Advertisement

Can inquiry ‘get to the bottom’ of foreign interference? 4 in 10 say yes: poll

Click to play video: 'Can inquiry ‘get to the bottom’ of foreign interference? 4 in 10 say yes: poll'
Can inquiry ‘get to the bottom’ of foreign interference? 4 in 10 say yes: poll
WATCH ABOVE: Polling by Ipsos done exclusively for Global News found four in 10 Canadians say they trust that the inquiry will “get to the bottom of what has really been going on.” – May 21, 2024

The public inquiry into foreign interference has highlighted “troubling events” in the last two general elections, but many Canadians doubt the commission will fully uncover how far hostile actors – primarily China – have tried to meddle in Canadian democratic institutions, a new poll suggests.

Polling by Ipsos done exclusively for Global News found four in 10 Canadians say they trust that the inquiry will “get to the bottom of what has really been going on.”

“Canadians are skeptical that the steps that we’re taking now will lead to better outcomes, meaning less interference or no interference by foreign governments,” said Sean Simpson, senior vice-president with Ipsos Public Affairs.

“I think part of the skepticism is just a lack of credibility that the federal Liberals have overall right now. They’ve lost a lot of their political capital.”

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Foreign interference bill welcomed but needs work, diaspora groups say'
Foreign interference bill welcomed but needs work, diaspora groups say

Simpson points to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s lagging poll numbers and his initial refusal to call a public inquiry.

“We’ve been told a couple times now that there’s nothing to worry about,” Simpson said.

Last year, Trudeau appointed former governor general David Johnston to examine allegations of foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections, which were first reported by Global News and the Globe and Mail.

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

Johnston recommended against holding a public inquiry, which set off widespread criticism from opposition members, including Conservatives Erin O’Toole and Kenny Chiu, who Canada’s spy agency warned were the targets of foreign interference attempts.

Trudeau eventually decided to call an inquiry and appointed Quebec Justice Marie-Josée Hogue to lead the commission.

Click to play video: 'Foreign interference inquiry: Trudeau acknowledges erosion of public trust following report’s release'
Foreign interference inquiry: Trudeau acknowledges erosion of public trust following report’s release

Ipsos polled 1,000 Canadians between May 10 and 13, roughly a week after Hogue delivered her interim report, which called foreign interference efforts by authoritarian regimes “a stain on Canada’s electoral system.”

Story continues below advertisement

Her findings offered a more comprehensive assessment of the allegations, which first surfaced in the media, and also provided more evidence to support her preliminary conclusions than what Johnston shared in his report.

The Hogue commission heard China “clandestinely and deceptively” interfered in the 2019 and 2021 general elections and that Beijing’s tactics were and continue to be “sophisticated, pervasive, persistent.”

According to the Ipsos polling, 52 per cent of Canadians agree foreign governments “significantly interfered” in recent elections, while 37 per cent believe the allegations reported in the media and by opposition politicians have been “exaggerated.”

“Canadians believe something’s up. Now, this is a belief that is held more or less across party lines,” Simpson said. “Although Liberal voters are a little bit less likely to believe that interference has occurred.”

Last week, the Liberal government proposed new measures to combat the threat.

Click to play video: 'More foreign interference actions coming after inquiry report, India arrests: LeBlanc'
More foreign interference actions coming after inquiry report, India arrests: LeBlanc

Ottawa introduced legislation that would broaden warrant powers and investigative tools for Canada’s intelligence service and create a long-promised public foreign influence registry.

Story continues below advertisement

Under Bill C-70, anyone working with a foreign power, entity or state who is in communication with a public office holder, communicating political or government information to the public, or distributing money or items of value must register their activities with a commissioner.

Foreign agent registries already exist in the U.S. and Australia.

But public opinion appears split on whether the proposals will make a difference.

The Ipsos polling found 43 per cent of Canadians agree Bill C-70 will “eliminate foreign interference” in federal politics.
Click to play video: 'Former MP reacts to foreign interference'
Former MP reacts to foreign interference

Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said he is hopeful the provisions in the bill will be in place by the time of the next election, which must be called by the fall of 2025. Hogue’s conclusions will come sooner, with her final report expected by Dec. 31 of this year.

Simpson said “Canadians are coming on board” with the belief that foreign interference is a problem.

“But they’re not convinced that the Trudeau Liberals or the inquiry that’s happening under their watch is the solution.”

— with files from Global News’ Alex Boutilier and Sean Boynton

Advertisement

Sponsored content

AdChoices