(Ottawa) The ink of the press release announcing the appointment of David Johnston as independent special rapporteur on foreign interference was barely dry when already, doubts about the impartiality of the former governor general of Canada began to rain.

If the contours of its mandate have not yet been clearly defined, we know that it will consist, among other things, in determining whether or not a public and independent investigation into foreign interference in the last two elections is necessary.

Revealing the identity of the person on whom he set his sights on Wednesday, the Prime Minister was full of praise for him: “impeccable integrity, rich experience and great skills”, he said. he boasted through a press release.

“I am confident that he will conduct an impartial review to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to preserve our democracy and to maintain and strengthen confidence in it,” said Justin Trudeau.

After the flowers, the pots, on social networks: images of David Johnston with Chinese President Xi Jinping during official visits to China in 2013 and 2017 quickly resurfaced, relayed by columnists and anti-Beijing observers.

Added to this is the fact that the Queen’s former representative to Canada is a member of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, especially as the organization has found itself in the hot seat over a controversial donation from $200,000 made by a Chinese billionaire close to Beijing, Zhang Bin.

The contribution was repaid after The Globe and Mail wrote that it was part of an interference tactic by the Chinese regime, but this story undermined the credibility of the report on foreign interference prepared by the former CEO of the Foundation, Morris Rosenberg.

This is the second time that the Liberals have retained the services of the one who was a tenant of Rideau Hall between 2010 and 2017: David Johnston is currently commissioner of leaders’ debates, but he will leave this post to occupy that of special rapporteur and independent.

The former law professor had been appointed Governor General of Canada by Stephen Harper, which did not prevent his former close collaborator, Jenni Byrne, from questioning his impartiality and from presuming in advance the conclusion of his works.

“David Johnston appointed [Craig] Kielburger of WE Charity to the debate commission and allowed a CBC host who sued the Conservative Party to moderate the leaders’ ‘fair’ debate,” she tweeted. was responsible for the campaign for the leadership of Pierre Poilievre.

“What are the chances that he will conclude that there is no need for a public inquiry?” “, she concluded.

Its mandate will be to examine “the consequences of foreign interference in the last two federal general elections” and to “provide expert recommendations on how to better protect our democracy,” the government statement released Wednesday said.

And at the end of this exercise, the government will respect the recommendations of the former Governor General, which could include “a formal investigation, judicial review or other independent review process, and will implement them”, is- He specifies.

David Johnston’s appointment stems from consultations with all parties in the House of Commons, according to the government statement. The Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party (NDP), however, had signaled on Tuesday that they refused to take part in the process.

If the question of the appointment of the special rapporteur is now settled – although the debate on the person chosen is obviously only beginning –, it is far from being the case of that surrounding the request for the appearance of Katie Telford, the head of cabinet of Justin Trudeau.

Liberals who sit on the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which is looking into allegations of Chinese interference in the democratic process, continue to disrupt the work of that committee.

They have now been using delay tactics for more than 20 hours (non-consecutive) to prevent the appearance of Katie Telford, Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff, at the committee table. The liberal maneuvers fuel suspicions of a cover-up.

To make their case, they unearthed a video from 2010 where Pierre Poilievre says that political staff should not be summoned to committee because of the principle of ministerial responsibility. He then defended the refusal to summon Dimitri Soudas, ex-director of communications for Stephen Harper.

For clarification, Katie Telford has appeared at least twice in committee, to answer questions on the WE Charity case and on sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. Ditto for Gerald Butts, former secretary to the Prime Minister, who lent himself to the exercise at the time of the SNC-Lavalin affair.