Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly hold a press conference following their participation in the Francophonie Summit in Djerba, Tunisia, on Nov. 20, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)
As a refresher, in early November, a Global News report
claimed Trudeau was warned LAST JANUARY
about a Chinese-led funding network that included at least 11 candidates in the 2019 federal election. The report also alleged China placed agents in MP’s offices “in order 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 the People’s Republic of China (PRC) views as threats to its interests.”
Trudeau has since been under heavy pressure to name names — an ask crucial to protecting our democracy. We don’t know if any of the 11 candidates won their ridings. Or if they plan to run again. If no one faces consequences, what’s to deter even more brazen interference by bad actors?
“I do not have any information, nor have I been briefed on any federal candidates receiving any money from China,” Trudeau said
at a Sunday press conference.
The second option is that Trudeau is lying. The third is a slightly softer option of door number two. That Trudeau, two weeks later, finally figured out how to splice and dice words so that he’s not technically lying, but can also avoid or delay sharing any useful information with Canadians.
It’s a serious matter to suggest an elected leader may be lying, but it’s one of the few logical conclusions after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made some head-scratching remarks on Sunday about his knowledge — or lack thereof — of alleged Chinese election interference. As a refresher, in early...
He could be quibbling about what it means to be “briefed.” He could also be drawing a distinction between “federal candidates receiving any money from China” and what the Global report actually claimed, which was that 11 federal candidates were part of a shady financial network funded by China.
You may remember Trudeau played with wording to deny
the Globe and Mail’s initial reporting on the SNC-Lavalin scandal. There’s also the ongoing discrepancy between Trudeau’s claims he didn’t know about the nature of allegations against former chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and e-mails from his own staff characterizing them as “sexual misconduct.”
John Robson: Trudeau’s Denial of Knowledge of Alleged Chinese Funding to Candidates Raises Serious Concerns
November 21, 2022
The latest twist in the saga of Chinese communist subversion of Canadian democracy has seen Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
turn into Sgt. Schultz from “Hogan’s Heroes,” the dopey clod who knew and saw nothing.
Confronted by a reporter at the Francophonie Summit in Tunisia, he intoned “I do not have any information, nor have I been briefed on any federal candidates receiving any money from China.”
That boast of impenetrable incurious ignorance alone, whether true or false, renders the man unfit for office. If true, it means he culpably still hasn’t checked into the matter. And if false, he’s lying about something incriminating.
It is much more plausible that they offered him a briefing he rejected. (As Whittaker Chambers’ memoir “Witness” testifies President Roosevelt did over Stalinist subversion in the late 1930s.) Or that they did brief him, and he was so bored he forgot. Or he’s just plain lying now. But all are horribly unsatisfactory.
It looks a bit like “plausible deniability” whose apparent disavowal of all knowledge, if parsed carefully, says no such thing. And an explicit or tacit “You Canadians don’t need to see that information” is a typical official response, if outrageously inadequate on this file. But it doesn’t really matter because “I know nothing” is such a pathetic cover story that the mere fact that he thought it satisfactory, especially on security, should have us in paroxysms of alarm about his attitude.
Official Ottawa is as careless about PR as about intelligence. And why not, since they generally get away with feeble explanations? But what they’re trying to sell us now is that the prime minister is not just totally ignorant of a foreign subversion campaign, he’s so uninterested that even after the story broke he didn’t ask to be informed.
Whether we believe it or not, this cover story is carefully concocted to make him look ignorant and irresponsible. And if we’re led by someone whose attitude toward security is that fatuous, we should definitely take it seriously. Someone has to.
Commentary The latest twist in the saga of Chinese communist subversion of Canadian democracy has seen Prime Minister ...