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QUESTION PERIOD — Global Affairs

Foreign Interference

April 11, 2024

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)

Leader, yesterday afternoon, Prime Minister Trudeau told the Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference that he does not read memos. He testified that he is briefed verbally, either in person or on a secured phone. He said that’s the only way to guarantee he gets necessary information. That’s it, leader.

A year ago, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, testified before a House committee that he reads every single document that he is given. Well, it’s easy to say that he reads everything when he is not given anything.

Leader, do you read written material? Do ministers read their documents? Is it widespread across the Trudeau cabinet that memos are not read, or is it just this incompetent Prime Minister who doesn’t read them?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ - ]

Thank you for your question. With all respect, I think you mischaracterize what the Prime Minister said.

Senator Gold [ - ]

Many documents come across the desk of the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister reads them as appropriate. It is also the case, as those of you who have experience in government would know, that security matters require many levels of analysis before they are brought forward to the Prime Minister’s Office, much less to the Prime Minister’s attention. There are circumstances, depending upon the volume, when it is totally appropriate and normal — not only in Canada but elsewhere — for the Prime Minister to be briefed verbally by his experts.

He also says we mischaracterize and feel things differently.

We have also learned, through the Hogue inquiry, that the CSIS reports are treated with a grain of salt by the Prime Minister and by his staff and ministers. Our elections and institutions, including Canada’s most important laboratory, are increasingly vulnerable to hostile foreign states, especially the Communist regime in Beijing.

Leader, why doesn’t the Trudeau government trust its security agencies? Is it because they are telling him things that the Liberal Party does not want to hear?

Senator Gold [ - ]

The government has enormous respect and trust in our institutions. However, anyone with any experience in security matters, or anyone who has worked within intelligence or taken the time to understand how it works, would understand that pieces of evidence and information that come forward have to be combined with others. Not every piece of information that’s gathered by field agents within CSIS is necessarily going to be treated with the same level of seriousness. That’s the nature of intelligence and the information that is gathered.

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