Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has finally tapped a judge willing to oversee the contentious inquiry into Chinese foreign interference.
According to multiple sources, Québec Court of Appeal Justice Marie-Josée Hogue will head the public inquiry after months of negotiations between the governing Liberals and Opposition parties.
Hogue has served on Québec's Court of Appeal since June 2015, working as a Supreme Court Justice law clerk before partnering at several firms for two decades.
Since the messy departure of David Johnston as special rapporteur on foreign interference, the federal government struggled to find a judge willing to assume the role of inquiry commissioner.
According to multiple government sources, at least six current or retired judges previously turned down the position.
"We'll hear things like, 'I'm in my seventies. I don't have much time left. To end up in the news every week, I don't know, I think I'm going to pass,'" said one source.
"You start over and have to ask the next person in line, who asks for time to think about it before refusing," they added.
Before Thursday's leak, Opposition MPs had repeatedly accused Trudeau and his Cabinet of deliberately stalling the inquiry, which MPs endorsed in three separate votes on March 2, March 23 and May 31.
"We want them to end the cover-up," Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said on June 11. "Call a public inquiry."
Following Johnston's resignation on June 9 — citing a "highly partisan atmosphere" — the federal government said it would consider a public inquiry after months of reporting on Chinese foreign interference.
On May 1, The Globe and Mail first reported that Beijing targeted Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong and his relatives in Hong Kong in the lead-up to the 2021 election.
Ottawa expelled Chinese diplomat Zhao Wei a week later for his role in orchestrating an "intimidation campaign" against the critic.
Other prominent reports included alleged conversations between Chinese diplomats and then-Liberal MP Han Dong in February 2021 concerning the imprisonment of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.
Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc is expected to make an official announcement on Hogue's appointment on Thursday after it leaked to the press.
According to her Court of Appeal biography, Hogue does not appear to have a background in national security issues, with her legal experience in corporate commercial litigation, civil litigation and professional liability.
According to the source, the terms of her appointment as inquiry commissioner include submitting an initial report by February 29, 2024, that assesses foreign interference by China and other foreign actors.
In addition, the report will analyze foreign actors' efforts to undermine Canada's democratic process in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections and the flow of foreign interference assessments to elected officials and government bureaucrats during those time periods.
A second report is expected for the end of December 2024 to recommend how best to protect Canada's institutions from foreign interference.
The next federal election is scheduled for the fall of 2025.