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EDITORIAL: Chong dissects PM’s game on interference

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During his questioning of David Johnston in his appearance before a parliamentary committee investigating foreign interference by China this week, Conservative MP Michael Chong expertly peeled away the layers of the political game Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is playing on this issue.

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Trudeau doesn’t want a public inquiry and has defied the will of the House of Commons which has repeatedly voted for one.

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Instead, he appointed Johnston, a friend, to advise him on foreign interference; he has now recommended against a public inquiry and ignored a House of Commons motion calling for his resignation.

Chong — advised by CSIS that he has been targeted by Beijing for speaking out against China’s human rights abuses — described what’s really going on.

As he told Johnston:

“You said it’s the work of Parliament to help counter what you call the ever-increasing threat of foreign interference …

“The problem is Parliament cannot … do its work because our hands have been tied by the government.

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“We haven’t been able to get the answers … to questions concerning (China’s) foreign interference … government documents aren’t released that are requested and when they are, they’re often so heavily redacted they make little sense.

“Government witnesses aren’t forthcoming with answers to our questions.

“We’ve had four committees of this House examine the matter … and by my count, these four committees alone have held 70 meetings where (China’s) foreign interference was examined, heard from 364 witnesses, received 152 hours of testimony, consisting of 1,902 pages of evidence, resulting in five reports with 31 specific recommendations relating to foreign interference.

“But … we still haven’t gotten the answers we sought from the government, and, with respect, neither will you because … you’ve indicated that your upcoming hearings will not be focusing on who knew what and when and that the focus will not be on looking at government records and speaking to government personnel.

“So if Parliament hasn’t been able to get the answers over the last four years and you’re not going to seek the answers … and we’re not getting a public inquiry with all the powers of subpoena, all the powers to call witnesses and to gather evidence, then how on earth are we to get the answers we need to … hold this government accountable?”

Nailed it.

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