past Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Raj Ghat | AP

The independent commission probing alleged foreign interference in Canada has sought from the Trudeau government information about possible meddling in elections by India in the 2019 and 2021 elections.

The move could worsen the already tense ties between India and Canada as this is the first time that India has been formally named as a potential foreign actor in Canadian politics, along with China and Russia.

A statement by the federal commission of inquiry into foreign interference said it has asked the federal government to produce documentation related to these allegations.  "The commission will also examine the flow of information within the federal government in relation to these issues, evaluate the actions taken in response, assess the federal government's capacity to detect, deter, and counter foreign interference, and make recommendations on these issues," it said.

Though the commission confirmed Wednesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will be investigated, it did not provide any details.  The commission's hearings will begin on Monday and an interim report from the commission is due May 3. The final report is expected by the end of the year. 

Last June, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national security adviser said India is among the top sources of foreign interference in Canada. "When I talk about foreign interference and economic security, I’m now talking about a number of state actors and non-state proxies,' Jody Thomas said last Friday. "This includes Russia, Iran, India. That said, the actor that comes up most on these issues, and it’s no surprise to anybody, is China." 

However, India retracted the elements in Canada that were behind interference in Indian domestic affairs, particularly the separatist movement.

China's alleged interference came to light in 2022 when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) attempted to ensure that the Liberal Party won a minority government in the 2021 election. The Chinese efforts included payments through intermediaries to candidates affiliated with the CCP, placing agents into the offices of MPs to influence policy, seeking to co-opt and corrupt former Canadian officials to gain leverage in Ottawa, and mounting aggressive campaigns to punish Canadian politicians whom China views as threats to its interests.

Beijing has repeatedly denied any interference. 


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