(Ottawa) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vigorously defends the choice of former Governor General David Johnston as special rapporteur on foreign interference and accuses the official Conservative opposition of being motivated solely by their partisan interests in this file.
“The integrity of this man is beyond doubt. […] The Conservative Party clearly demonstrates that it is not interested in defending our institutions [nor] in the interest or concerns of Canadians, in the facts and what really happened,” launched Mr. Trudeau on Friday during a press briefing in Guelph, Ont.
According to him, it is clear that the troops of Pierre Poilievre have nothing to do with the independent expertise that the special rapporteur aims to provide on the best way forward to “protect themselves as an institution, as a democracy”.
“The Conservative Party is only interested in whatever partisan advantage it can find in a context as important as defending the integrity of our democracy. [It] demonstrates how unserious they are in their desire to see our institutions strengthened and the answers given in an unbiased and clear manner,” the Prime Minister asserted.
The day before, Conservatives and Bloc Québécois questioned Mr. Johnston’s credibility as an independent special rapporteur.
Mr. Johnston was described by Prime Minister Trudeau as “a friend of the family,” alternately supported the leaders of the Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre, and the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet.
Mr. Poilievre also blamed the new special rapporteur for being “a member of the Beijing-funded Trudeau Foundation.”
Mr. Blanchet, for his part, argued that Mr. Johnston has “parted from an admiration for the Chinese regime”, having said that he “felt at home” during a trip to China. “We’re going ‘chummy chummy’,” he commented.
All opposition parties in Ottawa are calling for a public and independent commission of inquiry into allegations of interference in the last federal election.
Mr. Trudeau, however, announced that it will be up to the special rapporteur to determine whether or not such an investigation should be launched. He could recommend “a formal investigation, judicial review or other independent review process,” the prime minister had listed, pledging to follow any recommendations Johnston makes.
In a statement to La Presse Canadienne, the former governor general said he plans to work with officials to finalize his assignments for his role, before making it public.
Johnston said he feels privileged to have accepted the appointment, during which he will make recommendations to help protect and maintain trust in Canadian democracy.