Liberals struggling to defend decision not to release names of parliamentarians alleged to have participated in foreign interference scheme

The Conservatives have called on the Liberals to release the names of those who may have aided in the foreign meddling scheme.

Liberals struggling to defend decision not to release names of parliamentarians alleged to have participated in foreign interference scheme
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
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The Liberals are still refusing to reveal the names of parliamentarians who allegedly "wittingly" participated in foreign interference.

During a discussion on CTV's Question Period on Sunday, MPs from Canada's three major parties argued over whether the names should be made public, with the Liberals saying they are leaving the matter to law enforcement.

The Conservatives have called on the Liberals to release the names of those who may have aided in the foreign meddling scheme.

Jennifer O’Connell, a Liberal MP and parliamentary secretary to the public safety minister, told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, as part of the panel, that party leaders should receive the necessary security clearance to read the full un-redacted report, which will "provide them with additional insight."

“If there was to somehow be a list of names released without context, and ensuring that any sort of intelligence is also corroborated, we think that the rule of law in this country and democracy relies on the fact that there needs to be that evidence, there needs to be that independent investigation,” she stated, adding that “this information is in the hands of law enforcement.”

When questioned about the evidentiary bar in this case, especially given the RCMP's request for legislative mechanisms to convert intelligence into evidence, O’Connell asserted that there are already tools available for party leaders to address "serious allegations."

O'Connell recently found herself the topic of controversy after she heckled and mocked Conservatives' demands to release the names of politicians during a session of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

When asked if this implied that the Liberal Party had used those mechanisms to clear its caucus members regarding foreign interference, O’Connell responded, "no."

“I don't think that's an accurate assumption to make,” she said.

“What’s accurate is that those who have the security clearance can review the information, can determine if there is another process or more work needs to be done,” she added. “But making these hypothetical accusations of who is or isn't involved without context and corroboration of intelligence to evidence, I think becomes very problematic in that becoming the party process in this country.”

The Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong pushed back, saying that there are rules in place that would stop party leaders from acting on allegations in the un-redacted report.

“What the prime minister is asking (Conservative Leader Pierre) Poilievre to do is to essentially tie his hands behind his back,” Chong said.

Chong said the Conservatives have “been anything but political or partisan on this issue,” calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to release the names.

New Democrat Alistar MacGregor said that he too would like the names released prior to the next federal election so that Canadians can vote "with the confidence that when they are choosing a name on the ballot, that that politician has not been compromised by a foreign principle.”

“I would like to find a way where we one day know their identities, but I, again, have to respect the fact that our intelligence community may have issues with how that's done,” he said.

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