Opposition continues to push for public inquiry into foreign interference
By Mickey Djuric in Ottawa
Canada’s official Opposition is expressing little confidence that the Liberal government will appoint a truly independent watchdog to investigate foreign interference.
Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre said he predicts Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will pick someone close to him or his government as the special rapporteur who will look into the issue.
“He’ll pick another Liberal establishment insider, a real Ottawa insider with some grey hair who looks like a reasonable fella, but we all know that it will be someone tied to him,” Poilievre said Tuesday.
Trudeau responded to the criticism by saying he is open to suggestions for the role.
On Monday, Justin Trudeau announced his government will appoint a special rapporteur with a wide mandate to investigate foreign interference following recent media reports. He sold it as a way to remove partisan politics from the public debate.
“This is not, and should never be, a partisan issue. I understand that people want answers and Canadians deserve reassurance,” Trudeau said Monday.
The Conservatives, along with the NDP and Bloc Québécois, continue to push for an independent public inquiry into alleged Chinese interference in Canada’s last two federal elections, in what Poilievre described as “bringing home control of our democracy.”
The Tories have long criticized the Liberals for being too soft on China and not taking the issue of foreign interference seriously.
“This is an opportunity for the opposition, especially the Conservatives, to score (political) points,” said Daniel Béland, director at the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.
Béland cautioned that the Conservatives need to avoid “excessive, over-the-top speculation that will feed conspiracy theories,” which he said could further undermine confidence in the electoral system.
Experts have cautioned that a public inquiry may not yield the desired result because national security concerns could prevent officials from revealing much information.
The rapporteur, who has not yet been named, could also recommend another type of investigation or a judicial review, Béland said.
“Even if it’s about secret information, the debate is already very public and more information is being leaked,” he said, adding that a public inquiry, which could take years, could be complicated due to Canada’s privacy laws.
On Tuesday, Poilievre pitched the idea of a public inquiry in which top-secret information is under a publication ban, and only information that will imperil national interests is withheld.
Trudeau has left the door open to holding a public inquiry should the rapporteur recommend it. Béland said that may be required just to lower the partisan temperature “and look at the issues in a more detached way.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2023.
Trudeau Foundation board chair says donation from Chinese company has been returned
Edward Johnson, chair of the board of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, appears as a witness at a standing committee on access to information, privacy and ethics on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. Johnson says the foundation has returned a controversial $140,000 donation to Millennium Golden Eagle International. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
The chair of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s board says the organization has returned a $140,000 donation to Millennium Golden Eagle International.
Edward Johnson was speaking to a House committee that’s investigating allegations that Beijing orchestrated donations to the charity in an attempt to influence the prime minister.
Those allegations came from a report in the Globe and Mail in February, which cited an unnamed security source.
Johnson told the committee he has confirmed with the bank that the company received the money from the Trudeau Foundation.
One of the men who arranged the donation in 2016, billionaire Zhang Bin, is listed online as chairman of Millennium Golden Eagle International.
He is also president of the China Cultural Industry Association, which says on its website it adheres to the “total leadership” of the Chinese Communist Party and was formed with the approval of China’s central government.
Johnson says the foundation has been trying to return the donation since the controversy emerged but it had trouble finding a bank account associated with the company.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2023.
— With files from Mickey Djuric and Chuck Chiang
WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network
From the youtube channel of Dr. John Campbell
With notes from the World Health Organization website, Dr. John Campbell explains the WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network. To see the WHO’s press release click here or scroll below the video where it is attached.
Press release from the World Health Organization
The European Commission and WHO launch landmark digital health initiative to strengthen global health security
The World Health Organization (WHO) and European Commission have announced today the launch of a landmark digital health partnership.
In June 2023, WHO will take up the European Union (EU) system of digital COVID-19 certification to establish a global system that will help facilitate global mobility and protect citizens across the world from on-going and future health threats, including pandemics. This is the first building block of the WHO Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN) that will develop a wide range of digital products to deliver better health for all.
“Building on the EU’s highly successful digital certification network, WHO aims to offer all WHO Member States access to an open-source digital health tool, which is based on the principles of equity, innovation, transparency and data protection and privacy,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “New digital health products in development aim to help people everywhere receive quality health services quickly and more effectively”.
Based on the EU Global Health Strategy and WHO Global strategy on digital health, the initiative follows the 30 November 2022 agreement between Commissioner Kyriakides and Dr Tedros to enhance strategic cooperation on global health issues. This further bolsters a robust multilateral system with WHO at its core, powered by a strong EU.
“This partnership is an important step for the digital action plan of the EU Global Health Strategy. By using European best practices we contribute to digital health standards and interoperability globally—to the benefit of those most in need. It is also a powerful example of how alignment between the EU and the WHO can deliver better health for all, in the EU and across the world. As the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, there is no better partner than the WHO to advance the work we started at the EU and further develop global digital health solutions,” said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.
This partnership will include close collaboration in the development, management and implementation of the WHO GDHCN system, benefitting from the European Commission’s ample technical expertise in the field. A first step is to ensure that the current EU digital certificates continue to function effectively.
“With 80 countries and territories connected to the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate, the EU has set a global standard. The EU certificate has not only been an important tool in our fight against the pandemic, but has also facilitated international travel and tourism. I am pleased that the WHO will build on the privacy-preserving principles and cutting-edge technology of the EU certificate to create a global tool against future pandemics,” added Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market.
A global WHO system building on EU legacy
One of the key elements in the European Union’s work against the COVID-19 pandemic has been digital COVID-19 certificates. To facilitate free movement within its borders, the EU swiftly established interoperable COVID-19 certificates (entitled ‘EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate’ or ‘EU DCC’). Based on open-source technologies and standards it allowed also for the connection of non-EU countries that issue certificates according to EU DCC specifications, becoming the most widely used solution around the world.
From the onset of the pandemic, WHO engaged with all WHO Regions to define overall guidelines for such certificates. To help strengthen global health preparedness in the face of growing health threats, WHO is establishing a global digital health certification network which builds upon the solid foundations of the EU DCC framework, principles and open technologies. With this collaboration, WHO will facilitate this process globally under its own structure with the aim to allow the world to benefit from convergence of digital certificates. This includes standard-setting and validation of digital signatures to prevent fraud. In doing so, WHO will not have access to any underlying personal data, which would continue to be the exclusive domain of governments.
The first building block of the global WHO system becomes operational in June 2023 and aims to be progressively developed in the coming months.
A long-term digital partnership to deliver better health for all
To facilitate the uptake of the EU DCC by WHO and contribute to its operation and further development, WHO and the European Commission have agreed to partner in digital health.
This partnership will work to technically develop the WHO system with a staged approach to cover additional use cases, which may include, for example, the digitisation of the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis. Expanding such digital solutions will be essential to deliver better health for citizens across the globe.
This cooperation is based on the shared values and principles of transparency and openness, inclusiveness, accountability, data protection and privacy, security, scalability at a global level, and equity. The WHO and the European Commission will work together to encourage maximum global uptake and participation. Particular attention will be paid to equitable opportunities for the participation by those most in need: low and middle-income countries.
Dr. John Campbell’s Presentation notes:
WHO’s Global Digital Health Certification Network https://www.who.int/initiatives/globa…
WHO has established the Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN). Open-source platform, built on robust & transparent standards, that establishes the first building block of digital public health infrastructure, for developing a wide range of digital products, for strengthening pandemic preparedness
Background Member States used digital COVID-19 test and vaccine certificates As the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, at the onset of the pandemic, WHO engaged with all WHO Regions to define overall guidance for such certificates and published the Digital Documentation of COVID-19 Certificates
https://www.who.int/publications/i/it… https://www.who.int/publications/i/it… there is a recognition of an existing gap, and continued need for a global mechanism, that can support bilateral verification of the provenance of health documents
The GDHCN may include Digitisation of the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, verification of prescriptions across borders
International Patient Summary Verification of vaccination certificates within and across borders Certification of public health professionals (through WHO Academy) Expanding such digital solutions will be essential to deliver better health for people across the globe.
The GDHCN has been designed to be interoperable with other existing regional networks EU-WHO digital partnership https://www.who.int/news/item/05-06-2… • LIVE: WHO and @EU… https://commission.europa.eu/strategy… WHO and the European Commission have agreed to partner in digital health.
This partnership will work to technically develop the WHO system with a staged approach to cover additional use cases, In June 2023, WHO will take up the European Union (EU) system of digital COVID-19 certification to establish a global system, that will help facilitate global mobility
This is the first building block of the WHO Global Digital Health Certification Network (GDHCN)
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO aims to offer all WHO Member States access, On the principles of equity, innovation, transparency and data protection and privacy Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
This partnership is an important step for the digital action plan of the EU Global Health Strategy, we contribute to digital health standards and interoperability globally
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market The EU certificate … has also facilitated international travel and tourism I am pleased that the WHO will build on …. cutting-edge technology … to create a global tool against future pandemics
One of the key elements in the European Union’s work against the COVID-19 pandemic has been digital COVID-19 certificates. WHO will facilitate this process globally under its own structure … allow the world to benefit from convergence of digital certificates. Expanding such digital solutions will be essential to deliver better health for citizens across the globe.
The WHO and the European Commission will work together to encourage maximum global uptake and participation.
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