Foreign interference commission vows to protect diasporas who help inquiry

Click to play video: 'What to watch for as foreign interference inquiry gets underway'
What to watch for as foreign interference inquiry gets underway
The long-awaited public inquiry into foreign interference in Canada's democratic processes is now underway in Ottawa, where allegations against China, Russia, Iran and India are all under scrutiny. David Akin reports on a new case of possible Chinese interference, and how media outlets are fighting for transparency at the inquiry – Jan 29, 2024

The commissioner probing foreign interference in Canada is urging diaspora groups and organizations to step forward and help with its current investigation by promising protection from potential reprisal.

The safety measures come after numerous members of diaspora groups voiced concern over the possibility of facing negative consequences for providing information to the Commission of Foreign Interference, a press release said Thursday.

Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue says in the release that input from diaspora members is “essential” to the commission’s investigation into foreign election interference, and she is “heartened” by those who have stepped up to help so far.

“They bring a necessary perspective to the discussion about foreign interference in Canadian democracy,” she said. “I invite other diaspora members and groups to also contribute to the important work of the Commission.”

Hogue says she’s aware that some also worry that information submitted will be shared with participants in the commission.

Story continues below advertisement

“I want to reassure them that it is not the case. None of the Participants in the Commission, including those with Party standing, will have access to classified information, or information provided to the Commission on a confidential basis,” she said.

Hogue outlined three ways that the commission is protecting diaspora members who provide information.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

First, the commission’s email address for sharing information is confidential and has strict controls to protect the identity of the person or group providing information. The address is

In “appropriate circumstances,” individuals and groups can also redact sensitive information from documents before they are sent to the commission or before it reaches “some or all of the Participants and the public.”

Third, diaspora members can also choose to testify on camera if personal security is an issue. In that case, only the commissioner and commission counsel will have access to the evidence unless the original provider agrees otherwise. An on-camera testimony would also only occur in the presence of Hogue and her lawyers.

“Together, these measures will provide protection for those who fear consequences for assisting the Commission’s investigation, while respecting principles of fundamental justice on which Canadian society is founded,” Hogue says.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau says government has ‘taken action’ against foreign interference'
Trudeau says government has ‘taken action’ against foreign interference

Canada’s long-awaited public inquiry into foreign election interference kicked off on Jan. 29, followed by a week of hearings into the challenge of how much national security information can be made public.

Story continues below advertisement

It’s one of the key questions that has been facing Hogue’s commission during its months-long probe into allegations that hostile governments — particularly China — have attempted to influence Canadian politics and politicians, primarily during the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

The commission has also requested records related to India and allegations of interference in Canada.

A top-secret briefing report obtained by Global News shows Canada is aware China tried to influence the last two federal elections.

In terms of who will be questioned by the commission, Hogue says “it’s important to note” that the commission is obligated to reach out to those “with a real and direct interest in the subject of the Inquiry,” including “those who are the subject of the core allegations of foreign interference that this Commission is tasked with investigating.”

The commission also has to hear different, even completely opposite, points of view before reaching any conclusions, Hogue says.

“The Commission invites those who wish to provide information, but still fear for their safety, to contact us at our confidential email address ( for further information on the measures that can be put in place to protect them,” she said.

Sponsored content