a public inquiry into foreign election meddling comes up against secrecy

The first week of hearings by a special commission focused on the question of how top-secret intelligence can be made public.

There were no dramatic revelations from the first week of hearings into possible foreign interference during the last two Canadian federal elections.

Justice Marie-Josée Hogue was given a tight schedule for her inquiry into election meddling.Blair Gable/Reuters

Instead, what the country got was a very Canadian discussion about how to balance the desire for public access with the need to keep intelligence secure in a government that defaults to secrecy.

Let’s pause to recall how the country got here.

Last year, The Globe and Mail and Global News reported that secret and top-secret intelligence showed that the government of China and its diplomats in Canada had meddled in the last two elections to make sure that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party took power. The newspaper published 17 articles in all, and its unnamed source is still being sought by the police. The source wrote a first-person account indicating that he or she was risking prison time because of frustration over the limited attention being given to Chinese state interference at the senior levels of Canada’s government.

[Read: Claims of Chinese Election Meddling Put Trudeau on Defensive]

The leaks do not provide any evidence that the Chinese officials successfully carried out their plans for meddling or that their efforts changed election outcomes. But they did raise troubling questions about the integrity of Canada’s democracy and ignited a political firestorm in the House of Commons.

[Read: He Won Election to Canada’s Parliament. Did China Help?]

[Read: Canadian Politicians Who Criticize China Become Its Targets]

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