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The public inquiry into foreign interference in Canadian elections has sparked skepticism among Canadians about the government’s ability to uncover the extent of meddling by hostile actors, particularly from China. A poll conducted by Ipsos exclusively for Global News revealed that only four in 10 Canadians trust that the inquiry will uncover the truth. Many attribute this skepticism to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s declining popularity and his initial reluctance to call for a public inquiry. Despite opposition criticism and warnings from Canada’s spy agency about foreign interference attempts, Trudeau eventually appointed former governor general David Johnston to investigate the allegations.

Johnston initially recommended against holding a public inquiry, but following pressure from opposition members and the public, Trudeau appointed Quebec Justice Marie-Josée Hogue to lead the commission. Hogue’s interim report, released after the Ipsos poll was conducted, provided a more comprehensive assessment of the foreign interference allegations, specifically implicating China in clandestine and deceptive tactics during the 2019 and 2021 elections. The poll revealed that 52 per cent of Canadians believe foreign governments significantly interfered in recent elections, while 37 per cent think the allegations have been exaggerated.

In response to the threat of foreign interference, the Liberal government introduced Bill C-70, which aims to broaden warrant powers and investigative tools for Canada’s intelligence service and create a public foreign influence registry. The bill would require individuals working with foreign entities and communicating with public office holders to register their activities with a commissioner. While some Canadians believe these measures will help eliminate foreign interference in federal politics, others remain skeptical. Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc expressed hope that the provisions in the bill would be in place before the next election in 2025.

Despite growing concern about foreign interference, Canadians are divided on the effectiveness of the government’s response to the issue. While more Canadians are acknowledging the existence of foreign interference, they are not fully convinced that the Trudeau Liberals or the ongoing inquiry will provide a solution. The final report from Hogue’s commission is expected by the end of 2024, providing further insights into the extent of foreign interference in Canadian elections. The government’s proposed measures, along with the inquiry’s findings, will play a crucial role in addressing the threat posed by hostile actors attempting to meddle in Canadian democratic institutions.

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