After a backlash from many in the U.S., Trudeau announced Wednesday he will not release details about the “unmasking” of Canadians who are members of the military.
The move comes amid ongoing protests by U.K. citizens who say their citizenship was stolen by Canada and that the government is abusing its powers.
“As the first leader of the free world, my duty is to do everything in my power to protect our people, our values and our freedoms,” Trudeau said in a statement released Wednesday.
The decision comes after months of criticism from the public over the use of military identity cards, which allow people to access information about themselves without identifying themselves.
Critics have pointed to the number of Canadians detained at U.N. detention centers as a direct result of the practice, which has not been officially acknowledged by Canada.
The Conservatives are expected to launch an inquiry into the matter in the coming weeks, while the NDP said Wednesday that it will be pushing for the government to declassify all information about the matter.
“The Prime Minister has committed to honouring all the laws and regulations that protect Canadians and that protect our country,” said NDP leader Tom Mulcair.
“He should immediately release the details of this operation to Parliament and the public.”
But Trudeau’s move comes after an outcry from the U: the U of S, which had previously refused to identify anyone from the military who was a Canadian citizen.
A spokesperson for the UofS embassy in Ottawa, Jennifer Ahern, said Wednesday the U was reviewing the request, but that the department “has never seen the need for this type of action.”
“We have made clear that we do not consider the U to be an ally, and we continue to maintain a strong and positive relationship with the United States of America,” Ahern said in an email to CBC News.
“We look forward to discussing this matter with the Prime Minister.”
The Liberal government said in its statement that the information was provided to the government by the U in accordance with government policies, and that “this information was not used to target individuals.”
Trudeau is the first prime minister to not publicly identify military personnel who are part of the U’s military, a practice that has come under fire in recent years.
On Monday, Canada was named among a group of nations that have not signed a military agreement to protect citizens in North Korea.
Trudeau has previously said that he has no plans to change Canada’s policy.
He said he would not “unilaterally withdraw” from the North Korean deal, and said Canada will “rethink” its stance in the region if the agreement was to be pulled.
“This is not the time for unilateral withdrawals,” Trudeau told the House of Commons last week.
“I would be very clear, if it were to be withdrawn by the United Nations, we would rethink what we’re doing there.”