Johnston to announce foreign interference public inquiry decision 2023

The individual tasked with recommending how best to address foreign interference in Canada’s federal elections will eventually state whether he believes a public inquiry is required.

Former governor general David Johnston, the special rapporteur appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in March, will release an interim report on what he believes to be the best course of action on Monday.

The question of whether Johnston will recommend a public inquiry into whether the governing Liberals did enough to combat allegations of Chinese interference in the 2019 and 2021 elections has consumed Capitol Hill for months.

However, his mandate also allows for broader recommendations, and Johnston will reveal his preferable courses of action at a long-awaited press conference at noon

Johnston will announce whether or not he believes foreign meddling warrants a public probe.

In addition to the inquiry question, Trudeau charged Johnston with recommending any additional mechanisms or procedures necessary to “reinforce Canadians’ confidence in the integrity of our democratic institutions.”

His mandate also required him to assess the “extent and impact” of foreign interference in Canadian elections and to “determine what the government did to defend Canada against electoral interference.”

Johnston, who was appointed governor general in 2010 by former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, is collaborating with other national security agencies to identify methods for them to combat foreign interference more effectively.

The opposition Conservatives are demanding an investigation. Pierre Poilievre refused to meet with Johnston, claiming that the position of special rapporteur was a “fake job.”

Poilievre has a great deal of skepticism regarding Johnston, a former member of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation who is under investigation for allegedly accepting a donation from the Chinese government.

The leader of the Conservative Party referred to him as “Justin Trudeau’s ski buddy, his cottage neighbor, his family friend, and a member of the Trudeau Foundation, which received $140,000 from Beijing” last week.

Jagmeet Singh, the leader of the New Democratic Party, characterizes Johnston as “impartial” and “reliable,” but he still desires a public investigation.

The Liberals have endured a political tempest for months over whether they took the interference allegations seriously enough.

An investigation, while providing the government the opportunity to defend its actions, would also give the controversy more political oxygen; it would be the Liberal government’s second such investigation in as many years.

It would follow the Public Order Emergency Commission’s investigation into the federal government’s response to the “Freedom Convoy” blockades in downtown Ottawa and at the Canada-U.S. border in 2022, which was conducted last year.

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