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Michael Chong, the Conservative critic for foreign affairs said the Foreign Interference Commission’s first report contradicts Justin Trudeau’s claims that the results of elections on a riding level were unaffected, at a press conference Friday.

Justice Marie-Josée Hogue’s first report, released Friday, determined there was evidence of foreign interference in the last two general elections, though not enough to shift which party formed government.

“Hogue’s first report comes to conclusions and findings that are starkly different from what the government told us over the last 18 months and from Mr. Johnston’s report over a year ago,” Chong said.

The report concluded that foreign interference impacted Canada’s “electoral ecosystem” in 2019 and 2021, decreased public confidence in Canadian democracy, and negatively affected diaspora communities, particularly the Chinese community.

Hogue found evidence of the People’s Republic of China’s involvement in the last general election, which could have affected the results of at least two federal ridings, winning a seat for Liberal MP Han Dong for Don Valley North riding and losing Conservative MP Kenny Chiu a seat in Steveston—Richmond East.

While testifying at the Foreign Interference Commission, Trudeau indicated that claims that interference could have swayed electoral processes were “sensationalized.”

“It’s clear in her conclusions in this first report, the intelligence that Beijing interfered, coercively and corruptly in assisting Mr. Dong in winning his nomination was well founded,” Chong said. “This is significant because it could have determined the candidate who was elected to Parliament,”

The report found that there was evidence of buses purchased by the PRC being used to bring in students to vote in the nomination contest. That and the use of intimidation tactics on the Chinese diaspora likely swayed the nomination results.

The report suggests the PRC was coercing international students into voting under threat of revoking their visas and targeting their families back home.

“(Hogue) also concluded that Mr. Trudeau told her that he did not veto Mr. Dongs’ nomination because it would have direct electoral consequences,” Chong said.

The Liberal party was expected to win Don Valley North. In public testimony, Trudeau said that after he won the election, he would revisit the issue of PRC involvement in the Don Valley North riding.

According to the report, Hogue asked Trudeau if he revisited the issue after the election.

He testified that an investigation occurred immediately after receiving the information, though Hogue said, “The specifics of any follow-up are at this point unclear, and I am not certain what steps were taken.”

In Steveston—Richmond East riding, Chiu was targeted by a misinformation campaign after he proposed Canada start a foreign influence registry. The disinformation campaign suggested to Chinese speakers, in the riding, that the registry would force anyone with ties to China to register.

Chinese-speaking media in Canada refused to speak to Chiu to allow him to fight against the PRC narrative.

Though there is evidence that other nations also interfered in those elections, the report found that the PRC is the main foreign nation interfering in Canada’s elections.

“This report is a damning set of conclusions and findings in the first phase of this inquiry about what the Trudeau Government has indicated over the last 18 months and contradicts much of what the government has told us over that period of time,” Chong said.

Chong stated the Liberals should adopt a similar structure as the Conservatives for party membership and nomination.

“I think the Liberal Party needs to tighten up its rules. I think it’s clear through this first report that there are major problems with the way in which Liberals have structured their party and their nomination rules,” Chong said.

To be a member of the Conservative party, you must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada, people have to purchase a membership with a credit card or a personal check which is tied to the individual applying.

Chong said that their process makes it much more difficult for people to bypass the system fraudulently.

Hogue indicated that her next report will examine the “rules, or lack of rules,” governing nomination contests. She said the inquiry found those contests “particularly vulnerable” to foreign interference.