Foreign interference | The Conservatives talk about an agreement, the Liberals deny

(Ottawa) The Conservative Party maintained Friday evening that an agreement concerning the mandate of a public inquiry into foreign interference had been reached – information denied, then nuanced, by the Liberal government.

The information released by the Conservative Party around 8 p.m. came at the end of a week during which the opposition party and the Liberals had accused each other of obstructing the search for consensus.

“An agreement on the mandate for a public inquiry has been reached. All the parties have announced the names they suggest for a potential commissioner,” said Marion Isabeau-Ringuette, Conservative spokesperson, in a written statement.

“The Conservatives will continue to push the Liberals to the wall and push for a public inquiry to be opened as soon as possible,” she added.

Case settled?

Apparently not.

“No agreement has yet been concluded,” quickly indicated Kelly Ouimet, director of communications for Minister Dominic LeBlanc, to whom Prime Minister Justin Trudeau entrusted the responsibility for these negotiations.

Thirty minutes later, asked to reconcile the two versions, she said: “We agreed on certain elements; other details need to be worked out. »

Talks took place on Friday between the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Dominic LeBlanc, and the parliamentary leaders of the other parties in the House.

The Bloc Québécois did not wish to state its version of the facts on Friday evening, while the New Democratic Party gave no sign of life. The two parties have, since the beginning of the process, about a month ago, expressed their optimism as to the possibility of reaching an agreement.

Long-standing request

The opposition in Ottawa has been unanimously calling, since last March, for a public and independent inquiry into foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. No party questioned the results of these elections.

After procrastinating, the government appointed former Governor General of Canada David Johnston as special rapporteur on foreign interference. In his report tabled at the end of May, the latter ruled out the idea of ​​holding an independent public inquiry.

About a week later, the House of Commons demanded his departure, adopting a New Democrat motion by 174 votes to 150. The principal concerned ended up bowing to the will of the deputies on June 9.

Once the parties have agreed on the mandate of a public inquiry, if they officially succeed, they will have to determine who will take the reins.

The Conservative Party was waiting for the first step, concerning the mandate, to be completed before proposing names.

In mid-June, the Bloc leader, Yves-François Blanchet, proposed the names of Louise Arbour, former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Louise Otis, currently a judge on the OECD tribunal, Irwin Cotler, former Minister of Liberal Justice, as well as Guy Saint-Jacques, former Canadian Ambassador to Beijing.

“Interesting and reasonable” names, reacted Justin Trudeau in the House.

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