UPDATE: Trudeau, LeBlanc in the 'final stages' of launching foreign interference inquiry

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc says Parliament is in the 'final stages' of deliberating the terms of the public inquiry into foreign interference. He expects to make an announcement shortly.

UPDATE: Trudeau, LeBlanc in the 'final stages' of launching foreign interference inquiry
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After nearly six months, the Liberal Party of Canada is committed to a full public inquiry — which they are close to launching.

On Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the federal government is in the "final stages" of deliberating the terms of the public inquiry into foreign interference. He expects to make an announcement shortly.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced that his colleagues had worked through the details with opposition parties since June, as reported by the National Post. He emphasized the need for a process that everyone will stand behind.

"We continue to work very closely with all opposition parties on making sure that the terms of reference, the person who will be leading it, and the work that is done, is in the best interests of all Canadians," said Trudeau, who hopes the outcome will avoid further "partisan toxicity." 

Since the messy departure of David Johnston as special rapporteur, the federal government has yet to find a judge willing to assume the role of inquiry commissioner.

As first reported by the National Post, anonymous sources with knowledge of the ordeal said over half a dozen former judges have already rejected the offer. They indicated no interest in overseeing such a contentious political inquiry.

However, LeBlanc told reporters he conversed twice with Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Wagner for advice on launching the inquiry. However, he provided no further detail as Wagner is a sitting judge.

He refused to comment on the struggles of finding a commissioner to oversee the independent investigation, only to say they have a protocol to ensure judicial independence.

In response, the Conservatives said the Liberals recently proposed several candidates to lead the inquiry.

"The government has provided some potential names, which the opposition parties are currently reviewing," said Sebastian Skamski, director of media relations for the Opposition Leader's Office.

"Ultimately, Justin Trudeau is the only one who can call a public inquiry. It is incumbent on him to get an agreement for a commissioner."

According to the results of an eight-month investigation by the National Post and the Investigative Journalism Foundation (IJF), approximately 76.3% of judges who donated to political parties favoured the Liberal Party of Canada.

It found that out of 1,308 judicial and tribunal appointments since 2016, "nearly one in five of them donated to a political party at least once in the decade leading up to their appointment."

A deeper dive into the donation records uncovered more than one in five (21.4%) of the 555 nominees to a provincial superior court since 2016 made donations to the Liberal Party of Canada before their appointment — over three times higher than Conservative donor appointees (6.8%).

Patrick Taillon, professor of constitutional law at Université Laval, said this doesn't surprise him as being nominated to a superior court is a "logical" step towards a final appellate court such as the Supreme Court of Canada.

Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre believes the prime minister is holding up the public inquiry.

"We gave them names. We gave him a mandate, and we've been waiting ever since. The hold-up is Justin Trudeau. Only Justin Trudeau has the authority to call a public inquiry; as leader of the opposition, I have no authority under the Inquiries Act," he said.

Opposition MPs have repeatedly accused Trudeau's cabinet of deliberately stalling an inquiry endorsed by the Commons on March 2, March 23 and May 31.

On March 23, the Commons procedure and house affairs committee voted 172-149 in favour of an independent investigation. However, the non-binding nature of the motion did not compel the federal government to act.

Instead, Trudeau tasked former governor general David Johnston to investigate the necessity of an inquiry, which he later said "cannot be done."

The Tory leader claimed the Liberal Party of Canada benefitted the most from Chinese interference in recent federal elections.

According to anonymous security sources, Chinese diplomats and their proxies worked to defeat Conservative politicians considered "hostile" towards Beijing during the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

An October 2022 report by CSIS confirmed that China 'weaponized' an instant messaging service to target conservatives in 2021 and secure Trudeau a minority government.

According to The Bureau, the CSIS document validated concerns held by former Conservative leader Erin O'Toole and former MP Kenny Chiu, both alleged victims of Chinese 'disinformation.'

LeBlanc acknowledged Tuesday that launching the inquiry has taken longer than expected.

"We're not done yet," he said, adding that Parliament has "made a lot of progress" and is "getting to the final stages."

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