Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday March 17, 2023
Trudeau calls David Johnston ‘unimpeachable’ as Conservatives attack his impartiality
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended his choice of former governor general David Johnston as special election rapporteur Friday, arguing that Conservative attacks on him show the party is more interested in creating chaos than tackling foreign election interference.
“David Johnston has served this country in many, many different ways through a long and unimpeachable career,” Trudeau said in Guelph, Ont. of the man he appointed to investigate reports of foreign election interference.
“When we are looking to someone who will put the country first, and put the interest of Canadians at the core of everything he does, there is no better name than David Johnston.”
Citing classified Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) sources, multiple media reports have alleged that China tried to ensure the Liberals won a minority government in the last general election. Those reports also said Beijing worked to defeat Conservative candidates who were critical of China by interfering in the last two federal elections.
A panel of top civil servants concluded that attempts to interfere with the 2021 federal election did not affect the results. Trudeau has announced multiple investigations into foreign election interference and appointed Johnston as special rapporteur earlier this week.
Among other things, Johnston has been tasked with advising the prime minister on whether to call a public inquiry — something all of the opposition parties have demanded.
Trudeau has said he will abide by Johnston’s recommendations. The Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois pushed back against Johnston’s appointment Thursday, arguing that he is too closely linked with the prime minister.
“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,” Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said in a media statement.
“Get real. Trudeau must end his cover up. Call a public inquiry.”
Trudeau said Poilievre is “hoping that if he attacks our institutions with a flamethrower, maybe he’s going to be able to win. That sounds like a really great way of ensuring that all Canadians lose.”
The prime minister said the Conservatives under Poilievre are only concerned with turning the election interference issue into a partisan circus.
“We need to stand up for our institutions, we need to reassure Canadians that everything has been done and will be done to make sure that they are focused on serving Canadians, and keeping people safe. (CBC)