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India did not interfere in Canada elections – media

Ottawa has been investigating possible New Delhi meddling in 2021 polls as part of probe into malign influence

India did not meddle in Canada’s general election in 2021, officials in Ottawa investigating ‘election interference’ claim, according to a report by News18. A panel constituted to investigate charges of election meddling concluded there was no evidence of New Delhi interfering in the national vote, which was won by Liberal Party candidate Justin Trudeau. 

Former Deputy Foreign Minister Marta Morgan and former Cabinet Secretary Janice Charette, who were both part of the panel addressing the hearing of the Foreign Interference Commission, pointed out there was a lack of information on possible “disinformation campaigns” linked to India within the Canadian information ecosystem. The panelists also didn’t find evidence to support claims regarding the funding of political campaigns from Indian sources, News18’s report notes. Other media outlets reported on the development, citing Canadian bureaucrats. 

“When we entered into the election campaign itself, we were being briefed on activities and the intelligence or information that was coming about how those capabilities or those tools were being deployed. And I do not believe during the 2021 election that we saw evidence of the Government of India using those tools in the campaign,” Janice Charette said, cited by News18. 

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The reports surfaced days after the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) suggested that India had “intent to interfere and likely conducted clandestine activities” in the 2021 Canadian federal election. State broadcaster CBC reported earlier this month that such assessments are contained in documents tabled as part of the federal commission of inquiry into foreign interference, which is examining possible meddling by China, India, Russia and others in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

New Delhi had denied the CSIS allegations, confirming that it had “seen media reports about the Canadian commission.” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said: “We strongly reject all such baseless allegations of Indian interference in Canadian elections.”

CSIS alleged that the Indian government’s election-meddling campaign was “centred on a small number of electoral districts” in which Indo-Canadian voters sympathized with Pakistan or with the Khalistan separatist movement.

The new allegation against India comes against the backdrop of a diplomatic row between the two countries after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged that “Indian agents” may have been involved in the assassination of a Sikh activist on Canadian soil in June 2023. India denied these allegations, calling them “absurd” and “motivated.”

Trudeau launched the investigation after leaked intelligence documents seemed to suggest that China had interfered on behalf of candidates who were friendly toward President Xi Jinping’s government. Beijing has denied any interference and called the allegations “purely baseless and defamatory.”

READ MORE: Trudeau reveals he wanted to ‘put a chill’ on India

At the same time, the inquiry into election-meddling itself has been the subject of intense public debate, The Guardian noted. Initially Trudeau appointed former governor-general David Johnston to investigate the issue, but after several months Johnston resigned from the role, citing a “highly partisan atmosphere.” The Canadian government then chose Marie-Josée Hogue, a Quebec appeals-court judge, to lead a public inquiry.

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