Evidence of meeting #39 for Procedure and House Affairs in the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was amendment.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

11 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bardish Chagger

I call the meeting to order.

Welcome to meeting number 39 of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

The committee is meeting today at the request of six members of the committee to discuss media reports that the Chinese Communist Party tried to influence the 2019 federal election.

I want to take a minute to thank the clerk, analysts and party teams for actually making this meeting possible. We don't usually meet today. I'd also like to thank veterans affairs committee members for providing us their space.

Before we start, I remind everyone that all comments by members should be addressed through the chair. The clerk and I will maintain a consolidated speaking list of members wishing to address the committee.

I see that Mr. Cooper would like to speak.

11 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Yes. Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I'd like to move a motion. It will be distributed to members at this time, but so that it can be entered into the record, I will read it.

That,

(a) given the Global News report published by Sam Cooper on November 7, 2022, revealing that intelligence officials informed the Prime Minister and several cabinet ministers in January of 2022 that the Chinese Communist Party actively worked to influence the 2019 Federal Election, the committee extend its study of Foreign Election Interference by four meetings to investigate this report;

(b) these meetings shall be scheduled immediately and override and be prioritized over any other business of the committee;

(c) the committee recall Elections Canada, CSIS, and the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections (SITE) Task Force to testify on the report referenced in (a);

(d) the committee invite The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, to testify on the report referenced in (a);

(e) the committee invite The Honourable Melanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to testify on the report referenced in (a);

(f) the committee invite Jody Thomas, National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, to testify on the report referenced in (a);

(g) the committee invite Vince Rigby, former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, to testify on the report referenced in (a);

(h) the committee invite David Morrison, former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, to testify on the report referenced in (a);

(i) the committee invite Dan Stanton, former CSIS officer, to testify on the report referenced in (a);

(j) the committee invite David Mulroney, former Canadian Ambassador to China, to testify on the report referenced in (a);

(k) the committee invite Dennis Molinaro, former CSIS analyst, to testify on the report referenced in (a); and,

(l) the committee order the production of

(i) all relevant briefing notes, memorandums and documents presented to the Prime Minister and members of Cabinet referred to in the report, and

(ii) all relevant memorandums, briefing notes, and documents concerning Chinese Communist Party interference in Canadian elections which are in the possession of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, the Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Office of the Minister of Public Safety, provided that,

(iii) these documents be deposited, within one week, with the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel,

(iv) the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Council shall promptly notify the committee whether the Office is satisfied that the documents were produced as ordered, and, if not, the Chair shall be instructed to present forthwith, on behalf of the committee, a report to the House outlining the material facts of the situation, and

(v) the Office of the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel shall make redactions to the documents, to protect the identities of employees or sources of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or allied intelligence agencies, and as soon as reasonably possible, provide the redacted documents to the Clerk of the committee to be distributed to all members of the committee in both official languages.

That is the content of the motion.

Madam Chair, this motion arises from the very troubling Global News report by Sam Cooper of November 7 that the—

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Jennifer O'Connell Liberal Pickering—Uxbridge, ON

Madam Chair, I have a point of order.

I'm sorry to interrupt, but if the member is going to speak to the motion, it would be helpful if we actually had it in front of us. Is there a copy?

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bardish Chagger

I understand that it has been circulated. Are you asking for a paper copy?

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Jennifer O'Connell Liberal Pickering—Uxbridge, ON

Yes. I don't have it.

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

We have paper copies.

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bardish Chagger

Are they in both official languages, Mr. Cooper?

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Yes, they are in both official languages.

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bardish Chagger

Could you please give them to the clerk?

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

All right.

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bardish Chagger

Mrs. Romanado and Ms. Sahota, can you give me a nod to confirm that you have it in your email? Excellent.

Go ahead, Mr. Cooper.

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

The motion before us arises from the very disturbing Global News story from November 7 by Sam Cooper detailing that the Prime Minister and several members of cabinet were briefed as early as January of this year by Canadian intelligence officials about a vast campaign of interference in our democracy by the Chinese communist regime, including during the 2019 election campaign.

Let me just say at the outset that I want to be very clear that we're talking here about interference by the Chinese communist regime. This has nothing to do with the people of China or with Chinese Canadians. It is specifically with regard to actions by the Chinese communist regime, and the Chinese people are victims of that totalitarian regime.

The briefings from CSIS are alarming and note the sophisticated campaign by the Chinese communist regime to subvert Canadian democracy, which includes funding a clandestine network of at least 11 candidates through Chinese communist intermediaries, corrupting political financing laws to advance the interests of the Chinese Communist regime and placing agents in campaigns to direct, control and influence candidates. The scope of the interference goes beyond that. It includes placing agents in MP offices to influence policy, corrupting Canadian officials to advance the interests of the Chinese communist regime and mounting aggressive campaigns to harass, intimidate and politically undermine elected officials whom the Chinese communist regime believes do not share or align with the interests of that regime.

There are also some alarming revelations about the role that Chinese consulate offices in Canada are playing to interfere in our democracy and in our elections. For example, according to the briefs, the Chinese consulate in Toronto directed funding of at least $250,000 to this clandestine network of candidates, and the funds were distributed through proxies of the Chinese communist regime. It was also the Toronto consulate that directed a campaign worker to prevent a candidate from meeting with certain officials, including representatives from Taiwan.

Beyond the 2019 election campaign, according to the briefings, the consulate in Toronto has been directing significant sums of money, potentially millions of dollars, to interfere in our democracy.

That included, allegedly, $1 million that was transferred from the Chinese consulate in Toronto to proxy groups. In turn, they organized protests in support of a continued partnership between the Toronto District School Board and the Chinese communist regime's state-funded Confucius Institute. The briefs further outline that President Xi's united front operates through consulates in Canada, from which officials direct funds into Canada's political system using Chinese communist regime proxies.

These are very alarming reports. Given what the Prime Minister was evidently briefed on, they would demonstrate interference by the Chinese communist regime in not one but two consecutive federal elections. We know of significant Chinese communist interference in the 2021 election. It was interference that was detected by the rapid response mechanism of Canada at Global Affairs, which observed Communist Party media accounts on Chinese social media platforms spreading disinformation specifically targeted at Conservative candidates.

In the face of these very serious instances of interference by the Chinese communist regime as part of what appears to be a very sophisticated campaign that involves intimidating elected officials, corrupting former officials, corrupting elected officials and an effort to influence the outcome of not one but two elections to serve the interests of the Chinese communist regime, Canadians deserve answers. We need to get to the bottom of this interference.

It is disturbing that the Prime Minister and members of his cabinet were briefed about this earlier this year in January—10 months ago, perhaps sooner—yet nothing appears to have been done on the part of the Prime Minister or on the part of the government. Despite evidence of interference by Chinese consulate officials, no one has been expelled from Canada. No one has been charged. There are no apparent investigations being undertaken. There has been no action taken on the part of government to respond legislatively, even though Canadian officials, former CSIS officials and our former ambassador to Canada, David Mulroney, have stated that Canada is more exposed than other western democracies to Chinese communist interference.

In light of that, the motion before us is a straightforward one. Elections fall within the purview of PROC and we are undertaking a study on election interference. Given the alarming report, it is incumbent upon this committee, pursuant to our mandate and pursuant to the study we are currently undertaking, to expand the study and to hold at least four hearings so we can hear from the appropriate agencies; hear from ministers who may have been briefed; hear from the current and former national security advisers of the Prime Minister, from the time of the interference in the 2019 election campaign through to the time that the Prime Minister and members of his cabinet were briefed; and hear from others, including former CSIS officials and our former ambassador, David Mulroney, who can provide insight into our exposure and our vulnerabilities. They are in a position to provide recommendations on how those vulnerabilities can be addressed.

This is to ensure that going forward, our security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies have all the legal tools and all the resources necessary to combat this kind of interference. This interference is simply intolerable. It is unacceptable. Canadians—and Canadians alone—ought to decide the outcome of elections, free of foreign interference and free of this kind of corruption that is being advanced by the Chinese communist regime, with witting and unwitting actors, according to the brief.

We need to know what the Prime Minister knew and why he has failed to act to address this interference. This motion is a starting point in that regard.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bardish Chagger

Thank you, Mr. Cooper.

I now give the floor to Mr. Berthold.

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

First, I want to thank my colleagues for making this emergency meeting possible. We are here to address an extremely hot topic of considerable concern to Canadians, and rightly so. Voters have a right to have access to honest elections that they can trust. That right is currently threatened according to revelations that Global News made on November 7 that the 2019 election was subject to organized interference planned and even funded by the Chinese communist regime. This goes far beyond anything we've heard to date in the study that we've begun on foreign interference in elections in Canada.

I would note that the committee has already started a study on foreign interference in the 2021 election in which we received very clear confirmation of foreign interference in the Canadian electoral process. We heard from representatives of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, who explained to us the measures in place for detecting foreign interference activities. I must say that, since little time has elapsed since the 2021 election, we wanted to go further and determine what steps would be taken in future to counter foreign interference.

According to an article published by Global News on November 7, the foreign interference concerned dates back at least to the 2019 election, and people knew about it at the time. That completely changes everything and requires us to alter the previous direction of our study on foreign interference in that we must now recall the experts who previously appeared and discuss the 2019 situation with them. We want to know who was made aware of this, which ministers were informed of it and what measures the government took starting in 2019 to prevent further foreign interference, particularly by the Chinese communist regime, in the subsequent election held in 2021.

We must ensure, for Canadians, that the democratic process is above all suspicion and especially free of any foreign interference on the part of any dictatorial regime whatsoever, particularly that of the Chinese communist regime in the matter before us.

The first victims of this surveillance and interference are the members of the Chinese community here in Canada, as well as their fellow countrymen living in China, who can't exercise any right to speak out without being subject to undue influence, pressure or intimidation on the part of the regime currently in power in that country. For those people, we have a duty to shed light on what has happened, considering the Global News revelations of November 7.

For the purposes of this study, we request that four meetings be added to the committee's calendar.

We further request that the representatives of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Elections Canada and the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections Task Force be recalled to testify on the events reported by Global News.

We also request that Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities; Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Jody Thomas, national security adviser to the Prime Minister; Vincent Rigby and David Morrison, former national security advisers to the Prime Minister; Dan Stanton, former Canadian Security Intelligence Service officer; David Mulroney, former Canadian Ambassador to China; and Dennis Molinaro, former Canadian Security Intelligence Service analyst appear to shed light on what Global News has revealed.

We also request the production of a series of documents because we must absolutely shed light on the circumstances surrounding this foreign interference in our elections by the Chinese communist regime. As I noted a moment ago, we want to know who was made aware of this, how we learned of this foreign interference, why we knew nothing between 2019 and 2021, why Canadians were not made aware of it and, especially, why the Prime Minister clearly did nothing to protect the 2021 election from the foreign interference known to have occurred in 2019.

We have a duty to voters, to Canadians. That's why I will support my colleague's motion. It's important to shed all possible light on the democratic process. I also hope my colleagues will support the motion for the sake of the next election in Canada. We don't yet know when the next election will be held, but one thing is certain, and that's that there will be others.

Thank you.

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bardish Chagger

Thank you very much, Mr. Berthold.

Go ahead, Mr. Fergus.

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I would like to thank my two colleagues who just spoke and all my other colleagues who signed this letter to ensure we would discuss this important issue.

And it is indeed an important issue. All of us are concerned about the influence exercised by foreign governments and their interference in our political affairs here in Canada. We are all the more concerned in this instance given this entire story that we can read in the media about the Chinese government.

I believe there's a very broad consensus on this matter, and that's precisely why we gave priority to this study among our items of business this fall. We agreed, in extraordinary fashion, in a way that I think reflects what's best in our parliamentary tradition, to conclude our parliamentary precinct study, to begin and complete a study to determine whether we want our Parliament to continue working in a hybrid manner and to commence our study on political interference. As a result, we have already begun consideration of that topic. We have already agreed to devote a number of meetings to it, and I'm entirely in favour of holding four additional meetings.

However, pardon me if I seem somewhat confused, because I don't see the urgency. We previously agreed to study the issue, and I agree the study should be extended; that's not a problem. However, I don't understand why a meeting of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs was rescheduled so we could hold this meeting this morning, when we had planned that our committee, the Senate Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, was going to meet to discuss this matter.

The motion calls for many things, in particular the appearance of additional witnesses and the production of briefing notes, memoranda and other documents. Once again, I would point out that this isn't a problem for me philosophically. I nevertheless think that this isn't the right place to produce those documents. The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, on which members of the official opposition now sit alongside members of all the recognized parties, can receive all those documents unredacted.

I'm a reasonable person, at least I hope so, and I think the idea behind what we're doing is entirely legitimate. However, we must ensure that the documents that are produced are communicated to parliamentarians in such a way that everyone can form a clear picture of the issue.

For that reason, I thank the official opposition members for agreeing to join the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, after previously refusing to do so for so long. I think that agreeing to sit on the committee was a good decision on their part, and I tip my hat to them, even though they may have made the decision a little late.

As a result, all the members of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians can access all the requested documents unredacted. As we all know, we have a fully functional and secure system for doing so.

There is just one part of the motion that greatly concerns me. As I said, I'm in favour of the idea behind the motion and the fact that we would be ordering the production of documents, but those documents must go to the right place. Having said that, I don't understand why these additional meetings should be held immediately and before every other activity of this committee. We're about to complete two of our studies. The draft report of one of them is already in our email inboxes, and I think it will only take one more in camera meeting to finalize the text of it.

I'm not certain I see the emergency on this, given that these are the stories referring to the 2019 election and given we've already started the study on this exact issue. This is the reason they're asking for an additional four meetings, which I think is perfectly fine. However, this would displace the other two studies, and we had come to a very parliamentary decision on them in the best traditions of Parliament. We came together to agree on them and we're just about to finalize these two committee reports. I'm not certain if I see the fire that would require us to put off those two committee reports, which could effectively be done in one week's calendar time and perhaps two or three meetings of this committee's time. Then we would go on to do what Mr. Cooper and Monsieur Berthold have suggested we should do.

Madam Chair, I'm keen on introducing an amendment to this, but I would like to hear from my colleagues.

In particular, I'd like to hear the views of my Bloc Québécois and NDP colleagues.

Madam Chair, I'd like you to add my name to the speakers list so I can speak again once all my colleagues have had a chance to do so.

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bardish Chagger

Thank you, Mr. Fergus.

I am sure you'll also want to hear from Ms. O'Connell, to whom I give the floor.

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Jennifer O'Connell Liberal Pickering—Uxbridge, ON

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—

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Then support the motion.

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Jennifer O'Connell Liberal Pickering—Uxbridge, ON

Excuse me. I know it must be hard to listen to a woman and not be able to control your emotions, but I sat quietly while you spoke, Mr. Cooper.

While I am passionate about studying this topic because I think it is something every Canadian should be aware of, let's not use this as a guise to suggest that when Conservatives lose, it's foreign interference. By the way, it's only one country; they don't bring up the other countries that have been cited by CSIS and others on the public record. I find that troubling. I would like to expand this to make sure that we're looking at all targets and all actions that are taken where we can, and at how we then support democracy so that Canadians have trust in our institutions.

I do not want to get into the U.S. rhetoric of rigged elections, and this is what we're heading towards. Let's stay focused on protecting our democracy and ensuring that our security agencies have the tools they need. I want to have that conversation. I think we should hear about what's been happening in this space and how we're going to protect these institutions, but if we're going to do it under the guise of certain parameters that the Conservatives think benefit them, then I think we're actually feeding right into what foreign state actors that engage in this activity want, which is mistrust in our systems. I have no issues bringing more people in, having more conversations and having more meetings, but the Conservative awakening to the fact that this is a problem is actually astonishing to me because we've had multiple reports tabled in the very House where many of them sat in 2019 and, I'm sure, before.

The other point I would throw out there—and perhaps I'll wait until I hear from other members—is that I'd like to know how.... Our government introduced the briefing of political parties, in advance of elections, on foreign interference and threats, and I'd be very curious about whether other parties were not engaging with their candidates on how to prepare for this and how to protect themselves with security measures and things like that. Perhaps we should have those conversations with party members and party leadership, who would have also been briefed. It was something new and implemented by our government to ensure that going into elections, parties have information and can help protect their candidates and ensure that their candidates know what to look out for. I think that's something the Conservatives have missed in their drafting, but I'm happy to have that conversation.

As I said, I'm happy to move forward. I think there are some concerns, once again, in terms of the production of documents and the Conservatives' continuation of not understanding how to properly handle documents of national security, but I'm sure we can figure out a solution to that and how to have that information. I suggest they don't pull their members off NSICOP again if they want access to national security information, but time will tell with their leadership and what they actually take seriously.

In terms of the seriousness of foreign interference, we've been working on this and we've been talking about this, so I'm glad the Conservatives woke up and are now taking it seriously.

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bardish Chagger

Thank you.

Go ahead, Ms. Blaney.

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I want to remind all members that I was one of the people who signed this ask for an emergency discussion. I really appreciate our differing opinions. I think it's always important to have space for that. I just want to recognize that.

I also want to mention that we should not be heckling in committee. It really disturbs me. This is about having civility. These are hard issues that we're facing and we should disagree—that's important for democracy—but how we disagree is important. I just wanted to put in my two cents on that.

The reason I signed on to have an emergency meeting is the fact that this recently come out. I think it behooves us all to take it seriously. We've heard testimony in the last couple of weeks on something that matters a lot to me, which is that there really aren't good strategies around supporting rural and remote communities to make sure they are not getting intense disinformation. That it is directly linked to having strong local media. We heard very clearly that indigenous and ethnic communities across this country do not necessarily have a strategy. We need to pick up on some of these things.

We cannot have interference at this level. We know it's becoming more realistic and we know that it is happening more frequently, so it makes sense to me that our committee would push this study out a bit to have a further specific discussion about what is happening with China. We've heard that the Prime Minister has been briefed on this. We need to see what's happening at our level as well.

I do have a few concerns with this motion. I would like to talk about them. Hopefully, Mr. Cooper can respond to some of them once he is on the list again.

I am a little concerned that we're getting ahead of ourselves. There are too many witnesses, and it's not giving our committee leeway to focus on revelations. I am supportive of having witnesses at the committee from paragraphs (c) to (f). I think that makes a lot of sense. I would like to hear from them and then decide on the next witnesses we should have. Usually our process is to have parties put forward witness names. I'm not saying these folks shouldn't come, but I don't want us to limit ourselves to this and then we are not able to respond meaningfully to any revelations or things that we learn.

I also think it is important that when the subcommittee meets tomorrow, we look at what the plan is moving forward. We know that we have just a few weeks left in the House. A few reports are still on the table.

I have concerns with paragraph (b). I think it should be a priority for the committee, but I think it would be best if the subcommittee met, went over the schedule and brought something forward for the whole committee. As we all know in this circle, the subcommittee does that work and the whole committee agrees moving forward. I think that would be the best step to take. I'm not proposing anything particular here because I would like to have feedback before I do that.

I'm also concerned about the one week. It doesn't sound feasible. When I look at the production of papers, it usually takes quite a bit longer—up to 30 days. I don't want to put undue stress on the people who work so hard for us. Perhaps they can't get that done, and I think we should have a discussion about it.

The other thing is that it's really important that we protect potential whistle-blowers and the people who are coming forward. I think it's worth having a discussion about where this belongs. Does it belong in this committee? Is that going to be the best place for it? Should it go to NSICOP? I don't have a decision made on that, but I think it's an important thing. We do not want information getting out into the public realm that is going to put our elections more at risk. I need to have some assurances on the process. Maybe we need to discuss that more fulsomely.

Those are just some of the thoughts I have. I hope we can figure this out together because these are really important issues. Canadians need to trust in our systems. I hope that all of us have that commitment as we're having these discussions.

We also know that this is the role of our committee. Our committee is really meant to focus on the procedures to make sure that they're clear for Canadians and that Canadians have trust in them. As we look at this, I think it's important we stay within our lane. If we think more work needs to be done on some of these issues, then we may need to discuss whether this needs to go to the Canada-China committee.

I want to hear thoughts from Mr. Cooper on this. That's all I have at this time.

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bardish Chagger

That is timely.

Ms. Gaudreau, you have the floor.

November 14th, 2022 / 11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I'm going to be surprisingly brief and provide a short summary of the various points that have been raised.

All of us around this table agree that we should shed more light on this matter. In the initial meetings that our committee held on the issue, we tried to determine whether there had been any foreign interference in Canadian elections. The answer was yes. Have we gathered enough information? The answer is no.

Should we be accountable to voters? Should we work hard to increase their trust in the electoral system and, especially, to protect our democracy? The answer is yes.

Some of us are wondering if we'll have enough time. We'll discuss all that tomorrow. We have five weeks before we complete the business we've planned. I just want to tell all the members of this committee that we took the initiative of preempting our study on the possibility of making the hybrid form of parliamentary proceedings permanent. We started examining the matter sooner than planned, since we don't have to give a response until June.

Looking at this from the outside, I put myself in the shoes of the voters wondering if they're safe, considering the article that Global News published on November 7. I don't think they're reassured.

By holding four more meetings and calling new witnesses, our committee can determine what the next steps should be. We've even discussed the Department of National Defence. I thought we could also dig a little deeper to determine why we don't have a complete picture of the situation. Our committee must pursue this matter to the end. As the saying goes, we need to strike while the iron's hot. We're conducting the study and we have to finish the job. That's why the Bloc Québécois signed this letter giving its consent to the motion.

I've spoken longer than I wanted. I hope that, within the hour, we'll have managed to vote on the motion so we don't use up the time normally reserved for other committees and that we've concluded this meeting properly, in the same way it started.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bardish Chagger

Thank you, Ms. Gaudreau.

Mr. Cooper, the floor is yours.