Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to my colleagues for bringing this motion forward. It's nice to see that the Conservatives have finally woken up to foreign interference and finally want to make this a priority. They refer to the media stories, but I refer them to the House of Commons, where they sat when a 2019 NSICOP report on this very subject was tabled. That was before the 2019 election and before the 2021 election. I'm looking at it right now. In the public version, which they could have accessed, the information was there, so where was the sense of urgency then?
The Conservatives have sat on their hands when it comes to fighting foreign interference and ensuring that our democratic institutions are upheld. I mean, they stood outside these doors and stood with convoy members who suggested that the entire government should be overthrown. Where were they on protecting our democracy then?
I have no issues with continuing this study. In fact, our members have been actively engaged in continuing this study. While I have no issues with moving forward, I think Canadians should be very concerned with some of the rhetoric we hear from Conservatives when it comes to foreign interference. As I said, is this an attempt to rewrite the history of attempts to overthrow democratically elected governments and the Conservatives' support of those types of movements, which Canadians have overwhelmingly rejected?
Again, in the context of this motion, having more meetings and more people attend.... I don't think you needed to cancel a veterans affairs committee to continue a study we're already doing, especially right after Veterans' Week. However, that's the Conservatives standing up for our members who served this country.
They don't accept yes as an answer. We're doing the study. Do you want more witnesses? Let's have more witnesses. I don't see why that's a problem. There were reports tabled in the House of Commons in 2019. What was the Conservative reaction to the work that NSICOP was doing on this? They pulled their members off NSICOP. If the Conservatives are truly concerned about foreign interference, they had ample opportunity to continue to do that work. Instead, they took their toys and went home.
In addition to that, I think Canadians should hear that disguised within this motion, which seems very reasonable in the sense of wanting to address foreign interference and protecting our democracy, are a couple of little tidbits that I think Canadians should be very alarmed about. Where is the mention of other countries or bad actors of foreign interference? From the 2019 NSICOP report, in addition to what we heard here in testimony, there are other countries engaged in foreign interference. The Conservatives are only focusing on China, and it makes me wonder why. If they want to defend our democracy and want to ensure that we have all the tools available to ensure that our elections are upheld and not interfered with, why don't they talk about Russia? Is it because the testimony we heard on this study was that Russia was targeting Liberal members?
Let's pinpoint something that Mr. Cooper said. He said that China, in the reports, was targeting “Conservative candidates” to influence the outcome of the elections. I read those media reports. I didn't see them saying that China targeted Conservative members. It targeted “candidates”. If the members opposite have evidence that only Conservative members have ever been the focus of foreign interference, I welcome them to table it. They have mentioned only one race that they feel has been influenced, but in these reports, I think they talk about something like 11.
In this motion to take a very serious issue and continue to study it and push for strengthening our democracy, the Conservatives are disguising their real intention, which is this: When they lose, it's China's fault, and when they win, it's because they have won. It reminds me of former president Trump during the midterms. He said that if Republicans don't do well, it's their fault, but if Republicans do well, it's because of him. That's precisely what I'm hearing when it comes to foreign interference.
This is precisely what foreign bad actors want. They want Canadians to mistrust our democracy so that when certain candidates lose.... May I remind you that they refer to Mr. Chiu and his election outcome constantly for this study, but he was rejected in 2015, so he was rejected once before, then supported and then rejected again.
I have no issue studying foreign interference. In fact, it's something I'm quite passionate about because I do think we need to make sure that our institutions are—