Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed former Governor-General David Johnston as the ‘special rapporteur’ to oversee Canada’s investigation into Chinese election interference.
The prime minister has tasked Johnston to look into allegations of foreign interference in the 2019 and 2021 federal elections, and to provide recommendations on how the government should respond.
Trudeau previously announced he would abide by the rapporteur’s recommendations, including if now-named Johnston calls for a public inquiry.
“I am confident that [Johnston] will conduct an impartial review to ensure all necessary steps are being taken to keep our democracy safe and uphold and strengthen confidence in it,” Trudeau said in a release.
According to the release, Johnston will step down from his current role as head of the Leaders’ Debates Commission.
The commission previously banned True North and Rebel News from covering a debate during the 2019 election – but the ban was overturned by a Federal Court judge.
Prior to Johnston’s appointment, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre scoffed at Trudeau’s decision to appoint a special rapporteur.
“Why do we need a special rapporteur? What does this rapporteur even do? It sounds like a fake job,” Poilievre told reporters in early March.
A series of reports from The Globe & Mail and Global News recently revealed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service suspects China interfered in elections and candidate nomination races during 2019 and 2021. The reports claim that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was made aware of this intelligence – a claim that has led to widespread scrutiny over his government’s inaction.
In response to Trudeau’s appointment of Johnston as special rapporteur, many pointed to speeches from the past, in which Trudeau described Johnston as a “family friend.”
As True North’s Harrison Faulker pointed out on social media, Johnston is currently a member of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation.