The Hamilton Spectator

Tories, Bloc bemoan appointmen­t of special rapporteur


Federal opposition parties continued to call for a public inquiry into foreign interferen­ce Thursday, as the NDP welcomed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s choice of a special rapporteur.

On Wednesday, Trudeau announced that former governor general David Johnston will look into allegation­s of foreign meddling in Canada’s last two federal elections and recommend what the Liberal government should do about it.

“Get real,” Conservati­ve Leader Pierre Poilievre wrote in a Thursday statement. “Trudeau must end his cover up,” he charged, noting that Trudeau referred to Johnston as a “family friend” in 2017 and that the former viceregal was a member of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said those ties show that Johnston is “close” to Trudeau, and he said Johnston has been “chummy” with China.

“I don’t want to make out of that any personal character accusation­s against Mr. Johnston,” he added. “I’m not ready to go there.”

Blanchet called the role a “superfluou­s” waste of time since opposition parties will still demand a public inquiry. He said he worried the minority government might even fall before Johnston wraps up his work.

The Bloc leader added that the allegation­s of Chinese interferen­ce and the lack of transparen­cy around the matter have created terrible optics for Canada ahead of a visit next week by U.S. President Joe Biden.

Yet NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called Johnston a “non-partisan” official known for his integrity, and said the New Democrats welcome his work while still pushing for an inquiry to sort out the timeline of when Trudeau knew various facts and how he responded.

“The other opposition parties, and frankly the Liberals as well, have been more focused on scoring political points than really focusing on solutions around protecting our democracy,” Singh argued during a news conference in Toronto.

“That’s why we’ve been calling for an independen­t process, while we still maintain we need a public inquiry to restore public confidence.”

Trudeau has said the appointmen­t was made after consultati­ons with all parties in the House of Commons, though the NDP said Johnston’s name was not raised with them during the consultati­ons. The appointmen­t came after Global News and the Globe and Mail newspaper reported allegation­s of Chinese interferen­ce in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections.

Conservati­ve strategist Jamie Ellerton said the process would be flawed regardless of whether Trudeau appointed someone “genuinely above reproach,” because he argued the Liberals have avoided answering questions.

“There is a serious crisis of confidence in our democratic institutio­ns and just what the scope and scale of Chinese interferen­ce has taken place,” said Ellerton, a founding partner at with the public-relations firm Conaptus.

“It just further goes to show how out of touch this prime minister is in dealing with this crisis.”

 ?? ?? Former governor general David Johnston will be looking into allegation­s of foreign interferen­ce.
Former governor general David Johnston will be looking into allegation­s of foreign interferen­ce.

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