Sean Kilpatrick The Canadian Press The Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institutions will begin holding public hearings in January 2024.
The Federal Commission of Inquiry on Foreign Interference is asking to delay the filing of its first report by approximately two months, in order to allow sufficient time for the process and public hearings.
It was also announced that the public hearings will begin on January 29, 2024. They will take place over five days in Ottawa. The commission will then hear factual witnesses and recognized experts. The objective will be to determine the best means to make public as much information as possible from classified documents and sources.
Judge Marie-Josée Hogue, who chairs the commission, says the postponement, until May 3, aims to give meaning and purpose to the preliminary hearings and allow more time to maximize the transparency.
She explains that ensuring that classified information is put into a form that can be made public is a long and complicated process.
The Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institutions will begin holding public hearings next month. The commission, chaired by Justice Hogue, of the Quebec Court of Appeal, must examine attempts at interference, in the recent Canadian elections, by China, Russia and “any other foreign state or non-state actor.” .
Earlier Friday, Judge Hogue rejected a request for review from the Conservative Party of Canada, which wanted to overturn its previous decision denying it “party” status in the factual aspect of the procedure.
This means that the Conservative Party, with its status as an “intervener” in the investigation, will not be able to cross-examine witnesses or access documents that are not documents introduced into evidence. Its representatives will, however, be able to attend public hearings, access documents submitted as evidence and present observations to the commission.
In a decision rendered Friday, Justice Hogue says the Conservative Party has not presented “new facts or new developments” justifying the reversal of its previous decision to grant it “intervener” status, rather than “party”, in the factual aspect of the investigation.
The judge indicates that the Conservative Party will still be able to contribute to the work of the commission by providing documents and information, proposing witnesses to call and suggesting potential subjects on which to question them.< /p>
Ms. Hogue says that while the Conservative Party argued that it was unfair to deny it “party” status while granting that status to the federal government, currently led by the leader of the Liberal Party, “there is a distinction between the government of the day and the political party that controls the House of Commons.”
“My mandate concerns the conduct of the Government of Canada rather than that of the Liberal Party,” writes Justice Hogue in her decision. Ultimately, it is important that a commission of inquiry remains an independent forum, separate from the political process. »
Judge Hogue also rejected another request for reconsideration, this one submitted by the Coalition for Human Rights, which contested the fact that Michael Chan and federal MP Han Dong had obtained the status of ” part “. The organization asked the judge that their access to testimony and their ability to question witnesses be limited.