Parliamentary Committee Notes: Foreign Interference – PROC summary

PROC – Foreign Interference
Date: 3 March 2023
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Fully releasable (ATIP)? Yes
Branch / Agency: NSOD, PS

Issue: Quotes from senior officials on Foreign Election Interference made at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC)

Proposed Response:


On 1 and 2 March 2023, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC) held hearings as part of their ongoing study into Foreign Election Interference.

On 1 March, the witnesses included: Cindy Termorshuizen, Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Global Affairs Canada (GAC); Shawn Tupper, Deputy Minister (PS); Jody Thomas, National Security and Intelligence Advisor; and representatives of the Security and Intelligence Threats to Elections (SITE) Task Force - Adriana Poloz, Executive Director, Intelligence and International Policing, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP); Alia Tayyeb, Deputy Chief of Signals Intelligence, Communications Security Establishment (CSE); Tara Denham, Director General, Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion, GAC; Adam Fisher, Director General, Intelligence Assessments, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS); Greg O'Hayon, Acting Director General, Strategic Intelligence, Federal Policing Intelligence and International Policing, RCMP.

On 2 March, the witnesses included: David Vigneault, Director CSIS; Michelle Tessier, Deputy Director, Operations, CSIS; Caroline Xavier, Chief CSE; Michael Duheme, Deputy Commissioner, Federal Policing, RCMP.

The first hearing focused on allegations of foreign interference in Canada's democratic process, specifically the role of the Communist Party of China (CCP). The hearing addressed several important issues, including reports released by the Globe and Mail (Robert Fife, Steven Chase, Sam Cooper), claims made by Walied Saliman, and steps taken to combat foreign interference in Canada. Many questions were deferred to the meeting on 2 March 2023.

PROC Committee members asked if foreign interference is new and what steps have been taken to combat it. Major topics raised by PROC members included the leaks of national security information to the media and the proposal for a public inquiry to examine the issue of interference in-depth. PROC members asked whether the witnesses could validate media reports on interference, but the witnesses declined to do so. PROC members also asked about the role of CSIS and other agencies in investigating illegal activity and the possible public disclosure of charges.

The threshold for the [Critical Election Incident Public Protocol (CEIPP)] Panel warning the public was also discussed. There was emphasis on how trends are tracked and briefed to the, and reviewed. Ms. Tayyeb answered that trends are tracked regularly, then briefed to the Panel, and then reviewed to determine if they meet the threshold. They also inquired whether the SITE Task Force provided information to the Prime Minister or other Ministers during the 2021 election period. Ms. Tayyeb responded that the SITE Task Force was responsible for providing briefings, but no separate briefing was provided to the Prime Minister.

The second hearing involved witnesses who were asked similar questions. PROC members requested follow-up information on the dates the Prime Minister was briefed regarding interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections. Witnesses could not provide specific dates, but said the information would be provided by PCO in a consolidated response. PROC members also asked about how information is shared between CSIS and the RCMP, whether CSIS information was shared with the RCMP during the last election, and if RCMP investigations were underway. Witnesses responded that information did not reach the threshold. Additionally, a PROC member asked if anything had come to the RCMP through regular channels on foreign interference in 2019. RCMP DC Duheme responded no, but said the RCMP could go through the communications with Cabinet to ensure nothing had been missed.

Lastly, a PROC member asked about the Trudeau Foundation's donations and whether CSIS was involved. Witnesses stated that the foundation operates independently from the government, and CSIS would only be involved if there were allegations of foreign interference.

The hearings highlighted the ongoing concerns about foreign interference in Canada's democratic process and the need for continued vigilance and action to protect against such efforts. The Panel's responses shed light on the complex nature of investigating and combating foreign election interference and the importance of balancing public disclosure with national security concerns.


Prepared by: Analyst, NSOD; Manager, NSOD
Approved by: Sebastien Aubertin-Giguère, SADM National and Cyber Security, 613-614-4715

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