Foreign meddling had no effect on 2019 or 2021 election results, inquiry finds

In an interim report released on Friday, Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue noted that although there is a possibility that interference may have influenced outcomes in a few ridings, this cannot be said with 100% certainty.

Foreign meddling had no effect on 2019 or 2021 election results, inquiry finds
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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A commission inquiry has found that the results of the 2019 and 2021 federal elections were not affected by Chinese interference.

In an interim report released on Friday, Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue noted that although there is a possibility interference may have influenced outcomes in a few ridings, this cannot be said with 100% certainty.

“The evidence allows me to conclude foreign interference likely impacted some votes in the 2019 and 2021 General Elections,” she wrote. "... The acts of interference that occurred are a stain on our electoral process and impacted the process leading up to the actual vote.”

Hogue wrote that Chinese interference did not undermine the integrity of Canada's electoral system during the two federal elections, but concluded that interference from abroad did have an effect on the public's confidence in Canadian democracy: "This is perhaps the greatest harm Canada has suffered as a result of foreign interference," she wrote.

“Undermining faith in democracy and government is a primary aim of many of the states that engage in foreign interference. They succeeded in part in 2019 and 2021 because some Canadians have now reduced trust in Canada’s democratic process... The government must re-establish this trust by informing the public of the threat of foreign interference and by taking real and concrete steps to detect, deter, and counter it,” the report reads.

The inquiry has recently concluded 10 days of public hearings investigating allegations of interference by China, India, Russia and other entities in the last two general elections.

“I learned foreign interference is an ever-present reality not just in Canada, but around the world. I also learned that the government takes measures to try and respond to it, whether or not an election is underway,” Hogue wrote.

“In this way, foreign interference is like crime. It is always present. Its methods evolve. While government has ways to address it, it is likely impossible to eradicate. That said, it must be discouraged, and its effects must be mitigated.”

Hogue acknowledged the influence foreign interference had on certain ridings' outcomes but said the scale and impact of the meddling are uncertain.

Two instances that she mentioned were those of the Don Valley North riding, where disgraced member of Parliament Han Dong won, and Steveston-Richmond East, where she says there was a "reasonable possibility" of a Chinese interference campaign against Conservative candidate Kenny Chiu.

Hogue concluded that foreign interference likely influenced some votes in both the 2019 and 2021 general elections.

“This impact has likely been slight to date, but may become more severe in the future,” she wrote.

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