The Hamilton Spectator

Trudeau ‘expressed frustratio­n’ about ‘sensationa­lized’ intel leaks

Public summary of February interview disclosed at hearing


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed frustratio­n to a federal inquiry into foreign interferen­ce that intelligen­ce leaked to the media had been “sensationa­lized” and taken out of context.

In a classified February interview with the commission of inquiry, Trudeau said it was extremely damaging to the confidence of Canadians in the democratic process.

A public summary of the interview was disclosed Wednesday at the inquiry, where Trudeau testified at an open hearing.

The summary says Trudeau observed that the leaks were “particular­ly frustratin­g” because the Liberal government had put in place robust mechanisms to detect and combat interferen­ce, yet it was “painted as negligent in the media.”

“PM Trudeau also considered that the leaks illustrate the dangers of drawing conclusion­s based on a single piece of intelligen­ce, without sufficient context, and without any analysis of its reliabilit­y.”

Allegation­s of interferen­ce in the last two general elections — suggestion­s fuelled by anonymous leaks to the media — led to a chorus of calls for the public inquiry. During the hearing, Trudeau spoke of the “explosive nature of the media stories, stemming from unsubstant­iated and uncorrobor­ated intelligen­ce shared by a leaker.”

“There are also things that were flat-out wrong.”

Trudeau said the leaks were of “deep concern” because the government could not correct the record, in some cases, without revealing the tradecraft Canadian security agencies use to keep citizens and their institutio­ns safe. “If we say certain things, or if we contradict or deny other things, we could be giving our adversarie­s tools to actually understand how we go about detecting their interferen­ce.”

One of the leaks involved allegation­s against MP Han Dong, who left the Liberal caucus last year after a media report suggested he told a Chinese consular official to delay the release of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in 2021.

Dong denied the allegation, which the prime minister only learned about in the media.

Trudeau said categorica­lly Wednesday he believes the allegation is untrue, but couldn’t elaborate as to why, citing a need for confidenti­ality and national security concerns.

At the hearing Wednesday, Trudeau reeled off a list of measures his government had taken to address foreign interferen­ce since assuming power in 2015

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