Privy Council says a report assessing work of foreign interference panel sent to PMO

OTTAWA — An assessment of the work done by a panel tasked with flagging incidents of foreign interference during the 2021 federal election is now complete and has been sent to the Prime Minister's Office and the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, the Privy Council Office has confirmed.

A Critical Election Incident Public Protocol created to monitor and report threats during the 2019 and 2021 elections is required to publish a postelection assessment of its work.

The 2019 evaluation came about 13 months after the campaign held that year, but the 2021 report is still not available.

The update from the Privy Council marks the first report on its status.

The Privy Council Office says an unclassified and public version of the report is being finalized and will be made available soon, but offered no specific timeline.

It said Morris Rosenberg, a former senior public servant, was chosen in summer 2022 to prepare the independent report.

"Mr. Rosenberg’s comprehensive evaluation is based on multiple sources, including interviews with a wide variety of actors, as well as the review of government documents and publications from foreign governments and non-governmental organizations," a statement from the Privy Council said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose government is facing pressure over allegations of election interference by China, said last week he was looking forward to seeing the report when it is complete.

The Conservative Party of Canada is renewing calls to have Trudeau's chief of staff, Katie Telford, testify at a House of Commons committee investigating election interference.

Global News reported Friday night that Liberal MP Han Dong was allegedly helped by the Chinese consulate while running to be the Liberal party candidate in the Toronto-area riding of Don Valley North in 2019.

The Global report alleged CSIS urged senior Liberal party staff to rescind his nomination, but Trudeau approved his candidacy. Dong was reelected in 2021.

Following that reporting, Conservatives put out a fresh call for Telford to testify at an upcoming committee meeting.

Conservative MP Michael Cooper issued a statement saying Trudeau and his government "cannot hide any longer."

“It would be beyond outrageous if the Prime Minister of our country was made aware that one of his Liberal candidates was compromised by the Chinese Communist Party and outright refused to do the right thing," he said. "It is crucial for confidence in our democracy that we know what Justin Trudeau and his government knew and when.”

The 2019 assessment report of the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol found its use was successful and ready to alert Canadians of foreign interference if warranted.

But the panel members, who were to work with national security agencies under their departments' mandates, did not make any announcements about foreign interference during the 2019 or 2021 elections.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2023.

David Fraser, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Global News reported that Liberal MP Han Dong was allegedly helped by the Chinese consulate in the 2019 federal election. A previous version also stated that the evaluation of the Critical Election Incident Public Protocol's work on the 2019 election was made public seven months after that election.