Canada probe finds evidence of foreign meddling in elections, but results not affected

FILE PHOTO: Parliament's Question Period resumes after ejection of Conservative leader in Ottawa

OTTAWA (Reuters) - An official probe found evidence of foreign interference in Canada's last two federal elections but the results of the votes were not affected and the electoral system was robust, according to initial findings released on Friday.

The findings in the interim report confirm Trudeau's assertion that China tried to meddle in the elections but the results were not affected. The commission will release its final report by the end of this year. Beijing has repeatedly denied any interference.

"Acts of foreign interference did occur during the last two federal general elections, but they did not undermine the integrity of our electoral system," said commissioner Marie-Josee Hogue, who is leading the independent public inquiry.

The Foreign Interference Commission was set up last year by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government under pressure from opposition legislators unhappy about media reports on China's possible role in the elections. The commission is mandated to investigate allegations of foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections.

"Our system remains sound. Voters were able to cast their ballots, their votes were duly registered and counted, and there is nothing to suggest that there was any interference whatsoever in this regard," Hogue said in a statement.

"Nonetheless, the acts of interference that occurred are a stain on our electoral process and impacted the process leading up to the actual vote," she said.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; editing by Jonathan Oatis)