Foreign Interference Inquiry Lead’s Past Raises Conflict Of Interest Concerns, Trudeau Expresses Willingness To Testify

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his willingness to provide testimony in an inquiry concerning allegations of foreign interference in two elections won by his party, involving China, Russia, and other nations.

Initially, Trudeau’s minority liberal government hesitated to hold a public inquiry, facing mounting pressure to clarify its initial response to claims that Beijing had sought to undermine Canada’s democratic process.

Speaking from Singapore after summits in Indonesia with top Chinese, Russian, and Southeast Asian officials, Trudeau shared his enthusiasm for testifying during a press conference ahead of the G20 summit in India.

“Willingly and with very much enthusiasm,” he affirmed. “I think it’s important for Canadians to know exactly everything this government has been doing in regards to foreign interference, and to talk frankly about the challenges that we continue to face in our democracies around the world.”

Canada recently appointed Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Marie-Josee Hogue to lead the inquiry into allegations related to the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. This appointment followed the abrupt resignation of a previous investigator in June, who was handling the claims in a less formal manner.

Hogue has been granted broad investigative authority, with Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc emphasizing the importance of her ability to “follow the evidence” as she examines potential impacts on the 2019 and 2021 general elections.

The probe on Hogue

In a development that raises questions about potential conflicts of interest, an X (fka Twitter) thread has shone light on Justice Hogue’s past experiences. In one, she was revealed to have practiced law at the same firm as prominent Canadian politicians Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien.

Justice Hogue’s career at Heenan Blaikie, spanning from 1987 to 2014, has garnered attention due to her proximity to key political figures. Pierre Trudeau, the former Prime Minister of Canada and the father of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, served as Counsel at Heenan Blaikie’s Montreal office from 1984 to 2000. Likewise, Chretien, another former Prime Minister, was also associated with the firm.

A revealing piece of evidence is the Heenan Blaikie letterhead, which prominently features the names of Pierre Trudeau, Chretien, and Hogue. Furthermore, Heenan Blaikie represented Justin Trudeau, the current Prime Minister of Canada, including during his departure from West Point Grey Academy.

While it remains uncertain whether Justice Hogue directly collaborated with Pierre Trudeau and Chretien, her prolonged tenure in the same Montreal office suggests potential interactions.

Complicating matters further, Justice Hogue’s association with the Canada China Business Council raises concerns about her impartiality in the foreign interference inquiry. The Council, an organization used by corporations such as Power Corp and Sun Life to promote trade with China, had its Montreal office located within Heenan Blaikie’s offices from 2011 to 2014, precisely during Justice Hogue’s partnership with the firm.

Heenan Blaikie actively sought to develop a robust China practice during this period. This included hosting the Canada China Business Council and recruiting former Liberal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon in 2012 to spearhead their China initiatives, a period overlapping with Justice Hogue’s tenure.

The firm’s dedication to China-related matters is exemplified in an article from their China team, led by Cauchon.

Additionally, while Justice Hogue served on Heenan Blaikie’s management committee, the firm hosted Felix Chee, the Chief Representative to Canada of the China Investment Corporation, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds responsible for managing a substantial portion of China’s foreign exchange reserves.

As Justice Hogue takes on the crucial task of investigating foreign interference in Canadian affairs, the revelations surrounding her past affiliations underscore the importance of full transparency and unbiased inquiry. Canadians will undoubtedly be watching this inquiry closely to ensure its integrity and impartiality in addressing these critical issues.

Relations between Ottawa and Beijing deteriorated this year due to accusations of Chinese interference in these elections and attempts to intimidate Canadian MPs, resulting in the expulsion of a Chinese diplomat in May. Beijing, however, dismissed these allegations as “groundless” and reciprocated by expelling a Canadian diplomat from the consulate in Shanghai.

The allegations include covert campaign donations and the involvement of Chinese operatives with Canadian candidates and lawmakers in an effort to influence policy.

Some opposition parties have also called for expanding the inquiry’s scope to include Russia, Iran, and other countries regarded as hostile to Canada.

Information for this briefing was found via Agence France-Presse and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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