Sean Kilpatrick Archives The Canadian Press The ex – Governor General of Canada David Johnston, in 2018
As soon as nominated, as soon as rejected. Justin Trudeau eventually appointed former Governor General David Johnston as “Independent Special Rapporteur” to advise his government on foreign interference in Canada. But the opposition parties, which are all calling for a public inquiry to be launched now, unanimously contested the creation of this position, which they consider superfluous.
The federal prime minister had promised to create this new role last week, in the wake of numerous revelations of attempted interference by the Chinese regime in the 2019 and 2021 elections.
The mandate of David Johnston remains to be defined, by Justin Trudeau's office and by the principal concerned. Its details will be tied up “in the days to come” and will be made public “subsequently”, Mr. Trudeau's office said in a press release on Wednesday afternoon. Its timetable has therefore not yet been set.
The former governor general will, however, have a mandate to review “the last two federal general elections,” the document states, and “to make expert recommendations on how to better protect our democracy and maintain Canadians' confidence in it.” here”.
National security expert Stephanie Carvin finds it “a pity” that the special rapporteur's mandate is limited to only the last two federal elections. The Prime Minister has already called on two entities — a cross-partisan parliamentary committee on national security, as well as a panel of experts monitoring intelligence activities — to investigate these elections. “Foreign interference in Canada is much broader,” in civil society and academia, in particular, recalls Ms. Carvin, who is a professor at Carleton University and a former analyst at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). .
An investigation, and nothing else
The mandate given to David Johnston, who is 81 years old and is a member of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, was immediately rejected by the three main opposition parties in Ottawa, who have been calling for a public inquiry for weeks. .
Justin Trudeau argues that this appointment was “following consultations with all parties”. His office would have in fact invited the opposition parties to submit to him on Monday evening the names of potential candidates for the post of special rapporteur, according to our information.
The Bloc Québécois and the NDP refused to accede to this request, demanding instead the appointment of a commissioner responsible for a public inquiry, period.
Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet did not want to “judge Mr. Johnston's service record”, but he accused the Prime Minister of stubbornly refusing a public inquiry and thus using of the Special Rapporteur “to keep Parliament and the people in the dark”. New Democrat Alexandre Boulerice, meanwhile, acknowledged David Johnston's “impeccable reputation” and “integrity”, but criticized Justin Trudeau for “an absence of leadership” by entrusting “a third party” with the decision whether or not to trigger a public inquiry commission.
Mr. Trudeau has already committed to respecting any recommendations of his special rapporteur.
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre had not reacted as these lines were written. His leadership campaign manager, Jenni Byrne, however, questioned Mr. Johnston's impartiality, notably denouncing his work as the commissioner responsible for organizing the leaders' debates. “What are the chances that he will conclude that we need a public inquiry?” she quipped on Twitter.
Expertise as Governor General?
Stephanie Carvin indicates that, as a former Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Army, Mr. Johnston had the opportunity to obtain national security briefings. His career as a law professor also gives him “a good track record,” said the national security expert.
Justin Trudeau's office was careful to recall that David Johnston was appointed Governor General in 2010 by former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. And that he also acted as special adviser responsible for drawing up the mandate for a public inquiry into the Airbus affair for the Harper government.