Opposition MPs want to question Rapporteur Johnston on Chinese interference

On March 15, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave Johnston two months to determine the necessity of a public inquiry.

Opposition MPs want to question Rapporteur Johnston on Chinese interference
Remove Ads

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau selected David Johnston as "special rapporteur" to examine Chinese interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections. Now, Opposition MPs want to ask Johnston questions about his inquiry into the matter as he has yet to speak publicly.

On March 15, Trudeau gave Johnston two months to determine the necessity of a public inquiry.

"We will ask the independent special rapporteur as one of the first tasks of their mandate to provide the government with a recommendation as to what the appropriate next steps should be," he said.

Though a motion already received a multi-partisan Commons vote in favour of a public inquiry, New Democrat MP Rachel Blaney wants the House affairs committee to vote on summoning Johnston "to appear before the committee no later than the week of April 24" for cross-examination, reported Blacklock's Reporter.

Members from all opposition parties questioned the purpose of the appointment. 

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre dismissed the announcement because Johnston is a Trudeau "family friend."

"Justin Trudeau has named a 'family friend,' old neighbour from the cottage, and member of the Beijing-funded Trudeau foundation, to be the 'independent' rapporteur on Beijing's interference," he said.

PPC Leader Maxime Bernier did not mince his words in condemning the appointment.

"Of all the people in Canada who could investigate Chinese interference in our elections to favour his party, Trudeau chose an old family friend whose children he used to play with as a kid," he tweeted.

Bernier also accused Trudeau of being "disconnected from reality" with his latest move.

New Democrat MP Charlie Angus told the Commons last Wednesday he did not quarrel with Johnston personally. However, he "[has] a problem with the lack of a full inquiry."

On March 23, the Commons passed a non-binding motion, 172 to 149, in favour of an independent public inquiry headed by a commissioner selected by all House leaders. 

"Should David Johnston return anything less than a recommendation for an open and transparent public, independent inquiry led by someone agreed to by all parties, it will be completely reasonable for Canadians to ask if the fix was in," said Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant.

According to Blacklock's Reporter, the Commons motion said cabinet must name an independent commissioner "granted all the necessary powers to call witnesses from the government and political parties" and "have the power to order and review all documents it deems necessary for this work, including documents which are related to national security."

The motion succeeded Global News reports alleging Chinese Communist agents interfered in local ridings in Vancouver and Toronto to aid Liberal organizers. 

On March 22, Independent MP Han Dong quit the Liberal caucus over allegations he had confidential contact with China's Consul in Toronto.

Security sources allege Dong privately advised a senior Chinese diplomat not to free Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in February 2021. 

Both sources said Dong suggested that releasing the two Michaels would benefit the Conservatives in the polls while asking Beijing for progress in the Kovrig and Spavor cases amid public pushback then.

Global previously named Dong a "witting affiliate in China's election interference networks" on February 24 after learning CSIS urged the Prime Minister's Office to rescind Dong's nomination in 2019.

Critics noted that Rapporteur Johnston's prior appointment as a director of the Trudeau Foundation and being a lifelong friend of the Trudeau family made the prime minister's decision to appoint him puzzling.

"The way people have been talking about him, one would think he's Spiderman," Bloc Québécois MP Alain Therrien told the Commons. "People are saying he will fix everything because he is a great guy."

Conservative deputy leader Melissa Lantsman commented on Johnston's ties to the prime minister and connections to the Trudeau Foundation and how it made him the "wrong appointment." 

She rescinded those remarks, stating, "There are plenty of eminent Canadians."

Remove Ads
Remove Ads

Don't Get Censored

Big Tech is censoring us. Sign up so we can always stay in touch.

Remove Ads